According to a shock study, activating the block a week earlier could have saved the lives of more than 30,000 people in the UK.
The staggering claim was made by an expert in mathematics who had predicted how different scenarios might have affected the progress of the outbreak in Britain.
He suggests that the start of the shutdown, which now lasts eight weeks, a week earlier on March 16, could have limited the number of deaths to 11,200.
Yesterday’s data confirmed that by mid-May across the UK, at least 44,000 people had died with COVID-19, and the death toll will continue to rise in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked the country on March 23, 58 days ago, and banned people from meeting or making unnecessary trips.
Britain was one of the last countries in Europe to introduce the rules – Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, France, Austria, Spain and Italy had done it days or weeks earlier.
Dr. John Dagpunar, of the University of Southampton, suggests that the UK’s decision was late and that thousands of people were killed.
He said in his paper “literally, a delay in starting a lockdown every day can lead to thousands of extra deaths … it does ask why lockdown has not happened before?”
Detailed statistics show that in the UK more than 44,000 people have already died with COVID-19, but this study from the University of Southampton suggests the number could have been kept at 11,200 if lockdown had been previously introduced
The study suggested that a closure that started a week earlier – on March 16 – would have resulted in a total of 11,200 people who died and only two percent of the population contracted the virus (98 percent susceptibility)
A second model, which best reflects what is currently happening in the UK, suggests that six percent of the population becomes infected and that approximately 39,000 people die. Demand for hospital beds is considerably higher than in the previous estimate. Britain is known to have more than 44,000 deaths already, so this estimate is still too low
THE UK’S CORONAVIRUS DEATH STOLL WAS AT LEAST 44,000 WEEKS AGO
In the UK, at least 44,000 people have now been killed by COVID-19, confirming devastating statistics.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics, released yesterday, were close to 10,000 additional fatalities above the Department of Health’s official count of 34,796 at the time. The DH count includes only patients who have tested positive for the virus.
US data, which pertain only to England and Wales, confirmed that 39,071 people with the coronavirus died in all circumstances on May 8. The figures include patients suspected of death from COVID-19.
At least 1,211 additional people had died in English hospitals between May 9 and May 17, according to the NHS, bringing the total to England and Wales at 40,282.
In addition, National Records of Scotland – the equivalent of the US north of the border – reported 3,213 deaths on May 10, and Northern Ireland’s Statistics Agency, NISRA, added May 13, 599.
This brings the UK total to at least 44,094. But the actual number will be even higher, taking into account more recent censuses from Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The ONS revealed that the number of deaths – the number of people who died above the average amount expected for this time of year – is now nearly 55,000. That figure includes direct and indirect victims of COVID-19, such as people who may have missed medical treatment because hospitals were overloaded.
The study of Dr. Dagpunar took into account, among other things, the number of people infected with the virus, the reproduction speed, the hospital bed and the capacity of the staff, and the number of patients who died.
He calculated the mortality rate at one percent and the reproduction rate (R) before lockdown at 3.18, meaning that every 10 patients infected another 32.
The paper estimated that 4.4 percent of all patients require hospital treatment, 30 percent of whom end up in intensive care.
Hospitalization of intensive care patients lasts an average of 16 days and half dies.
Of the remaining 70 percent, a hospital stay is an average of eight days and 11 percent die.
Dr. Dagpunar, who suggested these factors using an algorithm based on the timing of the British outbreak, suggested that the March 23 shutdown could have caused about 39,000 deaths in total.
Britain is known to have already passed this grim milestone number, suggesting the study’s estimate of death rate, virus R rate, or some other factor is too low.
If the blockade had started a week earlier, on March 16, the model suggested that there could have been a “ very large reduction ” in the number of deaths, with a limitation to about 11,200.
The virus would have infected four percent less of the population in this scenario (two percent compared to six percent), the study said, and demand for hospital beds would have been lower.
Dr. Dagpunar said, “In hindsight [this] clearly illustrates that previous action was needed and would have saved many lives. ‘
He said the number of people who would die in the scenarios was “extremely sensitive” to the timing of the lockdown.
The study suggests that an earlier shutdown would have led to smaller spikes in deaths and demand for hospital beds
The research of Dr. Dagpunar showed a sharper, higher spike in deaths and demand for hospital beds in the current UK situation, with closure closing on March 23. The total death toll for this model (39,000) has already been exceeded, however
Imperial College’s COVID-19 Response Team, which advised the government, estimated in March that the global mean R0 of the coronavirus was 3.87. As social distance and locking took effect, that number has now dropped below 1, possibly as low as 0.5, meaning the virus will die out naturally if it continues
Dr. Dagpunar added: “Literally, any delay in starting suppression (lockdown) every day could result in thousands of additional deaths.
The same goes for premature relaxation, where it is recognized that the rate of decline is less than the growth rate, so the effect, while serious, is not as strong.
WHEN DID OTHER COUNTRIES GO IN LOCKDOWN AND HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN THEM?
A report published in March by Imperial College’s COVID-19 response team outlined the dates when several countries in Europe began their lockdown measures.
Each is listed below, in addition to the COVID-19 death toll for each country, as of May 20.
The numbers alone do not suggest a direct link between the timing of the lockdown and the number of people who died, demonstrating that other factors play a role.
France, Germany, Italy and Spain are the most similar in size to the UK.
- Austria: March 16; 633 killed
- Belgium: March 18; 9,150 killed
- Denmark: March 18; 561
- France: March 17; 28,022
- Germany: March 22; 8,193
- Italy: March 11; 32,169
- Norway: March 24; 233
- Spain: March 14; 27,778
- Sweden: no lockdown; 3,743
- Switzerland: March 18; 1,883
- United Kingdom: March 24; 35,341
These conclusions are the irrefutable consequence of the exponential growth and decline of a managed epidemic.
While the UK is trying to control the easing of measures from this first wave, a more sophisticated model could yield strategies that combine … foreclosure and segmentation of the population.
These can then be juxtaposed with the economic and other negative effects of long-term repression. Political decisions can then be well informed.
At the time of writing on May 17, about 55 days after the close of March 23, total deaths were 34,000 and increased, which may be quite close to the [39,000] scenario considered … it does ask why lockdown has not occurred before? ‘
Early shutdown would have drastically reduced the demand for hospital beds, the study found – from about 36,000 to 10,000 at the peak of the outbreak.
Intensive care units could have faced nearly 9,000 fewer patients (3,350 compared to 12,000 at the peak).
And the outbreak would have peaked earlier, meaning the outbreak could have ended earlier.
However, the late closure was a better achievement than “outright dispersal,” where the government would have done nothing and 638,000 people could have died, the study suggested.
The article by Dr. Dagpunar was published on the website medRxiv without being checked by other scientists or journal editors.
British polls show that about two-thirds of people think the government has taken too long to lock the UK.
But other experts say ministers have “lost sight of the evidence” and hastened to close it, praising Sweden for holding on to its guts and not closing the economy.
Surveillance studies have shown that the critical R rate started to drop before the draconian measures were introduced.
And other data suggested that the transfer had peaked after the softer social distance measures to curb the outbreak were rolled out on March 16.