The Health Secretary last night told MPs that daily Covid infections were thought to have breached the 200,000 mark.
But his comments, made in a statement discussing the threat of Omicron, sparked immediate confusion over whether the figure was relating to the virus as a whole, or specifically just the super-mutant variant.
Department of Health insiders last night told The Telegraph that Mr Javid was correct to imply Omicron cases had hit 200,000 a day.
And the UK Health Security Agency, which made the grisly estimate, today revealed the maths used to make the claim. Today’s toll would be in the region of 300,000, by the team’s own calculations.
But experts today questioned the pessimistic projection, with one of the country’s most eminent statisticians calling the calculation into doubt.
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, told MailOnline: ‘To get the figure of 200,000, they would need to assume a doubling time of 1.75 days, or a higher starting point.
‘It is very frustrating, to put it mildly, that such high-profile and surprising numbers are given without any publicly available justification.’
Professor of medicine and consultant oncologist Karol Sikora added to the criticism, stating the Government was deliberately ‘scaremongering’ the population into getting booster jabs.
‘It’s alarmist and all part of a deliberate PR ploy to get people the booster,’ he said.
‘It’s not a bad idea to get the booster, but you could see yesterday the system creaked under the pressure.’