Whitty warns 'a lot more people will die' if lockdown is lifted early

Professor Chris Whitty warns a third wave of Covid is inevitable later this year and tells MPs ‘a lot more people will die’ if lockdown is lifted too early amid calls for No10 to drop restrictions sooner

  • Chief medical officer and Sir Patrick Vallance being quizzed by MPs this morning
  • Batted away calls for curbs to be eased sooner than No10’s cautious roadmap
  • Warned third wave inevitable and ‘lot more deaths’ if measures go too suddenly 

Chris Whitty today warned a deadly third wave of coronavirus is inevitable later this year as he defended England’s ultra-cautious roadmap out of lockdown.  

The chief medical officer said ‘all the modelling’ suggests cases will spike at some point after restrictions are eased, despite uptake for the vaccines being high.

He claimed it was ‘perfectly realistic’ that tens of thousands more Brits could be killed by the virus, pointing out that flu claims up to 20,000 lives during a bad year.

Batting away calls for lockdown to be loosened sooner now the epidemic has been squashed to pre-second wave levels, he warned: ‘If you open up too fast, a lot more people die – a lot more people die.’

Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, England’s chief scientific adviser, are being quizzed by MPs on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee this morning.

Number 10 has promised to follow the data, not dates, but has set strict five-week intervals between each phase of the plan. 

Ministers have refused to shorten the time between lifting curbs no matter how promising the data is, but have not ruled out extending the window if the figures begin to trend in the wrong direction.  

Professor Whitty said: ‘What we are going to see is as things are opening up, what all the modelling suggests is that at some point we will get a surge in virus.

‘Whether that happens, we hope it doesn’t happen soon, but it might for example later in the summer if we open up gradually, or if there is a seasonal effect, it might happen over the next autumn and winter.

Chris Whitty today warned ‘a lot more people will die’ if lockdown is eased too soon as he defended Britain’s ultra-cautious roadmap out of restrictions

‘But all the modelling suggests there will be a further surge and that will find the people who either have not been vaccinated, or the vaccine has not worked.

‘Some of them will end up in hospital, and sadly some of them will die. And that’s just the reality of where we are with the current vaccination.’

He added: ‘The ratio of cases to deaths will go right down as a result of vaccinations but not right down to zero.’

‘Just as in a typical flu 7-9,000, in a bad year 20,000. These are not ridiculous numbers they are perfectly realistic numbers for a serious respiratory virus even when people have been vaccinated [on the 30,000 extra deaths].

‘If you open up too fast a lot more people die. A lot more people die.’

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