Britain will see a resurgence in coronavirus cases at some point and can’t bring deaths from Covid-19 down to zero even with a successful vaccine rollout, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Tuesday (March 9).
Whitty said that caution in re-opening the economy would affect the size and the timing of a resurgence, but that vaccines would not be able to prevent all deaths from Covid.
“All the modelling suggests there is going to be a further surge and that will find the people who either have not been vaccinated, or where the vaccine has not worked, and some of them will end up in hospital and sadly, some of them will go on to die,” Whitty told lawmakers.
“The ratio of cases to deaths will go right down as a result of vaccination, but not right down to zero, unfortunately.”
Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said that, while deaths were decreasing and the vaccine rollout was going well, the situation could quickly deteriorate.
“It’s all pointing in the right direction, but I think nobody can say with certainty that this is… finished,” he told lawmakers. “We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, even on this wave.”
More than 120,000 people in Britain have died from Covid-19, the fifth highest official global toll, but it has also had one of the world’s fastest vaccine rollouts, with more than a third of the population already receiving at least one dose.
Schools in England re-opened to all pupils on Monday (March 8). The next steps in lockdown easing have been pencilled in at five-week intervals but officials have said that data, rather than dates, will dictate the pace.
Asked why encouraging data couldn’t lead to an acceleration of that timetable, Vallance said three to four weeks were needed to generate and assess the data, and the government wanted to give one-week notice of changes to rules.
“I think if you truncate that you are essentially flying blind,” Vallance said.