Last week, Tory MPs who planned to revolt over the 10 p.m. rule had the opportunity to hear from one of the government’s top scientific experts why curfews were critical to the fight against the coronavirus.
“The whips have arranged a conference call with Jonathan Van-Tam [Deputy Chief Medical Officer]’explained a rebel.
“He should have convinced us to support the government. But when we asked if 10pm would make a big difference, he said, ‘Not really. I’d rather have 6pm. Or even earlier. ”
We are supposed to ‘follow science’. But this morning more than half of the British population is living under some form of ‘local’ lockdown. And there’s not a shred of epidemiological evidence that their detention will be effective.
The scientists have, in effect, given up their own science. Their attitude is no longer to take an evidence-based approach in addressing the pandemic. Instead, they resort to whatever they can to Covid, hoping that something – whatever – can just work. Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance are pictured above
Van-Tam destroyed the fiction at around 10 p.m. Just like his colleague, Professor Peter Openshaw, of Imperial College, did for the rule of six last month.
“It seems somewhat irrational in some details,” he admitted. It was left to the Chief Medical Officer himself, Chris Whitty, to blow apart the government’s shiny new three-prong traffic light locking system.
“ I’m not sure, and no one is sure that the Tier 3 proposals for the highest rates, if we did the absolute base case and nothing more, would be enough to get on top of it, ” he said just a few hours after Boris revealed them.
To the government’s critics, this is yet another testament to how Boris and his ministers allowed the Covid crisis to sprout from their power. Or worse, persistently and late in choosing to use the British people as a human shield for the economy.
But as the second wave of the coronavirus is starting to take hold of the nation in its steel, something else has become tragically clear.
It is impossible for Boris to follow science because the scientists themselves have no idea what science actually is
It is impossible for Boris to follow science because the scientists themselves have no idea what science actually is.
On Monday, Westminster was startled by the release of the final Sage minutes. They revealed that on Sept. 21, the panel of experts found Covid out of control and that a series of new measures were needed, including a “ circuit breaker lockout. ” Yet the ministers had rejected their advice.
For Keir Starmer, now was the time to stop flip-flopping and strike. “You know the science is behind this approach,” he teased to PMQs.
‘You know that the restrictions you put in place will not be enough. You know that it now takes a circuit break to get this virus under control. ‘
Except science doesn’t support this approach. Tucked away at the bottom of the Sage-minute bomb is the following passage about circuit breakers: “The evidence for the effectiveness and harm of these interventions is generally weak. However, the urgency of the situation is such that we cannot wait for better quality evidence before making decisions. ‘
It then describes what must be done to produce some real science to support a circuit breaker.
Collection and analysis of contact details for data tracking purposes. More detailed data about where people interact and what they do. A good investigation into the damage and impact of different interventions in different settings.
But as Sage makes clear, none of that happened. In our own words, we cannot wait for science.
As a result, the minister’s patience with their scientific ‘experts’ is running out.
Last week, Rishi Sunak attended a meeting with Chris Whitty and NHS CEO Sir Simon Stevens.
“They tried to push for a stricter lockdown on hospitality,” reveals a minister. But Rishi pushed back.
He began to dig deeper into the numbers. And they didn’t get up. He said, “Sorry, but you’re too selective with these numbers.” ‘
Other ministers are concerned about how the scientists seem to increasingly see their role as that of pro-lockdown spin doctors, rather than as objective experts.
In particular, they point to the infamous chart that ‘projects’ 50,000 infections by mid-October. And their increasingly faster and loose use of catchy language.
“What’s all that junk from a circuit breaker?” asked a minister. ‘It’s not a circuit breaker. It turns off the power. And when you do that, you turn it off to the whole economy as well. And what happens when you turn it back on? Anger is also growing about the way in which ministers should look to decisions that are actually taken by their advisers.
“Take care of houses,” said a government official. ‘Why did we take people out of hospitals? Because the scientists told us to create new capacity. They told us there was only minimal risk of asymptomatic transmission. And they told us that even if we didn’t, we didn’t have a test that could pick up an asymptomatic infection.
‘So with that advice what the minister is going to say:’ Let’s keep them all in the hospital? ”
And there is one more important thing that has damaged ministerial confidence in their advisers. It’s called the ‘Caprice Factor’.
On March 16, the former model appeared on the Jeremy Vine show. Why didn’t we opt for a two-week quick lock and insisted everyone wear a mask, she asked. And promptly became paralyzed.
Last week, Rishi Sunak attended a meeting with Chris Whitty and NHS CEO Sir Simon Stevens. “They tried to push for a stricter lockdown on hospitality,” reveals a minister. But Rishi pushed back. He began to dig deeper into the numbers. And they didn’t get up. He said, ‘Sorry, but you’re too selective with these numbers’
“ If we stopped everything, if everyone was electronically tagged to their home for the next two weeks, we’d shut things down for two weeks, and once everyone left we’d see a massive spike, ” insisted fellow guest Dr. Sarah Jarvis. .
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries warned that wearing a mask was “not a good idea.” You can even catch the virus in the mask and inhale it, ”she said.
Her views were echoed by Jonathan Van-Tam. There was “ no evidence that the general public wearing of face masks that is good affects the spread of the disease in our society, ” he said. Now it seems that Caprice was right. And the experts were wrong.
When the pandemic started, the ministers had no choice. Indeed, none of us had an option. Science and scientists had to be followed.
But we can no longer ignore the facts. The scientists told ministers that locking them too early would cost lives. And those same scientists are now lining up to say we locked up too late.
The scientists told ministers that there is a low risk of asymptomatic transmission of the virus. And now they admit it happened, and they raged through our nursing homes.
Scientists told ministers masks wouldn’t work. Now they are all telling us that they are an essential part of the fight against Covid.
On Thursday, I spoke with a Conservative Member of Parliament from the East of England, whose local hospital currently has a single Covid patient.
“The scientists want a two-week circuit breaker for the whole country,” he said.
‘Good. Can they show me the science showing that locking my seat will help protect NHS capacity in Manchester and Liverpool? ‘
The answer is no. Because the scientists have basically given up their own science. Their attitude is no longer to take an evidence-based approach in addressing the pandemic. Instead, they resort to whatever they can to Covid, hoping that something – whatever – can just work.
If not, we should all remember the time when Britain’s best scientific and medical minds said to the nation, ‘We can’t wait for better quality evidence before making decisions.’
And then someone has to call Caprice.