Imperial College London’s Neil Ferguson – who originally estimated 500,000 deaths in the UK due to Coronavirus, now says that the virus will peak in just two or three weeks, and that UK deaths from the disease are now unlikely to exceed 20,000, according to NewScientist.
The need for intensive care beds will get very close to capacity in some areas, but won’t be breached at a national level, said Ferguson. The projections are based on computer simulations of the virus spreading, which take into account the properties of the virus, the reduced transmission between people asked to stay at home and the capacity of hospitals, particularly intensive care units. -NewScientist
Why the change of heart from Ferguson – who himself has contracted COVID-19?
Ferguson – whose ‘Terrifying’ research from just 10 days ago predicted 2.2 million deaths in the US and that the UK would need to be under quarantine for 18 months or more – now says that coronavirus will not overwhelm the UK’s ICU beds, and that over 1/2 of those it will kill would have died by the end of the year anyway because they were so old and sick.
His reasoning is that estimates of the virus’s transmissibility are much higher than previously thought – and that many more people have gotten it than we realize, making it less dangerous overall.
I guess he must have some sort of model that he plugs numbers into. How are epidemics modelled?
And I wonder if he’s right?
I guess any virus will have inherent high/low transmissibility, but won’t there be other factors as well? In cities, I’d expect transmissibility to rise because there are more interactions between people in cities. Same with crowded trains, buses, theatres, stadiums. And if people all stay home, transmissibility should fall to near zero. Perhaps that’s why he’s changing his tune about the UK, where we now in something like a lockdown.
I had an odd thought yesterday. What caused the rise of ancient Greece? Much of Greece consists of islands. Might the population of an archipelago of islands be more resistant (low transmissibility) to epidemics sweeping mainlands? The islands are natural quarantine camps. During epidemics, the Greeks may have stopped all travel between islands, with the result that the epidemics never got to them. So Greek islanders weren’t decimated by epidemic diseases, and their numbers rose, and they spread to areas where populations had been decimated by disease – hence the rise of Greek civilisation.
Same reasoning might apply to fortified cities. The walls weren’t just to keep armies out, but also epidemics for a few weeks/months.
And in fact the same reasoning would apply to towns with separate, private, walled houses. Privacy is a health measure. An epidemic in a town where all spaces are public spaces would infect almost everyone.
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