It was early spring when British scientists laid out the bald truth to their government. It was “highly likely,” they said, that there was now “sustained transmission” of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom.If unconstrained and if the virus behaved as in China, up to four-fifths of Britons could be infected and one in a hundred might die, wrote the scientists, members of an official committee set up to model the spread of pandemic flu, on March 2. Their assessment didn’t spell it out, but that was a prediction of over 500,000 deaths in this nation of nearly 70 million.Yet the next day, March 3, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was his cheery self. He joked that he was still shaking hands with everyone, including at a hospital treating coronavirus patients.Follow latest updates on coronavirus here “Our country remains extremely well prepared,” Johnson said as Italy reached 79 deaths. “We already have a fantastic NHS,” the national public health service, “fantastic testing systems and fantastic surveillance of the spread of disease.”Alongside him at the Downing Street press conference was Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser and himself an epidemiologist. Whitty passed on the modelling committee’s broad conclusions, including the prediction of… Read full this story
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