politics

No10 refusing to say yet how many people could die of Covid after Freedom Day


Downing Street today refused to say when crucial models will be published on the number of deaths after Freedom Day.

When lockdown rules were lifted previously, the changes came with detailed modelling by scientists that predicted tens of thousands of further deaths.

But that detail was missing when Boris Johnson announced his sweeping plans to end almost all of England’s Covid laws at step four, from July 19.

Downing Street today insisted modelling will still be published in “due course”, and pointed out the final decision to unlock on July 19 will only happen next Monday.

However, the Prime Minister’s spokesman did not guarantee when the models will be published or if it’ll happen by Monday.

It comes despite Boris Johnson telling the public to use their own “judgement” in working out how risky an activity might be.

It also comes despite the Health Secretary publicly reeling off figures that predict as many as 100,000 new Covid cases a day later this summer.

SAGE member Prof Neil Ferguson appeared to suggest that could raise deaths back up to 100 per day. He told the BBC: “At the peak of the second wave 50,000 cases would translate into something like 500 deaths, but that’s going to be much lower this time, more like 50 or so.

“The challenge is, there’s still the potential of getting very large numbers of cases and so if we get very high numbers of cases a day, 150,000 or 200,000 it could still cause some pressure to the health system.

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“This is a slight gamble, it’s a slight experiment at the moment, and I think it’s justifiable and I’m reasonable optimistic, but policy will have to remain flexible.”

Asked if Prof Ferguson was correct, Boris Johnson’s spokesman replied: “I think that’s his own modelling.

“You’ll know there are a number of different models available that we use, and we set that out in the whole and we’ll do so in due course.”

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, slammed the government after Mr Javid admitted there could be 100,000 new cases a day.

She said: “The Health Secretary must clarify what this figure would mean for hospitalisations, deaths and long Covid cases, and what the expected impact on the NHS will be.

“The government must not fly blind into a situation where the virus is allowed to run rampant while the patchwork of support services for long Covid patients is stretched to breaking point.

“We also need urgent clarity on the impact of these plans on the clinically vulnerable and immuno-suppressed. Many of these people are deeply worried about protections like mask-wearing being dropped on July 19.

“For them, so-called Freedom Day risks meaning their freedoms to travel or visit crowded indoor places are taken away.”



For some people, "so-called Freedom Day risks meaning their freedoms to travel or visit crowded indoor places are taken away"
For some people, “so-called Freedom Day risks meaning their freedoms to travel or visit crowded indoor places are taken away”

The PM’s spokesman today said the government has not set a threshold of deaths that would be unacceptable.

Nor has the government yet finished working out how many people might get Long Covid as a result of Freedom Day.

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Despite the government’s policy clearly involving letting the virus spread and using the immunity of vaccination, he added: “I’m happy to repeat that herd immunity is not a policy goal of the government.”

Refusing to say when modelling on deaths and hospitalisations will be published, he said: “We’ve always published modelling in due course in the normal way.

“I’d push back against this suggestion that we’re not releasing modelling. We have throughout this pandemic released the information provided to us through SAGE and subcommittees and will continue to do so.”

Asked when the modelling will be published he added: “We get regular updates from SAGE and then the data is published. I don’t have detail about when that latest detail is coming in from SAGE and their committees.”





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