The EU’s disease control chief said a second bout of the virus was inevitable, and also warned that people are starting to ignore lockdown rules.
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Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control urged EU leaders to prepare for resurgence in coronavirus cases, as she warned that a lack of immunity could mean the second wave is worse than the first.
The disease expert said that only between two per cent and 14 per cent of the populations of European countries had been infected with coronavirus.
People are believed to be immune to coronavirus once they have caught it once.
Dr Ammon said the low infection rate would leave around 90 per cent of people still vulnerable to catching the disease in a second wave.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announced that 17 per cent of people in London had been infected by the disease, and only five per cent nationwide.
In an interview with the Guardian, Dr Ammon said it was a matter of “when and how big” the second wave would be.
She said: “Looking at the characteristics of the virus, looking at what now emerges from the different countries in terms of population immunity- which isn’t all that exiting, between two per cent and 14 per cent, that leaves still 85 per cent to 90 per cent of the population susceptible – the virus is around us, circulating much more than January and February.”
I don’t want to draw a doomsday picture but I think we have to be realistic.
She continued: “I don’t want to draw a doomsday picture but I think we have to be realistic. That it’s not the time now to completely relax.”
As of today, there have been 159,172 Covid-19 deaths confirmed in the EU and the UK.
Italy has the highest death toll in the EU at 32,330, followed by France with 28,132 and Spain with 27,888.
Dr Ammon also said that the lockdown measures imposed by European leaders were starting to unravel.
She said: “I think it’s beginning to strain. What we see is that, on the one hand, the economic part for small and medium-sized businesses but also the experience of people not being able to exercise all the freedoms that we normally have: to go where we like, to be with whom we want to be.
“And this is quite fundamental change to our normal way of life.
“And especially now when it is clear [infections] are going down, people think it is over.
“Which it isn’t, which it definitely isn’t.”
It comes as Matt Hancock confirmed tonight that the Government has sealed a huge deal for pharmaceutical giant Roche to supply 10 million antibody tests to see if people have been infected by the virus.
The Government said it will start by rolling out the tests across the health service in from next week.
But Mr Hancock stressed that the Government was “not yet in a position to say that those who test positive are immune” to getting the virus again.
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