Another Covid surge likely within the next year, warns Chris Whitty

All current modelling suggests another wave of coronavirus is likely within the next year despite the speed of the vaccine rollout, Professor Chris Whitty has warned MPs

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said that even under the most optimistic set of assumptions a further 30,000 people will likely die from Covid-19.

Speaking at the Commons’ Science and Technology Committee, Whitty said current modelling suggests “that at some point we will get a surge in virus”.

“We hope it doesn’t happen soon, it might for example happen later in the summer if we open up gradually or because of the seasonal effect it might happen over the next autumn and winter,” he said.

The medical chief added that the surge might result from lockdown restrictions easing before everybody has been vaccinated.

“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,” he said. “Some of them will end up in hospital and sadly some of them will go on to die. That is just the reality of the situation.”

“I think a lot of people may think that this is all over. I would encourage them to look at what is happening in continental Europe at the moment where a lot of countries are going back into rates going up and having to close things down again having not been in that situation before,” he added.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said the reopening of schools would likely cause the R rate to rise slightly, but that scientists and ministers would monitor the situation closely.

Children returned to classrooms yesterday for the first time in more than three months, after schools were given the green light to reopen.

Outdoor gatherings of up to six people, or two different households, will be allowed from 29 March under the Prime Minister’s roadmap for leaving lockdown.

Stay at home orders will expire from that date, while outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, will be allowed to reopen

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