Professor Neil Ferguson struck an unusually optimistic tone this week. With just one Covid death reported on Monday, and infection levels at an eight-month low in the UK, the architect of the original lockdown said: ‘The data is very encouraging and very much in line with what we expected.’ The first half of that statement is certainly true; the second half much less so.
THE Government has been accused of over-relying on pandemic modelling and risking “catastrophe by computer”. Last week Boris Johnson published a cautious ‘roadmap‘ to normality after scientists warned him there could be 91,000 extra deaths if he scrapped curbs completely at the end of April.
These figures were based on Imperial College modelling that has since been challenged by Mark Harper, deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group of MPs. He argued the model did not account for key factors shown to change the course of the pandemic such as the most up to date evidence on the protective effect of the vaccines as well as the “seasonal effect” as the country moves into summer. Modelling has driven much of the pandemic response. The initial reaction in the UK, the US and other European countries was shaped by the dramatic headlines in March last year, suggesting 550,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million in the US if mitigation measures were not put in place.
- German researchers enrolled nearly 2,500 parents and their children in a study
- Found three times as many adults had coronavirus antibodies than children
- Data also shows a previously infected adult and an uninfected child was 4.3 times more common than a previously infected child and an uninfected parent
Children are unlikely to have played a significant role in the spread of coronavirus during the first wave last year, a study shows.
Throughout the pandemic it has become increasingly evident children are less affected by Covid-19; symptoms, severe disease and death figures in children are all much lower than would be expected when compared to the rest of the population.
Figures from Public Health England (PHE) show the current risk of dying from coronavirus if infected is 1,513 per 100,000 people for over-80s, but for children aged five to nine, this is just 0.1 per 100,000.
To those people who, still now, object to lockdowns on civil liberties principles, this will be a chilling reminder of the centrality of the authoritarian Chinese model in influencing global policy in this historic year.
- The ‘new strain’ of coronavirus that put London into Tier 4 was down to more computer modelling from Neil Ferguson.
- The government deliberately resorted to fear.
- The damage done to our standing in the world is permanent.
- The government is doing something it should not do and has no justification.
- The whole notion of the mutant strain is completely constructed.
- NERVTAG is full of psychologists who are experts in frightening people.
- If you don’t get angry, this will never go away.
- There is no evidence that this new variant is any more infection that the old one.
- Historically medical beliefs are often wrong.
- Fighting this thing is probably the most important thing we’ve ever done in our lives.
We have consistently (and I’d say flagrantly) over-estimated the threat of Covid-19, starting with the absurd prediction of 500,000 deaths by Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson. Data experts who later reviewed the computer code used in the professor’s model described it as “a mess which would get you fired in private industry”…
The trashing of the economy, the worst recession in our history, avoidable deaths at home with people too frightened to go to hospital for fear of catching the virus, chaos in education, the explosion in domestic violence, steep rises in anxiety, depression, and heavy drinking?
No. Lockdown will come to be seen as one of the most catastrophic misjudgments a British government has ever made.
Interview notes and charts
- The difference between what the government was telling us and what their information was telling us was so extreme and outrageous.
- Exponential means a “constant rate of growth.” The government data in March was clearly showing that the COVID-19 was declining, not growing exponentially. This was the same in all countries you could see the data. [See chart 1]
- A constantly declining growth rate will make a bell curve. The government were standing in front of bell curve graphs during their briefings yet they were telling us we were in the middle of the epidemic.
- It was very clear that we were heading to a peak sometime around early to mid-April.
- You don’t have to be complicated mathematics to see that COVID-19 was running out of steam almost from day one.
- The conclusion from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine seems to be that it’s impossible to predict if there will be a second wave.
- Sweden’s epidemic looks identical to the UK’s but they did not lockdown. Their datapoint indicates there won’t be a second wave. There has been no spike in Denmark either. [See chart 2]
- Unknowns: has summer affected COVID-19 and will there be a mutation?
- Will illnesses during the autumn and winter be mis-attributed to COVID-19? Poor media coverage means that we can’t be sure.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to the flu. Something could look like a second wave but will we really know?
- The lockdown is costing a Brexit bill a week.
- The government response seems to have been skewed by Neil Ferguson’s modelling data. The make-up of government advisors seems to be a recipe for groupthink, which is very dangerous.
- Epidemiology (the way a disease spreads through the population) is not complicated science. The government could have had lots of people who were very good at this but they didn’t.
- We should have cocooned the vulnerable, make sure the NHS has capacity and “let it rip” through the population.
- We should never have had an open-ended lockdown.
- The ‘R number’ is just the difference of in the number of people infected after each generation of a disease. Britain crossed the ‘magical R of 1’ line a few days before lockdown and the same day as Sweden. Whatever interventions have been done doesn’t seem to have had any effect. [See chart 3]
- COVID-19 is mostly a care home and hospital disease. This was obvious very early on. Old people should not have been moved from hospitals into care homes. It seems as if we knowingly seeded the most vulnerable environment with the disease.
