UK could be worst hit by coronavirus in Europe with 66,000 deaths, scientists warn – The Sun

THE UK could be the worst hit nation by coronavirus in Europe with over 66,000 deaths, leading scientists say.

Modelling by researchers at the University of Washington has predicted that approximately 151,680 people are likely to die from Covid-19 across the continent.

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And they are now warning that the UK is likely to suffer 66,300 coronavirus deaths by July – 44 pent of the total death toll in Europe and three times more than Italy.

As of today, 5,373 people have died from Covid-19 in Britain – far fewer than the 16,523 in Italy and 13,341 in Spain.

However, the UK’s epidemic lags behind these two countries by several days – mainly because it can take up to three weeks for a coronavirus patient to develop symptoms, fall seriously ill and pass away.

It means droves of individuals who caught Covid-19 before lockdown was imposed in the UK are still to become critically ill and succumb to the deadly bug.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine were able to make their predictions about the UK's death toll using local and international data on case numbers as well as age mortality breakdowns from Italy, China and the US.

They claim the key factor behind the potential death rate was each nation’s intensive care bed capacity.

The researchers found that while Italy has currently suffered the highest number of fatalities in the world with more than 16,000 people losing their lives, the UK could overtake.

In particular, they say the UK could record 66,300 Covid-19 deaths by July followed by Italy at around 20,000 along with Spain and France at 19,000 and 15,000.

This shocking prediction comes after the head of NHS England warned that Britain would have done "very well" if there are less than 20,000 coronavirus deaths.

On top of this the researchers claimed that Britain's outbreak will peak on April 17, while the outbreaks in Italy and Spain may be past their peak.

This comes as daily deaths in both Italy and Spain have declined for several days.

On the other hand, Britain is likely more than a week away from getting a handle on its death toll as intensive care capacity is overwhelmed, according to IHME Director Christopher Murray.

In particular, his team suggested that 102,794 Covid-19 patients will need hospital beds at the outbreak's peak in the UK, compared to 17,765 beds currently available.

They predicted 24,544 of those patients will need to be moved to intensive care – where there are just 744 ICU beds currently free.

Despite this, the modelling did not include the near 10,000 beds now available at temporary NHS Nightingale hospitals in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate and Bristol.

The researchers also did not factor in the makeshift hospitals built in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – which free-up hundreds more ICU beds.


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Most European nations introduced strict social distancing measures to try to curb the spread of the virus at the beginning of March.

However, the UK Government took more than a fortnight to implement lockdown – as they initially tried to follow the discredited 'herd immunity' theory.

This is because, early on in the UK's outbreak, the Government suggested one way of beating the deadly bug was by allowing 60 per cent of Brits to get infected to build 'herd immunity'.

Mr Murray, the lead researcher on the study, said that his model reveals the huge impact social distancing will have had on the various death tolls.

He said: "It is unequivocally evident that social distancing can, when well implemented and maintained, control the epidemic, leading to declining death rates.

"Those nations hit hard early on implemented social distancing orders and may have the worst behind them as they are seeing important progress in reducing their death rates.

"Each nation's trajectory will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax other precautions."

On Sunday the team predicted just over 80,000 US Covid-19 deaths during the pandemic's first wave.

Mr Murray added: "We are expecting a foreboding few weeks for people in many parts of Europe. It seems likely the number of deaths will exceed our projections for the United States."

Just last week, the head of NHS England warned that Britain would have done "very well" if there are less than 20,000 coronavirus deaths.


Professor Stephen Powis urged Brits not to be "complacent" and said we must lock down to save lives and beat the killer disease in a No10 daily briefing.

Talking to the nation, Prof Powis said: "If we can keep deaths below 20,000 we will have done very well in this epidemic.

"If we do reduce the levels to below the level which we thought, that won't be because we are somehow lucky, it won't be because the virus is somehow acting differently in this country.

"It will be because the British public complied with the advice given.

"We can beat this virus, we can reduce the number of deaths but only if we do what we are asked.

"Now is the time to really hone down on what we are asked to do.

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He added he was confident the NHS would have capacity to deal with the rising number of patients, but said we should not be "complacent".

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