The coronavirus will exist “forever” and people are likely to need regular vaccinations against it, a former chief science adviser to the UK government has said.
Professor Mark Walport, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), compared the virus to influenza because he said repeated inoculations globally would almost certainly be needed to control it.
He said the coronavirus on BBC Radio 4’s Today show “was not going to be a disease like smallpox that could be eradicated by vaccination.”
“It is a virus that will stay with us forever in one form or another and will almost certainly require repeat vaccinations,” he said. “So, much like the flu, people will need revaccination at regular intervals.”
The scientist said it was possible for the virus to get ‘out of control’ again, with the percentage of positive tests increasing in the UK as the R number hovers between 0.9 and 1.1, but he said More targeted and localized measures could be used instead of a full lockdown.
Walport said he was concerned about the spread of the virus. “You just have to see what is happening in France, in Spain, [and] in [South] Korea, which brought it under control very quickly and is now seeing an increase in cases. And so this infection is with us.
He said less than one in five people in the UK had had the virus and 80% of people remained susceptible to Covid-19.
“It’s that terrible balance between trying to minimize the damage done to people by infection while keeping society going,” he said. “People have argued very strongly that applying generic locks is not the answer. Initially this was supposed to be the case, but now we can be much more focused in the approach.
However, he warned that drastic measures could be imposed if the virus got out of hand and added that it was a “huge tragedy” that many people in care homes caught the virus and died after people were killed. were discharged from hospital for treatment despite being infected with coronavirus.
His comments came after the head of the World Health Organization said the world should be able to contain the pandemic within two years. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took two years to defeat the Spanish flu at the start of the 20th century, but technological advances could make it possible to stop Covid-19 in a “shorter time”.
“We have a disadvantage of globalization, of proximity, of connectivity, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to end this pandemic before less than two years,” he said on Friday in Geneva. . “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. “
It came as South Korea was reporting the most daily infections since early March and expanding social distancing measures across the country.