The UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance has warned that Covid is “evolving rapidly” and has advised that measures should not be lifted as government may have to “ramp things up again.”
Sir Patrick was asked over the government’s plan of “Living With Covid” and was asked if SAGE was key in advising downing Street.
He said that SAGE did play a large part in the decisions the government took and said this virus is “not going to go away.”
Sir Patrick told the Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday morning, “This virus has not gone away. It’s not going to go away. It’s going to be a circulating human virus for as long as we can see forward.
“And it hasn’t stopped evolving. It’s been quite an unstable period, so the virus is changing very rapidly, and it’s got quite a lot of space to evolve into.
“It’s not a foregone conclusion that evolution to increase growth and transmission — which is what the virus does, wants to do — necessarily is associated with reduced severity.”
Sir Vallance said there are three things which are essential to living-with-Covid, firstly, being able to monitor how the virus evolves, which will secondly enable us to protect vulnerable people both physically and through vaccines and antivirals.
Thirdly, ensuring they have the capacity to be “able operationally to ramp things up again if you need to — [this] is crucially important.”
He added, “That in a sense, is also a lesson from the very beginning of the pandemic where the underfunding of Public Health England for many years had caused a diminution in capacity.”
However, he said, “I think the numbers of infections are beginning to turn so we may be quite close to, or at the peak, and it may start coming down shortly.
“But I expect to see further hospitalizations because of the lag time and further deaths with this. So, that is the consequence of the high levels of infection rates.
“We should also be aware that there may well be long term problems with Covid infection — long Covid is still being studied. It’s not a sort of a completely stable situation and it’s not a risk-free situation to run very high levels of infection.”