Britain faces a potentially more lethal second COVID-19 outbreak in the winter ahead that could kill up to 120,000 people in a worst-case scenario over nine months, health experts said on Tuesday. With COVID-19 more likely to spread in winter because people spend more time together in the confined spaces, a second outbreak of the pandemic “might be more extreme than the one we just went through,” said Stephen Holgate, a professor and co-lead author of a study by the British Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS).
The current death toll of the United Kingdom from confirmed COVID-19 cases is roughly 45,000, the highest in Europe. More than 55,000 people have died, including suspect cases, according to a Reuters tally of official data sources. The AMS said there’s a “high degree of uncertainty” about how the UK’s COVID-19 epidemic will evolve, but outlined a “reasonable worst-case scenario” where the number of reproductions-or R value-will rise to 1.7 from September 2020.
“The modelling estimates 119,900 hospital deaths between September 2020 and June 2021,” the AMS report said, more than double the number that occurred during the first wave. AMS vice president Anne Johnson said a poor winter flu season, coupled with huge backlog of patients suffering from other diseases and chronic conditions, will add to tremendous pressure on health care-underlining a need to plan now.