The Scientist Whose Doomsday Pandemic Model Predicted Armageddon Just Walked Back The Apocalyptic Predictions

The Scientist Whose Doomsday Pandemic Model Predicted Armageddon Just Walked Back The Apocalyptic Predictions

British scientist Neil Ferguson ignited the world’s drastic response to the novel Wuhan coronavirus when he published the bombshell report predicting 2.2 million Americans and more than half a million Brits would be killed. After both the U.S. and U.K. governments effectively shut down their citizens and economies, Ferguson is walking back his doomsday scenarios.

Ferguson’s report from Imperial College, which White House and other officials took seriously, said that if the U.S. and U.K. did not shut down for 18 months, and isolation measures were not taken, “we would expect a peak in mortality (daily deaths) to occur after approximately 3 months.” His “models” showed overflowing hospitals and ICU beds.

“For an uncontrolled epidemic, we predict critical care bed capacity would be exceeded as early as the second week in April, with an eventual peak in ICU or critical care bed demand that is over 30 times greater than the maximum supply in both countries,” the report reads.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, reportedly said the administration was particularly focused on the Imperial College report’s conclusion that entire households should stay in isolation for 14 days if any member suffered from COVID-19 symptoms.

But after tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, and businesses closed, Ferguson is now retracting his modeling, saying he feels “reasonably confident” our health care system can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in a few weeks. Testifying before the U.K.’s parliamentary select committee on science and technology on Wednesday, Ferguson said he now predicts U.K. deaths from the disease will not exceed 20,000, and could be much lower.

Ferguson, who has since tested positive for the Wuhan virus himself, has not issued any official retraction or apologies for his incorrect predictions. The New Scientist reports Ferguson did acknowledge it was impractical to keep the country in an isolated lockdown for 12 to 18 months, especially because of the impact on the economy. “We’ll be paying for this year for decades to come,” he said.

The Imperial College report was also the basis for the modeling used by the website COVID Act Now, which local and state officials in the U.S. then used to issue “shelter-in-place” mandates. COVID Act Now, which was founded by a handful of Democratic activists in Silicon Valley, is an online mapping tool that generates models predicting coronavirus hospitalizations, which have also already proved to be wildly inaccurate.

Madeline Osburn is a staff editor at the Federalist and the producer of The Federalist Radio Hour. Follow her on Twitter.
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