UK lockdown to cut coronavirus death toll by 254,000, experts say

The coronavirus lockdown is expected to reduce Britain’s death toll from six figures to 5,700, according to researchers. 

Experts at Imperial College London found the unprecedented curbs on daily life means the 260,000 fatalities once feared if the previous less restrictive policy had continued should be avoided.

“Our work shows that social distancing is working against Covid-19 as an effective parachute across multiple countries,” Tom Pike, of Imperial, told The Times

He added: “That’s no reason for us to cut away our parachutes when we’re still way above the ground.”

Police are enforcing the lockdown with fines, spot checks, drones and threat of arrest (PA)

It comes after modelling by Neil Ferguson, Prof Pike’s colleague at the London university, found the government’s previous social distancing advice could have led to 260,000 deaths, if the pandemic keeps on the same path seen in China

The analysis also found that Covid-19 could cause 510,000 deaths in the UK if left unchecked, prompting a drastic change in Boris Johnson’s direction to ban Brits from leaving their homes except for shopping or job essentials. 

Prof Ferguson said, when presenting the paper, that he would consider the lockdown a success if deaths kept below 20,000. In the winter of 2017-18 26,000 people died from seasonal flu.

The new paper assesses the effects of social distancing in China, where the global crisis began and assumes Britain will follow a similar path. 

The statisticians’ best estimate for the total number of deaths is 5,700 in Britain, 28,000 deaths in Italy and 46,000 in Spain.

At its peak, Britain will see more than 250 deaths a day – which is far fewer than the 1,300 a day in Italy – according to the research.

“Although there are undoubtedly data issues in the details, the similarity in trajectories of Italy and China suggest that overall the numbers are likely representative,” Prof Pike said.

Britain’s shut down, brought into force on Monday, follows draconian measures in Italy, Spain and France. Police have been granted powers to fine and arrest those who refuse to comply. 

Mr Johnson said it will be imposed for at least three weeks, but didn’t rule out extending it if needed.


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