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Scientists warn UK should ‘prepare for the worst’

Scientists are warning that it could be difficult to separate flu and coronavirus cases this winter, and if a vaccine is not ready then the UK must “prepare for the worst.”

Should the flu season become bad this winter, then there could be “pandemonium in A&E departments,” the Science and Technology Committee have been told.

The Committee’s chairman asked the scientists should the UK prepare for no vaccine this winter, or will it be ready in time?

Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, “This whole epidemic has relied too heavily on assumptions that have turned out not to be true.

“So, my strong advice is be prepared for the worst.”

He also agreed that that we must be prepared for a second wave, Sir John said, “If we have a really bad flu season, there will be difficulty separating flu from COVID patients.”

Professor Bell told the Committee that more people should be getting flu vaccines as “uptake is lamentably small in some areas.”

“This could be really serious if people don’t get their flu vaccines… It’s surprising how many people who are eligible don’t get the flu vaccine.”

Scientists are reluctant to provide any “timeline” as to when the vaccine will be ready, as it is dependant on the results of clinical trials.

However, Professor Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology from the University of Oxford said they are “relatively optimistic” they will succeed with the vaccine.

One question still remains as to whether it will be a “sterilising” vaccine which prevents an infection, or if it will be a “symptom alleviating” one, which reduces mortality.

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