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Where has all the science gone?

October 13, 2020 5:19 PM

hv35 (Photo by Bruno Figueiredo on Unsplash)Back in the Spring as covid began its sweep through the community the government was keen to show that at every step of the way that the actions they were taking were "guided by the science". It is arguable whether all the scientific advice at the time was correct but the close link helped create a feeling of confidence that decisions were being made for good and logical reasons

The announcement of the new three tier system of constraints to get back control of the virus suggests the world has moved on a long way

Northern mayors are complaining both about the rationale as to why their areas are being treated as they are and are equally vocal about the reduced levels of support being offered to businesses and employees hit by orders to close or restrict activity. Probably the most controversial action is the 10pm curfew on bars closing which has never been substantiated by medical evidence. Indeed SAGE the medical advisory committee has said "Curfews likely to have a marginal impact. Low confidence,"

The widening gap between the scientists and government is best illustrated in two ways

At the Downing Street press conference on Monday, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said that he was "not confident" that even the basic restrictions laid out in the top tier, tier 3, of new rules would be enough to restrict fast-growing Covid cases.

In a report from SAGE of their meeting of 21 September they said "As over 90% of the population remain susceptible, not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences in terms of direct Covid-related deaths and the ability of the health service to meet needs."

As well as a national two week lock-down circuit breaker, the group's five recommendations included advising all who can to work from home; a ban on household mixing in homes, except for those in support bubbles; the closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and services such as hairdressers; and all university and college teaching to be online "unless absolutely essential".

Only the encouragement to work from home has been implemented and that followed an active campaign over the summer to encourage people back into the office!

Now we all understand that the government has a horrible balance to strike with too much restriction risking more economic damage not to mention impact on peoples mental health but you have to wonder what they have been doing during the summer. Almost every ex[pert said the virus would be back in the Autumn and yet track and trace still seems not to be working effectively, we have just finished a period of being encouraged to eat out and go back to work even though both are now to be avoided

We hope the government has got the balance right. With all the advice to the contrary we know where responsibility lays if things do not come back under control

Responding to the Prime Minister's announcement of new coronavirus guidelines, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

People across this country have endured terrible hardships over the past six months, losing loved ones, losing livelihoods and isolating from friends and family. That's why people are so angry to see their hard work and sacrifices utterly wasted by the incompetence of Boris Johnson.

The priority now has to be keeping people safe and ensuring no one is left behind, particularly in the north of England, which is bearing the brunt of the government's shambles. Boris Johnson must get testing, tracing and isolating right, and provide proper economic support to save jobs and livelihoods. If the Government does not do more to help, it risks pushing millions of families into poverty.