ENTERTAINMENT

Coronavirus UK: "SAGE and COBRA no longer control decisions"


Matt Hancock confirmed today that the SAGE advisory group has been downgraded and the Joint Biosecurity Center is taking over the response from the British corona virus.

The independent agency has now moved into the background as Covid-19 is a "semi-permanent" problem and not an emergency, the health minister said.

And now Whitehall has Covid-19 committees to make decisions without COBRA meetings that are usually hosted by the prime minister.

The health minister said the new little-known biosecurity center is now taking decisions on Covid-19.

Speaking to a committee of MPs this afternoon, Mr Hancock refused to say when COBRA last met and said it had been replaced by a "bespoke system" consisting of two main groups called Covid-S and Covid-O composed. Covid-S is managed by Boris Johnson.

It is unclear how much engagement the JBC has with independent scientists – SAGE was founded so that the country's top researchers can advise the government without prejudice.

The confirmation comes in the midst of a growing gap between number 10 and SAGE leaders who said last week that another national winter ban could be needed just a few hours after Boris Johnson said he wanted to return to normal.

Mr. Hancock admitted today that another national ban could not be ruled out.

At today's meeting, the Minister of Health also admitted that public health reform is in sight in England and that he only recognized the agency's limits after the crisis broke out.

It wasn't until March that it became clear that PHE would not be able to arrange the mass coronavirus swab testing the country needed, he said.

Although he said his focus now was on preparing for winter, PHE reform was "a matter whose time will come".

Health Minister Matt Hancock said the new government committees were set up to control decisions about Covid-19 without the need for a COBRA meeting

WHAT IS SAGE AND HOW IS THE COMMON BIOSECURITY CENTER DIFFERENT?

SAGE

SAGE is the scientific advisory group for emergencies (SAGE).

It is a body of scientific experts from various fields who are convened to advise ministers and government officials in an emergency.

Panel members – except for those representing the government, including Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance – are not paid for their participation.

SAGE's role is to present the latest scientific knowledge on a specific topic and to discuss it in panel discussions to examine how it could influence government policies and decisions.

SAGE members are not set in stone and change regularly depending on the type of crisis they are responding to. The group is led and organized by the Government Science Office, headed by Sir Patrick Vallance.

Common biosecurity center

The Joint Biosecurity Center is a new organization founded by the government in May this year.

The JBC has been commissioned to monitor outbreaks and has assisted the country's chief physician in determining the level of threat to the corona virus.

The threat level is measured on a scale of one to five and is currently three, which means that Covid-19 is "in general circulation".

The staff consists of epidemiologists and data analysts, but its structure and whether experts are paid by the government have not yet been released.

The JBC is run by Dr. Clare Gardiner, a qualified epidemiologist, medical researcher and director of cybersecurity at GCHQ.

It reports to Baroness Dido Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace, and the entire JBC organization is under the control of the Department of Health, which responds to Secretary of Health Matt Hancock.

It is currently unclear how the JBC will work with other institutions such as Public Health England.

Greg Clark, chairman of the MPs' Science and Technology Committee, asked Mr. Hancock at today's meeting when COBRA last met.

COBRA is the emergency committee that is usually headed by the prime minister when there is a national emergency.

Mr. Hancock said: "I don't have this date on hand" and declined to be pressed for further details before revealing that the committee is no longer the key decision-maker.

The health minister said: "The decision for the coronavirus is that there is a Covid-O that makes the operative decisions and meets two or three times a week, and then reports to Covid-S who takes the decisions and strategy is led by the prime minister and that works effectively. & # 39;

Mr. Hancock described Covid-S and Covid-O as a "coronavirus subcommittee system".

Mr. Clark noted that COBRA was the "established means for emergency use" and added "this appears to be an emergency".

Mr. Hancock confirmed that COBRA was used at the beginning of the crisis, but was replaced by a “semi-permanent” system dedicated exclusively to Covid-19.

And when he explained why the government turned away from SAGE, which is run by Sir Patrick Vallance and which includes chief physician, Professor Chris Whitty, Hancock said it had not been set up to go on indefinitely.

He said, "SAGE, remember, is the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergency – it is not an organization dedicated only to coronaviruses or indeed communicable diseases, epidemics and pandemics.

"And as we expand our ability to deal with epidemics on a large scale, we are building the ability together in one place within the JBC (Joint Biosecurity Center)."

It is not clear whether JBC members are independent or on the government payroll.

The organization itself is part of NHS Test and Trace, which means that it is led by Baroness Dido Harding, who replies directly to Mr. Hancock.

In comparison, SAGE is made up of scientists from across the country who volunteer to participate in panel discussions to talk about scientific evidence and explain it to government officials.

The move sparked controversy earlier this month among scientists, who say nothing is known about who works for the JBC and fear it will become a secret organization.

Dr. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet medical journal, said on Twitter on July 8, “The replacement of SAGE by the Joint Biosecurity Center as the primary mechanism for advising the government on the overlap of Covid-19 science with politics is a setback for independent scientific advice to the government, a

Setback for transparency and setback for public trust. & # 39;

English chief physician Chris Whitty claimed that there were "operational difficulties" that made it difficult to close the country in a week

He disagreed with his colleague Sir Jeremy Farrar, who recently told the Health Select Committee that he "believed the lock was forced too late."

