A Tory MP has been accused of spreading “dangerous misconceptions” about Covid-19 after he called for an end to England’s lockdown.
Sir Christopher Chope made a number of claims about the coronavirus which a government adviser described as “outright falsehoods”.
Stephen Reicher, an adviser to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), took aim at Chope’s interview with the LBC on Sunday.
During his appearance, Chope, a lockdown sceptic, called for restrictions to be lifted once the most vulnerable people had been vaccinated.
He also claimed that the NHS was “coping very well” and that there was “no justification any longer for having a lockdown based on saving the NHS”, adding that it is “the NHS’ job to save us”.
Threatening civil disobedience if restrictions are not lifted by March 8, Chope said: “People realise you’re going to have massive civil obedience if people in large numbers, the tens of millions, feel there is no reason any longer to be restricted in their economic and social activities.”
Yet, a YouGov survey suggested 85% of Britons supported the national lockdown and that though hospital admissions were declining, case numbers were still too high for a blanket repealing of Covid guidelines.
Prof Reicher, a psychologist who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours, which advises SAGE, appeared on LBC after Chope and later said the MP was peddling “dangerous misconceptions”.
He said Chope’s claims were “based on a combination of unfounded claims and outright falsehoods”. “This is dangerous talk that will cost lives,” he added.
Chope’s office has been contacted for comment.
This comes almost a fortnight after fellow lockdown sceptic Desmond Swayne MP told Save Our Rights UK, a group which argues wrongly that vaccines are “being rushed through safety testing”, that the UK’s coronavirus figures had been “manipulated”.
During the interview in November, Swayne incorrectly stated the UK’s deaths were “typical for this time of year” and told the group his advice was to “persist” with its campaign against lockdown restrictions.