LONDON – By the middle of this year, all adults in Britain will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine in what is set to be the fastest inoculation rollout in a major Western country. But disease modellers who advised the UK government recently made a sobering projection: 56,000 more Covid-19 deaths by the summer of next year, even though the country is on the cutting edge feet and the vaccines are working.
The study highlights the uncomfortable prospect that even with an effective vaccine, the virus will continue to wreak havoc on society and that certain restrictions may need to be periodically reintroduced to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The bottom line: Businesses and governments around the world must prepare to live with Covid-19, accepting that the virus will not go away, but also that lockdowns cannot last indefinitely once hospitalizations are reduced to levels manageable.
“We cannot escape the fact that lifting the lockdown will lead to more cases, more hospitalizations and sadly more deaths,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament on Monday as he charted a slow and conditional path to exit the lock. “So there is no credible road to a zero Covid Britain or even a zero Covid world.”
The caveat does not detract from the value of a successful vaccine deployment. New data released on Monday showed that Britain’s vaccination program – which has given at least one vaccine to more than a third of the country’s 53 million adults – has significantly reduced infections and further reduced serious illness.