A covid-19 third wave is inevitable in the UK, but how bad will it be?


25 March 2021
, updated 26 March 2021

By Clare Wilson

Two people socially distancing as they chat together in Hyde Park, London

REUTERS/Toby Melville

This week, UK prime minister Boris Johnson warned that there is no doubt that the third wave of covid-19 infections happening now in mainland Europe will “wash up” on the UK’s shores. In fact, scientists and doctors, including England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty, have been warning for weeks that a new surge of infections would happen this year, as lockdown restrictions are eased. Now we have some early figures on vaccine take-up and effectiveness, what can we predict about the UK’s third wave? …

Article amended on
26 March 2021

This article was updated to reflect the fact that the calculations previously didn’t include asymptomatic transmission in vaccinated people.

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