PROFESSOR Lockdown has said he is "80 per cent sure" that Brits will be able to enjoy this summer as the vaccine rollout beats back Covid.
Neil Ferguson, one of the scientists who spearheaded the UK's lockdown policies, believes most restrictions will be lifted as around one third of population have already had their Covid jab.
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Prof Ferguson was speaking on the first anniversary of his grim warning that Covid rates in the UK were much higher than original estimations.
It was on his team's advice that the government plunged the UK into lockdown for the first-time almost exactly a year ago on March 16.
However, despite his 80 per cent prediction – he warned there remains a 20 per cent chance that mutating virus variants could derail the progress, reports The Observer.
"It is highly likely that we will have driven Covid down to very low levels of case numbers, and we can begin enjoying summer," he said.
'We will still need to monitor things very carefully and there has yet to be a proper discussion about what we do in autumn.
"Certainly, I think it is highly likely we will have to roll out a booster vaccine to protect against possible new variants.
"So, while I am optimistic overall, I still think there is a 20% chance things could go wrong – with the possible appearance of dangerous new variants which undermine immunity given by vaccines."
Prof Ferguson said a return to some semblance of the Great British Summer looks "promising" as he says the government as learned its lessons.
Boris Johnson has received criticism for lifting lockdowns too early or locking down too late as the government juggles the economy with the pandemic.
However, despite Prof Ferguson's positive outlook it still looks unlikely foreign holidays will be able to go ahead.
Ministers are already drawing up plans to hold pilot events for the reopening of football stadiums, nightclubs and theatres.
It is hoped all restrictions in the UK will be lifted by June 21.
The FA Cup final semi-finals and the world snooker championships on April 17 are believed to be using Covid testing and social distancing to allow the return of crowds – which will then serve as blueprints for bringing back more events before June.
Downing Street hopes that sports and cultural events will be able to be operate throughout the summer to distract people from the fact they cannot go abroad – with cultural secretary Olivier Dowden saying they are working "flat out" to ensure they can.
Meanwhile, the UK's national statistician Sir Ian Diamond said he was in "no doubt" there will be a new Covid wave in the autumn.
England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also said there were still risks to reopening society and agreed UK will experience another surge of cases.
Sir Ian emphasised 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," he told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.
"And I have no doubt that in the autumn there will be a further wave of infections."
During the week, Prof Whitty said he would "strongly advise" against any move to shorten the timetable for easing lockdown restrictions.
Modelling considered by the 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.
Prof Whitty said: "All the modelling suggests there is going to be a further surge and that will find the people who either have not been vaccinated or where the vaccine has not worked.
"Some of them will end up in hospital and sadly some of them will go on to die."
Meanwhile, pressure mounts of the government to open up the prospect of foreign holidays for the summer if the vaccine rollout goes to plan.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle has called for vaccinated Brits and those who test negative for the virus to be allowed to go on holiday.
He told The Mail on Sunday: "We know people want to travel, we know countries want to accept travellers and we believe with testing, vaccination and technology we can enable that in a way that is seamless and frictionless and allows the industry to get back on its feet again
"I hear many heartbreaking stories of people who haven't been able to visit frail and elderly parents overseas over the course of the last 12 months."
Non essential travel remains suspended until May 17 – but ministers are still trying to work out whether it will be safe enough to bring back foreign holidays.
Spain, Cyprus and Greece have all said they would like to welcome back vaccinated Brits from May, and Turkey has said it will take holidaymakers even without the jab.
Downing Street are concerned however about the risks of letting Brits leave the country and potentially bringing the virus back in.
Britain is currently on course to emerge from lockdown after a jab rollout which has so far seen more than 23million people receive their first dose of the vaccine.
Schools have already returned and some restrictions have been lifted, with more changes due at the end of March and beginning of April.
Mr Johnson has been optimistic about the roadmap remaining on schedule – with some Tories even pushing for restrictions to lift even sooner.
The Prime Minister however faces a rebellion as The Coronavirus Act is due to be extended another six months from March 25.
The coronavirus infection rate in England has hit its lowest level since September – dropping the R rate to between 0.6 and 0.8.
Daily cases in the UK have plunged from an all time high in January of over 60,000 to now just 5,000 as lockdown and the vaccine rollout does its work.
Mark Harper MP, the chairman of the anti-lockdown Coronavirus Recovery Group of Tory MPs, told The Telegraph: “With better news and data each week about the NHS vaccination rollout, and as Parliament considers the new regulations later this month, the Government must ensure that data, science and evidence lie at the heart of its approach as we lift restrictions.
“Sticking rigidly to a set of dates based on now outdated, overly pessimistic modelling would be a mistake.”
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