SAGE Report – Covid-19: What is needed for the future?

Coronavirus Science iconThe Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) – Covid-19: What is needed for the future?

This report gives a really good overview of current scientific thinking on how the UK might continue and win the fight against COVID-19. It doesn’t hold back from identifying where it disagrees with or questions Government policy, but remains balanced and realistic about how we might win this vital battle. The report “Summary” is probably detailed enough for most people, but the full report gives far more detail, should you want it.

However, also of interest is the report’s short but impactful view of the future, which we’ve reproduced below:

What is needed for the future? 

A safe vaccine with near 100% efficacy for long term protection and high global uptake provides an ideal route out. However, it would be foolish to base all plans on that. It is likely that the virus will persist in the UK for at least a year, and, in the absence of the optimal vaccine, will possibly become endemic within the population.

In this scenario the country will be subject to recurrent local outbreaks requiring rapid intervention. It follows that exit from the current lockdown must encompass a strategy of searching for the virus wherever it appears, understanding and intervening in transmission networks, as well as protecting those with disease.

This requires a virus control system which has long term sustainability. It must be built into an enhanced public health protection system, taking advantage of the primary and secondary health care system, but also incorporating locality-based integration (integrated Care Systems) including local government and social care, and crucially with community participation. In order to guide future infrastructure requirements, it is important to appreciate how the UK have come to a situation where “lack of testing and infection control capacity”, has been used to justify the suboptimal UK government response to the pandemic. 

There is an urgent need to rebuild an integrated public health infrastructure of the form required to deliver optimal protection of the people of Britain and Northern Ireland. This needs to assimilate the highest quality diagnostics, data collection, management analysis and sharing, and innovative social and behavioural science, as a critical component of our protection from this and future pandemics.