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Spring will be a ‘new dawn’ for Britain, says deputy chief medical officer

Spring will be a ‘new dawn’ for Britain and people should be able to live safely without fear of the coronavirus, says top government adviser Jonathan Van Tam

  • Deputy chief medical officer said a working vaccine could transform daily life
  • He said he hoped people could ‘live fairly safely’ by Easter next year 
  • Though admitting life would change the virus will still be around, he has hope 

One of the Government’s chief advisers on the Covid-19 crisis has said spring could be a ‘new dawn’ for Britain and its battle with the disease.

In a ray of hope for the UK, Professor Jonathan Van Tam, who became notorious for his no-nonsense style in TV press conferences, said people should be able to ‘live safely’ by Easter 2021.

He admitted life will be different in the future and home-working is likely to become much more commonplace, but said he was hopeful.

Other top advisers including Professor Chris Whitty have also said social distancing and self-isolating when sick could become the new normal.

Professor Van Tam said he expects the race to develop a vaccine to protect people from Covid-19 to bear fruit by the middle of next year and that normal life may start to resume when it does.

But he said people would still have to learn to live with the disease.

His sentiments echo comments made by the chair of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, who said today that efforts to develop a jab could hopefully reduce Covid-19 to a flu-like illness rather than the deadly disease it is at the moment. 

Professor Van Tam (pictured), who is second in command to the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, became notorious for his no-nonsense style at televised press conferences alongside senior politicians


British officials have ordered another 90million doses of experimental coronavirus vaccines in support of efforts by pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. 

If all the vaccines pre-ordered by the UK are successful and go into production the country will have a massive stockpile of 340million jabs – enough to give every person in the country five each.

Britain’s ‘buy first, test later’ approach may be its best chance of getting a working jab, said the Vaccine Taskforce chief, who admitted most of the Covid-19 jabs won’t work.

As part of the new deals with the US-based drug companies, officials will fund clinical trials of the jabs in Britain.

If they are proven to work they could be given to members of the public as soon as the middle of next year. It is not clear how much money the UK has spent on the deals.

The global race for a vaccine – seen as the only viable way to stop the coronavirus – has received promising boosts in recent weeks as early trial results have emerged.

The first clinical trial of one of the UK’s biggest hopes, a jab made by Oxford University, showed signs that it produces an immune response and is safe. 

News of Britain’s latest deal comes after Russia this week announced that it has approved its own vaccine after trials on just three dozen people, provoking concern from scientists that it is rushing into experiments without data to prove it is safe. 

Speaking to Lincolnshire Pride magazine in his local county, Professor Van Tam said: ‘I’d hope that spring 2021 will represent a new dawn for the country, by which time we’ll be able to live life fairly safely.

‘Even so, moving forward, the way we live will change.

‘Covid-19 won’t be eradicated anytime soon and we’ll have to learn to live with it to some extent.

‘Maybe working from home will become far more common over the longer term in some industries.’

Professor Van Tam said progress towards a vaccine is promising and the creation of one that works could change people’s way of life and return some normality.

But he doesn’t expect this to happen until well into the new year.

‘The future is hopeful but far from certain,’ the deputy chief medical officer said.

‘Covid-19 is still in circulation now and could return in significant numbers in winter 2020 if we don’t stay alert and follow the advice.   

‘A number of vaccines are currently under development.

‘I’m hopeful but not certain we’ll have some kind of a vaccine in production by the end of the year but not at full volumes.

‘So I don’t think the use of vaccines will provide a meaningful public health result until about Easter; after that I’m hoping that their impact will be substantial.’

The UK today took another big step forward in its plans to secure a vaccine against Covid-19 as it emerged the Government has signed deals for another 90million doses.

Britain will help US-based pharmaceutical firms Johnson & Johnson and Novavax to develop and trial their vaccines in exchange for the right to buy millions of doses. 

There are now at least 340million doses of different jabs ordered by the UK in the hope that one of them turns out to work – enough for five per person.

Kate Bingham, a biotech investor and chair of the vaccines taskforce, told Good Morning Britain today: ‘I’m an optimistic person… I would be confident that we will find something that will work. 

‘I’m not sure it will be a sterilising vaccine, which means it will prevent all infection, but I’m reasonably confident that we will find a vaccine that will reduce the severity of symptoms and reduce death so that we can actually turn this into a flu-like disease as opposed to a much more severe, potentially lethal disease.’ 


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