20:10 GMT06 May 2021
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    Nations Continue to Fight COVID-19 Crisis as Over 2.5 Million People Infected Globally (239)

    The British government has come under fire for allegedly changing their criteria for loosening the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, leading to speculation that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could relax restrictions on public life, as long as there was no risk that the NHS would be overburdened during a potential second spike of infections.

    But just how dangerous would it be for public health if Britain’s lockdown was lifted too soon?

    Dr Kit Yates, a senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath gave his thoughts on the situation.

    Sputnik: Does the UK reaching its peak infection rate means that the threat of coronavirus will diminish from now on?

    Kit Yates: Although it is a good thing that infection rates and death numbers are coming down; but because we have artificially induced this peak by enforcing strict lockdown measures and social distancing, it means that the vast majority of the population are still likely to be susceptible to this disease.

    If we suddenly do away with lockdown and social distancing; the disease will suddenly take off again, it’s like a spark igniting a dry field if you like, and it will just take off again.

    Sputnik: Can coronavirus really be defeated until a vaccine is developed?

    Kit Yates: There are two ways of stopping this disease, and they both involve getting a large enough fraction of the population to be immune from the disease, and this is called herd immunity, and one way of doing this is to allow the disease to pass through the population, but unfortunately that means that a large number of people will get infected, get ill, and a large number of people will die, so we’d like to try to avoid that.

    Another way is to develop a vaccine, but even that is going to take a long time to do, and we are still hearing things like we don’t know enough about the immunity people are getting after having contracted the disease, and this casts doubts on whether developing a vaccine is possible, at least in the short term.

    Sputnik: When will the UK end its coronavirus lockdown?

    Kit Yates: It will take a while, we are seeing countries that are at least a few weeks ahead of us starting to slowly release their lockdown, so I think that the UK will start to relax measures in the next few weeks, but it won’t be going back to normal in any sense, it will be small measures to make sure that the reproduction rate doesn’t get above its critical value of one.

    Some of the modelling strategies to suggest ways to get out of lockdown are to release lots of restrictions and then just keep a close eye on how many cases there are in the ICU, and if it goes over a certain threshold; then they introduce another lockdown.

    My preference would be to really stringently isolate those who have the disease, contact trace them, and make sure that anybody who was in contact with them recently are also put into quarantine, and we also need lots of testing to make sure if people actually do have the disease, and then we can isolate them, that’s another way we can come out of lockdown, to be really stringent with our testing, but if we don’t do those things, then there is a very real risk of a second wave coming.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Nations Continue to Fight COVID-19 Crisis as Over 2.5 Million People Infected Globally (239)
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