OFFICIAL forecasts used as grounds for a new national lockdown in England have been quietly revised down after the government admitted they were wrong, reports say.
Slides shown at a Downing Street press conference last Saturday suggested that the UK could be seeing 1,500 daily deaths from coronavirus by early December.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updatesSlides used in Saturday's press conference suggested daily deaths could near 1,500 by early December New slides suggested the maximum daily deaths would be near 1,000 Boris Johnson presented the graphs at a press conference on SaturdayCredit: PA:Press Association
The rate would have far exceeded the peak of 1,166 deaths seen on April 21, during the first wave of the virus.
But slides now published on the government's website to accompany the press briefing show a maximum daily death toll of just over 1,000 by December 8.
The slides were "amended after an error was found", the Daily Telegraph reports.
The maximum estimated daily hospital admissions have also been revised down from 9,000 to 6,000.
It comes after the UK Statistics Authority, the country's official statistics watchdog, issued a warning to ministers and government advisers over the use of coronavirus data in ways which can "confuse" the public.
The body said there was a danger that confidence in official figures will be undermined if they are issued without "appropriate explanations of context and sources".
"The use of data has not consistently been supported by transparent information being provided in a timely manner," a statement said.
"Full transparency is vital to public understanding and public confidence in statistics and those who use them."
It also emerged this week that another set of forecasts presented by the government were significantly out of date and could have been up to four times too high.
The forecasts, based on research done by Cambridge university three weeks before the Saturday press conference, suggested that England could see up to 4,000 deaths by the end of December.
But the research had also suggested that the daily death toll by the week of the press conference would be 1,000, around four times high than it turned out to be.
Experts questioned why the forecasts were still being used given that more recent ones were available.
Speaking to the Telegraph about the research, Professor Carl Heneghan, director of Oxford University's Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, said it was "deeply concerning" that out-of-date data was being used in decision-making.
“Our job as scientists is to reflect the evidence and the uncertainties and to provide the latest estimates," he said.
Today marked the first day of the new national lockdown across England, set to remain in place for at least four weeks.
People across the country have been told not to leave their homes unless they have a specific reason or to socialise outside of their household or support bubble.
Daily deaths in the UK remain well below their April peak, with 378 recorded on Thursday.
There were 24,141 new cases recorded, only marginally higher than a week ago - suggesting the curve of the second wave may be flattening.
Sunday saw the total number of cases diagnosed in Britain since the start of the pandemic pass one million.
Boris Johnson announces four-week national coronavirus lockdown