Government chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance says coronavirus testing ‘should have been expanded sooner’

PUBLISHED: 14:51 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:53 05 May 2020

Sir Patrick Vallance admits

Sir Patrick Vallance admits "lots of things" could have been done differently during the outbreak, including an earlier ramp up of testing

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Chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance told a Commons health committee that testing should have been ramped up sooner.

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Vallance and deputy medical officer Jenny Harries were hauled in front of MPs to answer questions on the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

The pair agreed “lots of things” could have been done differently, including an earlier expansion of testing.

Vallance said: “In the early phases, if we had managed to ramp testing capacity quicker, it would have been beneficial.

“For all sorts of reasons that did not happen. And I think it’s clear you need lots of testing for this.”

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He defended Harries who had suggested swabbing alone was not a solution to containing the virus.

On what the government could learn from others, Vallance said what worked in one country might not necessarily work in another, stressing each nation had its own “different characteristics” to consider.

He also said it was no surprise that major metropolitans like London and New York had fared badly with the disease.

“I don’t think it’s chance that two huge cosmopolitan well-connected cities with multiple imports from all over the world - New York and London - got very hard hit,” he said.

Harries said including more digital technology into the government’s disease response was one aspect all of Whitehall could learn from.

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