At today’s briefing, the professor warned that the coronavirus “will not be eradicated” and that the UK will likely have to live with restrictions for a year.
Professor Whitty said at a press conference in Downing Street: “It is important that people fully understand that … even in countries which started their epidemic curve earlier than in the United Kingdom, and which are still in advance, the downward slope from the point where we change is relatively slow.
“We have to anticipate the same situation in the UK. We should not expect it to be a sudden drop in cases.
The government has officially extended the lockout until the end of the first week in May.
Under emergency legislation, measures must be reviewed every three weeks.
Professor Whitty also said that disruptive social measures should remain in place until a vaccine or effective drugs to treat the coronavirus are found, which he says are unlikely to happen this year.
“In the long run, getting out of this will ideally be one of two things. A vaccine, and there are a variety of ways to deploy it… or, and or, very effective drugs to stop people dying from this disease even if they catch it, or that can prevent this disease in vulnerable people .
“Until we have them, and the likelihood of having them anytime in the next calendar year is incredibly small and I think we should be realistic about it.
“We are going to have to rely on other social measures, which are of course very socially disruptive, as everyone is currently seeing.
“But until then that is what we will have to do, but it will be the best combination that will maximize the outlook, but it will take a long time and I think we should be aware of this. “
Professor Whitty said there is still no antibody test in which Public Health England has enough confidence to give an idea of the number of people in the UK who have had a coronavirus.
“The problem we have had is that we don’t have as good a test as we would like yet,” he said.
Explanation of government action against coronaviruses
“A lot of different people are trying to work on an improved test – there are enough good tests on it at the moment but there are not very good tests.
“This is one of the essential pieces of information that we need to make decisions and I hope – but I have been hoping for some time, so I don’t want to promise too much about it – that we will have soon tests that are good enough to have at least an overview of the proportion of people in different age groups, in different parts of the country, who have had this virus. ”
He said he “hoped” that the test would be available in “the near future”.