Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

WHO scientist warns ‘normal pre-coronavirus life’ may not return until 2022

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Life may not go back to normal following the coronavirus pandemic until 2022, the World Health Organisation's chief science officer has warned.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, speaking at a virtual meeting hosted by the United Nations Foundation in Geneva, said on Tuesday that measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks may have to remain in place long-term.

This will be needed until between 60% and 70% of the population have been vaccinated, Dr Swaminathan added.

The WHO chief science officer added that she doesn't think the coronavirus will become a seasonal virus as time goes on, but instead we could expect to see "ups and downs" in cases and transmission.

She said: "I think it's safe to say that it could be 2022 when we will start thinking about going back to pre-Covid normal life."

Speaking at the meeting, she added: "We're looking at 2022 at least before enough people start getting the vaccine to build immunity.

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"So for a long time to come, we have to maintain the same kind of measures that are currently being put in place with physical distancing, the masking and respiratory hygiene.

"Those will have to continue after the vaccine starts getting rolled out, because we need 60% to 70% of the population to have immunity before you will start seeing a dramatic reduction in transmission of this virus.

"We also don't know how long these vaccines will protect for – that's the other big question mark: How long does immunity last? And it's possible that you will need a booster."

Swaminathan added that health officials are currently looking to control the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, rather than eliminate it at this point.

  • Science
  • World Health Organisation
  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown

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