According to a new study published by researchers from the University College London (UCL), this winter the UK could experience a second wave that will be as twice as big.
If schools reopen without a more effective test, trace isolate (TTI) in place could impact schools and children’s parents returning to work potentially spreading the virus.
The second wave will be twice as big, as during the first wave people were placed in lockdown, therefore it was contained.
With England now open and people returning to work, pubs, restaurants and so forth this will make a second wave twice as big.
Researchers from University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded that a second wave could be prevented, if 75% of people with coronavirus symptoms are found and tested.
Then, if around 68% of their contacts were traced, or if 87% of those with symptoms were found and 40% of their contacts tested.
Currently the TTI is only reaching around 50% of contacts out of all those who have tested positive for the virus.
The study, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health said, “However, we also predict that in the absence of sufficiently broad test–trace–isolate coverage, reopening of schools combined with accompanied reopening of society across all scenarios might induce a second Covid-19 wave.
“Our modelling results suggest that full school reopening in September 2020 without an effective test-trace-isolate strategy would result in R rising above 1 and a resulting second wave of infections that would peak in December 2020 and be 2.0-2·3 times the size of the original Covid-19 wave.”
The lead author of the study, Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, who is a lecturer in mathematical modelling at University College London, told BBC radio, “Importantly, what we find is that it is possible to avoid a second epidemic wave if enough people with symptomatic infections can be diagnosed.
“Their contacts can then be traced and effectively isolated,” she said.
“We are the first study that has quantified this, how much this needs to be for the UK.”
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member Professor Graham Medley warned that the recent rise in coronavirus infections are now primarily in younger age groups.
This could “spill over” into other parts of the population, therefore closing “other networks” could be required to reopen schools from next month.