Dr Hilary Jones has issued a warning over calls to cut the Covid self-isolation to five days as hospitals struggle under pressure.
The 68-year-old doctor suggested that the move would be “counter-productive” after officials in the US cut the isolation period down to five days.
He also hit back at the suggestion that having a third dose of the Covid vaccine didn’t work as host Susanna Reid asked: “What was the effect of that triple dose on the virus for those people that got it?”
Dr Hilary said: “All the evidence suggests that the protection that you have against serious infections – about 80 to 85% of that third dose, that booster against serious infection – no one is saying that it will stop you entirely from getting the infection. And for those people saying, ‘Well, that means that it’s clearly not working!’
“This is what I would say – if you’ve got an infection and you’ve got a temperature of 38 degrees and you’ve taken your paracetamol and your friend says, ‘Well, clearly your paracetamol isn’t working’, it would have 40 degrees had you not taken it! It’s very similar with the vaccination.
“Had you not had that booster, you would likely have got sicker if you’ve got Omicron now.”
Richard Bacon, who had joined Susanna as host on the ITV show, pointed out that hospital admissions had remained stable, which could be attributed to the vaccine.
“Absolutely,” Dr Hilary said. “If you look at what normally happens in winter in hospital with elderly people in hospital with pneumonia, secondary infections after a viral infection.
“Now, we’ve got this viral infection but we’re not seeing that many people in hospital requiring it, partly because people are self-isolating, people are not mixing – they’re taking personal responsibility. But vaccine is making that huge difference to what we’ve seen. The pandemic would have been in a much worse situation without vaccination.”
Susanna asked: “What is the situation with the isolation period? Because in England that isolation was reduced was long as you test negative on days six and seven and come out after seven days. Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to reduce it in line with England to five days.”
Dr Hilary pointed out: “The problem is that if you reduce it to five days, you’re still going to have people going back to work because they’re in that incubation period. They haven’t yet developed symptoms, they’re coming out of isolation and they’re going to transmit the virus. That could be counter-productive.”
*Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV