The epidemiologist said this week that the vaccine rollout had “fundamentally changed the equation”, with around 70% of adults having suffered a double injection.
Professor Ferguson’s comments came after figures showed cases fell 21.5% per week, from 54,674 on July 17 to 24,950 on Monday.
He said: “The effect of the vaccines has been huge in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death and I’m positive by the end of September-October we will be back on most of the pandemic.
We will always have Covid with us, we will always have people who die from Covid but we will have left the bulk of the pandemic behind. “
Downing Street warned “we are not out of the woods yet”.
We’ve spoken to an array of experts to find out if they think we may soon be putting the worst days of the pandemic behind us – or if we’re facing yet another false dawn …
Paul Hunter,Professor of Medicine,University of East Anglia
By mid-June, I had the impression that we were approaching the worst peak of this third wave.
I’ve even written and spoken about it publicly over the past few weeks, but couldn’t feel completely confident because so many others were saying we were heading for disaster.
But now the cases are down, as I expected. Of course, with Freedom Day last week, things could change.
The impact of this day should be clear by Monday. What we don’t know is whether the increased risk of opening places and mass gatherings will be outweighed by the reduced risk of closing schools for the summer break.
By Monday, we will know more about the evolution of the epidemic during the summer.
But for now, cases are declining faster than expected. It is a sign of hope. This suggests to me that we are approaching “endemic equilibrium,” the point where things become stable.
This virus is not going to go away, but reaching the equilibrium stage means that we will stabilize at the same type of numbers.
We will still see winter peaks but we will manage it like other coronaviruses
The problem we had last winter was the worst. We will never return, with this virus at least, to where we were last January.
The concern for this year is the potential for a bad flu season that strikes at the same time as Covid.
Getting both at the same time is bad.
But with the rollout of the Covid booster vaccine for the elderly as well as the usual flu shot, I hope there won’t be as many hospitalizations as last year.
Daniel M Davis,Professor of Immunology at the University of Manchester
I don’t think this pandemic will be over by October.
First, we do not know the effects of the most recent changes in government restrictions.
I was at the Latitude Festival last weekend and for most of the 40,000 in attendance, precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing have largely been dropped.
It was exciting to hear live music again and immerse yourself in discussions about art and science, but also strange to be among crowds of people.
We have to wait and see if this opening strongly affects the rates of viral transmission.
Second, the new variants can still cause problems. It is possible that a version of the virus will emerge that is sufficiently different from the existing forms that it can somewhat avoid the immunity accumulated by vaccination and previous infections.
Third, the causes of the long Covid are very unclear and its occurrence is difficult to monitor.
So my take is that, yes, things are improving, but it’s not over. I still think we have to be careful.
And that includes being kind to others because there will be a lot of diversity in the way people behave.
Gabriel Scally, Professor of Immunology at the University of Manchester
Predicting what the Covid-19 situation will be like in the fall is a tricky business, with limited certainty.
With the number of people vaccinated slowing down and the government’s decision not to vaccinate young people meaning that 20% of the population will not be vaccinated no matter what, the Covid virus will continue to circulate.
We are now in our third serious variant, and it is quite possible that before the end of the year we may see at least one even more dangerous variant emerge.
We should use the summer months to ensure that the ventilation in all workplaces, reception areas, schools and colleges meets the best standards.
The other critical preventive measure would be to radically improve how we wear masks so that people receive and use the most effective masks. No more fabric face coverings, we need effective masks in confined spaces.
A functioning system of research, testing, traceability, isolation and support, executed at the local level, must be put in place, not only for the fall, but to deal with epidemics and flare-ups during the seasons. next few years at least.
Azeem Majeed,Professor of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London
The vaccination has significantly reduced the risk of Covid-19 infection resulting in serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and death.
Over the past two weeks we have also seen a sharp reduction in the number of Covid cases in the UK.
The future looks much brighter and we will probably no longer see national blockages.
However, there are parts of the country – like London – where vaccination rates are low.
Adoption has also been slow among young people. This means that we will continue to see outbreaks that could put pressure on the NHS.
But we are unlikely to know the large increases in hospitalizations and deaths that we have seen previously.
We must remain vigilant. We need to make sure immunization rates are high and people get booster doses when they are due. No vaccine is 100% effective and some people who have been vaccinated will still be infected.
Older and more vulnerable people will therefore need to consider whether they continue to wear face masks in poorly ventilated and overcrowded indoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.
It will be some time before we know that we are definitely out of the pandemic, but by October we can expect to live more normal lives thanks to vaccines.