Coronavirus will no longer be circulating in the UK by August and the country will likely remain protected over the winter, a top vaccine expert has predicted.

Clive Dix, the departing interim head of the vaccine taskforce, said the unprecedented speed of the vaccination programme means there is finally a clear end in sight to the pandemic.

It comes as the Government remains adamant all adults will have been offered at least one jab by the end of July, with nearly 35 million having received their first dose already.

Mr Dix has also urged Britain to share millions of spare doses with other nations desperately in need.

"Sometime in August, we will have no circulating virus in the UK," he told the Daily Telegraph.

The successful vaccine roll out should also give enough protection against all known variant strains, meaning booster jabs could feasibly be delayed until next year, he added.

Chairman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce Clive Dix
Chairman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce Clive Dix

Mr Dix said it was his "personal prediction" that "we will have probably protected the population" in three months.

"All the variants that are known; I think we'll be safe against over the coming winter," the expert said.

Covid cases continue to plummet despite Britain continuing to slowly lift restrictions and re-open the economy.

People arrive at a new seven-day vaccination hub at Villa Park, in Birmingham
Almost 35 million people have had at least one vaccine dose in the UK

Around 14,000 people have tested positive in the last week, down nearly 10 percent on the week before, according to the official data.

Mr Dix was initially deputy chair of the taskforce under Kate Bingham before taking the top job in December when the first jabs were being given in Britain.

He said if boosters are still needed after the first two doses, they could be held back until early 2022.

"We may decide that we need to boost the immune response, and we've got the vaccine to do that. Whether we'll need to or not, I would think probably not, but we might still do it in case," he said.

Mr Dix went on to say the "immune response will be strong" if boosters wait until January or February rather than this autumn.

However, he cautioned that the most vulnerable in society may see their immunity wane quicker meaning plans could have to be changed.

It comes as officials said people under 40 should be offered an alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine where possible due to a small risk of blood clots.

Virologist Dr Chris Smith said the change in guidance for under-40s in the UK to be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as an alternative was "sensible".

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said figures show that there is "a bit of a step change in risk" of rare blood clots for those below the age of 40.

"And for that reason, since we have alternatives, why not just switch to one of those alternatives for those other age groups while we get more data on what the mechanism of this is?" he said.

"It seems the most sensible and safe thing to do while we have other options available to us."