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I asked three questions yesterday about the UK covid policy, which left me puzzled:

Apparently I was not the only behavioural scientist puzzled by this. Today a letter by scientists that questions the government’s approach and is asking for that “behavioural” evidence to be released, has attracted >100 signatures from UK academics…

There are several reasons why I signed this letter, even though I am convinced that the scientific experts who advise the government are acting in good faith and in order to minimize harm to society.

However, given the magnitude of the looming crisis, whatever policy is created on the basis of their advice must be thoroughly examined.

My understanding is that the Government’s policy is to create “herd immunity” by ensuring that 60% of the population (or more) have been infected and have survived the virus. Irish TV sums up the numbers well:

What exactly are the numbers that the government is relying on to formulate their policy? What fatality rate are they assuming applies? Estimating fatality rates of emerging diseases is notoriously difficult:…

What if the fatality rate is 3% as the WHO recently estimated? That translates into 1,200,000 estimated deaths over the near future. Are there other policies, such as those practiced by China (belatedly), Singapore, or Taiwan that might avoid this death toll?

Apparently the other part of the government’s policy is to “cocoon” vulnerable populations against infections now so they can profit from herd immunity later. Where is that cocoon? Germany is creating one for the elderly:….
What is the UK doing?

Most measures in UK seem to be driven by civil society not government…

What behavioural science underlies the policy to neither test nor socially-distance people now? There is a recent review of the effects of quarantine that clarifies the adverse outcomes. I know some of the authors and believe they have it right:…

But if quarantine is bad, why is it getting any better in the future when things are so much worse? Would it not be advisable to distance people socially as soon as possible? This is indeed the recommendation of the US CDC:… .

What does the UK government and its behavioural scientists know that the CDC and WHO do not?
There is lots more to say but those questions are sufficient for me to sign a letter questioning the government’s approach and asking for more evidence.
I do so in the recognition that there are different expert opinions and that this is an extremely difficult situation to manage. I believe the scientists advising the government do so for all the right reasons. But did they get it right this time?

I just learned of a synergistic effort here:
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