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Covid inquiry proves Sage had too much power

Boris Johnson with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance. Credit: Getty

October 13, 2023 - 10:15am

This week the Covid inquiry continued to hear evidence about the political incompetence of Boris Johnson’s government not “following the science” during the early days of the pandemic.

Long-standing accusations resurfaced about the Covid policy “rollercoaster” and the need for earlier and more stringent measures, according to Prof. Thomas Hale, leader of the Oxford Covid-19 government response tracker.

Yet this narrative obscures one of the main political failures of how the UK dealt with Covid: a lack of serious thinking about the predictable collateral damage from non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as lockdown.

While responsibility for this abysmal failure is multifaceted, a few specific challenges with the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) merit further attention during the second investigation of the UK inquiry, focused on political decision-making.

First, Sage suffered from a dominance of biomedical expertise, and hence disciplinary groupthink that promoted an incorrect vision of what a “pandemic” really is: a whole-of-society problem rather than just an epidemiological conundrum to be solved through the language and heroic slogans of medical science. 

This was built into the Government’s main request to focus on the epidemiological impact of control measures. Biomedical sciences, led by physicians and modellers, brought their unique worldview to Sage because that was what the Government wanted. This muddied the waters about the high level of uncertainty for the real-world effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions and expert disagreements, which remained sidelined and neglected. According to testimony this week from Lord O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary from 2005-2011:

Throughout the pandemic, it seemed that all attention was focused on SAGE, who provided expert advice to ministers, in order to allow them to say they were ‘following the science’..my experience with SAGE was that they were extremely useful in answering specific questions but were limited to answering questions on medical science.
- Lord O’Donnell

Secondly, Sage suffered from a fundamental existential ambiguity: were they in the business of objective scientific advice or decision-making? In one sense, it would appear that decision-making was partially outsourced from the Johnson government to Sage. This was certainly part of the public view, reinforced by the cultural power of scientific authority. With Patrick Vallance at its head, Sage functioned somewhere between a scientific advisory group and a branch of the executive.

But politicians have not escaped blame. This week, Anne Longfield, England’s former children’s commissioner, blamed Johnson and Rishi Sunak (not scientists) for “failing children over school closures”. She claimed that ministers were indifferent to the harms of lockdown on children, especially the 2.3 million children in vulnerable homes who were “essentially locked up in their homes in unsafe environments”.

In this way, the use of “follow the science” as a strategy to deflect accountability away from elected politicians appears to have backfired and harmed the public perception of the political class; of statesmen and stateswomen engaging in the difficult art of statecraft. 

The willingness of politicians to empower Sage appears to be, at one level, a symptom of the inexperience and dysfunction of the Johnson government, which is now well appreciated by the British public. In effect, one outcome of this is a further descent into a technocratic state. 

Thirdly, Sage also suffered from a number of institutional problems, such as a lack of autonomy, accountability and transparency. In a recent set of recommendations, Bernard Silverman, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office from 2010 to 2017, proposed that formal protocols should be established for Sage in order to increase transparency about membership and scientific evidence. Silverman also proposed a simple but important idea:

The Government should undertake to consider the advice and to publish reasons if they choose not to accept it. This would mean that the actual decision-makers (the Government) would not be constrained by advice they had received, but on the other hand would enhance transparency and accountability if they decided to use other considerations.
- Bernard Silverman

Such a mechanism would help separate out, in the public imagination, the erroneous idea that elected politicians should follow the advice of unelected scientists without question. 

In the end, efforts by the political class to use “the science” to deflect blame appear to have worked about as well as the plexiglass installed in the local grocery shop: useless, expensive and, ultimately, we all see through it.


Kevin Bardosh is a research professor and Director of Research for Collateral Global, a UK-based charity dedicated to understanding the collateral impacts of Covid policies worldwide.

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Nic Cowper
Nic Cowper
9 months ago

When are we going to hear about the censorship of all those scientists who held a different view? What about the grossly inaccurate imperial college modelling that fueled the whole panic?