English chief physician Chris Whitty claimed that there were "operational difficulties" that made it difficult to close the country in a week. He disagreed with his colleague Sir Jeremy Farrar (right), who recently told the Health Select Committee that he believed "the ban was enforced too late."

SAGE EXPERTS CLASH OVER LOCKDOWN: PROFESSOR CHRIS WHITTY denies that Britain was too slow – BUT SIR JEREMY FARRAR SAYS that the restrictions came too late

The government's scientific advisers today wondered if Britain was too slow to enforce the ban.

In an unusually bad-tempered interview, English chief physician Professor Chris Whitty claimed that there were "operational difficulties" that made it difficult to close the country in a week.

During a virtual barbecue with MPs, Professor Whitty denied that there was no "great delay" between ministers advised to implement the draconian measures and actually implement the measures.

He appeared to contradict his adviser colleague Sir Jeremy Farrar, who recently told the Health Select Committee that he "believed the lockout was too late" and "should have come earlier", which is a sign of a gap between the top experts Great Britain.

Last week it emerged that the Government's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergency (SAGE) advised the ban to be introduced on March 16. However, Boris Johnson only announced the measures on March 23.

Professor Whitty was asked whether enforcing the draconian measures a week earlier would have saved tens of thousands of lives, as many scientists have suggested, including Neil Ferguson, who was nicknamed "Professor Lockdown" for his grim modeling that prompted ministers to shut down Britain "received.

The GMO blamed poor pandemic preparations, testing capacity and a lack of PSA for the UK, which had the worst outbreak in Europe – with nearly 300,000 confirmed cases and over 45,000 deaths.

And he vigorously defended government action against the Covid 19 pandemic, saying mass tests should be stopped at the start of the crisis because health chiefs didn't have enough capacity to cope with the scale of the outbreak.

However, he accepted that ministers and experts did not recognize "obvious" risks, e.g. B. Residents of nursing homes are at risk from workers who move between homes and spread Covid-19.

During a fierce exchange with committee chairman Jeremy Hunt, who served as minister of health for six years until 2018, Professor Whitty said in a barely veiled dig: "If we wanted to build that capacity, we could have done it in the past few years."

Professor Susan Michie, a health psychologist at University College London, added: "It would be very strange and worrying to reduce the role, cohesion and frequency of SAGE and transfer responsibility to a new facility, the Joint Biosecurity Center, that is encased in secrecy, with no information about its members, how they were selected, and methods of governance, oversight, and accountability.

"The transparency of science and the relationship between science and politics will be the key to public trust, which the government urgently needs to rebuild."

Mr. Hancock's confirmation comes as there appears to be a gap between those in charge of the government and its best scientific advisors.

British chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance warned last Friday that Britain could need another national ban this winter, just a few hours after Boris Johnson announced plans to get the country back to normal by Christmas.

With growing tensions between the Prime Minister and his top advisors, both Sir Patrick and Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said that UK winter coronavirus challenges will be "much bigger" as the season "benefits the virus" is coming ".

The Prime Minister announced that he wanted to live in Britain to return to normal by Christmas, but warned the country "planning the worst but hoping for the best".

Sir Patrick told House of Lords members: “If you release action, it is inevitable that you will see more cases with more contacts. In the coming winter the challenges will be much bigger and of course there is a risk that this could require national measures. "

His counterpart, Professor Whitty, also hinted that the lockout rules could return when the weather gets colder, and stated that people may "have a group of things you could do for three seasons, but it could be that it is." is more difficult in winter ”.

When Mr Hancock spoke at the meeting today about the future of Public Health England, he praised the agency and said that criticism was apparently due to a misunderstanding of what it could do.

However, he admitted that the agency could face reform because its focus is too narrow and it lacks power to take action.

"I think some people have been too unfair to PHE in this regard," said the Health Minister.

"PHE is a brilliant scientific organization and they were founded as a scientific organization and we had to move from science to scaling … PHE was never founded as a scale organization."

When asked if he knew about this progress, Mr. Hancock said, "No, I learned it, and so the (test) policy was transferred to us on March 17th, and as soon as I had full direct control over it, I was able to put my foot on the accelerator and we expanded the scale. & # 39;

"The challenge we found was that it wasn't an organization that was ready to go on the national mass scale. We built the scale outside of PHE."

When asked whether he would reform PHE, Mr. Hancock said: “There will be a time for that. My priority now is to fight the virus and prepare for winter. We need a public health agency that is not only scientifically brilliant, but can also scale quickly. & # 39;

VALLANCE WARNS UK MAY NEED ANOTHER LOCKDOWN – PLANNED ONLY HOURS AFTER BORIS TO RETURN THE COUNTRY TO NORMAL FOR CHRISTMAS

British chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance warned last week that Britain could need another national ban this winter, just a few hours after Boris Johnson announced plans to get the country back to normal by Christmas.

