in the UK, a bis scientific committee puts pressure on Boris Johnson

Technicians from the Pharmatech Exscientia laboratory are working on a treatment for Covid-19 in Oxford on April 24.
Technicians from the Pharmatech Exscientia laboratory are working on a treatment for Covid-19 in Oxford on April 24. ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

Technology played tricks on him during his partly inaudible press conference on Monday, May 4, but Sir David King nevertheless managed a nice communication move, with the live broadcast on YouTube of the first meeting of his "scientific committee" bis ”, three hours before. The Briton, ex-scientific advisor to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, brought together a dozen experts (virologists, intensive care doctors or epidemiologists) to discuss in a transparent manner the best ways to respond to the pandemic in the United Kingdom.

At 80, this professor emeritus in physics-chemistry in Cambridge intends to denounce the opacity of SAGE (Scientific Council for Emergencies), the committee officially assisting the Johnson government since the start of the pandemic, but whose deliberations n have not been made public since March 16. He also hopes to spark public debate at a crucial time: Sunday, May 10, Boris Johnson must finally unveil the conditions and the agenda for a deconfinement of the country.

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Nothing has so far filtered from the Prime Minister's intentions and the British must be content with disorderly leaks in the media: the Financial times recounts talks advanced between Downing Street, employers and unions on organizing return to work, Guardian says primary school children would be the first to go back to school, not before 1er June… Even the right wing of the Conservative Party begins to get impatient: Sunday, May 3, the influential Steve Baker, MP and convinced brexiter, denounced confinement "Absurd, dystopian and tyrannical" in the columns of Sunday Telegraph.

"The scientific advisor must be able to advise both a prime minister and the general public, in order to strengthen their confidence in science", David King insisted at his press conference. "I'm not criticizing scientists at all (from SAGE), but because of the lack of transparency, the government can very well say that it follows the advice of scientists without us knowing what it contains ", also entrusted the professor to Telegraph.

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"This is a new virus, there is still much to discover, we are happy to receive scientific advice from other groups", responded a spokesman for Downing Street. Mr. King’s initiative has already provoked a first notable reaction from the government: he published an almost exhaustive list of SAGE members (fifty people, half of whom are government experts) on Monday afternoon.

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