Imperial’s Neil Ferguson defends lockdown strategy
Freddie Sayers speaks to the British epidemiologist on today's episode of Lockdown TV
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:
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- 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.
The majority may agree with his position ,we have no evidence of this, but it does not follow that the majority are correct.The lockdown is clearly unsustainable the damage it is causing psychologically where it is accepted that we will see a rise in suicide along with mental health hospital admissions ,physically in preventable deaths and sickness, economically where tax revenue have plummeted resulting undoubtably in higher taxes later which as always will effect the less well off the most, unemployment with the hospitality sector decimated and so on.
Also the unseen damage, domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse and the inevitable rise in crime.
The dreaded exit strategy does not exist,they have none.So it will be trial and error tested out on schools first.But the fear of catching the virus will be no doubt keep many teachers away from schools as it will other staff.
The past week London was the busiest I have seen it for 6 weeks with the roads in places blocked with traffic.People are losing patience with this forced lockdown and the government will be forced to ease up on it.
No doubt the good Professors next model will predict more plagues of locusts on a biblical scale ,the issue they will all have is convincing an already itchy population that they know what’s best for us, especially a population that is offered no hope only more daily drivel from media along with daily death rates from politicians who have handed over the running of the country to scientists and professors.
Let’s get back to work.
Well there are more plagues of locusts on a biblical scale already, so that’s not a good example! But otherwise, yeah.
If you wish for a realistic exit strategy, I suggest reading Thomas Pueyo.
From the insane response to foot and mouth through to the disastrous response to C-19, Ferguson has done more damage to the sanity and prosperity of the British people than Napoleon, Kaiser Bill, Hitler, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and various IRA and Islamist terrorists put together.
I have no interest in anything he has to say.
I think I’d agree with you. I’d like to know where he stands politically. Seems like he might have been a lefty at university and like a lot of his peers he never got over it. All this paternalism is terrifying…
Well of course he was a lefty at university. All academics and people who work for the state were are are lefties. And it is clear from his serial incompetence and insistence on totalitarian solutions to every problem that he is and was a lefty.
Harsh, but funny.
it is somewhat obtuse to say that Sweden is not having a mitigation policy becausr it does not conform to the parameters of his model ( I.e. his own definition) rather he should answer the question.
He was answering the implied question of why Sweden seems to be doing better than his mitigation strategy suggested. He pointed out that Sweden’s approach is much stricter than the mitigation strategy he modelled.
He simply claimed it, but there are other explanations also consistent with the observations, which pivot on estimates of IFR (taking into account his correct comment n their being several IFRs). I sensed he does now think the IFR is lower than he first thought & continues to defend. Sweden’s view has always been that IFR is appreciably lower. Additionally, they had the view that “leaky lockdown” would wreck the economy while influencing R0 much less than Ferguson calculated. Thus, modest adaptation accompanied by raising surge capacity was the logical choice to them.
It’s worth knowing that neither social distancing nor lockdown has empirical support in the modern era. It’s logical that it will lower the reproduction number, but what is opaque is by how much. That difference is of huge importance. Epidemiologists accept this, while making their own guesstimate of its expected effects. If, as Ferguson assumes, Sweden’s better-than-he-expected outcomes are due to modest methods having a big effect on transmission, it follows that we do not need to continue with lockdown as we have it. On the other hand, if Sweden’s experience is because the IFR is lower than most, including Ferguson, assume, again we don’t need our lockdown any longer.
Neil Ferguson there… speaking, appropriately enough, from the corner of the room he has painted himself into…
He looked tetchy and sounded defensive on the idea of failing to properly isolate the elderley and vulnerable -talked about how they are the most socio economically deprived and too hard to protect -no one else has managed it. The truth is no one else tried.
Then there are those poor souls suffering other conditions which will not be treated on account of 90% of the NHS being closed down. Looking at the whole picture of the NHS one cannot argue it has been ‘protected’ -it simply isn’t functioning.
A policy of ‘driving corona cases to as low as possible’ is just not sustainable in the long term at least whilst the virus is still around and there is no vaccine.
Its seems what he is saying, for all his criticism of the Swedish model, is that it is the one we are going to inevitably end up adopting.
