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Coronavirus ‘worse case scenario’ could see 85,000 winter deaths – but experts slam model as ‘implausible’

A LEAKED SAGE report says that coronavirus could see 85,000 deaths in a “worst case scenario” second wave this Winter – but experts have slammed the model as “implausible”.

The document, which SAGE admit is a “scenario” rather than a prediction, has been criticised by scientists who stress the huge range of possible scenarios in the coming months.

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The report claims that schools will likely remain open – but other restrictions could be reintroduced to curb the spread of infection.

However, SAGE note in the document that the report is “a scenario, not a prediction” and admits “significant uncertainty” around the data.

The report, seen by BBC Newsnight, claims that there could be 81,000 deaths from Covid-19 in England and Wales, 2,600 in Scotland and 1,900 in Northern Ireland.

Among the key points raised in the report is the reopening of schools, which SAGE say will remain open.

However, it states that the government’s tracing, isolation and quarantine measures will only be 40% effective at stopping the spread of the virus outside households.

The report also suggests that, by November, restrictions other than school closures to be put in place to mitigate transmission – and these could remain until March 2021.

But experts have since criticised the modelling – stressing that there was a huge range of possible scenarios this winter.

Professor Heneghan, from Oxford University, claimed the modelling was “unhelpful” and assumes “we’ve learnt nothing from the first wave of this disease”.

And Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust health think tank, told the BBC that the “wide ranges” of scenarios suggested in the report could make it “difficult for people to work out exactly what they should be doing”.

Government advisers have previously produced reports which have proved to be far off the mark.

At the beginning of the year, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London warned that some 500,000 Brits could die from Covid-19 without an immediate lockdown.

And last month, the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance suggested there could be as many as 120,000 coronavirus deaths this winter.

 

 

It comes as Matt Hancock yesterday warned that a second wave scenario was “avoidable but not easy” – with the reopening of schools set to bring new challenges to managing the spread of infection.

The Health Secretary told The Times: “A second wave is clearly visible in other parts of the world.

“It is a very serious threat. But so far in the UK we are managing to keep the number of new cases flat through a combination of test and trace and local lockdowns.

He added: “This is the reasonable worst-case scenario, that we have a bad flu and a growth in coronavirus as people spend more time indoors.

“Cases go up again, and we have to use very extensive local lockdowns or take further national action. We don’t rule that out but we don’t want to see it.”

A government spokesperson said of the SAGE report: “As a responsible government we have been planning and continue to prepare for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst case scenario.

“Our planning is not a forecast or prediction of what will happen. It reflects a responsible government ensuring we are ready for all eventualities.”

As of August 28, the UK has recorded 41, 486 deaths and more than 331,000 confirmed cases .

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