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A top doctor believes Brits won’t go through a second wave of the coronavirus as deadly as the first – and has offered hope of a vaccine by April.
Professor Ian Hall, director of the National Institute for Health Research’s Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, is helping to co-ordinate recruitment of patients to the Recovery trial.
It has so far recruited nearly 13,000 patients across 176 hospitals in the UK.
Recovery's researchers have already shown that dexamethasone reduces mortality by one-third in people with severe respiratory complications brought about by Covid-19.
Prof Hall believes other medical breakthroughs could ultimately result in a vaccine by Easter.
He told Daily Star Online: “Getting the evidence to prove a vaccine prevents cases, I suspect the earliest realistic time for a readout is probably going to be early next year.
“Let's be positive, let's say that a vaccine study with positive results came out and showed it offered good levels of protection. It wouldn’t have to be 100%, say it gave 60% or 70% protection.
“That would be good enough to allow it to go forward into a mass vaccination approach, assuming there were no significant side effects.
“Then you would actually have to get out and make enough of the vaccine, that's going to take a bit of time as well.
“The best-case scenario is that we might have been able to get an effective vaccine and then vaccinate people by say Easter next year.”
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However, scientists may have to rely on a vaccine that is only “partially effective” and develop other variations that can be provided annually.
Discussing the possibility of a second wave, Prof Hall said: “I think it's relatively unlikely we'll return to the situation we had in late March and April this year because I think that that was driven by a lot of unrecognised spread within the community…and a lack of understanding about how to manage this disease.”
He continued: “I think that it's likely we would put in place measures both locally and nationally, mostly locally, which would prevent the massive increase in numbers that we saw in March and April.
“While I can see an increase in case numbers occurring in the winter months, I think it's more likely we’ll control it, so it depends how you define a wave.
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“I think we’ll probably see a rise in cases over the October-January window but I would hope it won’t be as bad as it was back in spring.”
The UK has witnessed a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases this week, rising by 3,539 on Friday.
The R number – the rate at which the virus is reproduced – was also set between 1 and 1.2 for the first time since March.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a series of new coronavirus restrictions, due to be enforced on Monday, September 14.
Social gatherings of more than six people will be banned, hospitality business will be legally required to take customers' details, and measures at the border will be stepped up to monitor quarantine rules.
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