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Five experts who predicted daily Covid cases would hit 100,000

Bloomberg Live

A lot was said and written about the UK’s decision to press ahead with July 19, the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ when restrictions on social contact were lifted. Some greeted this date with a mix of horror, outrage and fury with 1,200 scientists signing a letter which effectively declared the unlocking as ‘a threat to the world.’

Much of the commentary focused on claims that there would be 100,000 positive Covid tests a day by July 19 and that a mass unlocking would only increase this. The full effect of the unlocking will only be seen in the fortnight after July 19 and the possibility remains that case numbers will go back up again – as they have done all too often before.

Mercifully though this has not been the case so far, with the numbers for today – 21 July – showing 23,511 positive test results and a seven day figure of 229,828 – a fall of 102,240 or 30.8 per cent from the previous week. Reasons suggested thus far for the fall include school holidays cancelling out the effects of unlocking and that the earlier July spike was caused by mingling for the Euro 2020 tournament.

Still, given the airtime given to those critical voices in the media, whose projections have at times been reported fairly uncritically, Mr S thought it worth rounding up four academics (and one politician) whose predications for late July will (hopefully) remain well wide of the mark.

Professor Anthony Costello – 12 June

After Freedom Day was pushed back from 20 June to 19 July, academics on Independent SAGE predicted the number of cases would sky-rocket, regardless. ISAGE member Anthony Costello, of University College London, said the true daily infection figure was likely more than double the 8,000 recorded in tests, telling the Daily Mirror: ‘In a month you’ll be up to 100,000 new cases a day.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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