Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham.

A top Nottingham scientist has urged people in the county to get vaccinated after data shows the area has one of the lowest double-jabbed rates in the UK.

The plea comes as it has been revealed 40% of the population in Nottingham City is not double vaccinated against Covid-19 – making it one of the 20 local authorities with the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

Nottinghamshire was also one of the first counties in the country to record a case – which was later revealed to be a University of Nottingham student – of the recently discovered Omicron variant.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said: “In general, no matter what the exact figure is, I think it’s safe to say that not enough people in Nottingham have been vaccinated.

“The fact that those people will mix quite widely, and they are packed into quite close proximity to one another [because] we are living in fairly high-density cities means that the virus finds it fairly easy to transmit between people and if you’re vulnerable and you become infected then you’re at high risk of becoming seriously ill and dying.”

The Omicron variant has only recently been discovered by scientists in South Africa and cases have since been found across the globe – including countries in Europe, North America and Africa.

It is not clear whether this variant is more infectious, more deadly, or if the vaccines we currently have still work against it.

Professor Ball mentions that this variant is a concern because it has more genetic changes in the spike protein compared to the variants found in the past, but he remains positive on the effectiveness of vaccines.

He said: “I’m still optimistic that the vaccines will work and that is why my plea to everybody in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire is to go and get vaccinated, and, if you’re offered a booster, go and get boosted.

“This virus is here to stay.

“It will continue to circulate, it will continue to mutate, and the best weapon we have at the moment against this virus is vaccines.”

Vaccination centres in Nottinghamshire can be found on the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group.