Regular vaccinations will be needed
The UK will be battling Covid-19 forever, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has warned as he reiterated predictions regular inoculations will be needed against the virus.
Sir Mark Walport, a former chief scientific adviser, said the disease was not “going to be a disease like smallpox which could be eradicated by vaccination”.
His warning came as a former government minister warned the UK may need to increase the number of coronavirus tests a day from 150,000 to up to 10 million to fight the global pandemic.
Sir Mark warned: “This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations.
“So a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Professor Ara Darzi, a former Labour health minister and co-director of Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, said regular home testing could be the UK’s “best hope” against the pandemic.
But he suggested the number of tests carried out in the UK may need to be increased to “one million or even 10 million a day”.
Mass testing could give the public confidence the disease is under control, he suggested.
“And unlike a vaccine, which is still many months away, simple, easy and cheap tests, some based on saliva, with results in as little as 10 minutes, are already out there,” he wrote in The Daily Telegraph
Prof Darzi is currently overseeing a study of home testing, involving more than 100,000 people. It has found nine in 10 home tests are carried out correctly.
But the testing process would have to be simplified so people could self-test daily, he added.
Official figures show fewer than one in three people in England receive their test results within 24 hours.