Coronavirus will be with us ‘forever’, warns former chief scientific adviser

PUBLISHED: 12:38 22 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:45 22 August 2020

A coronavirus testing site. Picture: PA/Jane Barlow

A coronavirus testing site. Picture: PA/Jane Barlow

PA Wire/PA Images

Covid-19 will never disappear, a former chief scientific adviser has warned, with the public requiring regular vaccinations to avoid catching it in the future.

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Professor Sir Mark Walport, who is a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said that, like flu, repeat inoculations will be required.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Covid-19 pandemic will be controlled by “global vaccination” but that it is not “going to be a disease like smallpox which could be eradicated by vaccination”.


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“This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” he said.

“So, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”

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The scientist also warned that it is “possible” the virus will get “out of control” again, but said more targeted measures can now be used instead of a generic lockdown.

His comments came after the head of the World Health Organisation said he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over within two years.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took two years to overcome the Spanish flu in 1918, but that advances in technology could allow Covid-19 to be stopped in a “shorter time”.

Speaking in Geneva during the week, he said: “Of course, with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading.

“But, at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it.”

Last month polling found the public did not believe prime minister Boris Johnson when he suggested there would be a return to normality by this Christmas.

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