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Briefing from Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty


This is the transcript of the briefing from from Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, delivered on Monday September 21, 2020, exactly as delivered and issued by the press office of Number 10 Downing Street:


Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser:


Good morning everybody. I’m Patrick Vallance, the government Chief Scientific Adviser and I’m here with Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer and we wanted to give you an update on where we see the epidemic at the moment, some of the knowns and some of the uncertainties.


Let me just start by reminding you that this disease spreads by droplets, by surface contact and by aerosols. Hence the hands, face, space but also to remind you that the way that we reduce the spread is by limiting our number of contacts, by reducing contact in environments where spread is more likely. Those are crowded environments, indoor environments, poor ventilation. And making sure that we reduce the probability of coming into contact with anyone who is infectious and that’s the importance of self isolation, keeping out of circulation if you have or may have the virus. May I have the first slide please?


I want to start by talking about the rise in cases elsewhere and what we can learn. We’ve seen increase in cases across Europe, and here I’ve taken examples of Spain and France. We have seen an increase in the numbers of cases. It started with younger people in their twenties and spread gradually to older ages as well. That increase in case number has translated into an increase in hospitalisations. As the hospitalisations have increased, as you look at the slide on the right here, you will see that very sadly but not unexpectedly, deaths are also increasing. So there’s a simple message from this slide, which is that as the disease spreads, as it spreads across age groups, we expect to see increase in hospitalisations and unfortunately those increase in hospitalisations will lead to an increase in deaths. The virus has genetically moved a bit but it has not changed in terms of its propensity and its ability to cause disease and to cause death, even though of course most of the disease deaths occur in the older population. So where are we here? Next slide, please.


These are data from testing and I’ll come back to that point in a minute and they’re data for England but the picture is fairly similar across the UK and, and Chris Whitty will say more about that. What we see from July, as we look at the increase in cases per 100,000 of population, an increase which has occurred over August and has increased into September. This is by different age groups and the top line, the blue line is amongst the 20 to 29-year-olds. But what you can see is there