The Government should take “all necessary measures” to control the coronavirus through suppression rather than managing its spread, a group of scientists said.
The so-called Independent SAGE, formed to offer alternative scientific advice to that provided via the U.K.’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said there is “ambivalence” in the government’s response to the crisis, “with some advisers promoting the idea of simply ‘flattening the curve’ or ensuring the NHS is not overwhelmed.”
This approach was “counter-productive and potentially dangerous,” they say
The team of thirteen is chaired by Sir David King, who served as the government’s chief scientific advisor between 2000 and 2007.
They were formed to show the public what the scientific recommendations are, so they can judge whether actions taken by the government are correct.
His group urged the government to resume contact tracing, saying it was “critical” to stop further waves of the epidemic.
The group advocates “suppressing” the virus, by maintaining social distancing measures until it is safe to relax them.
They say that without suppression, we shall inevitably see a more rapid return of local epidemics resulting in more deaths and potentially further partial or national lockdowns, with the economic costs that will incur.”
The group were also highly critical of the government’s new slogan. Replacing “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”, it now reads “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives”. The change was announced as Boris Johnson told people who are not able to work from home that they should “speak with their employer” about returning to work. Dr Zubaida Haque from the group pointed out this policy would affect people from more vulnerable communities.
“We know the stay at home message has been effective, it has protected vulnerable communities, even those in overcrowded multigenerational homes,” she said.
“To some extent, this new slogan is reckless, as it puts the onus of responsibility onto individuals who don’t necessarily have all the necessary information to protect themselves in this pandemic.”