Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UK government has claimed to be ‘guided by the science’. But it refused to disclose or publish this science. The membership and minutes of its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were secret and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, said that they would not be released until the crisis was over.
In response, Sir David King, the former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government, Sir David King, brought together a group of 12 leading scientists to form an open, transparent alternative: Independent SAGE.
The Citizens has worked with the Independent SAGE from the start. Our volunteers have livestreamed its meetings, press conferences and public consultation events on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, partnered with Mumsnet & BMJ on public events, run their social media channels and helped co-ordinate press coverage.
During its first meeting, the Chief Scientific Adviser took to Twitter to announce he would be releasing the SAGE minutes and the Independent SAGE continues to have a national impact. It has generated thousands of news items, headlines and has played a vital role in contributing to the national debate about the scientific response to COVID-19.
‘The first meeting of an independent SAGE set a new standard for science policy making,’ the Lancet.
The Covid Report
Our early response to the COVID-19 response was to provide a platform for scientists’ voices to be heard. We created an internet show, fronted by Afua Hirsh and Paul Mason, to ask the vital questions of the day and amplify the voices of experts that the government weren’t but perhaps should have been listening to.
Who are The Citizens?
We’re a group of journalists, filmmakers, advertising creatives, data scientists, artists, students, lawyers and many more.