Analysis comment

Johnson’s lock-down delay likely to cause more than 60,000 needless deaths, study finds

Johnson’s slowness to accept the inevitable has set UK on a path to huge avoidable tragedy

A mass grave for US coronavirus victims

Boris Johnson’s slowness to act on a lock-down of the UK to combat the spread of the coronavirus has cost over 60,000 lives, according to a new study published to the Medrxiv site pending peer review.

The holes he has left in anti-transmission measures, such as:

are likely to increase that number.

The study took the UK’s initial confirmed situation on 28 February – and its modelling was a good match to the actual situation by 23 March, the day before the UK lockdown:

Applying the estimated parameter values and assigning hospitalised cases on 28 February as 10 severe, 4 critical, and 5 recovered, the constrained Maximum Likelihood estimates for that date are 1627 infected and 532 mild (see Methods) and the predictions give a reasonable approximation to deaths in the period to 23 March.

The study modelled the spread of the virus, at different levels of lock-down and with varying lock-down dates, and found that locking down just a week earlier would have led to an eventual death toll in this phase of the pandemic of around 18,500compared to an expected 81,000 under Johnson’s eventual 24 March start date:

An extract of the report explains:

Figure 2 shows the results of a model run with these initial conditions, and a lockdown assumed to reduce [transmission factors] to 20% of its estimate throughout a 12 week period 24 March – 16 June. Severe cases rise throughout the lockout, reaching nearly 63,000 by the end. Likewise critical cases rise throughout, reaching nearly 37,000, and total deaths exceed 81,000.

These results are very sensitive to the starting date of the lockdown. If the 20% lockdown began one week earlier, on 17 March, cases and deaths would still rise throughout the 12 weeks but the totals on 9 June would be around 16,500 severe and around 9,250 critical cases, and 18,500 deaths.

And if Johnson’s lockdown had been more complete – plugging the gaping holes listed above, then the total deaths would have been lower still. The study found that reducing the transmission factors to 10% of their original value before the lock-down instead of 20% would reduce the total deaths to a fraction of the likely outcome now:

For a 10% lockdown beginning on 17 March, severe cases peak on 26 March at under 5,900 whilst critical cases peak on 5 April at 2,800 and total deaths by 9 June are 5,200.

Astonishingly, in February Johnson was boasting about his plans to avoid any kind of prevention measures – claiming that this would give the UK an international business advantage:

The full report and extract can be read here.

A timeline of Tory delays

The SKWAWKBOX has always warned that Johnson’s ‘herd immunity’ plan – which involves almost everyone in the country becoming infected – was never abandoned and that the Tories and their media allies had simply started using new language to describe it.

That continues to be the case, as the government’s half-hearted and tortoise-like move to a lock-down – in spite of knowing 6 years ago what would happen if a pandemic hit a UK whose health and public services have been fragmented and stripped to the bone – demonstrates. But the scale at which Johnson’s recklessness and laziness are costing UK lives is glimpsed in a study that crystallises the impact of even just a week of Tory foot-dragging, dishonesty and incompetence.

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  1. “failing to provide protective equipment to NHS staff in spite of abundant availability among UK firms being ignored by the government”

    I haven’t heard of “abundant availability” before Skwawky, and I hope you have evidence of it.
    On seeing such evidence Starmer’s clear duty would be to call a special press conference and demand Johnson be prosecuted.

    1. Bojo saying the most disgustingly irresponsible words the world has heard since Trump said to the UN General Assembly the US would totally destroy North Korea

  2. Little wonder the guy ran away — if he did run away! Did he get into the cupboard, or was he pushed in, by his own ministers? He’s not just an embarrassment, he’s an absolute danger to his own party!

  3. In addition to this, the reporting in newspapers of only the cases tested in hospital, gave the public a false sense of the risk in their area. So say for example a report of 11 cases in the whole of a county would lead people to believe that it was safe enough to do shopping, when actually there were probably hundreds of people incubating the virus who were out shopping too all reaching over each other to panic buy what they wanted..

    1. Exactly!!! But Cummings & his johnson believe we are all mesmerised by their repetition “following the science,”
      Not one “journalists” have asked, WHAT science? Funded by whom? Researched by whom? When and where was the data collected? Who peer reviewed “their science”? Detail the arguments of scientists who contradict and condemn the Cummings & johnson “science”. Show us your workings. 🌹🌹🌹

  4. Right at the top of the medRxiv site, the following phrase is highlighted in yellow:

    ” A reminder: these are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. They should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information.”

    I agree that the Tories have fucked this up with their monumental incompetence, but using the link to the medRxiv site as “evidence” is clearly nonsense.

  5. Essential Reading

    Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster
    Boris Johnson skipped five Cobra meetings on the virus, calls to order protective gear were ignored and scientists’ warnings fell on deaf ears. Failings in February may have cost thousands of lives

    You can read the full report from The Sunday Times here (no paywall)
    I suggest those interested download it.

  6. A very good summary. Johnson’s combined ineptitude, laziness, arrogance, and utter callousness, have resulted in massive loss of life, many times more than the worst case scenario have been had he taken prompt effective measures. He is a mass murderer.

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