Professor John Edmund said today that opposition to restrictions on the continent have demonstrated the importance of vaccinations, especially as ‘it is pretty clear immunity does wane’.
Austria has made vaccinations mandatory and yesterday announced it would return to lockdown on Monday, with Germany seemingly poised to follow suit after health officials warned they cannot rule out a full shutdown.
It is the latest reintroduction of restrictions across Europe that have faced a fierce backlash and come as governments seek to increase vaccination rates ahead of the winter amid soaring numbers of infections.
Riots and protests have broken out in cities including Rotterdam where police were forced to fire warning shots at protestors marching against the reintroduction of restrictions.
‘What you see now in central Europe with these rapid increase in cases, you see the importance of vaccination,’ Mr Edmund told Sky.
Pictured: A scooter set on fire during a protest against the 2G policy in Rotterdam, Netherlands
But Mr Edmund said the UK was unlikely to be hit by the Christmas chaos because the UK ‘is in a slightly different position.’
He added: ‘Frankly here in the UK, we’ve had high rates of infection for many months now so we’re in a slightly different position to Austria and Germany and so on.
‘I don’t think things will quite happen in the same way here as they have done there. But it is a warning to us. I think it’s pretty clear that immunity does wane.
‘I’m sure you do still have some protection from the vaccine but it’s nowhere near as strong as shortly after you’ve been vaccinated. It’s very clear the booster doses do give a very clear boost to your immune system.’
Professor John Edmund said the situation in Europe should act as a warning to the UK
Asked whether the Government should re-introduce control measures, Mr Edmund told Sky: ‘The plan B measures, we could’ve implemented them at any point. It’s a government decision whether to take that step.
‘They have to look at the potential effectiveness and measure that against the potential cost of some of those things.’
Last week the WHO warned the continent was now the epicentre of the pandemic and said the surge in infection was ‘alarming’.
It comes as ten thousand people are expected to protest against Covid-19 restrictions in Vienna today after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the rapidly rising coronavirus infections in the country.
Meanwhile, at least two people were shot and five others injured in Rotterdam last night as Dutch riot police opened fire on protesters as anti-lockdown demonstrations turned into an ‘orgy of violence’.
Demonstrations against virus measures are also expected in other European countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy – the latest in rising anger at the re-introduction of restrictions amid soaring cases on the continent.
At least one person was shot and six more injured in Rotterdam last night as Dutch riot police opened fire on protesters in an ‘orgy of violence’
Rioters set vehicles ablaze as anti-lockdown protests turned to riots in Coolsingel street, Rotterdam, on Friday evening
The violent scenes came amid a rising anger at coronavirus measures across Europe, with Austria introducing a full lockdown from Monday, and German ministers not ruling out following its neighbour’s lockdown lead.
Restrictions have also been placed on the unvaccinated in Germany – where they have been banned from restaurants – as well as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Dutch government has said it wants to introduce a law that would allow businesses to restrict the country’s coronavirus pass system to only people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 — that would exclude people who test negative.
A musical protest called by DJs in the southern city of Breda against current Covid-19 measures, which include the 8 pm closure of bars, restaurants and clubs, will go ahead. Organisers say they expect several thousand people.
The Netherlands re-imposed some lockdown measures last weekend for an initial three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of coronavirus contagion, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.
Britain’s daily Covid cases rose by another 10 per cent yesterday and deaths ticked upwards — but hospitalisations plunged 17 per cent.
Government dashboard data showed 44,242 positive tests were registered in the last 24 hours yesterday, a slight uptick from 40,375 last Friday.
Infections trended upwards every day since November 11 except for one blip, with data suggesting cases are now rising in children following the return of schools from half-term.
Another 157 Covid deaths were also announced by health chiefs, in an eight per cent rise from the same time the previous week. Latest hospitalisation figures showed 827 admissions were recorded on November 15, which was down 17 per cent.
Fears of another Christmas lockdown were sparked this week when Boris Johnson admitted that the drastic action was not completely off the cards at a Downing Street press conference.
But the Prime Minister also said there was still nothing to suggest England needed to ramp up its Covid restrictions.
He urged people to get their booster vaccines and warned of Europe’s spiralling crisis, which saw Austria become the first country to impose another lockdown.
Despite the growing concerns over the continent’s outbreak, top experts are confident Britain won’t be forced into cancelling Christmas again.
One scientist behind a surveillance study showing cases were ticking upwards said he remained ‘optimistic’ that festivities could go ahead without any restrictions.