Coronavirus UK: 90k may be infected every day, says Patrick Vallance

UK announces 21,242 more coronavirus cases and 189 deaths as Sir Patrick Vallance claims up to 90,000 people could be getting infected every day in England – but he admits the outbreak IS slowing

  • Chief scientific adviser today held a TV briefing with PM Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak
  • He showed a slide estimating new daily cases in England could be as few as 22,000 or as many as 90,000 
  • Sir Patrick admitted there are signs the epidemic’s growth is slowing down and plateauing in some areas
  • New Office for National Statistics estimates tomorrow ‘will be higher, I’m sure,’ the CSA added


The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people as Sir Patrick Vallance claimed as many as 90,000 could be catching the virus every day. 

The chief scientific adviser said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing down.  

Speaking in a TV briefing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sir Patrick showed slides that estimated there are somewhere between 22,000 and 90,000 new infections every day in England.

The startling upper estimate comes from a statement prepared by SAGE sub-group SPI-M, which provides regular virus modelling for Sir Patrick and has members known to be in favour of a national circuit breaker lockdown.

Office for National Statistics estimates are generally considered to be the most reliable measure, because they’re based directly on mass random swab testing of the English population, but they are a fortnight out of date.

Last Friday they estimated there were 27,800 new infections per day in the first week of October, including people who never get tested. A new estimate will be published tomorrow and Sir Patrick said he expects the figure to be significantly higher. 

Sir Patrick also said it appears to now be taking between 14 and 18 days for cases in the country to double, slower than the estimated seven days in mid-September. 

Sir Patrick Vallance said that numbers are 'still heading in the wrong direction' but also admitted Britain's outbreak appears to be slowing down

Sir Patrick Vallance said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing down

Commenting on the weekly ONS data which estimates how many people currently have Covid-19 – last week putting the number at between 312,000 and 362,000 – Sir Patrick said: ‘We’re expecting the new numbers tomorrow and this will be higher, I’m sure, so we continue to see an increase in the total number of people with the virus.’

Then, explaining the new estimate of daily cases provided by SPI-M, he added: ‘The modelling consensus suggests that between 53 and 90,000 new infections per day may be occurring. 

‘Obviously with that number of infections you expect to see an increase in hospitalisations as well. So the number of infections overall across the country continues to increase.’ 

Pointing out that numbers of people being admitted to hospitals each day have risen significantly in the last month, he reminded people that admissions will continue to rise as a result of cases that have already happened because of the two-week delay between catching the virus and becoming seriously ill.

Despite the chief scientific adviser’s now-regular warnings that the outbreak is worrying and will kill many more people, Sir Patrick offered a glimmer of optimism and admitted there are signs of a slowdown.

The fact that the R rate remains above one – SAGE estimates it to be between 1.3 and 1.5 – means that ‘the epidemic is still growing,’ he said.

‘As long as R is above one the epidemic continues to grow and it will continue to grow at a reasonable rate – it’s doubling, perhaps, every 14 to 18 days – unless the R comes below one. 

‘But I do want to say, there are some areas where we’re beginning to see real effects of what’s happening. There are some indications [that] amongst young people the rates are coming down or flattening off a bit due to the huge efforts that people have made to try to adhere to these changes in behaviours that we need to have in order to get this down.

‘And in some areas of the country we can begin to see a little bit of flattening, possibly. So the measures are having an effect but we’re going to need to do more if the aim is to get R below one and to shrink this epidemic.’