“Plain common sense” was a “casualty of the covid crisis”according to Professor Mark Woolhouse who has been advising the British government about infectious diseases for 25 years.
Woodhouse, a senior epidemiologist who advised the government during the covid pandemic argues that they dithered and then panicked their way into excessively stringent restrictions.
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He claims that he was told to “correct” his views after he criticised what he thought was an “implausible” graph shown at an official briefing.
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Sky News reports: Professor Mark Woolhouse has also apologised to his daughter, whose generation “has been so badly served by mine”, and believes that closing schools was “morally wrong”.
The Edinburgh University academic is deeply critical of the use of lockdown measures and says “plain common sense” was a “casualty of the crisis”.
Speaking to Sky News, Prof Woolhouse seemed concerned about a possible “big-brother” approach to the control of information about COVID.
He says he was told to watch what he was saying following a briefing given by Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Sir Patrick Vallance on 21 September 2020.
Sir Patrick said at the time: “At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.”
Fifty thousand cases a day were being predicted by mid-October.
“There was a lot wrong with the projection,” Prof Woolhouse says. He calculated the doubling period as every 10 or 11 days, rather than seven, and, in his opinion, there was “no reason to expect the epidemic to accelerate suddenly”.
He observes: “If this projection had been extended for another week we would be talking about one hundred thousand cases per day. Another month would have given us close to half a million. Per day. An exponential projection will give you any number you like if you run it for long enough.”
Prof Woolhouse felt the predictions were “so implausible” that he was concerned about a loss of scientific “credibility”.
After seeing the graph, he says he “quickly posted what was intended to be a reassuring comment through the Science Media Centre saying it was highly unlikely that the UK would see so many reported cases per day by mid-October”.
“As it turned out, we barely reached half that,” he says in his new book on the pandemic called The Year the World Went Mad.
However, his “objections did not go down well”.