People who have been vaccinated should be allowed to visit one another, an expert has said.
Professor Tim Spector, who leads the COVID Symptom Tracker app study run by King’s College London, said there is no scientific rationale to stop vaccinated people from travelling or meeting one another.
He said the benefits to people's mental health of allowing them to meet up and the needs of the elderly should be taken into consideration.
Prof Spector said the ideal situation would be if people had had both doses of the vaccine but it would still probably be safe after just one jab.
His comments come amid controversy over suggestions that pubs could be allowed to introduce 'vaccine passports' for punters.
Prof Spector said: "I think we’re actually in a much better place than many people are telling us, and I, for one, I’m not worried too much about what’s happening abroad.
"I think we need to start talking about when people who have been vaccinated can start seeing other vaccinated people.
"And there’s no real science now stopping, for example, me seeing my vaccinated mother in a care home or, you know, wherever they live.
"So I think we need to start moving to this next area and realise that our plan is working, and that we were doing well."
Pub 'vaccine passports' could be considered after everyone offered a jab
Asked if such a move would mean bringing forward some meetings ahead of the schedule laid out in the government's road map, he said: "If we’re being led by the science, that’s what we’d be led by. But we’re not, we’re being led by politics, and I can see the arguments for not splitting the country into two.
"At the same time, given the mental state of many people, and the needs of elderly people, I think that ought to be equally considered."
He said while the best scenario would be to wait until both people had had two doses of the vaccine, the risks if people were to meet up after just one dose would be fairly low.
"I think ideally, yes, wait for both vaccines for both people, but I think once you’ve gone over a month after your first one, most people are going to be safe to see people who are free of COVID and themselves vaccinated," he added.
Prof Spector also cast doubt on the idea that preventing holidays abroad or limiting travel would help stop COVID variants arriving in the UK.
"I think this is a bit of a smokescreen," he said, "and I think we do need to realise why we have areas of the country that are hard to get rid of the virus.
“Anyone travelling from an area of low COVID to an area of high COVID is obviously putting themselves more at risk of getting infected, so that’s a consideration even within this country.
“But if you’ve been vaccinated, and many of the elderly people have, there’s no scientific rationale to stop them from travelling.”
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said while border closures would delay the arrival of new variants, they would not prevent them.
"If the Government chooses to curtail travel, that will not prevent the problem, that will not prevent the next wave," he said.
"The idea that somehow bringing in extra cases from overseas tips the balance and sends us into an epidemic we wouldn’t have had without that is just simply wrong."
He added: "It can delay the arrival of these new variants, but it’s very unlikely we can stop them."
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