Christmas will be ‘tough’ this year with no big family celebrations - according to a SAGE scientist

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A leading scientist in the UK has warned that it will be a “tough” Christmas this year, with families unlikely to be permitted to come together as they usually would.

SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) member Sir Jeremy Farrar told Sky News journalist Sophy Ridge that he was positive about hopes for a vaccine in early 2021.

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He said, “The UK is in an extraordinarily strong position. The vaccine taskforce that Kate Bingham chairs has done an absolutely extraordinary job.

“Britain has access to a number of different vaccines across a number of different approaches. Britain has got a portfolio of vaccines that I believe will be available within the first quarter of next year.”

He added that he does not think vaccines will be ready and distributed by Christmas, saying that festive celebrations will “be tough this year.”

“I don’t think it will be the usual celebration it is, with families coming together. I wish I could say it was, but we are in for three to six months of a difficult period,” he admitted.

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“But there is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine next year and treatment.”

What has the Prime Minister said?

In early October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, where he said it could be “a very tough winter for all of us.”

Johnson went on, “I can tell you in all candour, it will continue to be bumpy through to Christmas, and may even be bumpy beyond.”

Last week, at a Downing Street press conference, he said, “We’ll do our absolute best to try to make sure we can get life back to as close as normal as possible for Christmas.

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“But that is going to depend, I’m afraid, on our success in getting this virus down and our ability as a country to follow through on the package of measures.”

Reiterating the importance for hand washing, social distancing and face coverings, Johnson added, “All that basic stuff is essential if we’re going to come out of this and allow people to have anything like a normal Christmas.”

What else has the English government said about Christmas?

When the tiered Covid-19 alert system was introduced, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News the reasoning behind the new system was to hopefully get the virus under control by the New Year.

Dowden said, “The purpose of doing this is to ensure that we get the virus under control so that by the time we get to after Christmas, we are in a position where it’s under control.

“Indeed, I hope it will be sooner than that.”