by UnHerd
Saturday, 25
April 2020

Imperial’s Neil Ferguson defends lockdown strategy

Freddie Sayers speaks to the British epidemiologist on today's episode of Lockdown TV
by UnHerd

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.

Join the discussion

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Neil Ferguson there… speaking, appropriately enough, from the corner of the room he has painted himself into…

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