A major government document has revealed that if the UK does not prepare now for a second wave then 120,000 deaths could happen this winter.
Ministers have been given a stark warning that this is “not a prediction” and 120,000 deaths is a “reasonable worst-case scenario.”
The report which was commissioned by the government’s chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, forecasts the number of people that could die before June in hospitals.
The second wave could be far more deadly than the first wave and the R rate could rise from the current number of 0.7-0.9 to 1.7 from September forcing another lockdown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously warned that if the R rate does rise above 1 then the government will reimpose emergency lockdown measures.
Speaking to Sky News, Professor Azra Ghani, an infectious disease epidemiologist from Imperial College London who worked on the report said, the findings are “not a prediction” and are a “worst-case scenario.”
Professor Ghani said, “As we move into winter, the weather gets worse, people stay indoors more, windows aren’t open, so the likelihood of transmission does of course increase.
“We also have all sorts of other pressures on the NHS that increase during the winter and therefore extra admissions into hospitals.
“It’s all of these things coupled together that could cause this worst-case scenario. We need the systems to be up and running by September.”
Professor Stephen Holgate, a Medical Research Council clinical professor of immunopharmacology who led the study, said that if the country does not prepare now, then we run a serious risk of being hit hard.
He added, that this “could be reduced if we take action immediately” and there is a “test and trace programme” to be fully working which ensures a “rapid system of monitoring” which will prevent regional outbreaks.
A government spokesperson said the report “represents a worst-case scenario based on no government action and makes clear this isn’t a prediction”.
They added, “Thanks to the nation’s collective efforts, the virus is being brought under control.
“However, we remain vigilant and the government will ensure the necessary resources are in place to avoid a second peak that would overwhelm our NHS.
“This includes extensive winter planning to protect the NHS and care sector, further expanding our large-scale testing capacity, contacting thousands through NHS test and trace, working intensively on new treatments and delivering billions of items of PPE to protect our health and social care workers.”