But he added that Covid-19 “will not be a disease like smallpox that could be eradicated by vaccination”.
Sir Mark, who is also a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said: ‘It is a virus that will stay with us forever in one form or another and will almost certainly require repeat vaccinations.
“So, much like the flu, people will need revaccinations at regular intervals. “
The scientist also warned that it is “possible” for the virus to get “out of control” again, but said more targeted measures can now be used instead of a generic lockdown.
His comments came after the head of the World Health Organization said he hoped the coronavirus pandemic would be over within two years.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took two years to defeat the Spanish flu in 1918, but technological advances could make it possible to stop Covid-19 in a “shorter time”.
Speaking in Geneva on Friday, he said: “Of course, with more connectivity, the virus has a better chance of spreading.
“But at the same time, we also have the technology to stop it and the knowledge to stop it. So we have a downside of globalization, proximity, connectivity but an advantage of better technology.
“We therefore hope to end this pandemic (in) less than two years. ”
He called for “national unity” and “global solidarity”.
More than 22.81 million people are believed to have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide and 793,382 have died, according to Reuters.
Some scientists have suggested that the coronavirus could follow a similar pattern to the deadly Spanish flu, which swept the world in three waves, claiming an estimated 50 million lives.
It broke out in March 1918 and mainly affected the elderly and infirm during the First World War.
By August 1918, it was hoped that the pandemic was drawing to a close, but the death toll rose again from September to November.
But the virus had become a new strain, and it affected young, healthy people.
The President-elect of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor Roger Kirby, said in July: “Winter is coming and almost certainly a second wave of this virus is coming.
“What we saw in 1918 was the change in the virus and the second wave was different from the first wave and it affected a different group of people – especially the younger ones. ”
WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said more research is needed on the impact of coronavirus mutations.
She said: “A special task force has been formed to identify mutations… and we are looking at how we can better understand what the mutation means and how they behave. “