AP — Britain´s dramatic escalation of social restrictions to fight COVID-19 was sparked by new scientific evidence suggesting that 250,000 people in the U.K. and more than 1 million in the U.S. might die if the country did not suppress the spread of the new coronavirus.
Imperial College London epidemiologists advising the U.K. government have published an analysis drawing on data from Italy, the hardest-hit European country with nearly 28,000 cases and 2,158 deaths.
They found that a strategy of “mitigation” — slowing but not stopping the spread of the virus while protecting vulnerable groups like the elderly — would still lead to a huge number of cases that would overwhelm the health care system.
The scientists said “even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in (Britain), and 1.1-1.2 million in the U.S.”
They said a tougher “suppression” strategy would sharply reduce deaths but would “need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more).”
On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to eliminate unnecessary contact with others, working from home where possible and avoiding bars, restaurants, theaters and other venues. Some scientists said the government should have taken tough action sooner.