13/09/2020 11:57 BST | Updated 13/09/2020 12:44 BST

UK Must Act Now Or Risk ‘Dangerous’ Coronavirus Surge, Sage Scientist Warns

“It’s a bit like water seeping through a dam, it starts as a trickle and if you don’t do something about it it can turn into a real cascade.”

The UK needs to act now to stop the spike in coronavirus cases getting out of control, according to a scientist who advises the government.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said a “trickle” of cases could turn into a “cascade” if people do not follow the so-called rule of six.

From Monday, people will not be allowed to meet up in groups larger than six unless they all live together or are in the same support bubble.

Openshaw, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said people need to adhere to the rules, telling Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “Everyone is in agreement that we really need to act very quickly now in order to prevent this from growing exponentially.

“We must act fast because it’s so much harder to get this sort of thing under control if you delay even a few days (it) is potentially going to be quite dangerous at this particular moment.”

When asked if he agreed with the idea that the UK was “losing control” of the virus, he added: “It’s a bit like water seeping through a dam, it starts as a trickle and if you don’t do something about it it can turn into a real cascade.” 

People sing and dance as they watch a street performer in Leicester Square, in London's West End before rule of six restrictions come into force

Openshaw did raise hopes that a vaccine could pass successful trials by Christmas, having been “a bit pessimistic a few months ago”.

Such a result would mean effective vaccines are available by winter 2021.

He said: “I do feel that on the basis of what we know about the immune system that it’s likely that these immune responses that are being induced by these vaccines may be protective for at least a few months, possibly even years, we just don’t know yet, it’s early days.

“I do think that we will probably have a positive results of at least one of these vaccine trials, probably more than that, by Christmas and that means that with rapid scaling up we might have vaccination programmes that can roll out to some parts of the world in the next nine months.

“Before the winter of 21/22 I hope that we should have vaccines that are effective.”

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