A Swedish professor who was the State Epidemiologist for Sweden between 1995 to 2005, then served as the first Chief Scientist of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), blasted Professor Neil Ferguson, the British epidemiologist from the Imperial College London, who wrote a paper that convinced many countries, including the United States, Germany, France, and those in the United Kingdom, to impose lockdowns to deal with the coronavirus, saying Ferguson was “normally quite arrogant,” according to Unherd.
Professor Johan Giesecke was interviewed by the Swedish broadsheet Svenska Dagbladet. Referring to Ferguson’s interview on UnHerd, he stated, “I know [Ferguson] a little and he is normally quite arrogant, but I have never seen him as tense and nervous as during that interview.” Giesecke added, “Ferguson modified quite a few of the straightforward statements [from his report], but still seems to think that the lethality is somewhere at just under one percent, while I think it is actually much lower, perhaps as low as 0.1%.”
Giesecke had given an interview to Unherd in mid-April in which he was asked about the Imperial College report, which had suggested 510,000 people would die in the U.K. without a lockdown and 250,000 if mitigating steps were taken. He answered:
I think it’s not very good, and the thing that they miss a little is that any models for infectious diseases —they’re very popular, many people do them — they’re good for teaching, they seldom tell you the truth because — I make a small parenthesis — which model could have assumed that the outbreak would start in northern Italy, in Europe, Difficult to model that one. And any such model — it looks complicated, there are strange mathematical formulae, and integral signs and stuff, but it rests on the assumptions. And the assumptions in that article will be heavily criticized for — I won’t go through that, it would take the rest of your day if I went through them all. The paper was never published scientifically; it’s not peer-reviewed, which a scientific paper should be; it’s just an internal departmental report from Imperial. And it’s fascinating; I don’t think any other scientific endeavor has made such an impression on the world as that rather debatable paper.
Asked whether European countries instituting a lockdown to deal with the coronavirus was a misguided policy and whether it was doing more harm than good, he answered that he was worried about politicians assuming dictatorial powers: “Yes. I think so, on the whole. What I’m saying is that people who will die a few months later are dying now and that’s taking months from their lives so that’s maybe not nice. But comparing that to the effects of the lockdown… what am I most afraid of? It’s the dictatorial trends in eastern Europe; Orban is now dictator of Hungary forever; there’s no finishing that. I think the same is popping up in other countries; it may pop up in other more established countries as well. I think the ramifications can be huge from this.”
Giesecke said Sweden had not been “on our toes” to protect the elderly, acknowledging, “There are many things we could have done better a couple of months ago.”
He was asked, “What was it about this pandemic that was so different that has led to this global shutdown?” He answered, “New disease, lot of people dying, you don’t know really what will happen, and this fear of contagion is almost genetic in people. And showing political strength, decisiveness, force. Very important for politicians.”
As far as Ferguson’s projection that Sweden will see an increase in deaths from the coronavirus, Giesecke has countered, “No, on the contrary, I think the number will go down — although it may tick up slightly when we get an outbreak in West Götaland or Skåne [provinces of Sweden that have so far been less badly affected].”
In Great Britain, the initial government policy on March 12 was to pursue a “herd immunity” strategy against the coronavirus, but on March 16, Ferguson gave a 20-page paper to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that predicted 510,000 people would die by that strategy. One week later, the British government changed course, instituting a suppression strategy.
Business Insider noted, “In 2009, one of Ferguson’s models predicted 65,000 people could die from the Swine Flu outbreak in the UK — the final figure was below 500.” Business Insider also noted, “Michael Thrusfield, a professor of veterinary epidemiology at Edinburgh University, told the paper he had ‘déjà vu’ after reading the Imperial paper, saying Ferguson was responsible for excessive animal culling during the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak. Ferguson warned the government that 150,000 people could die. Six million animals were slaughtered as a precaution, costing the country billions in farming revenue. In the end, 200 people died.”
Some people ripped Ferguson for reportedly overestimating the potential death toll in the 2005 Bird Flu outbreak. Ferguson allegedly estimated 200 million could die, but the actual total was reportedly less than 1,000.
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