Professor Ravi Gupta has said the UK is in an “early third wave” which has been caused by the “more transmissible” Indian variant.
Professor Gupta who advises the government has called on Boris Johnson delaying the 21 June reopening.
Professor Gupta was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme are we already in a third wave, he said, “Yes.
“There has been exponential growth in the number of the new cases and at least three-quarters of them are the new variant.”
The new and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) group member added, “Of course the numbers of cases are relatively low at the moment, all waves start with low numbers of cases that grumble in the background and then become explosive, so the key here is that what we are seeing here is the signs of an early wave.
“It will probably take longer than earlier waves to emerge because of the fact that we do have quite high levels of vaccination in the population, so there may be a false sense of security for some time, and that’s our concern.”
He said that the Prime Minister should delay the full reopening of the economy “by a few weeks.!
Professor Gupta told the BBC, “I think the problem is we are not too far from reaching the sort of levels of vaccination that would help us contain the virus and I think that people are not saying we should abandon the 21 June date altogether but just to delay it by a few weeks while we gather more intelligence and we can look at the trajectory in a clearer way.
“If you look at the costs and benefits of getting it wrong, I think it is heavily in favour of delay, so I think that’s the key thing.
“Yes, we will learn to live with it but this date that was set did not take into account the fact we would have a new variant on the horizon, with properties that allow it to evade antibodies to some extent and a virus which is more transmissible.”
Professor Danny Altmann of Imperial College London warned last week, the roadmap to freedom is now “balanced on a knife” as three quarters of all new cases are of the Indian mutant variant.
Professor Altman said, “’m not terribly surprised, I think we’d all seen it coming.
“Frankly, it’s alarming isn’t it?”
Speaking to Sky News the surge of thousands of cases of the mutant virus is “troubling” and warned that the government should “set back our clock.”
He was asked if England meets step four of the roadmap out of lockdown on 21 June, he said, “Hopefully there’s some quite careful thought and mathematical modelling being done into this.
“For my taste at the moment, that looks somewhat in doubt.
‘We really are balanced on a knife edge, but surely from all that we’ve all seen in the last 13 or 14 months we realise how unforgiving and relentless this virus is.
“And you can’t joke around with it with half measures.”