He is a classic scientist, blinkered by what he can see down the narrow lens of his own microscope. Scientific viewpoints can be extremely distorting of the broader reality and his ideas should only have a proportionate weight in the context of the pandemic. It’s also disingenuous of him to suggest that ‘we have not made politicians decisions for them’ when his research handed them a document that threatened a potential hundreds of thousands of deaths if they did not implement an immediate lockdown. Interesting how he now seems to be beginning to shift his narrative a bit as well.
So what happened in South Korea and Taiwan? What is happening in New Zealand and Australia?
I don’t know, but it can’t be claimed to be due to lockdown in the case of SK at least, because they didn’t do it.
In NZ and Australia the lefties have taken control and shut our schools, businesses and movement of people. These idiots think the virus is going to go away. If it doesn’t infect this week it will next week and more so when our flue season starts. It is here to stay so we need to learn to care for the ill and minimize collateral damage. Just like we have 100 year floods, 100 year earthquakes, 100 year weather events we also have 100 year pandemics.
This reply didn’t age well, did it?
This is the future of journalism. It was brilliant. Two opposing positions allowed to offer thoughtful, honest, responses from incisive and knowledgeable questioning. Thanks!
Dr Ferguson says in his March 30 paper that
“Given the lag of 2-3 weeks between when transmission changes occur [“March 12-14″, 2 weeks before publication of the Mar 30 paper] and when their impact can be observed in trends in mortality, for most of the countries considered here it remains too early to be certain that recent [non-pharmaceutical] interventions have been effective.”
Then he says
“With current interventions remaining in place to at least the end of March, we estimate that interventions across all 11 countries will have averted 59,000 deaths up to 31 March”
How can both statements be true at the same time? Do you see how the Death count just days after his March 16th paper immediately started to level out? Even ICU admissions started to level out before the interventions could’ve had an effect. He himself says explicitly that this leveling had nothing to do with interventions because the course of the disease is 23.9 days. Ergo it would take 23.9 days for lockdowns to have an effect. But then says the interventions were effective.
Anyway listening to this man speak is a lesson in sophistry. Read his paper for yourself.
What they are saying is that it is too early to be certain that the interventions have been effective in reducing R0 below 1: that is the confidence bounds on the estimates include 1. It is very clear that the interventions have reduced R0. What he says is largely very clear to another scientist.
If R0 reduced on Mar 14, then how did it effect the death counts from Mar 15-31? People are catching it and then dying immediately and we prevented that?
As a fellow scientist, I don’t think it’s at all clear that the interventions have reduced R0 (inferentially, by a lot). That daily death counts vs time, normalised & pinned at peak deaths, for dozens of countries show the time courses to be almost superimposable, despite countries adopting different attempted transmission inhibitors, suggests to me that few if any country has introduced really effective measures. It seems intrinsically unlikely that their time courses would be modified such that they overlap to the extent they do, just because of mitigation attempts. The scientist in me posits alternative explanations, one of which is the ongoing emergence of a degree of herd immunity. We can invalidate this hypothesis through careful seroprevalence testing in coming weeks. We want this data anyway, because it’s crucial to make better calculations of population IFR.
You say that the death count started to level out ‘just days’ after the Imperial paper. I assume you mean in the UK. If so, that’s not actually true. The peak for hospital UK deaths seems to have been 10 April, since when there has been a slow decline. The lockdown started on 23 March, although many people had anticipated it some days earlier. Given the lead times before an infected person dies, generally thought to be 3-4 weeks, it strikes me that the lockdown has had a major effect in slowing the virus. I am not trying to be political about this, just interpreting the data. I’d be very happy to be proved wrong and for ‘herd immunity’ to be shown as the real cause of the decline, but I am not convinced there are that many people out there who have had the disease with no or very mild symptoms. The link shows the UK data.
I think that site is just collecting and publishing reported figures. In the UK the PHE are reporting when they find out about deaths, not when they happened.
Here are the deaths by date of registered death: https://www.cebm.net/covid-…
Similarly the ICU load is here: https://www.icnarc.org/Our-… and this peaked end of March.
Interestingly similar reports from Germany and Switzerland that R0 had dropped below 1 before lockdown
You confused different things. First, he said it was too early to be certain. Second, he provided an estimate.
