Vital Sage evidence used to guide ministers through the coronavirus crisis will remain a SECRET until the pandemic is over, says government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick VallanceSir Patrick chairs the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage)The chief scientific adviser wrote to MPs saying info would not be released yet He also justified not naming scientists who are on Sage, which advises ministers Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
The Government’s top team of scientific advisers will not publish key evidence used to advise Boris Johnson and his ministers through the coronavirus pandemic until it is over, it emerged today.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Goverment’s chief scientific adviser and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), made the announcement in a letter to MPs.
It comes at a time when Sage’s advice to the Government is facing fresh scrutiny over a lack of widespread early testing and resistance to the idea of widespread facemask-wearing by the public.
The membership of the committee, which varies according to the nature of the emergency, is currently being kept a secret on security grounds amid claims that some suspected members had received threats.
In a letter to the Commons’ Science Committee, Sir Patrick said Sage met 20 times before the start of April to discuss Covid-19.
Sage will commit to informing the Committee in advance when new evidence is due to be published,’ he said.
‘Once Sage stops convening on this emergency the minutes of relevant Sage meetings, supporting documents and the names of participants (with their permission) will be published.’
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Goverment’s chief scientific adviser and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), made the announcement in a letter to MPs
It comes at a time when Sage’s advice to the Government is facing fresh scrutiny over a lack of widespread early testing and resistance to the idea of widespread facemask-wearing by the public
MPs last week called for the cast list of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to be made public so that people can see exactly who ministers are getting their advice from.
The government has rejected the calls, with sources claiming the names cannot be published because of security concerns amid reports of some experts receiving death threats.
But former SAGE members have questioned that argument, insisting it is ‘perfectly reasonable’ for people to know who sits on the committee which Boris Johnson is relying on to guide the government’s response to the outbreak.
However in his letter to committee chairman Greg Clark, Sir Patrick said: ‘The decision to not disclose SAGE membership for the time being is based upon advice from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and is in line with the standard procedure for COBR meetings, to which SAGE gives advice.
‘This contributes towards safeguarding individual members personal security and protects them from lobbying and other forms of unwanted influence which may hinder their ability to give impartial advice.
‘Of course, we do not stop individuals from revealing that they have attended SAGE.’
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