There may be no “acceptable solution” to managing the coronavirus pandemic, an expert has warned.
Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology and director of the University College London (UCL) Genetics Institute, said that after spending “considerable time” thinking about how to mitigate and manage the pandemic, he had failed to identify the best course of action.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “After having spent considerable time thinking how to mitigate and manage this pandemic… I failed to identify the best course of action. I’m not sure there is such a thing as an acceptable solution to the problem we are facing.
After having spent considerable time thinking how to mitigate and manage this pandemic, and analysing the available data. I failed to identify the best course of action. Even worse, I'm not sure there is such a thing as an acceptable solution to the problem we are facing. (2/12)— Francois Balloux (@BallouxFrancois) March 14, 2020
He went on: “I believe that the covid-19 pandemic is the most serious global public health threat humanity faced since the 1918/19 influenza pandemic.
“There are major differences between the two events but I suspect there will also be similarities that may emerge once we look back.”
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Prof Balloux said it was most plausible that the Covid-19 would wane in the late spring and return in the winter, “which I expect could be even worse than what we’re facing now”, adding a similar pattern was seen in the pandemic a century ago.
However, he warned that it is not known how seasonal the transmission of the virus is or if Covid-19 infection causes long-lasting immunity.
He added: “The Covid-19 pandemic is an extremely challenging problem and there are still many unknowns. There is no simple fix, and poorly thought-out interventions could make the situation even worse, massively so.”
Prof Balloux’s comments came as the death toll in the UK rose to 35 following a Department of Health announcement on Sunday that 14 more patients had died in 24 hours.
They include 59-year-old former police officer Nick Matthews, who had underlying health conditions.