Questions i would have like to ask, even if Freddy Sayers is very good art prÃ©paring his questions
1 What are the connexions between any advanced knowledge of facts by policy advisers and the timing of their advisory work for the govrnement as in https://www.theguardian.com…
2 Any epistemic relations between that sort of “quasi military crisis culture”, the non-open style of the “scientific” advisory panel, the use of non peer reviewed work and the absence of “evidence based” policies ( see a contrario Johan Giesecke).
Sent From France, where the situation is probaly worst than in England, as constitution has been suspended and law and order “special powers” are just wreaking havoc to the public and private response to plain and real problemes to be solved. Notwihstanding the fate of “vulnerable people” directly confronted to violent action of police forces
We need a french version or a transcription/translation as “Ferguson and al.” the viral “scientific paper is the scientific backbone of all that mess which nobody knows how to stop.
I wish you’d asked him his opinion of Australia’s and NZ’s approach. Because they are surrounded by water and have banned all inward travel other than repatriations, they are going for elimination. UK is surrounded by water but we let in 15,000 people a week through airports with no testing or isolation.
There is a good answer to this. Stopping travel matters enormously when case numbers are low (as in NZ for example), but rapidly becomes irrelevant when they are high.It is easy to see why.
If we let in 15,000 people a week untested, as you say, and even if 10% of them were infected, that is adding 200 new infections a day. But there are about 20,000 new infections a day from community transmission even under lockdown (allowing for undertesting). So banning travel would have no effect at this point, and testing travellers makes no more sense than testing the general public (unless we have a reason to think they are more likely to be infected).
If we can get cases way down, *then* restricting travel becomes important. So for NZ, Australia, etc, it is critical. For us it is either too late or too early too make any difference.
Martin, I thank you for this excellent and well argued comment. When the WHO made the same point, that shutting down all international travel was pointless at that time, I understood why just as you’ve described it. I still hear people complaining about this all the time. All it proves is how poor is the general level of reasoning.
This is quite a good comment on NZ’s strategy. Not so dissimilar in part, to the UK.
The Covid 19
uk lock down was pointless
Data here https://www.cebm.net/
There is now robust and damning evidence from the data the peak of infections happened around the 9th of March
peak fatalities were 8th April
lock down acheived absolutely nothing.
This makes sense when the post Christmas return of Asian workers and students back into the UK is taken into account
What will happen now to the modelling and forecasts?
Truly a Shameful Shambles
Sweden deaths have continued to decline and the average age of death is still 81.6. What is this guy talking about?
1 What are the connexions between any advanced knowledge of facts by policy advisers as https://www.theguardian.com…
2 Any epistemic relations between that sort of “quasi military crisis culture”, the non open style of the “scientific” advisory panel, the use of non peer reviewed work and the absence of “evidence based” policies ( see a contrario Johan Giesecke).
Sent From France, where the situation is probaly worst, as constitution has been suspended and law and order “special powers” are just wreaking havoc to the public and private response to plain and real problemes to be solved.
We need a french version or a transcription/translation as “ferguson and al.” is the scientifick backbone of all that mess which nobody knows how to stop.
You can’t really argue with anything Ferguson says here. Unlike the Swedish Professor who is clearly wrong on a number of points. Also Mr. Sayers struggled a bit with his understanding of the whole issue, especially around the IFR rates and demographics. He also didn’t seem to understand the point about the excess mortality and the spare capacity. Mr Sayers seems to think that the lockdown causes the excess mortality instead of reducing it . Poor from him.
Well there does seem to be some evidence that the countries that have applied the most severe lockdowns have had the highest death rates.
True, though that might be due to what’s called “confounding by severity”. There’s a well known correlation between the number of fire engines attending a blaze and the cost to the insurance companies. No one in this example thinks the fire engines caused the high insurance claim. Rather, a larger fire is the common factor.
Still no evidence that the lockdowns yield any further benefit beyond the social distancing measures already in place in the UK prior to the lockdown, and as persisted with in Sweden
Lockdown has created some of the excess mortality. Oncologists estimates of lives that will be lost due to missed or delayed diagnosis, treatments & follow up already total approx 60,000 probably avoidable non-Covid19 deaths. Analogously, cardiologists in A&E believe that their 50% or more “missing patients” also imply thousands of probably avoidable deaths from failure to diagnose & urgently intervene in heart attacks, strokes & aneurysms. It would not be a big surprise if the number of non-Covid19 deaths arising from lockdown approaches the number of Covid19 related deaths (noting that a proportion of those latter deaths were dying with rather than from the virus).
