The total number of deaths, rather than what is on the death certificates, should be used to judge the impact of the virus, he said, estimating the real death toll to be  20,000 to 30,000. 

He said: “ It could end up that more people have died because of lack of medical care directly caused by the unavailability of it, because its facilities have been taken over for Covid.

“If we look at the numbers, how many people have really died from Covid that wouldn’t be dead at the end of the year? The numbers vary enormously. The current ONS data suggests 60,000 people have died from Covid. I’m sure that’s not really the case, it’s because of the counting we discussed earlier.”

Prof Sikora told the podcast deaths for June were already “below what you’d expect for the yearly average in the summer”.

“The reason for that is simply that many of the people, sadly, that would have died in June, July and August, actually died during the peak of the pandemic,” he added.

Prof Sikora is the chief medical officer for Rutherford Cancer Centres and has previously served as the director of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme.

But it his style of tweeting – blending knowledge with short, concise sentences and an optimistic outlook – that has earned him a big following on social media and the moniker “The Positive Professor”.

Telegraph columnists and hosts of Planet Normal, Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan will be replying to your comments below this article at 11am on Thursday June 11. Join them to discuss this week’s podcast.

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