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Scientist behind 'gold standard' model that predicted 500K deaths in UK (and 2 million in US) admits he was off, now says there will be 20K or fewer in the UK
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Scientist behind 'gold standard' model that predicted 500K deaths in UK (and 2 million in US) admits he was off, now says there will be 20K or fewer in the UK

Neil Ferguson's Imperial College model led the U.K. and the U.S. to enact aggressive shutdown measures

Dr. Neil Ferguson, the extremely influential epidemiologist behind the coronavirus model that led the United States and the United Kingdom to enact shutdown measures to combat the pandemic, has now drastically revised his estimates.

Ferguson, who leads a team of researchers at the Imperial College in London, informed members of the U.K. Parliament Wednesday that deaths in the country as a result of COVID-19 are unlikely to exceed 20,000, and in fact could be much lower, the New Scientist reported.

"There will be some areas that are extremely stressed, but we are reasonably confident — which is all we can be at the current time — that at the national level we will be within capacity," Ferguson said.

That is a far cry from the Imperial College report last week that estimated 510,000 Britains could die from the virus if shutdown measures weren't taken, and swiftly. In the same report, it was estimated that as many as 2.2 million Americans would die.

Ferguson said the revision came after new data from around Europe suggested the virus' infection rate is higher than initially thought, and as a result, the research team has updated the virus' reproduction number.

The report was the key factor that triggered the U.K. and U.S. governments to suddenly shift from a comparatively relaxed position on the virus to draconian community mitigation measures. The New York Times reported that Ferguson has shared his projections with the White House task force and sent a copy of the report days prior.

The Times also reported that "with ties to the World Health Organization and a team of 50 scientists, led by a prominent epidemiologist, Neil Ferguson, Imperial is treated as a sort of gold standard, its mathematical models feeding directly into government policies."

'This is a remarkable turn'

In a Twitter thread Thursday morning, author and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson wrote, "this is a remarkable turn from Neil Ferguson, who led the [Imperial College] authors who warned of 500,000 UK deaths."

"He now says both that the U.K. should have enough ICU beds and that the coronavirus will probably kill under 20,000 people in the U.K. — more than 1/2 of whom would have died by the end of the year in any case [because] they were so old and sick," Berenson continued.

"Essentially, what has happened is that estimates of the viruses transmissibility have increased - which implies that many more people have already gotten it than we realize - which in turn implies it is less dangerous," he said, before adding: "Not surprisingly, this testimony has received no attention in the US - I found it only in UK papers. Team Apocalypse is not interested."

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