As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK approaches 800, with a further 5-10,000 people estimated to be infected, concern about the government’s handling of the crisis is coming under increased scrutiny.
To date opposition Labour MPs as well as scientists not in the employ of government have, by-and-large, gone along with the government’s advice, based as it is on the chief scientific adviser’s advice. But a number of concerns are now being voiced about the government’s strategy, especially in terms of not cancelling large gatherings.
Listening to constituents, friends, family and fellow MPs discuss the rights and wrongs of the government’s approach to date, it’s clear we’re all pretty much second guessing what should be done. Therefore, in an attempt to work out what our approach should be I spoke to Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia. He’s currently on the World Health Organisation’s expert advisory panel for Infection, Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19
(Bio here: https://people.uea.ac.uk/paul_hunter)
Here was Paul’s take:
When MPs come back to Parliament next week, demanding better COVID-19 data and modelling transparency from the government should be a key demand. Both good science and government should not operate in an opaque bunker. The scientists around the government will no doubt be some of the very best. But their data and modelling should be shared with a wider pool of scientists. This will allow us to utilise a wider pool of expertise, develop alternative models and would allow scientists around the world to learn from the UK’s experience. It would also allow Opposition MPs to better scrutinise, where necessary and support where possible, the government’s decisions now and in the future.
There’s a reason appropriate transparency in our democracy is a good idea, and this is clearly one of them.