UK to live with coronavirus ‘for decades to come’


The UK will live with the coronavirus for “many, many years to come,” according to one of the government’s top science advisers.

Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and director of the Wellcome Trust, appeared to throw cold water on Boris Johnson’s hope of a “meaningful return to normalcy” here the end of the year.

He told the Commons Select Committee on Health and Welfare: “Things will not be done until Christmas. This infection does not go away, it is now an endemic human infection.

“Even, in fact, if we have a vaccine or very good treatments, humanity will still live with this virus for many, many years to come.

Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar told MPs ‘things won’t get done until Christmas’

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Sir Jeremy insisted that “we must keep the emergency in place in June, July and August”, adding: “We must now move to a long term coherent approach in this regard. Because humanity will live with this infection for decades. ”

He said June, July and August were a “crucial phase” in the battle to prevent a second wave of Covid-19.

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Sir Jeremy told the committee: “If we have the slightest sense of complacency about ‘this is behind us’ then we will undoubtedly have a second wave, and we could easily be in the same situation again.

“The lockdowns have made a huge difference in community transmission – they have done nothing to change the fundamentals of the virus.

SAGE coronavirus experts warn UK is heading for deadly second wave this winter

Sir Jeremy warned that we could be in “a very, very difficult winter” if preparations were not in place by September (Credits: Nic Bothma / EPA-EFE / Rex)

“It remains as contagious as at the end of December, it has the same clinical syndrome, it kills the same number of people.

“And as soon as the lockdowns ease, if we don’t have mechanisms to change the fundamentals – that means diagnostics, tests, treatments, and vaccines – then it will come back, and it will come back in the winter when everyone else. (diseases do).

He added: “If we don’t have things in place at the beginning of September, when the schools restart, we will face a very, very difficult winter.

Another expert, Professor Sir John Bell of the University of Oxford, told MPs that “the reality is this pathogen is here forever”, adding that “it is not going anywhere”.

He said: “It’s going to come and go, and we’re going to have winters where we put a lot of this virus back into action.

“The vaccine is unlikely to have a lasting effect that will last very long, so we’re going to have to have a continuous cycle of vaccinations, and then more illnesses, more vaccinations and more illnesses.

“So I think the idea that we’re going to eliminate it from the entire population is just not realistic.

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