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Professor Neil Ferguson says Covid hospitalisations are 'likely to go up 20% regardless of what we do'

PROFESSOR Neil Ferguson has said that coronavirus hospitalisations are “likely to go up by 20 per cent” despite the country being in lockdown. 

The epidemiologist, of Imperial College London, warned the country was likely to surpass the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths this year.

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Prof Ferguson, the architect of the first national lockdown, told the Sunday Times that the country faces a bleak January amid surging cases of a new, highly infectious strain of the bug. 

He said: “Hospitalisations are likely to go up 10% or 20% almost regardless of what we do.

“New admissions per day are going to go up further.”

The epidemiologist, who last March warned half a million Brits could die of the bug in the absence of a lockdown, added: “Even optimistically it will be quite difficult to avoid another 20,000 deaths.

“It’s highly likely we’ll hit 100,000.”


Prof Ferguson, who quit as a government adviser after breaking quarantine to see his lover, also said that London’s spiralling infection rate could, with the help of vaccination, see the country recover from the pandemic in Autumn.

He added: “We may see a decline, and that may be slightly aided by the fact that there is quite a lot of herd immunity in places like London.”

Herd immunity is achieved when enough people in a population have immunity to an infection to be able to effectively stop the disease from spreading.

It forms the basis of most vaccination programmes, with most scientists agreeing that at least 70 per cent of the population must have antibodies to prevent an outbreak.

Prof Ferguson's warning comes as Chris Whitty warned the NHS could be overwhelmed in just three weeks if Brits don’t follow lockdown rules. 

Hospitals in London have already come under immense pressure as a highly contagious variant of coronavirus rips through the South East, forcing Boris Johnson to impose a third national lockdown. 

The chief medical officer warned that, since last Monday, the situation had “deteriorated further” – with hospitals facing “the most dangerous situation anyone can remember”. 

Ministers fear that Brits are not obeying the rules in the same way as the first lockdown of March last year, which saw a high level of public compliance. 

Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, said the lockdown in its current form was “too lax” to tackle the new variant, believed to be up to 70 per cent more contagious. 

Meanwhile, the UK passed the grim milestone of 80,000 deaths on Saturday, with another 1,035 deaths reported.

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