The UK government must take tougher action to prevent Covid-19 killing between 35,000 and 70,000 Britons, scientists have warned today.
Researchers say that the current strategy of social distancing and self-isolation will not be enough to prevent tens of thousands of deaths over the next 12 months.
The study estimates what it calls “excess deaths” caused by Covid-19 in elderly people who have an underlying medical condition. It is based on NHS health records for 3.8 million adults in England and concludes that not enough is being done to protect and safeguard vulnerable people.
On Sunday, the prime minister announced a plan to “shield” 1.5 million people who were considered to be at high-risk from the virus with the army brought in to help supple them with essential food and medicine.
The team of clinicians, statisticians and epidemiologists from University College London, University College London Hospital, the University of Cambridge and Health Data Research UK said without strong suppression measures more people could die.
Lead author Dr Amitava Banerjee, associate professor in clinical data science, said: “The UK government is currently following a partial suppression policy of population-wide social distancing, combined with home isolation of cases, as well as school and university closures, but this is currently not mandated.
“Our study indicates that the government should implement more stringent suppression at population level to avoid not just immediate deaths but also long-term excess deaths.”
The study warns the Covid-19 pandemic may cause deaths among those infected as well as those not infected who have underlying conditions because of the impact on their lives and the ability of the NHS to care for their needs.