Professor Chris Whitty said that understanding transmission in children is a “very important” factor in deciding whether school closings are “an essential part of our long-term response.”
Last night, he made the brutal admission at the end of a Gresham College online conference as he pointed out the “many things we don’t know and need to know” about the virus.
He said: “It is important that we do not know how many children are contributing to the transmission of the virus and this is very important, for example, in deciding whether school closings are an essential part of our long-term response . “
It was reported earlier in the week that British schoolchildren may return to school part-time before the summer holidays.
Secretary of Education Gavin Williamson anticipates a gradual return to school for all students after the coronavirus is locked out, but declined to give a date for their reopening.
But some reports say that age groups with the most urgent educational steps like exams could be given priority.
The Sun reports that young people are on the verge of going from elementary to secondary school, and that students who do GCSEs or A levels might be given priority.
The UK could also see delayed return dates, with ministers’ plans to include strategies, including allowing elementary students to return first, followed by secondary students later.
A source told the newspaper that the government is keen for children to go back to school in the summer.
But these reports differ from Professor Whitty’s comments made last night.
During the conference, Professor Whitty also said that a second wave of coronavirus could be “more serious” than the first and spread more quickly if it arrived in winter.
He said that every country seeking to loosen the lockdown measures must now negotiate an “extremely difficult balance” to keep the pandemic under control.
In particular, the virus’s “R” reproduction number must be less than one – which means that each infected person can expect to transmit it unless it is infected with another person on average.
Professor Whitty said, “We have to make sure that R doesn’t go back above 1. Otherwise, we’ll come back to a second wave.
“It is quite plausible that a second wave would actually be more severe than the first if it was not attenuated.
“Each country has an extremely difficult balancing act, and we all have to be honest that there are no easy solutions here.
“Covid-19 is far from over and eradication is technically impossible for this disease. “