A Government Scientific Adviser has said that academic infighting over Covid-19 worries him more than “handling the virus itself”.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Professor Thomas House, who sits on the Government’s SPI-M modelling team, said scientific rows over pandemic policies have become “the most toxic they have ever been” and called for “genuine compromise” between those with opposing views.
Professor House said: “I am fed up with the attitude of some scientists who polarise this debate and do not allow for discourse.”
His comments come as a new study suggests those who claim to be “following the science” may simply be discounting evidence that runs counter to their beliefs.
The paper found most of the research into the management of Covid has taken one of two approaches ‑ mathematical modelling or analysis of real-world evidence.
To date, the modelling approach has been preferred by policy makers, with proponents of the evidence-based approach being “dismissed, mocked and even shunned”, the researchers found.
The study ‑ A Tale Of Two Scientific Paradigms: Conflicting Scientific Opinions On What Following The Science Means For SARS-CoV-2 And The Covid-19 Pandemic ‑ is based on data from 30 countries.
The researchers analysed the same data using both approaches and were surprised to find they got remarkably different results.
The modelling-based approach justified many measures the Government has implemented during the pandemic, while the evidence-based approach suggested many of these measures have been largely ineffective and even counterproductive.
Using the evidence based approach found that there was no evidence that the non-pharmaceutical interventions such as lockdowns, social distancing, and mask wearing were effective in preventing the spread of the alleged Covid-19 disease, but that there was plenty of evidence the Governments version of a cure was far worse than the Covid-19 disease itself.
The study also found that the evidence based approach found no need for a population-wide experimental vaccination programme and led to a conclusion that effective therapeutics should instead be actively encouraged.
Dr Ronan Connolly, a scientific modeller and co-author of the study, said: “This was a worrying finding since analysing the same data with different scientific approaches should give broadly similar answers.”
The authors warned: “This means anyone who thinks they are ‘following the science’ on Covid-19 is probably only following one part of the science and dismissing the rest.”