Political pressure delayed UK's Covid-19 response, top scientist suggests

16 January 2021, 14:30 | Updated: 16 January 2021, 14:48

Professor Neil Ferguson hints at political influence behind lockdown

By Seán Hickey

One of the UK's top scientists suggests that political tensions may have prevented the nation from locking down earlier.

Professor Neil Ferguson is a member of NERVTAG and an epidemiologist at Imperial College London.

Professor Ferguson told Matt Frei in an LBC-first that the UK was slow to respond to the growth of Covid-19 last summer.

"Government's across Europe – including our own – responded in my view...too slowly to the rising case numbers in September-October," he insisted.

When pushed on why the West was slow to respond, Professor Ferguson said that "the political context of the time across Europe was a rising wave of lockdown skepticism," and governments were being held ransom by politicians.

Read More: Ministers 'pretending' to 'follow science' when it comes to lockdown, expert says

UK slow to respond to rising cases in September

Read More: Covid-19 crisis in numbers: LBC brings you the stats you need to know

"The political consensus, I think, had broken down at that point." The NERVTAG member argued.

"I actually think that had it just been down to the Prime Minister and Matt Hancock they could have acted earlier but there are many tensions within any government and many political pressures at play."

The former SAGE member hinted that while listening to the science, the Cabinet were cautious of acting to quell the second wave of Covid-19 for fear of a political backlash.

Read More: Lockdown strategy 'not a scientific conversation' Maajid Nawaz insists

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify