A further 27,000 excess deaths are “likely” between now and next April under the current approach to coronavirus, a former government chief scientific adviser has claimed.
Sir David King said it looked as though the current government policy was to “maintain” the current level of about 3,000 new infections per day across England.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Sir David said: “What we are saying is 27,000 excess deaths are likely between now and next April if the expectation by the chief medical officer is that he would be surprised and delighted if the UK is in the same place next spring.
“If he’s correct we would still have about 2,000 to 3,000 new infections in England per day and that is the number of deaths that would follow from that.
He added: “It looks as if the policy is to maintain the current level of about 3,000 new infections per day across England, while Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland are heading towards net zero.”
But he said the “quicker we can get down to zero Covid UK the more quickly we can get a full economic opening of our economies right across the United Kingdom".
The latest death toll stood at 44,198 – a rise of 67 deaths and there were an additional 624 infections as of Saturday.
However, figures tend to be lower at the weekends due to a lag in reporting.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky "the number one problem that we’ve got to deal with is getting this virus under control."
He added: “The number of new infections is under 600 on the last data, so it is really coming down in terms of the number of positive cases that we’re finding and that is good news, but we’ve just got to have the resilience and resolve to stick at it and to be very careful in how we enjoy those new freedoms,” Mr Hancock said.
His comments come a day after lockdown restrictions in England were relaxed in a major way.
Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopened their doors to customers, with new covid-secure measures in place.
But images from London’s Soho showed swathes of people on the streets, not adhering to social distancing rules and many partying into the early hours of Sunday morning.
Professor Chris Whitty, England's Chief Medical Officer, said on Friday the British public need “to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs.”