LUDLOW statistician Professor Russell Chenge says that there is now a life and death race between Covid-19 and the bid to get as many people vaccinated in as short a time as possible.

He says that measures such as social distancing cannot affect how infectious the virus is but can buy some time.

However, the only true salvation will be when enough people have been vaccinated.

“It is disappointing that the population as a whole, as of now, seem not to be following lockdown as carefully as during last April when the first wave was at its height,” he said.

“Given that the mutant virus is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus, it does not need much fancy science to see that it would be sensible if we are all at least as careful now as last April.

“With our population of 65 million this means some 39 million would have to be infected before the epidemic ends. I will not depress you with the calculation of the number of deaths this implies.”

Professor Chenge says that measures such as social distancing does not in the long term affect the R number of a virus but as he puts it ‘only prolongs the agony.’

“Politicians, like our prime minister, talk about the R number and that social distancing reduces this,” he adds.

“They are actually referring not to R_0 but an effective’ R, which properly is denoted by Rt. This can indeed be changed by epidemic ‘control’ procedures.

“However, the ‘true’ R, is what determines the final overall effect of the epidemic and by referring to R_t as if it were R_0 is a bad mistake. R_0 is much more difficult to change. It is not done by temporary social distancing.

“One can see this, because once social distancing was lifted, off the epidemic went again. Social distancing only prolongs the agony. Vaccination is the only effective solution.