BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg warns COVID-19 lockdown likely to be updated regularly for a year

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg forecast the Government could opt to update and adapt the coronavirus lockdown and social restriction measures until mid-2021 to avoid further waves of contagion. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty on Wednesday dismissed suggestions the pandemic will be fully “eradicated” as he warned the coronavirus will remain an issue for the “foreseeable future.” Speaking to the Coronavirus Newscast, Ms Kuenssberg said: “I think he meant a year.


“Other people have said to me before, suggesting Chris Whitty’s view of the science rather than the policies, that a vaccine is at least a year off.

“And in terms of, if you’re going to say, ‘oh, well, you can throw the doors open,’ then a vaccine would be the sort of blunderbuss solution.

“I know we keep talking about nuances and gradual things, Whitty is saying what others would say to you in private, that this is going to take an awfully long time to get back to anything we may think is familiar or normal.”

Ms Kuenssberg revealed sources within the Government have suggested the lockdown is likely to be modified, leaving the BBC editor to speculate whether this could result in restrictions being reintegrated based on potential spread and peaks of the virus.

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She continued: “At the same time, someone well placed in Government said to me this week no one thinks the existing lockdown is going to be in place as it is in six-months time but where does that leave us?

“That leaves us with quite a complicated picture of tweaks, restrictions being lifted and then maybe being brought in, maybe different for different groups in society, maybe different for different bits of the industry, different bits and pieces of the economy.

“What it certainly does mean, I’m afraid, dear listeners is that in one way or another we’re going to have to learn to live with this virus rather than anybody having a magic wand.

“It has been clear privately in some chats but to have Chris Whitty spell it out like that…it does matter.”

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Speaking at Wednesday’s daily Downing Street briefing, Prof Whitty insisted Britons should be “realistic” and stop expecting a return to full normality immediately after the end of the lockdown.

Prof Whitty said: “We have to be very realistic if people are hoping it’s suddenly going to move from where we are in lockdown to where suddenly into everything is gone, that is a wholly unrealistic expectation.

“We are going to have to do a lot of things for really quite a long period of time, the question is what is the best package and this is what we’re trying to work out.

“If you release more on one area, you have to keep onboard more of another area so there’s a proper trade-off and this is what ministers are having to consider.”


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The Chief Medical Officer added: “The probability of having those any time in the next calendar year is incredibly small – we should be realistic – we are going to have to rely on social measures…but until that point that is what we are going to have to do.”

The UK has been in lockdown for nearly six weeks and the governments of all four UK nations have remained adamant staying home at the moment is the best way to help curb the rate of contagion.

As of Thursday morning, 18,100 people have died of COVID-19 or related caused across the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed on Tuesday human trials for a vaccine will begin on Thursday after the University of Oxford received the green-light to proceed.

Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, Professor Adrian Hill, said: “Vaccines are being designed from scratch and progressed at an unprecedented rate.

“The upcoming trial will be critical for assessing the feasibility of vaccination against COVID-19 and could lead to early deployment.”

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