The UK could open up “sooner rather than later” thanks to the huge numbers of people being vaccinated – and we are not experiencing a third wave of infections, an expert has told Sky News.

Brendan Wren, professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that having more than 81% of the adult population with a first jab, and 59% with both doses is “very encouraging”.

Asked whether the success of the vaccine programme means the country does not need to wait until 19 July to fully open up, he said: “We’d still need to be vigilant – but vigilance and vaccination are the two words.

“So, I think if the numbers continue to be promising then I think there’s great hope we could open up on 5 July.”

Official figures show the UK has recorded more than 10,000 COVID cases for three consecutive days.

But Prof Wren explained that the rise in cases seems to be “flattening off”, saying: “If you are testing and tracing more, then you are going to find more cases… but if you look at the population as a general cross-section, then the actual numbers – proportion-wise – might be less.”

And asked whether the UK is experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, Prof Wren said: “I don’t think particularly. We expected that there would be an increase as we gradually opened up but I wouldn’t call this a third wave.

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“The numbers aren’t as great and given that such a huge proportion of the population are protected, then it’s unlikely to go up and I’d also say that I think the population are more educated.

“We have better testing and tracing, so I don’t expect that we’re going to have a huge peak like we’ve had in January and last year.”