Published: 18:19, 27 July 2021
| Updated: 18:20, 27 July 2021
A Kent virologist is urging caution as Covid-19 cases drop in the UK.
Prof Martin Michaelis, of the University of Kent in Canterbury, says while a fall in figures is welcome it is too early to say what will happen next, or what impact the lifting of restrictions has had.
In the week up to April 21, cases across the UK fell from 60,713 to 34,653.
Figures appear to have continued to fall since then, although data for the latest five days is currently incomplete due to a lag in the recording of cases.
The news cases appear to be dropping nationally despite the country being out of lockdown has sparked optimism from some quarters.
Prof Martin Michaelis, of the University of Kent, says: "Falling numbers are always good - that's what we want.
"It's quite unexpected - it's a very nice surprise."
"The biggest risk is probably that we get new variants, against which our vaccines aren't effective..."
However, he warns it is too early to see what impact the easing of social restrictions last Monday has had upon cases.
"What we don't know is how the July 19 opening will pan out, because these cases would come later," he said.
"I hope that numbers continue to go down, but it's also possible that they go up again and when we look in eight weeks or so at the curve, (we see this fall in cases) was only a little blip in the rise."
Prof Michaelis says there remains a "high level of uncertainty".
"We don't know what is going to happen," he said. "Even the best experts in the world don't know. Because nature throws a dice.
"The biggest risk is probably that we get new variants, against which our vaccines aren't effective any more.
"That would put us in deep trouble and we'd need new vaccines, and that would take time and we'd be back to where we were.
"I think we should err on the safe side here," he continued.
"We're all happy that the numbers are falling and I would like us to be cautious.
"We don't stop using safety belts in cars, just because the number of deaths in car accidents goes down. We appreciate that they keep us safe.
"It sounds a bit boring now, but it's not over. We don't know if it is over.
"And if we relax now completely, we may stop the trend and we may make it worse again."