SPI-M (the “Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling) is the government committee in charge of producing forecasts for the future direction of the pandemic in different circumstances. It was their report in early June, combining mathematical models from Imperial, Warwick and LSHTM, than persuaded Boris Johnson to delay the planned re-opening of society on 21st June to its current scheduled date of 19th July.

In the weeks since that report, two things have become clear: the raw case numbers have been rising very rapidly, but the hospital admissions have been much lower than predicted when the PM made his decision. As of today, 1st July, just over 250 people per day are being admitted into hospital with Covid, compared to over 600 by now as forecast by SPI-M.

Freddie Sayers spoke to Dr Mike Tildesley, an infectious disease modeller from the University of Warwick who sits on the committee and works on the models himself, about how his forecasts have performed against reality, and whether, knowing what we know now, the PM made the right decision.


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