Return of Professor Lockdown: Disgraced Neil Ferguson Advising Boris Johnson on Coronavirus ‘Mutation’

Neil Ferguson
Wikimedia Commons

Professor Neil Ferguson has been confirmed to be advising Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government on coronavirus, despite officially resigning in May for breaching his own lockdown restrictions to meet with his married lover.

On Monday, the British government confirmed to The Telegraph that Professor Ferguson is still advising the government after his name appeared on a list for a meeting of 15 members of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) on December 18th.

The Nervtag meeting attended by Ferguson concluded that a supposedly new variant of the Chinese coronavirus — which is believed to have been present in the country since at least September — “demonstrates a substantial increase in transmissibility compared to other variants”, with up to a 70 per cent higher transmission rate than previous strains of the virus.

The warnings from Ferguson and other members of the advisory board prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel Christmas celebrations for millions of Britons.

Professor Ferguson is also serving as an adviser to the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), which also advises the government’s top coronavirus task force, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), from which Ferguson officially resigned in May.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told the Daily Telegraph on Monday: “He [Ferguson] continues to advise on Spi-M and Nervtag.”

Ferguson also confirmed to the Daily Mail that he is serving on the Nervtag group, but refused to elaborate on his position. It is not clear at the time of this reporting how long Professor Ferguson has been advising the government after his official resignation.

The Imperial College epidemiologist resigned from his role as senior scientific adviser to the government in May in disgrace after it was revealed that he had broken his own lockdown measures by allowing his married lover to visit his home twice, despite her being in quarantine with her family. Prior to his resignation, Ferguson frequently appeared in the media to urge the public to abide by the draconian lockdown rules.

Ferguson earned the monicker ‘Professor Lockdown’ for his early support of national lockdowns as a strategy in confronting the coronavirus, prompting the British government and indeed governments throughout the world — including the United States — to lock down following his doomsday death projections.

The disgraced professor’s coronavirus models initially projected that there would be up to 510,000 deaths in the UK from the virus if national lockdown measures were not put into place. According to Johns Hopkins University, the UK currently has had just over 67,000 deaths attributed to the virus.

Ferguson later revised his doomsday projections to around 20,000. However, that revision came on the same day that parliament passed the Coronavirus Act, which gave the British government sweeping emergency powers to confront the pandemic.

On Monday, Ferguson told the BBC’s Radio 4 that Tier 4 restrictions could “possibly” be kept in place in England until Easter, saying that it is “not looking optimistic right now”.

Minutes from the Nervtag meeting that prompted the prime minister’s cancellation of Christmas for millions reveal that the advisers themselves admitted that there was “currently insufficient data” on whether the new coronavirus variant is more dangerous than others, why it appears to be more transmissible, and whether or not it could re-infect those who have already recovered from the virus.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, a senior Whitehall source said that the majority of the government wanted to see more evidence before enacting restrictions, but claimed that a “vocal minority” swayed the PM into enacting the harsh restrictions.

“Evidence is emerging day by day from Public Health England, but ministers have been bullied into action by a vocal minority which believes that, in the style of Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army, we should be panicking much more frequently,” the Whitehall source said.

Professor Ferguson’s track record in handling infectious diseases has long been called into question. During the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) crisis, mathematical modelling crafted by Ferguson was used by the government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair to embark on the mass slaughtering of over six million cattle, pigs, and sheep in order to prevent a widespread outbreak of the disease.

A review of the crisis conducted by Professor Michael Thrusfield of Edinburgh University described Ferguson’s models as “severely flawed”, claiming that they were “at best, crude estimations that could not differentiate risk between farms and, at worst, inaccurate representations of the epidemiology of FMD”.

The fallout from the move led to a £10 billion economic hit, severely damaging the livelihoods of farmers throughout the nation.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph in May, software developers David Richards and Konstantin Boudnik described Prof Ferguson’s coronavirus modelling as “the most devastating software mistake of all time, in terms of economic costs and lives lost”.

The developers claimed that the simulation code was so bad that they “would fire anyone for developing code like this and any business that relied on it to produce software for sale would likely go bust”.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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