At this time we cannot state with high confidence what has been the net effect on all-causes mortality.
Yes, It’s a pity Freddie did not ask why the model did not seek to estimate how many people with severe health conditions would stay away from the NHS to ‘protect the NHS’ or for fear of getting Covid-19. Yet, the model included estimates / allowed for how many people with severe health conditions would not be treated if the NHS was overwhelmed. Thus, it clearly shows that the figures of total deaths were unnecessarily pessimistic because the counterbalance of lives ‘saved’ through not discouraging those with severe health conditions from seeking or being denied treatment as is happening now and was entirely predictable would happen.
Which points were you referring to that the Swedish professor was “clearly wrong” on? He clearly hadn’t been keeping a close eye on the UK death rates, but since one of his points was that they weren’t comparable between countries, or even relevant until you’ve got further on in the course of the disease, that is fair enough – and nor does it necessarily indicate that he hadn’t been paying attention to death rates in Sweden. If he is looking at Swedish death rates then that would be the most likely reason why he assumed ours would be lower than they are.
Saying Sweden is still seeing day-on-day increases in deaths is potentially misleading as the overall trend has been down for a while now:
I am also troubled by the implication of taking into account the demographics of cities and supermarkets in models. It suggests Professor Ferguson thinks you can model down to the level of detail of individual cities, towns and supermarkets. If not that, then at least generalise them – which leads to uncertainties of its own, possibly so great as to render the predictions too error prone upon which to base public health policy in a pandemic?
It’s interesting that Ferguson said Sweden is about as bad as New York for it’s Covid-19 death rate, but didn’t point out that their death rate per capita is lower than some countries which have had lockdowns such as UK, Italy and Spain.
Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell says almost 50% of the deaths take place in elderly care. I’m not sure whether these models can accommodate each of these somewhat random, substantial flare ups – ditto in Italy and elsewhere with the care homes, the church in Deagu and more recently the migrant worker hostels in Singapore, which had been doing well. Tegnell interview on BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/…
Professor Ferguson does not seem to have any coherent defence to putting all our eggs in the lockdown basket and relying on R. It seems to me that science should be evidence based. All I see is a mathmatical model produced by Prof Ferguson with very simplistic assumptions and the same person saying it will all be as per the model. Nothing at all else.No attempt to look at fact and relate ot to “the model”. This is more valuable to me in applying my common sense than the scientific papers by people with an alternative view. In Prof Ferguson’s mind there is no scientific uncertainty-not a good thing
We should draw lessons from history or we risk a repetition. The Spanish Flue pandemic of 1917/18 is worth a study.
Jury still out
His he a medical doctor?
No, he is – believe it or not – a theoretic physicist by training. That was his PhD. He is now called a “mathematical biologist”. As a professional biologist, I object to that title. He is however a mathematician. Personally I’d prefer infectious disease specialists who are medical doctors with practical experience of managing epi- and pandemics & deep knowledge of immunology & human history. That describes the Swedish advisory team, who is trusted both by their politicians & most of the population.
That explains everything. Lack of common sense. Diseases are not numbers; they need to be addressed in a multifactorial environment. He probably aren’t aware that no treatment is available for viral diseases (other Hepatitis C), we so far were able to eradicate Smallpox and in track to eradicate polio and even with extensive immunisation programs when people don’t take the vaccine diseases that we think are controlled like measles reappear with sometimes deadly outcomes.
The perspective that people view this interview appears to come from a few basic premise. Firstly, the innate dislike we all have for lockdown and how this directly translates to a critique of it as a strategy. Secondly, the significant adverse impact on our immediate employment and other economic activity. The ‘fault’ or cause of the economics also informs our outlook on Prof Ferguson’s interview. Finally, perhaps most contentiously, the way we each, as individuals separate our individual health and well being with that of public health and well being. It seems this in turn seems to inform our own perceived probability of being infected by Coronavirus and our perceived and actual social, economic and mental costs of the lockdown.
