By JOHN FUND
Neil Ferguson is the British academic who created the infamous Imperial College model that warned Boris Johnson that, without an immediate lockdown, the coronavirus would cause 500,000 deaths and swamp the National Health Service.
Johnson’s government promptly abandoned its Sweden-like “social distancing” approach, and Ferguson’s model also influenced the U.S. to make lockdown moves with its shocking prediction of over two million Americans dead.
With all of his influence, it’s not surprising British media are making a great deal about Ferguson being forced to resign from the government’s virus advisory board yesterday after revelations he had violated lockdown rules he had championed in order to conduct an affair with a married woman. Ferguson admits he made an “error of judgement and took the wrong course of action.”
Ferguson’s hypocritical violation of his beloved lockdown was the least of his errors in judgment. His incompetence and insistence on doomsday models is far worse.
Indeed, Ferguson has been wrong so often that some of his fellow modelers call him “The Master of Disaster.”
Ferguson was behind the disputed research that sparked the mass culling of eleven million sheep and cattle during the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Charlotte Reid, a farmer’s neighbor, recalls: “I remember that appalling time. Sheep were left starving in fields near us. Then came the open air slaughter. The poor animals were panic stricken. It was one of the worst things I’ve witnessed. And all based on a model — if’s but’s and maybe’s.”
In 2009, a government estimate, based on Ferguson’s advice, said a “reasonable worst-case scenario” was that the swine flu would lead to 65,000 British deaths. In the end, swine flu killed 457 people in the U.K.
Last March, Ferguson admitted that his Imperial College model of the COVID-19 disease was based on undocumented, 13-year-old computer code that was intended to be used for a feared influenza pandemic, rather than a coronavirus. Ferguson declined to release his original code so other scientists could check his results. He only released a heavily revised set of code last week, after a six-week delay.
So the real scandal is: Why did anyone ever listen to this guy?