Health

Sir Patrick ­Vallance regrets terrifying Brits with doomsday 4,000 daily coronavirus deaths prediction


TERRIFYING predictions that 4,000 people could die of Covid every day were derided as “Noddy Land figures” last night.

The Government’s chief ­scientific adviser Sir Patrick ­Vallance shared the bleak number during Saturday night’s Downing Street briefing used to justify the second lockdown.

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Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Witty appeared at the House of Commons

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Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Witty appeared at the House of CommonsCredit: PA:Press Association

But experts said the modelling that provided the figure was outdated, with predicted deaths in early November more than four times higher than current fatalities.

Former Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption said: “Some of the statistics they have produced over the last few days simply don’t bear a moment’s examination.

“The most extreme one is the ­suggestion that there could be up to 4,000 deaths a day.

“That is a figure which no country has ever come close to. These are absolute Noddy Land figures.”

Microbiologist Professor David Livermore added that the figures are “clearly ropey statistics” and said they “just don’t make sense”.

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance appeared before MPs today

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Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance appeared before MPs todayCredit: AFP or licensors
The 'worst case scenario' slide shown at the press conference on Saturday which has come under fire for being out of date

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The ‘worst case scenario’ slide shown at the press conference on Saturday which has come under fire for being out of date

At a Science and Technology Committee hearing yesterday, MP Graham Stringer said the figure had “frightened a lot of people around the country”.

Sir Patrick said he was attempting to be open by sharing a range of potential scenarios.

He added: “If that didn’t come across then I regret that, but I positioned that as a scenario from a couple of weeks ago, based on an assumption to try and get a new reasonable worst-case scenario.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also admitted he would not have chosen to share one slide that appeared to mislead viewers over the number of patients in hospital with Covid.

And he appeared to distance ­himself from the modelling saying he had personally “never used” the kind of six-week projection that PM Boris Johnson used to claim 4,000 deaths a day could happen by December.

‘THROWN UNDER THE BUS’

It raised fresh questions about how the graph came to be shown to the public during the PM’s address to the nation.

One source said Sir Patrick had been “thrown under the bus” over it.

Sir Patrick confirmed the graph was shown to the PM last week before he announced plans for a second national lockdown.

That has seen many shops left stripped bare again as panic-buying grips Brits before the shutdown takes effect from tomorrow.

But insiders played down the significance of the slide. A source said: “There was no one graph that turned the tide.”

‘STEADILY GET BETTER’

Yesterday both Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick insisted current infections justify a second lockdown to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.

They said the tier system was not working fast enough to stop wards from becoming dangerously full.

Although cases are falling among the young, spread is continuing in vulnerable older groups.

Figures yesterday revealed that 397 people had died with the virus in the previous 24 hours — the highest daily figure since May.

However, they struck an optimistic note, saying Britain is set for a brighter spring with Covid ­vaccines, new treatments and rapid tests all within sight.

 

Prof Whitty told MPs the situation will “steadily get better” from early next year.

He said: “Anyone who thinks about this would be very confident that over the next year, probably even sooner than that, you will have multiple shots on goal from science.

“There will be a rolling through of the extraordinary scientific effort that is currently going on.

“So I am very confident we will get medical countermeasures. What we have to do is hold the line until that point.”

He also said there is a realistic chance England would be released from the lockdown after four weeks.

Sir Patrick added there is “concrete” progress, with new treatments, better testing and potential vaccines all showing promise.

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It comes as GPs were put on standby to start rolling out a ­potential Covid vaccine from the beginning of December.

Family doctors are set to be told by health bosses to get ready to begin vaccinating over-85s and frontline workers from early next month, according to GP magazine Pulse.

Data also shows the R rate — the number of people each infected person infects — has fallen to 1, meaning the transmission has levelled out.

Robert Jenrick says if mass coronavirus testing in Liverpool is a success it could be rolled out to other cities

 





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