Professor Lockdown stands by doomsday forecast that sent Britain into lockdown

One of Britain's top Covid-19 experts has stood by his prediction that half a million people could have died without a lockdown.

Professor Neil Ferguson, a former adviser to the Government before he resigned after breaking lockdown rules to meet his married lover, said his early model was actually an 'underestimate'.

Work he produced alongside colleagues at Imperial College London suggested that if no action was taken to slow down coronavirus, at least 510,000 people could have died.

The report chilled Britain to its core and is credited for pressing Boris Johnson into ordering the nation to stay at home in March, earning Ferguson the name 'Professor Lockdown' — which he admitted today he doesn't like.

Now, as the UK's death toll stands at about 10 per cent of what it could have been – between 40,000 and 50,000 – Professor Ferguson has stood by the work. He said that if anything the model was an 'underestimate' and it didn't take into account people who might have died as a result of hospitals being overwhelmed.

He was not a fan of the idea of lockdown off the bat, he admitted to BBC Radio 4's The Life Scientific podcast, and had to be talked round to accepting that it was necessary. 

And the Professor also expressed regret about his own lockdown break that led to his resignation but said that the press had singled him out over the incident.

Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, was part of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) until he resigned after breaking lockdown rules to meet with his girlfriend

Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, was part of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) until he resigned after breaking lockdown rules to meet with his girlfriend

A report published by the Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team, led by Professor Ferguson, predicted on March 16 that 510,000 people could die in the UK if no measures were taken to slow down the coronavirus. Britain might end up with a higher per-person death rate than the US, the report warned

A report published by the Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team, led by Professor Ferguson, predicted on March 16 that 510,000 people could die in the UK if no measures were taken to slow down the coronavirus. Britain might end up with a higher per-person death rate than the US, the report warned

The doomsday report published on March 16 by Imperial's Covid-19 Response Team predicted that death rates could soar if coronavirus wasn't controlled in the UK.

It said: 'In the (unlikely) absence of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behaviour, we would expect a peak in mortality (daily deaths) to occur after approximately three months...

'The higher peak in mortality in Great Britain is due to the smaller size of the country and its older population compared with the US. 

'In total, in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2million in the US, not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality.'

The report was published just one week before Britain's total lockdown started, and Professor Ferguson's work was credited with pressuring politicians.

Defending the team's notorious original predictions, Professor Ferguson told The Life Scientific that it was a worst case scenario that they never expected to happen. 

But he said: 'I completely stand by [it].

'If anything, it might have been an underestimate because we didn't take account of the fact of what actually happened to mortality rates if the health system collapsed, the mortality rates could have been even higher.'

He admitted that encouraging lockdown was not their original intention, and he doesn't like the nickname 'Professor Lockdown'. 

'It may seem like I was the kind of creator of this policy,' he said. 'It took me quite a while to be persuaded that that was what we had to do.

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'And I was always very conscious of what impact it would have on society and the economy. 

'So I've never been a

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