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Top scientist quits SAGE amid 'concerning' high coronavirus rates in UK

One of Britain’s scientific leaders, who was advocating for tougher measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, has quit the Government’s pandemic advisory body.

As a leading authority on infectious diseases, Sir Jeremy Farrar was advocating for a ‘vaccine plus’ strategy to curb the high levels of transmission seen in the UK.

His resignation from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) at the end of October comes amid ‘concerning’ Covid-19 rates.

Sir Jeremy is a the director of Welcome Trust, and a spokesperson for the charitable trust stressed that he left so that he can ‘focus’ on his work there – not because of disagreements with the Government over Covid-19 strategy.

In a statement, the scientist said: ‘The Covid-19 crisis is a long way from over, with the global situation deeply troubling.

‘The high levels of transmission seen in the UK remain concerning, but I stepped down as a participant of SAGE knowing ministers had been provided with most of the key science advice needed over the winter months.’

Sir Jeremy’s plan called for the return of face coverings, ventilation and continued Covid-19 testing to get the country through what some experts predict will be a difficult winter.

However, the Government has so far declined to take this route and has not yet adopted a Plan B – reimposing tougher restrictions designed to curb the spread of the virus.

He added: ‘Throughout this crisis SAGE has provided vital evidence, and independent, expert, transparent advice to support the UK response, often under huge pressure.

‘It has been an honour to have joined the hundreds of scientists who have contributed, and I thank Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty for outstanding leadership.

‘I remain, as always, available where I may offer help as a clinical scientist or as Director of Wellcome.’

A spokesperson for the Government office for Science confirmed that Sir Jeremy has stood down from the Covid-19 SAGE activation and thanked him for his contribution.

They added: ‘SAGE continues to provide government with independent expert scientific and technical advice.’

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