No one in the Cabinet Office “took the time to understand the science” on two-metre social distancing, according to a diary entry of Britain’s chief scientific advisor at the time which has been submitted as evidence to the ongoing COVID Inquiry.
In a hearing at the inquiry on Tuesday, lead counsel for the inquiry Hugo Keith, KC quoted from the diary of former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, in which he said one Cabinet Office document had been made up of “cherry-picked” guidance.
In the diary Sir Patrick wrote, “Number 10 chaos as usual.”
In July 2020 when some restrictions were lifted, Sir Patrick said “the ridiculous flip-flopping is getting worse” and “the CMO [Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty] and I are both worried about the extreme inconsistency from the Prime Minister, lurching from open everything to panic.”
The recommended distance between people varied internationally. For example, the German government advised 1.5 metres and the French government advised one metre.
It is not clear what Sir Patrick meant by Number 10 “not taking time to understand the science.”
The Epoch Times has contacted ARIA, the research agency where Sir Patrick serves as a board member, for comment.
Last Wednesday, the UK Health Security Agency released a report which said that the evidence base for the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), such as lockdown, social distancing, test and isolation, masks, the “rule of six,” travel and border restrictions, and more, was “weak.”
NPIs, also known as “public health and social measures,” are any public health intervention not primarily based on medication.
At War With Itself
Sir Patrick has submitted almost 250 pages to the COVID Inquiry setting out a full chronological account of the science advice he provided.
The aims of the inquiry are to “examine, consider, and report on preparations and the response to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.”
The probe, which will cost around £100 million, is gathering evidence on the preparedness of hospitals and PPE spending, and looking at the impact of the virus on those with protected characteristics.
Mr. Keith quoted further passages from the diary in which he claimed that the chief medical officers were “being used as human shields” by ministers.
In his notes for May 7, 2020, Sir Patrick wrote, “Ministers try to make the science give the answers rather than them making decisions.”
He also wrote in his diary about something said by the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case at the time.
“He says Number 10 is at war with itself. Carrie [Johnson] faction with [Michael] Gove and another with spads [special advisers]downstairs. The PM is caught in the middle. He, the Cabinet Secretary, has spoken to all his predecessors … and no one has seen anything like it.”
“As another person said, it’s so inconsistent. It’s like bipolar decision-making,” he wrote.
“Morning PM meeting, wants everything normal by September and only deal with things locally and regionally. He is now completely bullish about opening everything — as [another person]said it is so inconsistent,” he added.
Mr. Keith added: “Sir Patrick’s diary contains entries such as ‘this flip-flopping is impossible. One minute do more. Next do nothing. He doesn’t seem to push actions or resolutions.’”