May 21, 2020

Pubs and restaurants could reopen now and not risk a second coronavirus wave: top scientist says

Pubs and restaurants could reopen now and not risk a second coronavirus wave: top scientist says

Pubs and restaurants may now be safe to reopen without risking a second coronavirus wave, a top scientist claimed.

University of Oxford professor Sunetra Gupta insists there is a strong possibility the hospitality sector could exit the coronavirus lockdown tomorrow without endangering the public.

Bars across the UK have taken advantage of a loophole to serve people takeaway drinks this week
Bars across the UK have taken advantage of a loophole to serve people takeaway drinks this week. Credit: w8media

Her claim comes as bars across the UK have taken advantage of an easing in the rules which allows them to serve drinks in takeaway glasses and bottles.

The professor of Theoretical Epidemiology has urged a rapid exit from the lockdown as the deadly bug was on its way out.

In March, her team published a paper claiming up to half of Brits may already have been exposed to the virus as it had been spreading for months.


The controversial study found the UK’s true fatality rate may be as low as 0.1%

LOCKDOWN CASE ‘FRAGILE

Boris Johnson announced the UK’s lockdown in March, days after a study by Imperial University, led by Professor Neil Ferguson, suggested as many as 500,000 Brits could die without action.

But Prof Gupta told Unheard her original theory is right, with the UK already developing a high level of herd immunity.

She said: The Government’s defence is that this (the Imperial College model) was a plausible worst-case scenario.

I agree it was a plausible or at least a possible worst-case scenario.

The question is, should we act on a possible worst-case scenario, given the costs of lockdown?


It seems to me that, given that the costs of lockdown are mounting, that case is becoming more and more fragile.

I would say that it is more likely that the pathogen arrived earlier than we think it did, that it had already spread substantially through the population by the time lockdown was put in place.

I think there’s a chance we might have done better by doing nothing at all.

When asked about the virus infection fatality rate, she added: I think that the epidemic has largely come and is on its way out in this country so I think it would be definitely less than 1 in 1000 and probably closer to 1 in 10,000.

The professor argues that people could have developed immunity for genetic reasons or pre-existing immunities to other coronaviruses, like the common cold.

Prof Gupta believes a lot of people in the UK could already have “fended off” the virus, paving the way for venues to reopen.

She said: In almost every context we’ve seen the epidemic grow, turn around and die away, almost like clockwork.

Different countries have had different lockdown policies, and yet what we’ve observed is almost a uniform pattern of behavior.

To me, that suggests that much of the driving force here was due to the build-up of immunity.

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