The UK could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October, leading to 200 deaths a day a month later if the current rate of infection is not halted, the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned.

Sir Patrick Vallance said the "vast majority of the population remain susceptible" to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down.

In a televised press conference together with England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said there was "no doubt" the UK was in a situation where the numbers were increasing among all age groups.

He said: "At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days."

Professor Whitty said there was a need to "break unnecessary links" between households and there was a need to "change course".

He said: "There is no evidence that the virus has become weaker.

"Infections are not just remaining amongst the young. They are going up the age groups.

"Seasonal flu normally kills about 7,000 people a year. But this virus is more virulent."

He says treatments have got better. But that will not be enough to keep deaths at a minimal level.

Profesor Whitty continued: "The virus can kill people. And if it led to the NHS being overwhelmed, people would die."

Sir Patrick said the UK has put itself in a good position for a vaccine supply.

"It is possible that some vaccines could be available in small amounts later this year, he said.

"But it is more likely that a vaccine will be available early next year - although that is not guaranteed."