Derek Winton

Derek Winton’s Response to Ferguson

by Derek Winton Read Derek Winton's original piece here and Neil Ferguson's response here. I should start by saying I don’t suspect any sinister intent on the part of Prof. Ferguson or believe he’s part of a conspiracy. As someone with a background in the hard sciences who also got their start in the heyday of British ‘bedroom coders’ I even feel a certain amount of kinship. To me this is a governance issue. Decisions on pandemic response strategies affect millions of lives and in my (hopefully not unreasonable) opinion should be based on the very highest quality of information and subject to the highest level of scrutiny. In my article I made eight substantive claims, summarised below: 1. The Imperial model was influential in the decision to pursue a lockdown strategy. 2. The research for ‘Report 9’ was not peer reviewed. 3. The model was not documented. 4. Prof. Ferguson apparently has no formal training in computer modelling, medicine or epidemiology. 5. Projections of death tolls from the same team in previous epidemics had been out by several orders of magnitude. 6. The code was of poor quality from a legibility stand point. 7. The model is an attempt to model a highly complex (and therefore highly sensitive) system but omits at least one key variable. 8. Projections based...

The Imperial Model and its Role in the UK’s Pandemic Response

by Derek Winton Historians are sure to pore over this ‘unprecedented’ period for centuries to come. It is my belief that in the fullness of time, they will come to regard our response to the Sars-CoV-2 virus as monumental folly. In particular they will be bewildered by the role of deeply flawed computer modelling in triggering a chain of events that fundamentally, and perhaps catastrophically, damaged western society. I should outline my own credentials on this subject: I have an MA in Philosophy and Mathematics and a MSc in Computational Intelligence. I have been developing software professionally for more than 10 years and also have experience working with the code produced by academic institutions. In this particular instance I am a contributor to the official online software repository for the Imperial Model. I have submitted hundreds of lines of comments that explain the functioning of the model and these comments were accepted by the Imperial team. Background To put the role of the Imperial Model in the proper context, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the situation as it stood in February 2020. There had been rumours for a few months of a new virus in China. Footage of Chinese citizens being forcibly dragged from their homes by Government agents in hazmat suits and locked in hermetically sealed vans. Tales of...

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July 2022
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