Warning that further lockdowns could be a possibility during “miserable winter”
An emergence of new respiratory viruses means a “pretty miserable winter” is ahead for the UK, a scientist has warned.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the government, said children and the elderly will be vulnerable to endemic viruses at the end of the year.
Another health expert and government adviser, Dr Susan Hopkins, has warned that winter shutdowns may be necessary if hospitals become “overwhelmed” at any point.
On Sunday morning, Professor Semple told Times Radio, “I suspect we’ll have a pretty miserable winter because the other respiratory viruses are going to come back and bite us pretty hard. But after that, I think business will be normal next year.
“There is a sting in the tail after each pandemic, because social distancing will have reduced exposure, especially pregnant women and their newborns, they will not have been exposed to the usual endemic respiratory viruses.
“The protection that a pregnant woman would give her unborn child has not happened.
“We will therefore see an increase in a disease called bronchiolitis and an increase in community-acquired pneumonia in children and the frail elderly, other respiratory viruses for which we do not have vaccines.
“This is why we foresee difficult July and August, then a difficult winter period. “
Professor Semple called it “the winter of the fourth wave” but added that it would be much milder than the previous ones.
Dr Hopkins, director of strategic response for Covid-19 at Public Health England (PHE) also warned of a possible increase in cases at the end of the year.
She told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: ‘We may have to do more lockdowns this winter, I can’t predict the future, it really depends on whether hospitals are starting to be overwhelmed at a time. given moment.
“But I think we’ll have other ways to deal with it, through vaccinations, antivirals, drugs, tests that we didn’t have last winter.
“All of these things allow us different approaches rather than restrictions on livelihoods that will move us into the next phase of learning to live with this as an endemic that occurs as part of respiratory viruses.”