Science press briefing #COVID2019

There was a good press briefing today with Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance in which they explain the reasons for the decisions the UK has made since the start of this outbreak. It starts at around 5 minutes.

Chris Whitty explains the strategy,

The idea that we’re going to put this virus back to going away completely, while theoretically not impossible, seems so improbable, that basing scientific evidence on the theory that this is something we’re trying to do seems to me, a mistake.

He goes on to explain that if our goal was to make the epidemic go away then we would do different things, similar to what we’ve done in West Africa for Ebola. It’s his view that the science does not support making the virus go away at this stage of the epidemic.

You do completely different things if what you’re saying is actually, however much we might like that to happen [the virus to go away], however much we might like to have a vaccine riding to the rescue in 6 months time – currently we think that’s improbable –  so now we’ve got to work on a different theoretical framework for managing this epidemic.

They also mention the importance of testing and UK plans to ramp up testing to 25,000 tests per day. We’re also rapidly developing a test which will let people find out whether they’ve had the virus. This information will be very useful as it will mean people who get a confirmed test result of having had the disease will be able to go back to work and to live normally again.

This has given me new hope because I previously couldn’t see how restrictions could be lifted for another 12-18 months but if it turns out many more people have had the disease and been asymptomatic then we can relax restrictions, perhaps in as little as 3 months’ time.