Professor Neil Ferguson resigns from SAGE, successfully evading public scrutiny

Today Professor Neil Ferguson resigned from the government's SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) group as a result of being caught out flaunting the Regulations he helped to introduce in order to see his married lover more than once from across London:

His claim has been that they had an 'open-relationship' and hence were part of the same household across two different addresses.

Despite claims of immunity, his actions are contrary to the government line that even those who have had Covid-19 should continue to distance themselves socially.

Currently he is the Director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London and few will know who he is, but Prof Ferguson is the man who advised the Government to institute the UK Lockdown based on predictions from mathematical computer models. His team presented a report that suggested 500,000 could die of coronavirus unless lockdown was implemented which was later found to be incorrect.

The biggest failing of this model is that it did not take into account the effects of the Lockdown itself on death toll. It is clear there is an excess of deaths in care homes that are largely unexplained that, although are being attributed to Covid-19 by mainstream media, may more than likely be due to the Lockdown measures taken.

Ferguson's non-peer reviewed report (below) is credited as inspiring the subsequent restrictions, however many experts have cast doubt on his work and a rival academic has spoken publicly about Prof Ferguson's patchy record of modelling epidemics. Professor Michael Thrusfield of Edinburgh University said that Prof Ferguson was instrumental in the modelling that led to the unnecessary cull of more than 6 million animals during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001, which left rural Britain and it's farmers economically devastated.

Prof Ferguson and his Imperial colleagues had at that time concluded that: "Extensive culling is sadly the only option for controlling the current British epidemic." But Prof Thrusfield, himself an expert in animal diseases, challenged that the model made incorrect assumptions about how foot and mouth disease was transmitted in a 2006 review. He said Imperial's foot and mouth model was "not fit for purpose", going on to say in 2011 that it was "severely flawed"'. Prof Thrusfield told The Daily Telegraph that the episode was "a cautionary tale" about the limits of mathematical modelling and he felt a sense of "déjà vu" about the current situation.

Prof Ferguson later revised his predictions, reporting that 250,000 would die in the UK with lockdown mitigation which continues to be incorrect. He has now downgraded his predictions to 100,000 if we end lockdown and stop social distancing altogether, a projection that needs to be treated with a high degree of suspicion.

The models themselves continue to be a simplified version of reality that struggles to reflect the genuine complications of different situations in which people get infected or infect others. Capturing the specific characteristics of a society, and of sub-sections of that society, such as church-goers or football fans for example, requires best guesses at all of the complex factors involved.

Well respected journal Nature had the following to say about forecasts made during outbreaks:

“…Forecasts made during an outbreak are rarely investigated during or after the event for their accuracy, and only recently have forecasters begun to make results, code, models and data available for retrospective analysis…”

At a time where livelihoods, the economy and the right to medical care for the most vulnerable in nursing homes and hospices is at stake, who is going to hold people like Neil Ferguson to account for the recommendations made and the subsequent aftermath? There are worrying conflicts of interest between Prof Ferguson and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through Imperial College University that everybody should consider when asking what may be driving the actions of both Neil Ferguson and this Government at large.