An emergence of new respiratory viruses means a “pretty miserable winter” is ahead for the UK, a scientist has warned.
Professor Calum Semple, member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the Government, has said that children and elderly people will be vulnerable to endemic viruses at the end of the year.
Another health expert and Government advisor, Dr Susan Hopkins, warned that there may be the need for winter lockdowns if hospitals become “overwhelmed” at some point.
“There’s a sting in the tail after every pandemic, because social distancing will have reduced exposure, particularly of pregnant women and their newborn babies, they will have not been exposed to the usual endemic respiratory viruses.
“The protection that a pregnant woman would give to their unborn child has not occurred.
“So we are going to see a rise in a disease called bronchiolitis, and a rise in community acquired pneumonia in children and in the frail elderly, to the other respiratory viruses for which we don’t have vaccines.
“So that’s why we’re predicting a rough July, August and then a rough winter period.”
Professor Semple called it the “fourth wave winter” but added it would be much milder than the previous ones.
Dr Hopkins, the strategic response director for Covid-19 at Public Health England (PHE) also warned of a possible rise in cases at the end of the year.
“But I think we will have alternative ways to manage this, through vaccination, through anti-virals, through drugs, through testing that we didn’t have last winter.
“All of those things allow us different approaches rather than restrictions on livelihoods that will move us forward into the next phase of learning to live with this as an endemic that happens as part of the respiratory viruses.”