Forecasting 6,900 deaths due to COVID-19
Each year around 600,000 people die in the UK. Some of the predictions produced by the pandemic modellers suggested deaths due to COVID-19 of 250,000 and even 500,000. So does this mean that there will be up to 1.1 M deaths this year? The answer is no. Why? Because the modellers did not take the number of deaths that you would expect anyway into consideration. This means that the latest forecast drops from 1.1.M deaths to 6,900 excess deaths.
Are we starting to get a better handle on the reality of this pandemic?
This should be a huge relief, however, the new model that is being suggested by a team from University College London (UCL), reported by Nick Triggle from the BBC still has plenty of caveats - especially with regards to variables around containment strategies.
Nick's report states, "If it [COVID-19] was five times as deadly - a reasonable estimation, researchers said - there could be 6,900 excess deaths. If 10% of the population were to be infected with more relaxed measures, the excess death figures would increase 10-fold. But these are just models."
The health impact of the lockdown obviously goes far further than affecting just the health risk from catching a virus. The mental health implications are profound, the impact of isolation on emotional health will be more serious for some than others, and many people are now having to deal with the economic impact on financial health too. See top tips for keeping sane during pandemic.
Sociologist Prof Robert Dinwall at Nottingham Trent University, puts things in the following terms, "collateral damage to society and the economy". He goes on to stress the mental health problems and suicides linked to self-isolation, heart problems from lack of activity and the impact on health from unemployment and reduced living standards.
A professor of 'risk management' at Bristol University in a Paper for Nanotechnology Perceptions looks at the economic hit. They report that trashing the economy also costs lives. The benefit of a long-term lockdown in reducing premature deaths is outweighed by the cost in terms of lost life expectancy from a prolonged economic dip. On the other hand, the Paper does not assess the environmental benefits associated with a reduction in consumerism, improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions - and this probably does need to be taken into consideration too.
The Paper goes onto compare their model with that produced by Imperial College and reported on in Total Health - COVID-19 - taking 'social distancing' seriously. It also, with some interesting relevance, quotes a statement reflecting the true value of a mathematical model, by Ludwik Finkelstein:
“The essential value of models is that operations on the models enable conclusions to be drawn about the behaviour of the system represented.”