'Long way to go' before face masks and social distancing will be scrapped, says vaccine chief

The head of the Oxford University vaccine group has said there’s still a “long way to go” before social distancing and face masks can be scrapped (Photo: Shutterstock)

The head of the Oxford University vaccine group has said that although he believes there will be the end of social distancing and the wearing of face masks in the future, there’s still a “long way to go”.

Lockdown restrictions are continuing to ease across the UK, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson set to lay out England’s next stage of the roadmap out of lockdown on Monday (10 May).

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However, Professor Andrew Pollard said that given the current global wave of Covid-19, some restrictions are expected to remain in place for a while yet.

Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Professor Andrew Pollard said: “I think that there is a future with no social distancing and no more masks, but from a global perspective we’re still a long way from that.

“Here in the UK we’ve had remarkable success through the vaccine programme and that is getting closer to happening, but from a global perspective there’s such a long way to go.”

When asked for his view on the US waiving virus vaccine patents, Prof Pollard said: “I think it’s an absolutely laudable concept to have a waiver over the intellectual property rights to allow greater use of the vaccines around the world.

“There clearly is already a political debate about this and there will be commercial interests at stake.”

Prof Pollard also said there was “huge heavy lifting” to do in order to allow more manufacturers to produce the vaccine.

He said: “It will take the rest of this year before we start seeing large amounts of production.”