I would add that irrespective of individual citizens’ desire to stay in lockdown or return to work, the effectiveness of removing any obligatory lockdown will ultimately be determined by aggregate choices. Hotels need people to return to visiting others, shops need people to desire to go out and shop as before, etc. If significant amounts of people refuse to do so, then employment and returning to work is not simply a choice for employees nor indeed businesses. It will be the case that furlough schemes will cease, grants stop and new low cost loans at least be modified. In many senses the worst case for many, they will no longer have jobs to go to, businesses can’t maintain without support and insufficient people are willing to return to old spending patterns.
Many will potentially spend less as they simply change what they think is important, some will think some activities unsafe, others will attempt to repay rents unpaid, utility bills left to accrue and still further, others will decide to save for that ‘rainy day’ they never want to experience again.
Science is not exact, it is about making assumptions based on best information available, it can be wrong, it can both under and over state potential outcomes if you think it is some crystal ball. Many, many factors have to be taken into account and each bears a different level of uncertainty in their use within models. It is right that politicians make the political choices based on the best advice available. That is the best any scientist can offer, neither an off the shelf solution nor a religion. Just Science.
This was an interesting interview but I felt the key point – the disease IFR was poorly covered:
1) Ferguson referenced a rate of 0.6 that he had used as an estimate but looking at the key report I believe 0.9 was used:
Am I getting this wrong? Was 0.6 a subsequent revision?
2) There have been numerous serological surveys that have been released over the past month. Most are small samples and there are questions around methodology but they all suggested lower rates than this.
The only study one that was discussed was the recent New York study (which implies a highish rate). I don’t believe the methodology for this study has been released (did I miss it?) and it is at odds with the other studies (including the large Miami study released last week which implied a very low IFR).
Lastly, according to this site https://www.gov.uk/guidance…, the government has done c. 6k serological tests. They must have a reasonable understanding of the IFR in the UK.
Why has this not been released? I’d imagine a low IFR would be a source of political embarrassment given the actions taken.
I entirely agree that it is amazing the antibody testing results in the UK have not been published. I’m not sure it will show a very high level of people who have had the virus – my guess would be under 5%. But I may well be wrong and hope I am.
He keeps revising his IFR lower with every new model, eventually he might even get closer to the real answer, where IFR=0.1
The ONS weekly deaths: https://www.ons.gov.uk/sear… show quite clearly that the risk to healthy young people (<35) is insignificant – no matter what individual stories have been touted around by the popular media.
The risk to those under 50 is noticable but small (0.001% for one week, ending 10 April).
100k extra dead if young people get back to work just doesn’t tie with the data.
It’s not even young or old – covid only kills people with severe pre-existing conditions (of which old people have the most)
Prof. Ferguson is refusing to acknowledge that the lockdown itself causes deaths – watch him dodge the question!
It’s amazing to see how many readers disagree with Neil Ferguson. He is one of the world’s most respected epidemiologists. I do not have the scientific background to understand this area well. For that reason, I bow to expertise. I note that the United States and the United Kingdom did not take social distancing measures as soon as other developed countries. Then we got walloped. We took more aggressive measures. Then things improved.
Granted the fact that he has had to resign from being a government adviser because he violated the very lockdown rules he helped create recently (to allow his mistress to visit him – https://www.bbc.com/news/am… probably will only add to people’s suspicions about it. Certainly that plus the fact that as Sayers said on his twitter feed ”
told me “I think we’re going to see their daily deaths increase day by day” so a clear prediction. If levels continue to go down rather than up, rationale for a total lockdown looks shakier” ( https://twitter.com/freddie…. Whilst Sweden’s information on deaths and cases from covid-19 are often delayed by several days, it seems that in truth daily deaths have been decreasing in Sweden from a high of 110-115 in early to mid April and could be about two-thirds or even half as high as it was on what seems to have been peak.
I’ve also seen a paper (https://ideas.repec.org/p/h… which uses the daily death charts as a proxy for infections (since deaths are less likely to be missed than mild or asymptomatic infections) for a number of countries that used lockdowns and those that didn’t and it seems to suggest in all cases lockdowns were actually implemented after the actual peak in actual infections (and that places that had no lockdowns, like Sweden and South Korea – both of which employed very, very different non-lockdown strategies by the way – also saw peaks in actual infections).
