Epidemiologist Professor John Edmunds took to the airwaves this morning to claim that the Government’s new Covid measures do not go far enough in tackling the virus. He even claimed that Nicola Sturgeon’s draconian no-home-visits rule has not gone far enough. Blimey.
Yet back in March Edmunds was one of the most vociferous in calling for a ‘herd immunity’ strategy, mocking the idea of suppressing the virus across the world as unachievable. Today he struck an entirely contradictory tone. Could the reason why Professor Edmunds is now so keen to loudly propose what he used to think was impossible be that he is attempting to shore up his position in the forthcoming inquiry?..
Yesterday, SAGE member and epidemiologist Professor John Edmunds told Andrew Marr that the UK “should have gone into lockdown earlier” saying the delay “cost a lot of lives“. This is the same Professor Edmunds who in March said the UK should not declare a state of emergency, saying sweeping measures would encourage a panic and non-compliance claiming that “we are going to have to limit the amount that we are going to ask [the public] to do.”
This morning Edmunds was joined by fellow SAGE member Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, who told the Today Programme that starting lockdown earlier “would have meant after the same period of lockdown we would be at a much lower case rate and death rate per day.”
Recently published documents show that if this is the case, the original advice from SAGE was at the heart of the problem. SAGE minutes from early March were highly sceptical about the net utility of school closures, and concluded that “there is no evidence to suggest that banning very large gatherings would reduce transmission”. In fact SAGE was unanimous on 13 March, ten days before the lockdown was announced, that “heavy suppression” of the virus would be counterproductive:
“SAGE was unanimous that measures seeking to completely suppress spread of Covid-19 will cause a second peak. Sage advises that it is a near certainty that countries such as China, where heavy suppression is underway, will experience a second peak once measures are relaxed.”
If the UK got its response wrong, it’s because the advice from scientists was followed…