Deputy chief medical officer Professor Van-Tam dismissed the idea that England would be able to return to normality by spring following the announcement of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine’s success. During a briefing on Wednesday morning, Professor Van-Tam admitted that at this stage he and his team can not confirm life will return to normal. Sky News’ Thomas Moore asked: “Can we return to normal by Easter as some people have suggested if 53 people a day are still dying from coronavirus?”
Professor Van-Tam replied: “At this point, I don’t think the question of how soon we are going to return to normal and what role vaccine will play in that can be answered.
“We don’t yet know the programmatic effect of rolling out the vaccine to the higher risk groups will be, that will take time to figure out.”
Professor Van-Tam highlighted many of the potential problems going forward with the vaccine.
He said: “Vaccine delivery is not going to be instant across all of the higher risk groups.
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“Vaccine production is not going to be instant across all of those groups.
“We don’t know if this disease is going to prevent transmission as well as illness.
“From that perspective, it will be wrong of me to give you a sense that whoever told you we would be back to normal by Easter is right.
“I don’t think I know the answer to that but I can tell you I am very hopeful that over time vaccines will make a very important difference to how we have to live with COVID-19 in the long run.”
Professor Van-Tam then illuded to a point he made during the Prime Minister’s coronavirus briefing on Monday.
He said: “As I said on Monday at the Prime Minister’s briefing, will these vaccines be a get-out clause for the current second wave we are in? Absolutely not.
“We are going to have to push this second wave down by the non-pharmaceutical interventions, social distancing and stay at home messages, all the things we are doing right now.
“There is no shortcut to the future you and I both aspire to.”
More to follow…