Professor Susan Michie, who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee, urged people to stick to the rules to give the country the best shot at easing measures on 2 December, and being able to spend Christmas with loved ones.
The announcement was widely welcomed, with England’s chief medical officer calling it a “reason for optimism”, and Sage member Sir John Bell saying he was confident life in the UK would start returning to normal by spring, if the vaccine candidate gets regulatory approval.
However, Professor Michie has offered a note of caution following the results released by the two pharmaceutical companies.
After telling theToday programme the next fortnight would be “crucial” in determining what should happen after England’s lockdown ends, she said: “They’re going to be a very challenging two weeks, partly because of the weather, partly because, I think, the promise of a vaccine may be making people feel complacent.”
She added: “But the vaccine is very unlikely to come in until the end of the year or beginning of next year and that’s going to make no difference to the current second wave.”
The Sage adviser told the BBC Radio 4 show: “I think for the next two weeks, everybody has to really get all their resolve together.”
Her comments echoed those of England’s deputy chief medical officer, who warned the Pfizer vaccine would not be the solution to the UK’s second wave. “I’m hopeful that it may prevent future waves, but in this one we have to battle through to the end”, he said on Monday, after the results were released.
Professor Michie, a behavioural scientist at University College London, advised the public to “really pay attention to resisting any urges to break the rules” on social distancing and visiting other households before England’s lockdown is set to end.
“That will maximise the chance that in two weeks’ time, on 2 December, we’re in a position where actually we don’t have to continue the lockdown,” she added.
“And better still, what everybody wants, is to be in a position where they can spend the Christmas and winter holiday times with loved ones,” she added.
Additional reporting by Press Association