People who have had both COVID-19 jabs and come into contact with someone infected may not have to self-isolate for 10 days in the future, a public health expert has suggested.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, says Britain may follow the US which has changed its quarantine guidance for those who had received both coronavirus doses.
She highlighted repeated statements by the UK government’s chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty and others that COVID-19 would not disappear and society would have to learn to live with it.
Prof Bauld made her comments as it was warned that a third wave of coronavirus infections “is definitely under way” and the “race is firmly on” between the vaccine rollout and the highly transmissible Delta or Indian variant.
Latest data showed the Delta variant now accounts for almost all of the UK’s coronavirus cases, according to Public Health England.
It comes as everyone aged 18 and over can now book to get vaccinated in England.
On the likelihood of a change in the quarantine rules for those fully vaccinated, Prof Bauld told Times Radio: “It’s already in place in the US.
“The Centre for Disease Control changed their guidance a while ago to say that people who had had both doses of the vaccine and about 10-14 days after the second dose didn’t have to self-isolate, so I think we are moving in that direction.”
She added: “As we’ve heard repeatedly from Chris Whitty and others, this virus isn’t going to disappear.
“We’re going to have to live alongside it, means we are going to have infections in future, so being a contact of someone infected will always be a possibility.”
Professor Adam Finn, who advises the government on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), described as “interesting” the idea of scrapping 10-day self-isolation for double-jabbed people.
He told Times Radio: “We know that the vaccine, particularly after two doses, is highly effective at stopping you from getting seriously ill, 20 times less likely to end up in hospital.
“We also know that it will reduce your chances of getting milder illness and infecting other people, but it’s probably less good at doing that than it is preventing you getting seriously ill, so it’s a kind of balance of risk thing.”
Highlighting the rising number of cases, the University of Bristol academic told the BBC: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.
“We can conclude that the race is firmly on between the vaccine programme, particularly getting older people’s second doses done, and the Delta variant third wave.”
Immunologist Professor Paul Moss told Sky News: “The vaccines that we have are very, very effective at preventing severe disease from the Delta variant.”
Highlighting the move to start vaccinating the over-18s, he said: “There’s no doubt if we can get that first dose in we will reduce the number of infections.”
While having to be aware of new strains of the virus, Prof Moss added: “There’s no evidence yet of a variant emerging that is resistant to the vaccines.”
The latest figures from NHS England show that an estimated four in five adults in England have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The data shows that 35,507,916 first doses have been delivered up to 17 June, the equivalent of 80.2% of all people aged 18 and over.