Matt Hancock, former UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, was confronted by Heiko Khoo on 12 July at the Royal Statistical Society, London. Khoo asked Hancock what evidence he based the narrative that asymptomatic transmission occurred and lockdowns slowed the spread of a virus:
“The entire principles you started the lockdowns with, the measures with, were based, effectively, on an unproven, at least that time, a totally unproven argument that asymptomatic infections were a significant factor driving transmission. And there was no evidence for that whatsoever. The only evidence was based on one German woman, sorry one Chinese woman in Germany, who was taking large amounts of ibuprofen in order for her to prevent her from having symptoms. Now, I’m not saying that pre-symptomatic people who are just becoming ill couldn’t transmit, at least in that first phase. But there was actually no evidence backing that up.
“The second point … you mentioned the lockdown measures forecasts. You said there wasn’t 40 years of data, Neil Ferguson has been working on forecasting for decades and the fact of the matter is: all his epidemiological forecasts have been wrong – every single one of them. And not by a factor of one or two but by a factor of 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 … every single case he was vastly incorrect. And the argument that there would be 500,000 dead had there not been a lockdown has no basis in fact. It’s pure speculation. But because you can compare it with other countries around the world you can see … there’s no evidence whatsoever that the lockdowns made any beneficial difference to the number of deaths.”
After fudging answering the point about forecasts, Matt Hancock responded: “The second point, asymptomatic, is really important … there was not the formal evidence of asymptomatic transmission on a clinical trial basis and therefore it didn’t get into the formal advice to me. But we knew there were a lot of, um, uh, there were a lot of stories of it happening.”