Covid vaccines might have prevented around 300,000 deaths in the UK, a scientist who helped create the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab has said.

In an interview with BBC's Andrew Marr, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, also said that the UK is ahead of a potential rise in cases with the Delta variant.

He said “We have, with the Oxford vaccine, got to two billion doses. But if you look at all the developers, we’re at 7.6 billion doses out there.

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“Without those 7.6 billion doses globally, we’d be in a very different situation.

“So if we just look at the UK, the predictions last year were that there would be between 300,000 and 500,000 deaths.

“And actually when you look at the data on lives saved so far this year, we’re actually not far off to actually think that that is the right number, that we might have been at around about 300,000 deaths by now without a vaccine.”

And the professor suggested it is "unlikely" the Uk will see a sharp rise in Covid cases in the next few months.

It comes in comparison with parts of Europe, which have seen surges in the virus and infection levels, with some countries imposing further restrictions.

He said: “We’ve actually had some spread (of the virus) going on since the summer, and so I think it’s unlikely that we’re going to see the very sharp rise in the next few months that’s just been seen. 

"We’re already ahead of that with this particular virus, the Delta variant.”

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Asked if the UK is close to herd immunity, Prof Sir Andrew said reaching the point where the virus no longer spreads is “not going to be a thing”, but added that vaccines are successfully slowing it down.

He said: “Unfortunately, this virus is going to be with us for decades ahead. If you mean slowing it down, then that’s something which the vaccines are already doing.”

He said coronavirus remains “a major global public health problem”, but added that in the UK “the balance is shifting because of the vaccine programme that has been in place”.