THE chief medical officer (CMO) of Wales said people will "have to learn to live with coronavirus" circulating on the planet "for some time to come".

Despite the recently-approved vaccines offering more immediate hope against the resurgent pandemic, Dr Frank Atherton said it was "really to early to say" whether Covid-19 could be eradicated completely or whether it would become a seasonal illness, like the flu.

In Wednesday's Welsh Government press conference, Dr Atherton was asked to respond to claims made by England's deputy CMO that the virus may never be fully wiped out.

Dr Atherton said completely removing a virus from the planet was "pretty much" an impossibility – but cited the eradication of smallpox as a success story.


"It's pretty much a certainty that we're going to have to learn to live with coronavirus," he said. "We just don't know what will happen to the virus – it does mutate, like all viruses do, and some of those mutations have been talked about recently in the news."

One mutation of Covid-19 to have spread in the UK has been found to spread more rapidly between people, and in the press conference Dr Atherton said that new strain had been identified throughout Wales.

But generally, mutations do not necessarily always mean things get worse, he explained.

"It's quite possible that it may mutate to a milder form and become more of a seasonal issue that we have to deal with on a yearly basis," Dr Atherton said.

"If that is the case, then it's entirely likely that we may have to move to a situation, rather like the flu vaccination, where we have to give a seasonal vaccine against coronavirus every year.

"But it's really to early to say that, to know for sure. we'll have to wait and see, but for sure coronavirus will be on the planet for some time to come."