Prime Minister warns of third Covid wave this year as he announces new virus taskforce
Boris Johnson has warned there will be a third wave of Covid-19 this year during a briefing from Downing Street.
The Prime Minister told a Downing Street news conference today that most scientists were “firmly of the view” that there would be a third wave of the disease at some point this year.
However he said there was nothing in the current data to suggest that the Government could not proceed with the next stage of unlocking under the road map as planned.
For the first time since September the latest figures showed fewer than 2,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital.
During the briefing Mr Johnson announced a new Government antivirals taskforce to help identify new medicines for the treatment of the virus and said they could give confidence to people that the country could “continue on our path towards freedom”.
He said: “As we look at what is happening in other countries, with cases now at record numbers around the world, we cannot delude ourselves that Covid has gone away.
“I see nothing in the data now that makes me think we are going to have to deviate in any way from the road map – cautious but irreversible – that we have set out.
“But the majority of scientific opinion in this country is still firmly of the view that there will be another wave of Covid at some stage this year.
“And so we must, as far as possible, learn to live with this disease as we live with other diseases.”
Mr Johnson suggested that antivirals could be a third method of defence, along with vaccinations – including booster shots – and mass testing.
The antiviral taskforce will seek out new medicines to “stop the virus in its tracks”, hopefully producing simple treatments that can be taken at home.
It is hoped that antivirals could help to reduce infections and limit the impact of any new variants.
They may also help to protect people who cannot take vaccines or those who are not fully protected after having the jab.
Officials hope to find and bring two treatments online this year.
In an effort to avoid the kind of international disputes that have marked the deployment of vaccines, the taskforce will also look at opportunities to make antiviral drugs in the UK.