Covid-19 will stay with humankind “forever in some form or another,” a leading British scientist has predicted, advocating regular vaccinations of the population against the deadly disease.

The not-exactly-optimistic prognosis was produced by Sir Mark Walport, a member of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), on Saturday.

Unlike some other diseases, like smallpox “which could be eradicated by vaccination,” Covid-19 is unlikely to be completely destroyed, the scientist told BBC Radio 4. At the same time, “global vaccination” is a must merely to contain the ongoing pandemic, he believes.

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“This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another, and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” Walport said. “So, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”

Walport’s remarks came in response to an earlier statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who expressed hope that the pandemic will be over “in less than two years.”

Ghebreyesus compared Covid-19 to the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish Flu, stating that humankind has met the coronavirus significantly more technologically prepared. At the same time, the world has become much more global since the early 20th century, which facilitates the rapid spread of diseases.

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The global coronavirus infection tally smashed past the 23 million mark on Saturday, latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University indicate. The virus has been linked to more than 800,000 deaths worldwide. The US, Brazil and India remain the worst coronavirus-hit countries, accounting for roughly a half of the world’s total cases.

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