UK in 'very uncertain phase' of Covid pandemic says Sir Patrick Vallance

Britain is still in a “very uncertain phase” of the pandemic, said the government’s chief scientific advisor.

Sir Patrick Vallance told the Today program, “There is considerable uncertainty as to which direction this is going,” he said.

“It is wrong to believe that building immunity is an all or nothing – it is some kind of protective barrier that will reduce the spread of the virus, so we will need to monitor this carefully over the next few weeks and months.

He added, “You absolutely need to be prepared (for Plan B) and once you start thinking, ‘Am I or won’t I? It looks close “is the time it takes to overcome your natural reluctance and go for it.

“This is obviously something that the government needs to look carefully at, but we must be ready to act quickly if this happens.”

The government’s chief scientific advisor said the models of what will happen to Covid-19 are “pretty uncertain right now” and there is a lot of variability.

Sir Patrick Vallance told BBC Breakfast: “Nobody is really sure which way this is going, but they are aware of the two big variables that could change this.

“One of them is dwindling immunity. So if immunity wears off faster than expected, you will see a bigger surge, and this is why it is so important to get a booster vaccination, especially in those at risk and the elderly.

“The second is behavioral change in how quickly we revert to pre-pandemic behaviors … when you put the models together, most of them say, ‘Actually, it looks pretty flat, don’t expect the very big peaks we’ve had in the past, it looks pretty flat, but at a very high level right now. ‘

“So the high level remains a problem and from a high level you can go up very quickly.”

He said that as immunity builds in children through vaccinations and infections, “there will be resistance to transmission (and) you can expect (increase in children) to weaken”.

When asked if more than 40,000 Covid cases per day was a treatable and acceptable level, he said, “Well, that’s a societal issue.

“There are high levels and those high levels lead to hospital stays, of course, but the number of hospital stays is very much reduced by vaccination.

“The lower the values, the better in terms of the overall result, but there are costs and consequences of making decisions in both directions.

“So that’s a societal question as to which levels are acceptable.

“However, I will say – and this is an important point – that if this infection starts to become endemic, it will recur year after year, we will see it circulating every winter, I suspect in particular.

“And so, as the immunity builds up gradually, the protection will be there, the consequences will be lessened, but we are not there yet.

“We still have people going to the hospital, it’s still a significant risk.”

Yesterday the government announced that an additional 207 people had died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test on Wednesday, bringing the total to 140,041 in the UK.

Separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that there have now been 165,000 deaths recorded in the UK with Covid-19 mentioned on death certificates.

As of 9 a.m. on Wednesday, there were another 43,941 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the government said.

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