Protecting the vulnerable from Covid-19 to flatten the curve

March 13, 2020 • Reading time 2 minutes

We are publishing a regular update to our work on Covid-19. Other posts can be found here.

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We must consider measures to reduce the demand that will be placed on the NHS as a result of Covid-19. This should include (i) measures to reduce the growth of cases, and (ii) isolating elderly people or those with underlying health conditions.

Judging from Italy, people with underlying health conditions account for 80% of the demand for beds with ventilators. We have modelled a scenario where half of this group (approximately 1.5 million people in England) can be isolated successfully, and the growth rate of the spread of the virus can be slowed to 106% day-on-day (a significant drop). Under this scenario, the peak number of cases can be reduced from a high of 3.7 million in mid-May to 1 million around early August. This would reduce potential demand on beds with ventilators from 93,000 to 19,000 – still significantly greater than the 4,000 beds in the NHS in England that are 83% occupied.

While isolating people may be undesirable to the individual, it is important to remember that these people could end up in a critical care bed needed for someone else. The consequences of this level of isolation are not trivial and would need social care support in the medium term and possibly the long-term support needed to cope with the emotional effects of isolation. This will require coordinated efforts and it needs to be a collective societal effort as well as a government-led effort.

We have updated our analysis with the latest data here:


Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.