An author of the study, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, said in an email to CNN on Tuesday that the study was on weekends to the White House Coronavirus Task Force and Monday to the U.S. Control and Prevention Centers been passed from diseases.
“The White House Task Force received it late Sunday afternoon, CDC, yesterday,” Ferguson wrote to CNN. “To be honest, I don’t know how much it affected decision making. But I hear Dr. Birx quoted it. We’ll have a much more detailed discussion with the task force tomorrow morning.”
During a briefing on Monday, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx: “We worked on models around the world day and night … We worked with groups in the UK. So we had new information from a model.” She did not indicate which model she was referring to.
CNN has informed government officials in the UK and the United States of the report.
Epidemiological studies are based on modeling from available data, based on assumptions that may later prove to be wrong, and generate predictions that may appear alarming if they relate to the entire duration of the pandemic. This is one of many models. While mitigation “focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping the spread of epidemics,” the study explains, “suppression,” it aims to reverse epidemic growth, reduce the number of cases to a low level, and to maintain this situation indefinitely.
The study says that “the most effective mitigation strategy” would still result in hospitals – even with overvoltage capacity – requiring eight times as many beds in intensive care units as they could provide in the UK. However, the study also found that “optimal mitigation measures” – such as combining suspect isolation at home, quarantining suspect cases at home, and social distance between the elderly and others at high risk of serious illness – peaked could reduce demand for health care in the UK by two thirds and deaths by half.
“For countries that can achieve this, repression remains the preferred policy option,” the report concludes.
For the study, the researchers used a simulation model that was originally developed to support planning for the pandemic flu and modified it to investigate the effects of certain scenarios on the coronavirus pandemic. Their models show that as part of a mitigation strategy: “Even if all patients could be treated, we expect there will still be 250,000 deaths in the UK and 1.1 to 1.2 million deaths in the US.” It was not immediately clear how long the researchers had assumed the full course of the pandemic.
The study concludes that the suppression strategy is likely to cause the disease to spread again quickly after these measures are removed, and that such measures are required regularly until a vaccine is found. It says, “The biggest challenge in suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package – or something that is equally effective in reducing transmission – must be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (possibly 18 months or more) – provided that we predict that if the interventions are relaxed, the transmission will recover quickly. “
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.