The drastic measures taken in the UK to tackle coronavirus have been justified because of the need to save lives.
Modelling by Imperial College London – used to inform government – suggests 500,000 could die if we do nothing.
Even the government’s previous strategy to slow the spread was likely to lead to 250,000 deaths, the research showed.
The warnings prompted ministers to announce on Monday the most draconian crackdown on freedom in peacetime with the public told not to go to pubs, clubs or theatres, and to work from home if possible.
The move has hit the economy, putting jobs at risk and prompting schools to be closed and exams cancelled.
No other option – experts
Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the lead academics involved in the modelling, told the BBC’s Today Programme this week there was “no option” if 250,000 lives were not to be risked.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said in an appearance before the Health Select Committee, that the hope was to keep the death toll below 20,000 by suppressing the virus.
That would still be worse than those killed by flu, he said, giving a number of 8,000 per year.
He said limiting deaths to 20,000 would be “horrible” but still represented a “good outcome” given where we are.