MPs warned that we will be living with coronavirus for 'many, many years to come' as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty defends lockdown decisions

MPs have been told that the world will be living with coronavirus for ‘many, many years to come’ by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 9:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 9:48 am

Welcome Trust director and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar warned MPs that the world will be living with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future.

The latest figures from the Department of Health and Social care released on Tuesday, July 21 show that 295,817 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, a rise of 445 on the previous day.

Of the people who have tested positive, 45,422 have sadly lost their lives with a further 110 being announced on Tuesday.

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Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has defended the UK's lockdown decisions.

This comes as lockdown measures continue to ease across England with the reopening of the leisure and hospitality sectors.

Appearing before the Health and Social Care Committee on Tuesday, Prof Farrar told MPs: "Things will not be done by Christmas. This infection is not going away, it's now a human endemic infection.

"Even, actually, if we have a vaccine or very good treatments, humanity will still be living with this virus for very many, many years to come."

Prof Farrar also criticised the timing of the lockdown, saying: "I believe lockdown was too late, I believe lockdown should have come in earlier."

MPs also heard evidence from chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who defended his actions over the pandemic, saying lockdown came at about the right time.

Prof Whitty also told MPs that widespread community testing earlier on in the pandemic required "an infrastructure we did not have".

He told committee chair and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt that Sage had consistently said that more testing capacity was needed. But he agreed that, given the capacity, it was the correct advice to stop widespread community testing on March 12.

Prof Whitty later said that ministers followed scientific advice with a "delay that was no more than you would reasonably expect".

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