Covid-19 third wave 'inevitable' in the UK, warns epidemiologist

20 March 2021, 10:56

By Seán Hickey

The mass reopening of schools has put the UK on track for a third coronavirus wave, according to this epidemiologist.

Dr Deepti Gurdasani is Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, specialising in epidemiology and statistical genetics. She spoke to Andrew Castle about the fight back against the pandemic across the continent.

Andrew wondered whether the UK should expect a third wave of the virus, to which Dr Gurdasani believed that it is "inevitable."

"We're actually seeing the start of that already. We know drops have plateaued in most regions in the UK right now. In Scotland we're actually seeing rises right now which is consistent with what many of us predicted with partial school openings," she revealed.

Dr Gurdasani stressed the knock-on impact of reopening schools for the UK's coronavirus numbers: "As the impact of full school openings is felt, it's very likely that R will rise above one and we'll start to see that surge of cases soon."

Andrew wondered whether such a claim means that the UK should reassess its lockdown strategies, asking "what level of Covid and death" are we willing to tolerate going forward if we are facing another wave amid the vaccine rollout.

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"That is something that the government has to look at very very closely," Dr Gurdasani noted, suggesting that a zero Covid strategy might have to be considered.

She went on to explain that "about 23%" of the world will be Covid free while many western nations let the virus rage on, and the UK must consider which is the better long-term strategy.

She insisted that zero Covid is "absolutely" a viable option for the UK, reminding Andrew that "we've been in lockdown for a total of almost six months," but nations with a zero Covid strategy such as New Zealand have been in lockdown "for a total of six weeks."

"What we're in is an indefinite set of restrictions," she concluded, telling Andrew that "there's far less uncertainty" with a zero Covid strategy.

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