Was Dr. Ferguson too optimistic?

Dr. Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London epidemiologist, drew plenty of attention by first predicting that the UK would experience up to 500,000 deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus and by then forecasting that the number would be 20,000 or less. Ferguson explained that the revision was based on the fact that the UK had decided to implement tough social distancing measures. How these measures were going to save 480,000 lives wasn’t clear to me.

In any event, it now looks like Ferguson’s revised estimate might be too optimistic. UK deaths from the virus reached 15,464 yesterday (April 17). Yesterday alone, there were 888 new reported deaths. That’s about the average number for the past week or so.

The UK figures to reach Dr. Ferguson’s projected number of 20,000 by around this time next week.

Moreover, new reported cases of this virus in the UK don’t seem to have peaked. Yesterday, there were about 5,600 of them. That’s the third highest number yet. In the previous few days, new reported cases were in the 4,300-5,300 range.

Like the IHME model in the U.S., Dr. Ferguson’s Imperial College model might well be too optimistic in its projection of total deaths.

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