Chris Whitty: did the chief medical officer really say ‘no more lockdowns’?

Misleading headlines have suggested that Chris Whitty has said there will be no more lockdowns

It has been widely claimed that the country’s chief medical officer has said that there will be ‘no more lockdowns’.

The country’s top medic was addressing a wide range of questions about the pandemic during a Royal Society of Medicine webinar on Thursday.

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And a number of media outlets have suggested off the back of his comments that this lockdown will be England’s last.

Professor Chris Whitty has again claimed that we will need to learn to live with coronavirus (Getty Images)

In reality Chris Whitty has not ruled out future lockdowns.

What did Chris Whitty say about lockdowns?

During the webinar Professor Chris Whitty discussed how the UK may deal with Covid-19 in the future.

The CMO suggested that in the future we will treat the disease like the flu.

He said: “it is clear we are going to have to manage it, at some point, rather like we manage the flu. Here is a seasonal, very dangerous disease that kills thousands of people and society has chosen a particular way round it,”

Whitty was then quizzed on whether we would see a return of local lockdowns in the future.

He said: “no i don’t think so”, but clarified that he was not talking about “this year, or next year, but as we get towards five years”.

He then said that it may be necessary to “pull the alarm cord” if a “variant of concern” emerges and we again see exponential growth of the virus.

He said: “I think though what we will have to watch out for and this is where the variants start to matter is society won’t tolerate a certain number of people being ill” adding “there will be a certain point where they say ‘we need to do something about this, this is looking really bad guys”.

Country to have portfolio of vaccines to tackle coronavirus

Professor Chris Whitty also detailed how the country would be better prepared to deal with Covid-19 in the future.

He said a “wide portfolio” of coronavirus vaccines could be available in two years but a cautious approach is needed in the meantime.

Professor Chris Whitty also said it is not a “realistic starting point” to think any policy can completely stop the import of variants to the UK.

While he said technology and the ability to tailor vaccines to new variants will eventually “find a way through”, there remains a level of risk before then.

He said the country’s current approach is cautious “because we’ve got such a difficult situation to go through at the moment”.

But he added: “I don’t think though this should be seen as an indefinite posture, I think this is a matter of probably the next year or two whilst we understand how to do this and find a way of responding rapidly to variants.”

He said if we “scroll forward two years I think we’re going to have a very wide portfolio of vaccines”.