A British scientist on the U.K. government’s coronavirus advisory panel warned during a meeting with lawmakers Wednesday that there’s “very little chance” the virus will be “eradicated”, Reuters reported. John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, added that a vaccine would likely improve the situation, but not eliminate the problem.
“We are going to have to live with this virus forevermore,” Edmunds said, according to Reuters. “There is very little chance that’s going to become eradicated.”
As of Wednesday, the U.K. had seen over 765,000 coronavirus cases and more than 44,000 deaths due to the pandemic. This week, the government announced a human challenge trial that will infect healthy people with the virus in hopes of speeding up vaccine development.
“We are doing everything we can to fight coronavirus, including backing our best and brightest scientists and researchers in their hunt for a safe and effective vaccine,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in a press release announcing the trial. “The funding announced today for these ground-breaking but carefully controlled studies marks an important step in building on our understanding of the virus and accelerating the development of our most promising vaccines which will ultimately help in beginning our return to normal life.”
And while Edmunds is hopeful that a vaccine will become available in the coming months, he told lawmakers the time to prepare is now.
“If vaccines are just around the corner then, in my view, we should try and keep the incidence as low as we can now because we will be able to use [the] vaccine in the not too distant future,” he reportedly told lawmakers.
He applauded the government’s strategy of investing in different companies in the midst of developing vaccines but cautioned that supply will likely first go to the vulnerable and frontline workers.
Vaccine deployment has become a hot topic in governments all over the world, especially as several leading candidates will require temperature-controlled storage and personnel trained to administer it.
At least one expert has cautioned that healthy young people may not have a vaccine made available to them until 2022.
“People tend to think, ‘Ah, on the first of January or the first of April I’m going to get the vaccine and then things will be back to normal,’” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, said last week. “I think most people agree that the people at highest risk of both transmission, getting the disease and getting sick from it are health care workers, frontline workers and then the elderly and the vulnerable.”
She added that she expects a lot of guidance about how vaccines will be delivered throughout the world’s health systems to come out in the near future.
“A healthy young person might have to wait until 2022 to get a vaccine, but by that time hopefully we can stem the acute impacts, reduce mortality, protect those who are at highest risk,” she said. “Start solving the acute problems and then we start by protecting the larger percentage of the population.”
Fox News’ Kayla Rivas and Reuters contributed to this report.