The novel coronavirus is here to stay, and may never be eradicated, a top British scientist warned Tuesday. Indeed, Professor David Robertson is also convinced that the pathogen is almost impossible to control.
As Yahoo News UK reports, Robertson is the head of viral genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Glasgow. This week, he addressed the House of Lords science and technology committee, telling the lawmakers that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that is colloquially being referred to as the novel coronavirus may never be eradicated.
"I think we have to be clear that we're not going to be able to eradicate this virus," he said, adding that the pathogen is likely going to "settle into" the human population.
Years from now, he said, the coronavirus will simply be one of many viral pathogens that humanity has to deal with.
He also compared the coronavirus to ebola. The fatal blood-borne illness, which usually erupts in Africa, is actually relatively easy to control. Its symptoms are obvious, unambiguous, and appear quickly. What's more, the pathogen is so lethal that victims usually die before they've had much chance to spread it.
By comparison, the coronavirus kills a much smaller percentage of victims, many of whom show mild symptoms or no symptoms. Such people -- the vast majority of those who contract it -- unknowingly spread it to others.
For this reason, Robertson says, the virus is almost impossible to control.
"This virus is infecting so many people with asymptomatic to mild symptoms that it's almost uncontrollable," he said.
His concerns echoed those made by another top U.K. medical scientist, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.
Speaking on Monday to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's team, Van-Tam warned that the only way for the U.K. to emerge from the pandemic would be through the development of a vaccine.
"Until we get a vaccine, and only if we get a vaccine that is really capable of suppressing disease levels, will we ever be 'out of this,'" he asked rhetorically.
He also noted that a vaccine could be years away, meaning that Britons may have to live with the fear of the virus for the foreseeable future.
Further, Van-Tam noted that the coronavirus may prove to be a seasonal illness, not unlike the common flu. Although he noted that it's currently too early to predict whether or not COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, will be a seasonal disease.