The documentary “Lockdown 1.0 – Following the Science?” on BBC Two last night exposed that SAGE had admitted to using data from Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit, in its modelling. The Mail has the details.
No 10’s scientific advisers relied on dubious data from Wikipedia to help steer Britain through the spring’s coronavirus crisis and wrongly predicted the peak of the first wave by two months, an explosive new documentary has claimed.
Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) admitted early virus modelling was based on unverified figures from the online encyclopedia, which can be edited and managed by members of the public.
Tory MP Steve Baker, who has refused to support the Prime Minister’s second lockdown, told MailOnline: “Some of those claiming to be ‘following the science’ seem not to understand the meaning of the word. SAGE has been put on a pedestal as if they are able to produce a single version of the truth. It’s not possible.”
Professor Ian Hall, deputy chair of the SAGE subgroup SPI-M, defended the approach, saying: “The public may be surprised that we were using Wikipedia to get data very early on in the pandemic, but that was really the only data that was publicly available that we could access.”
The BBC programme also revealed:
- Britain’s SAGE group advising the Prime Minister on fighting the pandemic contained no specialist on human coronaviruses
- Before a national lockdown was imposed in March, scientists also predicted the peak of the virus in the UK would be June – when in fact it was April
- Scientists failed to consider the impact agency workers would have on spreading Covid in care homes by moving between several different sites to work. There were more than 30,000 excess deaths in care homes because of Covid in 2020
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, told MailOnline:
The fact they used Wikipedia for their models is just completely unacceptable. You’ve got to use verified data. I cannot imagine a scenario where any scientist should be turning to Wikipedia – the thing about models is it’s extremely important the evidence they’re based on is as robust as it can be. It reflects our lack of preparedness, there were outbreak happening in Europe that could’ve been used to inform. If they [SAGE] didn’t understand the data or couldn’t access it they should’ve been in touch with public health officials abroad to understand them.
The charge sheet against Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty, who appoints SAGE, and Chief Scientist Sir Patrick Vallance, is growing by the day. Surely, it’s time Boris showed them the door and got some fresh heads in to bring in some new ideas. That’s one Great Reset we could all get behind.