CUMBRIA'S director of public health has said that another lockdown is unlikely following suggestion that the vaccination programme would soften the blow of a third wave of coronavirus.

This comes after Professor Neil Ferguson, an expert on the spread of infectious diseases who sits on the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told the BBC he is increasingly optimistic that another lockdown will not happen. However, he did say that another lockdown "could not be completely ruled out".

Colin Cox, director of public health for Cumbria echoed this message as he suggested that 'we are starting to see the impact of the vaccination programme take hold'.

"What it comes down to is a balance of risk of harm," he said.

"I think we may well see a third wave and it may be Autumn or Winter, but if that happens it will almost certainly, because of vaccination, be a lot smaller than either wave one or two and not as consequential.

"So even if people get coronavirus, they were far less likely to end up in hospital or to die.

"Because of that there is little risk the NHS will be overwhelmed and therefore no justification for another lockdown.

"Actually, then you would get in a position where a lockdown would actually do more harm than good.

"So, I suspect that Professor Ferguson is right in that we won't see another lockdown.

"This is assuming of course that we don't see another variant come into the fray, then all bets are off."

A new variant is the key concern for Mr Cox, which he suggests is the only threat to the nation's collective no-lockdown future.

"If figures stay as they are we are probably okay but if we see another variant that becomes resistant to the vaccine then obviously that changes things," Mr Cox continued.

"At the moment we are putting out a lot of messages for members of the public to stay within the guidelines and officers within the county have got resources going into places helping them to become Covid secure.

"We will have people working with pubs and restaurants to make sure they are working within guidelines as more easings go on."