The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK would have been halved if lockdown had been introduced a week earlier, a former government adviser has said.
Prof Neil Ferguson, whose advice was crucial to the decision to go into lockdown, said the outbreak had been doubling in size every three or four days before measures were introduced.
In the UK, lockdown began on 23 March.
The number of people known to have died with coronavirus in the UK stands at 40,883.
“Had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half,” Prof Ferguson said.
“So whilst I think the measures, given what we knew about this virus then, in terms of its transmission were warranted… certainly had we introduced them earlier, we would have seen many fewer deaths.”
On average, about 1,600 people a day die in the UK. What is not known about the coronavirus deaths being reported is to what extent those deaths are on top of that figure or part of it.
Many of the victims are old and frail people with underlying health conditions and, who therefore are at the highest risk of dying.
Experts predict there will be significant overlap between the coronavirus deaths and those that would normally be expected to die.