Sir Chris Whitty, the Government’s chief medical adviser, has warned the next coronavirus variant to emerge could be the worst yet. He said that despite one of the world’s leading vaccination roll-outs and booster programs, Britain and the rest of the world remain vulnerable to a mutation.
Leicestershire Live reports that speaking at a virtual meeting of local governments officials on Wednesday, March 23, Sir Chris said there was a “high chance” of a new variant worse than Omicron evolving in the next two years. He suggested lockdowns may not be a thing of the past if such a strain caused a new wave of infections.
Sir Chris stressed the importance of remaining vigilant and not becoming complacent. The virus, he told his audience about him, still has the power to “throw surprises” and will be with us “for the rest of our lives”.
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On the anniversary of the first lockdown two years ago, many are looking forward to a future without having to worry about the virus which has killed 164,123 in Britain, the most in Europe. However, the threat of mutations continues to hang over every epidemiologist monitoring the situation, he said.
Sir Chris has stated that the UK would likely be hit by seasonal waves of Covid for the next “two or three years”. That will be “interspersed” by new variants of varying seriousness.
He said: “There’s a high chance that we will all be discussing and I will be discussing with my colleagues, a new variant at some point in the next two years that actually significantly changes our balance of risk. We could well end up with a new variant that produces worse problems than we’ve got with Omicron and the Omicron problems are by no means trivial. “
Infection rates in Britain remain at more than 100,000 per day recently. However, thanks to high levels of immunity, hospitalizations and deaths are proportionally ‘low’ at around 200 fatalities a-day.