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BREAKING : UK needs to get ….. for 'herd immunity'

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the uk's chief scientific adviser who joins us from westminster good morning to you me the big question here is why the advice that is being given to our government does seem to be different to the advice being given to many other governments who are taking much more stringent action well we've got a panel of a very world leading scientists across epidemiology mathematical modelling viral OG clinicians and we're taking input from leading academics to come try and come up with a plan that actually does what we want it to do and it doesn't mean that the others are doing something wrong and in fact much of the advice and much of the actions if you look at them they're trying to achieve the same thing and that is to try to reduce the peak of the epidemic flatten it and broaden it so that you don't end up with so much intense pressure on healthcare systems at one time so that's one aim is to reduce transmission try to make sure that we end up with a broader epidemic not a very sharp one that overloads the system and the second of course is to protect the elderly and vulnerable and to make sure that during that peak they are protected as well as you can because that's the group that stand the biggest chance of having a serious outcome from this many people are asking the question and it has to be legitimate as to why if you're trying to delay the spread of the virus and people can understand why you would want to do that while we basically seem to be allowing society to continue as normal you know that there's no lockdowns there's no shutdowns of schools or education facilities there's still people going to restaurants and the theater isn't that actually being gonna be problematic in terms of trying to delay the spread of the virus so the UK is actually done a good job of contact tracing and isolating so the first phase of this means that we've a little bit behind we in terms of where the outbreak is compared to others and the measures that were announced which is about self isolation even if you've got very mild symptoms will mean a large number of people actually at home being isolated because of this infection that's a very big measure actually it's going to have quite a big impact across a number of households a number of people so I don't think that's a trivial measure it's all and all the modeling suggests that these sorts of measures and the other two that we discussed yesterday the ones that have the biggest impact there are other things which you're quite right of things that do have some effect and and come in at the right time and mass gatherings is the one that keeps coming up and mass gatherings of course are a place where you can potentially get infection from somebody but the alternative is also important that if you're not at the mass gathering you're at a small gathering and most of the transmission of these types of viruses occur in small gatherings not in big gatherings and therefore this concentration on getting people who got symptoms into their house isolated potentially the next step to last households to do it so you contain the whole thing in a household and making sure we protect the vulnerable and elderly are the first three things we need to do doesn't cause stop the possibility that even relatively soon you need to do more than that but getting this right and making sure that we can monitor the outbreak is absolutely key you talk about the modeling Jeremy Hunt the former health secretary last night was talking about the modeling saying he would like to see if modeling particularly better behavioral science which he seemed to imply was taking some sort of precedence over the epidemiology oh I don't think that's correct I mean I I think the modeling and the behavioral science and the clinical input come together it's not absolutely not the case that behavioral science takes a predominance but of course it's an important consideration and it is the case of course that if you completely locked down absolutely everything probably for a period of four months or more then you would suppress this virus all of the evidence from previous epidemics suggests that when you do that and then you release it it all comes back again so the other part of this is to make sure that we don't end up with a sudden peak again in the winter which is even larger which causes even more problem so we want to suppress it not get rid of it completely which you can't do anyway not suppress it so we get the second peek and also allowing us enough of us who are going to get mild illness to become immune to this to help with the sort of whole population response which would protect everybody yeah I mean that that herd immunity I know you talked about yesterday when you were appearing with the prime minister and in terms of building up a herd immunity within the UK well I mean what sort of percentage of people need to have contracted the virus probably about 60% or so and we think that this virus is likely to be one that comes back year-on-year become like a seasonal virus and communities will become immune to it and that's going to be an important part of controlling this longer term sixty percent sixty percent is the sort of figure you need to get hurt mmunity I mean even without even looking at the sort of the best-case scenario and I were talking last week and you were saying you know half of one percent to one percent fatality in something like this that's an awful lot of people dying in this country well I mean of course we do face the prospect of as the Prime Minister said yesterday of an increasing number of people dying that is a real prospect this is a nasty disease for most people it's a mild disease it's important to know we don't know yet nobody knows what proportion of people have this who are completely asymptomatic so the only cases that we've really got at the moment are people who've had symptoms or largely people who've had symptoms that means that even estimating exactly what the death rate is from this is quite difficult because there may be many more people that haven't been detected yet and that's why some of the new tests that are being developed now going to be so important so we can really understand how this disease is spreading and we don't have a handle on that yet in terms of our response so there's a couple of points I want to put to you one the former Prime Minister of Italy was talking to Sky News yesterday you said yesterday we're about four week behind Italy don't you want to avoid being like Italy and their former prime-minister saying don't repeat our mistakes don't waste time yes it should we not heed some of that advice I think I think my comments about being behind Italy about where we were on the the unmitigated curve of the epidemic we've been working on this since the beginning of January so this isn't something that suddenly groups have come together to think about yesterday this is a group of people that have been working very hard on this giving advice over the whole time what we don't want to do is to get into knee-jerk reactions where you have to start doing measures at the wrong pace because something's happened so we're trying to keep ahead of it we're trying to lay out the path so people can see what the actions are that are being advised and then of course it's up to ministers to decide which of those actions are the most appropriate to take so I completely agree with the Prime Minister of Italy you do not want to be caught on the back foot on this professor professor John Ashton who I'm sure you know former director of public health England for the Northwest region he said the response so far has been wooden an academic well I think John will have his views on this and they're perfectly legitimate lots of people have got views on this I think that what we're trying to do is feed in the most up-to-date and relevant advice we can to enable sensible decisions to be made at the right time and of course during this sort of thing there are lots of people lots of different voices coming from all sorts of angles and if you listen to all of them they are largely mutually incompatible so it's impossible to keep everybody happy with any response you do and that's why we're trying to base it on the best possible advice and actually the whole point is that this is very practical advice based on the science not something that actually is meant to be an academic exercise at all oh it's a Patrick you have the advantage of not being a politician although I know you don't get to have the final say in all of this but are you prepared if this changes if you look back at this in a week and say you know what this hasn't been the right action how flexible are you prepared to be in changing your position in your advice to the government absolutely I will base it on the evidence and my job as chief scientific advisor is to is to speak scientific truth to power and say it as it is and that's exactly what I will do

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