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

I think there were multiple issues:
(a) The failure of SAGE to red team/blue team every recommendation and make the read team and blue teams perspectives and conclusions public.
(b) Reductionist thinking on the part of highly esteemed laboratory scientists who failed to realize that (i) models don’t reflect reality but simply may provide scenarios based on certain assumptions which can be totally off base; and (ii) what can be demonstrated in the lab doesn’t necessarily (and usually doesn’t) extend beyond the lab into a real world environment.
The evident failure of the scientific class is clearly illustrated by the Royal Society’s most recent output on the impact of masking and other non-pharmaceutical interventions where they simply cherry picked very low quality/low confidence observational studies while dismissing or ignoring the results of randomized controlled trials.
Further failure was the complete lack of oversight. It is true that science is self-correcting but this can take. a very long long time because individual scientists as well as scientific bodies (including the Royal Society) are never prepared to admit they’re wrong, even when it becomes completely evident.
Finally,I would also lay a lot of blame at the feet of the MSM whose sole purpose appears to have been to instill fear and hysteria to sell copy. This was highly problematic because the Government was caught between a rock and a hard place: do nothing and deaths would have occurred; do something/anything and the same number of deaths would have still occurred but at least, in those circumstances (which is what happened) the government would be seen to have done something. As it is, the only thing that should have been done was to protect the elderly in nursing homes by not sending convalesnt covid patients into these establishments, a mistake that was certainly made in the US, the UK and even Sweden.
Had the media and government promoted the truth, things would have gone a lot better: namely, that this was a disease who risk of hospitalization and death was exponentially correlated to age (>75) together with the presence of several severe co-morbidities. In other words, for most people younger than 75, COVID was nothing worse than an influenza-like illness (ILI) or even just a bad cold.

Last edited 9 months ago by Johann Strauss
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Let’s not forget that Boris wanted to go the softer route…. Shield those at high risk and go for herd immunity. The corporate media took him to pieces and the bulk of the UK public supported the corporate media.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

Indeed. And that’s why SAGE, Vallance and Whitty failed so abysmally because instead of explaining clearly what was already known regarding ILIs they caved to media pressure and hysteria. Exactly the same happened in the US, and of course in the US there was the added factor that anything that Trump said had to be wrong.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Indeed…

lmmanuel GOLD
lmmanuel GOLD
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Johnson, valence, whitty WANTED FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. NURUMBERG 2 is coming!.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Scientists do indeed have a tendency to trust too much in their own models – though my prime example is Tegnell, who followed preconceived ideas about a flu epidemic without considering alternatives. At best politicians should be better qualified – less up on the details but more used to taking decisions under uncertainty. Of course the Johnson government quality was so abysmal that clearly they could not be trusted to be responsible even for holding a birthday party.

But the idea of holding a red-team / blue-team exercise and publishing the results is a total non-starter when dealing with an urgent and serious problem. Everybody would simply latch on to the set of arguments that he happened to agree with, and there would be no common effort to do anything (which may of course be what you really want – the freedom to do what you want, unconstrained by official advice).

As for the idea that you could protect people in nursing homes while letting the disease run riot in the population there is no point in discussing again why it could not have worked. Take it from me that it would not; if Johan has any evidence to the contrary he is willing to share we can talk about it.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

When I run yes/no teams, which I think are the same thing that Johann Strauss is calling red/blue, I do not let people join whatever team they like. I assign them to the teams, often randomly, and then they get told which side of which proposition they are supposed to argue.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago

Nothing wrong with the principle – as part of an internal decision making process. But if you had run both pro- and anti-lockdown scientist teams and published both results, you would never have got the population to go along with anything. They would just have decided to go with whatever team gave the result they wanted anyway.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well isn’t that what happened anyway!
As it is, at least in the US, the majority have lost cokmplete confidence in the CDC, NIH and FDA, and it is unlikely than Public Health will recover from this for a very long time. That’s especially so when the US CDC is continuing to recommend nonsense, such as vaccination for anybody 6 months and older, despite the fact that they have just published that the efficacy of the new vaccine is basically close to zero (i.e. completely useless).

