Covid: 'We're in for a pretty grim few weeks' of high daily UK deaths, Sir Patrick Vallance warns

Sir Patrick Vallance on ITV's Peston: "We're in for a pretty grim few weeks"

The UK will see a "pretty grim" number of daily coronavirus deaths for "some weeks", the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned.

After the UK recorded 1,564 Covid deaths on Wednesday - the highest since the pandemic began - Sir Patrick told ITV that high daily deaths are unlikely to change amid high infection rates across the country.

In an interview on ITV's Peston programme to be broadcast on Wednesday, Sir Patrick said: "When you look at the number of infections we've had over the last few weeks and how this is likely to continue, I don't think they're going to drop very quickly.

"I'm afraid we are in for a period of high death numbers that will likely carry on for some weeks."

Watch Sir Patrick Vallance's full interview with ITV News political editor Robert Peston

Even if infection rates begin to drop suddenly, Sir Patrick warned death rates are unlikely to follow in the immediate future.

Sir Patrick added: "We're in for a pretty grim few weeks I'm afraid."

Typically there is a lag of around two to three weeks after infection before a rise in hospitalisations, and then a further lag again for Covid deaths.

  • ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston lays out what he expects to happen over the next few weeks of the Covid crisis

Despite the dire warnings, Sir Patrick said lockdown measures appeared to be working as infection rates in some parts of the country begin to fall. Parts of London and Kent have seen a drop in rates in the past few days as Tier 4 measures and lockdown appear to be successful.

Despite the fall in rates, more than 47,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. yet that figure is down markedly from more than 65,000 people who tested positive on January 8.

Asked whether stricter measures might be needed to drive down the virus further, Sir Patrick said parts of the country which have been in higher tiers for longer have seen a drop in rates compared to those parts of the country which had less restrictions.

"I think the current restrictions are making a difference," Sir Patrick said.

"What we know now which we didn't know a few weeks ago was would these sort of restrictions be enough to bring this sort of virus under control with the new variant, and the answer looks like 'yes, it does'.

"Things are at least flattening off in some places, not everywhere, but it does look like some places which have been in Tier 4 level restrictions for longest, and now the lockdown and school closures, they're levelling off or coming down."

Watch the full interview with Sir Patrick Vallance on Peston, Wednesday 13 January at 10.45pm on ITV