Top scientist leaves SAGE due to ‘concerning’ high Covid rates in UK

Sir Jeremy Farrar leaves SAGE advisory group according to Sky News (Image: BBC)

Sir Jeremy Farrar left the SAGE advisory group to focus on his charitable work (Image: BBC)

One of Britain’s scientific leaders, who called for tougher measures to stem the spread of Covid-19, has left the government’s pandemic advisory body.

As a leading authority on infectious diseases, Sir Jeremy Farrar advocated a “vaccine plus” strategy to curb the high levels of transmission seen in the UK.

His resignation from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in late October comes amid ‘immediate’ Covid-19 rates.

Sir Jeremy is the director of the Welcome Trust, and a spokesman for the charity stressed that he was leaving so he could ‘focus’ on his work there – not because of disagreements with the government over the Covid-19 strategy.

In a statement, the scientist said: ‘The Covid-19 crisis is far from over, with the global situation deeply worrying.

‘The high levels of transmission seen in the UK are still worrying, but I stepped down as a participant in SAGE, knowing that ministers had been given most of the key scientific advice needed during the winter months.’

Sir Jeremy’s plan called for a return to face clothing, ventilation and continued Covid-19 tests to get the country through what some experts predict will be a difficult winter.

Researcher advocates a 'vaccine plus' strategy to curb high Covid-19 rates (Image: BBC)

Researcher advocates a ‘vaccine plus’ strategy to curb high Covid-19 rates (Image: BBC)

However, the government has so far refused to take this path and has not yet adopted a plan B – reintroduction of tougher restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus.

He added: ‘Throughout this crisis, SAGE has provided crucial evidence and independent, expert, transparent advice to support Britain’s response, often under great pressure.

‘It has been an honor to have joined the hundreds of scientists who have contributed and I thank Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty for outstanding leadership.

‘I remain, as always, available where I can offer assistance as a clinical scientist or as the director of Wellcome.’

A spokesman for the Government Office of Science confirmed that Sir Jeremy had withdrawn from the Covid-19 SAGE activation and thanked him for his contribution.

They added: “SAGE continues to provide the government with independent expert scientific and technical advice.”

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