The Independent SAGE is chaired by former HM Government Chief Scientific Advisor Sir David King and draws on a range of leading experts to provide robust, independent advice to help Britain navigate COVID-19 whilst minimising fatalities.
On June 23 2020, Boris Johnson announced that he would end the daily briefings with ministers and scientists. The government will be able to ignore the questions it doesn’t want to - or can’t - answer.
Independent SAGE believes that these questions still need to be asked and answered. From today, it will start holding its own regular briefings. It believes that the rate of transmission is still too high, that Britain has failed to put in place a functioning ‘test & trace’ system, and that currently we have no way to contain future outbreaks.
It intends to keep asking these difficult questions, evaluating the government’s figures and providing an alternative source of open, independent scientific advice.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UK government has claimed to be 'guided by the science'. For many weeks they refused to disclose or publish what this science was.
Why does Britain have the third highest mortality rate in the world? What are we doing differently? How can we use the scientific evidence and international experience to prepare us against further outbreaks?
In April, when the committee was set up, the membership and minutes of the government Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were secret. Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, said SAGE minutes, papers and membership would not be released until the crisis was over.
Sir David King convened Independent SAGE in response to this. It conducts science in the open. It livestreams meetings to hear from the public directly. It offers an alternative channel of science advice to the government and public.
Here is what they have achieved to date, and why we need to help them keep going!
. It has produced seven reports on everything from ‘test & trace’ to reopening schools.
. It has given multiple public briefings.
. It has now launched a weekly science briefing, analysing the government’s figures & answering questions from the press & public.
. It prompted Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, to release the names of SAGE members while the first meeting was in progress.
. After two weeks of calling for it, the government announced it would start publishing SAGE minutes
. Hundreds of thousands of people have watched Independent SAGE discuss the science on YouTube, Facebook & Twitter.
. It has generated more than 40,000 press articles.
. Its members make daily appearances on news and current affairs programmes
. Its findings have generated questions in parliament and to the government.
The number of medics and scientists invited to Number 10’s daily briefing has more than halved since the start of June. This week, the government ignored the advice of its own SAGE committee when it decided to relax social distancing measures. And now it has stopped the briefings all together.
It is now more vital than ever that we follow the actual science. We have to help these scientists help us prepare for further outbreaks.
Independent SAGE members are busy, working scientists. Everything they do has been unpaid from the start.
We, the Citizens, are proud to be Independent SAGE’s partner: we’re a new non-profit organisation and we’ve been volunteering our time and skills to help behind the scenes. But now we need your help and support: to run the press conferences, website, Twitter, YouTube, to support their research and to continue the publication of these vital reports.
Thank you for any help you’re able to give.
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