Starting 1st lockdown one week earlier could have saved 34,000 lives

empty streets during first lockdown

The Telegraph has an interesting report this morning that if the UK had enforced the first Covid lockdown a week earlier it could have halved the time the country spent at home and resulted in 34,000 fewer deaths, according to a new study by researchers who modelled the timing of the lockdown, which started on March 23, 2020.

In a conclusion that could increase critical pressure on Boris Johnson the study claims that introducing lockdown and social distancing earlier would have reduced the number of cases in England by three quarters by June 1, 2020, according to researchers from the University of Leeds and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

That would have resulted in 21,000 fewer hospital deaths and 34,000 fewer deaths in total, according to the peer-reviewed study, published in the well-respected journal PLOS One. It said the time spent in lockdown could have also been halved from 69 days to 35.

Estimates show that on June 1, after 69 days of lockdown, the number of severe daily Covid cases in England was 636, but the researchers suggested the same threshold could have been reached after around a month if lockdown had been put in place a week earlier. The newspaper observes that Prof Neil Ferguson, one of the Government’s leading modellers during the Covid pandemic, has previously said the UK death toll could have been halved if lockdown had been introduced a week earlier.

COVID-19 in Madeira: previous updates can be found in an earlier post

20 thoughts on “Starting 1st lockdown one week earlier could have saved 34,000 lives”

  1. It’s easy for these people to pipe up and say these things with hindsight. Difficult decisions had to be made which would have an impact on 68million people.

    • To be fair, this is not just hindsight. Of course the figures are hindsight, but many people were saying at the time that Johnson should lock down, just as they were in September 2020, but he was under pressure from the ERG/CRG/hard right wingers of the party, the same ones that caused him to delay locking down in October, and open up over Christmas and delay lockdown in January etc. and finally to get rid of all restrictions far too soon, leaving the health service struggling again.

      At the time I was one of a committee that ran the local U3A Scrabble group which met fortnightly. Two weeks before lockdown we were wondering whether we should meet (groups of 3/4 round small “card” tables in a smallish room), as we could see the dangers then. In the end we did meet, but very cautiously – sanitising tables, hands etc. If we could see the dangers, how much more should they have been able to?

      Besides, it is well known that Dido Harding wanted Cheltenham to go ahead and she had friends and relatives in the Government. ‘Nough said! Johnson never considers us mere mortals when he has to make a decision!

        • Sorry, I’m not sure of the point you’re making?

          Frankly I feel it served him right, but sadly he hasn’t learnt anything from this about safeguarding others. As has been said so many times and recent events have merely served to add further proof that Johnson is totally unfit to hold the office of Prime Minister. He doesn’t have any of the attributes needed.

  2. As with Maurice, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
    Leaving it to run a course was another option, but like with 1918 Spanish flu, no vaccine and 100 million people died world wide, of a population of around 1.6 billion, fast forward to a world population of 7.8 billion and those who say ” World is over populated and needs adjustment to survive” get their prophesy of needing of depopulation need given to them.
    Another small time line of say 100 years and a starting point number of 7.8 not 1.6 billion and what will humankind be faced with.

  3. Of course we had a Prime MInister who missed the first five COBRA meetings on the pandemic – it clearly wasn’t important enough for him to waste his time on. And he carries on with the same attitude more recently – abandoning face masks in public places in the UK so that the Covid numbers went up and up and NHS hospitals were further overstretched.

    • Masks don’t work. Van Tam, Whitty, Hancock are all on video saying so in March 2020.
      Then the government’s behavioural psychologists said people weren’t frightened enough of covid, so they need to be terrified more, then the big retailers told the government that people needed to be persuaded that going shopping was safe. So, lo and behold, masks suddenly are compulsory. It’s all covid-theatre. Masks are nothing more than comfort blankets, magic talismen and, for some, the answer to their OCD-driven anxiety.

        • Caroline.
          I think this is the 4th time I have explained this on this site.
          1. Surgeons wear masks to prevent their bodily fluids (sweat, saliva, skin cells) from falling into the patient’s open body cavities. Only our lungs have tbe ability to “wash out” pathogens, by coughing and ciliary action. If bugs get into our other organs they can cause severe or fatal infections.
          2. Surgeons wear masks to prevent the spread of BACTERIA, not viruses. Viruses are so small that they cannot be filtered by masks, even of the finest mesh.
          3. Some surgeons do not wear masks during operations. There is some evidence that patients are more likely to be infected by staff wearing masks during operations than by those who are not.
          4. Operating theatres are called that for a reason. They used to be literally theatres with banks of seats so that spectators could watch. Much of surgery is indeed theatre, with part of the costume traditionally being the masks.
          5. You talk about health professionals wearing them in certain settings long before covid. Yes. Indeed, as a retired health professional, I wore them when working on a cancer ward, where many of the patients were receiving powerful drugs which weakened their immune systems. Don’t know whether the masks were any good though. But I must turn your point back on you. Before covid, the vast majority of health professionals routinely did NOT wear masks, even in infectious situations. Ask why.
          6. Covid is largely spread by aerosols (think fine mist, which, like mist, travel far in the air). Some infections are spread by droplets (think heavy raindrops). Masks can’t block fine mists. But what masks do, as well as allowing the virus to escape from the sides of masks and through the mesh, is to enable some collection of tbe fine mist which is then turned into droplets, which is then propelled by the wearer when he/she removes the mask, waves it around and hangs it on the car rear view mirror, but crucially, these droplets are now a concentrated “soup” of what would otherwise have been a fine mist.
          Masks don’t work.

