23 Jun COVID-19: More than 20,000 lives could have been saved if first lockdown was introduced a week earlier, report says | UK News
More than 20,000 lives could have been saved in England if the first lockdown had been introduced a week earlier, according to a report from Imperial College London.
Researchers estimate the number of deaths in the first wave could have been reduced from an estimated 48,600 to 25,600 if the first national shutdown, introduced on 23 March 2020, was brought in seven days before.
This means 23,000 lives would have been saved, according to the report.
Elderly people were found to be nearly three times more likely to die from coronavirus in care homes than in the community from the start of the outbreak to the beginning of December last year.
The findings come after government has faced repeated claims it has failed to protect care home residents and has even faced legal action in the High Court.
The Imperial College London research into the pandemic, published in the Science Translational Magazine, also found that national lockdown was the only effective measure that brought the R number consistently below.
The researchers estimated that the outbreak in London and the South East began approximately two weeks before the rest of the country – meaning lockdown occurred at a later stage of the epidemic in those areas.
The report also found that England on 2 December 2020 was still far from herd immunity, ranging from 7.9% in the South West to 22.5% in London.
Dr Marc Baguelin, from Imperial College London, said: “Early intervention is really critical to reducing the number of cumulative deaths. There was also a high burden of COVID-19 deaths in care homes as once an outbreak has begun it is very difficult to reduce transmission.”
The study by the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, which is funded by Imperial College London, analysed the epidemic from the first importation of coronavirus into each UK region to 2 December 2020.
The period covers the first national lockdown from March to May 2020, the interventions implemented as coronavirus deaths increased in the autumn, and the second national lockdown in November.
The report noted that England has been one of the worst-affected countries during the pandemic, with more than 66,000 deaths reported in the period up to 2 December.
This was equivalent to 117 deaths per 100,000 people.
The researchers used a mathematical model of coronavirus transmission to reproduce the first two waves of the outbreak across England’s seven NHS regions and assess the impact of interventions implemented by the UK government.
The report has been published as another 16,135 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the UK – the highest number of daily cases since 6 February.