The government's claim that the UK could face 50,000 coronavirus infections every day was based on studies that only involved hundreds of positive cases. The debate over whether the restrictions of number 10 go far enough to contain the spread of the coronavirus rages on.
Sir Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty issued the sharp forecast on Monday, which has since been classified by scientists as "implausible" and "designed to scare us". And even Boris Johnson turned his back on the prediction, admitting to Commons yesterday that the number of infections may only double every 20 days.
Advisors have now announced that the Chief Scientific Adviser's and Chief Medical Officer's prediction was based on previous studies claiming that cases of Covid-19 would double every week – a number from early September that no longer exists Backed by the government's own test data.
According to figures, the outbreak doubles every two weeks, rising from an average of 1,022 infections per day on August 22nd to 2,032 on September 7th to 3,929 yesterday. Neither Spain nor France, with whose outbreaks Britain is supposed to be on par with the dreaded 50,000 cases per day.
It comes when scientists argue about whether number 10 has taken adequate measures to contain the spread of the virus. Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, told BBC Radio 4 that the measures showed a shift from a model of suppressing the virus to a model with a Swedish background.
"We are beginning to understand that we are trying to control the spread of the infection rather than suppress it," he said. “We are gradually seeing a step towards Sweden. If you are looking at bars and restaurants for example, that's the guideline there – they have table service. I hope we now see more consistent policy that stays in place. & # 39;
His words were on the heels of Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a SAGE member, who criticized the government for "failing to learn the lessons by March" and claimed it could be another damaging lockdown as in March, unless more drastic measures are implemented.
Experts threw cold water on Sir Patrick and Professor Whitty's dramatic graphic, saying it was "implausible" that the case numbers would so much outnumber France and Spain
Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser, and Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, made the prediction based on studies that found more than a hundred positive cases of coronavirus to help make the prediction
Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford University said this morning that Britain is starting to look at a strategy of control rather than repression. His words were on the heels of Professor John Edmunds, a member of SAGE from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who said the government had not learned the lessons of March
ARE CURFEWS WORKING FOR THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS?
From Thursday evenings, bars, pubs and restaurants across England will have to close at 10pm every night.
The step is an "intermediate step" in the fight against the virus and follows the steps of Thailand.
When Thailand imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on April 3, it counted just over 100 cases of coronavirus a day. By the time the curfew was lifted on June 15, that number had fallen to the low tens.
Although the country's success is due to the curfew, some scholars deny it on the grounds that the lockdown and other social measures in place at the time had a greater impact.
Britain hopes its curfew can help reflect the success of the Southeast Asian nation.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said HuffPost curfews are used because "we know night economy is generally risky".
"There have been outbreaks related to nightclubs, bars and restaurants," she said. "We've known that for months."
"The longer people are in these places, the more likely they are to leave their vigilance behind and the mix of social distancing and alcohol is not a good one despite the best efforts of customs officers and venue owners."
Behavioral expert Professor Susan Michie, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), said the time at 10 p.m. was chosen to balance the needs of the night economy with the need for virus control.
A spokesman for Sir Vallance confirmed yesterday that the estimate was "strong" for seven days based on the results of the Office for National Statistics weekly poll and Imperial College London's React-1 poll.
The studies test a random sample of 100,000 people, but because the virus remains at a low level, they only need to base their predictions on a few hundred positive cases.
In the last React-1 study on September 7, they identified 136 coronavirus cases out of 153,000 people examined. The small number led them to predict that infections could double every seven days, a number that was then used by government scientists.
The government admitted using these surveys in opposition to actual test data as it feared the numbers would lag behind the spread of the disease.
Hugh Pennington, a retired microbiologist at Aberdeen University, said her prediction was "scientifically incorrect".
"It was designed almost to scare us," he said. “It didn't take into account that we're doing a lot. I was upset because they were naughty. & # 39;
Professor Paul Hunter, a medical expert at the University of East Anglia, said the numbers they presented were "implausible" for mid-October.
"It's important to remember that they weren't making a prediction, but presented an illustration of what would happen if the cases continued to double, which they almost certainly won't," he said.
Professor Anthony Brookes, a genomics expert at the University of Leicester, said they presented a "distorted, unbalanced view of reality".
"Modeling uses guest data and tries to predict the future," he said. & # 39; But models are not data. There should be a way to try to repeat what happened in the past and try to move on. & # 39;
The UK's statistics agency announced yesterday that it had to intervene seven times during the pandemic after government departments cited data that had not been made public.
The chief of the Bureau of Statistics, Ed Humpson, said such incidents were "disappointing".
They once reached out to the Department of Health when a number for the distance people traveled to get a Covid-19 test was reported as "fairly widespread in the public domain" with no underlying data available were asked.
NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government were also contacted after data on antibody tests were cited but were not publicly available.
The Prime Minister told Commons yesterday: “I am sorry to say that, like in Spain, France and many other countries, we have reached a dangerous turning point.
