- A member of government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), Sir Mark Walport, says the coronavirus will be present forever in some form or another.
- He says people would need to be vaccinated at regular intervals.
- His comments came after the head of the WHO said he hoped the pandemic would be over within two years.
- Sir Mark says denser populations and travel meant the virus spread easily.
- He also says the world population was now much larger than in 1918.
BBC brings to us another harsh reality about coronavirus and how it is to continue in this world. Sir Mark Walport, a member of government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) says this virus will require repeated vaccinations.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, has said that the Spanish flu of 1918 took two years to overcome, and that advances in technology could allow the world to halt coronavirus “in a shorter time”.
“This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another, and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” Sir Mark Walport said.
“So, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”
Coronavirus killed 800,000 people
Coronavirus has so far killed 800,000 people. Nearly 23 million infections have been recorded but the number of people who have actually had the virus is thought to be much higher due to inadequate testing and asymptomatic cases.
The flu of 1918 killed at least 50 million people.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Mark said that, in order to control the pandemic, “global vaccination” would be required, but coronavirus would not be a disease like smallpox “which could be eradicated by vaccination”.
A strong warning
Sir Mark warned that it was “possible” coronavirus would get “out of control” again, but said more targeted measures could now be used instead of a generic lockdown.
Coronavirus cases have been increasing in European countries in recent weeks. Some nations, which had appeared successful in suppressing the initial outbreaks, are now seeing infections rise again.
UK records 21.5 coronavirus cases
As of 22 August, the UK recorded 21.5 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the last fortnight, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Sir Mark said: “We know that less than one in five people around the country have been infected, so 80% of the population are still susceptible to this virus.”
Meanwhile, tourists returning to the UK spent thousands of pounds arranging new flights in a race to get home before new travel rules came into force.
From 04:00 BST on Saturday, travellers coming back from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago must quarantine for 14 days.
There were similar scenes last weekend when new rules kicked in for those returning from countries including Netherlands and France.
“It is this terrible balance between trying to minimise the harm to people from the infection and protecting people, whilst keeping society going”, Sir Mark, said.
He said he was worried about the rise in the number of cases in Europe and other parts of the world.
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