A virologist and clinical computational epidemiologist has slammed the Chinese virus model created by fellow epidemiologist Dr. Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, whose dire mathematical models of the Wuhan coronavirus’s spread formed the basis for lockdowns in the U.K. and around the world. Scientist Chris von Csefalvay labeled Ferguson’s work “somewhere between negligence and unintentional but grave scientific misconduct.”
Dr. Ferguson, whose advice to the British Prime Minister led to the lockdown in that country, recently resigned as an adviser to the U.K. government after breaking quarantine rules to meet his married lover, left-wing activist Antonia Staats.
The code used by Dr. Ferguson, called by some the “architect of lockdown,” has now come under fire from another epidemiologist, Chris von Csefalvay, who called the computational code, developed by Dr. Ferguson to simulate the global spread of Chinese virus, “somewhere between negligence and unintentional but grave scientific misconduct.”
Writing on his blog, Csefalvay took aim at Dr. Ferguson’s use of 13-year-old code to model the current pandemic, something that makes it far harder to understand.
Via Csefalvay’s blog:
For those who are not in the computational fields: “my code is too complicated for you to get it” is not an acceptable excuse. It is the duty of everyone who releases code to document it – within the codebase or outside (or a combination of the two). Greater minds than Neil Ferguson (with all due respect) have a tough enough time navigating a large code base, and especially where you have collaborators, it is not unusual to need a second or two to remember what a particular function is doing or what the arguments should be like. Or, to put it more bluntly: for thirteen years, taxpayer funding from the MRC went to Ferguson and his team, and all it produced was code that violated one of the most fundamental precepts of good software development – intelligibility.
Csefalvay goes on to question why the British government seemingly unthinkingly accepted the Imperial model:
There is wide support for a science-driven response to COVID-19, but very little scrutiny of the science behind many of the predictions that informed early public health measures. Hopefully, a Royal Commission with subpoena powers will have the opportunity to review in detail whether Ferguson intentionally hid the model from HM Government the way he hid it from the rest of the world or whether the government’s experts just did not understand how to scrutinise or assess a model – or, the worst case scenario: they saw the model and still let it inform what might have been the greatest single decision HM Government has made since 1939, without looking for alternatives (there are many other modelling approaches, and many developers who have written better code).
The epidemiologist concludes by accusing the scientists of Soviet-style paternalism:
There is a moral obligation for epidemiologists to work for the common good – and that implies an obligation of openness and honesty. I am reminded of the medical paternalism that characterised Eastern Bloc medicine, where patients were rarely told what ailed them and never received honest answers. To see this writ large amidst a pandemic by what by all accounts (mine included) has been deemed one of the world’s best computational epidemiology units is not so much infuriating as it is deeply saddening.
Breitbart News columnist James Delingpole described Dr. Ferguson’s computer model as, “a busted flush — entirely unfit for purpose.”
You can read Csefalvay’s full blog post here.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.