Chris Whitty becomes social media star as he fights coronavirus

Put him in charge of Brexit, he’s the new 007: England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty who is leading the fight against coronavirus becomes unlikely social media star after no-nonsense answers in front of the camera

  • Brits praised the unlikely hero for his no-nonsense approach to the UK situation
  • Hundreds watching his interviews praised his attitude, naming him ‘James Bond’
  • His no-nonsense approach doesn’t shy away from alarming messages
  • He said the over-80s, as he put it, should not believe that they were all ‘goners’
  • Leading commentators were surprised at Professor Whitty’s level-headedness’   

Cometh the hour, cometh Chris Whitty.

The calmly spoken, exceedingly qualified scientist has become the face of the government’s fight against coronavirus. 

In the process, he has become a social media hero for his straight-talking performances in front of camera. 

Avoiding confusing medical jargon, the 53-year-old Oxford graduate has been very clear in his messaging – admitting there will be ‘a lot more’ cases and the NHS would come under ‘very high pressure’ as a result. 

The over-80s, as he put it, should not believe that they were all ‘goners’ despite the coronavirus being most deadly in the elderly. 

Hundreds of Brits watching his no-nonsense performances on live TV hailed his attitude, calling him the new James Bond, asking if he should be in charge of Brexit negotiations and revealing they would trust him with their life.  

Leading media commentators also gushed praise on Professor Whitty, who spent his childhood in Nigeria, for delivering a ‘masterclass in level-headedness’ while addressing the House of Commons amid rising levels of panic in the UK. 

England’s chief medical officer Professor Christ Whitty has become an unlikely social media star as he leads the fight against coronavirus

Brits praised the unlikely hero for his refreshing no-nonsense approach to the escalating situation in the UK. Those watching his straight-talking performances in front of the camera commended his attitude, calling him the new James Bond and Lady Hale

WHAT HAS PROFESSOR WHITTY SAID? 

As coronavirus cases step up daily in the UK, what exactly has Professor Whitty said in response?

Over 80s are not ‘goners’

Professor Chris Whitty said that, even for high-risk age groups, catching coronavirus did not mean you would be ‘a goner’.

He said: ‘I think it’s easy to get a perception that if you are older and you get this virus then you’re a goner – absolutely not, the great majority of people will recover from this virus, even if they are in their 80s.’

The UK is likely to see spread

Professor Whitty has been honest on more than one occasion and said it was ‘likely’ but not definite that the spread of the coronavirus would become an epidemic in the UK.

He said on March 4: ‘At this point in time we think it is likely, not definite, that we will move into onward transmission and an epidemic here in the UK.’

The fit and healthy are at risk, too

Asked if fit and healthy people could die from coronavirus, Prof Whitty told MPs: ‘Yes. Fit and healthy people can die from virtually anything. But it is incredibly rare to happen.’

Smokers – stop now

Professor Whitty said if people wanted to quit smoking, they should do it while coronavirus is spreading.

He told MPs: ‘To be clear on smokers, my recommendation is that they stop smoking. If you are going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it. I’m just highlighting that as an additional vulnerability for people who are otherwise healthy.’ 

Masks will not work

Professor Whitty told Sky News on March 4 that wearing a face mask had almost no effect on reducing the risk of contracting the illness.

He said: ‘In terms of wearing a mask, our advice is clear: that wearing a mask if you don’t have an infection reduces the risk almost not at all. So we do not advise that.’

Community transmission is happening 

On March 4, Professor Whitty said community transmission of coronavirus is likely to be happening already: ‘It is likely that will be happening, if not now, but soon. I think it’s likely to be happening at the moment, not definite.’ 

Think about travel

On March 3, Professor Whitty was hailed for telling Brits to ‘think’ about whether it was wise for them to travel abroad to countries with health services weaker than the NHS.

He said: ‘If you happen to be in a place with a very weak health service at the peak of their epidemic, weaker than the NHS, that obviously might be more problematic – and this is particularly an issue for people who are older or have pre-existing health conditions.’

Professor Whitty, 53, has been in the role of England’s top doctor for only five months, but has been thrust in the limelight to inform panicked Britons of the coronavirus risk.

Whereas Dame Sally was branded the ‘nanny-in-chief’ for her call to ban eating on public transport, Professor Whitty has been hailed by colleagues across the board for being ‘calm and collected’. 

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, Number 10 has been accused of secrecy by refusing to give clear, concise updates. And the Department of Health and Social Care was criticised said they would ‘no longer be tweeting information on the location of each new case’.

In contrast, Professor Whitty’s straight-talking approach has been praised by ordinary Britons. He was described as the ‘voice of calm and reason in the coronavirus hysteria’ by one user on Twitter, while another said they would ‘trust him with my life’.

On Tuesday, Professor Whitty was hailed for telling Brits to ‘think’ about whether it was wise for them to travel abroad to countries with health services weaker than the NHS. 

He’s warned smokers it’s a good time to kick the habit – because those who are less healthy are more vulnerable to succumb to coronavirus –  and that face masks probably aren’t that effective.

