Ross Clark Ross Clark

There is no Covid consensus

(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Today, 32 scientists, economists and other academics have written to the Prime Minister demanding a change in policy on Covid-19, saying that attempting to suppress the virus is ‘increasingly infeasible’. They have instead demanded that vulnerable groups should be protected from the disease while younger people should be allowed to get on with their lives. 

Many of the signatories will be familiar to Spectator readers. They include the bad boys and girls of Covid — scientists who have argued consistently against lockdown and the more doom-laden narratives. Those such as professor Carl Heneghan of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Professor Sunetra Gupta, a theoretical epidemiologist also of Oxford University, and oncologist Karol Sikora.

Science is not divided between a few sceptics on one side and a large majority who accept some kind of consensus

It now transpires that Heneghan and Gupta were invited to Downing Street for a summit on what to do about a rise in recorded cases of Covid-19 — the first time that No. 10 is known to have solicited their advice since the beginning of the crisis. According to a Downing Street spokesman, Boris Johnson wanted to ‘hear a wide range of views’ on how to proceed against the disease.

Could it be a sign that attitudes are changing in the government? Don’t bet on it. A few hours after the Prime Minister spoke with Heneghan and Gupta, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser held their ‘press conference’ — more a one-way presentation — with its now infamous graph showing a scenario in which cases of Covid double every seven days between now and the middle of October, by which time 50,000 people a day would be infected. 

That presentation paved the way for the Prime Minister’s announcement today of further restrictions on our everyday lives in an attempt to combat the disease.

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