THE PROFESSOR whose doomsday death forecasts put the UK into lockdown has praised Sweden for staying open.

Prof Neil Ferguson said Swedish officials’ approach to suppressing coronavirus went a “long way to the same effect”.

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Sweden has introduced voluntary social distancing measures but kept many restaurants, bars and schools open.

Prof Ferguson revealed he is now exploring if Britain can adopt these measures, which will help boost the economy.

The expert, from Imperial College London, became known as Professor Lockdown after warning 500,000 Brits could die if no action was taken.

But he later resigned as a government scientific adviser after breaking lockdown rules to romp with his married lover.

Prof Ferguson yesterday told the Lords’ Science and Technology committee that he had the “greatest respect” for Sweden.

He said: “They came to a different policy conclusion, but based really on quite similar science.

“I don't agree with it – but scientifically, they're not that far from scientists in any part of the world.”

Sweden’s infection rate – or R – is thought to be at one, meaning each infected person infects an average of one other.


But it is estimated at just 0.7 to 1 in the UK, meaning it is dying out.

Prof Ferguson added: “It is interesting that adopting a policy which is short of a full lockdown – they have closed secondary schools and universities and there is a significant amount of social distancing, but it's not a full lockdown – they have got quite a long way to the same effect.

“That is something we are looking at very closely.

“Lockdowns are very crude policies, and what we’d like to do is have much more targeted controlled transmission going forward, which doesn't have the same economic impacts.”

The UK has recorded at least 39,000 coronavirus deaths and seen the economy shrink by two per cent.

But Sweden has had around 4,400 and seen their economy contract by just 0.3 per cent.

Prof Ferguson said the outbreak started in the UK much earlier than scientists had realised and care homes have been poorly protected.

He said it was now clear thousands of Brits may already have been infected by late February or early March before surveillance was set up.

These were mainly imported from Spain and Italy, rather than China, he believes.

Prof Ferguson cautioned that Sweden has not seen a rapid decline in deaths unlike other European countries.


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