“A month ago, an average of around a thousand people across the UK tested positive for coronavirus every day. The most recent number has almost quadrupled to 3,929.
"Yesterday the chief physician and scientific advisor warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days, with the possibility of tens of thousands of new infections in the next month."
The number cited by the Prime Minister of 3,929 is the average number of cases diagnosed each day for the week leading up to September 21. It almost doubled from 2,032 on August 22, indicating a doubling time of two weeks.
However, the Office for National Statistics estimates that infection rates are higher at around 6,000 people per day because the test system does not record all positive cases. However, this is expected to decrease as restrictions contain the spread of the virus.
Boris Johnson told the nation last night that the virus must not penetrate the country as it will eventually find its way to the elderly and more vulnerable
"Six months" curbs at a glance
- All pubs, bars and restaurants in England are subject to a curfew at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday. The Prime Minister insists that the premises must kick all customers out by the deadline.
- The hospitality sector will also be limited to table service only, as the government has banned drinkers taking a trip to the bar.
- All indoor retail workers and customers are required to wear masks – unless they are seated to eat or drink.
- All employees who can work from home will be asked to do so from tomorrow.
- The fines for violating the Rule of Six and missing face covering increase to £ 200 for a first offense.
- Police will now have the option to call on the military for assistance, with soldiers possibly being drafted to perform official duties and guarding protected locations so that officers have more time to take action against rule violations.
- The number of people allowed to attend weddings in England will be reduced to 15 from Monday, but the number of people allowed to attend a funeral will remain at 30.
- Plans for the partial return of sports fans to the stadiums on October 1 have been suspended.
- The rule of six exemptions is tightened to ban team sports such as five-on-five soccer games.
Scientists are exchanging blows on the government's strategy to fight the coronavirus – after it was announced that pubs would close at 10 p.m. every night, office workers should return to home work where possible, and the number of people attending weddings allowed was reduced to fifteen.
Professor Heneghan said he thinks the government's new rules showed a change of direction towards a more Swedish model.
"So I hope that we now see a more coherent, coherent policy that stays in place," he said this morning. “So we don't always see the almost daily changes that become extremely confusing for the public.
“There will inevitably be an increase in cases as we go into winter. The key is not to panic. You need to make some of these measures work and it will take a few weeks to implement them and you need to step up the messaging.
“If at any point in time there is an increase in cases and we panic about further action, we will talk ourselves back into a lockdown that is extremely upsetting to society as a whole.
"We have a mantra of fear, with enforcement and fines, but when you look at Sweden they are much more supportive and try to bring people with you."
Sweden never imposed a national lockdown, instead asking more vulnerable people to stay at home, and recorded an 8.6 percent economic downturn between April and June, compared with 20.4 percent the UK economy had weakened over the same period.
The country also has a clear system of support for the self-isolated, which pays every two weeks.
However, other scientists disagreed. Professor Edmunds said their strategy had not gone far enough and accused ministers of failing to learn the lessons of March.
In a personal capacity, he told the Today program that authorities will have cases of coronavirus "double and double and double again" before taking the right steps, but by then it will be "too late".
"And then we have the worst of both worlds, because then, in order to slow down the epidemic and bring it back down to a place where it was now or in the summer, you have to trigger the epidemic, slow down the epidemic for a very long time, very hard, ”he said.
& # 39; (This) we had to do in March because we did not react quickly enough in March and I think we did not learn from our mistake then and will unfortunately repeat it.
"I suspect there will be very tough measures across the UK at some point, but it will be too late again."
Professor Peter Openshaw, a SAGE member and immunologist at Imperial College London, also said the restrictions lag behind, that a household mixing ban would come "sooner rather than later" in England.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I would think if we wait two or three weeks it will be too late. It should be introduced sooner rather than later. & # 39;
When asked if this means people might see other households outside, he said, "There are ways you can do that." If you are able to keep your distance from people, meet outdoors, and take "reasonable precautions", outdoor meetings can be "relatively safe".
Dropping potential clues to government thinking, Boris Johnson said in a statement to the country last night that the "tragic reality" of the coronavirus is that "your mild cough may be someone else's death knell".
“And as for the suggestion that we should just lock up the elderly and vulnerable – with all the suffering that would come with it – I have to tell you that this is just not realistic because if you get the virus through the rest of the population let it inevitably reach the elderly, and in far greater numbers.
“So now we need to quell the virus, and for the minority who may continue to break the rules, we will enforce those rules with tougher penalties and fines of up to £ 10,000. We'll get more cops on the streets and use the army to replenish if necessary. & # 39;
Scotland went a step further than England when it decided to ban household mixing. Some scientists have warned the government to wait a few weeks to see the effects of their new measures before deciding on further action. But others have urged them to take further action right away, arguing that by waiting a few weeks they will close the door after the horse runs away.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Sir Patrick Vallance (t) Coronavirus (t) Professor Chris Whitty (t) Boris Johnson