Coronavirus: 27,000 excess deaths ‘likely’ by April if ministers do not change approach, former government adviser warns

Sir David King said the loss of life would be ‘almost entirely’ preventable

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Sunday 05 July 2020 19:11
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David King says UK would have seen 'quarter of the number of deaths' if locked down a week earlier

Another 27,000 excess deaths are likely by next April if ministers do not change tack on the coronavirus crisis, a former chief scientific officer has warned.

Sir David King said the loss of life would be “almost entirely” preventable.

The calculation has been made by the body he chairs, the Independent Sage group, set up to mirror the committee which gives scientific advice to ministers on the global pandemic.

Sir David said it appeared as if government policy was to maintain the current level of Covid-19 cases, of around 3,000 a day across England.

He quoted the government’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty who said last month he would be “surprised and delighted” if Britain was not in “this current situation” in the spring.

Sir David told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News: “Twenty-seven thousand excess deaths are likely between now and next April, if the expectation by the chief medical officer that he would be ‘surprised and delighted’ if the UK is in the same place next spring. If he’s correct then we would still have around two to three thousand new infections in England per day and that is the number of deaths that would follow from that … this is almost entirely preventable and absolutely unacceptable. It’s immoral.”

His comments came one day after pubs and restaurants in England opened for the first time since lockdown in March.

Sir Simons Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS in England, also said the health service was already preparing for a second wave of the pandemic this winter.

The UK would have to carry out the largest flu immunisation programme ever seen in this country this autumn, he predicted, amid fears the health service will struggle to cope with large numbers of cases from both viruses at once.

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