The UK’s vaccination programme is already making good progress: 140,000 people received the vaccine within a week of its roll-out, and the government hopes that 20 million more of the most vulnerable people will get the jab by the end of next spring. In light of this, Boris Johnson, speaking yesterday, said he expected restrictions could begin to ease “between now and Easter”. But Professor Whitty wasn’t quite so optimistic.
While the first stage of the vaccine will protect the most vulnerable, he said, we will still need to keep up social distancing. “Because if we let go, at that point there’d be a huge surge and people who are a bit below the highest risk groups… would then in very large numbers get infected,” he said.
“Some of those would get very seriously ill and end up in hospital, and some of those would die. So we’d need to keep it on beyond that period. But that isn’t going on all the way to the point where we get full population immunity.”
Witty didn’t offer a rough date of when we can expect things to get back to normal, and the government is yet to announce the plans for when non-vulnerable people will be able to get vaccinated. However, a senior government source did tell the Daily Mirror that we should set aside our "unrealistic expectations" that "everything’s going to be completely normal by April - it won’t be".
A different source told the Mirror that we can expect some coronavirus rules to continue into next summer. It might be better adjusting our expectations now, rather than hyping ourselves up for a blissful spring of house parties and club nights and ending up bitterly disappointed.