Covid-19 Science

The science behind the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic

Should we base lockdowns on models?

By Juergen Ude : 14th February 2021

Models have become the basis of decisions by modern scientists. Countries, such as the UK and Australia have used models to decide that lockdowns were warranted. Yet models are always wrong. All models are wrong, has been first proposed by George E. Box considered to be one "one of the greatest statistical minds of the 20th century”.

So how wrong have they been?

Models by the Imperial College, UK have had a notoriously bad history for accuracy for epidemics. Here is a brief history:

  • In 2001 the Imperial College produced modelling on foot and mouth disease suggesting that animals should be culled, even if there was no evidence of infection. This led to the total culling of more than six million cattle, sheep and pigs – which cost the UK economy an estimated £10 billion. The modelling on foot and mouth disease was ‘severely flawed’ and made a ‘serious error’ by ‘ignoring the species composition of farms.
  • In 2002, the Imperial College predicted up to 50,000 people would die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease). In the UK, there have only been 177 deaths from BSE.
  • In 2005, it was predicted up to 200 million people could die from bird flu. In the end, only 282 died.

Victoria, Australia to justify its lockdown stated:

"The modelling shows 650 people could have died each day at the state's coronavirus peak without physical-distancing measures"

Based on the period that Victoria’s model predictions were made:

  • Sweden without lockdown averaged 44 deaths per day. When adjusted for Victoria’s size 20 deaths per day, nowhere near 650 people per day.
  • Japan without lockdown during a peak death period averaged 17 deaths per day. When adjusted for Victoria’s size 1 death per day, nowhere near 650 people per day.
  • South Korea which has controlled its first wave without major physical distancing, but contact tracing, has during its peak death period averaged around 7 deaths per day. When adjusted for Victoria’s size less than 1 death per day.

For comparison, the Covid-19 statement about thousands of people dying, (without physical distancing) referred to countries such as Italy and the USA. Here are their statistics:

  • The United States averaged 1900 deaths per day during the period of high deaths. When adjusted for Victoria’s population size 37 deaths per day, nowhere near 650 people per day.
  • Italy averaged 668 deaths per day at peak. When adjusted to Victoria’s population size 70 deaths per day, nowhere near 650 people per day.

It is up to the reader to decide if models should be used as a basis of making decisions that have a high human cost and have hurt so many.

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* The information is dependent on the reliability of the information sources. Links have been given throughout for the reader to verify the contents. There has been no use of models made to prove points. Readers can download data from and perform the analysis independently. Many charts use our own technology to display underlying trends and scatter. More information on our technology please visit


Dr Juergen Ude has a certificate in applied chemistry, a degree in applied science majoring in statistics and operations research as top student, a masters in economics with high distinctions in every subject, and a PhD in computer modelling and algorithms. He has lectured at Monash University on subjects of data analysis, computer modelling, and quality & reliability.

Prior to founding his own company (Qtech International Pty Ltd), Dr Ude worked as a statistician and operations researcher for 18 years in management roles having saved employers millions of dollars through his AI and ML algorithms. Through Qtech International, Dr Ude has developed data analysis solutions in over 40 countries for leading corporations such as Alcoa, Black and Decker, Coca-Cola Amatil, US Vision and many more. Additionally he has developed campaign analysis software for politicians.