A VIROLOGIST says we are “nowhere near close” to the end of the pandemic – and has warned companies and world leaders not to rush a vaccine.

University of Brighton scientist Dr Sarah Pitt fears if a vaccine is not rolled out carefully, it could embolden “anti vaxxers”.

She also said everyone in the world would have to be vaccinated and believes more than one dose of a potential vaccine or boosters would be needed to help wipe out Covid-19.

Nine possible vaccines are currently at the final trial stage, which involves thousands of people across the globe.

Dr Pitt said: “There are very careful safety precautions, which all have to be met, before a vaccine can be approved for use.

“There is no doubt there are political pressures in the race to be the first and there are then further pressures on scientists to do their work faster and speed up the process.

"Biology does not work like that. It just takes time.

“My big concern is that a rushed vaccine can lead to issues in trust, however good it might turn out to be.

“We have seen a rise in the anti-vaccination movement – this needs to be reversed and that comes with safety guarantees and effective messaging from governments.

“If there are doubts about a Covid-19 vaccine, will people stop taking other, completely safe, vaccines like polio? We need to be careful.”

If a vaccine is approved, Dr Pitt believes one dose might not be enough to make the world’s population immune.

She said: “You may need at least one booster. First of all, you would need to vaccinate everyone in the whole world, because it is so infectious.

"But then because of the way the virus behaves and the nature of what the vaccine is protecting against, you will probably need a booster – so that means tens of billions of people will need two doses within something like 12 months.

"The initial version might work, but we have seen cases where people have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 more than once, so you will need a top up.”

Even if there is a vaccine, Dr Pitt says measures including mask-wearing and social distancing may be needed for years to come.

“If we have one dose of a working vaccine, maybe by the mid-summer of next year we might be back to something like normal,” she said.

“But that depends on people taking the virus seriously – it’s very dangerous and it has not gone away.

“We have already seen measures brought back in across the world and more restrictions may need to come in before the situation gets better.

"We are nowhere near close to the end of this pandemic. I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow the basic guidelines of social distancing, wearing a face mask and washing your hands.”