          • Health professionals, from the lowest paid health worker to the highest paid consultant, who didn’t routinely wear masks before are wearing them now. Are they only doing this to scare us onto submission? Or have they all been brainwashed as well?

            • They will be disciplined if they refuse to wear masks. I should know. A very close relative is a senior NHS employee who has been told so.

              Sadly, yes, most NHS employees do seem to have been brainwashed. It’s all part of the “NHS is wonderful” cult which must not be challenged, when the reality is that tbe NHS is a disaster, and has been for years. So, the NHS must be “protected”, and the masking is the symbol of how “caring” people care for the NHS.

              As masks do nothing to prevent infection but simply reinforce the anxiety governments worldwide intended to create, it is far from “caring” to wear one to protect others. It is the opposite : it reinforces people’s fear and keeps them stuck.

              If masks are so effective and are universally worn in UK hospitals I would love to hear an explanation of why so many people get infected by covid when IN hospital, and why so many NHS staff are off work with covid. Ah, the staff get infected when they are off-duty! But if they believed in the effectiveness of masks they would wear them when off-duty, yet it seems that they don’t. Why?

              As I was told on a previous post that I was boring, I shall not make any further comments on this chain (cue the up votes). I merely wanted to respond to Tony’s claim that stopping masking caused covid numbers to rise.

              • You really do need to calm down and stop and think for a minute. If health professionals and patients kept their masks on all the time, they would die of dehydration and starvation!!!

                I am tempted to say hey, ho, if you want to carry believing what you want to believe then fine, but the sad thing is that by spreading the falsehoods you do you put the lives of others at risk.

                • Caroline:
                  Accusing me of putting people’s lives at risk is quite outrageous. Masks do not save lives. They probably kill plenty people by harbouring lethal pathogens which people re-breathe, causing chest infections or pneumonia, so I could equally return the accusation. They also spread the virus in ways I have described previously as a result of people not understanding about safe use of masks, so, again, masks could kill people, if you want to make such accusations. Anyway, the current infection mortality rate from covid is way less than for flu, so I don’t think there is much “killing” by “falsehoods” going on.
                  Have a look at this:

                • Caroline:
                  Perhaps you’d like to argue with the government’s own statistical unit. This information has just been published:

                  The ONS (Office of National Statistics) Coronavirus Infection Survey released on April 13th, contains a summary of data collected from March 13th to March 26th, a period of generally increasing infections throughout the UK, and well after mask mandates had been lifted in England.

                  The concise summary is that there is virtually no difference in likelihood of testing positive based on mask wearing in the UK.

                  Of the 28,942 adults surveyed who “always” wore a mask, 7%, or 2,020 tested positive.
                  Of those who indicated masks were “not needed,” 3,962 out of 66,545 tested positive, which is 5.95%.
                  The “sometimes” category resulted in a 7.3% positive testing rate, 1,073 out of 14,671, and the “never” group had an identical 7.3% percentage.
                  Similarly, among children, 164 of the 2,643 in the “always” wore masks designation tested positive, a rate of 6.2%. The “sometimes” category had 125 positives out of 2,446, which is a rate of 5.1%. 
                  Compared to the reference group, those that “always” wore masks, both school aged children and adults had nearly identical results.
                  For example, the group of children who “never” wore masks were just as likely to test positive as those who “always” wore masks.
                  Masks don’t work.
                  Similarly, adults who worked or attended school in settings where masks were “not needed” were less likely to test positive than those who “always” wore masks in those same settings.
                  Masks don’t work.
                  Those who only wore masks “sometimes” had no significant difference either way.
                  Masks don’t work.

  4. I bet there are many on here glad they did not have the responsibility of the politicians who had to make these decisions. Whatever you say hindsight is wonderful.
    While I take the point of the Scrabble group it is not quite the same as organising multi billion pound budgets.
    No doubt the blame game will continue, some one always knows better

    • My point is that if the Scrabble Committee understood how dangerous it was for people to meet at that point, then Johnson must have known. My other point is that Johnson made his decisions for entirely political reasons, which had absolutely nothing to do with protecting people, the Health service or anything else. The Committee based their decision on people’s safety – and that two weeks before the lockdown. Johnson avoided making any decision, partly because of political pressures and partly because he was too busy dealing with his personal life!


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