No10’s scientific advisers relied on dubious data from Wikipedia to help steer Britain through the spring’s coronavirus crisis and wrongly predicted the peak of the first wave by two months, an explosive new documentary has claimed.
Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) admitted early virus modelling was based on unverified figures from the online encyclopedia, which can be edited and managed by members of the public.
One prominent Oxford University scientist told MailOnline using Wikipedia to guide Britain through the crisis was ‘absolutely unacceptable’, describing it as a ‘damning reflection of our lack of preparedness’.
Professor Ian Hall, deputy chair of the SAGE subgroup SPI-M, said: ‘The public may be surprised that we were using Wikipedia to get data very early on in the pandemic, but that was really the only data that was publicly available that we could access.’
The revelations will further dent public confidence in SAGE’s use of data at a time where Boris Johnson pledged to ‘follow the science’, including the most criticised model that forecasted 500,000 Covid-19 deaths in the UK during the first wave and was used to shut down Britain.
It’s unclear if data from Wikipedia was used by the team at Imperial led by Professor Neil Ferguson, who resigned from SAGE in May after having secret trysts with his married lover while lecturing Britain on the need to stay apart in Lockdown to stop the spread of the killer virus.
Read more: SAGE used WIKIPEDIA to model Covid crisis in spring, did not have a single human coronavirus expert in its ranks, and wrongly predicted virus would peak in June rather than April, damning BBC documentary reveals