23 February 2021, 08:47 | Updated: 23 February 2021, 08:51
A top government scientific adviser has told LBC that he is “for the first time in a year quite optimistic” after Boris Johnson revealed his roadmap for easing England’s Covid-19 lockdown.
Professor Graham Medley, the Government’s chief pandemic modeller, who sits on SAGE, was asked by Nick Ferrari what he thought of accusations that the Prime Minister’s four-step plan was “over cautious”.
He said: “I am for the first time in a year quite optimistic. This is not the end of it, I think there are plenty more twists of the tail but I do think that being cautious, so behaving in a way that means you’re less likely to have to go backwards, I think is really a very good thing.”
The professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine added: “It’s much better to be cautious and potentially go faster, than it is to set out with great hope and optimism and end up having to go backwards.”
However he said it is “impossible to predict with any certainty” whether the Government would be able to stick to the June 21 date for lifting all restrictions.
He said: “The plan at the moment that has just been laid out gives us the greatest chance of being able to get out of this as quickly as possible.
“I think it’s impossible to say where we will be at that time, it depends so much on the vaccine and who gets vaccinated, so people getting vaccinated makes that more likely and following the rules that exist. I think there’s a danger that people will just go hurrah, it’s all over, and we end up going backwards.”
On the vaccine rollout, he later added: “I think that the uptake has been quite remarkable especially in those groups in which people have the greatest risk of disease, and let’s hope that that continues into age groups that have less risk of disease.”
He also warned against booking summer holidays abroad, saying he wasn’t considering doing so even in 2022.
He said: “I didn’t last year and I won’t next year probably either, I think it’s a time of caution and we need to see that.
“We’re doing very well with the vaccine in this country, other countries are not doing so well.
“I think the whole situation’s going to be uncertain for a long time, we’ve got more optimism and certainty now in this country than we have for most other places.”
“The discussions are increasingly going to become to look oversees to see what’s happening,” he added.