“This must never happen again.” Revisions to the latest ONS data used to justify the latest lockdown call into question the whole basis of Government decision-making during the Covid-19 crisis.
With polling by Yonder for Recovery already showing that the public has lost confidence in the Government’s advisors, this new blow to the credibility of the information they presented to MPs shows that urgent change is needed.
The facts are plain:
Boris Johnson announced the lockdown on 1 November, based on data from the weekly ONS coronavirus survey showing that the incidence of coronavirus in England had more than doubled, from 4.3 positive tests per 10,000 people on October 3 to 9.52 on October 17.
Yet the December 4 ONS survey dramatically downgrades the October 17 figure, to just 4.89 positive results per 10,000 – a supposed doubling in cases was in fact a barely significant increase..
The new revisions add to the significant flaws already highlighted in the case for Lockdown 2 presented to MPs, where Parliament was presented with skewed and outdated figures from SAGE. No attempt was made to assess whether the damage it would cause would be worse than the potential increase in Covid cases. Given the impact of the lockdown on millions of lives and livelihoods, this was grossly irresponsible.
Andrew Rosindell MP is backing Recovery’s call for a better balance in the Government’s advisors. He comments,
“I was never convinced of the case for lockdown 2, but many colleagues who shared my doubts voted reluctantly for it based on the evidence presented. Now we discover that the figures we saw completely misrepresented the situation. We must have an urgent review of how this has happened and the quality of advice that the Government is receiving. How can MPs ever trust what SAGE says otherwise? Millions of lives and livelihoods are at stake. It’s the height of irresponsibility to put them at risk based on inadequate assessments and grossly misleading data.”
“This all adds to the impression that some government advisors are behaving more like campaigners for a cause. It may be fun to be constantly on TV championing harsh and destructive measures, but they should spend more time checking their data,” said Jon Dobinson, Recovery Campaign Director. “This kind of mistake is off the scale of irresponsibility. Lockdowns and harsh restrictions bring personal tragedy. We’ve heard so many terrible stories from many people who were personally affected by Lockdown 2 in terrible ways.
“Polls tell us that three out of four people are now more concerned by the impact of lockdowns and restrictions than Covid-19. We know from the therapists in our Mental Health group that it had a devastating effect on many people and sadly, we know of a growing number of suicides linked to the lockdowns and restrictions. They are typically young people and each is a tragedy that blights many lives. The lockdown spread despair, saw many people lose their jobs, many good businesses fail, and contributed to a growing mental health crisis. Now we know that all this was done on the basis of grossly misleading data. This must never happen again.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
Polling showing that the public has lost confidence in the Government’s advisors
Independent poll commissioned from Yonder by Recovery with fieldwork carried out on 11-12 November. Results were based on a representative sample of 1,762 adults in England drawn from a panel of 200,000 UK adults. It asked:
Q.1 Thinking about how SAGE has been advising the Government over recent months on Covid-19, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
* Membership of SAGE should be urgently reviewed in the light of its recent performance
* I am confident SAGE has the right advisors
Over 53% of those who expressed an opinion agreed with the statement that ‘SAGE should be urgently reviewed in the light of its recent performance.’ Just 33% expressed a degree of confidence that SAGE has the right advisors.
‘Three out of four people are more concerned by the impact of lockdowns and restrictions than catching Covid-19’
71% of UK adults rank Covid as a lesser concern than the consequences of lockdowns for their physical and mental health, jobs, and children’s futures. Based on an independent Yonder poll using a representative sample of 2000 UK adults drawn from a nationwide panel of 200,000. Fieldwork was conducted between 26-27 October.
2. ABOUT RECOVERY
Recovery launched in October 2020 as a broad-based coalition of people from all walks of life, many different backgrounds and the spectrum of mainstream political views who are concerned about the effect the response to Covid-19 is having on all our lives.
Recovery calls for balance and moderation in our response to Covid-19, backed by a proper public debate, and a comprehensive public inquiry which looks at the impact Government policies have had on: Covid-19 mortality; other killer diseases like cancer; mental health; the economy; and the future for children and young people.
The campaign is backed by a wide range of high profile people, including senior Doctors and NHS staff, leading authorities in epidemiology and infectious diseases, mental health experts, entrepreneurs and leaders of business, sporting stars and world champions, TV celebrities and chefs, stars of the performing arts, bands and musicians.
It has specialist groups led by leading experts and household names looking at specific areas of concern, including:
• Medicine & Science
• Mental Health
• Arts and Hospitality
• Sports and Fitness
• Small and Medium-size Enterprises