Humanity Will Have To Live With Coronavirus 'For Decades', Says Sage Expert

Leading scientist Jeremy Farrar warns the disease will "not be done by Christmas".

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Humanity will be living with coronavirus “for decades to come”, one of the leading scientists advising the government has warned.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust who sits on the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage), said the illness would “not be done by Christmas”.

Boris Johnson has said he hopes the UK can make a “significant return to normality” from November or “possibly in time for Christmas”.

But speaking to the Commons health committee on Tuesday, Farrar told MPs coronavirus was “not going away”.

“It’s now a human endemic infection,” he said. “Things will not be done by Christmas.”

Farrar said: “Even, actually, if we have a vaccine or very good treatments, humanity will still be living with this virus for very many, many years to come.

“We need to keep the urgency in place in June, July and August, but we need to move now to a consistent long-term approach to this.

“Because humanity will be living with this infection for decades to come.”

Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, last week said Covid-19 was likely to return in a number of “different waves”.

Professor Sir John Bell, of the University of Oxford, also told the committee today it was unlikely coronavirus could be eliminated.

“The reality is that this pathogen is here forever, it isn’t going anywhere,” he said.

“This is going to come and go, and we’re going to get winters where we get a lot of this virus back in action.

“The vaccine is unlikely to have a durable effect that’ll last for a very long time, so we’re going to have to have a continual cycle of vaccinations, and then more disease, and more vaccinations and more disease.

“So I think the idea that we’re going to eliminate it across the population, that’s just not realistic.”

It comes after a study suggested a vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford was safe and induces an immune reaction.

The government is aiming to build a portfolio of potential vaccines, alongside effective treatments for coronavirus.

The latest announcement is for 30 million doses of a vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer, 60 million doses from Valneva, with an option to acquire a further 40 million doses if needed. It follows an agreement for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine.


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