Coronavirus: Medical and science experts outline four ways we can help beat COVID-19

September 21, 2020

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance have outlined four ways to beat coronavirus as we head into winter.

The pair reiterated some key public health messages amid fears the virus could spiral out of control and result in 49,000 cases a day by mid-October.

The four ways include limiting the spread, limiting social contact and following self-isolation guidelines.

Reduce our individual risk

Professor Whitty spent time reaffirming the measures we have all gotten used to over the last few months.

He mentioned "hands, face, space" - the government mantra for washing your hands, refraining from touching your face and keeping socially distant.

Professor Whitty said this was particularly key in "closed environments" like public transport and indoors.

Isolate the virus

He urged people to stay vigilant and committed to self-isolating if they develop any of the notable COVID-19 symptoms.

He said it was important to find all the contacts of someone that tests positive so they can do the same and he singled out people who travel back from high-risk countries as another group that would have to go into isolation.

He said: "These people are taking on behalf of society a big step forward to keep the virus out of circulation."

He called self-isolating a "critical" part of the response.

Break unnecessary links between households

He said the British public needs to focus on "breaking unnecessary links" between households.

This could be at work or when socialising. He said if we fail to do this the virus will become a "very difficult problem".

This means reinforcing social distancing in the office and limiting meet-ups. There is currently a ban on meeting up with more than six people.

He said: "This means reducing social contacts at work and in social environments.

"We have to try and do this in the least damaging way but we all know this can't be done without significant downsides."

Invest in the science, drugs and diagnostics

Professor Whitty handed over to Sir Patrick Vallance for his final point - making the case for investments in scientific research and development.

Sir Patrick said vaccines would be very important, and added that good progress is being made around the world to find one that is safe.

He said there was already evidence that some are provoking immune responses in trial participants.

He pointed to the eight vaccines in late stage clinical testing and how much the UK has invested in potential jabs being developed both at home in the Oxford trial and internationally.

He said there was a chance one of these could be cleared as safe to use by the end of the year.

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