Ex-Chief Scientific Officer insists public SHOULD wear face masks in public

26 April 2020, 10:05 | Updated: 26 April 2020, 10:08

By Seán Hickey

There should already have been capacity for 100,000 tests in the UK and British industry should be manufacturing PPE full-time.

Professor Sir David King was the government's Chief Scientific Officer, the position now held by Sir Patrick Vallance. He joined Andrew Castle to discuss the UK's response to coronavirus. Andrew wanted to know Sir David's opinion on the UK's current testing capacity.

The Professor noted that it isn't clear how many of the tests are to check if someone has the virus or has had it previously. He noted that they are "two very different tests" but he didn't hear a distinction whatsoever between the two in conversation.

Sir David added that it is "quite absurd that we haven't already got the capacity to do these tests" and there shouldn't be a conversation on whether the milestone of 100,000 tests a day will be met, as it should already be the case.

Andrew was worried about the uncertainty around testing and pointed out that there are too many moving parts in the conversation.

The former Chief Medical Officer recommended that "if we're testing for the virus, we need more than one test".

Sir David King insisted that facial protection will protect the public more
Sir David King insisted that facial protection will protect the public more. Picture: PA

He went further to say that "where we are today is flattening the peak, not getting it down" as the UK's R number - the rate at which coronavirus is retransmitted is too close to one to see any real decrease in numbers.

In an effort to lower the number, Sir David noted that he agrees with the opinions of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, supporting the use of face masks and coverings by the public when going out.

"We should be able to go out and shop but should surely be wearing face masks" he said. He noticed the issue would be "whether we are able to see there is a supply of face masks for everybody that needs to go out" as the UK already is struggling to supply PPE to frontline workers.

Professor Sir David King was curious as to why the UK still hasn't got a supply for public and frontline workers. He stressed that we "should be asking British industry to make them" as the capacity is there, and companies would drop everything and work towards that goal.

Defeated, the former Chief Medical Officer conceded that instead of manufacturing PPE at home, "we're waiting on a plane from Turkey- unbelieveable".

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