SAGE has 'restriction enthusiasm' and needs urgent 'reform', says think tank director

19 December 2021, 18:10

By Tim Dodd

Think tank Civitas' Jim McConalogue has told LBC the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has "restriction enthusiasm" and "should be reformed as quickly as possible".

SAGE has provided scientific and technical advice to support government decision makers during the Covid pandemic.

It comes as health secretary Sajid Javid has refused to rule out the possibility of introducing stricter coronavirus restrictions but promised any new measures would need to go through Parliament.

Mr McConalogue told Camilla Tominey: "There is also a near total dependence on SAGE and its subcommittees, and it's producing a network that's so much greater than an advisory group that it's said to be in official guidance.

"I think [it] should be reformed as quickly as possible as this is leading to narrowly conceived models producing narrowly conceived conclusions particularly within a culture of... restriction enthusiasm."

Read more: North Shropshire by-election defeat down to public mood on pandemic, says Tory MP

Mr McConalogue said SAGE needed "teams that are able to criticise and reform and scrutinise what's going on with some of the SAGE evidence that's then presented to ministers".

"The assumptions you use in modelling - can we rely on modelling all the time for these kinds of emergencies? Modelling exercises try to apply a common template to very disparate situations," he said.

Read more: Frost resignation 'beginning of very rapid end' for Boris Johnson, journalist claims