Coronavirus: Professor grilled by Maajid Nawaz for criticising government's plan

15 March 2020, 15:34

By Seán Hickey

A letter signed by scientists criticising the government's Covid-19 strategy has made headlines, mainly due to no signatures being from experts in disease spreading.

Willem Von Schaik, professor of microbiology and infection at the University of Birmingham joined Maajid to justify his reasons for signing an open letter to the government claiming that the current coronavirus strategy is risking lives.

Maajid began by pointing out his primary concern with the criticism, stating that because Professor Von Schaik isn't an expert in the spread of diseases, he shouldn't be speaking out against those who are experts in that field.

"By me speaking on something that is not my expertise, I'm probably politicising it" Maajid claimed, accusing the professor of being political.

Maajid interrogated the microbiologist and posed the question to him "how do you know the policy is wrong if you haven't spoken to the epidemiologist and biologists involved?"

The letter criticised the work of the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty
The letter criticised the work of the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty. Picture: PA

Professor Von Schaik claimed that the policies coming from the government "will lead to a rapid spread of the disease" because of a relaxed attitude towards locking down those infexted or potential carriers.

"Why should we trust your word over those that do this for a living" Maajid pushed. He seemed unimpressed by the arguments of the professor to this point and insisted that he has no stance to criticise outside of his expertise.

Professor Von Schaik claimed that although his expertise isn't in the spread of disease he claimed that it doesn't take an expert to see that "it is unusual to say the least that other European countries that have taken scientific advice have made an entirely different call".