A long-awaited report modelling the impact of easing lockdown is being pushed back 'several weeks' after Imperial College London scientists behind the paper complained their work had been 'politicised'.
The team's modelling is considered the gold standard by the Government and its decisions throughout the epidemic have been heavily influenced by the London epidemiologists.
But the group has been embroiled in a series of public controversies in recent weeks, which has prompted prominent politicians to raise doubts about their competency.
The Imperial team was thrust into the spotlight when its most prominent scientist, Professor Neil Ferguson, flouted lockdown rules - which he had a heavy hand in imposing - to have secret trysts with his married mistress.
The team's modelling is considered the gold standard by the Government and its decisions throughout the epidemic have been heavily influenced by the London epidemiologists. It was thrust into spotlight when Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured) flouted lockdown rules
Then the group of scientists were accused of using an outdated mathematical model in a March report which predicted half a million deaths could occur in the UK if a nationwide quarantine was not immediately imposed.
A senior member of the team said the latest report had been handed to Government but was being withheld from the public for fear of backlash.
They told the Financial Times the new report would not be made public for another few weeks after it was peer-reviewed by other scientists and published in a journal.
Their report in March was released as a 'pre-print', meaning it was made public before it had been reviewed by other experts.
They said: 'Examining exit strategies from lockdown remains a top priority of the team, and we currently are supporting multiple governments in their planning for this.'
'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.'
A senior member of the team said the latest report had been handed to Government but was being withheld from the public for fear of backlash (file image)
Commenting on the news, eminent statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter said 'major analyses should be made public as soon as possible'.
But he admitted that there is a fine line between public transparency of the Government's decision-making and making sure scientists were not subjected to personal attacks.
It comes after scientists levelled a flurry of criticism against Prof. Ferguson's modelling which warned 500,000 people could die from coronavirus and prompted Britain to go into lockdown.
Modelling from Imperial College London epidemiologist Professor Ferguson, who stepped down from the government's Sage group at the start of May, was described as 'totally unreliable' by other experts.
The coding that produced the sobering death figures was impossible to read, and therefore cast doubts on its strength, The Telegraph reported. It is also some 13 years old, it said.
Modelling behind Professor Neil Ferguson's claim that 500,000 Brits could die from Covid-19 has been criticised by scientists
When other scientists have tried to replicate the findings using the same model, they have repeatedly failed to do.
Prof Ferguson's model is understood to have single-handedly triggered a dramatic change in the Government's handling of the outbreak, as they moved away from herd immunity to a lockdown.
Competing scientists' research - whose models produced vastly different results - has been largely discarded, they claim.
David Richards, co-founder of British data technology company WANdisco said the model was a 'buggy mess that looks more like a bowl of angel hair pasta than a finely tuned piece of programming'.
He said: 'In our commercial reality we would fire anyone for developing code like this and any business that relied on it to produce software for sale would likely go bust.'
Today marks a week since Boris Johnson addressed the nation and changed England's coronavirus message from Stay Home to Stay Alert, with 34,636 deaths recorded by the Government.
The easing of measures comes almost two months after Britain was placed in lockdown, with government making the decision on, at least in part, the advice of Imperial College London and Prof Ferguson's model outlining the potential harm coronavirus could do to the country.
The scientific paper published by Professor Ferguson and his colleagues on the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team was credited for persuading Boris Johnson's Government to ramp up their response to the coronavirus.
The paper, released on March 17, and titled Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand, predicted that the Government's original plan to 'mitigate' the outbreak instead of trying to stop it could have led to a quarter of a million people dying.
Using data from Italy and China, the scientists predicted how different Government measures would have different impacts on the outbreaks.
If no action at all had been taken against the coronavirus it would have claimed 510,000 lives, the team's report said. Had the Government stuck with their strategy of trying to 'mitigate' the spread – allowing it to continue but attempting to slow it down – with limited measures such as home isolation for those with symptoms this number would be roughly halved to 260,000.
If the strictest possible measures are introduced, the number of deaths over a two-year period will fall below 20,000, the scientists said.
Other points in the Imperial College report, titled Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand, included:Lockdown measures could be brought back if the virus resurfaces after this epidemic is over The coronavirus outbreak is worse than anything the world has seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic Dramatic measures to suppress an outbreak carry 'enormous social and economic costs which may themselves have significant impact on health and well-being' Virus transmission happens evenly – one third of cases are caught in the home, one third at work or school, and one third elsewhere in the community People are thought to be infectious from 12 hours before symptoms start, or from four days after catching the infection if someone doesn't get symptoms Patients who do get symptoms are thought to be 50 per cent more infectious than those who don't People are thought to