COVID-19: Day 261: Do you remember Day 75? 16th March 2020

Previously I said:  

I am having difficulty grasping ‘the big picture’ about what is going on with the pandemic.

And I am still struggling. I will re-visit this week’s data in a future article, but I here I just wanted to remind you – and myself – of what has been previously predicted about this pandemic – back in March 2020 – a week before lockdown.

Remember March 2020?

One of the news stories then was the change in Government policy as a result of a briefing by Neil Ferguson’s group at Imperial College which predicted that:

  • if no action was taken the corona virus would cause around half a million deaths in the UK over the course of a few months.

The Government deemed this unacceptable and as a result of actions taken:

  • Based on recent antibody tests, only around 6% of the UK population have been exposed to the virus.
  • Deaths have been restricted to less than a tenth of the ‘no action’ alternative.

Despite many failures for which the government deserves to be criticised, the saving of around 450,000 lives is a real achievement.

I remember reading Ferguson’s report dated 16th March 2020 which The Guardian published in full as a special supplement.

  • The report is available here

As I read the report I was shocked by the prediction that even if we ‘locked down’ and prevented our health services being overwhelmed, the virus would still be present and would simply rise again.

The report predicted that – in the absence of a vaccine – we would need to have repeated periods of opening and closing of the economy which would be determined by the extent to which the critical care infrastructure was being overwhelmed.

Click for Larger Version

Figure 4 from that report is reproduced above.

Given all the uncertainties involved – I think our current situation is pretty well described by this graph.

Why do I mention this?

I can’t think of any reason why predictions of viral transmission though  a population should depend on one’s political view point.

But the right-wing press (paid link, paid link) frequently seek to portray the predictions of Neil Ferguson’s group at Imperial College as flawed – without ever being specific.

They state that the group predicted half a million deaths and that this did not happen. This is true.

What the right-wing press do not state is that the reason we have not had half a million deaths is that the government acted on Neil Ferguson’s predictions of what would happen if they didn’t do anything

In fact – given the uncertainties involved in the prediction from way back in March – uncertainties of policy and in knowledge of the viral properties – I would say that this foretelling of our future – now our present – looks to have been spectacularly prescient.

I mention this because – as I see it now – a “Winter of Discontent” is looming.  And in these difficult times we need to be careful about who’s views we trust.

Personally I think the people who predicted our current situation with such prescience, deserve more credit than they are currently being given.

One Response to “COVID-19: Day 261: Do you remember Day 75? 16th March 2020”

  1. Nick Day Says:

    It would be really interesting to see projections beyond November 2021 — it appears that the peak in December is significantly lower than previous months.

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