Vaccines are behind Britain's sharp drop in coronavirus cases since January, top experts claimed today despite Boris Johnson insisting earlier this week that lockdown was behind the fall.
Professor Tim Spector, a King's College London epidemiologist who runs the UK's largest Covid symptom tracking study, said the epidemic had 'mainly' been squashed by the 'exemplar vaccine programme'.
With more than 60 per cent of the population vaccinated with at least one dose and up to 10 per cent of people protected due to prior infection, Professor Spector said Britain was getting close to achieving 'herd immunity'.
His study of more than a million Britons showed daily cases have fallen by 17 per cent in the last week, with an estimated 1,600 new symptomatic cases a day across the country.
Professor Spector said: 'As the UK slowly exits lockdown, I’m encouraged to see Covid cases continue to fall with our rates among the lowest in Europe.
'In fact, the UK closely mirrors cases in Israel with its exemplar vaccine programme. Based on our data and countries like Israel, I believe the fall in cases since January is mainly thanks to the vaccination programme and less about the strict lockdown the UK has been under since late December.
'With up to 60 per cent of the population vaccinated and around 5 to 10 per cent with natural immunity due to infection, we’re starting to see herd immunity take effect.
'This should prevent future large-scale outbreaks. However, we do expect to see smaller, manageable outbreaks in the coming weeks and months among groups which are yet to be vaccinated.'
It comes after Mr Johnson warned the reduction in Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths was down to lockdowns and 'has not been achieved' by the rollout of vaccines.
In a significant toning down of his praise for the jabs, the Prime Minister said the 'bulk of the work in reducing the disease had been done by the lockdown'.
King's College London's study of more than a million Britons showed daily cases have fallen by 17 per cent in the last week, with an estimated 1,600 new symptomatic cases a day across the country