Despite death rates falling, an expert has warned the virus is no less dangerous and urged the public to stick to the rules (Picture: Getty)

Covid-19 is still a ‘severe’ and ‘very deadly’ virus despite death rates being lower now than during the peak of the outbreak, an expert has warned.

Dr Alison Pittard, dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine in London, said doctors’ evolving understanding of the virus has dramatically upped the survival rate. At the start of the pandemic, just 66% of people in hospital with coronavirus survived, compared to 84% in August.

She said social distancing is having an impact but reminded the public of the importance of sticking to the latest three-tier rules as she warned the virus is no less dangerous.

Dr Pittard told Sky News: ‘It is still a very deadly virus, although the majority of people who still become infected will have a very, very minor illness or may not even know that they are ill at all.

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‘For those people that require hospital admission, for those that come to intensive care it’s still a very severe disease.’

She added: ‘We certainly see in critical care that patients are extremely sick.

‘So it is important that we appreciate that the disease is still there, it’s still severe and if you end up in critical care with Covid pneumonia you are almost twice as likely to die than somebody who’s admitted with a pneumonia not due to Covid – so it is still something to be worried about.’

She said doctors’ haste to mechanically ventilate patients at the start of the pandemic might have contributed to the higher rate of death in spring compared to now.

Dr Pittard said: ‘Initially we used to put patients straight on to mechanical ventilation – so we would bring them to intensive care, sedate them and put them on ventilators.


People wear face masks against Covid-19 on the promenade on October 16, 2020 in Blackpool, England.
The Government introduced its three-tier system earlier this week but experts believe it may not be enough (Picture: Getty)

‘But we have slowly started to realise that perhaps we could manage some patients without doing that.’

Meanwhile, a sage expert warned British families are facing a ‘tough’ Christmas this year with the ‘usual celebrations’ likely to be off the cards.

Sage expert Professor Jeremy Farrar said he did not believe a coronavirus vaccine will be ready by the festive period and warned the UK is facing a ‘very, very difficult’ period over the next several months.

However, the Wellcome Trust director said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and is hopeful a vaccine and other effective treatments will be available in the first quarter of 2021.

Prof Farrar told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.

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‘I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.

‘The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.

‘It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.’

His comments come as it was revealed hundreds of thousands of potential vaccine doses have already been manufactured in Belgium, reports the Mail on Sunday.

Up to 100 million doses could be made available this year, of which 40 million will be distributed to the UK, according to the report.


A busy borough market with plenty of drinkers still out at pubs , bars and restaurants in London
Prof Farrar warned this Christmas will be ‘tough’ for families across the UK (Picture: w8media)

Meanwhile, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer said the University of Oxford’s vaccine could be rolled out just after Christmas, reportedly telling MPs this week: ‘We aren’t light years away from it.’

But Prof Farrar said he believed a short nationwide circuit-breaker lockdown was still needed to bring down spiralling transmission rates.

The Government was advised by Sage experts to order the public to temporarily stay at home again but it decided to go ahead with softer localised measures instead. However, scientists have warned they will not be strong enough to reverse the current trend of infections.

Prof Farrar said the best time to implement a short lockdown would have been around September 20, but added: ‘The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.

‘So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.’

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Source: Metro