Coercion: the practice of forcing another party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threats or force.
Over the course of the Covid-19 ‘crisis’, scientific advice to the UK Government has been co-ordinated by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). SAGE is co-chaired by Sir Patrick Vallance (the Government Chief Science Advisor) and Professor Chris Whitty (the Chief Medical Officer).
We have already seen how SAGE has used external advisors to help direct the medical and social response. But the UK government also claims that “many issues around the coronavirus response relate to behaviour”.
During the 2009/10 ‘swine flu’ pandemic, SAGE received advice from a subgroup called the Scientific Pandemic Influenza group on Behaviour and Communications (SPI-B&C).
That group was reconvened on 13 February this year. This time, its remit was limited to behaviour and it was renamed the Scientific Pandemic Influenza group on Behaviour, or SPI-B.
SPI-B takes no part in discussion about which interventions are effective in dealing with the Covid-19 ‘pandemic’, or their timing. The group is tasked with providing advice on how to ‘help’ people to adhere to the interventions which government demands.
By the beginning of March, there had been three meetings of SPI-B to discuss specific topics requested by SAGE: the risk of public disorder; the use of behavioural and social interventions; and how to give guidance to people who are asked to self-isolate.