A University of Oxford professor who produced a competing model to the apocalyptic Imperial College model said there’s a chance that doing nothing would’ve been a more effective COVID-19 response than the various lockdowns implemented around the world.

During an interview on UnHerd, Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, said the virus is on its way out in the United Kingdom, and the true infection fatality rate is likely extremely low.

“I think the epidemic has largely come and is on its way out in this country so I think it would definitely be less than 1 in 1,000 (0.1%) and probably closer to 1 in 10,000 (0.01%),” Gupta said.

Gupta is opposed to the lockdowns, pointing out that the coronavirus outbreak has followed similar patterns in different countries with different lockdown policies.

“In almost every context we’ve seen the epidemic grow, turn around and die away — almost like clockwork,” Gupta told UnHerd. “Different countries have had different lockdown policies, and yet what we’ve observed is almost a uniform pattern of behavior which is highly consistent with the SIR model. To me that suggests that much of the driving force here was due to the build-up of immunity. I think that’s a more parsimonious explanation than one which requires in every country for lockdown (or various degrees of lockdown, including no lockdown) to have had the same effect.”

She blamed government overreaction from the worst-case scenario projections from the Imperial College model, which showed the potential for 500,000 deaths in the U.K. and more than 2 million in the United States.

“I think there’s a chance we might have done better by doing nothing at all,” Gupta said. “Or at least by doing something different, which would have been to pay attention to protecting the vulnerable, to have thought about protecting the vulnerable 30 or 40 years ago when we started cutting hospital beds. The roots of this go a long, long way back.”


Professor Sunetra Gupta: the epidemic is on its way out

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