20,000 MORE COULD DIE BY APRIL AT CURRENT RATES OF INFECTION EVEN IF NO SECOND SPIKE

  • Independent SAGE launches weekly science briefing to analyse government data and inform public of risks
  • Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty suggests virus will continue to circulate at ‘significant’ levels; at current levels this shows at least 20,000 more people could die by April even before further rules relaxed
  • Re-opening of pubs & restaurants on Independence Day ‘sends totally wrong message to public’
  • Independent SAGE ‘extremely concerned’ that infection rate has stopped declining. Lifting of multiple restrictions at once = ‘too much risk’
  • ‘We need to understand that thousands of people will die even without a second spike if we don’t keep trying to suppress the spread’
  • Test & trace still ‘deeply inadequate’ – only one third of people providing at least one contact
  • Key data missing from government’s figures. No numbers at all on number of people isolating following contact tracing

Seee the full presentation of slides from Christina Pagel, Professor of Operational Research at UCL, here.

Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Adviser, to the UK government said: “We’ve launched what we hope will become a weekly science briefing because the public needs to know the latest vital information about the spread of COVID-19 order to protect themselves and their families. 

“We are extremely concerned about what our analysis of the data shows. The number of cases has stopped declining and even if we carry on at the same level, without any second spike, tens of thousand of people could die. It seems astonishing that the government would choose this moment to relax multiple rules at the same time. 

“We are particularly concerned at the decision to do this on both a weekend day and American Independence Day. It sends totally the wrong message to the public.”

Stephen Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology at the University of St Andrew, a member of both SAGE’S SPI-B and Independent SAGE’s behaviour science sub-group, said: “Things are not back to normal and we can’t act as they back to normal.” He added: “It is a national scandal that pubs have opened before schools.”