BRITS will still have to follow social distancing even AFTER people get the Covid vaccine, Jonathan Van-Tam has said.
The deputy chief medical officer has warned Brits that having a jab in their arm is not an immediate freedom pass to let people hug their grans and loved ones.
Boris Johnson last night hailed the news the Pfizer vaccine had been approved by the regulator, making the UK the first country in the world with a jab.
And a jubilant Professor Van-Tam said he was “quite emotional” when he heard the announcement from the regulator.
But this morning, Professor Van-Tam said even people who have had the vaccine will have to follow social distancing rules still in place.
For social distancing to end completely, the jab will have to rolled out to everyone, Professor Van-Tam said.
In a live call in with Brits, Professor Van-Tam told BBC Radio 5: “Until we are properly confident of how the vaccine works and properly confident that disease levels are dropping, even if you have had the vaccine, you are going to need to follow all the rules that apply for a while longer.”
The Deputy CMO said some people might be protected more than others, and even after the two doses of the vaccines, scientists are not sure every single person will have the same response to the jab.
“It’s a new disease, a new vaccine program, we have to take it step by step and see what is going to be unlocked for us.”
But he stressed “what can be unlocked, will be unlocked”.
“Do I think the vaccine is going to give you, after you’ve had your two doses and waited the 10 days (for an immune response), the kind of confidence to just carry on as if nothing ever happened? Absolutely not. I don’t think that would be at all right.”
It could be “quite a few months” at an “absolute minimum” Professor Van-Tam said.
It could even stretch into late spring before the full effects of the vaccine are understood by scientists.
The scientist, who has been picked as Brits’ favourite after his colourful football analogies and straight-talking answers, also said Santa Claus had been given a special spot on the vaccine priority list.
The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations (JCVI) decide who sits at the top of the list for a Covid-19 jab, starting with those in care homes and the people who look after them.
But Santa is “right at the top of the list”.
When asked, Professor Van-Tam said: “Oh absolutely, the JCVI made a very special case for Father Christmas and he is absolutely at the top of the list.”
It comes after the deputy CMO and the PM had a tiff over social distancing in a post-Covid Britain on live television.
When probed by HOAR as to whether some social distancing measures could be here to stay, Professor Van-Tam said face masks and hand sanitiser could be with us forever.
But a sceptical Mr Johnson said he had “high hopes” the vaccine would return life to normal.
Clarifying his earlier comments, Professor Van-Tam said: “I do not think the government will continue to have to recommend social distancing, masks and hand sanitizer forever in a day.
“I hope we will get back to a much more normal world.”
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