With the nation’s health at stake, it was revealed this week that GCHQ has embedded a team in Downing Street to provide Boris Johnson with real-time updates to combat the ‘emerging and changing threat’ posed by Covid-19.
The intelligence analysts will sift through vast amounts of data to ensure the Prime Minister has the most up-to-date information on the spread of the virus.
But what exactly should Mr Johnson be looking for?
How accurate were the Government’s grim predictions?
The short answer is: not very. In a July report commissioned by Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, scientists estimated that there could be 119,000 deaths if a second spike coincided with a peak of winter flu. Yesterday, that figure stood at 54,286 – less than half that.
In fact, the second peak seems to have passed – over the past week there has been an average of 22,287 new infections a day, down from 24,430 the week before.
In mid-September, Sir Patrick made the terrifying claim that the UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October unless more draconian restrictions were introduced. Yet we have never got near that figure.
What about its prophecies on deaths?
Ditto. Its warnings simply don’t bear any relation to reality.
During the ‘Halloween horror show’ press conference used by Sir Patrick and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty to scare the Government into implementing a second lockdown, one of their slides suggested that daily Covid-19 deaths could reach 4,000 a day by December.
With ten days to go, we’re still at less than 15 per cent of that figure. In fact, as the graph above shows, the current death rate is significantly below almost every modelled winter scenario.
Are hospitals close to full capacity?
The answer is ‘no’ – contrary to what the Government experts would have you think after they last month published a chart that gave the impression that hospitals were close to overflowing, when at least half didn’t have a single Covid-19 patient.
Currently, only 13 per cent of NHS beds are occupied by patients with Covid-19.
On Monday this week, 16,271 hospitals beds across the UK were taken up with patients who had tested positive for Covid-19.