My son is setting up a gardening business based on the principles of permaculture. He has taken over an allotment to serve as his laboratory. My youngest son and I have spent recent weekends helping him clear this of unwanted foliage and junk. Currently he is proud owner of a very large pile of weeds.
A couple of weeks ago I joined a zoom meeting of Scientists for Labour a group affiliated to the Labour Party. The speaker was physicist and veteran science policy adviser Sir David King. He served Labour and Conservative governments. Under the Blair government he ran a large foresight programme for major events such as a pandemic. He now chairs the Independent SAGE, which appears to comprise the experts one might have expected a government to have consulted in managing a pandemic. The meeting is publicly available. While he talked I tried to sketch (not very well) and made a few notes.
Here he talks about the fact that the UK had been a world leader in preparedness for such a pandemic, setting out how to manage such an event in 2006.
“the biggest foresight program I ran was on the infectious diseases … our report … said that it was highly likely that a pandemic of the kind that has just occurred would occur … it might emerge from a wild animal … it would spread around the world very rapidly … within 3 months … it would have a genetic make up that we would have no defences against … we set out what should be done, the WHO was represented on the group … and it is kind of surprising and amazingly annoying that the country that produced this report … and the WHO responded very well … that we are the country that sits behind every country in terms of our operation. Sixty five thousand excess deaths to date …”
“it is difficult to believe a word of what the government is saying”.
“complete mishandling of this pandemic of appalling proportions”.
“A vast number of people have died unnecessarily …”