The deputy chief medical officer for England has warned that even for those who have been vaccinated, social distancing measures will likely remain in place for months.
In a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that people could not “behave with wild abandon” after receiving the coronavirus vaccine until it is determined that they cannot spread the virus.
Van-Tam said according to The Times that the public would need to wait at least “two or three months” to regain their freedoms to see whether vaccinations will be effective at slowing transmission of the virus.
The top doctor said people should not think “after the second dose of your vaccine, it’s OK to behave with wild abandon and go off to the bingo halls and whatever you like”.
“Unfortunately, it is a pretty grim and depressing picture at the moment. The situation in the UK is precarious in many parts already, particularly the southeast and London,” the professor said.
“It is almost certainly true that the NHS has not yet seen the impact of the infections that will have occurred during mixing on Christmas Day. And that, unfortunately, is also rather sobering,” he added.
The government is currently studying the effect of the coronavirus vaccine to understand whether or not vaccinated people will be less likely to become asymptomatic carriers.
Van-Tam said that while it is “very likely” that vaccinations will prevent an individual from getting sick from the virus. However, he noted that it is currently unclear if they can transmit the virus, saying that the new “magic phrase” will be “transmission”.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has also warned that if vaccinated people take more liberties following their jab, then the initial gains of the vaccine rollout could be reduced.