‘No doubt there’ll be further Covid wave in UK’

The UK’s chief national statistician said he has “no doubt” that there will be a further wave of Covid-19 infections in the country in autumn.

Professor Ian Diamond, head of the British Office for National Statistics (ONS), also said on Sunday that there is a lot of regional variation in terms of how many people have antibodies, reports Xinhua news agency.

His comments came after Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said there were still risks to reopening society and Britain will experience another surge of cases at some point, potentially in late summer or through the autumn and winter.

Diamond told the BBC on Sunday that people need to understand how the data is moving forward and look at the impact of the “wonderful” vaccine rollout.

“But having said that, we need also to recognise that this is a virus that isn’t going to go away.

“And I have no doubt that in the autumn there will be a further wave of infections,” he said.

Asked if it is too early to know how much of the fall in infections across the UK is down to the vaccine rollout, he said there are a number of moving parts such as vaccines and restrictions.

Whitty had said earlier that he would “strongly advise” against any move to shorten the timetable for easing lockdown restrictions.

Speaking to Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, Whitty said that the measures pencilled in for May 17, when indoor mixing of up to six people could be allowed, involved “significant risks”.

Modelling considered by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has suggested that even under the most optimistic set of assumptions, at least a further 30,000 Covid-19 deaths could occur.

On February 22, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his long-anticipated “roadmap” exiting the lockdown.

The reopening of schools on March 8 in England was the first part of the four-step plan, which Johnson said was designed to be “cautious but irreversible”.

Other parts of Britain, including Wales and Scotland, have also unveiled plans to ease the restrictions.

Experts have warned Britain is “still not out of the woods” amid concerns over new variants and the risks of the public breaching restriction rules.