Thursday 12 March 2020


Letter in today's Spectator, published under the rubric, Coronavirus predictions
Sir: While precautionary advice regarding the coronavirus should be followed, Ross Clark is right (‘Feverish imaginations’, 29 February) to urge an open mind on the doomsday predictions which are edging us towards panic. In 1996 the then government’s chief scientific adviser, Professor Kenneth Calman, predicted that 500,000 people could die within a few years from the human form of BSE. Another official adviser, Professor Richard Lacey, described the disease as ‘the time bomb of the 20th century, equivalent to the bubonic plague’. In the event, the reported death toll was 177, while the scare cost the UK an estimated £7 billion. 

In 2005 the then government’s chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, warned that avian flu could kill 50,000 people in the UK. There is no public record of a single death. In July 2009 he told the NHS to plan for 19,000 to 65,000 deaths from ‘swine flu’ during that winter. The actual number of deaths was 457, and the government was left with 60 million doses of Tamiflu vaccine, which are said to have cost taxpayers around £500 million.Maritz VandenbergLondon SW15

1 comment:

  1. “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

    H L Menken