Covid-19: Sir Patrick Vallance warns 'virus hasn't gone away'
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Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor at the University of Leeds, warned that too many people “are behaving as though this has become some kind of endemic”. He stressed that Covid is “clearly not” the same as seasonal flu and urged Britons to be more vigilant as cases soar across the country – driven by a surge in the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.
It is more transmissible than the previous Omicron variant, BA.1, particularly when restrictions are no longer in place.
Dr Griffin said: “We are in this situation – an unfortunate situation for many people – because we have high vaccination coverage in our elderly population.
“That’s why you can get away with relaxing some of these restrictions, in the view of the Health Secretary.”
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this month showed that case numbers had skyrocketed by around a million in a week.
England ended free testing on April 1, but around one in 15 people in the UK were found to have COVID-19 in the week ending March 19.
This was just shy of a 30 percent increase on the previous week.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific advisor, has also warned that the UK must not ignore Covid, or cases will soar further.
He added that the Government must be ready to “operationally ramp things up again” in the future.
Defending the Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus.
“We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants.
“Vaccines remain our best defence and we are now offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable.”
But Dr Griffin retorted: “This virus does not just make older people unwell.
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“It does not just make clinically vulnerable people unwell.
“It causes all manner of different and long term health problems in people, even sometimes after a mild infection.”
He added: “Social norms are being restructured towards pre-pandemic when the pandemic is still raging.
“That really is going to be problematic, and I’m very worried that unless this booster campaign is incredibly successful, we’re going to see a really damaging wave of this virus as BA.2 takes hold.”
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