Coronavirus Outbreak Could Last a Year, Result in 4 in 5 Infected, 7.9m Hospitalised: Report


The coronavirus outbreak could last for a year and could result in 80 per cent of Britons being infected with nearly eight million hospitalised, according to a Public Health England (PHE) document seen by The Guardian.

The government’s worst-case scenario is that as many as four in five people contract COVID-19, however chief medical adviser Sir Chris Whitty has said publicly in recent weeks that he does not expect the contagion to spread that widely. The leaked confidential briefing instead outlines that 80 per cent of the population “are expected” to become infected.

“As many as 80% of the population are expected to be infected with Covid-19 in the next 12 months, and up to 15% (7.9 million people) may require hospitalisation,” the document, intended for senior NHS staff, said.

Professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia Paul Hunter told the newspaper that if COVID-19 does last until Spring 2021, it is likely that it will have a trough (in Summer) and a peak (in Winter) “in the way that usual seasonal flu does”.

“I think it will be around forever, but become less severe over time, as immunity builds up,” Prof Hunter said.

The government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport told Sky News on Sunday that a safe, functioning coronavirus vaccine could take “months, up to a year”.

The PHE leak comes amidst criticism of the government’s communication strategy over the last few days where the Opposition has said that too much information is coming from anonymous briefings and not enough from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his team of medical experts.

There are nearly 1,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK with fatalities standing as of Monday morning at 35.

Media reported this morning that Kate Osborne, the Labour MP for Jarrow, has become the second Member of Parliament to have gone into isolation after testing positive coronavirus. Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries was confirmed to have caught the China-origin virus last week. Despite the two cases and MPs’ close work with the public, the government has not shut the Houses of Parliament.

In a bid to rectify the communication problem, the government has announced that there will be daily televised press conferences on coronavirus, with statements and questions given by Prime Minister Johnson or government medical and scientific experts.

Before Monday’s press conference, Downing Street confirmed that the prime minister would be chairing the committee crisis COBRA meeting at which the government will discuss protecting vulnerable senior citizens, with suggestions that recommendations will go short of quarantining them but advising social distancing. Other measures set to be discussed including banning public mass gatherings and isolating whole families if one member presents COVID-19 symptoms.

Reports over the weekend suggested that over-70s may be asked to self-quarantine for up to four months. The elderly are more vulnerable to the virus; while the mortality rate for those affected is around two per cent on average, across specified age ranges that rises to 3.6 per cent to those in their 60s and to 15 per cent for those over 80.

The higher death rate for older people and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Valance’s suggestion that 60 per cent of the UK should contract coronavirus for the country to develop “herd immunity” has led to criticism of the government’s approach to containing the virus and safeguarding the country’s most vulnerable and valued citizens.

“The government’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus strategy has placed the British public under unnecessary risk, and if they don’t change course, has consigned the over 65s to death. The UK border must be closed and a national lockdown should be put in place immediately,” advised Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of the conservative Bow Group think thank, in a statement seen by Breitbart London.

Responding to the claims over the weekend, health minister Matt Hancock denied achieving herd immunity was part of the government’s strategy to tackle coronavirus and when asked whether the plans were gambling with public health, he responded: “no, obviously”.

Other countries across Europe have enacted border lockdowns and travel bans to halt the spread of the virus, while the Republic of Ireland has shut down all schools. However, in the UK borders and schools remain open.

The UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps said that the UK will not close its borders like Europe or the United States because the government’s response is “science-led”.

“We’re not doing the things that are happening elsewhere just because it seems like a popularist [sic] thing to do,” Mr Shapps told Sky News on Monday.


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