James O'Brien's instant reaction to top medical adviser's briefing

21 September 2020, 11:32 | Updated: 21 September 2020, 11:51

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

"I like those guys" - James O'Brien defended Boris Johnson's top medical advisers following a briefing where they issued stark warnings on coronavirus.

James said the silence with which the Government press conference ended was "stark" and a reflection of the new normal in which we find ourselves.

James said: "Clearly there was some sort of intuitive sense that that should have been greeted with a round of applause.

"Clearly the most terrifying graph, or at least the graph that is meant to terrify us the most, is the one that predicts what would happen if the current rates of doubling every seven days were to continue for a few more weeks."

His reaction comes after Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told a press briefing there was now "significant rates of transmission" of coronavirus in parts of the UK.

"I like those guys," James said.

He added: "What's in it for them not to be honest with us? That seems to me to be the question that lies at the heart of much of the madness polluting our nation at the moment."

On the subject of social media and the reaction from the public, James said: "Perhaps inevitably #SackVallance is trending on Twitter with #SackWhitty. Don't get too depressed about that.

"You can be top of the trends list, and I don't understand why, with just 2,000 tweets about you. it's sad to see that there but it's not necessarily significant. Twitter is not real life."

Referring to a presentation slide looking at the growth of Covid-19 outbreaks, Professor Whitty told the nation: "What we've seen is a progression where, after the remarkable efforts which got the rates right down across the country, first we saw very small outbreaks, maybe associated with a workplace or another environment, then we've seen more localised outbreaks which have got larger over time, particularity in the cities.

"And now what we're seeing is a rate of increase across the great majority of the country.

"It is going at different rates but it is now increasing.

"And what we've found is, as we go through in time, anywhere that was falling is now moving over to beginning to rise and then the rate of rise continues in an upwards direction.

"So, this is not someone else's problem, this is all of our problem."

The UK could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October, leading to 200 deaths a day a month later if the current rate of infection is not halted, the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned.

Sir Patrick said the "vast majority of the population remain susceptible" to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down.

In a televised press conference together with England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said there was "no doubt" the UK was in a situation where the numbers were increasing among all age groups.

He said: "At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days."

Prof Whitty said there was a need to "break unnecessary links" between households and there was a need to "change course".