Although the central forecasts remain unchanged, forecasting 750 deaths a day and 4,290 hospital admissions by December 8, the upper end of the range has been revised down. Instead of 1,500 deaths, it suggests an upper figure of 1,010, while the top range for daily hospital admissions falls from around 9,000 to 6,190.

The changes significantly alter the appearance of the graphs, meaning the shading no longer suggests that deaths in the weeks up to December 8 could dwarf those of the first wave.

Prof Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, raised concerns that incorrect data was “systematically” being used to drive the country into lockdown, saying: “It really worries me that, on matters that are this important, we are finding that the data is absolutely riddled with errors.

“I don’t know if the data is being rushed through or if what we are seeing is bias being introduced, but what we are seeing looks systematic. All the mistakes are consistently in one direction, so you have to ask whether it is being done on purpose to suit the policies, like lockdown, they want to impose.”

He urged ministers to be more transparent, saying revisions to data should not be “snuck out” and adding: “We’re in an era where public compliance is essential to public health, and in due course we will need people to take the vaccine. That requires people to trust the Government.”

The SPI-M projections, dated October 28, were a central part of the weekend presentation, with Sir Patrick and and Prof Whitty since emphasising that they were more reliable than long-term scenarios.

SPI-M includes Professor Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London and Professor John Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, all of whom have advocated national action (the video below shows Boris Johnson giving an update after the start of the new lockdown).

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