- 37% of our deaths are care home residents but they are only 0.5% of our population. Of them are dementia sufferers.
- Over 20% of the infections were picked up in the hospitals. COVID-19 seems more like MRSA than influenza in that it’s an infection control problem.
- COVID-19 is much more comparable to flu for the rest of the population.
- 1968 flu killed 80,000 people in the UK.
- This last winter was a low flu winter. It’s quite possible that the people who died of COVID-19 are those who didn’t die.
- If you overlay COVID-19 deaths with the 2000 flu season, they look very similar. [See chart 4]
- 95% of deaths have had another serious disease. Most people have almost no chance of dying from COVID-19.
- If you are under 40, you have more chance of being struck by lightning that dying of COVID-19.
- If you are under 60, you have more chance of drowning.
- At any age, you have more chance of dying on the roads than dying of COVID-19.
- Lead indicators of 111 and 999 calls with COVID-19 symptoms show there was no spike after VE Day celebrations or BLM protests. In fact, it was even coming down at lockdown. That lockdown was big change for COVID-19 is invisible in the data. [See chart 5]
Chart 1: COVID-19 was declining in Europe as of march. It was not growing exponentially
Chart 2: Sweden’s epidemic looks similar to the UK’s but they did not lock down.
Chart 3: Britain crossed the ‘magical R of 1’ line a few days before lockdown
Chart 4: COVID-19 deaths overlayed with the 2000 flu season
Chart 5: No spike after BLM protests
Flaxman et al. (Nature, 8 June 2020, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2405-7, 2020) infer that non-pharmaceutical interventions conducted by several European countries considerably reduced effective reproduction numbers and saved millions of lives. We show that their method is ill-conceived and that the alleged effects are artefacts. Moreover, we demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s lockdown was both superfluous and ineffective.
Neil Ferguson, who became known as “professor lockdown” after convincing Boris Johnson to radically curtail everyday freedoms, acknowledged that, despite relying on “quite similar science”, the Swedish authorities had “got a long way to the same effect” without a full lockdown.
Imperial College’s modelling of non-pharmaceutical interventions for Covid-19 which helped persuade the UK and other countries to bring in draconian lockdowns will supersede the failed Venus space probe and could go down in history as the most devastating software mistake of all time, in terms of economic costs and lives lost.
Interview notes below the embedded video.
Dr. Wodarg is reassuring for anyone concerned about ‘the virus’. That danger is no greater than in any other flu season (now also based on tens of international leading scientists analyzing actual figures from all over the world). Wodarg’s message is disturbing when you wonder how the whole world can be fooled by such a clearly fact-free ‘panic’ allowing itself to be led to the curtailment of the most fundamental freedoms. A world that thinks it has to prepare itself for a ‘new normal’. In which incredibly dangerous and extremely undesirable ’solutions’ such as ‘mass vaccination’, ‘contact tracing’, and other ‘surveillance’ are seen as attractive.
- Coronaviruses are very common so no-one was interested in them until recently as they’re well studies. COVID-19 ‘is not very special’.
- China ‘solved’ its epidemic by stopping tests.
- Why Italy had a high death rate.
- The effect of hydroxychloroquine on people with certain genetic deficiencies.
- Conflicts of interests and financial incentives for testing.
- We never get herd immunity from coronaviruses.
- We don’t need herd immunity for coronaviruses. They will ‘hitchhike’ for a period of time and then switch hosts species.
- It’s very difficult to quarantine people for respiratory viruses; the COVID-19 had already spread so the lockdown was nonsense.
- The historical data does not show COVID-19 being a severe disease.
- EuroMOMO data is not transparent. Dr. Wodarg has become very skeptical about the EuroMOMO statistics.
- If we are observing the virus, there should be no difference between the countries’ charts. (Mathematician Andrew Mather has made similar observations in his videos.)
- There are so many factors that affect mortality rates but there is no serious discussion.
- Perhaps people are being killed by experimental treatment. WHO show 1,200 trials worldwide for clinical trials. There may be irregularities.
- Possible attempt to use deaths Africa to spread more fear.
- Observational studies as a way to bribe doctors and market drugs.
- The side-effects of drugs used in Italy and Spain.
- Watch what will happen in Africa.
- The reaction to COVID-19 is politics and has nothing to do with medicine.
- Raising the possibility of immunity passports.
- German health minister is a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.
- Data from contact tracing apps is ‘gold’ for the pharmaceutical industry.
- The influence of Bill & Melinda Gates foundation and the WHO in the negotiation in vaccine contracts. Only Polish Minister for Health resisted.
- Don’t accept the RNA vaccine, which is a new method and has been developed in a very short time. There is no experience with RNA vaccine for infectious diseases.
