UK Covid live news: Sage expert warns next peak in cases could last longer than previous ones | Politics

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Good morning. Yesterday the government released the modelling from its scientific adviser showing what might happen to cases, hospitalisations and deaths when most Covid restrictions are lifted in England from next week. As we report in our overnight story, it said that the “exit wave” could result in more than 200 deaths a day and thousands of hospitalisations.

This morning Prof Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and chair of SPI-M, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, was on the Today programme giving further details of what the experts think might happen, and he warned that the next peak – although likely to be much smaller than the previous two, in terms of deaths – could last much longer. He explained:

We’ve never seen a peak before that hasn’t been controlled. In the previous peaks we’ve had, they’ve gone up and come down very sharply because we’ve introduced a lockdown.

The intention is not to introduce a lockdown for this peak. Then we are going to see a natural peak and that may well be long and disseminated.

So even if we don’t get up to very high numbers, the numbers that we get up to might last for several weeks, six weeks or so, in which case there’s still a considerable burden on healthcare.

So, although we might not get over 2,000 admissions a day, if that lasts six weeks then that’s a lot of people.

SPI-M is a sub-group of Sage, the Scientific Advisory Group of Emergencies. I will post more from Medley’s interview shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.

9.30am: The ONS publishes its weekly death figures for England and Wales, as well as a report on the impact of Covid on clinically extremely vulnerable people.

10am: Teaching union leaders give evidence to the Commons education committee about the impact of Covid on schools.

10am: Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, hosts a net zero local leaders’ summit.

12pm: The Department for Education publishes the latest school attendance figures for England.

12pm: Downing Street is due to hold its daily lobby briefing.

Around 1pm: MPs are due to begin a debate on cutting the aid budget. The vote, which will decide when the 0.7% target (saying aid spending should be 0.7% of national income) will be restored, will come three hours later.

2pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, makes a statement to the Scottish parliament on whether Covid restrictions will be eased as planned on Monday.

Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently. That will probably be the case today, although this afternoon I will be focusing mostly on the debate on cutting the aid budget.

For more coronavirus developments, do follow our global Covid live blog.

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