Barometer

Has Neil Ferguson been proved right about Covid?

20 March 2021

9:00 AM

20 March 2021

9:00 AM

Calculated risk

It is a year since Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College team published the paper that inspired the government to call the first lockdown. How good were its scenarios?

— It modelled four Covid-suppression measures: isolating cases for seven days, their household contacts for 14 days, social distancing to reduce household contacts by 75 per cent and the closure of schools and hospitals. It assumed these measures would be repeated for 12-18 months before a vaccine became available.

— The model was run with different values for the basic reproduction number, which it estimated to lie within the range 2 to 2.6. If the government introduced none of these measures it estimated there would be between 410,000 and 550,000 deaths.

— If all four were enacted, it estimated between 5,600 and 48,000 deaths, depending on the R number and the level of ICU admissions at which the government enacted the repeated lockdowns.

— In the event, the government has recorded 125,516 deaths (defined as any death occurring within 28 days of a positive test), rising to 143,259 if including all death certificates mentioning ‘Covid’.

Killer stats

How do women’s chances of falling victim to homicide compare with those of men?


— In 2019/20, 506 men and 188 women were victims.

— Over the past ten years, the number of male victims has grown and female victims has fallen. The proportion of those who are male has also risen from 67% to 73%.

— The age groups most at risk were males under the age of one (who died at a rate of 39 per million) and males aged 16-24 (38 per million).

— By contrast, the group least likely to fall victim to homicide were females aged five to 15, with a rate of 0 per million.

— Among 25- to 34-year-olds there were nearly three times as many male victims (25 per million) as female (9 per million).

Pressing charges

How many fines have been issued for breaching Covid regulations?

— Up until 14 February, police in England and Wales had given out 68,952 fines, 26,277 of which were issued in the four weeks between 17 January and 14 February.

272 £10,000 fines were handed to people organising gatherings of more than 30 people.

485 £800 fines were given to people participating in gatherings of more than 15.

2,344 fines were handed out for failure to wear a face covering.

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