Professor Devi Sridhar, the high profile adviser to then-Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has admitted she was wrong to call for zero-Covid and the elimination of the virus. The Mail has the story.
Professor Devi Sridhar was a vocal advocate of ‘zero Covid’, the controversial view that it was possible to eradicate the virus by adopting draconian measures such as quarantining people when crossing the Scottish border.
The Covid Inquiry heard last week that Prof. Sridhar regularly sent the then First Minister messages on Twitter where she appeared to push for the strategy to be adopted. In one, sent in June 2020, she told Sturgeon that she had been working on a “feasible plan for elimination [of the virus]”.
Sturgeon would later describe elimination as the “only sensible strategy” to tackle the virus.
The revelation will likely cause further controversy after the inquiry heard last week that Sturgeon also told Prof. Sridhar not to “worry about protocol”.
Prof. Sridhar now claims she regrets using the phrase ‘zero Covid’ and that her aim was to limit the number of infections in Scotland until the vaccine rollout.
“This was a mistake I made using the word ‘elimination’,” she told the Covid Inquiry, adding that “maximum suppression” would have been a more appropriate phrase.
Other experts who spoke at the inquiry said that the Scottish Government’s refusal to accept that Covid was ‘here to stay’ led to a much slower release of social restrictions than was necessary. Throughout the pandemic, Scotland eased restrictions several weeks after England.
Professor Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh and a U.K. scientific adviser during the pandemic, said Scottish Ministers were preoccupied with appearing more cautious than their English counterparts. He added: “This segued into this idea that… we could somehow end up in zero Covid. To me… this was not consistent with the evidence.”
In June 2020, when Scotland was recording fewer than five Covid cases every day, Prof. Sridhar, originally from the U.S., published an article in the Guardian calling for a “zero-coronavirus Britain”. That same month, she told New Scientist magazine that “Scotland could eliminate coronavirus if it were not for England”, arguing that Westminster was not doing enough to stop the spread of the virus.