The UK won’t see a spike in Covid cases like Austria but the increasing number of lockdown riots in Europe should be a “warning to us”, a SAGE adviser has warned.
Professor John Edmunds, who is a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), today urged those who are eligible for their booster jabs to get them adding “it is pretty clear immunity does wane”.
He told Sky: “What you see now in central Europe with these rapid increase in cases, you see the importance of vaccination.”
A statement by the body’s regional director for Europe earlier this month said the current situation was “alarming”.
Regional director Dr Hans Kluge told the BBC that a further 500,000 more deaths could be recorded by March unless the UK government takes action.
However, Mr Edmunds said the UK was unlikely to be hit because it “is in a slightly different position”.
He said: “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.”
On the current surge in mainland Europe, he added: “It shows how quickly things can go wrong.”
From Monday, Austria will go into a full national lockdown – becoming the first Western European country to bring back draconian measures.
The new restrictions have sparked a riot in the capital of Vienna.
It will mean non-essential shops are set to close, with Austrians ordered to work from home.
People will also be legally required to be double-jabbed by February 1, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday.
The restrictions will be in force until December, but will be reassessed after 10 days, authorities said.
In the UK though, Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to introduction tougher measures despite daily infections above 40,000.
He has yet to rule out a Christmas lockdown but according to reports is hoping that the Covid booster programme will help prevent further restrictions.
A government source told The Times: “It absolutely underlines how crucial the booster programme is to get us through the winter.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there but the thing we know with most certainty is that getting boosters rolled out is the best thing we can do.”
The Czech Republic has also announced a full lockdown, while in Italy, the government is considering imposing restrictions for the unvaccinated.
The incoming German government said it wants to bar unvaccinated people from going to work and travelling on public transport.
The Netherlands has also imposed a 7pm curfew for pubs and restaurants to try and curb rising Covid-19 cases.
In Slovakia, leaders have said they plan on bringing in stricter measures if its current lockdown of unvaccinated people does not slow the rise in cases.
Riots and protests have swept across Europe amid furious backlash over the latest restrictions.
In Vienna, tens of thousands of protesters gathered today with the far-right opposition Freedom Party.
Cars were set on fire during protests in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Friday. Police had fired warning shots and used water cannons to disperse crowds.
Police confirmed on Saturday that two people were in hospital after they were seriously injured during the protests as 51 were arrested.
Demonstrations are also expected in Switzerland, Croatia and Italy.
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