OPINION — The Drudge Report was trumpeting disaster this morning, linking to a news story on Yahoo! claiming that COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. “could exceed 80,000.”
While Drudge is still killing Americans with headlines about dire predictions, the scientist who predicted COVID-19 will kill 2.2 million in the U.S., Neil Ferguson of Imperial College UK, has downgraded his forecast. Last week, the NY Times heralded his research and predictions - The COVID-19 was going to kill us all, he said.
Last week, Ferguson alerted the world that COVID-19 would kill 500,000 Britons. This morning he said the disease will result in fewer than 20,000 deaths there.
“The man who panicked the world is now running from his doomsday projections.” tweeted Jordan Schachtel. He’s a correspondent in international affairs and foreign policy.
At the White House briefing from the CV team, Dr. Deborah Birx mentioned the revised numbers from Imperial College UK's dire numbers and Ferguson’s testimony in front of the MPs.
Birx said the administration is looking into how Ferguson made the adjustment. She said in the Imperial model there needed to be a large number of people infected who were asymptomatic.
"In no country to date have we seen an attack rate (of COVID-19) over 1 in a thousand (0.1 percent). So either, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg with the number of symptomatic cases, and underneath it are a large group of (asymptomatic) people [or not],” she said.
Deploying an antibody test will help unveil the number of asymptomatic people, she said. That test is being developed.
Former NY Times reporter Alex Berenson published a “must read” thread on Twitter. About Ferguson’s revelations given in testimony in front of the UK Parliament on Thursday, he tweeted, "It is a face-saving way to walk back a massive change in the prediction.”
“Maybe, you know, if you’re coughing a lot, wear a ten-cent surgical mask, don’t lick the subway pole, don’t go to a wedding with your 500 closest friends. Because you may have noticed that the Japanese wore masks and didn’t shut their economy AND EVERYTHING HAS BEEN FINE,” Berenson continued.
The New Scientist magazine reported on Ferguson’s walk-back of the Imperial College predictions in their piece, “UK has enough intensive care units for coronavirus, expert predicts.”
From the piece:
“He said that expected increases in National Health Service capacity and ongoing restrictions to people’s movements make him “reasonably confident” the health service can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in two or three weeks. UK deaths from the disease are now unlikely to exceed 20,000, he said, and could be much lower,” the article stated.
The UK went on shelter in place March 23, and a day ago, PM Boris Johnson announced a police-enforced lockdown, ordered citizens not to leave their homes, and closed non-essential businesses. Was a couple days of shelter in place enough to reduce the dire predictions from 500,000 to under 20,000 deaths? You can decide that.
There is more.
In the midst of all of this, James Freeman at the Wall Street Journal asks, “Should We Wait Until Easter?” In his editorial, he quotes a Times of London story revealing more about Ferguson’s testimony.
“Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London scientist whose research precipitated tougher government measures last week, told MPs: “It [the deaths of those who would have died anyway] might be as much as half or two thirds of the deaths we see, because these are people at the end of their lives or who have underlying conditions.”
“Are we turning our economies upside-down largely to prevent patients from contracting coronavirus along with whatever is already killing them?” Freeman asked.
In summary, the guy whose study predicted widespread COVID-19 deaths downgraded the number of deaths in the UK by a factor of 25, from 500,000 to 20,000 and admitted that half to two-thirds of those 20,000 deaths were going to happen anyway due to other ailments.
Dr. Ferguson responded on Twitter in a 5-tweet string. He claimed nothing had changed.
“I think it would be helpful if I cleared up some confusion that has emerged in recent days. Some have interpreted my evidence to a UK parliamentary committee as indicating we have substantially revised our assessments of the potential mortality impact of COVID-19.
“This is not the case. Indeed, if anything, our latest estimates suggest that the virus is slightly more transmissible than we previously thought. Our lethality estimates remain unchanged,” he stated. More here.
Ferguson seemed to say in his rebuttal that 500,000 deaths was possible if no countermeasures were taken, but now three days into the UK’s nationwide lockdown, 480,000 people will be saved. You decide if that sounds reasonable.
While Ferguson et. al. are figuring this out, the feds announced that 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment since the CV restrictions went into effect.
As you wash your hands from this day forward, understand that a year from now, we may realize that there was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.