‘The UK could face indefinite lockdown without a vaccine against, scientists have warned. Their modelling of how the disease could sweep through the country, kill more than 250,000 Britons and overwhelm the NHS forced Boris Johnson’s change in tack today.
The scientists, from Imperial College London’s Centre for Global Infectious Disease, said the world was now in uncharted territory with the strict measures on limiting social contacts and quarantining households only able to “buy time” rather than stop the virus spreading.
They estimated the new measures may mean the NHS can cope but would still lead to up to 20,000 deaths.
Their modelling for the government, which has been shared with France and the US, was based on new information from Italy. The data showed around 30 per cent of Britons could end up needing intensive care – meaning the NHS would be overwhelmed by the start of April.
Ultimately around 260,000 people could have died without the government’s new measures today.
But despite the government’s steps, the scientists warned there was no end in sight for the world without a vaccine. They said countries would have to go through repeated cycles of restrictions being lifted and re-imposed.
Professor Neil Ferguson, professor of mathematical biology, said the government had wrestled with the idea of adopting strict measures and then going back to normal. He said: “We don’t think that’s now possible.’