Reading some other comments on other articles about Neil Ferguson’s predictions for swine flu in 2009 (that 4 million would die globally including 65,000 in the UK – but in truth it was between 18,000 and 280,000 globally), avian flu in 2005 (predicting that 200 million would die) and foot and mouth disease (where 6 million animals were slaughtered, apparently needlessly) it seems he has a history of some very poor modelling.
Sorry to hear that you can’t understand simple math.
Neil Ferguson is an idiot, as he has proven repeatedly through his idiotic actions and terrible results.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Neil Ferguson is financed by Bill Gates directly and indirectly through the GAVI vaccination alliance. Gates also gave Chris Whitty (the Chief Medical Officer) several million dollars for a project in Africa. So Gates has a major influence on the UK government response to Covid-19 and must have influenced the abandonment of herd immunity for the lockdown catastrope. Countries that instituted lockdowns have fared far worse than those that did not. Lockdown has cost Â£billions and millions of people have lost their livelihoods.
Another of Bill Gates’ interests is ID20, the introduction of mandatory biometric ID, the long-term effects of which cannot be anything other than disastrous for the vast majority of people.
For an in-depth analysis of the implications of Gates’ influence I would recommend Vanessa Beeley’s discussion on the ‘hidden hands behind the British Government’.
Mr. Sayers addressed the ultimate issue when he questioned how countries which now have expanded hospital and medical capacity should evaluate restrictions going forward. To put it simply, if we know that new infection is unavoidable, then what are we waiting for, now that we are prepared to deal with new cases? I did not think that Ferguson addressed that directly; it seems that he kept going back to the advisability of keeping transmission rates as low as possible so that hospitals can deal with not only new CD cases, but can resume full care for all other kinds of medical problems. That’s an extremely valid point–it’s irrefutable in my opinion that we can’t relax restrictions to the point that the medical system is again overwhelmed. But the obvious follow-up question was not asked and it seems to be the most important question of all: Given the current, expanded state of medical preparedness, WILL a second wave of any size actually overwhelm our capacity to respond? Isn’t that a basic premise we must all establish when considering where to go from here?
Isn’t it fantastic that after all we’re subjected to, Prof. Ferguson decided to violate lockdown’s guidelines?
In spite of it, more people than I would have expected like the current state of affairs and even thrive!
This seems to bring people together – that is how I explain the unexpected compliance – as if after the segregation following Brexit people are longing for unity.
I happened to drive home from shopping today in the middle of Thursday clapping and it felt eerie. People were happy and radiant, confirming one another as if they were part of something big and worthwhile. A common sacrifice for the greater good. Saving lives.
Upon returning home I was half chided by my neighbour because I missed the clapping.
Worthwhile reading: “Six questions that Neil Ferguson should be asked” in the Spectator.
Imperial College published wildly pessimistic (and influential) estimates not only for the UK and USA, but for most other countries of the world. This seems to have been based on no more of a sophisticated calculation than a guesstimate of 70% infected plus differing fatality rates applied to each age-group of the population of the country concerned – a classic “back of the envelope” calculation. For the UK something like 68 million * 70 percent * on average 1 percent = around half a million. Is this all “mathematical biology is?
Their “mitigated” and “suppressed” scenarios also seem just to lop of a percentage of infected with the same fatality rates applied (suggesting availability of hospital beds has no impact), with no indication of time periods involved. There is no sophisticated modelling of how epidemics actually evolve, including how case fatality rates evolve over time, with final estimates almost always being lower than initial estimates, as the most susceptible are infected and die first.
In my own country we have entered our 6th week of lock down with dire consequences for the poorest of the poor who are literally starving, companies are going bankrupt and jobs are disappearing. We have had only 153 deaths so far – my own back-of-envelope calculations suggest we can expect 26 000 not the 200 000+ suggested by Imperial College.
i was immensely reassured by Professor Ferguson having all those certainties at his fingertips
This guy should be in politics. He is master of the art of saying nothing.
Hasn’t even got the guts to apologise for his screw up that has caused untold damage around the world.
Now he has temerity to suggest we should take notice of his plan for coming out of lock down.
Freddie, you are a champion. David Frost would have been proud to know you.
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