Reasons to believe Covid-19 pandemic will ease next spring, says health expert

Prof Devi Sridhar: ‘If we can get to March, we will be in a profoundly different situation’

There are now more options for tests with antigen tests allowing for more rapid testing which will help the public to get on top of the virus and open the way for normal life to resume.  Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images)

There are now more options for tests with antigen tests allowing for more rapid testing which will help the public to get on top of the virus and open the way for normal life to resume. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images)

 

The world is in for a “brutal” experience over the winter months with Covid-19 but a corner will be turned by next March, a public health expert has said.

Prof Devi Sridhar told the MacGill Summer School that people need to hang on, obey the public health advice and things will be better in the spring.

There are 11 vaccines on trial and she said she was very confident that a viable vaccine will be available in the early months of 2021.

Prof Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh and an adviser to the Scottish government on Covid-19.

She told the school in a video interview that public anger at present over the restrictions and longevity of the virus is understandable, but better times lie ahead.

She outlined four reasons for optimism that mankind will eventually get a handle on the virus.

The first is that the medical profession knows a lot more about the virus and how it is transmitted than it did nine months ago when the pandemic began.

Governments are able to tailor public advice accordingly.

There are now more options for tests with antigen tests allowing for more rapid testing which will help the public to get on top of the virus and open the way for normal life to resume.

The use of Dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid, has helped save a lot of lives, but there are challenges to providing better treatments for people with long Covid-19, she added.

“I’m very hopeful for the world from about March. Next spring we will be in a very good place,” she said.

“The next four months are going to be very hard. People need to realise that the next four months are going to be really brutal, but there is light.

“If we can get to March, we will be in a profoundly different situation than we are now.”

She said governments will then have a chance using the vaccine and rapid testing to form a strategy based on the latest data and use the summer months to “form a game plan with this virus”.

She said people needed to realise that Covid-19 is a “once in a century type of event” that will not last forever.

It is likely by next spring there will be better scientific data on immunity, Covid-19 morbidity and a licensed vaccine, she predicted.