British health officials fear the coronavirus crisis will last at least another year — and infect 80 percent of the nation, according to an official document leaked to a UK paper.
“As many as 80% of the population are expected to be infected with Covid-19 in the next 12 months, and up to 15% (7.9 million people) may require hospitalization,” states the Public Health England (PHE) briefing for senior NHS officials, according to The Guardian.
That could end with more than 500,000 deaths in Britain if the mortality rate is even one percent, the paper says.
The report also warns that the health service cannot cope with the sheer number of people with symptoms who need testing, and estimates 500,000 of the 5 million people deemed vital health workers will themselves need time off sick during a month-long peak of the epidemic.
While news that the pandemic could last a year will likely panic the nation, it is an “entirely plausible” timescale, epidemiologist Paul Hunter told The Guardian.
“I think it will dip in the summer, towards the end of June, and come back in November, in the way that usual seasonal flu does,” he said.
“I think it will be around forever, but become less severe over time, as immunity builds up,” added Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia.