April 25, 2020 - 12:30pm

Earlier this month, Swedish epidemiologist Johan Giesecke claimed in an interview with UnHerd that the UK was wrong to implement its lockdown measures, and singled out Professor Neil Ferguson’s Imperial study for being too pessimistic in its prediction of 500k corona deaths. Describing it as “not very good”, Giesecke was surprised it had such an impact on policymakers.

Today we heard from the other side when Freddie Sayers spoke to Prof Ferguson to get his response to the Swedish critique and much else. He said that:

  • The majority of epidemiologists agree with his position.
  • Sweden is still seeing day-on-day increases in death and infection rates, whereas the UK’s has fallen.
  • Maintains that UK infection-fatality rate is 0.8-0.9%.
  • No allowance was made in the original model for avoidable deaths due to lack of treatment for other conditions.
  • The lockdown strategy has been effective, but it it is not sustainable in the long-run.
  • Lockdown has had a significant mental health and social impact on mortality in terms of not just isolating people, but in cancelled treatments.
  • He is surprised by how much adherence to these measures has taken place – higher than he had assumed in his models.
  • The UK should employ the South Korean model.
  • Shielding the elderly and re-opening the country is idealistic and has not occurred anywhere in the world.
  • If this strategy was attempted, there will still be over 100k deaths.
  • Health service capacity is a good guide to lifting restrictions — and capacity is there.
  • There will have to be social distancing until we have a vaccine — we won’t be normal society until then.
  • Politicians make the decisions, not SAGE.
  • Dominic Cummings observed, but did not get involved in decision-making at SAGE.
  • New model expected out in days.