UK’s Former Chief Scientific Adviser Says Coronavirus Will be Around ‘Forever’

People wait in a line around the block for a pop-up food pantry amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S., April 17, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Coronavirus will be around “for ever” and people are likely to need regular vaccinations against it, a former chief scientific adviser to the UK government has said.

Prof Mark Walport, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), likened the virus to influenza, as he said repeat inoculations on a global scale would almost certainly be required to control it.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme coronavirus was not “going to be a disease like smallpox which could be eradicated by vaccination”.

“This is a virus that is going to be with us for ever in some form or another and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” he said. “So, a bit like flu, people will need revaccination at regular intervals.”

His comments came ahead of an announcement by England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, who said it would be “foolish” to plan for winter on the basis of having a coronavirus vaccine.

Walport said it was possible the virus could get “out of control” again, with the percentage of positive tests rising around the UK as the R number hovers between 0.9 and 1.1, but he said more targeted, localised measures could be used instead of a full lockdown.

The scientist said he was worried about the spread of the virus. “You’ve only got to see what’s happening in France, Spain, [and] in [South] Korea, which got it under control very quickly and is now seeing a rise in cases. And so this infection is with us.”

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Mattha Busby