A long-awaited report on the implications of a smoother lock is pushed back “a few weeks” after scientists at Imperial College London complained to the newspaper that their work was “politicized.”
The team’s models are considered the gold standard by the government, and its decisions during the epidemic have been heavily influenced by London epidemiologists.
But the group has become embroiled in a series of public controversies in recent weeks, leaving prominent politicians to question their competence.
The Imperial team was put in the spotlight when the foremost scientist, Professor Neil Ferguson, bypassed the lockdown rules – which he had imposed with great effort – to make secret deals with his married mistress.
The team’s models are considered the gold standard by the government, and its decisions during the epidemic have been heavily influenced by London epidemiologists. It was put in the spotlight when Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured) ignored the lockdown rules
Subsequently, the group of scientists was accused of using an outdated mathematical model in a March report, which predicted that half a million people would die in the UK if a nationwide quarantine were not immediately imposed.
A senior member of the team said the latest report was presented to the government, but the public was withheld from fear of backlash.
They told it Financial times the new report would go unpublished for a few more weeks after it was reviewed by other scientists and published in a journal.
Their March report was released as a “ pre-print, ” meaning it was made public before it was reviewed by other experts.
They said, “Investigating lockdown exit strategies remains a top priority for the team, and we are currently supporting multiple governments in planning for this.”
“Given the increasingly politicized nature of the Covid-19 science debate, we have decided to prioritize the submission of this research for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and will make it public at the time.”
A senior member of the team said the latest report was presented to the government, but the public was denied fearing backlash (file image)
Eminent statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter said in response to the news that “major analyzes should be made public as soon as possible.”
But he admitted that there is a fine line between public transparency in government decision-making and ensuring that scientists are not subjected to personal attacks.
It comes after scientists wave a criticism at Prof. dr. Fergusons have expressed modeling, which has warned 500,000 people that they could die from the coronavirus and prompted Britain to shut down.
Modeling of Imperial College London epidemiologist Professor Ferguson, who said goodbye to the government’s Sage group in early May, has been described by other experts as “utterly unreliable.”
The coding that yielded the sobering death figures was impossible to read and therefore cast doubt on its strength, The Telegraph reported. It’s also about 13 years old, he said.
Modeling behind Professor Neil Ferguson’s claim that 500,000 Britons could die from Covid-19 has been criticized by scientists
When other scientists have tried to replicate the findings with the same model, they have repeatedly failed to do so.
Prof. Ferguson’s model alone would have dramatically changed the way the government handled the outbreak as they went from herd immunity to closure.
The research of competing scientists – whose models yielded vastly different results – has been largely rejected, they claim.
David Richards, co-founder of British data technology company WANdisco, said the model was a ‘buggy mess that looks more like a bowl of angel hair paste than a finely tuned piece of programming.’
He said, “In our commercial reality, we would fire everyone for developing this kind of code, and any company that relied on producing software for sale would probably go bankrupt.”
It has been a week today that Boris Johnson addressed the nation and changed the English coronavirus message from Stay Home to Stay Alert, with 34,636 deaths recorded by the government.
The relaxation of the measures comes almost two months after Britain was incarcerated, with the government making the decision, at least in part, on the advice of Imperial College London and the model of Prof. Ferguson detailing the possible damage Coronavirus did to the country is outlined.
WHAT SAID THE WORK OF PROFESSOR FERGUSON?
The scientific paper published by Professor Ferguson and his colleagues from Imperial College’s COVID-19 response team was credited with persuading Boris Johnson’s government to step up their response to the coronavirus.
The newspaper, released on March 17, and titled Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand, predicted that the government’s original plan to “mitigate” the outbreak rather than attempt to stop it could have led to a quarter of a million people.
Using data from Italy and China, the scientists predicted how different government measures would have different consequences for the outbreaks.
If nothing had been done about the coronavirus at all, it would have claimed 510,000 lives, the team’s report said. If the government had stuck to their strategy to “mitigate” the spread – allowing it to continue but try to slow it down – with limited measures such as home insulation for people with symptoms, the number would be cut in half to around 260,000.
If the strictest possible measures are put in place, the number of deaths over two years will drop below 20,000, the scientists said.
Other points in the Imperial College report entitled Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand, including:
- If the virus reappears after this epidemic is over, closure measures can be taken
- The coronavirus outbreak is worse than what the world has seen since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918
- Dramatic measures to quell an outbreak involve ‘enormous social and economic costs that themselves can have significant health and well-being consequences’
- Virus transmission is smooth – one third of cases are caught at home, one third at work or school and one third elsewhere in the community
- People are believed to be contagious from 12 hours before symptoms begin, or from four days after contracting the infection if someone does not experience symptoms
- Patients who do develop symptoms are believed to be 50 percent more contagious than those who don’t
- People are thought to develop at least short-term immunity after contracting the virus, meaning they cannot contract it again
- About 4.4 percent of patients require hospital care. 30 percent of them require intensive care, and 50 percent of intensive care patients are expected to die, according to data from China
- The average hospital stay for a coronavirus patient is 10 days – eight days for those who recover quickly; 16 days for those who need intensive care
On March 17, just days before the country was shut down, Imperial College London published a study calling for a shutdown to stop the spread of the virus.
