The rival scientific teams at Imperial College and the University of Oxford who gave conflicting opinions on the coronavirus were born of a sex smear that broke out in academia.
Last week, researchers expressed contrasting views with a study by Imperial College, which informs government policy, warning that the disease could kill up to 250,000 people if tougher measures are not adopted.
Meanwhile, a study by the University of Oxford warned that the virus has already infected up to half the British population.
Professor Sir Roy Anderson (left), author of the imperial coronavirus study, and Sunetra Gupta (right), professor of theoretical epidemiology who led the Oxford study
The model suggested that the coronavirus was circulating in the UK in mid-January, about two weeks before the first reported case and one month before the first reported death.
Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology who led the Oxford study, told the Financial Times: “I am surprised that there has been such unreserved acceptance of the imperial model. “
But the discord between the two scientific teams, led by Professor Gupta and Professor of epidemiology Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, can go back much further than previously thought.
According to The Telegraph, Professor Sir Roy Anderson, the author of the imperial study, previously worked alongside Professor Gupta at Oxford and chaired a group of eight in 1999.
After Professor Gupta applied for readership, the panel gave him six votes to two, but Sir Roy allegedly suggested that she be assisted by her department head and accused her of having a relationship with him, claim which he later admitted was false.
He offered a full apology to Professor Gupta, who was married, nine months later and paid her a settlement that she donated to charity, but he was suspended by the university. He then returned and was eliminated by his own colleagues.
Sir Roy left for Imperial College where he created a mathematical modeling team and joined forces with Professor Ferguson to advise the government on public health and disease control.
Imperial Oil’s coronavirus study has led the government to impose the extraordinary halt on the grounds that, without such strict rules, the disease could kill up to 250,000 people.
Professor Neil Ferguson (photo), director of Imperial College, MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, speaking via video link to the coronavirus epidemic
Professor Ferguson and his colleagues now suggest that on average 4% of people in 11 of Europe’s wealthiest countries have been infected – some 19 million people.
They made these predictions as an alternative to the official “highly unrepresentative” figures, which are largely based on tests performed in hospitals.
Another 708 people died of a coronavirus in Britain, bringing the death toll to 4,313 on the deadliest day to date.
The number of new infections also increased by 3,735 to 41,903, the smallest increase in 24-hour cases in four days.
A spokesperson for Professor Gupta told the Telegraph: “Professor Gupta remains friends with Professor Neil Ferguson and greatly respects his academic work. “
A spokesman for the University of Oxford said: “The university and its researchers are fully focused on their work to fight the coronavirus pandemic. No one pays attention to the historical issues that have been considered closed for many years. “
Sir Roy would not have been able to comment due to an illness.