Our President Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci responds to the government’s first daily press conference on coronavirus
“I applaud the Government’s approach of putting advice and evidence from world leading experts front and centre of their plans to deal with the global COVID-19 emergency.
“Today’s announcements are an example of this. Any action we take must be specific to the precise stage of the epidemic we are in. The actions taken in the UK so far have put us slightly ahead of some other countries when they were at a same stage of the epidemic. As the situation in the UK progresses, it is right that we are now moving into a phase of increased social distancing and I am glad to see a drive towards greater testing capacity, and isolating households with confirmed cases. It is most important that we take care of vulnerable people including those over the age of 70 at this time, protecting them as best we can from the virus while also acknowledging that the measures being introduced will cause difficulty.
“I welcome the commitment to daily briefings with the Prime Minister, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Advisor. It is important to recognise that this is a rapidly changing situation, the knowledge and understanding we are gaining from research and events worldwide is evolving daily. In light of this it is vital there is transparency about what we know and what we don’t, coupled with regular open communications about what the evidence is and how it is being used.
“Uncertainty is inevitable in the coming months: it is amazing how much we have learnt already about a virus that emerged just a few months ago. Science thrives on debate and it is often the interaction of conflicting views and challenge that drives progress. However in an epidemic situation, like the one we are facing, people want certainty and firm reassurance. Trustworthy advice, from credible experts can quickly be politicised. Scientists bear a strong responsibility here and must work to ensure the public have access to the latest reliable evidence whilst at the same time maintaining awareness of its impact in the ongoing broader societal debate.”
Recent Academy activities relevant to the topic of COVID-19 include our President's response to the government's action plan, our recent GCRF report on Epidemic Preparedness, our commitment to rapid and open sharing of research findings relevant to the COVID-19 outbreak and a blog from our Vice President International on how prepared we are in the UK and internationally for the outbreak.
For trusted sources of information about COVID-19 in the UK, the UK government recommend: www.nhs.uk, www.nhsinform.scot, www.publichealth.hscni.net, https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19 and www.gov.uk