'Major harm' to UK if there is a second lockdown, warns former Chief Scientific Adviser

12 September 2020, 11:34

By Seán Hickey

A former Chief Scientific Adviser said there would be major health and economic impacts of a second lockdown, and the UK is in a much better position now to avoid such a situation.

Sir Mark Walport told Matt Frei that "local public health control is the best way to control" coronavirus and allowing local authorities to make decisions on enforcing coronavirus regulations is the best way to address the pandemic.

The former Chief Scientific Adviser and SAGE member responded to Matt Frei wondering if there could be a second national lockdown. Sir Mark didn't think there would be a need.

"The difference between the first wave of the infection and now is that there is the capacity to do much more testing," he pointed out.

Matt wondered why Sir Mark thought the PM wants to avoid a second lockdown, and the former CSA suggested it was an economic decision.

"What you want to do is to have the country working as near to normal as possible," he began, adding that "there are major harms if the economy suffers."

"The numbers of viral infections will eventually speak for themselves, if we get control we can maintain a more normal existence."

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Sir Mark highlighted the importance of abiding by the new coronavirus rules if we are to get to a position where we can ease restrictions further.

Matt prodded the former Science Adviser, wondering if "given all the things in our armoury now, should we be less afraid of the virus now than we were in March."

Sir Mark accepted that "it is perfectly true that we are getting better at treating it" but we cannot be complacent because of this.

He warned that Covid-19 is "still an extremely unpleasant virus" and relaxing at this point will risk a situation similar to the first wave.