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The flawed model that locked down Canada

Montreal, June 4, 2020 – Restrictions continue to be gradually eased in Canada, but as there is talk of a second wave, it is more important than ever to question the case for lockdown. A new publication launched by the Montreal Economic Institute provides a critique of Professor Neil Ferguson’s epidemiological model, which led to lockdown in this country.

In his March 16 paper, Professor Ferguson predicted 2.2 million deaths in the United States in 2020 if lockdown measures were not put in place—and two days later, the Canada-US border was closed. “Ten days after his first publication, he predicted 326,000 deaths in Canada in 2020 with no lockdown, or 46,000 with a 75% reduction in contact between individuals. While things could still change, the number of deaths is currently far below these predictions,” points out Peter St. Onge, Senior Fellow at the MEI.

A better comparison, though, comes from countries that never shut down at all, like Sweden, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. “Professor Ferguson’s model predicted 1.4 million deaths in Japan, whereas the actual number as of May 12 was 657,” adds Peter St. Onge.

We need more transparency

“Two months after Professor Ferguson’s publication, experts raised serious problems with his model. A software engineer from Google found inexplicable errors in the model, and it contains unverifiable information,” says Mr. St. Onge. “The studies and models upon which important governmental decisions are based must be public so that they can be analyzed and cross-checked.”

“In order to pick up the pieces, we should have both epidemiologists and economists at the table. Compromises are required, and there is no place for narrow groupthink,” states Gaël Campan, Senior Economist at the MEI and co-author of the publication. “Moreover, we need to liberalize the health care system in order to inject some entrepreneurship and increase its capacity to manage health crises,” concludes the economist.

The Economic Note entitled “The Flawed COVID-19 Model That Locked Down Canada” was prepared by Peter St. Onge, Senior Fellow at the MEI, with the collaboration of Gaël Campan, Senior Economist at the MEI. This publication is available on our website.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.


Interview requests: Daniel Dufort, Senior Director of External Relations, Communications and Development, MEI. Tel.: 438-886-9919 / Email: ddufort@iedm.org

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