Two major European leaders have issued warnings to their citizens that the world needs to adjust to life with the coronavirus, and that people cannot wait to be saved by a yet-to-be-developed vaccine.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the comments over the weekend.
With 36 million newly unemployed people just in the United States, economic pressures are building to reopen and return to some sense of normalcy, even with the risk of new waves of infections and deaths.
Conte is allowing restaurants, bars and beach facilities in Italy to open Monday, the same day that church services will be allowed to resume and shops can reopen.
″We are facing a calculated risk, in the awareness … that the epidemiological curve could go back up,” Conte said late Saturday. “We are confronting this risk, and we need to accept it, otherwise we would never be able to relaunch.”
He added that Italy could “not afford” to wait for a vaccine, as health experts believe one could still be months or even years away.
“We would find ourselves with our social and productive fabric heavily damaged,” Conte said.
For his part, Britain’s Johnson, who was hospitalized last month with COVID-19, told his citizens on Sunday that there is a possibility that a vaccine may not be developed at all.
I know this will not be easy — the first baby steps never are. But I hope that, when we look back, the changes we have made this week will be seen as an important moment on the road to our nation’s recovery.https://t.co/hEdg4k2333
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) May 17, 2020
“I said we would throw everything we could at finding a vaccine,” Johnson wrote in The Mail on Sunday newspaper. “There remains a very long way to go, and I must be frank that a vaccine might not come to fruition.”
“Despite these efforts, we have to acknowledge we may need to live with this virus for some time to come,” Johnson cautioned.
He said the U.K. needs to find new ways of controlling the coronavirus. Those methods include more testing for people with symptoms, as well as tracing the contacts of infected people.
Coronavirus has infected over 4.6 million people and killed more than 312,000 worldwide to date, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has reported nearly 89,000 dead in the pandemic and Europe has seen at least 160,000 deaths.