Scientists estimated how lethal Coronavirus would be in February

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Coronavirus UK Updates: London covid cases have trebled in a fortnight
Coronavirus UK Updates: London covid cases have trebled in a fortnight

Prof Ferguson, whose modelling helped shape the UK’s lockdown strategy, said scientists first estimated how lethal Covid-19 could be in the country back in February.

The former government adviser said experts used data China shared online at the start of the pandemic combined with private data from collaborators to work out how lethal the virus could be in the UK.

He told BBC Radio 4: “We concluded within a couple of weeks that it must be spreading predominantly from person to person and probably most importantly, and this was a little bit later, in February, we came up with the first estimates of how lethal this virus was and that of course is critically important if you’re going to make a judgement of are you going to shut down society to stop this virus.

“We estimated in China itself about 0.6 per cent of infected people were dying but China has a younger population than the UK and this is a disease which predominantly we know kills the elderly so if you translate those values into the UK population we estimated about 0.9 per cent which is much, much more lethal than, say, seasonal flu.”

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