Researchers at the university warned that 510,000 people could die from the virus if nothing is done.
If the government had stuck to their strategy of “ mitigating ” the spread – allowing it to continue, but attempting to slow it down with limited measures such as home isolation for people with symptoms – that number would have roughly halved to 260,000, the report said. .
It showed that mitigation would not be enough to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed by looking at bed capacity.
If the strictest measures are introduced – including school closings and mandatory home quarantine – the number of deaths over two years will drop below 20,000, the scientists said.
As a result, the government announced that people should stop traveling, socialize, and work from home.
But critics today have described the encoding used by Imperial as “totally unreliable.”
John Carmack, an American developer who helped refine the code before the paper was published online, said some parts of the code looked like they had been machine translated from Fortran, an old coding language.
After mounting pressure, the Imperial team released their code, which simulates homes, offices, schools, and people movements, and skeptics quickly pointed out that it was 13 years old.
In addition, when analyzing the validity of the staggering estimates of death, scientists have argued that it is nearly impossible to reproduce the same results from the same data with the same code as Imperial, The Telegraph reported.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh reportedly discovered bugs when running the model and got different results when using different machines, or in some cases even the same machines.
The team reported a “bug” in the system that was addressed, but specialists in the field continue to question how inadequate it is.
Four experienced modellers previously commented that the code is “deeply bug-riddled,” has “huge blocks of code – bad practice,” and “perhaps the worst production code I’ve ever seen.”
Weeks after the model’s grim prediction, University of Edinburgh professor Michael Thursfield criticized Professor Ferguson’s record as “patchy.”
He referred to Professor Ferguson’s predictions in the early 2000s that up to 136,000 people could die from mad cow disease.
The Imperial College team’s modeling resulted in the slaughter of 6 million head of livestock and was later criticized by epidemiological experts as severely flawed and a tragedy for the British rural economy.
The team also predicted that 200 million people could die from bird flu and another 65,000 from swine flu. The final death toll was in each of the hundreds of cases.
Dr. Konstantin Boudnik, VP of architecture at WANdisco, told The Telegraph: “The facts of the early 2000s are yet another confirmation that their modeling approach was flawed to the core.”
Professor Ferguson defended Imperial’s foot-and-mouth disease and said they modeled “in real time” with “limited data.” He added, “I think the general conclusions reached were still valid.”
Imperial College London published a paper in mid-March on the potential impact of coronavirus. It has weighed the options on how a lockdown could reduce demand for hospitals
The actual death toll from COVID-19 is much higher than what Imperial had predicted under the total lockdown scenario (20,000 over two years).
The total death toll of the government is currently 34,466. Using data that collects death certificates, the lake is close to 39,000.
Imperial College’s COVID-19 Response Team came to their predictions with a number of mathematical calculations.
They looked at the most vulnerable people who were considered ‘at greatest risk of death’, usually the elderly or those with serious underlying health problems.
England’s top statisticians estimate that 0.27 percent of the population has been infected with COVID-19 on any given day in the past two weeks – equivalent to about 148,000 people and certainly between 94,000 and 222,000
The model simulated transport connections, population size, care facilities and social networks to predict how the pandemic would spread.
Professor Ferguson and other researchers from Imperial College predicted that these measures would reduce demand for the health care system while protecting those at greatest risk:
At the time of the paper publication, Professor Ferguson said: “No country in the world has experienced an epidemic so great [250,000 deaths], this is an early extrapolation from an early epidemic suppressed in China.
“But we have no reason to believe that this wouldn’t happen if we honestly did nothing, and even if we did everything we could to slow down the spread, not reverse it, we would still go to a very large number of deaths and the health system is overwhelmed.
Professor Ferguson quit his role on Sage, the board of scientists advising the government through a coronavirus pandemic, early in the month after it was announced that he had suspended the rules that he helped inspire. Antonia Staats (pictured) visited Professor Ferguson in his London flat while the British were told to stay at home
“Initially when we came up with this estimation kid, they were seen as what is called the reasonable worst case.
“But as information has been gathered in recent weeks, particularly from Italy but also from other countries, it has become increasingly clear that this is not actually the most reasonable worst case – it is the most likely scenario.”
He added, “It is likely that such measures – especially large-scale social distancing – will have to last for many months, perhaps until a vaccine becomes available.”
While there was much praise for the study for causing a much needed lockdown, Professor Ferguson’s research was criticized at the time.
Professor John Ashton, a former regional director of public health for North West England, accused No. 10 of relying on a “small clique” of researchers and not consulting a wider pool of academics.
“These boys are considered demigods,” he said in April.
“We are talking about science here, but this research is taking on a kind of religious status, such as stone tablets of the mountain.”