With signs of a widening gap between the Prime Minister and his top advisers, Sir Patrick and Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said that the UK's challenges in the winter will be "much bigger" as the season "benefits" the virus.

The prime minister's plans have also been attacked by scientists and medical professionals, who fear that it is too early for number 10 to lift further restrictions, as the virus is still widespread and people who become complacent risk a second wave could.

The Prime Minister announced that he was aiming to live in Britain to return to normal by Christmas – but warned the country "planning the worst but hoping for the best" when he raised additional NHS funds of £ 3 billion announced and unveiled New Lightning Barrier Powers, allowing Councils to engage in local outbreaks.

It happened after Sir Patrick hammered the day before the Prime Minister's hopes of persuading workers to return to their offices, saying that there was "absolutely no reason" to change the current work of the home management .

It comes after government scientific advisors quarreled today about whether Britain was too slow to enforce the ban.

In an unusually bad-tempered interview, England's chief physician, Professor Chris Whitty, claimed that there were "operational difficulties" that made it difficult to close the country in a week.

During a virtual barbecue with MPs, Professor Whitty denied that there was no "great delay" between ministers advised to implement the draconian measures and actually implement the measures.

He appeared to contradict his adviser colleague Sir Jeremy Farrar, who recently told the Health Select Committee that he "believed the lockout was too late" and "should have come earlier", which is a sign of a gap between the top experts Great Britain.

Last week it emerged that the Government's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergency (SAGE) advised the ban to be introduced on March 16. However, Boris Johnson only announced the measures on March 23.

Professor Whitty was asked whether enforcing the draconian measures a week earlier would have saved tens of thousands of lives, as many scientists have suggested, including Neil Ferguson, who was nicknamed "Professor Lockdown" for his grim modeling that prompted ministers to shut down Britain "received.

The GMO blamed poor pandemic preparations, testing capacity and a lack of PSA for the UK, which had the worst outbreak in Europe – with nearly 300,000 confirmed cases and over 45,000 deaths.

And he firmly campaigned for government action against the Covid 19 pandemic, saying mass tests should be stopped at the start of the crisis because health leaders didn't have enough capacity to cope with the scale of the outbreak.

However, he accepted that ministers and experts did not recognize "obvious" risks, e.g. B. Residents of nursing homes are at risk from workers who move between homes and spread Covid-19.

During a fierce exchange with committee chairman Jeremy Hunt, who served as minister of health for six years until 2018, Professor Whitty said in a barely veiled dig: "If we wanted to build that capacity, we could have done it in the past few years."

WHAT WAS CRITICIZED ENGLAND FOR PUBLIC HEALTH?

Public Health England was on the firing line over a series of dubious decisions made during the coronavirus pandemic.

END TEST & TRACE

When the first cases of coronavirus occurred in the UK, the government's policy was to test anyone who had symptoms when they returned from abroad and to track down people they had come into contact with.

On March 12, however, testing and contact tracking were completely discontinued. PHE was no longer able to test the number of people who came to the country halfway infected with the virus after traveling to Italy and France.

The decision has since been classified as catastrophic and is contributing to the devastating outbreak of Britain.

& # 39;THEY WERE CONTROLLED & # 39;

Conservative MP David Davis told MailOnline earlier this month that Public Health England had overridden and confused control over coronavirus testing.

The Tory MP said: “You totally messed up the test arrangements. They were over-centralized, over-controlled and severely restricted our ability to test. & # 39;

He warned of the decision, which was heavily criticized by top scientists at the time, and then hindered later decisions and was "just the wrong thing".

"Before the winter crisis, the government has to reorganize this, be it removing or removing some powers and handing them over to others," he added.

OVERVIEW OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Public Health England had too much power over testing and contact tracking and should have delegated it to local authorities, an expert said.

Professor John Ashton, a former director of public health, said the UK should have followed Cuba's example where local teams went door-to-door to screen people for coronavirus.

He said: “Local health levels have been neglected. I think we missed an opportunity because we should have used primary care, local government and volunteers more …

"Instead, we chose a very top-down, London-centered approach."

COUNTING DEATHS & # 39; INACCURATE & # 39;

Last week, Public Health England turned out to have counted coronavirus deaths by reviewing a list of people who had ever tested positive to see if they were still alive.

The cause of death or the length of time since the positive test result was not taken into account and the agency was accused of "exaggerating" the number of people who died each day.

The method is probably why the daily death toll in England does not decrease quickly because survivors never really recover from the disease, since their death is due to the coronavirus, regardless of its actual cause.

One of the leading experts who had uncovered the bug told MailOnline that his "best guess" was that more than 1,000 people were wrongly registering the death of Covid-19.

Dr. Yoon Loke, a pharmacologist at the University of East Anglia, warned that "this is not a good data collection method" has had a significant impact in the past two months and is because PHE "has chosen a quick and easy technique". .

And the daily death toll could not go to zero "for the coming months" because many older people have defeated Covid-19, but will die for other reasons, added Dr. Loke added. He discovered the mistake alongside Professor Carl Heneghan from Oxford University.

Dr. Loke said: "According to this PHE definition, no one in England can ever recover from his illness with Covid."

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