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I think you fail to understand that COVID was nothing more than an ILI of which influenza is but one example, and an awful lot was known about ILIs, and for that matter about COVID very early on. As for Tegnell, do realize that at the end of the day Sweden had the lowest excess mortality of any European country including the UK. So basically Tegnell got it right.

As for your opinions Rasmus, I would say to you that a little knowledge is dangerous, and confidence in group think (which is what you’ve exhibited throughout and have been proven wrong throughout) is a very bad approach to take. If Governments can screw up, they generally do, and once the train has left the station it’s hard to turn around and admit that wrong decisions were made and wrong approaches used.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

As for your opinions Rasmus, I would say to you that a little knowledge is dangerous

Ha ha, the irony!

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Interesting comment Robbie because in my case there was no irony. And yes I comment by a pseudonym for obvious reasons. But you don’t need to trust my word or the quality of the arguments I make vis a vis Covid and its management, because the evidence is all around one. Even the UKHSA just published a report (to no fanfare of course) admitting that all the evidence for non-pharmaceutical interventions (which includes lockdowns and masking) were of low confidence and poor quality.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

As were the arguments against non-pharmaceutical interventions. Do you ever play fair?

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. NPIs didn’t work unfortunately and it is pretty obvious if one thinks about it. But the downside socially, and economically of NPIs was massive.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

The facts do not say the NPIs did not work. The facts say that we have too little decent information to decide either way. That brings us back to prior probabilities, where you think it is obvious that they could never have worked, and I think that they most likely would have. No shame in that, but please stop pretending that it is the facts that you base your conclusion on.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes the facts say absolutely that NPIs did not work. If they really worked the effect would not have to be sorted out by statistical analysis at the noise level but would be glaringly obvious. i.e. even a statistically significant 10% effect is a nothing burger, and NPIs did not even get to that. And further, all of that was already well known and established before COVID.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Which side was right is a different discussion, that we will never agree on. But could we agree on the (to me) obvious fact that Sweden is a poster boy example of politicians abdicating responsibility and leaving it all to the scientists? Tegnell and all the health bureaucracy technicians were left to take all the decisions without interference. In Denmark the health authorities started in much the same place, but the reason policies were different is that the government decided to take a role and overrule them.

As for the Red-team / Blue-team approach, I note that Sweden ran a policy that was totally contrary to what all other similar countries decided to do – without ever asking the question whether they might need to reconsider? Sweden being completely isolated was just seen as a symptom of the normal case, where Sweden gets it right and all the others get it wrong.

So you may well think that the Swedes got it right (though I disagre). But surely they are an example of scientists being left to rule the roost. Do you actually believe in politicians taking decisions – or are you just against anybody, whatever thir job decription, who did not agree with you on COVID?

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree that Sweden approach was run entirely by scientific bureaucrats who happened to get it right. As I said, it’s important to red team/blue team everything so that one avoids group think.
As for whether Sweden got it right or not, you are entitled to your opinion but not your own facts. zIn the end they had the lowest excess death rate of any European country. You can look that up (there’s is an article on dailysceptic.org that provides a table with appropriate references to scientific papers and national health statistics).
But the bottom line is this: at the end of the day NPIs had absolutely no significant impact whatsoever in terms of COVID but they had huge downsides socially, economically and medically (all other illnesses, including cancer screenings, mental illness, social isolation, etc….). And that downside hasn’t gone away.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

So we agree on something (!) – that Sweden being run completely by scientists.

On the Red team / Blue team I think that is an excellent idea, but that you have to keep the results in-house. You will never get any member of the public to go along with any recommendation he does not like if you furnish him with a perfect and official argument for doing the opposite.

As for the facts, it is not enough to cherry-pick your own, like you do with your excess death rates. At the beginning of the pandemic one could easily ‘prove’ that Sweden had got is all wrong, just by comparing the COVID death figures with Denmark or Norway. Those numbers are still there if I wanted to use them. Unfortunately this problem is too complicated for single-shot solutions. You need several people to look at all the available data together. And, crucially, they have to be open to what the data say and not be out to confirm a preconceived opinion.

