It is “looking good” for all coronavirus restrictions in England to be lifted on 21 June as planned, a leading health expert has said.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency and head of NHS Test and Trace, said England remains on course to adhere to its COVID-19 unlocking roadmap.
All legal limits on social contact are set to be removed on 21 June at the earliest and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.
However, Dr Harries warned the public to be cautious in order to avoid another lockdown, saying the Indian variant of coronavirus had become the “dominant strain” in some parts of the country.
She told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “It’s looking good, if people are continuing to observe all of the safety signals, so we should not stop doing what we’re doing.
“It’s really important that people continue to do 'hands, face, space' and work from home, have their jabs and go for tests as well.
“We all need to be very cautious and I think we all don’t want to go back to the sort of lockdowns that we’ve had.”
But home secretary Priti Patel said on Sunday there would not be a “green light all the way” to unlocking restrictions.
She said: “We all have to be conscientious. All of us that are out and about now, we are distancing, wearing masks, following all the rules.
“That is part of our normal life now and that will continue, and that, of course, will help us to that unlocking on 21 June.”
A study published at the weekend by Public Health England (PHE) showed that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was 88% effective against the Indian variant after two doses, and the AstraZeneca jab was 60% effective.
Both vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose, compared with about 50% against the Kent strain.
Health secretary Matt Hancock described the outcome of the study as “groundbreaking”, while PHE said it expects to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospital admission and death.
It said there have been at least 2,889 cases of the Indian variant recorded in England from the beginning of February.
The latest government figures showed that more than 60 million first and second vaccine doses have now been administered in the UK.
That comprises 37.9 million first doses, or 72% of the UK population, and 22.6 million second doses, or 43%.
Hancock said: “Shortly after vaccinating over 70% of adults in the UK with a first dose, we have hit yet another incredible milestone with over 60 million doses delivered in total.
“Our trailblazing vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in NHS history, is another great British success story and a testament to what can be achieved when all four corners of the country comes together to defeat this virus.”
Watch: Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs effective against Indian variant