‘It’s not an exact science’: In defence of the Covid-19 modellers

1/23/2022 11:35:00 AM

‘It’s not an exact science’: In defence of the Covid-19 modellers

‘It’s not an exact science’: In defence of the Covid-19 modellers

Modelling the waves of a pandemic can be a tricky and uncertain business. So what makes it so challenging? And why has there been so much recent criticism? Samuel Lovett speaks to the exerts themselves

Read more: The Independent »

It’s always been the massive numbers that have been so wrong they’ve always gone for the dramatic so when it comes in so low to their figures it breeds complacency

I'm Vaccinated, Boosted and Had COVID-19. Can I Go Back to Normal Now?COVID Questions: I'm vaccinated, boosted and had COVID-19. Can I go back to normal now? No. You cannot it. Your body is contaminated Yes The answer is no. Omicron is surging, hospitals are overwhelmed, nurses are exhausted, essential workers are tired. You need to wear your mask and stay home. There’s no reason to think things can go back to normal any time soon

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Meat Loaf remembered by daughters Pearl and Amanda: 'I love you daddy'Meat Loaf's heartbroken daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday paid tribute to him on Instagram after his death Thursday aged 74. Pearl, 47, posted a picture of herself hugging him onstage. little late daughters should have made their father be vaccinated..he wasnt and made the selfish choice not to its on him and his family has to deal with the consequences..so sad and denial is not a river in egypt

Red wine wards off coronavirus but not beer, according to new researchPeople who drink more than five glasses of red wine a week had a 17 per cent lower risk of catching Covid-19, according to new research at China's Shenzhen Kangning Hospital. Earthing/grounding is good for health,effortless and cost you nothing,it's easy to DIY a grounding mat,sheet or pillow to use at home,no need to buy.🏠😷👣🌎 healthcare freemedical bloodthinner Mentalhealth immunesystem antioxidants insomnia Awkward headline. Makes it sound like researchers finding red wine doesn’t ward off beer. FubarskiNL

Adele thanks 'best fans in the world' after being forced to delay Las Vegas residencyThe award-winning singer was forced to postpone the opening weekend of the residency at Caesars Palace due to COVID-19. Self pitying nonsense on the day we lost Meat Loaf. Given the choice of who to see in their prime and there is only one decision. She'll never do anything that even comes close to the utterly magnificent Bat Out of Hell. Nobody cares! What else is she going to say , they the shitest and I’ve just pissed them all off….again

Energy bills crisis: UK business leaders demand urgent actionCBI, BCC, IoD, Make UK and FSB say ‘rocketing’ charges will delay economic recovery from Covid

Britons brace for what could be the coldest night of the year as temperatures plunge In the same way that we accept the meteorological uncertainties at play when attempting to plan for the weekend after next, these broad range of possibilities were used by the government to prepare accordingly for the winter wave and decide whether it needed to reach for a small umbrella or invest in a new set of waterproofs.early evidence suggests booster shots provide longer-lasting protection than initial shots, says Dr.Timeline of alleged gatherings across government during Covid restrictions Its stealth nickname comes from one of its key differences with the original Omicron.Share this article Share Pearl grew to become a singer herself and also married Scott Ian, who shot to fame as the rhythm guitarist for Anthrax.

On this occasion, No 10 went for the light-touch approach - one that thankfully paid off. Meanwhile, the worst-case scenario modelled by the experts - “which might only have had a 1 per cent chance of happening,” says Prof Tildesley - never materialised. Based on what researchers know about how the immune system responds to this coronavirus and others, Virk says a fully vaccinated, boosted person who recovers from COVID-19 can feel pretty safe for the months following their breakthrough infection. Yet along with other members of Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), Prof Edmunds and Prof Tildesley have been heavily criticised for the models they helped to produce for ministers in early December, when fears were escalating over Omicron. It means that while PCR tests will still spot if someone has this version of Covid-19, the samples would need to be sent for further lab analysis to determine if someone had ‘stealth’. The government - and the public - wanted to know how many people would die, how many infections there were going to be, how high daily hospitalisations would surge, what restrictions needed to be imposed. “But we think you will be protected for at least three to six months after your infection. A far cry from forecasting the weather. After his death: Amanda wrote on Facebook that 'Pearl and I along with his closest friends were able to be with him holding his hands and showering him with love in his final hours' She added: 'Thank their respect for science that they’re all vaxxed, otherwise they’d be way worse,' without mentioning her father specifically.

