Professor Sir Mark Walport also said it is ‘possible’ Covid-19 will get ‘out of control’ again. Meanwhile, Imperial College London’s Prof Ara Darzi said regular home testing could be the UK’s “best hope” against the pandemic and warned the UK may need to increase its current testing to “one million or even 10 million a day”.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said that, like flu, repeat inoculations will be required.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Covid-19 pandemic will be controlled by “global vaccination” but that it is not “going to be a disease like smallpox which could be eradicated by vaccination”.
“This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” he said.
“So, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”
The scientist also warned that it is “possible” the virus will get “out of control” again, but said more targeted measures can now be used instead of a generic lockdown.
His comments came after the head of the World Health Organisation said he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over within two years.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took two years to overcome the Spanish flu in 1918, but that advances in technology could allow Covid-19 to be stopped in a “shorter time”.
Speaking in Geneva on Friday, he said: “Of course, with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading.
“But, at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it.”
Croatia has criticised the UK government’s decision to impose 14-day quarantine conditions on holidaymakers returning from Croatia.
Frano Matušić, Croatia’s tourism minister, said the imposition of the quarantine was unfair and urged the UK to think again.
Speaking to Sky News Matušić he said: “We think that this decision was not fair. Because we think that Croatia is really safe destination. Croatia is on the list for many European countries as a safe destination still. It is true that we have some several hotspots in Croatia, but we didn’t register until now, any infection in hotels camps and other accommodation facilities.
“So we appeal to UK government to replace this 14 days quarantine measure by reliable tests. We are really disappointed by this.”