’The government’s scientific advisers relied on unverified data from Wikipedia to form Britain’s response to Covid-19 in the spring, according to a BBC documentary that airs tonight. ’The public may be surprised that we were using Wikipedia to get data very early on in the pandemic, but that was really the only data that was publicly available that we could access,’ Professor Ian Hall, deputy chair of the Sage subgroup SPI-M, says on Lockdown 1.0 – Following the Science?, which airs on BBC2 at 9 p.m.
The programme, which is likely to heap further pressure on the government ahead of lockdown ending on 2 December, raises serious questions about the advice the government has been receiving since the beginning of the pandemic. Other revelations include that there were no experts on human coronaviruses within Sage, while Sage scientists predicted that the peak of the first wave would be in June (it was, in fact, April). Perhaps most worryingly, Sage did not consider the impact of agency care workers moving between care homes.
The documentary comes just weeks after Sir Patrick Vallance used out-of-date modelling from Cambridge and Public Health England – forecasting 4,000 deaths per day by Christmas – to announce England’s second national lockdown. This graph followed another, now infamous set of data published in September, showing 50,000 infections per day by mid-October – another model that fell far short of reality.'