Britain will be facing a more deadly second wave of COVID-19 in the coming winter that could potentially kill up to 120,000 people over nine months in a worst-case scenario, according to health experts.

Since people are spending more time together in enclosed spaces, risk of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic spreading is winter is most likely and it could be more serious than the first wave, Stephen Holgate said on Tuesday, who is a professor and co-lead author of a report by Britain's Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS).

Pandemic
Representational picture Pixabay

'Possibility, Not Prediction'

"This is not a prediction, but it is a possibility," Holgate said in an online briefing. Deaths might be higher in the second wave, but he said that the risk can be reduced by taking action immediately.

The United Kingdom's Coronavirus death toll is more than 45,000, the highest in the continent. A Reuters tally says that deaths including the suspect cases are more than 55,000 people have died.

The AMS said that there's a "high degree of uncertainty" on how the UK's novel coronavirus epidemic is set to evolve. The "reasonable worst-case scenario" estimated that the reproduction number (R-value) rises to 1.7 from September 2020 onwards.

R-value is the average number of people who can contract the disease from one person. This value in the UK is currently between 0.7 and 0.9. But an R-value above 1 can lead to exponential growth.

'Prepare Now'

The AMS report said, "The modeling estimates 119,900 hospital deaths between September 2020 and June 2021," which is more than twice the number that occurred during the first wave.

There would be huge pressure on health services, said AMS vice president Anne Johnson citing a bad winter flu season, combined with a large backlog of patients suffering other conditions, calling for preparing now. "COVID-19 has not gone away," and "We need to do everything we can to stay healthy this winter," she added.

(With agency inputs)