A British scientist claims "taboo" herd immunity is the only way to beat coronavirus in the UK.

Despite backlash, herd immunity could be the long term solution to tackling the deadly bug.

Leading scientist, Professor Raj Bhopal says although the concept "provokes hostility and controversy" – it must be revisited.

The emeritus professor of public health at Edinburgh University says the idea must be discussed "however unpalatable" it may be, reports The Telegraph.

Prof Bhopal says although a vaccine may be produced, it may not work for everyone, which is why herd immunity needs to be explored.

In an article published in the journal Public Health in Practice, he wrote: “Herd immunity provokes hostility and controversy as it is usually interpreted as allowing the pandemic to unfold without interventions. The concept needs revisiting.

“If safe and effective vaccines and life-saving preventative and therapeutic medications are not found, lengthy lockdowns prove impossible, and the pandemic does not disappear spontaneously, population immunity is the only, long-term solution.”

The concept relies on people getting Covid-19, and then becoming immune to it.

Professor of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham, Willem van Schack, explained: “Herd immunity describes the phenomenon that at-risk individuals are protected from infection because they are surrounded by immune individuals.

“The spread of the virus is thus minimised.”

Speaking to The Telegraph about the negative connotations surrounding herd immunity, Prof Bhopal said: "Why do we not like herd immunity? Discussion of it has been closed down because people equate it with letting the pandemic rip through a population without any control measures at all."

"I am completely against that, it would be insane. I am not advocating that we dispense with all control measures, we still need to wash our hands, keep our distance and do everything we are being advised to.

"The bottom line is that older people have got a lot to gain from lockdowns and a lot to lose from the infection. Young people have a lot to lose from lockdowns and not much to lose from the infection.