More than 100,000 people could die this year if the coronavirus lock is lifted, so only the elderly and vulnerable are protected, said a government expert.
Professor Neil Ferguson said he was “very skeptical” that a scenario in which the younger population would return to normal life would be a “viable strategy”.
He said it would require “a very high level” of effective protection for the vulnerable and elderly population, who are also “least able to be truly isolated.”
Speaking to the media UnHerd, he said, “The most vulnerable are also the people who need care the most, who have the most interaction with the health system and who are least able to really to be really isolated.
“And if you only achieve 80% protection, 80% reduction in the risk of infection in these groups, we still expect that you will achieve well over 100,000 deaths later this year through this type of strategy. “
Professor Ferguson of Imperial College London is the main author of a report that the pandemic could kill 250,000 people if the government did not apply social distancing.
He said his team is currently working on a model to facilitate locking and will release details in the coming days.
He warned that life “cannot go back to normal completely” and that social distance should remain until a vaccine is developed – something Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said will not happen before at least next year.
“There will be a trade-off between the extent to which you relax the measures and tolerate a level of transmission and, therefore, mortality and demand from the health system, versus keeping the number of cases as low as possible , which will likely require longer social distancing. term, “said Professor Ferguson.
He said the South Korean model of mass testing and contact tracing was “remarkably effective” in monitoring the rate of infection with the virus.
South Korea has reported only 242 deaths from the disease, which is one of the lowest rates in the world.
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“I think if you talk to the people in Korea and the people in the public health department, they think they have a sustainable strategy,” he said.
“They have a society that is not functioning normally – there will have to be social distancing until we have a vaccine … but they have been remarkably effective at following the chains of transmission and isolating the infected.
“And the real advantage of these policies is that if you bring the transmission down to the very low levels that they now have in Korea, then it’s not that disruptive or resource-intensive. “
So far, the government has been quiet about its ideas for breaking the deadlock, with Raab telling Sky News that it was “not responsible” to discuss it openly at this point.
“We have to make sure that the next steps are safe, which is why we are very careful,” he said.