EXPERT data analysts have predicted that the UK will become the European state most affected by the coronavirus pandemic by August, accounting for 40% of deaths across the continent.

The Institute for Health Metrics (IHME) in Seattle has projected 66,000 deaths in the UK by August with a peak of close to 3000 a day.

The study based the estimation on the steep climb in daily deaths seen early in the outbreak, but the figures have been disputed by scientists who modelled the shape of the UK’s epidemic for the UK Government.

Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London said the IHME figures on “healthcare demand”, or the hospital bed use and deaths, were too high.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon stresses anyone could catch coronavirus

The IHME modelled had projected that by August 4 the UK will have 66,314 deaths – an average taken from an estimate range of between 14,572 and 219,211.

The figures predict the US will see 81,766 coronavirus deaths, with the UK not far behind. By August that would mean the UK will have recorded more Covid-19 deaths than Italy, Spain, France and Germany combined.

The analysts also suggested discussions around “herd immunity” had resulted in a delay in the UK bringing in social distancing measures.

The lockdown was introduced on March 23 when the Covid-19 daily death toll stood at 54, but in other countries restrictions have been brought in much sooner. For example, in Portugal restrictions were introduced after just one confirmed death.

The IHME also predicted the UK will hit the peak in around 10 days’ time. They said more than 102,000 hospital beds will be needed at that time – there are currently 18,000 available.

The same applied to intensive care beds. IHME suggested 24,500 will be required at the peak, but only 799 are free. And on ventilators, the IHME said there will be 21,000 needed.

But Ferguson said he felt the figures weren’t reliable. He said: “This model does not match the current UK situation.

“Basically, their healthcare demand model is wrong, at least for the UK.”

The IHME said the figures would be updated daily and as the UK is early into its outbreak the uncertainty is higher.

However they added they’d based the prediction on what had happened in other countries, what had happened in the UK, and when a lockdown had been introduced.

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.