Modelling Freedoms - July and Beyond
Bulletin 126 | Matt Fletcher, Adele Groyer and John Roberts
Updated SAGE papers have been published setting out modelling of the impact of easing restrictions in England – in particular, moving to Step 4 of the roadmap on July 19th, delayed from June 21st. As in June, the publications include detailed modelling papers by three teams and an overall summary.
As in our June bulletin, we summarise the number of deaths that are projected under some of the key scenarios set out in the papers. We also comment on hospitalisation figures where possible.
Whilst the three models all use slightly different approaches and periods, they now appear much closer in terms of central projections (to the extent they exist), being in the order of 30,000 to 40,000 deaths over the next few months. Many scenarios show daily hospitalisation peaks below that of the second wave peak but there are scenarios where this may be exceeded. However, peaks in deaths are likely to be considerably lower than those seen in January 2021.
The consensus document highlights that all models are subject to considerable uncertainty. The main uncertainties (and thus sensitivities) remain vaccine efficacy, where even an apparently small change can have a large impact in the results, and the extent to which the population exercises its restored freedom. The Prime Minister, announcing the decision to go ahead next Monday, encouraged people not to “tear the pants off it”, quoting a memorable phrase from earlier in the pandemic. A briefing on the outputs of these models may well have been behind the caution expressed – it is a cautionary note that we would agree with, given the risks involved in the removal of restrictions.