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Britain must learn to live with Covid as 'endemic' illness for years

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 13/11/2021 Isabel Oakeshott For The Mail On Sunday
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Britain will have to learn to live with Covid as an 'endemic' illness for many years, according to leaked documents obtained by the Mail on Sunday. 

The virus is expected to remain widespread within the population, with 'seasonal surges' in the winter like flu and other respiratory diseases. 

But thanks to vaccine booster jabs, Covid is forecast to enter what Government health experts are calling a 'steady state', with hospital admissions not expected to exceed recent levels of about 750 patients per day. 

'Given the extent of transmission throughout the world, we now have to consider how society might concurrently suppress and live with the virus and reach an endemic state for years to come,' one document, outlining the autumn strategy for the NHS Test and Trace service, states. 

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The documents describe in detail for the first time the four different planning scenarios that have underpinned Boris Johnson's response to the third wave of the virus. They include an optimistic scenario, named 'quick farewell', in which Covid cases would have peaked in July at 30,000 per day, and a 'reasonable worst case' scenario, named 'long goodbye', which forecast a summer peak of 85,000 cases per day. 

The central planning assumption is known as 'leaving soon' and would have involved a peak in July of 65,000 cases a day, with 'modest levels' by October. In fact, all of the scenarios were wrong. 

Daily UK cases in the third wave peaked in July at 54,674 but then remained high for three months, hitting 52,009 on October 21. Since then the numbers fell steadily, before moving slightly upwards in recent days. 


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Ominously, the Government documents warn that 'an extreme event could emerge at any time'. This could include the spread of a vaccine-busting new strain or 'severe supply chain issues' with booster jabs. 

'In any of our scenarios there is the potential for an unforeseen event or combination of events occurring to derail our planning and leave us in a worst case scenario with no end in sight,' one document warns. 

New 'variants of concern', like the Delta strain which arrived earlier this year and quickly swept the country, remain a 'very real risk', it is claimed, especially if many people have Covid. 

Mr Johnson last week warned that 'storm clouds' are gathering over Europe and said cases could rise in the UK. 

Separate scenarios reported in the i newspaper yesterday show that the Government does not expect the pandemic to be declared over for at least another year.

Government officials also privately believe that a World Health Organisation target of having 70 per cent of the world vaccinated is 'unlikely to happen'. 

Nearly 80 countries, half of them in Africa, are set to miss a separate target of vaccinating 40 per cent of their population by the end of this year. 

Read more

Video: COVID-19 Will Likely Become an Endemic Disease—But When Will That Happen? (Health)


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