Boris Johnson’s top coronavirus scientists say they’ve been attacked over their predictions

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3-min read
Chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty (L) and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance (Picture: Getty)
Chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty (L) and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance (Picture: Getty)

England’s chief medical officer has hit back at those who accused him of scaremongering over his coronavirus predictions.

Professor Chris Whitty took a swipe at people who questioned projections he had made alongside chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance last Monday.

Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne attacked both of them for their warnings about the resurgence of coronavirus and accused them of trying to “terrify” Britons.

The scientists had warned there could be just under 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October if the government did not implement further restrictions.

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street on Wednesday, professor Whitty responded to the criticism, saying: "Patrick and I have the privilege for being attacked for being too optimistic and too pessimistic on the numbers".

Prof Whitty said the pattern of growth of coronavirus was different from the first wave in March, with younger people getting the infection.

He added outbreaks of COVID-19 were accelerating quite rapidly in the North West and North East and there has been a significant uptick in the number of people being admitted to intensive care.

Prof Whitty said: "This increase, as you can see, is accelerating quite rapidly in some of those areas.

Sir Patrick also admitted the government had lost control of virus, saying: "Rates are still going up ...we don’t have this under control at the moment..."

He added the scientific experts would keep advising the government but it was up to ministers to figure out a way forward.

Prime minister Boris Johnson stressed he would “not hesitate” to introduce further restrictions on daily life to tackle the COVID-19 second wave.

He said: “If the evidence requires it, we will not hesitate to take further measures that would, I’m afraid, be more costly than the ones we’ve put into effect now.”

The prime minister earlier this month introduced new restrictions limiting people to gatherings of six and last week told pubs and restaurants to shut by 10pm in a bid to curb the spread COVID-19.

Further local lockdown measures have also been introduced across the country.

But Sir Patrick added the number of cases had picked up because there was now much more testing and it wasn’t fair to compare the data to the start of the pandemic.

He said: “The number of cases reported in March were almost certainly a very big underestimate of the total.

“So it’s much more likely that back in March and April, at the peak of this, we were seeing over 100,000 cases a day at certain times.

“Whereas of course, you were only able to measure and report a fraction of that.

“So it’s not a direct, like for like, comparison.”

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