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Did UK’s coronavirus crisis peak BEFORE lockdown?

Britain’s coronavirus outbreak may have been under control before lockdown was enforced, research suggests. 

Data modelling suggests the spread of Covid-19 throughout the UK had peaked days before Boris Johnson introduced the draconian curbs.  

The calculation – made by a Bristol University expert – is based on a growing body of data that indicates the average Covid-19 victim dies 23 days after being infected.

The darkest days in the UK’s outbreak were on April 8 and 9, when more than 2,000 people passed away from the virus. 

Professor Simon Wood believes most of these patients were infected between March 18 and 19 – 23 days earlier – and five days before the country locked down.

He claims that banning large gatherings and telling people to keep two metres apart  would have been sufficient to keep the virus under control. 

The study throws into question whether Britain’s lockdown was needed amid claims social distancing policies announced on March 16 curbed the crisis on their own.

It comes after similar research in Norway also found the spread of the virus fell fairly quickly there by the time people were ordered to stay at home.

Camille Stoltenberg, head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), even admitted last month that locking down was unnecessary. 

Modelling by Professor Simon Wood shows the spread of the virus had already peaked several days before the draconian curbs were imposed and was falling. The grey line marks March 23, when the UK locked down.  The darkest days in the UK’s outbreak were on April 8 and 9, when more than 2,000 people passed away from the virus. Professor Simon Wood believes most of these patients were infected between March 18 and 19 – 23 days earlier – and five days before the country locked down

Royal College of GP data shows the number of people with flu-like illness in England and Wales dropped by 50 per cent when hand-washing and social distancing was encouraged on March 16

Royal College of GP data shows the number of people with flu-like illness in England and Wales dropped by 50 per cent when hand-washing and social distancing was encouraged on March 16

There can be a time lag of more than three weeks between someone becoming infected with coronavirus and dying. Symptoms take days – if not weeks – to become life-threatening. The death has to be recorded and reported, and the family notified, in a process that takes days

The UK's crisis followed the same trajectory as Sweden's

Despite the Scandinavian country not going into lockdown

The UK’s crisis followed the same trajectory as Sweden’s, despite the Scandinavian country not going into lockdown. Daily reported deaths with COVID-19 (blue) in the UK (left) and Sweden (right) since March 13th. In red is the UK ONS data for England and Wales for all locations of death by registered day of death, illustrating the lag in reported deaths

‘Professor Lockdown’ admits Sweden may have suppressed Covid-19 to the same level but WITHOUT draconian measures 

The professor whose grim warning that 500,000 Brits may die from Covid-19 without action triggered lockdown has admitted Sweden may have suppressed its outbreak as well as Britain – without imposing the draconian measures. 

Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, revealed he had the ‘greatest respect’ for the Scandinavian nation, which has managed to suffer fewer deaths per capita than the UK. 

He made the comments at a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee today during his first public appearance since flouting stay at home rules to have secret trysts with his married mistress last month.     

The epidemiologist – dubbed Professor Lockdown – has come under fire for his modelling which predicted half a million Britons could die from Covid-19 and heavily influenced the UK’s decision to rush into a nationwide quarantine.  

Professor Ferguson appeared to praise Sweden for keeping infections low without the economically crippling curbs and said ‘they have gone quite a long way to [achieving] the same effect’.

But when he was grilled by peers about whether the measures were really necessary in the UK, he pointed out that Sweden’s infection rate had not fallen as rapidly as the Britain’s.

The UK has a death rate of 575 people per million, while Sweden’s is significantly lower at 436 per million. As well as fewer deaths, Sweden’s GDP actually grew in the first quarter of 2020, suggesting it might avoid the worst of the economic fallout from the crisis. 

Professor Wood said: ‘The most notable feature of the results is that fatal infections are inferred to be in substantial decline before lockdown.’

He said it was possible that social distancing ‘might have done the trick’ in bringing down Covid-19 cases and deaths without heavy-handed measures.  

On March 16, the UK Government launched a public information campaign urging people to wash their hands and keep two metres (6’6′) away from others.

Many Britons were already working from home, shops, restaurants and gyms were closing and large public gatherings had been banned.   

He said it was difficult to be certain when infections peaked in Britain because widespread testing was abandoned in mid-March.

However his analysis also showed that Sweden’s infections peaked just a few days after Britain, even without a lockdown.

It suggests the UK’s crisis would have followed the same trajectory with the less severe social distancing rules.  

Professor Wood said if a second wave hits Britain then ministers should consider ‘ethical issues’ of locking down again and whether it would claim more life than it saves. 

Writing in the study, which is published on the open access research site arXiv but not yet scrutinised by other scientists, said a second lockdown could be disastrous for the nation’s wellbeing.

He said: ‘These facts have implications for the policies to be adopted in the coming autumn, particularly given the peculiar ethical issues associated with lockdown,’

‘For example, plausible estimates of the life loss burden from an unmitigated Covid-19 epidemic in the UK are about two weeks per person. 

‘A plausible lower bound on the UK life loss from the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath is seven weeks per person. The economic shock from lockdown is substantially larger than 2008.’ 

