Why Warwick’s Covid modelling doesn’t add up

This week began with more frightening graphs from SPI-M, the government’s scientific modelling committee. A team at Warwick University calculated that, had the 21 June reopening gone ahead, hospitalisations could have peaked at over 3,000 a day in August. By contrast, the first peak in April 2020 saw 3,149 admissions in one day and the second peak in January reached 4,160 on a single day. Yet, like the infamous ‘4,000 deaths a day’ graph presented at the Downing Street press conference last October to justify a second lockdown, it took only a couple of days for questions to be asked about the assumptions behind the scenario. Pessimistic assumptions about the

Did Covid cases plateau in March?

Should we be concerned about the latest React study, which claims that the fall-off in new infections began to plateau from the middle of March? The latest instalment of the monthly study, led by Imperial College, tested a randomised sample of 140,000 volunteers between 11 and 30 March, each of whom was given a PCR test. While the results showed that incidence of infections had fallen by 60 per cent compared with tests conducted between 4 and 23 February, the researchers say that their data shows a flattening-off from mid March. That is interesting because data from the Public health England test and trace system shows a similar pattern: steep

Why we should be wary of React’s R-number estimate

It seems that Boris Johnson will not begin to think about lifting lockdown restrictions until we have clear evidence that the latest wave of the virus has almost been defeated. So it was not exactly good news yesterday from Imperial College’s React Covid survey, which suggested that even though we are in lockdown, the R number is still almost at 1 in Britain – meaning the epidemic is barely shrinking. As part of React’s ‘viral opinion poll’ swabs were taken from over 160,000 people in England between 6 and 22 January. And while the researchers rowed back on a claim in their previous report that active infections could be rising

Neil Ferguson steps back from Sage after breaking lockdown rules

One of the government’s leading scientific advisers, professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, has stepped down from his government position after breaking lockdown rules. According to the Telegraph, the academic was visited on at least two occasions by a married woman, who lives in a separate household. Ferguson told the Telegraph that: I accept I made an error of judgment and took the wrong course of action. I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in Sage… I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.I deeply regret any undermining of the clear