As for the downsides of NPIs, you need an unbiased evaluation both of what happened, and of what would have happened under an alternative regime before you can conclude anything. How many cancer screenings are you assuming whould have happened if all the hospitals had been groaning under a flood of COVID cases?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Science is only self-correcting in so far as the scientists who have got it wrong, and their pupils, eventually die. Which takes some time.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
9 months ago

SAGE knew that it would be politically very difficult for ministers to challenge or refuse to implement their recommendations in the febrile atmosphere of the time (which indeed they were contributing to). Yet having appropriated that power for themselves, SAGE refused to consider the trade offs and knock on impacts involved with lockdown and associated measures – not just economic, but also educational, public health in respect of other conditions, psychological, domestic abuse etc. These were not quantified at all, and ministers, having been put in an impossible position, were left to carry the can.

Last edited 9 months ago by Stephen Walsh
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Absolutely – can you imagine what the MSM would have done to the government if they decided to take a more “liberal” tack than SAGE were recommending.
There is a very strong argument that the MSM’s obsessive desire to “take down” Johnson (especially after Brexit) was a major factor in the implementation of Lockdowns 2 and 3.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ian Barton
Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The article suggests that the narrow composition of SAGE (almost entirely biomedical science ‘experts’) was responsible for the groupthink that led to no proper consideration of the trade offs, knock-on effects and unintended consequences of the measures they were proposing.
The blame therefore lies with the government for not ensuring a more balanced make-up of the committee and/or failing to bring in other experts to evaluate the consequences of its recommendations.

Anne Torr
Anne Torr
9 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I have a fridge magnet that says ‘I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you’
I think that sums up what is going on at the moment and anyone who thinks there will be good quality information on steps for future pandemics at the end of this in several years hence, is not living in the real world.

lmmanuel GOLD
lmmanuel GOLD
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Sage -EVIL.

Ida March
Ida March
9 months ago

There’s no such thing as “the science”. There are only scientists who broadly agree on some things and disagree on others.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago

I don’t think “following the science” was a deliberate tactic to deflect responsibility. The MSM were so hostile to the Johnson government that they had long followed the approach that any decision by “the Torees” was automatically wrong. When Johnson showed an initial reluctance to lockdown, the MSM, opportunistic opposition politicians and others thus insisted the Government should “follow the science”, simply because that was the opposite of what the Government seemed to be doing at the time.
When, under intense pressure, lockdown was adopted it was, inevitably, criticised as “too little, too late”. Lockdown, as hard as possible and for as long as possible, had become the media’s own policy and they insisted the Government should follow it. Even today, as the underlying zeitgeist of the Inquiry shows, it is the establishment’s view. Regrettable as it might be, it became a political impossibility for the Government to do otherwise.
I’m not expecting the Inquiry to come out with anything useful or usable, due to its granting of special status to “victims'” groups and an obvious predisposition to point the blame in one direction only.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
9 months ago

The enquiry is effectively another “Remainers revenge” exercise.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ian Barton
Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold
9 months ago

I think a big part of the problem was that it was not within the remit of Sage to consider anything other than the medical and no one else was appointed to look at the pandemic from any other angle. I stopped watching the broadcast media in early 2020, they seemed almost gleeful at what was going on- they had a big drama to report and comment on. The unintended consequences of the actions that were taken didn’t seem to be given any thought or consideration.

M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
9 months ago

These are interesting points, but what strikes me is that very similar mistakes were made in a great many western countries. Not looking at the bigger picture of trade-offs to things like lockdowns happened in so many places. The UK managed to not be the worst in fact, Canada and New Zealand both come to mind as places where these tendencies were worse.

It makes me thing that some of the forces at work were larger than just the UK, and must have had a significant element driven by the current culture. And it’s worth remembering that BJ’s initial plan was to follow the established guidelines for the outbreak of a pandemic, and avoid most of the measures that we now see caused problems. The public outcry about this was significant and it’s not like the Labour Party was being sensible either.

