A leading medical expert has claimed Britain will see the end of the Covid-19 pandemic by autumn 2021, as the vaccine is set to give the country herd immunity.
Professor Neil Ferguson, the man behind the first national lockdown in March 2020 believes that 1 in 3 Londoners are already immune to the deadly disease and things could return "to normal" in a matter of months.
The expert revealed in an interview with the Sunday Times that by September, Brits could be enjoying life as we once knew it.
Ferguson explained that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK have already battled and recovered from Covid and that this, along with the rapid vaccine roll-out means we could be out of the woods sooner that we think.
The doctor said: “In an optimistic scenario, where we get high levels of vaccine coverage and it’s highly effective, there is a scenario where by the autumn we really have many, many fewer restrictions than we have now. We’re almost basically back to normal.”
Ferguson, who is the epidemiologist of Imperial College London reckons between 10 and 15 per cent of the British population have already been infected, with "something like a third of the population of London” already having got over the virus.
He added: "There is quite a lot of herd immunity in places like London.
“Maybe 25% or 30% of the population has now been infected in the first wave and second wave. So that adds to the reduction of transmission.”
“Because London was the most affected area in the first wave, probably something like 15% of the population got infected that time. And we’ve now probably seen the same again.”
And it's not just London with a high population that have recovered from the infection: “The northwest saw a lot of transmission in October and November. They may well be up to 15 per cent, 20 per cent," he added.
However, for herd immunity against COVID-19 to actually be effective, a bigger proportion of the UK need to receive the jab.
Leading scientists have estimated around 80 per cent of the country will need the vaccine to defend against the virus.
The professor explained that those who've already had the virus and recovered will be partially immunised for a while: “If you get infected once, then at least for a year or more you will have quite a lot of protection against disease, a bit like a vaccine”
“You’re not necessarily protected against being infected again, or transmitting.
“You’re just not very likely to get very sick. There are all of these caveats around immunity. It’s true of the vaccine as well as natural infection.”
He expects the country to have a huge proportion vaccinated by Easter time, but this won't be without the huge battle and strain the NHS is set to experience over the coming weeks as a result of the mutant strain's rapid spreading.