Experts blast warning UK could see 50k Covid cases a day by October if it follows France and Spain

GOVERNMENT advisers have been slammed for their coronavirus estimations after they claimed that there could be over 50,000 cases of the virus a day by mid-October.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance yesterday said the epidemic in the UK was doubling every seven days.

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Speaking at a press conference with Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said an increase in cases could lead to 200 deaths a day by mid-November.

The experts pointed to European countries such as France and Spain and said that we could be following the same trajectory if further restrictions were not imposed soon.

During the conference Sir Patrick said: "At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.

"If, and that's quite a big if, but if that continues unabated and this grows doubling every seven days… if that continued you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.

"50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November say, to 200-plus deaths per day.

"The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days."


If cases were to jump 50,000 then the UK would surpass France and Spain, rather than following them when it comes to infection rates.

Sir Patrick was keen to highlight that these were just predictions.

If the UK was to follow the same trajectory as France and Spain then it would be at 10,000 cases a day by October.

At present the growth rate of the virus in the UK is between two and seven per cent.

If cases were doubling every day then the growth rate would reach 10 per cent.

Experts have now cast doubt on the predictions revealed at the conference yesterday.

Professor Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia said it was key to remember that what was presented at the conference was the “worst case scenario” based on the current state of the epidemic.

 

 

He added: “I think it is pretty implausible we will be seeing 50,000 cases a day by the middle of October.

“It’s important to bear in mind that they were not making a prediction, they were presenting an illustration of what would happen if cases continued to double, which they almost certainly will not.”

He added that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if we followed the trajectory of France and Spain and said that it’s “entirely plausible” that we could see 10,000 cases a day by October.

David Paton, professor of industrial economics at Nottingham University Businesses School questioned whether or not it was correct for the advisers to have presented the data in that way.

In a tweet he said: "If you want to compare with France and Spain, why wouldn't you use their doubling time which is every three weeks, not every week?” he wrote in a Tweet sent directly to Sir Patrick and Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer. "Do @CMO_England and @uksciencechief really think it is acceptable to present data in this way?"

The figures sighted by Sir Patrick are from the government's REACT study.

The study examines levels of infection in the general population in England.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: "The latest findings for the period 22 August and 7 September – testing more than 150,000 volunteers – indicate cases were doubling every seven to eight days. 

"It is estimated 13 people per 10,000 were infected in England, compared to 4 people per 10,000 between 24 July and 11 August 2020."

Referring to the graphs shown during the press conference the Government's Office for Science said that these were just an example to illustrate "exponential growth", they added that it is not a prediction or forecast.

While cases are growing in some areas, they are falling in the South of the country.

On Friday the government published the R rate and stated that the UK was at 1.4.

The South West has the lowest R rate in the country and is currently between 0.9 and 1.6 and is the only area in the country where it remains below 1.

Other experts have claimed that the 50,000-a-day prediction is the “worst case scenario”.

Last night it was announced that pubs and restaurants across the country would have to adhere to a 10pm curfew and Dr Michael Head a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton added that regional lockdowns will also restrict the spread of the virus.

It was also announced yesterday that the Covid alert level was raised from three to four.

It means transmission of the virus is high, or rising "exponentially", and more social distancing measures are likely to come in.

A statement from the government read: “After a period of lower Covid cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations.

"If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly."

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