The scientist and ‘modern medic’ has given hope that the outbreak will be controlled in the UK, as supermarkets and pharmacies see chaotic customers stockpile in case of a worst-case scenario.

There have even been calls to replace the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take charge of Brexit negotiations following his impressive communication.

Yesterday, the Nigera-raised Professor Whitty flanked Boris Johnson as the PM announced the Government’s drastic ‘battle plan’, which could see troops deployed on streets if the coronavirus takes hold in the UK. 

He later answered questions from the Commons health committee for 90 minutes on the coronavirus outbreak. 

‘No notes, no sprawling entourage,’ MailOnline columnist Henry Deedes observed.

‘He didn’t so much as require a replenishing tumbler of Highland Spring as he delivered a masterclass in level-headedness and straight speaking.

‘His appearance, too, is mildly alarming. He has mad scientist hair and poached-egg eyes which bulge disconcertingly. But his ability to speak clearly and directly was oddly soothing.’

Quentin Letts, a political sketch writer for The Times, praised Professor Whitty for speaking with a ‘level, relatable manner’.

‘The over-80s, as he put it, should not believe that they were all “goners”. Death from coronavirus was very, very unlikely.

‘Cometh the hour, cometh the mild-mannered Englishman, most improbable of heroes, to stand up to the wailing Jeremiahs and steer us to safety.’

Mr Letts said Professor Whitty was ‘the sort of doc you would want for your prostate check’.

Professor Chris Whitty was little known outside of medical circles before his appointment as England’s top doctor. But now, the Oxford University graduate has become a favourite to lead the nation

John Crace is The Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer, said Professor Whitty’s words ‘flow with liquid intelligence’.

He added: ‘There’s no one who wouldn’t rather listen to a few minutes of Whitty than half an hour of Boris’s bullsh*t. 

‘The geeks have inherited the Earth. And the Geek-in-Chief, whom everyone now regards as the country’s de facto prime minister, is Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer. 

‘His command of his subject and his ability to communicate that knowledge is near-total.   

‘There was something undeniably refreshing about his honesty and directness. Here was a man willing to treat the country as adults and didn’t feel the need to lie about the severity of the situation.’

Bryony Gordon said she hoped Professor Whitty would get acknowledged for his work by getting a place on Strictly Come Dancing

WHAT DO PROFESSOR WHITTY’S COLLEAGUES THINK ABOUT HIM? AND WHAT OTHER ROLES HAS HE HAD IN THE GOVERNMENT?

Professor Whitty’s colleagues were also quick to praise their fellow medic, describing him as ‘patient’, ‘courteous’, ‘confident’ and ‘clever’.

Professor Robin Grimes, the former chief scientist at the Foreign Office, was mentored by Professor Whitty when he joined the civil service.

He told MailOnline: ‘At that time Chris was chief scientist in DfID. He was an immensely helpful and patient teacher.

‘His calm and thoughtful approach to explaining what the evidence says and does not say are coming through as strongly in the current circumstances are they always have.’

Professor Simon Wessely, chair of psychological medicine at Kings College London, added that Whitty was ‘made for the post’ of chief medical advisor.

He added that he is ‘calm, collected, courteous, confident and clever.’

Before being appointed as England’s most senior medical advisor to the Government, Professor Whitty was the chief scientific adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care.

And between 2009 and 2015, he held the same job at the Department for International Development.

Before this, he lectured at the University of Malawi and returned to the UK to teach and take up a role as a consultant physician at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2005.  

Professor Chris Whitty, who was born in a quiet Surrey village, Limpsfield, but spent most of his childhood in Nigeria, was little known outside of medical circles before his appointment as England’s top doctor. 

But now, the Oxford University graduate, who has spent decades researching Ebola, AIDS and even the plague, has become a favourite to lead Britain.   

One man said on Twitter: ‘This Chris Whitty fella is good. Clear, authoritative, focused, objective. Puts the government into stark contrast.’

Another wrote: ‘Cancel the PM. Just show Chris Whitty. We need level heads, not blonde idiots.’

Professor Robin Grimes, the former chief scientist at the Foreign Office, was mentored by Professor Whitty when he joined the civil service.

He told MailOnline: ‘At that time Chris was chief scientist in DfID [Department for International Development]. He was an immensely helpful and patient teacher.

‘His calm and thoughtful approach to explaining what the evidence says and does not say are coming through as strongly in the current circumstances are they always have.’

Professor Simon Wessely, chair of psychological medicine at Kings College London, added that Whitty was ‘made for the post’ of chief medical advisor.

He added that he is ‘calm, collected, courteous, confident and clever.’

Before being appointed as England’s most senior medical advisor to the Government, Professor Whitty was the chief scientific adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care.

And between 2009 and 2015, he held the same job at the Department for International Development.

Before this, he lectured at the University of Malawi and returned to the UK to teach and take up a role as a consultant physician at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2005.

Professor Whitty fails to shy away from alarming messages about the scale of the outbreak while speaking with facts, which has impressed Britons

Source: Read Full Article