JONATHAN Van-Tam tonight warned we will "never eradicate coronavirus" as he urged Brits to take the new Covid jab.
Addressing the nation on today's hopeful vaccine news, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer said the bug is likely to "be with human kind forever," and stressed social distancing would not end if people did not take the jab.
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Earlier today Britain became the first country in the world to give a Covid jab the green light.
Experts deem the Belgium-made Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine safe, meaning a rollout to millions of people can now begin.
But despite the hopeful news, Prof Van-Tam stressed we will never eradicate the bug, suggesting it could become "a seasonal problem".
Appearing alongside the Prime Minister and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens during tonight's coronavirus briefing, he said: "I don't think we're going to eradicate coronavirus ever.
"I think it's going to be with humankind forever.
"I think we may get to a point where coronavirus becomes a seasonal problem - I don't want to join too many parallels with flu - but possibly that is the kind of way we would learn to live it."
The medical chief also stressed the problem will not go away if people do not take the vaccine when it is offered to them.
If you want that dream to come true as quickly as it can come true then you have to take that vaccine when it is offered to you. Low uptake almost certainly mean restrictions will last longer.Professor Jonathan Van-Tam
He said: "This vaccine isn't going to help you if you don't take it. You will need two doses of this vaccine to have full protection.
"Watching others take it and hoping it will protect you too doesn't work necessarily. We don't know if it prevents transmission."
Dashing hopes of a speedy rollout, the top professor also said it will take "months not weeks" and warned that low uptake of the jab will "almost certainly make restrictions last longer".
Giving the blistering wake-up call, he said: "Everyone wants social distancing to come to an end, we are fed up with it.
"But if you want that dream to come true as quickly as it can come true then you have to take that vaccine when it is offered to you. Low uptake almost certainly mean restrictions will last longer."
HERE TO STAY
Probed by The Sun over when Covid measures could end, Prof Van-Tam said he did not think there would be a time soon where we can “have a massive party, throw on masks and hand sanitiser away and say it’s behind us like the end of the war”.
It forced the Deputy CMO to correct himself, saying: “I do not think the government will continue to have to recommend social distancing, masks and hand sanitizer forever in a day.
“I hope we will get back to a much more normal world.”
But they both agreed “personal habits” like mask wearing may continue well into the future – as is often the case in Far East Asia.
About 800,000 people will be able to get access to the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine from next week, and millions across December.
The drug has been backed by independent regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Boris Johnson said tonight: "We are no longer resting on the mere hope we can return to normal but rather the sure and certain knowledge that we will succeed and reclaim our lives and all the things about our lives that we love."
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But the PM said "we have to fight on" and continue with the tougher Tier rules - which came in today after the lockdown lifted - until the vaccine can get to those who need it.
He stressed that "for the time being, we've got to take it that tiering is going to be a very, very important part of our campaign against Covid."
He dodged questions on whether it would roll on past February and towards Easter - as some critics fear.