Imperial College London

BMJ study confirms Imperial COVID-19 projections

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An Edinburgh University analysis of Imperial's Report 9 COVID-19 modelling has confirmed the group's key projections from March.

The paper in the BMJ replicated the Imperial analysis, which was published in March 2020 ahead of the UK’s lockdown.  

This provides further independent confirmation that Imperial’s modelling was robust, reproducible and sound in its conclusions COVID-19 Response Team

To do so, the researchers carried out an independent calculation using the code made available by Professor Neil Ferguson and team.

The researchers find that this code, available online as the CovidSim model, produced good forecasts, including the projection that prompt interventions were highly effective at reducing peak demand for intensive care unit beds.

In the absence of an effective vaccination programme, none of the proposed mitigation strategies in the United Kingdom would reduce the predicted total number of deaths below 200,000, the Edinburgh research team finds. 

Imperial College’s Report 9, which was one of several pieces of modelling to inform the UK government ahead of lockdown measures in March, has been subject to intense scrutiny, and has held up to expert analysis. 

A recent Cambridge-led Codecheck into Report 9 confirmed the reproducibility and quality of its underlying code, which is publicly available as part of Imperial’s CovidSim. 

A spokesperson for Imperial’s COVID-19 Response Team said: “This provides further independent confirmation that Imperial’s modelling in March was robust, reproducible and sound in its conclusions. We welcome this independent analysis of Report 9 as we continue to advance our understanding of the early epidemic.” 

In a commentary, also for the BMJ, the Edinburgh study's author Professor Graeme Ackland said: "Scientific predictions are often published to great fanfare, with retrospective analysis seldom attracting as much attention. Report 9 appeared in March, we completed our study in June, and a lot has happened since. Infections went down steadily during lockdown, as predicted, and at the time of writing are rising again, just as predicted. With hindsight, the Imperial model has proved remarkably accurate. It turned out that the experts really are expert."

The Edinburgh paper can be read in the BMJ.         

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Andrew Scheuber

Andrew Scheuber
Communications and Public Affairs

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 8197
Email: a.scheuber@imperial.ac.uk

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Dr Sabine L. van Elsland

Dr Sabine L. van Elsland
School of Public Health

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3896
Email: s.van-elsland@imperial.ac.uk

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