Expert warns third wave of coronavirus 'entirely possible'

Thousands needed to join new stage of Covid vaccine trial

A third wave of coronaviruses is “quite possible,” as lockdowns only delay the problem, an expert has warned.

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said that while tough measures will stop the immediate crisis and quickly reduce transmission, they will not make the virus go away.

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he said the modeling had previously shown that it was “entirely possible” that a second ban would be required in September.

When asked if there could be a third wave of coronavirus, he said: “It is entirely possible.

“The scenario I mentioned earlier actually includes that possibility. This is just another demonstration of what I said earlier that lockdown doesn’t solve the problem, it delays it.”

“So we need some kind of cavalry on the horizon or alternatively, if you think the vaccine will be unavailable in six months, or 12 months, or two years or whenever, it means we need alternatives.”

“The alternatives that have been mentioned so far are things like the Moonshot program for mass testing.”

Prof. Woolhouse, a member of the Pandemic Influenza Scientific Modeling Group (Spi-M), a subgroup of Sage, said that while a vaccine may be available in six months, it is unlikely to be launched on a large scale could during this period.

He said Sweden has shown that the virus can be controlled without a “strictly enforced lockdown” and that restrictions must be sustainable over the long term.

He added, “I’m afraid I see no way through these in the months and even years to come when we have no restrictions. That is the new normal.”

When asked whether the government modeled other options for a national lockdown at the start of the pandemic, Prof. Woolhouse said “basically no”.

He also said he was unaware of any modeling of the impact of pub closings at 10 p.m.

He added, “Models don’t have that granularity. They can’t examine in detail the different closings of pubs or even different versions of our rule of six, the differences between indoor and outdoor broadcasting.

“So those kinds of things have to be judgment decisions based on public health evidence rather than modeling.”

But Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge. On Sunday there was “definitely science” behind the curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants at 10pm.

Mr Dowden said, “There is definitely science behind this. So people have to sit in pubs and restaurants so they don’t flow to and from the bar.”

“We are shortening the closing times to prevent people from staying and drinking later. And the point in all of this is that everyone has to play their part. If we all stick to the rules, we can make sure there aren’t any more, more draconian restrictions. “

Infectious disease modeling expert Professor Graham Medley said Saturday he does not remember the curfew discussed by Sage.

Prof. Woolhouse also said university outbreaks are “completely predictable”.

His comments came as the government came under pressure to ensure that young people are not confined to their dormitories during the holiday season due to Covid-19 outbreaks on campus.

Thousands of students are currently isolating themselves in their rooms after rising cases like Glasgow, Manchester Metropolitan and Edinburgh Napier.

Prof. Woolhouse added: “There was some very nice modeling done by colleagues from Spi-M at the University of Bristol. They made it very clear that the areas of risk in particular were dormitory students and face-to-face classes.

“So that was very predictable and was modeled.”



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