Great Britain

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

The Independent employs reporters around the world to bring you truly independent journalism. To support us, please consider a contribution.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, has admitted the UK has not had a good outcome from the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to MPs on the Commons science and technology committee Sir Patrick said: “It’s clear the outcome in the UK has not been good. I think we can be absolutely clear about that.”

He had previously said 20,000 deaths would be a “good result” in the pandemic, but the latest death rates show the UK has seen more than 50,000 deaths linked to coronavirus.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Sir Patrick, chair of the government's scientific advisory committee, SAGE, also told MPs that the lack of data and flows of information could have been better and that was "an important lesson, not just for pandemics but any emergency."

Asked for his reflections on the management of the outbreak Sir Patrick also questioned the "structure and the way that SAGE operates. It's never been set up to work for 47 meetings," he said.

"We're meeting twice a week for most of this, and we need to think about how to make that work. It's largely volunteer academics who've helped out. They've gone over and above to put their advice into the system and to help in all sorts of ways, I think we need to think about the resilience of that system."

A third area he said was the presence of science knowledge across government departments stressing SAGE was only an advisory body.

He said: "The science system across government and across agencies needs to be robust. Sage is not the science system, it is a science advisory body. Science within Public Health England needs to be in the right place, science in departments needs to be in the right place. There needs to be enough in order to be able to take the science advice."

Sir Patrick defended SAGE in relation to care homes telling MPs the issues in care homes were mentioned as early as February in SAGE minutes and many times since.

He said SAGE did not have "policymakers in its grasp" and that it did not make decisions on operational issues.

More follows...

Football news:

Valencia presented three uniforms for the 2020/21 season
Ter Stegen agreed to sign a 5-year contract with Barca
Bale was not included in real's bid for the match with Manchester City in the Champions League
Arsenal have offered Willian a 3-year contract
Aurier agreed to move to Milan. Tottenham want 20 million euros for a defender
Can-Casillas: One of the greatest is leaving the stage. You have always been an example, my friend!
Atletico President: Simeone is great. He constantly brings victories and titles