What is Independent SAGE?
Independent SAGE is a group of scientists who are working together to provide independent scientific advice to the UK government and public on how to minimise deaths and support Britain’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis
Who’s in charge?
Sir David King, the former chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government, is founding chair the group. Professor Deenan Pillay and Professor Susan Michie are current chair and deputy chair respectively.
Is it officially recognised?
No. Independent SAGE is independent of government and does not answer to it. It does however share its work openly with the government as well as with the public.
Are the scientists paid?
No. All the scientists involved are doing this as unpaid voluntary work. They are all committing hours of their time every week to discuss the science, explain it to and discuss it with the public and produce reports. They are putting advice into the public domain because they believe the public wants to hear about the science surrounding COVID-19 and the thinking that underpins the government’s strategy.
How does Independent SAGE engage with the public?
Independent SAGE was founded with the intention of putting scientific facts and debate into the public domain. We believe openness and transparency leads to better understanding and better decision making. We also believe it the responsibility of scientists and those with specialist knowledge to engage with the public and policy makers, in order to ensure that science benefits all of society. Independent SAGE holds regular live streamed briefings discussing the current state of the pandemic and at which journalists, policy makers and members of the public can ask questions of the scientists. We also produce reports and consultation documents covering different aspects of the pandemic response. A small support team has been helping Independent SAGE with its public events and media activities. They have been organised by The Citizens.
What is the relationship between Independent SAGE and The Citizens?
Independent SAGE and The Citizens are separate and independent organisations. The Citizens were a founding partner with Independent SAGE in May 2020. Citizens provide the support that allows Independent SAGE to live-stream briefings, they run Independent SAGE’s social media and web presence and support the participation of guests (members of the public and media) in the briefings, and they help launch new reports and field media enquiries for members of Independent SAGE. Academic members of Indie SAGE have provided small amounts of funds to The Citizens to support this work alongside The Citizens’ crowdfunder. The Citizens have no input into the content of reports or the advice that Independent SAGE gives to government and the public.
Is Independent SAGE a modelling group?
No. Independent SAGE does not commit to – or engage in – any particular modelling initiative. We occasionally draw on mathematical models from a variety of sources where relevant to a report. Most often these will be from the government’s SAGE modelling subgroup (Spi-M).
What has it done so far?
Since the first meeting on May 4 2020, Independent SAGE has produced more than 30 reports, hosted multiple public engagement events and answered questions relating to the science, from the public, journalists and broadcasters across a whole range of topics.