Top government scientist quits SAGE over "concerning" Covid numbers 2 months ago

Top government scientist quits SAGE over "concerning" Covid numbers

One of Britain's top scientists has quit the Government's advisory board, SAGE, over "concerning" case numbers

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has quit, warning the situation in the UK is "concerning".

Advertisement

The scientist and Director of the charity, The Wellcome Trust, had been advising the government on Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.

He resigned from SAGE at the end of October, Sky News reports.

As cases continue to rise, Farrar's plans called for more mask wearing, ventilation and country-wide testing to get the nation through the months ahead.

The measures, known as "Plan B" have not been implemented by the government, despite pleas from NHS chiefs to curb the UK's high transmission rate.

The NHS, which is currently tackling a backlog of five million patients, is already under strain. NHS chiefs believe if Britain doesn't change its behaviour, a winter of chaos is on the cards.

According to the latest figures, another 33,865 coronavirus cases and 293 deaths have been recorded in the UK.

Advertisement

On Monday, there were 9,538 people in hospital with COVID, compared with 6,467 a month ago and 2,013 on 2 July.

In a statement he said SAGE has been under huge pressure throughout the pandemic, and that he was leaving to devote more time to The Wellcome Trust.

He said: “The Covid-19 crisis is a long way from over, with the global situation deeply troubling.

“The high levels of transmission seen in the UK remain concerning, but I stepped down as a participant of Sage knowing ministers had been provided with most of the key science advice needed over the winter months.

“Throughout this crisis Sage has provided vital evidence, and independent, expert, transparent advice to support the UK response, often under huge pressure.”

Advertisement

“My focus now must be on our work at Wellcome. This includes supporting the international research effort to end the pandemic, ensuring the world is better prepared for inevitable future infectious disease threats, and making the case so the full potential of science is realised to inform and drive change against all the urgent health threats we face globally.”

On his personal Twitter account, before his departure announcement, Sir Jeremy said he was taking "a few days break, time away from work, off social media".

Advertisement

In an extract from his book, published by The Times in July this year, Sir Jeremy revealed he'd "seriously considered resigning from Sage" as early as Summer 2020.

He said: "The newly opened economy, buoyed by such schemes as Eat Out to Help Out, was slowly feeding the virus. Taxpayers effectively subsidised its spread.

"From July last year onwards, the infection rates began creeping up week by week. During those holiday months of summer 2020 I felt very strongly that not enough had been done, particularly in terms of test, trace and isolate programmes (TTI), to prepare for the winter."

Sir Jeremy criticised Boris Johnson's decision not to introduce a lockdown in September 2020, a decision he believes led to the chaotic "cancelled" Christmas later that year.

Advertisement

Boris Johnson is currently in Glasgow attending the COP26 Climate Summit where he is petitioning world leaders to reduce their carbon emissions.

He will fly home later this week.

Related Links

Respiratory illnesses could claim 60,000 lives this winter as flu jab campaign launched

Here we go again - the government says book your Xmas party. What's 'Plan B'?

Dominic Cummings calls Boris Johnson a "joke" over Coronavirus handling