The death toll from COVID-19 in the UK may be far higher than that in the rest of Europe due to a delay in the introduction of physical distancing measures, national media reported Wednesday, quoting a new study.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in the U.S. city of Seattle has predicted 66,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the UK by August, with a peak of nearly 3,000 a day, based on a steep climb in daily deaths early in the outbreak, the Guardian reported, citing the IHME’s report.
The institute projected that the United Kingdom will become the worst-hit country in Europe, accounting for over 40 percent of total deaths.
The analysts also claimed that discussions on “herd immunity” caused the delay in introducing physical distancing measures, which England only introduced from March 23 when the daily death toll from coronavirus was 54, according to the Guardian.
Britain’s strategy was reversed after a study from Imperial College London showed how badly hospitals would be overwhelmed.
The newly released data by the IHME is disputed by scientists whose modeling of the likely shape of the epidemic in the country is relied on by the government, the Guardian reported.
The IHME’s data on “healthcare demand,” including hospital bed usage and deaths, is twice as high as it should be, said professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London.
The IHME bases its forecasts in large part on the trajectory of deaths rather than case numbers and the speed with which distancing measures were put into place.
The Guardian cited a spokesperson with the Department of Health and Social Care as saying, “Our response to coronavirus — including decisions on which measures we introduce and when — is based on the latest scientific advice, modelling and evidence, and we are working round the clock with world-renowned clinicians, public health experts and scientists to keep this country safe.”
“In England alone, the NHS successfully has freed up more than 33,000 beds — the equivalent of 50 new hospitals — and we are increasing the number of ventilators and opening more Nightingale hospitals, all of which will save even more lives in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson said.
COVID-19 death toll exceeds 7,000 in UK, 60,733 cases confirmed
The death toll of those hospitalized in Britain who tested positive for the novel coronavirus reached 7,097 as of Tuesday afternoon, a record daily increase of 938 since the outbreak began, the Department of Health and Social Care said Wednesday.
As of Wednesday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Britain hit 60,733, up 5,492 in the past 24 hours, said the department.
During Wednesday’s Downing Street daily press briefing, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s condition is…