The emergence of new respiratory viruses means the UK is facing a “pretty miserable winter,” with the possibility of further lockdowns, scientists have warned.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Emergency Scientific Advisory Group (Sage) that advises the government, said children and the elderly will be susceptible to endemic viruses by the end of the year.
Another health expert and government adviser warned that lockdowns may be required during the winter when hospitals will eventually become “overwhelmed”.
On Sunday morning, Professor Semple told Times Radio, “I suspect we’re going to have a pretty miserable winter because the other respiratory viruses will come back and bite us pretty hard. But after that I think we’ll see business as normal next year.
“After every pandemic there is a sting in the tail because social distancing has reduced exposure especially to pregnant women and their newborns, they will not be exposed to the common endemic respiratory viruses.
“The protection that a pregnant woman would give her unborn child has not materialized.
“So we’re going to see an increase in a disease called bronchiolitis and an increase in community-acquired pneumonia in children and the frail elderly versus the other respiratory viruses that we don’t have vaccines for.
“That’s why we predict a hard July, August and then a hard winter.”
Professor Semple called it the “fourth wave winter,” but added that it would be much milder than the previous ones.