Britain’s top epidemiologist, who led the modelling study for the impact of the novel coronavirus, has said that the United Kingdom is showing signs of a slowdown in the spread of COVID-19. Speaking to BBC Radio on March 30, Neil Ferguson said that probably 2-3 per cent of the UK population has been infected by the virus but at least a third of them remains asymptomatic.
Ferguson, professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, revealed that the antibody tests are in the final stage and ready in “days rather than weeks”. The researcher himself was tested positive for the novel coronavirus after closely working with UK’s top officials on coronavirus response.
Again, many many thanks for everyone’s very kind support. I was tested given my recent proximity to people leading the UK response. Positive. Which is a strange experience - to be infected by the virus one is modelling 🙄. Still feeling rough, but not awful.— neil_ferguson (@neil_ferguson) March 19, 2020
Ferguson led the research in which the team claimed that the pandemic would have resulted in more than half a million deaths in the UK and 2.2 million in the United States in case of no mitigation measures. The researchers used the data gathered from Italy to project the impact of the pandemic if positive interventions are not made at the earliest.
According to the researchers, the first of the two fundamental strategies was to focus on slowing down the spread of the virus but not necessarily stopping the spread. The study said that the first strategy would have helped reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection, while the second strategy with more intensive interventions could interrupt transmission and reduce case numbers to low levels and maintaining the situation indefinitely.
In the first scenario, such epidemics are predicted to peak over three to four months during the summer. With home isolation of cases, home quarantine and social distancing of those over 70 years of age could reduce the peak healthcare demand by two-third and reduce deaths by half. But it would still likely to result in the deaths of 250,000 people.
In the second case, however, the numbers are predicted to rise when the interventions are relaxed. In the context of the UK and the US, it requires a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members.
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