The United Kingdom’s deputy chief medical officer has suggested that practices like wearing masks and using hand sanitiser could be habits Britons have to keep “for years”.
Jonathan Van-Tam made the remarks 0n Wednesday alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a Downing Street coronavirus briefing.
Professor Van-Tam said, according to The Sun: “I don’t think we’re going to eradicate coronavirus, ever. I think it’s going to be with humankind forever. I think we may get to a point where coronavirus becomes a seasonal problem. I don’t want to draw too many parallels with ‘flu, but possibly that is the kind of way we’d learn to live with it.”
He continued: “Do I think there will come a big moment where we have a massive party and throw our masks and hand sanitiser and say, ‘That’s it, it’s behind us’, like the end of the war? No, I don’t.
“I think those kinds of habits that we have learned from… will perhaps persist for many years, and that may be a good thing if they do.”
When Prime Minister Johnson asked the medical officer to clarify, Van-Tam said that he did not think the government “will continue to have to recommend social distancing, masks, and hand sanitiser forever and a day”.
“I hope we will get back to a much more normal world. But, the point I was trying to make was — do I think, possibly, some of those personal habits for some people will persist longer, and, perhaps, become enduring for some people, yes, I think that’s possible.”
In further comments made to Britain’s state broadcaster the BBC on Thursday morning, Van-Tam also made clear his view that a coronavirus vaccine would not be a magic-bullet returning the country to normal.
Explaining that even once individuals had been vaccinated they would still have to follow coronavirus lockdown rules, the government advisor told BBC Breakfast: “Until we are properly confident of how the vaccine works, and properly confident of how disease levels are dropping, that even if you have had the vaccine you are going to need to continue to follow all the rules that apply for a while longer.
“It isn’t something we’re going to leave people waiting on forever, but we’ve got to follow the science, we’ve got to see the data that gives us the assurance that we can tell people they can relax in certain ways, and have a fairly high degree of confidence that it is safe to do so.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 3, 2020
The government scientist’s remarks come after the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended masks be worn indoors in workplaces and schools in high-COVID areas. The new guidance published on Wednesday also advised mask-wearing at home when having visitors if a three-feet distance cannot be maintained or if there is a lack of adequate ventilation.
The WHO admitted making the recommendations “despite the limited evidence of protective efficacy of mask wearing in community settings”.
Also on Wednesday, the UK became the first Western country to approve the use of a coronavirus vaccine, make by the partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech.
In order to encourage Britons to take the vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock volunteered to be injected live on television, with the prime minister’s press secretary saying she could not rule out Boris Johnson making the same offer. Some 70 per cent of Britons said they are “confident” in the Pfizer vaccine, with one-in-five saying that they were not.
The vaccination is set to be rolled out from next week, with Phase One prioritising people over 50, those in care homes, the vulnerable, and frontline medical and social workers. Pregnant women, women planning for pregnancy, and most children have, however, been advised against having it due to a lack of data on whether it is safe for those demographics.
UK Govt Advisory Committee Warns Pregnant Women Not to Have New Coronavirus Vaccine https://t.co/RrLcUK1lt9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 2, 2020