CHILDREN returning to school is “absolutely necessary” but will inevitably lead to an increase in coronavirus infections, according to the head of the Oxford vaccine team.
The university’s Professor of vaccinology, Sarah Gilbert, explained that despite the continually falling cases across the country, it would be reckless to be “too optimistic”.
The head of the Oxford vaccine effort Sarah Gilbert warned children returning to school will cause a rise in coronavirus casesCredit: PA:Press Association
Children will return to classrooms after missing 109 days of face-to-face learningCredit: AFP – Getty
It comes as thousands of students finally return to classrooms tomorrow for the first time since January.
The highly-anticipated return to education centres has been shrouded by fears it will send the R rate rocketing again, as Gilbert suggested.
“We’ve got kids going back to schools, and that’s absolutely necessary. But there may well be a slight increase in transmissions as a result of it.
“But if we can get the transmission rate down really low, then then we can cope with a small increase,” she explained to iNews.
Children are facing a catch-up crisis after losing out on 109 days of face-to-face learning.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson hinted that summer holidays could be slashed in favour of a five-term year and school days extended, in the biggest reform since the Second World War.
Boris Johnson said schools are ‘ready’ to return, marking a key moment in the roadmap out of lockdownCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The Labour party have suggested instating a spate of breakfast clubs to help bring kids up to speed.
Despite the latest developments in the attempt to plug the gaping hole in children’s educations, experts have warned it will take billions of pounds and many years to rectify.
But the head of the Oxford vaccine effort was confident, yet cautious, that the current figures are heading in the right direction.
The professor continued, “The data is looking very good. In the UK we’re looking at the falling cases.
“If we’re looking at the increased rate of fall in the age groups that have been vaccinated, that looks really, really promising.”
The number of daily Covid deaths fell to 82 this weekend, the first time the number has dropped below 100 since October, suggesting the vaccine rollout is reducing fatalities.
Around 18 million people in the UK have now received at least one dose of a vaccine, but experts have warned we are not out of the woods yet.
“I just have slight concern we don’t take our foot off the brake too early. That we don’t say this is great, we can all just forget about all the restrictions. There are still a lot more people left to vaccinate,” Gilbert said.
Despite the so-called light at the end of the tunnel, Gilbert made it clear overcoming the pandemic is only possible with an international effort.
“If we don’t protect the world, then there are going to be more variants arising and they’re going to make it much more dangerous for us,” she said.
It comes after the EU has desperately called on Joe Biden to send over millions of doses of Gilbert’s Oxford vaccine, as they play catch up to the UK.
In contrast, the UK’s vaccine rollout is ranked as the second best in the world.
Professor Gilbert said the kids returning to school was ‘absolutely necessary’Credit: AFP – Getty