Social distancing measures would need to stay in place until December 2024 to see the virus off.
And the economic damage would be so grave it would kill more Britons than the Second World War.
The study was conducted by Philip Thomas, a Professor of Risk Management at the University of Bristol.
It estimates 150,000 people will die from Covid-19 over five years under intermittent lockdown conditions necessary to keep infection rates, or the R number, at the Government goal of below one.
But more than three times this number – 675,000 – will die from the collateral effects of the lengthy lockdown measures.
The analysis, shortly to be published in the scientific journal Nanotechnology Perceptions, was based on projected death rates linked to the virus, together with the economic impact of social distancing or lockdown and that of previous recessions.
The Government is planning to move cautiously out of lockdown, keeping a mixture of levels in place to stop the NHS from being placed under too much strain.
However, to maintain this will demand social distancing measures likely to cause a drop of 23.5 percent to the economy in 2020 and still further in 2021.
Without a vaccine, it would take until 2024 until the virus is contained, the paper states, and an extra 675,000 lives would be lost due to the effects of poverty on healthcare and impoverishment in general. Approximately 525,000 British civilian and military personnel died in the Second World War.
Professor Thomas said: “It is not enough to look at the epidemiology, the spread of Covid-19, in isolation. You need to look just as much at the effect on the economy because a nation’s economy and its health are so strongly linked that at some point they become inseparable. Poverty kills just as surely as the coronavirus.
“The only reason we have good health and live a long time is because we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
“The policy of coming out of lockdown gradually, over five years – which will be necessary if we are to keep the infection rate close to or below one – will reduce the toll on life from the coronavirus but incur a far greater loss of life through the impoverishment of the nation.
“The net loss of life is likely to be of the order of 675,000 lives. This is higher than over the six years of the Second World War.
“The initial pandemic response to lockdown as a device for gaining time to build defences and make sure our health service was not overwhelmed was a reasonable response. But our society cannot remain under siege forever and we need to find a way of returning towards normality.
“I think we can more or less justify a lockdown of two months based on the ill effects to the economy, but three months is too long. We now have to realise if we do go so slowly and continue with the aim to keep the infection rate close to or below one then the number of deaths from the prolonged lockdown will be far worse and we will be condemning people to significant impoverishment, permanent loss of wealth and more deaths than lives saved.”
His comments follow criticism of the UK approach by Professor Johan Giesecke, former chief scientist at the European Centre for Disease Control.
Professor Giesecke said in a recent article in The Lancet that everyone will be exposed to coronavirus and most people will become infected.
“But we do not see it,” he said. “It almost always spreads from younger people with no or weak symptoms to other people who will also have mild symptoms.
“This is the real pandemic, but it goes on beneath the surface, and is probably at its peak now in many European countries.
“There is very little we can do to prevent this spread: a lockdown might delay severe cases for a while, but once restrictions are eased, cases will reappear.
“I expect that when we count the number of deaths from Covid-19 in each country in one year from now, the figures will be similar, regardless of measures taken.”
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