- ‘Bill Gates is crazy.’ How can someone promote the vaccination of the planet with a vaccine developed in 1 1/2 years. It has not even been controlled for cancer. You need at least 5 years to see if a cancer grows. If you change RNA, you don’t know.
- RNA vaccines require very thorough clinical studies over a long period of time. There are many complications to consider.
- Politicians always strive for power. We as a people have to show them how they get power and how they lose it.
…when a codebase is used to craft scholarly publications that are in turn used to influence public policy, the authors of those publications (and ultimately policy) need to ensure that the science is verifiable in a public sense. The lack of tests makes that an impossibility. So closure of this Issue, by retraction of studies based on it, is meant as a critique of the publication and policy authors, not the contributors to this repo
…for thirteen years, taxpayer funding from the MRC went to Ferguson and his team, and all it produced was code that violated one of the most fundamental precepts of good software development – intelligibility.
This Ferguson Model is such a joke it is either an outright fraud, or it is the most inept piece of programming I may have ever seen in my life. There is no valid test to warrant any funding of Imperial College for providing ANY forecast based upon this model. This is the most UNPROFESSIONAL operation perhaps in computer science. The entire team should be disbanded and an independent team put in place to review the world of Neil Ferguson and he should NOT be allowed to oversee any review of this model.
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College “stepped back” from the Sage group advising ministers when his lockdown-busting romantic trysts were exposed. Perhaps he should have been dropped for a more consequential misstep. Details of the model his team built to predict the epidemic are emerging and they are not pretty. In the respective words of four experienced modellers, the code is “deeply riddled” with bugs, “a fairly arbitrary Heath Robinson machine”, has “huge blocks of code – bad practice” and is “quite possibly the worst production code I have ever seen”.
- Just 11 people under the age of 20 have succumbed to Covid-19.
- Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College has a dismal record as a forecaster.
- There’s the possibility that the lockdown has actually made the virus more deadly.
- Bank of England warned that if the lockdown is extended until June the economy could shrink by 14 per cent this year.
- More than one-in-five adults now furloughed on 80per cent of their wages.
- A fifth of the working-age population could be jobless and the quality of people’s mental and physical health would plummet.
- Every day, about 1,700 people die in Britain. Only five years ago, in the winter of 2014/15, more than 28,000 people died from seasonal flu, not far off the current coronavirus death toll of just over 30,000.
- Direct evidence to support the two-metre rule is weak, and based almost entirely on modelling rather than real life.
All papers based on this code should be retracted immediately. Imperial’s modelling efforts should be reset with a new team that isn’t under Professor Ferguson, and which has a commitment to replicable results with published code from day one.
On a personal level, I’d go further and suggest that all academic epidemiology be defunded. This sort of work is best done by the insurance sector. Insurers employ modellers and data scientists, but also employ managers whose job is to decide whether a model is accurate enough for real world usage and professional software engineers to ensure model software is properly tested, understandable and so on. Academic efforts don’t have these people, and the results speak for themselves.
Indeed, Ferguson’s Imperial College model has been proven wildly inaccurate. To cite just one example, it saw Sweden paying a huge price for no lockdown, with 40,000 COVID deaths by May 1, and 100,000 by June. Sweden now has 2,854 deaths and peaked two weeks ago. As Fraser Nelson, editor of Britain’s Spectator, notes: “Imperial College’s model is wrong by an order of magnitude.”
With a purely statistical perspective, [Prof Michael Levitt] has been playing close attention to the Covid-19 pandemic since January, when most of us were not even aware of it. He first spoke out in early February, when through analysing the numbers of cases and deaths in Hubei province he predicted with remarkable accuracy that the epidemic in that province would top out at around 3,250 deaths.
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- Professor Neil Ferguson was not doing science.
- Lockdowns are worse than useless.
- It was known to everyone that the lockdown would cause a catastrophe.
- Isolating nursing homes would have prevented the load of hospitals.
- The lockdown approach taken by most governments was a human catastrophe that should never have happened.
- All we have done is slowed the spread of herd immunity and increased the risk to the elderly.
- We have wasted a lot of time, money and lives.
- The spread of respiratory diseases are predictable and relatively short.
- Bill Gate’s comments about the need to lockdown until a vaccine is ready is absurd and has nothing to do with reality.
- We don’t need a vaccine for COVID-19.
- “I don’t know where the government finds these so-called experts who very obviously don’t understand the very basics of epidemiology.”
- Tragic stories from some doctors are not representative of the general experience. We don’t stop living our lives because something goes wrong in a particular place.
- The Swedish approach shows that the draconian measures taken in other countries were unnecessary.
- We may see a ‘Second Wave’ rebound but it may be low.
- There is no reason to believe that COVID-19 will be fundamentally different from other coronaviruses.
- Having a novel virus is not novel.
- We have no science about the effect of social distancing.
- The COVID-19 disaster is a failure of the people to take control of the government.
- There is no reason to wait before opening up schools and businesses.