They were at it again last week – warning of a possible huge rise in Covid hospitalisations surging from about 1,000 admissions a day to 7,000 within weeks.
But how confident can we be about forecasts from Professor Neil Ferguson and his colleagues on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage)?
Although the dictionary definition of sage is 'profoundly wise', from the first appearance of the virus, this government advisory body has been accused of over-egging its predictions in order to frighten Ministers into taking drastic action.
Notoriously, it was Prof Ferguson's apocalyptic report in March 2020 that seemingly dictated policy.
Notoriously, it was Prof Ferguson's apocalyptic report in March 2020 that seemingly dictated policy
The paper by his team at Imperial College, London, warned that in a 'do nothing' scenario – if the Government let the virus take its course without 'non- pharmaceutical interventions' (lockdowns) – there could be 510,000 Covid deaths in two years.
This prompted Boris Johnson's strategy of trying to 'suppress' the virus rather than letting it pass slowly through the population.
But the 510,000 figure was based on the assumption that the overall death rate from the virus, called the infection fatality ratio, was 0.9 per cent – and just a fortnight after the paper was published, one of its authors lowered the estimate to 0.66 per cent.
The actual total number of deaths is currently 135,147.
In October last year, a leaked Sage committee paper warned that under a 'reasonable worst-case scenario' there