The challenge at hand was complicated by a lack of data around the severity of Omicron and its immune-evading abilities. That makes activities like indoor dining and visiting loved ones safer, if not 100% risk-free. Dr Tom Peacock, one of the first virologists to raise the alarm over Omicron, said “Even with slightly higher transmissibility this absolutely is not a Delta to Omicron change, and instead is likely to be slower and more subtle. Without these details, the range of scenarios produced by the modelling was seemingly pushed to the very limits of reality. “It was only shortly before Christmas that we had decent data that Omicron was actually less severe,” says Prof Edmunds. But you shouldn’t ignore COVID-19 completely. But by that point, the headlines had been set, with the critics already pointing out - somewhat obviously - that 6,000 people a day were not in fact dying from Omicron.' The scientist, from Imperial College London, told the Daily Mail : “Very early observations from India and Denmark suggest there is no dramatic difference in severity. Another major misunderstanding is that the models were predictions - which is certainly not the case, says Professor Graham Medley, the chair of SPI-M. It’s always smart to limit your exposure to sick people, stay home if you develop respiratory symptoms and keep an eye on hospitalization trends in your area. One of the in memoriam messages came from Susan Sarandon, who starred with him in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975.

“We are illustrating possibilities for government,” he says. “The models are scenarios to help the decision-makers understand the implication of different policy choices. There’s also no predicting if or when there will be another new variant that challenges your hard-won immunity.” He also makes the point that by the time SPI-M’s modelling is released into the public domain, it’s already out of date. “We’re then left trying to explain something which is old news really, in the sense that it's already been reviewed by the government and shaped policymaking. Still, many Americans are far more protected than they were in 2020 or even last year, thanks to vaccines and prior exposures to the virus.” The experts will admit, though, that theirs is far from a perfect art - quite the opposite.

All members of SPI-M who spoke with The Independent admitted that human behaviour is the most technically challenging part of the modelling puzzle. “For a lot of people, the risk is kind of the same as the risk of getting a cold or a mild flu,” Presti says. When it comes to a rise in infections and the prospect of new restrictions - as we saw in December with Omicron - there are extreme levels of variation in how people respond. Many will withdraw from society entirely, even before the government has recommended doing so.” And before too long, we will again. Others, believing themselves to be vaccinated to the hills, will carry on as normal, until the law says otherwise. And some will ignore all forms of guidance regardless.

“It's very difficult to know how these reactions vary in different parts of society as well,” says Prof Tildesley. “People in different age groups and communities might respond in different ways. So that's something that's challenging to incorporate into the models.” It’s a reason why human behaviour isn’t integrated into many of the SPI-M models - different university teams produce different scenarios, which feed into the data escalated to ministers - and further explains the wide range of possibilities that were presented to ministers last month. Without this piece of the puzzle, critics believe, the scenarios will always be wide of the mark - and there’s certainly an argument for incorporating it into the modelling, especially when there are a slew of international studies and mobility data from the last two years that demonstrate how behaviour has changed throughout the pandemic.

Indeed, at a recent Sage meeting, it was acknowledged that the anticipated increase in hospitalisations “has not been seen so far.” Scientists theorised that “this may be due to higher vaccine levels of protection against hospitalisation, slower waning of vaccine protection, or the impact of precautionary behaviours amongst the most vulnerable and those around them.” UK news in pictures .