The COVID-19 Response Team led by Professor Neil Ferguson, has been a major influence on UK Government COVID-19 policies.
Imperial College model predictions have influenced UK government COVID-19 policies without sufficient challenge and peer review. This is surprising given past forecasting failures and the enormous costs of the policies in premature death, health and well-being and money.
In 2005, Ferguson said that up to 200 million people could be killed from bird flu.
In the end, only 282 people died worldwide from the disease between 2003 and 2009.
In 2009, Ferguson and his Imperial team predicted that swine flu most likely had a case fatality rate of 0.4 per cent. A government estimate, based on Ferguson’s advice, said a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ was that the disease would lead to 65,000 UK deaths.
In the end swine flu killed 457 people in the UK
In 2001 the Imperial team produced modelling on foot and mouth disease that influenced government policy and led to the total culling of more than six million cattle, sheep and pigs – with a cost to the UK economy estimated at £10 billion.
In 2002, Ferguson predicted that between 50 and 50,000 people would likely die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease) in beef. He also predicted that number could rise to 150,000 if there was a sheep epidemic as well.
In the UK, there have only been 177 deaths from BSE.
On 22 March, Ferguson said that Imperial College London’s model of the Covid-19 disease is based on undocumented, 13-year-old computer code. How many assumptions in the Imperial model are still based on influenza and is there any risk that the modelling is flawed because of these assumptions?