Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has conceded that Covid-19 lockdowns can’t go on forever and won’t eliminate the virus anyway – a view that might have helped before Britons endured months of draconian restrictions.
“Covid is not going to go away,” Whitty said in a Royal Society of Medicine webinar on Thursday. “This is now a disease that for the rest of our careers is going to be around. So, it is clear that we are going to have to manage it, at some point, rather like we manage the flu.”
Whitty, who has been nicknamed ‘Dr. Doom’ for his overly gloomy Covid-19 projections, noted that up to 25,000 people in the UK die from the flu each year without making headlines, because society has struck a balance between an acceptable level of risk and restrictions people are ready to tolerate. Similarly with Covid-19, and its many future variants that will inevitably emerge, the government aims to push deaths as low as possible, but lockdowns will likely end after current restrictions are lifted in June, he acknowledged.
It is not flu, it is a completely different disease, but the point I am making is, here is a seasonal, very dangerous disease that kills thousands of people every year and society has chosen a particular way around it.
“We need to work out some balance which actually keeps it at a low level, minimises deaths as best we can, but in a way that the population tolerates, through medical countermeasures like vaccines and in due course, drugs, which mean you can minimise mortality while not maximising the economic and social impacts on our fellow citizens,” Whitty said.