Government publishes partial list of SAGE membership as two experts refuse to be named

PUBLISHED: 14:13 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:19 04 May 2020

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance,  Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photograph: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire.

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photograph: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire.

A partial list of the experts behind the scientific response to the coronavirus outbreak has been published.

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The government said that only two participants of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) had not given permission to be named on the membership list, which included 50 members.

Its publication came after calls for transparency over the group, with concerns raised of a lack of breadth in expertise and the presence of Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings in meetings.

Downing Street planned only to name those who consented to be on the list, raising concerns over personal security and the need to protect individuals from lobbying.

The identities of many SAGE members were already known, with individual experts choosing to discuss their roles in public.


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But this is the first time during the crisis that ministers have detailed the group’s membership.

It includes familiar names such as chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty.

Science and Technology Committee chairman Greg Clark welcomed the publication of the list, which came alongside an “explainer” of SAGE.

“I strongly welcome the commitment to transparency made by SAGE in publishing the names of the members,” the Conservative MP said.

“This was something my committee called for in order to provide public reassurance that Government decisions are informed by a broad and substantial body of expert advice.”

Transparency concerns had prompted former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King to convene a separate “independent” panel of experts.

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