Jeremy Farrar: Sage scientist quits over ‘concerning’ UK Covid picture – reports

A senior member of the UK government’s pandemic advisory body has left the group, saying that the picture in the UK is “concerning”.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, who has been a part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) since the start of the pandemic left the group at the end of October, Sky News has reported.

The director of the charitable Wellcome Trust had pushed for more mask wearing, use of ventilation and greater Covid testing to try to tackle rising cases, in a plan which has been termed “vaccine plus”.

However the government has stuck to its current strategy of trying to encourage people to get vaccinated and for those eligible to take up booster jabs.

Farrar revealed in a book published earlier this year, Spike: The Virus v The People, that he almost resigned in September 2020 when cases were rising and the government had just finished its “eat out to help out” scheme to try to drive people back into hospitality venues.

He had also been among those to call for a lockdown in mid-March 2020, as Covid infections increased and other countries like Italy and France saw large numbers of people in hospital with the virus

In una dichiarazione, he said Sage had come under huge pressure during the pandemic, and that he was leaving to devote more time to the Wellcome Trust.

Egli ha detto: “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.”

Ha aggiunto: “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.”

The government updated public documents detailing Sage’s membership on Tuesday, ma Sir Jeremy’s name remained on it.

A government spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been guided by scientific and medical experts and thanks to our collective national effort we have saved lives, vaccinated tens of millions of people and protected our NHS.

“We knew the coming months would be challenging – this is exactly why we set out our Covid plan for autumn and winter. We are monitoring all the data closely, and the prime minister has been clear that it does not yet show that Plan B [such as compulsory face masks in some settings, asking people to work from home and introducing vaccine passports] is necessary. But it is ready should we need to act to avoid a rise in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

“Our focus remains on our booster campaign, vaccinating 12-15-year-olds, and encouraging those who haven’t yet come forward to have their jab.”

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