More than 30 scientists from the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) has raised concerns over a potential second wave that the UK may encounter with the onset of winter.
In a report, the scientists have said UK’s NHS might have to struggle to aid a population grappling from the twin-blow of an aggravated pandemic and the seasonal winter flu, multiple media reports. “This is not a prediction, but it is a possibility,” co-author of the report by AMS, Stephen Holgate was quoted as saying in an online briefing.
The report states, the virus is more likely to spread in winter as people will spend more time indoors, which fuels the possibility of a second wave, more severe than what the country has grappled recently. “Deaths could be higher with a new wave of COVID-19 this winter, but the risk of this happening could be reduced if we take action immediately,” Holgate said.
Currently, the Uk has the highest number of COVID-19 fatality rates in Europe, with nearly 45,000 confirmed cases. News agency Reuters tally predict 55k people have died including suspected cases. Although these numbers are far less than the Americas – the current epicenter of the virus.
The report by AMS noted that the coronavirus scenario in the UK is uncertain, however, there is a “reasonable worst-case scenario” wherein the reproduction number or R-value of the virus can rise beyond regular levels, touching 1.7 from September 2020.
R-value is the average number of people an infected person will spread the disease on to, according to Reuters. UK’s current R-value for the novel coronavirus is between 0.7 – 0.9. But R-values above 1 can be devastating, which the AMS report unfortunately predicts.
The R-value modeling conducted by the scientists estimates more than double the number of people can be affected in between September 2020 and June 2021, if measures to avert the same is not undertaken.
“We need to do everything we can to stay healthy this winter,” AMS vice president Anne Johnson said, referring to the number of public health factors arising from the pandemic, seasonal illnesses, chronic diseases in the population, and the pressure it can create on NHS.