The University of Bristol academic told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.
“We can conclude that the race is firmly on between the vaccine programme, particularly getting older people’s second doses done, and the Delta variant third wave.”
Prof Finn said the JCVI is still working to decide whether children should be vaccinated but said that effort would not be the immediate priority if it was approved.
“Even if some decision were made to immunise children it wouldn’t be appropriate right now, either here or anywhere else in Europe, to give our doses predominantly to children because it’s adults that get sick, so vaccinating adults is clearly the priority right now,” he said.
When later asked by Times Radio if he feels confident that the pace of vaccination will keep up with the Delta variant, Prof Finn said:
No, I don’t feel confident, but I think there’s some grounds for optimism.
“The latest ONS figures continue to show a rise, but that rise has not accelerated quite as much as I’d feared over the last week.
“So, the race is on. The sooner we can get, particularly second doses, into older people, the less of a hospitalisation wave we’ll see this time around.
“That’s the critical thing, that’s what’s grounded us all in the past, and if we’ve managed to protect enough older people that we can avoid a great big surge of hospitalisations and deaths, then things will be able to move back towards normal.”