BRITS could be hit with another wave of Covid infections in the summer as lockdown comes to end, data suggests.
Modelling from Warwick University which feeds into Sage shows that the Kent variant could continue to spread once restrictions are fully lifted in June causing an “exit wave” of cases and up to 1,000 deaths a day.
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Data suggests that there could be another surge in infections in the summer monthsCredit: LNP
The modelling goes up to Januury 2022 and the graph on the right shows how there could be a peak in cases in the summer. The graph on the left shows what will happen if the rule of six and 10pm curfew is followedCredit: Warwick University
If Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan then normal life should resume by the summer, with all adults having received a first dose of their jab by July.
But as in December, it was clear that tier restrictions were unable to contain the Kent variant – pushing the Prime Minister to enforce a third national lockdown.
While he’s vowed this “lockdown will be the last”, the modelling shows that infections could spread in high numbers.
Modelling from Warwick feeds into Sage data which suggests that there could be an additional 1,000 daily Covid deaths each day in the UK if lockdown restrictions are lifted.
This estimate referred specifically to restrictions being lifted, but the rule of six being in place as well as a 10 curfew.
The modelling was published on March 18 and suggests that under Mr Jonson’s current roadmap plan, daily deaths would be at under 200 a day – which is what they have been at this week.
The left graph shows what would happen if restrictions were lifted gradually by summer and on the right in autumnCredit: Warwick University
Over the last weeks several experts have warned that the UK could become engulfed in a third wave, but others have said the modelling from Warwick is “not accurate”.
Professor Keith Neal, an epidemiologist at Nottingham University said the “model is wrong” and the calculations “show what’s wrong with modelling in general”.
Speaking to MailOnline he said people should be focused on the number of people dying or going into hospital and not the rate in which cases are rising.
Vaccines have been shown to cut transmission of the virus – and the experts also factored this into their modelling.
Dr Sam Moore who headed up the Warwick study admitted the team didn’t factor in the triumph of the jab rollout.
Professor Neil Ferguson warned that all countries would have to receive coronavirus vaccines in order to prevent further infections and deaths.
He said that normal life would likely resume in autumn – months after Mr Johnson’s lockdown roadmap.
So far in the UK over 26.5 million Brits have received a first dose of the vaccine with over 2.5 million having had a second – with other countries lagging behind.
Prof Ferguson’s view did not align with the Warwick estimates and he said just because cases are rising in Europe, that does not affect the UK’s plans for emerging from lockdown.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast he said: “Depending what happens in other areas of the world, travel may be one of the later things to be relaxed.
“But I think we… whilst not everything will be back to normal by the summer, certainly by the autumn, it will feel a lot more normal.”
However he previously highlighted that we could end up in a fourth lockdown by the summer if restrictions are eased too soon.
He said: “The downside of taking bigger risks is you risk having to lockdown again which is even more disruptive economically and socially.”
Prof Ferguson did however agree with the cautious approach the government is currently taking in easing restrictions and said it would be a matter of relaxing one thing and seeing what the impact is and then relaxing again.
Professor Calum Semple, Professor of Outbreak Medicine at the University of Liverpool said infections could occur in the summer in those who have not yet had a vaccine.
He said: “The concern at present is that in countries where there’s less vaccination and a very strong third wave, that’s the perfect breeding ground for further variants of concern.
“So, at this point, Britain has got its act together, the concern is as this third wave is going on elsewhere, that will generate new variations.
“Even within Britain there is a likelihood of a third wave in potentially July and August time when we do unlock society.
“That third wave we would expect to occur in people that are less susceptible to very severe disease.”
England’s chief medical officer also warned this week that Brits could be “engulfed by a third wave”.
Professor Chris Whitty said that there will definitely be another surge at some point whether it’s before winter or next winter.
He said: “Variants are going to cause problems, there will be stockouts of vaccines and no doubt there will be multiple problems at a national level but also at a local level – school outbreaks, prison outbreaks, all those things that people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis.”
He warned the after effects of the pandemic on people who had been pushed further into states of deprivation, adding there is a “very big job of work to do in terms of recovery”.