Infectious disease expert "concerned" after Prime Minister's daily briefing

30 September 2020, 18:54

By Fiona Jones

After the Prime Minister hosted a coronavirus daily briefing this afternoon, University College London's lead scientist Oksana Pyzik in infectious diseases explained why she is "concerned" with what she heard.

Speaking from Number 10, the Prime Minister said the country was at a "critical moment" and that he would not hesitate to a bring in new measures if required.

But he said he wanted to avoid another national lockdown.In a stark warning, the Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the UK was heading "in the wrong direction" and it is "absolutely critical" people follow the restrictions.

Ms Pyzik said: "I am concerned what I heard out of Number 10 today, we do see that the rate of hospital admissions is rising that rapidly. Alongside that the testing capacity is actually getting worse and we do see that trend - for a while now."

She continued: "What I was also concerned to hear from today's conference was the fact that intent to isolate is low, that the general trust in the Government seems to be eroding. I'm worried these messages may not be going far enough."

One reason for the messages not penetrating the public is these daily briefings are not happening often enough, she suggested.

"That makes it extremely difficult for people to realise the true picture and the true risk of how quickly things can escalate," Ms Pyzik continued, "by that point it becomes too difficult to allow staged measures because it's gone so far ahead that you can only implement something that's quite aggressive, like we saw in March."

Read more: Boris Johnson press conference: Scientists say Covid-19 is 'not under control yet'

"I did sense from the CMO and the CSA a real sense of trepidation that a lot of lives will be lost if more serious measures are not taken in to consideration."

The scientist said local response and flexibility "implemented effectively" will be the way to prevent national lockdown.

Especially, she said, as we are heading towards winter and scientists do not know the risks of co-infection with flu, for example.

She reflected that it is good that the Prime Minister pledged to host more briefings so that the UK can "shake off the complacency" from the summer months.