Coronavirus deaths could hit 900 a day by New Year, Cambridge scientists warn

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks past union flags as he arrives to attend a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on December 19, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a "stay at home" order for London and southeast England to slow a new coronavirus strain that is significantly more infectious. The new strain of the virus "does appear to be passed on significantly more easily," Johnson said at a televised briefing. He ordered new restrictions for London and south-eastern England from Sunday, saying that under the new "tier four" rules, "residents in those areas must stay at home" at least until December 30. (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson introduced a new Tier 4 in response to rising COVID cases. Top scientists have now warned coronavirus deaths could hit 900 a day by the New Year. (Toby Melville/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Daily coronavirus deaths in England could hit 900 a day by the New Year, top scientists have warned.

Experts from Cambridge University’s MRC Biostatistics Unit said there could be between 619 and 899 deaths on 1 January, which is 11 days away.

That would be nearly double the seven-day average of UK-wide daily deaths seen on Sunday: 462.

However, the two data sets should not be directly compared as the Cambridge forecasts are based on deaths within 60 days of a positive COVID-19 test, while the government’s daily data is based on deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Watch: UK death toll at 67,616

Meanwhile, the report also estimated 91,100 people a day are being infected in England.

This would suggest the country is back to the position it was in two months ago, just before the national lockdown was imposed. On 22 October, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (SPI-M) had estimated up to 90,000 people a day were being infected.

At the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in April, the government said more than 100,000 people a day were getting COVID.

On Saturday, Boris Johnson dramatically scaled back an easing of rules over Christmas and introduced a new Tier 4 for parts of London, the South East and East of England.

It was in response to a new strain of the virus which is up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain and has been driving widespread infections in those areas.

Prof Daniela De Angelis, the report’s lead researcher, said: “The contribution of the latest lockdown has been modest and transient and we are now seeing upwards trends in transmission.

“The total number of new daily infections has increased substantially from 58,800 to around 90,000, with rapid increases in the South and East of England, requiring new, stricter measures.

“The rapid spread of the new variant makes any projections of how the pandemic will evolve in the near future highly uncertain. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Read more:

The Tier 4 COVID lockdown rules explained

The Tier 3 COVID lockdown rules explained

The Tier 2 COVID lockdown rules explained

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