I agree that he is trying to save face. I’ve thought that from the beginning. But the question is whether he’s trying to save face from somebody lying about him, or from himself being wrong. So far as I can tell, it’s clearly the former (at least thus far).
I don’t see such any major differences between what he’s saying now and what he was saying before. The gist remains that only by suppression, not mitigation, can you keep it from exploding in cases and killing many, many people. He still believes that.
I looked through the original Imperial paper some time ago, and just did so briefly again. I don’t think Berenson is accurately representing things—either the original paper or what Ferguson said more recently.
For example, Berenson says of the original paper: “it said 18 months of lockdown - not two weeks - would be necessary to get the figures down to anything like this level.” That’s not true. The paper actually says the following:
Such an intensive policy is predicted to result in a reduction in critical care requirements from a peak approximately 3 weeks after the interventions are introduced and a decline thereafter while the intervention policies remain in place.
Then it has two graphics showing the peak after just a few weeks if suppression is pursued. I’m including them below.
If there has been any change in the estimated peak when pursuing suppression, it is from “approximately 3 weeks” to something like 2.5 weeks.
Also, this quote by Berenson is a lie, as far as I’m concerned:
“you told the UK gov’t that with a two-week lockdown, #COVID cases would probably peak by mid-April and there would likely be <20,000 deaths”
Here’s what Ferguson actually said:
[intensive care demand would] ‘peak in approximately two to three weeks and then decline thereafter’.
That article also says, “He told the committee current predictions were that the NHS would be able to cope if strict measures continued to be followed.” (emphasis mine.)
I watched parts of the actual testimony.
The article above goes on to quote him saying:
The challenge that many countries in the world are dealing with is how we move from an initial intensive lockdown… to something that will have societal effects but will allow the economy to restart.
That is likely to rely on very large-scale testing and contact tracing.
He also says in the video that the current strategy is to attempt to suppress the virus and continue to do so until other methods (ie a vaccine) are available. Thus, he does not believe that the majority of people will catch it, much less already have.
It is clear that Berenson is twisting things. Have some things changed? Yes. Watching the video, he states clearly that there have been changes in estimates of what percent of people would need to be intubated, as well as a revision by the NHS doubling the estimate of their surge ICU capacity.
However, Berenson keeps implying that all that is necessary is a two-week quarantine, and then everything is hunky dory in Imperial’s most recent model. Nothing could be further from the truth when watching the testimony. He also implies that their original model said two weeks would accomplish nothing. This is also blatantly false (as shown above).
Now I see Berenson attributing this to “Imperial” as a single entity:
Obviously he knows full well that it’s just a couple of random other people at the university in the “Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.” His followup tweet is terrible: " I noted this above but I want to add here too: to be clear, this projection is from other scientists at @imperialcollege, not Prof. Ferguson - I don’t know if he endorses it, remains at his revised projection of 20,000 deaths, or now has a new figure. I have asked him to comment." Of course Ferguson doesn’t endorse it. His name isn’t on it. Could they be right? Sure. In which case Ferguson would be wrong. That’s certainly a possibility. But Ferguson has not backed down in any major way so far that I can find.
I don’t trust a single word Berenson says at this point, but Ferguson has increased my respect as I listened to him answering questions.