The claim that 4,000 people could be dying from coronavirus by next month could be four or five times too high and not reflect the current situation, experts warn.
The shocking figure was presented by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance in Saturday's TV briefing where Boris Johnson announced the UK's second lockdown.
But there are concerns that it's out of date and inaccurate, with SAGE accused of 'misleading' the public and MPs by cherry-picking the scariest data.
Professor Carl Heneghan, of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said he 'cannot understand why they have used this data'.
The forecast could be four or five times too high, he said, because it is based on there being an average 1,000 deaths per day in the UK right now. In reality the daily average was 182 per day October 22 and 28, according to Department of Health data.
The number, which appeared as the worst case on a graph with three other possible scenarios, was created by statisticians at the University of Cambridge who have since revised their numbers and lowered the possible numbers of deaths.
A potential 4,000 fatalities per day if there are no changes to restrictions was almost twice as high as the second worst case, which put them at a touch higher than 2,000 per day.
The lowest estimates in the no-action scenario estimated deaths at just below 2,000 per day, and all were higher than the peak in the first wave, when the most deaths were recorded on April 8 (1,073).
The 4,000 deaths per day scenario was based on the assumption that there would be 1,000 per day by the start of November. Real numbers of people dying are significantly lower, with an average 182 per day in England and 162 confirmed yesterday for the whole UK
This slide presented on live TV on Saturday shows a projection of deaths hitting 4,000 per day by the end of December (blue line) but experts say they are 'concerned' about the decision to include this because it is based on old data that has since been updated
Professor Heneghan told The Telegraph: 'Our job as scientists is to reflect the evidence and the uncertainties and to provide the latest estimates.
'I cannot understand why they have used this data, when there are far more up-to-date forecasts from Cambridge that they could have accessed, which show something very different.'
In a blog post, Professor Heneghan and Dr Dan Howdon, a medical researcher at the University of Leeds, explained that the project that created the 4,000-per-day estimate has been update twice since and downgraded the numbers.
It had been based on an estimate of 1,000 deaths per day on November 1, but there were really only 162 announced yesterday.
Alternative scenarios on Sir Patrick's graph put the November 1 deaths at 486, 266 and 234 – all significantly lower.
And, Professor Heneghan and Dr Howdon pointed out, the Cambridge forecast has been update more than once since the version that was used in the meeting.
They wrote: 'Since the first autumn update on October 12, two subsequent updates have substantially revised down the estimated number of deaths.
'The October 12 update projected 588 deaths on October 30, and updates since have revised this down to 324 (October 21 for the 31st) and most recently 241 (October 28 for the 5 November).
'This most recent update goes up to 15 November, when 497 deaths are projected.'
The graph that the chief scientific adviser presented in the briefing showed that deaths could peak in late December, but the updated model does not go that far into the future.
The trajectory, however, puts deaths at only a quarter as high as the 4,000-per-day forecast.
Professor Heneghan said, therefore, that the 4,000-per-day could be as much as five times too many and that more accurate, lower estimates were available before the briefing was held on Saturday.
He told The Telegraph: 'I'm deeply concerned about how the data is being presented so that politicians can make decisions.
'It is a fast-changing situation, which is very different in different regions, and it concerns me that MPs who are about to go to a vote are not getting the full picture.'
Conservative MPs said they were worried the forecasts were 'misleading'.
David Davis told the newspaper: 'The first responsibility of the scientific advisers to the Government is to give the truth to the public and not to cherry-pick the data.
'This is a fairly major error on their part if they've used old data which effectively misleads the public.'
And Steve Baker added: 'This evidence does appear to indicate that the death models are already wrong and by quite a considerable margin.'
Questions were first raised yesterday over the dossier that helped tip England into lockdown with its grim