Val Mugridge
Val Mugridge
9 months ago
Reply to  M. Jamieson

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party were gunning for sooner, harder, longer lockdowns, which is extremely worrying considering they will probably win the next GE.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
9 months ago

I have just read about two papers about group decision-making — they were referred to in footnotes in something else I am reading. I haven’t read the papers yet — and by the time I do this article will be yesterday’s news. The papers are here: The group as a polarizer of attitudes. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1969-12889-001 (1969)and Pooling of unshared information in group decision making: Biased information sampling during discussion. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1985-28037-001 (1985)
They seem relevant in figuring out how we could do better the next time. It turns out that the common-sense idea that the group will end up doing something ‘in the middle’ and less extreme than what the extremes in the group desire is very often wrong. Instead, the extremists dominate the group, which ends up doing what they want despite serious reservations held by the majority.
See also Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life.
A different problem is that groups tend to communicate based on what the members have in common, which may differ substantially from what the individual members think. The psychologists Garold Strasser and William Titus performed a series of studies where members were asked to select which of two job candidates to hire. Each member of the group came to the meeting armed with preliminary information about the fictional candidates. The researchers provided more information favouring one candidate, but they distributed it through the group. The information favouring the other candidate was given to each member of the group.
Thus, if the group had pooled their information, as they were instructed to do, they would have discovered that one candidate was superior. Instead, group after group merely talked about what they all knew in common, which lead them to recommend the less favourable candidate.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

There is no doubt that in a group those who speak the loudest and have the strongest views determine the direction and outcome of any recommendations from the group. And that’s exactly what happened. That is why it is so important to red team/blue team these things and make those discussions public so as to avoid exactly that.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I agree. Also, in Sweden, it is common to go around in a circle and have every person say something. This makes Swedish meetings take about twice as long as meetings other places, but maybe it is being done to avoid the hidden information in the group problem. Everybody says that it is in order to avoid premature consensus, which is known to be a bad thing, but the nuts and the bolts of how that happened was never something I really understood.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

Very interesting insights for sure

Simon Wells
Simon Wells
9 months ago

It was a shock to witness so many well educated people being so stupid.
“Have we got a pandemic plan? Let’s ditch the pandemic plan.”
“The science is settled. Lets try Ferguson’s foot and mouth plan.”
Boris was done by covid which may explain his lack of decisiveness, but he certainly blew his first shot at Churchillian leadership.
The next pandemic plan needs to include a strong counter to the headbangers and catastrophists of the MSM, and an approach to following the logic, not the science.
Science is rarely, if ever settled. Settled science only occurs when one scientist is alone in a lab post research or lightbulb moment, and then only if they can dispel those nagging doubts.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
9 months ago

There seems to be a well established protocol in government circles which goes something like this:
Q. Who do we normally consult in this sort of situation?
A. [Insert name, e.g. Ferguson]
Q. Didn’t he get it horribly wrong last time?
A. Yes, but he’s the chap we normally consult.
Q. Do we know anybody else?
A. There’s always [Insert name of robust critic]
Q. Oh, I think he might be something of a loose cannon. We’d better stick with [Insert first name, as above]

iambic mouth
iambic mouth
9 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

It has been repeatedly shown that Ferguson’s model was based on false assumptions about the Infection Fatality Ratio and COVID-19’s death toll that was exaggerated out of any proportion. Already in 2020, Ferguson had a decades-long history of producing faulty epidemiological models. In 2001 his team at Imperial College London advised massive culling of livestock due to the foot and mouth disease that was supposed to cause 6 million deaths across different livestock species. What followed cost the UK government 10 billion pounds. Michael Thursfield, a professor of veterinary epidemiology, later criticised Ferguson’s model as severely flawed. A year later, Ferguson predicted up to 150,000 deaths due to BSE. The final number of casualties amounted to 177. In 2005, Ferguson said that up to 200 million people would be killed by bird flu–but in reality, there were 282 deaths caused by this disease between 2003 and 2009. In 2009 he overestimated the IFR of swine flu, claiming that it would cause 65,000 deaths in the UK–the final number amounted to 457. A European-wide push to order swine flu vaccines, on a side note, was investigated and condemned by a scientific committee in 2014, if I remember correctly.

The first question is: why did anyone even listen to Ferguson, given his long track record of error-laden epidemic projections? The second question is who, having basic mathematical knowledge and being in their right mind, would impose sweeping social measures based on statistical models? As George Box famously coined in his now famous Robustness in the Strategy of Scientific Model Building, “all models are wrong.”

