Stay in touch!
Sign up to be updated with Evolve's latest stories, and for opportunities to get involved.
In recent days, Boris Johnson’s government has encountered fierce criticism from across the scientific community for not taking tough enough measures to try and control the spread of the virus.
The UK has widely been seen as an outlier after taking a completely different, far less stringent, “mitigation” approach to tackling Coronavirus – in complete contrast to all of its European neighbours.
However, following a report conducted by Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team which showed that Boris Johnson’s strategy could lead to as many as 250,000 deaths and the NHS being effectively destroyed, the UK government has, finally, come to the conclusion that it wasn’t the entire rest of the world who were wrong about their strategies, it was them.
Following this realisation, the government yesterday advised the public to refrain from non-essential travel and to avoid social gatherings – and it is expected that even more stringent measures will be announced today that will bring the country largely in line with the rest of Europe.
However, rather than simply admit that the government had got their approach wrong, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg claimed on Radio 4 that Johnson’s hasty change of direction was because “the science has changed“.
In addition to Kuenssberg’s claim, the BBC have also published an in-depth article making a similar argument that:
“The government has always said it is following the science and the science has changed profoundly. “
Unsurprisingly, given the fact that every other country in the world is following the same science and it is only the UK that has changed their strategy, the BBC’s assertion that the science had supposedly changed came in for widespread criticism – not least from the editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, who said:
“Laura Kuenssberg says (BBC) that, “The science has changed.” This is not true. The science has been the same since January. What has changed is that govt advisors have at last understood what really took place in China and what is now taking place in Italy. It was there to see.”
Laura Kuenssberg says (BBC) that, “The science has changed.” This is not true. The science has been the same since January. What has changed is that govt advisors have at last understood what really took place in China and what is now taking place in Italy. It was there to see.
— richard horton (@richardhorton1) March 17, 2020
And Horton’s criticism was repeated by numerous others – many of whom slammed the BBC for appearing to try and cover for Boris Johnson’s failings:
Can we repeat to our dilatory broadcasters “the science has not changed”
Time to stop making excuses for our political leaders. https://t.co/hS5cMBrDir
— Peter Jukes (@peterjukes) March 17, 2020
The “science” has not “changed”.
Not a single figure in any of this, the R0 (infectiousness), case fatality, ICU rate, NHS capacity. NOT ONE.
And WE STILL are not doing full suppression measures. The virus has a TWO WEEK incubation period- we need to act yesterday. https://t.co/sIev1Pwxfy
— Dr Dominic Pimenta (@DrDomPimenta) March 17, 2020
Laura Kuenssberg tells BBC news that, “The science has changed.” This is not factually incorrect.
The science has never changed.
What's changed is the "behavioural scientist's" advice was found to be dangerous & misleading.
Atrocious so-called "journalism".
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) March 17, 2020
This is woeful from @bbclaurak on @BBCr4today.
Laura, the science has *not* changed. Stop repeating that lie. What has changed is the attention being paid to the science by the clown in number 10.
Scientifically ignorant BBC journalists are a real danger right now.
— Sandra Pickering (@opento) March 17, 2020
Kuenssberg spinning like hell on behalf of Johnson yet again. No, he got nothing wrong. No he's not changed strategy. He's just tweaked a bit based on the best science. If you believe that you'll believe the moon is made of green cheese. Where are proper journalists in a crisis?
— Thomas James (@ThomasJ58805552) March 17, 2020
'The science has changed' says government spokesperson @bbclaurak, whose job now appears to be covering up the fact that Johnson and his team of assassins tried to kill us in the name of some pseudo-scientific moonshine about herd immunity.
— simon maginn (@simonmaginn) March 17, 2020
As Norway & Germany experience far fewer fatalities per 1000 cases, & it is known that the government’s initial plan meant thousands of extra deaths, the BBCs political editor says ‘the science has changed’.
This absurd lack of scrutiny isn’t acceptable when lives are at risk.
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) March 17, 2020
How can Laura Kuenssberg say 'the science changed' like there wasn't any 'science' beyond UK Govt advisors? How can the most senior reporter in the country be that blinkered to the rest of the world? It's infuriating. This is what the WHO have been saying FOR WEEKS for god sake.
— Ben Wray (@Ben_Wray1989) March 17, 2020
The science did not change – how could it have? https://t.co/Km8pIVlpRT
— Jessica Simor QC (@JMPSimor) March 17, 2020
The BBC also encountered widespread criticism during December’s General Election campaign after making numerous “mistakes” – all of which just happened to benefit Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.
There is little doubt that the BBC’s latest fiasco will only further erode public trust in the corporation.