Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said that every time the country lifts lockdown it pushes infection rates up.
It comes after Boris Johnson said that the fall in Covid-19 cases was not due to the vaccine roll-out programme but mainly down to the country’s national lockdown.
Asked about those comments, Professor Harnden told BBC Breakfast: “I think he’s right, both vaccination and lockdown have been really important.
“And I think he’s probably concerned, as I am, about the scenes in London that we saw of people actually enjoying the outside, pubs and then the crowded spaces – well, of course what that will do is push infection rates up.
“Every time that we ‘unlockdown’, we push infection rates up, and the danger of pushing infection rates up is we get much more transmission in the community.”
Professor Harnden said they did not want new variants, such as the South African strain, to become prevalent because “the vaccines don’t work quite as well” against it.
He added: “So I think [the Prime Minister] is trying to be cautious with everybody.
“We will all want to get our lives back, we all want to enjoy ourselves again, but we must be cautious and do this slowly. Otherwise we’ll get back to square one.”
He said of course we can “enjoy ourselves” but need to maintain social distancing and be a “little bit more cautious”.
Yesterday the Prime Minister warned Britons to still be cautious. He said: “Of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.”
He added: “As we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths. People have just got to understand that.”
It comes after the country started unlocking on Monday, with pub dining allowed outside for the first time in months and indoor gyms reopening.