Majority of UK adults say SAGE membership should be urgently reviewed – new poll data


A Yonder poll released today reveals that the public has lost confidence in the current experts on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and believes its membership should be urgently reviewed. 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.’

In the light of recent controversies about the ‘dodgy data’ used to justify the recent lockdown, the latest evidence that the public has lost confidence in SAGE should prompt an urgent review of its membership and that of its crucial New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), where Neil Ferguson remains influential despite being forced to resign from SAGE itself.

Jon Dobinson, Campaign Director and co-founder of Recovery commented, “We call on the Government urgently to review SAGE membership to ensure it reflects the right balance of scientific and medical opinion, with experts who can advise on the huge collateral damage caused by current policies. As this poll shows, the public expects the scientific advisers who are deciding such important decisions about our health to be expert in fields like epidemiology and medicine, and to be balanced in weighing up the consequences of their advice.

“Instead, we have seen advisers who are experts in fields such as behavioural science, but have no experience whatsoever in medicine or epidemiology, playing a leading role in policy recommendations. This is a far cry from what the public expects. No effort has been made to assess the likely impact of their advice in key areas like mental health, cancer treatment and the economy before implementing policies which will do huge damage to the lives and livelihoods of the people of the UK. It’s not surprising that the public is losing confidence in SAGE. To make demands for unprecedented restrictions and lockdowns without a thought for the potential damage is grossly irresponsible.”

The independent poll was commissioned from Yonder by Recovery 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

A clear majority of the public who expressed an opinion wanted the current membership of SAGE reviewed.  Just 33% expressed a degree of confidence that SAGE has the right advisors.

Londoners and those living in the West Midlands were the regions that thought a review of SAGE membership most important.  Surprisingly, of all age groups those over 65 years of age felt most strongly that an urgent review should be undertaken.

Recovery’s Five Reasonable Demands call for the Government to act with more humanity and balance the need to tackle Covid-19 with the impact its policies are having on mental health, treatment for killer diseases like cancer, and the future for our young people. Previous poll results have clearly shown that the majority of the UK population shares these concerns and needs to see more balance in the Government’s response.




Recovery launched on Thursday 29th October 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. It has already made a significant impact on the debate.

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 and Science.
  • Mental Health.
  • Arts and Hospitality.
  • Sports and Fitness.
  • Small and Medium-Size Enterprises
  • Education
  • Students

Jon Dobinson is a former Secretary-General of the International Society for Human Rights (UK) – global UN-affiliated human rights organisation.


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