whitty vallance
© Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance give a Coronavirus Data Briefing in 10 Downing Street on September 21st.
Another surge in coronavirus cases is inevitable and could be recorded as soon as late summer, despite the success of the UK's ongoing vaccine rollout, MPs have been told.

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said that even under the most optimistic set of assumptions, a further 30,000 lives could be lost to Covid-19, as he warned against the dangers of lifting restrictions too quickly.

Comment: None of the government's models have been accurate, and we can expect this fearmongering prediction to be wrong too: Pandemic pushers, economy destroyers and sold out science: Imperial College are still open for business

He told the Science and Technology Committee that the modelling suggests "that at some point we will get a surge in virus".

Comment: The government claims that it has vaccinated most of the vulnerable and for everyone else, the vast majority of people, the coronavirus is relatively harmless, with a great many not even realising they have it, so does it really matter whether there's a "surge" in harmless infections?

This is because not everyone in the UK will have been vaccinated as restrictions are eased, or won't have acquired full protection from the jabs, therefore allowing the virus to continue circulating among susceptible pockets of the population.

"We hope it doesn't happen soon, it might for example happen later in the summer if we open up gradually or because of the seasonal effect it might happen over the next autumn and winter," Prof Whitty said.

Comment: Like most coronaviruses then? Note also that within what he's saying there's hints that the lifting of the lockdown may be more "gradual", i.e. slower, than the government has been taunting the public with.

"All the modelling suggests there is going to be a further surge and that will find the people who either have not been vaccinated or where the vaccine has not worked.

Comment: In some cases it's the vaccines themselves that seem to be causing the infections: HUNDREDS of Israelis get infected with Covid-19 after receiving Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

"Some of them will end up in hospital and sadly some of them will go on to die."

Comment: As is the case with the flu and a great many other illnesses.

Previous scientific modelling has shown that that even with a vaccine uptake rate of 90 per cent among the UK's top priority groups - which account for the vast majority of Covid-related fatalities - up to 1 million at-risk people would remain vulnerable to the disease.

This may be enough to fuel another wave of hospitalisations and deaths if restrictions are lifted too quickly, potentially burdening the NHS, scientists have said.

Prof Whitty said that the speed of re-opening would shape the size and the timing of a resurgence, but that vaccines would not be able to prevent all deaths from Covid-19.

"The ratio of cases to deaths will go right down as a result of vaccination, but not right down to zero, unfortunately," he said.

Comment: Notably the 'ratio of deaths' going down coincides with the end of flu season.

Given the risk of resurgence, Prof Whitty pushed back on MPs' calls to accelerate the government's "roadmap" to easing restrictions in England, with measures to be lifted at five-week intervals up to 21 June.

Cases and deaths are currently at their lowest level since early October, while more than a third of the adult population of the UK has now received a first vaccine dose. But despite this, Prof Whitty warned against moving too quickly in the weeks and months ahead.

"If you look at the history of this all around the world, the history of this is not full of countries and individual leaders wishing they had done more, faster," he said.

"It's full of leaders who wished they had acted quicker and then been more careful as they take things off."

Comment: Looking at Sweden, as just one example, this is clearly not true. Further, Russian experts are confident that by summer the world will have achieved herd immunity.

Prof Whitty said officials would have a better grasp of the trajectory of the pandemic in the wake of 17 May, when indoor mixing of up to six people could be allowed, along with the reopening of bars and restaurants.

"That is the point when we are really going to start to see some very significant risks accumulating, potentially," he warned.

Pressed on whether some measures could be brought forward if the data on the roadmap out of lockdown is better than anticipated, Prof Whitty said it was would take at least three to four weeks in between each interval to gather sufficient evidence.

"The prime minister and ministers have said they want to give people a week's notice before making changes," he said. "If you do that then you're not going to want to reduce the time between various steps."

The government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, echoed those views, telling MPs: "If you truncate that, you are essentially flying blind.

"You might feel 'oh, I can smell it going in a certain direction, it looks like this', but you really want to know."

Prof Whitty also pointed to the example of Europe, where many countries are now recording an uptick in cases, having fared better than the UK in controlling the spread of Covid-19 throughout the winter.

"I think a lot of people may think this is all over — I would encourage them to look at what is happening in continental Europe at the moment where a lot of countries are going into rates going up and having to close things down having not been in that situation before," he said.

"I think it's very easy to forget quite how quickly things can turn bad if you don't keep a very very close eye on it."