Vallance defends 50,000 Covid-19 cases per day projection

The Government’s chief scientific adviser has defended recent comments warning that the UK could see 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by mid-October.

Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty published the stark projection at a press conference last week, adding that it could lead to 200-plus daily deaths.

However, the latest figures suggest that new Covid-19 infections in the UK were not increasing fast enough to match the Government’s worst-case scenario.

Coronavirus – Mon Sep 21, 2020
Coronavirus – Mon Sep 21, 2020

At a coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, BBC reporter Laura Kuenssberg asked the two experts about their previous projection following the new data.

In response, Sir Patrick said: “There were three messages really that we were trying to get across in terms of the data.

“The first was, if you look at other countries. You see that cases go up, followed by spread to older people, followed by hospitalisations and unfortunately leading to ICU (intensive care unit) and to deaths.

“That looks like what is happening here.

“The second message was that cases were already increasing at the time that we gave that presentation, and you could already begin to see increases in hospitalisations, which as Chris has shown, have increased further since.”

He said the projection was to “point out” that epidemics either “double or half”, adding that when they double “things go very big, quite quickly”.

Sir Patrick said: “So things move quickly, and when things double you see that exponential growth, which means you end up with very high numbers and it means you have to act quickly in order to deal with that.”

He said there was “clearly” fast growth in Covid-19 cases in some areas of the country, and that “things were definitely heading in the wrong direction”.

In order to match the Government’s worst case-scenario around new infections, the UK would now be seeing about 12,000 new cases reported each day.

Instead the latest daily total of lab-confirmed cases was 7,108, slightly down on the 7,143 reported on Tuesday.