A top scientist has warned that the UK is in a "dangerous state" as the coronavirus death toll accelerates faster than China at the worst stage of the pandemic.
Scientist Tom Pike from Imperial College now admits he underestimated the danger of the disease after he previously predicted 5,700 people would die in the UK.
He calculated his original death rate based on the assumption that Britain would follow a similar pattern to Wuhan in China, where the disease was first spotted.
His paper put Britain's peak at 260 deaths a day, but the UK has already hit that figure over the weekend, with no hint of it slowing down.
The doomsday scenario puts the UK death toll at something closer to 20,000.
Speaking to The Times, Professor Pike said: "We don't know where that uptick is going to go, or if it will keep going in the same direction.
"That's critical in terms of the projected total deaths. If we don't regain the Wuhan trajectory, each day we are building up more deaths.
"It's a very dangerous state to be in."
Professor Pike's paper last week predicted that if the country follows the same trajectory as China did, it could see between 4,700 and 7,100 deaths.
That would see the peak of the outbreak – with between 210 and 330 dying in a single day – happening next Sunday on April 5.
But the doomsday scenario, published by one of the government's leading Covid-19 advisers, warned that 20,000 could die.
Professor Neil Ferguson's plan convinced the government to step up the UK lockdown and order millions to stay at home.
A projection from the same university developed by engineer Professor Thomas Pike compared eight countries' death rates to China's after Beijing put the country on lockdown.
The horrifying study showed that up to 41,000 could die in the US, 60,000 in Spain, 32,000 in Italy and 23,000 in France.
Another paper this week said countries around the world have averted catastrophe by sending citizens into lockdown, warning that 40million could have died if they hadn't.
More than a billion people worldwide are now in some form of lockdown, including 1.3billion people in India.
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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has now soared past 700,000, but another study from Imperial said almost the entire world population could have been infected if no action was taken.
Last week, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, said keeping the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK below 20,000 would be a "good outcome" but still "horrible".
Dr Patrick Walker, who worked on the paper, said: "Our findings suggest that all countries face a choice between intensive and costly measures to suppress transmission or risk health systems becoming rapidly overwhelmed.
"However, our results highlight that rapid, decisive and collective action now will save millions of lives in the next year."
Yesterday, the UK's coronavirus death toll soared by 209 to 1,228, while the total number of infections jumped by 2,483 to 19,522.
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