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Coronavirus outcome in the UK has 'not been good', chief scientific adviser says

Patrick Vallance has said the outcome has "not been good"

2 min read

The outcome of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK has “not been good”, the Government's chief scientific adviser has said.

Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs he is "sure" that wrong decisions have been made during the response to the crisis.

The chief scientific adviser's comments come after he suggested early in the outbreak that a death toll of 20,000 in the UK would be a "good outcome".

But appearing before the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Sir Patrick said it was "absolutely clear" the reaction to the pandemic, which has resulted in over 45,000 UK deaths, had "not been good".

"It's very difficult to know exactly where we stand at the moment," he said.

"It's clear that the outcome has not been good in the UK, I think we can be absolutely clear about that".

He added: "There will be things, decisions made, that will turn out not to have been the right decisions at the time, I'm sure about that as well."

And asked about the early stages of the outbreak, the top scientist said it would have been "preferable" to have been able to carry out more coronavirus testing.

He said: "It would have be absolutely preferable to have had much greater testing capacity earlier on, but not just testing, it's basic information flows around patients in hospital, rates of admission, rates of movement."

Meanwhile, Sir Patrick said he continued to back work-from-home guidance where possible, saying there was "absolutely no reason" for companies to change their policy if it was not detrimental to business.

"My view on this, and I think this is a view shared by SAGE, is that we're still at a time when distancing measures are important," he said.

"Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option, because it's easy to do.

"A number of companies think it's actually not detrimental to productivity, and in that situation there's absolutely no reason I can see to change it."

But Sir Patrick said "in general" ministers had "heard and understood the scientific advice" when taking decisions about exiting lockdown.

"Clearly as the pandemic progresses and indeed as we get into release measures from lockdown there are many other considerations that need to be taken into account as well as the science," he added.

"What we’re doing is laying out the scientific reasons behind options from which people can choose and overlaying that with economic and other considerations is the job of government."

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