ROSS CLARK: Demands for herd immunity, a prediction of 500,000 Covid deaths during the pandemic… with blunders like these, how could the experts advising the Government be called Sage?

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Opponents of Boris Johnson want the world to believe that thousands of Britons died because a cavalier prime minister and his ruthless, harsh allies in the Tory party rode hard on scientific advice.

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Which is why opponents of the government wasted no time in trying to reinvent their favorite narrative to take advantage of the dramatic new reports of the COVID-19 pandemic in Britain yesterday morning.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the ‘damaging report’ revealed ‘monumental errors made by ministers in their response to the pandemic’.


He added: ‘The ministers were warned but they responded decently.’

Mr Ashworth and others, in their rush to make statements, failed to point out that the two committees that wrote the report were actually making opposite points: that the scientific advice itself was wrong and that Mr Johnson and his cabinet colleagues followed it. .

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If the ministers made an error it was not in closing their ears to the arguments of the scientists – it was in failing to properly interrogate them.

Predictions: Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured above), who published a paper predicting 500,000 deaths from Covid if the government did nothing to deal.

The report on this could not be clarified. It claims that other countries made better decisions especially because their leaders used their own judgment rather than relying exclusively on scientific advisors.

The report claimed that other governments had ‘more license to make decisions more quickly’. Nor were they affected by pandemic plans that proved hopelessly inadequate because they were based on a flu pandemic, not a novel coronavirus.

Britain is a global scientific leader, claiming more Nobel Prizes than any other country in the United States. Our universities often top international league tables for the quality of scientific teaching and research.

And many British scientists conducted themselves admirably during the pandemic: not least those who designed the AstraZeneca vaccine (sold at cost) and who developed some of the first COVID trials.

No, it’s a very special group of scientists who, as we all know by now, dominate the UK’s response to COVID: the 92 members of the government’s scientific advisory group – or sage, its totally inappropriate acronym to use.

Until last March, few Britons were even aware of the group’s existence, yet few who were on it. At the start of the pandemic, its membership was a closely guarded secret. Now the names of its most prominent members go off the tongue as do many ‘celebrities’.

Led by Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sage also includes infamous figures such as Imperial College’s ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson, who resigned in disgrace last May after revealing that he had sought to ban The lockdown rules prepared for this were broken. Everyone’s life – By allowing his married mistress to move into his flat.

He has since quietly returned to the group and is still given a stage on the BBC. Other regulars on Auntie’s broadcast are Professor Graham Medley and John Edmonds, who is on record advocating the herd immunity approach in March 2020. They later made a dramatic U-turn, demanding that we remain under severe restrictions even when the number of COVID infections is low.

Led by the government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (above), the SEZ also includes notable figures such as 'Professor Lockdown' Neil Ferguson of Imperial College.

Led by the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (above), the SEZ also includes notable figures such as ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson of Imperial College.

On SEZ, there is also Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harris, who in March 2020 assured us all that masks can actually ‘trap the virus’ and make it more likely to spread. This was somewhat contrary to advice given in a television interview this June by another familiar SAGE member, longtime Communist Party member Susan Michi, who laughed as she told us to wear masks ‘forever’. By then most of the population had been vaccinated.

It’s good to know that there is some vigorous debate going on among Sage members, but it’s not very helpful for us, the public, to be given such conflicting advice from a body that is accused of building scientific consensus. dealing with an emergency.

Only the vast majority of Aboriginal voters would not feel a degree of sympathy for ministers who had to make extremely important decisions based on advice and predictions that were so pervasive – even if the same scientists had given the seal of authority to government decisions. for.

Rishi has been talking wrong about Kovid from the beginning. Some of the initial COVID tests were developed in the UK in January 2020, the same month that the disease, which had been circulating in China for a few weeks, was first reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Yet, as we learn from the MPs’ report, Rishi failed to develop a testing system to know how the disease was spreading, telling the committee on January 28 that testing asymptomatic people ‘would not be useful’. . Yet at the same meeting the Sage members told MPs that they suspected asymptomatic transmission was taking place. If we had started testing people, we would have had six weeks to prepare for the explosion of cases that happened in March.

As of late March 12, Sage members were still advocating a policy of herd immunity. That day, Sir Patrick told reporters ahead of the daily press conference in Downing Street: ‘It’s not possible to stop everyone getting it and it’s not even really desirable because you want some immunity in the population. We need immunity to protect ourselves from it in future.

Four days later Sir Patrick and many of Sage’s men turned a scathing handbrake after a paper was published that predicted 500,000 deaths from Covid by Professor Ferguson if the government did nothing.


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