Shifting public opinion demands a rethink of Covid-19 strategy, professor suggests

19 September 2020, 13:27 | Updated: 19 September 2020, 16:29

Prof. Dingwall on public perception of rules

By Seán Hickey

This sociologist hinted that there is growing public support for a complete reevaluation of the UK's coronavirus strategy as scientific knowledge of the virus grows.

Professor Robert Dingwall is Professor of Sociology at Nottingham Trent University and a member of NERVTAG. He was speaking to Matt Frei after the UK's first week of amended coronavirus restrictions and as Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the UK is approaching a second wave.

Professor Dingwall told Matt that "we don't invest nearly as much in the rigorous evaluation and assessment of...these social and behavioural interventions" such as the rule of six or shielding, "as we do when we're carrying out trials of new drugs and new vaccines."

He argued there is a disconnect between implementing these policies and assessing the impact they might have.

"If people out there think we're making it up as we go along, then you can't be terribly surprised if they don't really buy into it," he argued, before proving there has been a drop-off in support.

Professor Dingwall on public opinion shift on government guidelines

Professor Dingwall told Matt "it's fair to say there is a certain amount of concern of, what you might consider to be indicators of a population that is really wanting a proper rethink of the strategy."

He went on to reveal that out of all Brits that test positive for Covid-19, "no more than 20% of them comply with self-isolation." He added that 60% "have stopped paying any attention to government messaging," showing there is growing distain for the Government's response.

"Maybe the population is a little bit ahead of some of the scientific and political elites," he suggested, making the case that Brits are looking further afield at how other nations are dealing with the pandemic.

Professor Dingwall argued that there will be a conversation in time over "what's actually the right balance to be struck with this infection," which may transform the UK's response.

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