Covid: NHS ‘will be at breaking point by November’ without social distancing and mask precautions

The paper is at the pre-publication stage at The Lancet and has been authored by a number of leading scientists.

The NHS will be at breaking point within two months if Covid precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing are not implemented by the Government, a new scientific paper has found.

At a glance: 5 key points

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  • The paper, seen by i, estimates that at an R-rate of 1.7 the UK will suffer a further 340,000 hospital admissions before the end of the year
  • The current R-rate in England is 0.9 to 1.1
  • Since pupils returned to school in Scotland three weeks ago there has been a more than fourfold increase in infections in the country
  • Ministers have said any potential lockdown measures in October would be a “last resort”
  • The paper was funded by Moderna

What’s been said

Co-author Dr David Strain, a senior clinical lecturer in the college of medicine and health at the University of Exeter, said: “We found that there is going to be a steady and continued rise in infections and hospitalisations if further interventions are not put in place, whether they be physical distancing, the reintroduction of masks, or different vaccines strategies.

“If we don’t do anything, hospitalisations will be at the same level as they were at the previous peak at the beginning of November.”

He added: “We have to do something. Whether that something is a firebreak, whether that something is changing the vaccination strategy, or just reintroducing masks and social distancing. But we will definitely have to do something between now and Christmas.”

Background

The paper is at the pre-publication stage at The Lancet and has been authored by a number of leading scientists.

The report’s authors include three researchers from the modelling group Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Marc Evans of Cardiff University, as well as three scientists from Moderna, which funded the report.