The number of people who die from coronavirus is likely to be far higher in the UK than the rest of Europe thanks to a delay in introducing physical distancing measures.
World-leading disease data analysts have projected that the UK will become the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic on the continent, accounting for more than 40 per cent of total deaths.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle predicts 66,000 UK deaths from Covid-19 by August, with a peak of nearly 3,000 a day, based on a steep climb in daily deaths early in the outbreak.
The analysts also claim discussions over “herd immunity” led to a delay in the UK introducing physical distancing measures, which were brought in from 23 March in England when the coronavirus daily death toll was 54.
Portugal, by comparison, had just one confirmed death when distancing measures were imposed.
The UK’s strategy was reversed after a study from Imperial College London showed how badly hospitals would be overwhelmed.
Early last month an A&E doctor treating coronavirus patients lashed out as they claim government inaction have left doctors to die like “lambs to the slaughter”.
The newly released data seems to confirm the doctor’s worse fears, although it is disputed by scientists.
Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said the IHME figures on “healthcare demand” – including hospital bed use and deaths – were twice as high as they should be.
The IHME bases its forecasts in large part on the trajectory of deaths rather than case numbers and the speed with which distancing measures were put in place.
The UK will be severely short of beds, it finds. Germany, by contrast, is predicted to have enough hospital beds, including ICU beds, needed for its peak.
France will have enough general beds but will be about 4,000 short of ICU beds at the peak, says the forecast. There are projected to be just over 15,000 deaths there. Both Italy and Spain are past their peaks, says the IHME.