Iris C
Iris C
9 months ago

No one seems to point out that less than 99.7% of the population died from Covid. The elderly and vulnerable should have been asked to take care of themselves by isolating and the rest of the population should have been left to get on with their lives. The disaster to our economy stems from the decisions taken to make everyone stay at home.
An enquiry is just a waste of time and money.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago

And again large chunks of debate removed. This time short, polite, and limited in number. Someone misusing the flag system? – hard to see any other reason.

lmmanuel GOLD
lmmanuel GOLD
9 months ago

Johnson, whitty, valence WANTED for CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. NURUMBERG 2 coming soon.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
9 months ago

Anne Longfield’s remark, about the indifference of ministers to children’s welfare, is utterly absurd. There was a great deal of concern about children, which all had to be balanced with concerns over the old, the sick, the NHS, and indeed what horrors the virus might yet bring. It happened that most concerns were misplaced and the result of bad advice from experts and panic in all parts of the media, but at the outset the govt had to work out how best to protect all its citizens. Longfield is making too much noise with the benefit of hindsight.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Except that an awful lot was known very early on, especially from the Diamond Princess, but also from what was going in in Lombardia Italy.

Amanda Elliott
Amanda Elliott
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Both the Diamond Princess and the experience of Lombardi gave skewed data as a result of the fact that the samples were unrepresentative of society generally. Extrapolations were made from the infection running through what were closely confined communities of elderly people – generalising about the effects of a virus which adversely affects the over 80’s to the community at large served to generate mass panic. Given the average age of death from Covid is higher than general morbidity shows that we got the response badly wrong which was excusable in the early days but not 2 years on.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Amanda Elliott

What you say is perfectly true but I think a touch misinterpreted. Both were skewed towards the elderly (in a big way), but that told one that it was the elderly that were impacted and not the young. In other words, it was known very early on that COVID was a respiratory infection whose consequences were close to “exponentially” dependent upon age (i.e. the over 80s with multiple co-morbidities). But the MSM, largely, instilled panic in the population and the coterie of scientific advisers (SAGE, Whitty, Valance, Fauci, etc…), despite the fact that there were so many prior studies that indicated that the approach that most countries took was just wrong.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

Such a mechanism would help separate out, in the public imagination, the erroneous idea that elected politicians should follow the advice of unelected scientists without question.

Strange argument. Just who’s advice is the author suggesting the ‘elected’ politicians follow instead?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

without question

I think that is the key point being made

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Seems completely naive to suggest it was followed without question. Perhaps it’s possible to park the cynicism for just a moment and give these people some credit for thrashing out decisions affecting millions of people with very little information and very little time?
After all, we can’t even agree on strategy in retrospect.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I think you’ve got that right. Plus, the UK response was somewhere in the middle of the comparative international response, in terms of severity of measures. This inquiry is being conducted without any detectable sense of perspective.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

They ignored the ability of rational individuals to make the best decisions for themselves given accurate information. Mandating lockdowns was a historically bad idea. But it played into the 21st century zeitgeist of an intellectual ruling class who must make decisions for plebs who are too dumb to think for themselves.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Lol. That’s what I immediately noticed.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The structure of Sage was wrong, hence flawed process was used. This argument was made by the author.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
9 months ago

I’ve just listened to a long but extremely interesting interview with Prof Angus Dalgleish MD FRCP FRCPA FRCPath F Medsci and boy does he lambast Sage and in particular Chris Whitty calling them incompetent. He explains why the Mrna vaccines are next to useless and that repeated use actually suppresses our immune response. He actually produced with others a vaccine that creates a T cell response and not antibody and worked well with Cancer patients who did not get Covid. But the Establishment fobbed him off. Shocking!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnJ5T1Enwq4&t=5s

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago

The blame for any covid failures falls 100% on Bunter’s shoulders.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

That would be totally unfair. It is very difficult for a politician, especially one educated in the classics rather than the medical sciences, to succumb to massive pressure from the scientific elite (experts on SAGE, etc…) and the MSM.