Coronavirus Deaths Are "Highly Likely" To Exceed The Government's Worst Case Scenario, According To New Sage Analysis
The government's top scientific advisory group has warned the UK's death toll is "highly likely" to exceed their worst-case projections following a surge in infections.
A newly released analysis from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has concluded the number of UK deaths could surpass 85,000 by March next year after the rate of infection soared above their analysis of a "reasonable worst case scenario".
In a meeting of the group on 8 October they concluded the infection rate had already exceeded the threshold with a further warning fatalities and hospital admissions were "highly likely" to continue rising over the following fortnight.
"In England the numbers of infections and hospital admissions exceed the Reasonable Worst Case Scenario (RWCS) planning levels at this time," they concluded.
"Near-term projections indicate the number of deaths is highly likely to exceed RWCS planning levels within the next two weeks.
"Well over 100 new deaths per day are projected to occur within two weeks, even if strict new interventions are put in place immediately."
The UK's death toll has soared in recent days, with a further 280 deaths reported on Thursday, among the highest levels since the first wave in infections in Spring.
The scientific advisers had urged ministers at the time to impose a 'circuit breaker' lockdown in a bid to control a second wave of infections, but the plans were rejected by Boris Johnson who instead opted to introduce the three tier lockdown system now in place across England.
But the group warned that the spread of infection had now surpassed a level where a short national lockdown would help slow infections due to soaring case numbers.
"Incidence and prevalence across the UK continue to increase, and data show clear increases in hospital and ICU admissions, particularly in the north of England," the report added.
"In all scenarios the epidemic is still growing.
"Sage has previous advised that a package of non-pharmaceutical interventions need to be adopted to reverse the exponential rise in cases.
"As previously, the earlier the additional measures are introduced the more effective they will be. Longer term sustained measures will also be essential."
The report increases the possibility that a longer national lockdown might be required to halt the spread of the virus during the winter months.
Ministers have repeatedly defended the tier approach, but insisted they would not rule out taking further measures if the data showed it would be beneficial.
Speaking earlier this week after the daily death toll reached their highest levels in five months, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said a "one-size fits all" approach was not the best course of action.
"There remains big regional differences in the rate of infections across the country from as low as 100 per 100,000 in the South East to well over 400 per 100,000 in the North West," he told the BBC's Today programme.
"I think it is right that we try everything in our power to try to avoid a blanket national lockdown."