More than 70 million vaccine doses have now been administered in the UK (Image: REUTERS)

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Lockdown could be lifted in just over two weeks, a pandemic expert has claimed.

Brendan Wren, professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has welcomed the news that 81 per cent of the adult population have now been vaccinated in England.

Across the whole of the UK more than 74 million first and second doses have now been given out.

When asked whether the numbers were enough to ease lockdown early, Professor Wren said they were.

He told Sky News: "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."

The professor did warn that a "pretty miserable winter" lay ahead of the UK, warning that lockdowns may have to be re-introduced.

Brendan Wren suggested lockdown could end two weeks early
(Image: Sky News)

While the third wave will likely gather momentum over the coming months, the vaccination programme should ensure it's less deadly than the previous two.

Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic director for Covid-19 at PHE, said getting as many people as possible jabbed by July 19 was key.

Last week, the Government was forced to delay so-called Freedom Day, when all restrictions will be lifted, by four weeks due to a worrying rise in positive tests.

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Speaking to the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Dr Hopkins said: “The extra time to vaccinate more people, get two doses of vaccination in as many people as possible, will hopefully mean that what we’re seeing with this wave won’t look the same as the previous waves that we’ve seen in this country.

“What I would like to see is that everyone over the age of 40 has had the opportunity to get double vaccinated.

The success of the vaccination drive should keep deaths and hospitalisations lower than last year
(Image: PA)

More than four-fifths of the adult population in England have now had at least one jab
(Image: REUTERS)

She added: “We should be able to hit the 70 per cent figure having two doses before July 19.”

The PHE expert said that there were some positive signs in terms of case counts in some areas.

"We are definitely seeing some signals in some areas of cases slowing down, Bolton for example has definitely reversed, Blackburn and Darwen has stabilised," she said.

"But there are other parts of the country, particularly in some parts of the north-east, some parts of London that are still rising quite fast.

"So I think this is not all doing the same thing all over the country, and we're seeing rises and falls as people go out and get tested and I think we are seeing the impact of vaccination and that is good news."

Today a further 9,284 new infections were reported in the UK, according to government data, a rise of 24 per cent on last Sunday's 7,490 new cases.

However, deaths remain low and steady, with six people dying – two less than last Sunday.