Currently, the UK lags behind many countries such as the USA, Italy, Spain, and France in terms of cumulative deaths from COVID-19, but we project that it could wind up with one of the worst deaths per million statistics for a major country. The reason is that their newly confirmed case is only beginning to peak and the daily death count has yet to peak. This coupled with an estimated mortality rate of 20% puts the UK on track to suffer over 500 deaths per million, up from its current value of 157.
How did one of the most scientifically advanced countries get into this mess? Part of the answer lies in the government’s weak and slow response to the pandemic. In fact, the government’s initial approach was to let “herd immunity” solve the problem by allowing the virus to run rampant throughout the country. Eventually, Boris Johnson changed course after the public got wind of his inhumane strategy and especially so after he got the virus himself. But the change in course beginning in mid-March and culminating on March 23rd with the passage of the Coronavirus Act 2020 could take a few more days to show up in a peaking death count. The fact that they did institute a national lockdown, albeit late, may help them relative to a country like the US where we still lack a national lockdown policy.
A major reason why the British situation is so dire is that their testing is way behind where it needs to be. Among the major countries with infections greater than 1000 per million, they have the lowest test rate — 5,200 per million. The more infections per capita the greater the need to test and the inverse ratio of the two is an abysmally poor 4.2 in the UK. This means that every fourth patient they test is infected and implies that they are missing a lot of asymptomatic or weakly symptomatic patients that can nevertheless infect many others.
A major reason their estimated mortality is so high is that the number of hospital beds per capita is a poor 2500 per million – lower than Spain or Italy. They will soon run out of hospital beds to care for all their sick patients and the mortality rate could go up even higher as a result of poorer care.
This exposes the fallacy and tragedy of the herd immunity approach. Humans cannot allow their fellow humans to die in the field like cattle, they want to help and ease their pain and suffering. Moreover, way before the UK will reach herd immunity, they will run out of hospital beds and people could die in the streets.
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