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The BMJ interview: Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, on covid-19

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 04 November 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4235

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Rapid Response:

Who are the members of SAGE? There must be transparency and accountability for coronavirus policy.

Dear Editor

In regards to transparency for the UK Government's handling of the coronavirus situation, Chris Whitty says "I'm very much in favour of transparency in all areas. I was really pleased that, for example, the SAGE minutes were published - I think that's exactly as it should be. I can see no disadvantage to openness".[1] 

But who are the members of SAGE, these people who are influencing coronavirus policy , not just in the UK, but around the world?[2] 

SAGE members are unelected individuals who are wielding great power over policy, which is impacting on the free movement and association of people. This is a very serious matter in our liberal democracies and there must be accountability.

Currently there is scant information about SAGE members on the GOV.UK website.[3] 
There must be transparency and openness in regards to the members of SAGE:
- Who are these people, what is their background/history? 
- What are their qualifications and affiliations? 
- Who funds them?
- Do they have any conflicts of interest?
- Etc...

There must be full transparency and accountability for SAGE members, the GOV.UK website must be updated as a matter of urgency.

1. The BMJ interview: Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, on covid-19. BMJ 2020;371:m4235
2. See for example SAGE member Neil Ferguson's report* being cited in Robert Moss et al Coronavirus Disease Model to Inform Transmission Reducing Measures and Health System Preparedness, Australia. Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 26, No. 12 - December 2020. Also see COVID-19 modelling papers and press conference, Doherty Institute website:
* Neil M Ferguson et al. Report 9: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. 16 March 2020.
3. List of participants of SAGE and related sub-groups. Updated 4 November 2020. GOV.UK:  

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 November 2020
Elizabeth Hart
Independent person investigating the over-use of vaccine products and conflicts of interest in vaccination policy
Adelaide, Australia