Britain’s coronavirus crisis peaked BEFORE lockdown


Further proof lockdowns were not necessary. Safety measures? Yes. Lockdowns, no.


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Sweden recorded just 40 new coronavirus deaths and 392 new cases today as the country continues to resist going into lockdown.

Less than six per cent of Sweden’s workforce had filed claims.

UK announces 449 more coronavirus deaths – the fewest for a fortnight as leading expert argues Britain’s crisis peaked BEFORE lockdown and claims fatality rate could be as low as 0.1%

  • NHS England said a further 429 people have died in its hospitals – just 85 of those died yesterday, April 19
  • Oxford University Professor Carl Heneghan said the UK’s outbreak peaked back in March
  • He said data showed this but ministers had ‘lost sight’ of the scientific evidence and panicked about lockdown
  • Professor Heneghan hailed Sweden for ‘holding its nerve’ – the country has stayed open for business as usual
  • Sweden’s infection and death rates are so far lower than UK’s and its economy is stableBy Connor Boyd Health Reporter For Mailonline and Sam Blanchard Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline and Stephen Matthews Health Editor For Mailonline, 20 April 2020

The UK has today announced 449 more coronavirus deaths – the fewest for a fortnight – taking Britain’s total death toll to 16,509.

England declared 429 deaths and a further 20 were confirmed across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And 4,676 more people have tested positive for the virus, taking the total number of patients to 124,743.

The day’s death toll is a fall on the 596 fatalities announced yesterday, Sunday, and half as many as the day before that (888). It is the lowest number for a fortnight, since April 6 when 439 victims were confirmed.

Although the statistics are known to drop after a weekend, the sharp fall adds to evidence that the peak of the UK’s epidemic has blown over.

At today’s daily Government briefing, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said 17,971 people are still in hospital battling the coronavirus. Professor Dame Angela McLean, chief scientific adviser for the Ministry of Defence, said the number of people in hospital has now been falling in London for seven days in a row and that officials ‘looked forward’ to seeing the same trend play out in other regions across the country.

Mr Sunak said more than 140,000 companies had applied to the Government’s furlough scheme for grants to help cover the wages of more a million people, and he announced more money would be made available for early-stage businesses to help them set up during the economic turmoil.

It comes as a leading expert at the University of Oxford has argued the peak was actually about a month ago, a week before lockdown started on March 23, and that the draconian measures people are now living with were unnecessary.

Professor Carl Heneghan claims data shows infection rates halved after the Government launched a public information campaign on March 16 urging people to wash their hands and keep two metres (6’6″) away from others.

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.

Professor Heneghan hailed Sweden – which has not enforced a lockdown despite fierce criticism – for ‘holding its nerve’ and avoiding a ‘doomsday scenario’. The country has recorded just 392 new patients and 40 deaths today, approximately 10 per cent of the UK’s figures. Britain’s diagnoses have not been announced yet.

In separate research, the Oxford professor said he estimates that the true death rate among people who catch the virus is between 0.1 and 0.36 per cent, considerably lower than the 13 per cent currently playing out in the UK.

In other coronavirus news:

  • Prince Philip issued a statement saying: ‘I want to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic’, thanking medical workers, scientists, key workers and volunteers;
  • Experts have pointed out that areas with large Muslim populations are ‘conspicuously absent’ from the list of coronavirus hotspots, despite many being in at-risk inner city boroughs, suggesting their lifestyles may protect them from the virus;
  • Doctors have hit out at the deputy chief medical officer for England, Dr Jenny Harries, for saying medical staff need to have a ‘more adult’ conversation about protective equipment, which the NHS is in short supply;
  • Billionaire Richard Branson has warned his airline, Virgin Atlantic, will go bust without a Government bailout – but he has offered a private island in the Caribbean as collateral against a loan;
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reached out to Cabinet ministers from recovery to urge them not to loosen the UK’s lockdown, saying preventing a resurgence of the virus must be their number one priority;
  • A symptom-tracking app run by King’s College London estimates that there are only around 460,000 people with an active symptomatic COVID-19 infection in the UK – down 75% from April 1.

NHS England confirmed this afternoon that a total of 14,829 people have now died in its hospitals and tested positive for COVID-19.

The patients whose deaths were announced today were aged between 40 and 101 years old, and 15 of them had no health problems before catching the virus. The youngest of those was 49.

Just 85 of the deaths recorded happened yesterday, on April 19. 210 of the people counted in today’s statistics succumbed to the virus on Saturday, April 18.

A total of 19,316 COVID-19 tests were carried out yesterday on 14,106 people – the Government is currently only about 20 per cent of the way towards its target of doing 100,000 tests per day by May 1.

Scientists are now in agreement that the peak of the UK’s epidemic seems to have been on April 8, when 803 people died.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘This clearly shows we are in a steadily, but rather slowly, improving position since the peak of deaths 12 days ago on April 8th.

‘But, judging from the experience in Italy, this could be a lengthy process.’

Professor Heneghan, who also works as a GP, told MailOnline: ‘The peak of deaths occurred on April 8, and if you understand that then you work backwards to find the peak of infections. That would be 21 days before then, right before the point of lockdown.’

He refers to a delay in the time it takes for an infected person to fall seriously ill and die – three weeks on average.

He claims that if the Government accepts that deaths peaked on April 8, then it must mean that infections were at their highest around three weeks prior.

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.

Explaining the logic behind his claim, Professor Heneghan said: ‘The UK Government keeps saying it is using the best science.

‘But it appears to be losing sight of what’s actually going on. We’ve been getting scientific advice that is consistently wrong.

‘It has failed to look at all the data and understand when the peak of infections actually occurred.’

He added: ‘Fifty per cent reductions in infections occurred on March 16, right when hand washing and social distancing was introduced.

‘If you go look at what’s happening in Sweden, they are holding their nerve and they haven’t had doomsday scenario. Our Government has got it completely the wrong way around.’

In Sweden most schools, shops, pubs and restaurants remain open, with the Swedes advised rather than forced to adopt social distancing measures.

There have been 14,777 coronavirus cases in Sweden, giving it a per capita infections rate of 140 per 100,000 people. With a total of 1,580 deaths, the nation has a fatality rate of 15 per 100,000 people.

By comparison, the UK has suffered 120,067 cases and 16,060 deaths, meaning 182 people per 100,000 catch the virus and 24 per 100,000 die from it.

On top of much lower death and infections rates, the virus appears to be wreaking less havoc on its economy compared to the UK.

Less than six per cent of Sweden’s workforce had filed claims for unemployment benefits – wheres a quarter of Britons (1.4 million people) have applied for universal credit.

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