UK chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the evidence showed that the number of hospital beds occupied exhibited an “exponential curve”.
He told the Commons Science and Technology Committee that there were 536 inpatient cases as of September 7th – around 2,500 in early October and “to date, 10,000 people have actually been injured in the hospital”.
“You don’t need too much modeling to say you are on an exponential upward curve from beds,” he said.
Prof. Whitty said that while Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions in England reduced the R-number – the rate at which the virus reproduced – they did not get it below 1, the point at which it spreads.
He said that in areas like Liverpool, where hospitals were already under pressure, only a small increase in the R-number could lead to “pretty serious problems”.
Prof. Whitty also confirmed that it was a national problem, with the increase in cases being faster in the southwest than in the north, although bed capacity is lower.
“Although you’re looking further afield at the moment, you could run into trouble relatively quickly,” he said.
“We already have hospitals like Liverpool that are above their previous highs and it won’t be long before you run into serious trouble,” he told the Science and Technology Committee.
“The ability to actually stay and say,” Well, let’s wait a couple of weeks, let’s just see what happens. “The problem is that the people who are now in the hospital got infected a few weeks ago.
“So there is quite a long lead time between taking an action and reducing the number of people who go to the hospital, go to intensive care and, in some cases, sadly, die.”
“And if you wait too long, you’ll have a very large backlog of things that are still going up in price, and I don’t think we have any solid evidence at this point that R is anywhere below 1 where we actually are have significantly high rates. “
Prime Ministerial Advisor to the Government, Sir Patrick Vallance, defended the use of modeling after criticizing the information presented at the press conference announcing the lockdown of England.
He told the committee the “six-week forward projection” – the most reliable part of the modeling – suggested that the number of people in the hospital would pass the first wave “towards the end of November.”
The number of deaths would correspond to the first wave “somewhere in mid-December”.
However, that forecast was based on the fact that nothing had changed and so did not take into account the expected impact of the lockdown due to take effect in England on Thursday.