Former Mayor of Lambeth Dr Neeraj Patil - an emergency medicine consultant - says that the COVID-19 pandemic is "the biggest challenge faced by NHS since its inception" - but he's optimistic about a vaccine.
Dr Patil served as Mayor of Lambeth in 2010/2011 and was the driving force behind the project to install a bust of 12th century philosopher, statesman and poet Basaveshwara on the Albert Embankment. He has also previously been a governor of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Patil has given an interview about COVID-19 to The Week, a magazine based in Kerala, India.
"We are still at the beginning of a pandemic and the worst days are yet to come," Dr Patil told The Week.
"The COVID-19 outbreak is the biggest challenge faced by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom since its inception. Artificial intelligence predicts a peak in the UK in May 2020 and June-July in India."
Asked about the way forward, Dr Patil replied: "This pandemic can be compared to the Black Death of the 14th century, which was due to plague caused by a bacteria, Yersinia Pestis.
"This coronavirus pandemic occurred due to a zoonotic jump from a mammal to human beings via an intermediary in a meat market.
"This is likely to happen again if we don't address the hygiene and meat handling of many such markets that exist in China and Southeast Asia.
"Early detection by imposing an early air travel ban will contain the spread of the disease.
"Strict travel bans and air restrictions must be applied as soon as possible.
"As far as the spread of coronavirus pandemic is concerned, I am optimistic of a vaccine being available to health care workers and the population at risk by the end of the year."
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