Coronavirus will be 'with us forever', warns Sage scientist

People will likely need vaccinations against coronavirus, a leading member of Sage warned.
Professor Sir Mark Walport also said it is ‘possible’ Covid-19 will get ‘out of control’ again. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Coronavirus will be with us "forever" and people will likely need regular vaccinations against it, a former chief scientific adviser has warned.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said that, like flu, repeat inoculations will be required.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Covid-19 pandemic will be controlled by “global vaccination” but that it is not “going to be a disease like smallpox which could be eradicated by vaccination”.

“This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” he said.

“So, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”

The scientist also warned that it is “possible” the virus will get “out of control” again, but said more targeted measures can now be used instead of a generic lockdown.

His comments came after the head of the World Health Organisation said he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over within two years.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took two years to overcome the Spanish flu in 1918, but that advances in technology could allow Covid-19 to be stopped in a “shorter time”.

Speaking in Geneva on Friday, he said: “Of course, with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading.

“But, at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it.”