Sun and Mail in bizarre call for PM to ignore scientists…as Covid death rates spiral

Writing off our nation's top medical professionals is a dangerous game, argues Lucy Skoulding

Pandemic response

With coronavirus cases surging, the Sun and Daily Mail newspapers are pouring their resources into denigrating Britain’s scientists.

Both outlets have today written absurd editorials essentially calling for the Prime Minister to ignore what scientists are saying in the face of spiralling Covid deaths in the UK. Tuesday’s figures showed 17,234 new cases in the UK, up 3,262 in a day. We saw 143 deaths, up 93 in a day. 

While going into another national lockdown is certainly a matter of debate, the Sun‘s leader column today – calling scientific experts at SAGE “erratic” and urging the PM not to “surrender” to them – is completely irresponsible.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail’s rants: “You’ve defied the boffins, Boris, now stay strong,” – as if suggesting some sort of twisted war on scientific and medical expertise.

To use a word that everyone is bored of, this virus and this pandemic is unprecedented. It means, with every new challenge we face, it’s impossible to know for certain what the best course of action is. So all we can do is use scientific research and understanding to inform us while also taking other components into account, such as people’s jobs and living situations. Denigrating experts is straight out of the Leave playbook – and we know where that’s got us.

In the months that we’ve been living with this virus, we’ve already learnt a lot about it. From how it spreads and preventative actions we can take to drugs that can now be administered to people suffering from it. That has been achieved through listening to scientific and medical experts – not writing them off. As we learnt on Monday night, the government has ignored SAGE advice at its – or rather our – peril.

This isn’t about whether a full national lockdown is the right course of action or not. It’s about recognising the importance of science in all decisions we make during this pandemic.

We cannot ignore either side of the lockdown argument. But writing off our nation’s top medical professionals is a dangerous game.

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter. 

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