Coronavirus will ‘be with mankind forever’, England’s deputy chief medical officer claims

Coronavirus will “be with mankind forever”, England’s deputy chief medical officer has warned.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam made the sombre claim at the Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, sparking an immediate response from the Prime Minister.

Discussing the prospects of life getting back to normal, Prof Van-Tam suggested habits may have to change.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

He said: “I don’t think we are going to eradicate coronavirus ever.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus in Downing Street. Picture: John Sibley/PA Wire

“I think it’s going to be with humankind forever.

“I think we may get to a point where coronavirus becomes a seasonal problem.

“I don’t want to draw too many parallels with flu, but, possibly, that is the kind of way we would learn to live with it.”

The medical expert said there would be no moment to celebrate, like the scenes seen at the end of the world wars.

He said: "Do I think there will be a big moment where we have a big party and throw off our masks? No I don't.”

Read More

Read More
How the new coronavirus jab approved by the UK works

Instead, Prof Van-Tam suggested people had to practice safety measures such as hand washing for a long time, saying "habits will persist for many years" and that "may be a good thing".

His comments prompted a swift riposte from Boris Johnson, who insisted he was a lot more confident than his medical adviser, adding: “We may want to get back to life as much as normal.”

After being questioned by the PM, Prof Van-Tham tried to backtrack, without ruling out the habits continuing.

He said: “The Prime Minister has picked me up on this occasion.

“The point I was trying to make was, do I think possibly some of those personal habits for some people will persist longer and perhaps become enduring for some people?

“Yes, I think that's possible".

His comments came during a press conference that saw the PM hail the Covid vaccine as a "biological jiu jitsu" to defeat the "invisible enemy".

Promising those who need it will get the vaccine by the end of April, Mr Johnson claimed getting back to normal was now "certain".

He said: "We are no longer resting on the mere hope we can return to normal, but rather the sure and certain knowledge that we will succeed and reclaim our lives and all the things about our lives that we love."

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.