‘No foreign holidays until autumn’ lockdown professor warns as cases surge

Brits will be unlikely to enjoy a foreign holiday until at least the AUTUMN claims a top scientist.

Neil Ferguson, dubbed 'Professor Lockdown' after his predictions of coronavirus' potential spread terrified politicians into plunging the country into the March 2020 lockdown, has warned that foreign strains and waves will have a huge effect on Brits.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast he said: "Depending on what happens in other areas of the world, travel may be one of the later things to be relaxed.

"But I think whilst not everything will be back to normal by the summer, certainly by the autumn, it will feel a lot more normal.

"I don't think, just because cases are rising in Europe, that necessarily throws our timetable into doubt; what it may do is affect planning around restrictions on international travel, how much we try and screen people coming into the country."

He admitted that the UK's incredible vaccination roll-out puts us ahead of other European countries – but that doesn't mean we can start planning a sunny getaway just yet.

"And there is a risk that any new strains that make it to Britain could wipe out good work of the vaccination programme.

The epidemiologist was a key member of Boris Johnson's SAGE crisis group but resigned last year when he was caught breaking his own lockdown rules to meet his married lover.

However, Professor Ferguson doesn't think illicit mixing of households is the biggest threat to the UK coming out of lockdown, it's the South African variant that is causing him the most concern.

He explained: "We can't stop things like the Brazilian and the South African variants forever and they are different immunologically.

"The current vaccines are not as effective against those strains probably, so for that reason as well we want to update vaccines and boost people's immunity.

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"But the real concern is things like the South African variant, where the vaccination programme we're currently using, whilst it would still give some protection against that (variant), the protection would be reduced."

Earlier today we revealed that a "double mutant" Covid strain has been identified in India.

A senior government official said the novel coronavirus was found in 206 samples in the worst-hit western state of Maharashtra.

The new variant was also detected in nine samples in the capital New Delhi, the director of the National Centre for Disease Control, Sujeet Kumar Singh, told a news conference.

A double mutation is "two mutations coming together in the same virus", and can potentially make the bug even more infectious.

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