Covid threat to remain ‘for five to 10 more years’

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Documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) yesterday revealed experts believe it will take a long time for Covid to become just another background disease. Members of the SPI-M-O subgroup said in a statement: “Repeated vaccination may be required to maintain sufficient vaccine-derived immunity for future Covid-19 control.

“It is a realistic possibility that, over the next five years, there will be epidemics of sufficient size to overwhelm health and care services.”

They added that it was highly likely “active management” of the disease would have to continue for the long-term.

But the scientists said it was not yet clear how much vaccination, boosters, testing and isolation of cases would be required over the next five to 10 years.

Separate minutes from a Sage meeting on November 29 also show that advisers agreed it was highly likely the Omicron variant would escape immunity to some extent.

The document said: “If vaccine efficacy is substantially reduced, then a wave of severe disease should be expected.”

The committee said its previous advice on measures to reduce transmission ‑ including masks ‑ remained “highly relevant” in the face of Omicron.

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