While COVID vaccines appear to be having an effect on case numbers, scientists remain worried about new strains.
With case numbers declining across much of the UK, hopes have been raised that the latest wave of the pandemic may be on the way out.
A new study has also suggested that the Oxford vaccine helps stops transmission of COVID – boosting hopes that there could be an earlier end to lockdown restrictions.
However, the UK variant of coronavirus has developed a new mutation in a small number of cases, which scientists said makes it similar to the South African and Brazilian variants and could reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
Public Health England said there had been 11 reports of the UK variant that feature the E484K mutation, mostly in South West England.
With England now over four weeks into the third national round of restrictions, lockdown fatigue is also seemingly setting in for some people.
Shopper numbers across retail destinations crept up 9% in the week ending 23 January, versus the previous week.
Market research company Springboard said that the rise was the first seen in five weeks and could be an indication of people feeling “lockdown fatigue”.
Last month, Boris Johnson said there would be no easing of current restrictions until 8 March at the earliest, allowing vaccines for the most vulnerable to start becoming effective.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown