One of the Tory Grandees has broken cover. It’s Iain Duncan Smith, with some much needed criticism of SAGE. It’s worth reading what he has to say, even though I think he is a bit late with this criticism and that he ought to ‘tell Johnson’ rather than us.
The title of his opinion piece in the DT is “Sage’s recommended cure would kill the patient entirely”, and implies in the subtitle that this is going to be about economics: “We simply cannot go on encouraging businesses to reopen, only to force them to lock down again shortly afterwards” (paywalled link). In fact it is a sustained attack on SAGE, with economics only getting a tiny nod here and there.
After mentioning that GE victory of last December and how he was sent to No 10 on ‘a huge wave of goodwill’, IDS writes that, after Covid struck:
“[…] in a country overwhelmed by the need to defeat the pandemic, goodwill has become a rare commodity. In the midst of this sits the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). The normal run of affairs is that advisors advise and ministers decide. Yet with Sage it is different. Though it is a public body, it is one which the like of I have never previously come across.
So much of the advice influencing policy that has changed our lives and livelihoods has come has come from this opaque organisation, which operates behind closed doors and whose members were only officially identified in May after a very public clamour for transparency.
Appointments to it of an estimated 100 scientists and academics appear to be made by the Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Medical Officer alone. And yet its “advice” has taken on the character of commandments written on tablets of stone – despite the fact that many of its recommendations are hotly disputed by other reputable scientists with relevant expertise. Meanwhile, when the government does not follow its advice exactly, it immediately publishes its minutes, in what appears to be a nakedly political act.” (paywalled link)
Indeed so! We’ve seen with jaws hitting tables how SAGEs have been touting that ‘circuit breaker’ – ‘firebreak’ in Wales, because Dripford has to show that ‘Wales is different’ – as opposed to the three-tier system immediately after BJ announced it last Monday. The statements, given prominent place in the Covid MSM, were grist to the mills of Labourites clamouring for more money and for ‘moar Lockdown’ … Next, IDS minces no words laying into SAGE while damning BJ with faint praise:
“The search for a way to control the virus without severely damaging the economy and causing life-threatening delays to other vital health treatments is an entirely legitimate one. But – as one scientist put it to me – Sage has fallen prey to a form of groupthink that focuses exclusively on a drive to push down the infection rate to the exclusion of all else.
The problem is that if this one aim becomes the only thing that is discussed and advised on by Sage, we end up like a golfer with a one-club strategy – lockdown.
So, while it was gratifying to see the prime minister this week break ranks with the scientific technocracy over what Sage euphemistically calls a “national circuit breaker”, however with London and other places now entering Tier 2 restrictions, the risk is that it could come to be seen as a national lockdown by stealth.” (paywalled link)
That’s what Lockdown sceptics have been pointing out over the last few days. I congratulate IDS on his description of SAGE in this next quote, but his thoughts on what could have and should have been done ought to be taken with a pinch of salt:
“Nothing illustrates the failure of the Sage one-club approach than the failure to properly utilise another weapon in the war against Covid – anti-viral therapies. Used in hospitals, these have help reduce the death rate from 3 per cent of infected cases to 0.6 per cent.
After all, surely the reason we attack the infection rate is to lower the numbers admitted to hospital. As this could be achieved by a vast expansion of the prescribing of anti-virals, such as Remdesivir and Dexamethasone, to the most vulnerable members of our society in their communities, why not do it?” (paywalled link)
Well, IDS seems to have scanned ‘the literature’, but he’s sadly not informed on the latest findings. Perhaps he needs to tell his SpaDs to be a bit more diligent. SwissPolicy Research have published an article titled: “Remdesivir: An Epidemic Failure” (link). This is not crackpottery – they refer, amongst other quotations, to the the latest study by the WHO. Do read the whole thing, it’s an eye-opener, especially on how Big Pharma has been manipulating scientific and clinical advice.
Back to IDS where we finally find some references on the economy after he advocates prescriptions of anti-virals to ‘the vulnerable’, helping to prevent hospital admissions and deaths. It sounds reasonable, but in real life we know that GPs would surely demand ‘a covid test’ before they do so – and getting such test and the result takes a long time nowadays, as reports by those involved demonstrate. You’ll find such reports in LockdownSceptics’ Newsletters (link) which many of you are now reading. Here are the concluding remarks by IDS:
“Such a move now could help prevent the need to lock down the economy.
Importantly, in 2012 the government did this very thing by massively widening the prescription of antivirals in the community to combat the risk of flu.
The PM is right. Encouraging businesses to reopen, only to force them to shut down again, will be a disaster for the health of the economy that creates the resources to fight Covid.
Yet the risk we run is that the SAGE’s recommended circuit breaker becomes a business breaker and the cure ends up killing the patient.” (paywalled link)
Is that a veiled hint to BJ, to stop mincing around, to abandon SAGE’s diktats for the sake of the economy? It certainly is a critique of SAGE even though it’s not as strong as we would have liked – but then, IDS is a politician, a Tory one at that. I wish IDS and by extension BJ had seen the devastating critique of SAGE, of their models and their destructive advice by Mike Yeadon, published here yesterday. Perhaps we should email the link to IDS and the rest of the government. At least their SpAds might read them …
Photo by GioSaccone