Professor Neil Ferguson’s argument for lockdown was ‘too good to be true’, says Swedish academic


Professor Neil Ferguson’s argument for lockdown was ‘too good to be true’, says Swedish academic who accuses Imperial College London of ‘going beyond the data’ to support draconian measures

  • Neil Ferguson co-wrote paper in June claiming restrictions cut the virus’s R-rate 
  • The first coronavirus wave subsided in Sweden without draconian measures
  • Kristian Soltecz, of Sweden’s Lund University, analysed the Imperial paper  
  • His team accused Imperial College of ‘mistaking assumptions for conclusions’ 

Influential research arguing that lockdowns are uniquely effective in stemming coronavirus was based on a spurious analysis of the data, it has been claimed.

Ex-Government adviser Neil Ferguson and colleagues at Imperial College London have been accused of jumping to the conclusion that the measure was effective, then making assumptions to support their belief.

The epidemiologist, dubbed ‘Professor Lockdown’, co-wrote a paper in June that calculated tough restrictions on leaving the house were almost single-handedly responsible for cutting the virus’s R-rate of reproduction across Europe last spring. 

Ex-Government adviser Neil Ferguson and colleagues at Imperial College London have been accused of jumping to the conclusion that the measure was effective, then making assumptions to support their belief

However, in Sweden, the first wave subsided without such draconian measures, a success that his team instead ascribed to a ban on public events.

Yet in the other countries, Imperial calculated that such bans cut the R-rate by just two per cent, compared to 81 per cent for lockdowns.

Kristian Soltecz, of Sweden’s Lund University, analysed the Imperial paper for the journal Nature and said it had offered ‘an entirely different’ explanation for how the virus was curbed in Sweden, crediting a measure that appeared almost ineffective in the other countries.

‘It seemed almost too good to be true that an effective lockdown was introduced in every country except one, while another measure appeared to be unusually effective in this country,’ he said, with his team accusing Imperial of going ‘beyond the data’ and ‘mistaking assumptions for conclusions’.

Last night, Imperial stood by its assessment that lockdown was the only move that had ‘a major effect’.

London is pictured above on Boxing Day. Influential research arguing that lockdowns are uniquely effective in stemming coronavirus was based on a spurious analysis of the data, it has been claimed

London is pictured above on Boxing Day. Influential research arguing that lockdowns are uniquely effective in stemming coronavirus was based on a spurious analysis of the data, it has been claimed

People are seen gathering to celebrate on New Year's Eve in Stockholm. In Sweden, the first wave subsided without such draconian measures, a success that his team instead ascribed to a ban on public events

People are seen gathering to celebrate on New Year’s Eve in Stockholm. In Sweden, the first wave subsided without such draconian measures, a success that his team instead ascribed to a ban on public events

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