LIFE could take two years to get back to normal but we’ll have to learn to live with coronavirus forever, an expert has warned.
Professor Peter Horby said we need to learn to “live comfortably” with the virus, as it’s “impossible” to have zero cases internationally.
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Prof Horby, who chairs the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), gave the stark reality check this morning, telling Times Radio there is “no way we are going to get rid of this virus now”.
He said: “In my view, it’s going to be impossible to get to zero Covid internationally. So there’s no way that we’re going to get rid of this virus, now.”
“It’s well adapted to humans. It’s with us. I don’t think it’s a sustainable idea to have no Covid cases.”
The top scientist, whose group advises the Chief Medical Officer, said we need to “get to a state where we can live comfortably with a virus,” as we do with other bugs including other coronaviruses.
“Now that may take a year or two more, until we’re really back to some level of normality, but I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of it,” he said.
It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to ease England back to normal later today, with the nation’s stay at home order set to be scrapped.
The PM has vowed to lift restrictions “cautiously” but a host of changes including the return of the Rule of Six in March offer a glimmer of freedom.
Meanwhile, Prof Horby told Aasmah Mir and Stig Abell on Times Radio Breakfast that lessons have been learned from the failures of previous lockdowns.
He said: “We saw in the autumn that restrictions were perhaps introduced later than others would have wanted and released earlier than I think was the right thing to do.
“And so those lessons I think, had been learned and the Government’s being much more cautious.”
BACK TO NORMAL
The Government has been planning its four-step road to freedom, starting with the reopening of schools on March 8 and progressing in stages from there.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there will be “weeks between the steps” — so ministers can “watch carefully” the impact of each relaxation of the restrictions.
And Boris Johnson said the Government “will be cautious” in a bid to “not undo the progress we have achieved so far”.
But Prof Horby warned we need to be prepared for a rebound in the autumn and winter.
I think we have to realise that there is a high likelihood of some sort of rebound in the autumn winter again, and we need to be prepared that there may be some additional measures required then.
Professor Peter Horby
“I think we’ve got a lot of right things in place. I think the cautious approach is absolutely right,” he said.
“We’ve got the vaccines being very aggressively rolled out. And we’re taking us in a slow opening up.
“I think that’s the right thing to do. I think by the summer, many things will be back to normal.
“But I think we have to realise that there is a high likelihood of some sort of rebound in the autumn winter again, and we need to be prepared that there may be some additional measures required then.”
As of February 20, 17,582,121 people in the UK had received their first dose of the Covid vaccine while 615,148 had received their second.
Britain’s R rate currently stands at 0.6 to 0.9, according to the available latest data from the Department of Health.
Yesterday, another 215 Covid deaths were recorded in the UK along with 9,834 new infections.