UK doctor walks back doomsday coronavirus predictions

by WorldTribune Staff, March 27, 2020

A British epidemiologist of the Imperial College, whose dire predictions on the coronavirus outbreak caused much anxiety, has revised his prediction with a much more optimistic view.

Neil Ferguson had suggested that over 500,000 people could die in the UK, and over two million could die in the U.S. He said the UK and U.S. would have to shut down for 18 months to avoid catastrophe.

In testimony before the UK’s Parliamentary select committee on science and technology earlier this week, Ferguson walked back his doomsday predictions, saying he now expects the death toll in Great Britain to be under 20,000 and that the country should be able to flatten the curve on infections within two or three weeks.

Former New York Times reporter Alex Borenson called Ferguson’s revised predictions a “remarkable turn,” and noted that Ferguson himself has tested positive for the virus.

“The UK only began its lockdown 2 days ago, and the theory is that lockdowns take 2 weeks or more to work,” Borenson said. “Not surprisingly, this testimony has received no attention in the U.S. – I found it only in UK papers. Team Apocalypse is not interested.”

The Imperial College study with its dire predictions is believed to have played a significant role in the coronavirus strategy of both the U.S. and the UK. “Both nations have largely shut down their economy, and the results have already been devastating for millions of people,” The Daily Caller noted.

A member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force said on Thursday that there are some encouraging coronavirus numbers which suggest that some of the predictive models were incorrect.

“There’s no model right now, no reality on the ground, where we can see that 60-70 percent of Americans are going to get infected in the next 10-12 weeks,” Dr. Deborah Birx said.

Birx said that the actual data coming in from other countries were different than some of the most dire projections.

She noted that in major countries, there was never an infection rate of over one in over 1,000 people.

“The predictions of the models don’t match the reality on the ground on either China, South Korea, or Italy,” she said.

Birx also addressed reports that raised the alarm of New York City hospitals running out of ICU beds, ventilators, and creating “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) policies for patients.

She revealed that she spoke with health officials in New York, that there were still ICU beds and 1,000-2,000 ventilators available, and that there were no DNR policies enacted.

“We don’t have evidence of that right now,” she said.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in a video posted on social media on Friday that he has tested positive for coronavirus. Johnson said he said he would continue to lead the UK government’s efforts from self-isolation in an apartment in Downing Street. Minutes later, his secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock, also said he had the virus and would work from home.

The UK’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said he was going into self-isolation after displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

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