“The publication of a long-awaited report from Imperial College London that models the impact of coming out of lockdown has been delayed for several weeks, following criticism of the team’s methods, as the debate around the UK’s coronavirus restrictions has become increasingly politicised,” reports the Financial Times:
The report has yet to be released, although its findings have been shared with government, according to two people associated with the Imperial team. The delay comes as the rightwing press and some Conservative politicians question the need for such stringent lockdown measures in the UK. A number of Tory figures, including former minister David Davis and Eurosceptic MP Steve Baker, have cast doubt on the Imperial team. They accuse the scientists of using an outdated computer code in an influential March report that predicted the UK could suffer 500,000 deaths during the pandemic if the government failed to take action. The Telegraph newspaper suggested last week that Imperial’s modelling could be “the most devastating software mistake of all time…”
A senior member of the team told the Financial Times, “Given the increasingly politicised nature of debate around the science of Covid-19, we have decided to prioritise submitting this research for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and will release it publicly at that time….”
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, Britain’s senior scientific body, added that the public had a false impression that the Imperial model dominated government decision-making in mid-March, when ministers decided to impose a lockdown. “Theirs was not the only model considered,” he said, “and we didn’t need a model to know what would happen when this highly infectious virus arrived. Italy’s healthcare system had already reached its limits and they were begging us to act.”
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