15 May 2020 10:41
Sign up to FREE email alerts from Mirror - The Coronavirus Briefing Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email The former chairman of Channel 4 and Pizza Express has been slammed for suggesting the pandemic is Government "propaganda" and the resultant 'double recession' will kill more than the virus. Entrepreneur Luke Johnson caused controversy when implying on Thursday's episode of BBC's Question Time Britain could've potentially avoided lockdown all together. Nicknamed 'Cool Hand Luke' after the 1960s Paul Newman film, the 58-year-old claimed only 350 people below the age of 60 and without "other morbidities" have died from Covid-19 in the UK. "You are more likely to drown. There's 400 people a year that drown.
For updates on coronavirus, follow our live blog HERE. "In fact, it's not one recession, the Bank of England have said the economy will shrink by 14%. That's the equivalent of two recessions. It's a depression," he continued. "And I wouldn't be surprised if we have two million more unemployed people within the year.
"Imagine the agony of two million more people. How many deaths might flow from that? "How many deaths have been flowing because of the fact we've got half as many A&E appointments at the moment? "Cancer patients not being seen, people with heart disease not being seen, and the collateral damage of this campaign of fear and lockdown has to be taken into account. "Very soon I believe lockdown will be causing more deaths than the virus," he added. Asked by host Fiona Bruce if he believed the UK should not have gone into lockdown, Mr Johnson said Sweden has "done alright". He said Boris Johnson's claims on Sunday Britain had avoided half a million deaths thanks to measures taken was 'scaremongering'. And said it was 'ludicrous' to suggest the UK had avoided '10 times' the amount of deaths of Sweden. Ms Bruce said economic forecasts suggest Sweden's economy will likely shrink by 6-9%, and they had a lockdown 'of sorts'. Mr Johnson said that is still better than the UK, whose economy is "in the toilet". Ms Bruce clarified deaths of those under 65 in total related to coronavirus is over 4,000 and emphasised just because people have morbidities doesn't mean they were "going to die anyway, they just have other conditions they live with". Professor of Global Public Health, Devi Sridhar said: "We keep putting the economy versus public health and I think that's a mistake. Containment and public health is good for the economy." She said that's been proven by countries who acted early and "locked down fast, that actually took the drastic measures to contain the virus and are able to open up now." (Image: BBC) Professor Sridhar went on to say, Sweden actually has "one of the highest death rates per million in the world and far higher than neighbouring countries". She said the country's government has even admitted "they have not protected the elderly and vulnerable". "We've had 60,000 estimated deaths, we are probably 10% of our way through this if we think we reach some kind of immunity at 80%," she continued. "We basically have to lose eight times that amount. Actually, the figures are slightly lower than what's estimated but are still incredibly high. "We would lose a lot of people if we took that strategy rather than trying to suppress the outbreak, wait for a therapeutic, wait for a vaccine." She added that the key to stopping the virus is actually monitoring where exactly it is and sharing information effectively about where it is worst, as many other nations have done. "People are fearful because they don't know where the virus is and they are looking around at their neighbouring countries and seeing other countries seem to be on top of it." Writing on Twitter in response to Mr Johnson, Umaar Kazmi said: "This is irresponsible and a lie. "I will listen to doctors and health experts, not a venture capitalist who, it would seem, simply wants to make money regardless of the tragic human cost. "Human life is worth more than his profits." Alvin Brennar said: "Thinking of his own bank balance." Another Twitter user said: "What he means is I'm losing money and I don't want to! "I don't care how many people die as long as my businesses are turning a profit." However, some agreed with Mr Johnson. One person said: "Finally someone making the very point I've been banging on about for weeks. "The human misery of economic depression and mass unemployment will greatly exceed anything Coronavirus could ever inflict." Conspiracy theories around the Covid-19 pandemic have spread far and wide since lockdown measures were put into place. While it's a common refrain in some circles to claim that something is government propaganda, it's hard to understand why the governments around the world would want to cause untold damage to the global economy and implement lockdown measures. But that's not been enough to stop some people from saying that this is the case. One of them, Luke Johnson, the former chairman of Pizza Express and Channel 4, claimed that the "pandemic is government propaganda" and that the incoming "double recession" will kill more people than this novel coronavirus itself. He made this claim during Question Time on the BBC, on Thursday evening of this week. He said that only 350 people under the age of 60 had died, and pointed out that 400 people drown in the UK every year. He also said: We have to get things a bit in context. Every death is tragic but believe me we are already in the largest recession for 300 years. He said he believes we'll see more deaths happening as a result of lockdown than the coronavirus itself. He went on to point out that the Bank of England has forecast a double recession in the years ahead, and asked whether the UK can handle two million unemployed people in the coming years. He also said that we don't have a vaccine for AIDS, which he believes is a reason that we should open up the economy again now, rather than waiting for one. Question Time host Fiona Bruce asked him if he thought the UK should not have gone into lockdown. He said, "Sweden has done alright". Other guests who were appearing via video-link pointed out that Sweden has an incredibly high death rate, and that the economy and public health are two sides of the same coin. Bruce also clarified that at least 4,000 people under 65 are thought to have died as a result of this novel coronavirus. On social media, people pointed out that Johnson was wrong, and asked whether there were any businesses he still owned that they could boycott.