Follow the science? We were way too easily blinded by it

THINK back to those first few weeks of March 2020.

Just after we had all got a little worried about this weird new illness that came from Wuhan, in China.

Boris Johnson only seemed to take the pandemic a bit more seriously once he’d copped a dose and was bunged in intensive careCredit: EPA

A kind of flu caused by some Chinese bloke chowing down on bat intestines and pangolin spleen, we were told.

Just before we started hoarding bog rolls and hand sanitiser.

Before we were locked down. Before life kind of changed for ever.

Italy was already in lockdown.

Loads of ski bunnies, fresh off the piste, were coughing their lungs up.

A little later France and Germany locked down.

We did not.

Incredibly, we also kept the airports up and running.

Thousands upon thousands of people flooded into Heathrow and Gatwick, some of them infected.

We even continued with mass sporting occasions, such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

I can remember thinking at the time: “This is madness. Keep the borders shut!”

But nope. It wasn’t until March 26 that the UK went into lockdown, weeks after Italy and France.

I thought at the time that Boris wasn’t taking this pandemic very seriously.

He only seemed to take it a bit more seriously once he’d copped a dose and was bunged in intensive care.

And yet you might also remember what our scientists were saying at the time.

They were initially against closing the airports. Said it didn’t matter, basically.

They didn’t push for an early lockdown, either.

We have one of the highest death rates from Covid in Western Europe, most of the numbers coming in that first wave.

I wonder how many of the almost 140,000 people who have died from this wretched — and probably man-made in China — flu would have been saved if we’d been quicker to act?

And yet it now transpires that the Government really was following the science. Following the advice from Sage.

The first report into how we handled the pandemic has been published.

And most of the blame is laid at the door of the scientists. For their “group think”. For their mathematical models, which were frequently grossly inaccurate

It resulted in one of the greatest public health disasters in our history.

This is the problem with science.

It is a wonderful construct.

But its limitations need to be understood.

It does not deliver “the truth”.

Only what it hopes is the truth.

EARLY ON SCIENCE FAILED

In dealing with the pandemic, early on, the science failed.

Later, in the production of vaccines, it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

The problem, I think, is that early on those scientists doing the advising were not rigorously cross-examined.

Journos, for example, tended to take their word for everything, as if it were gospel. But it clearly wasn’t.

This Government — the politicians — still have some very serious questions to answer about their reaction to this crisis.

Most serious of all is the way in which the elderly were left to die in care homes by the thousand.

That was a terrible and callous miscalculation. And it will come back to haunt Boris, I suspect.

But if there is a lesson for the future it is that we need to understand science a little better.

Grasp that scientists are often wrong and must be challenged on their assumptions and projections.

The more we challenge, the better our chance of coming up with the best possible response.

When it came to Covid, blindly “following the science” led directly to the deaths of thousands of people.

The scientists were initially against closing the airports as thousands upon thousands of people flooded into Heathrow and Gatwick, some of them infected

The scientists were initially against closing the airports as thousands upon thousands of people flooded into Heathrow and Gatwick, some of them infectedCredit: Getty

We even continued with mass sporting occasions such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup

We even continued with mass sporting occasions such as the Cheltenham Gold CupCredit: Reuters

Margaret Keenan, 90, was the first patient in the UK to receive a Covid vaccine

Margaret Keenan, 90, was the first patient in the UK to receive a Covid vaccineCredit: PA

Computer artwork of a human coronavirus particle

Computer artwork of a human coronavirus particleCredit: Getty

UK Covid cases hit highest daily total in three MONTHS with 42,776 infections but deaths drop

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