“The virus is still out there, it’s looking for more people to infect and we need to stop it getting a grip.”
These were the ominous words of England’s deputy chief medical officer on Wednesday morning as she laid bare what is currently keeping her awake at night – a second wave of coronavirus.
Dr Jenny Harries told ITV’s This Morning: “Myself and colleagues are very, very concerned about looking out for a potential second peak as we move into the autumn.”
So what do we know about a second wave and will it actually happen?
The simple, and slightly worrying fact, is we just don’t know. Because the disease is so new – barely eight months old – scientists are still collecting data on a number of factors, which means making any predictions about how it acts, has been and still is, extremely difficult.
Professor Ravi Gupta, of the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease, told HuffPost UK: “I think it’s a bit anxiety-provoking that we don’t know what’s going to happen. I think that we need to really get prepared between now and winter as much as we can.
“[There is a] perception all round that things aren’t as bad as they were which people are seeing as a positive thing, but the reality is we’re still in a quite dangerous place.”
So what do we know?
At least in terms of limiting the number of deaths, the lockdown has been effective, though the UK’s high death toll from the virus suggests its late introduction limited how many lives could have been saved.
The price of lockdown was a huge hit on the economy, with GDP shrinking an unprecedented 20.4% in April, the first full month it was imposed.
So we do know maintaining a lockdown until the holy grail of a vaccine is found just isn’t doable, hence why recent weeks have seen the gradual easing of restrictions.
We also know that so far the easing of these restrictions have not yet caused a spike in infection levels anywhere close to the early days of the...