In Brief

Coronavirus: government withdraws graphs showing Covid deaths surpassing first wave

Data inflated forecasts for fatalities if UK did not enter a second lockdown

Downing Street has been forced to retract supporting data cited during Boris Johnson’s announcement of the second nationwide lockdown in England. 

The graphs showed projections of the number of deaths that could occur if the UK did not impose harsh restrictions during a second wave. The government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance warned of the “very grim picture” painted by the data, which suggested that the UK would see up to 1,500 Covid deaths a day by early December.

 But documents released by the government since Saturday’s press conference reveal that the figures were far too high and have been “amended after an error was found”, The Telegraph reports.

The predicted tally has now been revised down, “reducing the upper end of the scale to around 1,000 deaths a day by 8 December – on a par with the peak of the pandemic in April”, the paper adds.

Leading scientist Professor Carl Heneghan, of Oxford University, said last night that the original graphs had been found to be “riddled with errors”. 

“I don’t know if the data is being rushed through or if what we are seeing is bias being introduced, but what we are seeing looks systematic. All the mistakes are consistently in one direction, so you have to ask whether it is being done on purpose to suit the policies, like lockdown, they want to impose,” he told The Telegraph.

After being challenged about the graphs during an appearance earlier today on LBC radio, Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The models are models and we are very clear, those are different models by different groups who are looking at that. The [number of] people in hospital has gone from 2,600 a month ago to over 12,000 this month.” 

Yesterday, the UK reported 24,141 new Covid-19 cases and a further 378 deaths, according to latest government figures.

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