The UK has probably passed the first coronavirus peak and the lockdown should end “as soon as we can”, an adviser to the Government has warned.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said that “further waves” are expected in future but the number of cases has likely stabilised a week ago. The number of cases is starting to flatten off, some of the data from the past week shows. Britain has recorded more than 15,000 deaths from the virus so far, but the number is continuing to rise. The country has been in complete lockdown for just over four weeks – and last week the Government confirmed it would be extended further.
Sir Jeremy said on Sunday: “The probability is that there would be further waves of this in future. For this first wave, the number of new infections probably stabilised maybe a week or two ago. “The number of people dying in this country, and many others around the world, is starting to stabilise. We are probably just past the peak in many parts of this country. We will come off that peak, the numbers will reduce. He said that Britain needed to lift the lockdown as “soon as we can” but warned that a fixed date can’t be put on it.
Sir Jeremy said that the number of deaths needed to continue to fall first. “The lockdown is damaging business and ultimately that is damaging all of our lives.,” he said. “So the lockdowns can’t go on forever, we must lift them as soon as we can. But we can’t lift them too soon and we can’t just make arbitrary dates and say it will be a date in May that is plucked from the sky. It has to be driven, I’m afraid, by the data.” (drawn from The Sun, 19/4)
Update: Be ready for second wave of coronavirus to strike UK, scientist tells country (21/4)
Britain must prepare for a second wave of Covid-19, a leading scientist working on a vaccine has said.
Robin Shattock of Imperial College said that a second wave is highly probable in the UK when social distancing is eventually relaxed. However, the resurgence of the virus may not follow the pattern that emergency plans drawn up for influenza would have anticipated.
“Traditionally people have thought about second waves in terms of seasonal influenza, where it comes back in the winter,” he said. “We don’t know that there’s any seasonality about this virus, but you can imagine that when we start to get back to normal life, possibly over the summer, that cases will ramp up again. The real big danger is if we see the kind of number of cases that we’re seeing now next winter — and we also have a seasonal flu. That could be a double whammy for the health service,” Professor Shattock said.
Other scientists agree that Britain must prepare now by working on testing, treatments and vaccines. From the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, policymakers and researchers have been haunted by the example of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which is estimated to have claimed 50 million lives — more than the total number of military and civilian deaths that resulted from the First World War. (Source: drawn from The Times 21/4)