peaking from their new-look Downing Street “studio”, the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and the chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, could not have been clearer: the “second wave” of Covid-19 is almost upon us, and it calls for urgent action. It was telling that they appeared alone, with no government minister on hand to provide spin or detract from the credibility of the message. But that does not augur well for the future public compliance with government instructions.
Given what has happened across the world during this crisis, the government’s most senior advisers can hardly be accused of scaremongering. Despite rumours to the contrary, the coronavirus is not evolving into a more benign organism, and it can still cause death and long-term disability. Relatively few individuals have had Covid-19, which means there is no herd immunity. Indeed the signs seem to be that those who have suffered a bout of the coronavirus do not retain immunity indefinitely.
There is good news on progress towards a safe and effective vaccine, but it will not be widely available until next year. We know that the R rate has been rising; and we also see how widely applied the growing number of “local” lockdowns are.