Coronavirus: Experts warn 100,000 people could die if UK lockdown lifted early

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM  - MAY 01:  A Medical worker wearing a protective face mask and screen, disposable gloves and a plastic apron, takes a swap at a coronavirus drive-through testing center in the car park of the closed Chessington World of Adventures Resort theme park on May 01, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to Downing Street this week after recovering from Covid-19, said the country needed to continue its lockdown measures to avoid a second spike in infections. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
A drive through testing centre at Chessington World of Adventures Resort (Picture: Getty)

The UK death toll could surpass 100,000 if lockdown restrictions are eased too soon, leading academics have warned.

As many as 73,000 excess deaths could happen in the next year as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report published in the Lancet.

The UK’s COVID-19 death toll now exceeds 40,000, which is the worst in Europe, and the government has just eased restrictions.

Dr Amitava Banerjee, from University College London (UCL), is the lead author on the new study.

She said: “Using data modelling on a number of different scenarios, our findings show the mortality risk for these vulnerable groups increases significantly and could lead to thousands of avoidable deaths.”

Read more: Boris Johnson says Britons' 'common sense is shining through'

Commuters wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, travel in the morning rush hour on TfL (Transport for London) London underground Victoria Line trains from Finsbury Park towards central London on May 13, 2020, as people start to return to work after COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were eased. - Britain's economy shrank two percent in the first three months of the year, rocked by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed Wednesday, with analysts predicting even worse to come. Prime Minister Boris Johnson began this week to relax some of lockdown measures in order to help the economy, despite the rising death toll, but he has also stressed that great caution is needed. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
The London Underground has become busier after restrictions were relaxed (Picture: Getty)

The warning came just a few days after an unnamed scientific adviser to the government also said there could be 100,000 deaths if measures were relaxed too quickly.

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They told the Sunday Times experts had modelled different policies for leaving lockdown and more than one had pushed the death toll above 100,000.

They added the government's Sage advisory committee was one of the groups to be told about the modelling last week.

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The report in Lancet looked at 3.8 million health records in total.

Researchers used a calculator that provided one-year mortality risks for common conditions by age and sex.

Dr Banerjee added: “For example, we show how a 66-year-old man with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has a 6% risk of dying over the next year and there are 25,000 “patients like me”

UCL’s Professor Harry Hemingway added vaccines and drugs would not be available immediately.

He said in order to prevent deaths the government needed to keep population infection rate as low as possible, trying to avoid infection in the highest risk groups.

He added the NHS should continue to deliver high-quality medical care to those vulnerable people who had not been infected with COVID-19 to ensure they did not die.

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