FREEDOM from lockdown could come "sooner rather than later" on July 5 thanks to the Covid vaccine push, an expert has revealed.
Brendan Wren, professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that having 81 per cent of adults vaccinated was "very encouraging."
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Asked whether the success of the vaccine programme means England could open earlier than July 19, he told Sky News: "We'd still need to be vigilant – but vigilance and vaccination are the two words.
"So, I think if the numbers continue to be promising then I think there's great hope we could open up on 5 July."
But he added that a "pretty miserable winter" is ahead – with lockdowns on the cards in order to battle the virus later in the year.
Yesterday, Brits queued to receive their Covid vaccines in their thousands after the rollout was opened up to all over-18s.
Scenes outside vaccine centres showed long snaking lines as eager youngsters jumped at the opportunity to be jabbed – as they finally reached the top of the priority list.
This week, lead for the NHS Covid vaccination programme Dr Emily Lawson said: "The largest ever NHS vaccination campaign is in the home stretch of the first dose rollout.
"The vaccine is the most important step you can take to protect yourself, your friends and family so it's really important everybody in the latest eligible groups books themselves in to get their jab and plays their part in this huge national effort."
Meanwhile, Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE's director for Covid, said this morning that another lockdown could be needed if hospitals start to be overwhelmed by Covid cases.
END IN SIGHT?
Unlike last year, Brits now have vaccines that will help us live with the virus – but further lockdowns may be on the cards if hospitals get overcrowded later in the year.
As the Delta variant grips the country, Public Health England's Dr Hopkins said that Brits may have to face winter lockdowns.
Dr Susan Hopkins told BBC's The Andrew Marr Show: "We may have to do further lockdowns this winter, I can't predict the future, it depends on whether hospitals start to become overwhelmed."
The top PHE medic added: "We are definitely seeing some signals in some areas of cases slowing down, Bolton for example has definitely reversed, Blackburn and Darwen has stabilised.
"But there are other parts of the country, particularly in some parts of the north-east, some parts of London that are still rising quite fast.
"So I think this is not all doing the same thing all over the country, and we're seeing rises and falls as people go out and get tested and I think we are seeing the impact of vaccination and that is good news.
"The extra time to vaccinate more people, get two doses of vaccination in as many people as possible will hopefully mean that what we're seeing with this wave won't look the same as the previous waves that we've seen in this country."
Dr Hopkins also said there may be "alternatives to isolation" for holidaymakers who have received both of their Covid jabs.
She said: "I think that in a time in the future, I'm not sure when, I can imagine a situation where we will have alternatives to isolation for people who have two doses of the vaccine."
When asked about holidaying this summer, she said: "It depends on the routes and the risks. That will be for Government to decide what they want to do.
"I think we should be predominantly deciding to holiday at home this summer while we get everyone vaccinated."
This comes after data shows cases across the UK are rising again at an alarming rate.
According to Professor Adam Finn, who advises the Government on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the UK is now in the grips of a third wave.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "It's going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it's not going up any faster, but nevertheless it's going up, so this third wave is definitely underway."
And yesterday was the third day in a row that cases of Covid have surpassed 10,000 – a tragic rate milestone to reach.
The last time daily infections were so high was February 23, when Britain was in the midst of total lockdown.
Deaths also rose by 14 yesterday – higher than Friday's 11.
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