The WHO special envoy said the most restrictive measures to combat the spread of disease could do too much wider damage.
“We’ve got to learn to live with it by keeping it at bay,” he said. “We don’t let go and let the virus go where it wants to, because that will kill too many people and it will have long-term impact on one in 20 sufferers. We try very hard not to go back into lockdown – the other extreme – because that is so damaging to lives and livelihoods.”
Instead, Dr Nabarro suggested a “middle path… one of maintaining a steadfast defence” was required, saying: “You do that through the behaviours that we adopt, so that it’s less and less likely that the virus will catch us, and secondly we do it through how authorities work.”
He added that the lack of widespread testing for Covid-19 meant the world has been “trying to fight this virus with a bit of a blindfold on”, saying he was “very excited” about newly-approved WHO tests.
Andrew Hayward, professor of epidemiology at University College London, who advises the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said that “unfortunately” increased restrictions were necessary.
He told Today that some of the recent measures appeared to be slowing the rate of increase but warned that, without action to “curb the speed” of the virus spreading, “the numbers can get out of hand extraordinarily quickly”.