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22 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Sage scientist: Officials wanted earlier lockdown, but thought it would be politically unfeasible

By Samuel Horti

A senior scientist advising the government on coronavirus has said some government officials wanted to impose an early lockdown on the UK but did not do so for political reasons.

Professor Ian Boyd, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told the BBC that the UK should have acted “a week or two weeks earlier” than it did, which would have made “quite a big difference to the steepness of the curve and therefore the death rate”.

Some in government wanted to impose a lockdown earlier than 23 March, when restrictions were put in place, but did not do so because of their “political opinion” that it was not feasible, which showed a “failure of imagination” about what the British public were willing to accept.

“One could point the finger at ministers and politicians for not being willing to listen to scientific advice,” he said. “You could point the finger at the scientists for not being explicit enough. But at the end of the day all these things interact with public opinion as well.”

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