A prominent 'lockdown skeptic' was forced to admit he got it wrong after saying the coronavirus had 'all but disappeared'
- A prominent British campaigner against lockdowns has said he "got that wrong" after predicting in the summer that the coronavirus had "all but disappeared."
- Writer and commentator Toby Young wrote in a June article for the Telegraph newspaper that a second spike of COVID-19 infections had "refused to materialise."
- "Hands up, I got that wrong," Young said on BBC Newsnight on Tuesday, before arguing that lockdowns had "caused more harm than they have prevented."
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A prominent British campaigner against lockdowns has said he "got that wrong" after predicting in the summer that the coronavirus had "all but disappeared" meaning that social distancing rules should be scrapped.
Toby Young, a writer and commentator who founded the website 'Lockdown Sceptics,' was challenged on BBC Newsnight about an article he wrote for the Telegraph newspaper in June in which he claimed that a second spike of COVID-19 infections had "refused to materialise" in the UK.
"Is there not a moment of contrition from you that you wrote this stuff down and published it?" asked BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis on Tuesday.
"Hands up, I got that wrong," Young replied. He added that the social distancing measures he was arguing against had done "enormous damage" to the hospitality industry and said lockdowns had "caused more harm than they have prevented."
Since Young's article was published in June the UK has experienced a second wave of coronavirus infections.
More than 1.1 million people in the UK are estimated to have had coronavirus in the week to January 2, a figure which equates to more than one in 50 people in the population, according to Office for National Statistics figures cited by the Guardian.
Government scientists this week recommended that the country was moved into the maximum COVID-19 alert level 5, and each part of the UK is now under strict lockdown measures.
The total number of COVID-19 patients in English hospitals has now surpassed its spring peak, with a total of 26,467 coronavirus patients currently in hospital according to NHS England figures, well above the peak in April of 18,974.
Young's 'Lockdown Sceptics' website has become a popular source for people who oppose lockdown measures in the UK and elsewhere. One article published on the website in September claims that "most people have immunity" to the virus and said it would follow a pattern which eventually saw it "fizzling out."
Young was in November forced to issue a correction after sharing inaccurate information about COVID-19. In a now-deleted tweet, Young claimed that COVID-19's infection fatality rate (IFR) was 0.1%, a figure which would make the virus roughly as fatal as seasonal flu.
According to Full Fact, a fact-checking website, COVID-19's IFR varies based on various factors but usually falls somewhere between 0.5% and 1%. Young subsequently acknowledged his tweet was "wrong" and blamed the mistake on a "brain fart."
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