Commenting on the findings, Professor Carl Heneghan – a leading expert at the University of Oxford and staunch critic of the lockdown – said Professor Wood’s analysis was in line with data from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).  

Professor Heneghan said RCGP figures show infection rates halved in the week beginning March 15 – at the time when social distancing was enforced. 

HOW AN IMMUNOLOGICAL ‘DARK MATTER’ COULD PREVENT A SECOND WAVE

Many scientists argue that lifting the lockdown will lead to a second wave, which some have warned will be even more lethal than the first.

But one epidemiologist at Oxford University says the virus has followed exactly the same trend worldwide – ‘irrespective’ of lockdown policies. 

Professor Sunetra Gupta says half of Britain has already been infected, even though official antibody sampling suggests fewer than 10 per cent have had it.

This may be because millions of people have pre-existing immunity that means their immune system hasn’t had to create Covid-specific antibodies, she says. 

Professor Gupta – whose initial prediction was rubbished by fellow scientists – isn’t the only one to warn of an immunological ‘dark matter’ that is stopping the virus from infecting as many people as once feared. 

Studies are beginning to add weight to the theory, with one suggesting people who have fought off the common cold may be protected from Covid-19. 

Researchers in California analysed 11 blood samples from people previously struck down with another type of coronavirus that causes a runny nose.

Half of the samples contained disease-fighting T cells that recognised SARS-CoV-2 virus in the lab, and 20 per cent had cells that may able to kill the virus.

The evidence, as well as studies showing the virus has taken the same trend across the world, has prompted some experts to dismiss the chances of a second wave. 

He said ministers ‘lost sight’ of the evidence and rushed into a nationwide quarantine six days later after being instructed by scientific advisers who he claims have been ‘consistently wrong’ during the crisis.

Data shows the rate of Britons with upper respiratory tract infections dropped from 20 per 100,000 people on March 15 to around 12 per 100,000 just six days later.

The figures do not relate solely to coronavirus but may be a good indicator because so few people were being tested for the deadly infection. 

Many scientists argue that lifting the lockdown will lead to a second wave, which some have warned will be even more lethal than the first.

But one epidemiologist at Oxford University says the virus has followed exactly the same trend worldwide – ‘irrespective’ of lockdown policies. 

Professor Sunetra Gupta says half of Britain has already been infected, even though official antibody sampling suggests fewer than 10 per cent have had it.

This may be because millions of people have pre-existing immunity that means their immune system hasn’t had to create Covid-specific antibodies, she says. 

Professor Gupta – whose initial prediction was rubbished by fellow scientists – isn’t the only one to warn of an immunological ‘dark matter’ that is stopping the virus from infecting as many people as once feared. 

Studies are beginning to add weight to the theory, with one suggesting people who have fought off the common cold may be protected from Covid-19. 

Researchers in California analysed 11 blood samples from people previously struck down with another type of coronavirus that causes a runny nose.

Half of the samples contained disease-fighting T cells that recognised SARS-CoV-2 virus in the lab, and 20 per cent had cells that may able to kill the virus.

The evidence, as well as studies showing the virus has taken the same trend across the world, has prompted some experts to dismiss the chances of a second wave. 

A TIMELINE OF THE UK’S COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

February 28: Virus started spreading uncontrollably in Britain, according to the World Health Organization. 

March 3: Government and NHS officially launched campaign urging people to wash their hands more often.

March 12: Anyone who developed a fever or a new cough, regardless of whether they got tested for COVID-19, was told to self-isolate for two weeks. 

March 13: The London Marathon, set to take place on April 26, was rescheduled for October 4. 

England’s top tier of football – the Premier League – is suspended.

March 16: Social distancing begins: 

  • Public were told to avoid contact with people outside of their homes, to work from home where possible, and to only take essential travel, such as to and from work or medical appointments. 
  • Pubs and restaurants are not forced to close but people are encouraged to avoid them.
  • Likewise, the Government refused to ban large gatherings and sports events but said police and ambulances would no longer be provided for them. 

March 16: A report by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, headed by Professor Neil Ferguson, published a report warning that 250,000 people could die if no lockdown was introduced.

The Royal Shakespeare Company shuts productions.

March 17: The Royal Albert Hall in London is closed until further notice.

March 18: Glastonbury Festival 2020 – scheduled for the summer – was cancelled.  

The British Museum and the Design Museum are closed until further notice. 

March 20: Major businesses were ordered to close immediately, including gyms, leisure centres, pubs, cafes, restaurants, theatres and cinemas.

March 23: Full lockdown introduced:

  • In a speech to the nation Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged everyone to stay at home unless necessary, only leaving to shop, to go to medical appointments or to exercise once per day. 
  • Gatherings of people were banned, regardless of size, and people prohibited from mixing with others outside of their household.
  • Everyone was told to work from home if possible. Many non-essential workers were forced to stop working if they couldn’t do it from home. 
  • Schools shut their doors except to the children of essential workers. 

March 24: All non-essential businesses, including clothing shops and hairdressers, were ordered to close. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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