British scientist Neil Ferguson ignited the world’s drastic response to the novel Wuhan coronavirus when he published the bombshell report predicting 2.2 million Americans and more than half a million Brits would be killed. After both the U.S. and U.K. governments effectively shut down their citizens and economies, Ferguson is walking back his doomsday scenarios.
Ferguson’s report from Imperial College, which White House and other officials took seriously, said that if the U.S. and U.K. did not shut down for 18 months, and isolation measures were not taken, “we would expect a peak in mortality (daily deaths) to occur after approximately 3 months.” His “models” showed overflowing hospitals and ICU beds.
“For an uncontrolled epidemic, we predict critical care bed capacity would be exceeded as early as the second week in April, with an eventual peak in ICU or critical care bed demand that is over 30 times greater than the maximum supply in both countries,” the report reads.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, reportedly said the administration was particularly focused on the Imperial College report’s conclusion that entire households should stay in isolation for 14 days if any member suffered from COVID-19 symptoms.
But after tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, and businesses closed, Ferguson is now retracting his modeling, saying he feels “reasonably confident” our health care system can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in a few weeks. Testifying before the U.K.’s parliamentary select committee on science and technology on Wednesday, Ferguson said he now predicts U.K. deaths from the disease will not exceed 20,000, and could be much lower.