On Friday Mr Johnson suggested there would be a “significant return to normality” by Christmas. He followed his prediction up with a newspaper interview published today in which he appeared to rule out any more nationwide lockdowns.
Mr Johnson said: “I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent.
“But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it.
“And nor do I think we will be in that position again.
“It’s not just that we’re getting much better at spotting the disease and isolating it locally, but we understand far more which groups it affects, how it works, how it’s transmitted, so the possibility of different types of segmentation, of enhanced shielding for particular groups, is now there.”
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph he added: “We’re genuinely able now to look at what’s happening in much closer to real time, to isolate outbreaks and to address them on the spot, and to work with local authorities to contain the problem locally and regionally if we have to.”
However, both Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty have been rather more cautious, most recently when speaking to the Lords Science and Technology Committee.
JUST IN: South China Sea news – US on collision course with ’emboldened’ Beijing
He also said the first lockdown had come into force a week too late, describing COVID-19 outcome in the UK, where Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre puts the death toll at more than 45,000, “not good”.
Prof Whitty suggested additional restrictions may be needed in the winter months.
He also downplayed any idea of a vaccine being available this year, saying: “Obviously the one that we would all love to see is if in the next six months we got an effective, or fairly effective vaccine or highly effective drugs.
“I think Patrick and I certainly would be very surprised if that was the case, but very pleasantly surprised and we’re working as fast as we can to achieve that.
“But clearly that would lead to a significant change of strategy.”
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge today, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the UK’s National Statistician, said he had not detected any marked increase in coronavirus cases since the lockdown measures were eased.
Asked if he had expected to see an increase in the number of infections as lockdown was lifted said it depended on “how the population works”.
He added: “The message has been quite consistent in that we must be alert and we must be socially distanced and if we are really super careful and if we are able to follow all the rules it does seem to me that we should expect there to be a relative flatline at the moment.
“Clearly over the autumn we will need to be ever vigilant.”