Former Chief Scientific Adviser: Austerity and delay has led to more people dying

15 April 2020, 08:01 | Updated: 15 April 2020, 08:42

By Adrian Sherling

The former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government has told LBC that austerity and delaying the coronavirus lockdown has led to more people dying.

The UK was one of the last countries in Europe to institute a lockdown as coronavirus spread across the world.

Professor Sir David King previously held the job that Sir Patrick Vallance currently does, advising the government on scientific evidence.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, he was very critical of the government's handling of the crisis.

He said: "If I look at the figures, I am really saddened by the omission of deaths outside of hospitals. It means we really haven't a clue where we are.

"If it is 50% more, which is quite likely as we see now, than the deaths in hospital, then the comparison with other countries is beginning to look really awful.

"I'm very saddened by the predicament we're in. Why we didn't respond so much sooner once this epidemic broke out in China, I simply don't know. And I say this because in 2006, we published a report on actions needed to deal with a pandemic and in that report, we showed that if an outbreak occurred of any new virus of this kind anywhere in the world, within three months, due to air travel, it would be everywhere in the world.

"That of course is what has happened and it seems like we were unprepared and we didn't take action. We didn't manage this until too late and every day's delay has resulted in further deaths in the United Kingdom."

Sir David King laid into the government for ignoring warnings about a pandemic spread from 2006
Sir David King laid into the government for ignoring warnings about a pandemic spread from 2006. Picture: LBC / PA

Sir David also believes previous austerity policies have also left the UK in a position where it was unable to act quickly enough to combat the spread of Covid-19.

"It goes right back to 2010 when the government came in with a very clear policy to reduce public spending across the board, including the National Health Service.

"I"m afraid these austerity measures did lead to cutting back on the risk management programmes. Clearly this also managed to cause problems with flooding across the UK. We were much better prepared for better spending with the Environment Agency on that and less prepared for pandemics.

"For me, this is very upsetting because we had set this preparation process in place back in 2006."

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Nick asked: "Is is simple enough to say that the austerity measures costs lives."

Sir David responded: "Absolutely. That is what I'm saying."

His full interview was very stark and honest. Watch in full at the top of the page.