Imperial college

Covid and the lockdown effect: a look at the evidence

What forces Covid into reverse? To many, the obvious answer is lockdown. Cases were surging right up until the start of the three lockdowns, we’re told. It’s often said that all else failed. The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that lockdown, far more than vaccines, explains the fall in hospitalisations, deaths and infections. But how sure are we that only lockdown caused these falls — in the first, second and third wave? Or were other interventions, plus people’s spontaneous reactions to rising cases, enough to get R below one? In a peer-reviewed paper now published in Biometrics, I find that, in all three cases, Covid-19 levels were probably falling before

Why Imperial College’s REACT study is so problematic

There was very gloomy news this week. ‘Coronavirus infections are not falling in England, latest REACT findings show,’ said a press release from Imperial College. It was widely covered in the press in this vein: Covid levels ‘may even have risen’ since the latest lockdown, BBC news reported. This reignited fears that further tighter lockdown measures might be needed to contain it. It was all a result of Imperial College’s latest REACT study of Covid-19 infections, a massive study of 143,000 people and one of the biggest Covid surveys around. So its findings – and talk of rising cases – were taken very seriously. And understandably so.  The study’s author,

How deadly is Covid-19?

What percentage of people who are infected with Covid-19 will go on to die of the disease? The dramatic response to the pandemic on the part of almost all governments around the world has been based on the idea that Covid-19 is a far more lethal disease than seasonal flu, which is often quoted as having an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.1 per cent. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is often quoted as claiming that Covid-19 has an IFR of 3.2 per cent — a claim that goes back to a press conference in early March when it, in fact, said that the case fatality rate (CFR) at that