Sage expert warns Britain must learn to live with coronavirus – ‘Lockdowns must end’

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Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), explained that restrictions had “very profound consequences” on the country’s mental health, education and jobs. The expert said he was hopeful Boris Johnson would be able to lift measures on June 21 from the data so far.

But Sir Jeremy highlighted that the next few weeks will be “crucial”.

According to the Daily Mail, he said: “There is a danger of not opening up and this infection is now a human endemic infection. It’s not going away.

“Humanity will live with this virus now forever. And there will be new variants.

“This year, next year, the year after, there will be new variants – and we will have to learn to cope with that.

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He said: “What we need to work out is to what extent the vaccination programme has protected enough of us, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, against a new surge – and there I’m afraid the data is still ambiguous.”

Sir Jeremy said he was “optimistic” restrictions would be lifted this month.

He explained: “If you really push me today, I would say I’m more optimistic because I think that the vaccines have been so incredibly successful.”

Sir Jeremy added: “If hospitalisations have remained low and deaths have remained low, I would accept a degree of transmission and I would open up.

“I think this is the hardest decision, frankly, of the last 18 months actually. I am optimistic in the sense that I do believe that vaccines are incredibly safe and very effective.”

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