By Peter Andrews, Irish science journalist and writer based in London. He has a background in the life sciences, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in genetics
We were supposed to be “following the science,” but now the scientists are falling over themselves to admit they didn’t get it right. How on earth did we end up in this ridiculous situation, and can we ever trust “experts” again?
While it seems that the initial coronavirus attack has largely blown over, at least in Europe, learning lessons will be crucial to better deal with the next pandemic. But learning lessons is hard when the “experts” seem more bamboozled than ever.
The first such expert is, surprise surprise, British epidemiologist and academic Neil Ferguson, who has been put in the rather uncomfortable position of having to justify his actions. Hauled up in front of the British House of Lords on Tuesday, Ferguson was forced to admit, in response to a question about the apparent success of the Swedish model, that Sweden had “got a long way to the same effect” without imposing lockdown. This is an overt admission that he now thinks that the UK lockdown was (and is) pointless. As opposed to the covert one that involved multiple illicit visits from his mistress.
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More weirdly, Ferguson said that Sweden had achieved this by adopting “quite similar science” that his Imperial College London team did. This seems to be a reference to the fact that a study from Uppsala University took the Imperial apocalypse-model, but predicted only a fraction of the number of deaths that he had.
But when pressed on this point, Ferguson denied that the Swedes had followed the same science, saying “First of all, they did not use our model. They developed a model of their own.” This is despite the fact that the Uppsala study quite clearly states, “We employed an individual agent-based model based on work by Ferguson
Well, now we know what website to go to for opinion editorials ... and tabloid fodder.