- COVID is now an “inconvenience” for most people rather than “life-threatening”, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy on the virus has told Sky News.
- But concerns remain for those who are older and with health conditions, as well as the unvaccinated, warned Dr David Nabarro.
- He urged people to be “responsible” and continue to wear masks and social distance “to protect others” – as COVID cases continue to surge.
UK people affected at large
Around 1.7 million people in the UK are estimated to have tested positive for the virus last week, up 23% from 1.4 million the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Dr Nabarro told Sky News’ Kay Burley: “I’m not worried for the world in that I really do believe that a lot has been learnt and at the same time the virus is evolving.
“But I am worried for individuals who may be at risk because they are in the older age group or have other conditions that mean they are likely to get severely ill.
“I am worried for people who decided not to be vaccinated because I think their risks are greater as well.”
Covid levels are increasing
COVID levels are increasing in all four nations of the UK, with the rise in infections compatible with Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.
The strains are capable of “dodging past the protection” from vaccines, Dr Nabarro said.
“We can get ill even though we have been vaccinated,” he said, describing the illness as “pretty nasty” but for most people, “survivable”.
“It’s because a few people are likely to be at high risk and also because of the constant worries about long COVID that I think people should still keep their mask in their pocket… or in their handbag or briefcase.
“If you’re going into a place where there are a lot of people up close together, all the evidence is that that’s where your risks are greatest.”
And having COVID multiple times does not build up resistance or immunity because the virus is always changing, Dr Nabarro added.
It is more likely to increase your chances of getting long COVID, which is now affecting a record 2 million people in the UK.
“In summary, we are getting through this pandemic, we are not through it yet, but we seem to be getting through it,’ Dr Nabarro said.
“For many of us now, the illness will be an inconvenience rather than life threatening but remember, there are some who are going to be badly affected.”
Did you subscribe to our daily Newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe