Covid Scotland: Professor Linda Bauld says pandemic will end with 'whimper' in 2022 and expects face masks to stay through winter

An Edinburgh public health professor has said that the pandemic in Scotland will ‘hopefully end next year not with a bang but a whimper’ as she anticipated that mandatory face mask wearing will remain throughout winter.

Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday morning that she sees the pandemic ending in Scotland next year.

It comes as many of Scotland’s covid restrictions, including social distancing, were scrapped at midnight as nightclubs reopened across the country.

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Talking about when she sees the pandemic ending, Professor Bauld said: “The definition of a pandemic is an immediate threat to health within a specified area or globally.

Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday morning that she sees the pandemic ending in Scotland next year (Photo: Andrew Milligan/ PA).

"I think we won’t have a pandemic in the UK in Scotland hopefully come next year – it will become epidemic or endemic in our population but, globally, that may not be the case.”

"But it’s not going to be a bang it will be a whimper, it will be a gradual shift and we will be transitioning out of this and looking ahead.”

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Professor Bauld also said she anticipates that mandatory face mask wearing will be in place through this winter ‘without a doubt' in Scotland.

She said: "It would be strange to lift it in the Autumn when we’ve got other respiratory viruses circulating.

"Then in the future, not mandated, but some people may choose to wear them.

"Look at countries like those in south east Asia – it’s very common – and I think we may see a longer term cultural shift but not the government saying you must do this. People actively choosing to do so."

The professor also told the programme that she believes now is the ‘right time to ease’ restrictions.

She said: "I think we need to be careful but I’m really optimistic.

"Everything is moving in the right direction.

"I think we may have some bumps in the road ahead but now is the right time while the summer’s still with us – maybe not the sunshine – to really ease these restrictions and give sectors which have been closed a chance to reopen."

Despite confusion around the rules particularly with face masks in Scotland as nightclubs reopen, Professor Bauld said guidelines remained ‘pretty consistent’.

However, she added: “I understand when people say well what about the level playing field with schools and things not looking the same but that is what the government is trying to do in applying these regulations. As we move through, it gets more complicated and it’s not a stay at home message.”

Reminding people that jags are an ‘ever green offer’, Professor Bauld said boosters should be encouraged based on the duration of protection from the virus.

The Edinburgh professor said if we see an ‘escape mutant’ of the virus which is not affected by the virus then we will face ‘big challenges.’

However, she added that vaccines ‘can be tweaked’ with some scientists currently looking at ways to improve the vaccine’s efficacy against the Delta Variant.

Professor Bauld added: “I think science and medicine will help us find a way through.”

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