The scientists — a counter-research group challenging the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) — dubbed Independent SAGE says the government continues to ignore scientific advice and forge ahead with initiatives to reopen the country’s economy despite warnings that the virus is not under control.
“What’s depressing about it is they don’t seem to be learning lessons or showing any evidence they’re listening to (the World Health Organization) or to scientific advice,” said psychologist Susan Michie, who serves both on a SAGE sub-committee and with Independent SAGE.
The independent group has condemned Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s clearance earlier this year to reopen some schools on June 1, his slashing of social-distancing precautions from 6.6 feet (2 meters) to 3.3 feet (1 meter), even indoors, and his approval to reopen gyms.
Months after the pandemic has killed more than 46,500 people in the UK — the highest tally in all of Europe — national officials have switched tactics to attempt a more localized approach of test and trace systems for the virus.
The group says that the government should work on eradicating the virus altogether rather than allowing the number of positive cases to grow.
“We fear that the government has given up trying to control the pandemic further,” the independent scientists wrote in a July report. They said Britain should try to eliminate the disease completely, which would require measures like an aggressive contact-tracing system and tighter restrictions on international travelers.
“What we are doing is deeply unpopular in the government because it’s a reminder that the virus hasn’t gone away,” said London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor Martin McKee, an Independent SAGE member, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.