Lockdown saved thousands of lives research paper concludes

4,000 more deaths could have been recorded in Northamptonshire alone

The Covid-19 national lockdown possibly saved thousands of lives in Northamptonshire according to an early research paper looking into how the virus spreads.

The report, which was co-written by the Northampton of University's vice chancellor Professor Nick Petford and Professor Jackie Campbell, a statistician in the university's health education faculty, concluded the death toll could have been six times the 715 deaths recorded, if the lockdown had not happened.

Researchers at the University of Northamptonshire conducted the analysis Credit: ITV Anglia

The study used data published by the Office for National Statistics on July 24 which concentrates on the months of March through to June, the report, which has been published on website Medrxiv, was carried out in order to better understand Covid-19 fatalities and how the virus transmits in a community.

The report, which has not undergone peer review, calculated the possible death tally by using a statisticalmodel, which uses population figures and divides the community into people who are susceptible, exposed to the virus, infectious and recovered.

It found:

Testing during the months the report looked at was not widespread in the county, with only healthcare workers and those in hospital and care homes routinely tested.

It has only been in recent months more testing has been accessible in the county after the government sent in more testing capacity after a spike in infection rates during July and August.

To date 5,514 people in the county have tested positive for the virus. The biggest outbreak was at the Greencore sandwich factory in the town with around 300 workers testing Covid-19 positive.

The report goes on to look at recovered cases and estimates that 40 per cent of the Northamptonshire population would need to be vaccinated to ensure herd immunity and suggested Northampton would be a priority target for immunisation. 

It concludes:

"Initial results show Northamptonshire mortality rates due to Covid-19 are higher than both the regional and national averages. Northampton is the single biggest contributor to mortality rates, with South Northamptonshire the lowest. The trend follows current known distributions in health inequalities. The introduction of the national restrictions (social distancing) may have resulted in up to 4,000 fewer deaths in Northamptoshire. Estimates of recovery rates suggest up to 18 per cent of individuals in the county may have been infected requiring any future immunisation programme to target less than 40 per cent of the Northamptonshire population overall."