Coronavirus live news: UK epidemiologist warns over third wave; Philippines facing ‘learning crisis’, says Unicef

Leading epidemiologist Prof Neil Ferguson has said the UK must boost its immunity by vaccinating more teenagers to stop the risk of “a large autumn and winter wave”.

The Imperial professor told BBC Radio 4’s Today that there will be some effect of ditching covid passports in England but that he hopes another national lockdown will not be needed.

While he said nothing can be ruled out, he hopes that another lockdown will not be needed. “With this level of immunity that we have in the population, if we do need to further drive down transmission then it may not require full lockdown.”

A temporary walk-in coronavirus vaccine centre in Soho, London on Saturday. Photograph: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

Measures such as working from home are effective at helping to cut transmission, he said.

“I very much hope we don’t need to go into full lockdown, but I think there are intermediate measures which still may be needed at some point.”

It comes after The Telegraph reported that Boris Johnson is “dead set” against another national lockdown.

On the cancellation of covid passports Ferguson said there is a “delicate balancing act in terms of civil liberties and the effectiveness of such measures.” But that he supports them being required for healthcare workers and perhaps social care staff.

“I think there will be some small effect of ditching those measures, but it won’t be huge.”

On the progress of a third wave, he said modelling suggests there are “slow increases” in case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths, but that “on the bright side” increases are relatively slow.

However with schools having only just reopened, he said “we need to remain cautious”.

In the absence of social distancing measures, he said the UK is “reliant” on immunity building in the population through vaccination and infections.

He said the UK was leading in Europe until recently in terms of vaccinations, but that the programme has “fallen behind a little” behind countries including Ireland, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.

Booster doses increase immunity to “even higher levels” than those with two doses. He cited a study in Israel which found that after a booster dose people were 10 times less likely to get infected with mild disease.

“That would suggest that booster doses really are effective at further driving down transmission and infection,” he said.

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