Britain needs to be “learning to live with” a level of the CCP virus that is similar to that of regular ‘flu, UK scientists said on Wednesday.
Asked during a Science and Technology Select Committee hearing what sort of risks, including death rates, would be “acceptable” to live with, head scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence professor Angela McLean said, “Other infectious diseases that we put up with are probably a reasonably good starting point.”
“So, I think it reasonable to say, let’s not have COVID winters that are any worse than bad flu winters. But bad flu winters could be quite bad,” she said.
But she added that the question of acceptability wasn’t a scientific one but was one for the whole of society.
Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, added, “Whatever the answer is, it’s not zero.”
“If you take the view that no COVID death is acceptable … you are writing a blank cheque to do any amount of harm by the measures you implement to try and control it,” he said.
“You cannot arrive at a sensible balanced way of managing such a crisis as this if you load the dice entirely on one side.”
‘Vaccines Cannot Make Us Invulnerable’
In the wake of many millions of the UK’s most-vulnerable people having received a vaccine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will be setting out a roadmap on Feb. 22 for the gradual exit out of lockdown, starting with the likely reopening of schools on March 8.
“Even if these vaccines cannot make us invulnerable, and no vaccine has ever given 100 percent protection to everybody, the evidence increasingly shows that our vaccines achieve this crucial objective: to reduce death and serious illness,” Johnson said at a press conference from Downing Street on Feb. 3.
However, he did not state exactly what yardstick the government was using to assess whether the country has successfully combated the virus.
“One of the things we’ve cried out for again and again is, could somebody in a position of political power tell us, what is an acceptable number of infections?” McLean told the select committee.
“Even if you don’t want to call it ‘acceptable risk’ it’s going to end up being managed in that way one way or another—it has to be,” Woolhouse said. “We need to be learning to live with this virus, as we needed to do from the outset in my view.”
McLean and Woolhouse’s remarks come as new UK cases and deaths from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, also known as novel coronavirus, continue to fall while the country’s third national lockdown curbs remain in place.
New cases were recorded as 12,057 on Feb. 18, down from a peak on Dec. 29 last year of 81,545.
Deaths within 28 days of a first positive test were 454 on Feb. 18, down from a peak of 1,358 on Jan. 19, while over 16 million people had received an initial dose of a vaccine by Feb. 17.