'Professor Lockdown' Neil Ferguson admits he 'oversimplified things' with his doomsday Covid predictions

PROFESSOR Neil Ferguson has admitted he "oversimplified things" with his doomsday Covid predictions.

The Imperial College epidemiologist – dubbed Prof Lockdown – also said he had "made mistakes" over his lockdown-breaching visit from lover Antonia Staats last year.



Prof Ferguson's research on the severity of Covid-19 was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020, and he has since issued warnings about the Omicron variant.

But a string of hugely positive studies have shown that Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

Prof Ferguson told BBC Radio 4 that he has "made mistakes in communication" and "oversimplified" some of the data – but he stressed that "most of it has been right".

He said:"I think the science we have done throughout this pandemic has basically been right, not absolutely every aspect but basically most of it. 

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"I suppose I didn't anticipate becoming the public figure I suppose I now am, something of a marmite figure if you put it like that. 

"And the level of public scrutiny of my life and my private life that would entail and I obviously made some mistakes which I apologised for and regret, which I would not repeat if I could live things over again."

Prof Ferguson eventually resigned from Sage after his mid-lockdown visits from his lover were revealed.

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He said he learned that it was important to "explain trends in the data now and what the potential consequences are" to the public after gathering " an assessment of the potential level of threat".

But he stressed: "I certainly have made mistakes in communication and oversimplified things from time to time and you learn lessons from those things."

His statements follow reports that Covid-19 hospital admissions are DOWN more than 50 per cent compared to this time last year.

In other Covid-19 news:

  • Revellers danced in the streets and hit pubs and clubs after no new restrictions were announced for New Year’s Eve;
  • Covid restrictions might not be introduced in the new year after the Health Secretary praised the booster jab uptake;
  • New Year’s Eve revellers should take a lateral flow test and celebrate outside, Sajid Javid said;
  • Hospitality bosses praised Boris Johnson for saving New Year’s Eve – their busiest night of the year.

A total of 8,474 people were in hospital with coronavirus on Monday – a huge drop on the massive 19,277 admissions recorded on the same day in 2020.

The positive figures back Boris Johnson's decision to rule out a New Year's Eve lockdown in England, and are further a proof that Omicron is a less-severe variant.

Health bosses confirmed that while Monday's hospitalisation figure is more than 1,000 patients higher than it was one day prior, it is no cause for concern.

There are 842 hospital-bound patients on ventilators – the lowest in two months – with winter-induced increase as seen last year.

And data has also shown that a third of patients who have Covid in hospital are actually being treated for something else.

The number going to hospital with the virus fell before Christmas — with 1,020 admitted on Christmas Eve compared to 1,252 the day before;

And fatality figures have also decreased, with 742 deaths reported in the last seven days – down 5.6 per cent on the week prior.

NEW YEAR SAVED

Over 320,000 new coronavirus infections have been recorded over the Christmas break, the latest data has revealed.

But Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, told BBC Breakfast that while cases are soaring, it is at a slower rate than previously seen.

He said: "Cases are increasing in older people and of course, people over 60.

"Of course, this is the group that is more likely to go into hospital and hospitalisations are also rising, but so far nothing obvious such as people on intensive care units."

Prof Hunter added: "We're already seeing a big difference in the risk to people who have been boosted being a lot less than the people have not been boosted.

"Ultimately, the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to have the booster."

Downing Street yesterday urged partygoers to take care, but defied demands for curbs after data showed Omicron has not overwhelmed hospitals.

In an announcement, Health Secretary Sajid Javid stressed Brits should "remain cautious", take a lateral flow and celebrate outside or in a well-ventilated room – as he urged everyone to get their jabs if they can.

He added: "We look at the data on a daily basis – that hasn't changed over the Christmas period.

"But there will be no further measures before the new year. Of course, people should remain cautious as we approach New Year's celebrations."


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