Although Britain is working through the coronavirus pandemic, the government is adamant that science drives its decisions. But a self-appointed group of independent experts says it sees little evidence-based response from Britain , especially after an upturn in new cases forced a delay in lifting further restrictions on lockdowns.
As in many European countries where controversy has erupted about how to manage COVID-19, the scientific resistance to Britain ‘s strategy is structured in particular: the research committee sits almost parallel to the government’s own scientists, testing the same outbreak metrics but openly highlighting shortcomings and incoherences. In recent weeks, the organization has released comprehensive reports on almost every major issue addressed: touch tracing, reopening schools, restaurants and bars, and calming social distancing. And the independent experts have practically pointed out obvious flaws in the government’s strategy at almost every stage.
“As far as we can see, there is no long-term plan,” said University College London virology professor Deenan Pillay, who advised the government during the swine flu pandemic in 2009-10 and is a member of the independent committee. “To hold the government to account is the job of scientists, and others with expertise,” he said. A Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, also known as SAGE, was formed by the British Government as the coronavirus exploded in China in January to resolve the emerging crisis. Aside from a few exceptions his membership was kept secret.