The UK could see another 50,000 deaths from coronavirus, a scientist advising the government has warned, as the prime minister said he was “deeply sorry” for every life lost.
Boris Johnson insisted he takes “full responsibility” for the response to the pandemic and said “we did everything we could” to minimise suffering as the government’s figure for coronavirus deaths passed 100,000. Separate data published by statistics agencies places the toll at 115,000.
Professor Calum Semple, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), predicted there could be another 50,000 deaths from coronavirus, and warned that every Covid fatality “represents probably four or five people who survive but are damaged” by the disease.
“It would really not surprise me if we’re looking at another 40-50,000 deaths before this burns out,” he told BBC Two’s Newsnight programme.
In March, before the prime minister announced the first national lockdown, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said keeping the death toll below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”.
Referring to the 100,000 deaths now surpassed, Johnson said it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic”.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty braced the country for “a lot more deaths over the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines begin to be felt” and cautioned against relaxing restrictions “too early”.