'Up to 10,000 excess heatwave deaths' should be anticipated - Ex-Govt Chief Scientist

16 July 2022, 13:16 | Updated: 16 July 2022, 13:25

Former Government Chief Scientist Sir David King

By Tim Dodd

Former Government Chief Scientist Sir David King has told LBC that up to 10,000 excess deaths have to be anticipated during Monday and Tuesday's heatwave when a new UK record temperature could be set.

The Met Office has warned that people's lives could be at risk as they gave an 80% chance of the mercury topping the UK's record temperature of 38.7C (101.7F) on Tuesday, which was set in Cambridge in 2019.

Cabinet Office Minister Kit Malthouse is to chair a second meeting of the Government's Cobra civil contingencies committee to discuss the impending heatwave.

Temperatures will climb over the weekend, and the Met Office has issued an amber warning for heat covering much of England and Wales from Sunday until Tuesday.

Speaking to Matt Frei, Sir David said: "We're a country with relatively high humidity... High humidity, high temperatures, quite simply that's higher than the body temperature should be.

"If you are even in the shade outdoors at 40 degrees centigrade and 80% humidity, you won't live for very long."

"We just can't get rid of the excess heat," he added.

Read more: Officials tell Brits to check on vulnerable ahead of 'absolutely unprecedented' heatwave

The former Chief Scientist said that during the 2003 heatwave that saw 15,000 people die due to the heat in France, older people who went shopping everyday for their groceries were walking out in the sun and collapsing.

Sir David continued: "You mention figures of thousands of deaths. I'm afraid the excess deaths on Monday and Tuesday have got to be anticipated at least in that sort of range... a few thousand up to 10,000."

Sir David was pushed on the idea of a government-imposed 'heat lockdown', but said he wouldn't be advising the government to implement one as it's "absolutely a last resort".

Read more: Heat warnings 'the erosion of our freedoms', Tory MP fumes