Epidemiologists: Coronavirus lockdown could last 18 months

17 March 2020, 16:21

By Seán Hickey

There is a possibility that lockdowns could last over a year if the government are waiting for a vaccine to coronavirus.

A group of government advisors on coronavirus strategy gave a press conference explaining their decisions in combatting the disease.

Tom Whipple is the Science Editor at The Times and was at the press conference. He told Tom Swarbrick what had happened at the press conference.

According to Mr. Whipple, the epidemiologists are a team from Imperial College London and are industry leading experts in the study of disease spread.

"It's quite clear that their latest modelling is what has changed government policy" the science editor said. The team were giving an individual conference to iron out any confusion around the strategy they're taking, especially down to the alleged herd immunity response being taken off the table.

"It was the most astonishing press conference I've ever been to" Mr. Whipple said.

The government announced their new coronavirus action plan yesterday
The government announced their new coronavirus action plan yesterday. Picture: PA

The group justified their reasons for not going ahead with the herd immunity plan, stating that through their sums they "decided that would result in a quarter of a million deaths".

Mr. Whipple wondered "what happens when you lift controls", backing up the initial decisions of the group where they planned to "flatten the curve" by using the herd immunity response. The Times editor told Tom that by shutting down society you run the risk of starting infections new once restrictions are lifted.

"We can't cope with this many deaths" the epidemiologists concluded. Regardless of the effectiveness of the herd immunity strategy they maintained that having such a mass of deaths isn't acceptable.

Mr Whipple revealed that through the logic of the epidemiologists, "we're going to have to keep these severe social controls until we find a vaccine" which could take at least a year if there's a record-breaking response to the virus.