Maajid Nawaz corners epidemiologist over cost of second lockdown

You can watch the remarkable interaction between Maajid Nawaz and Professor Gabriel Scally here

By Seán Hickey

This Independent SAGE member was on his heels in a conversation over a second national lockdown, where Maajid Nawaz cornered him on how severely a lockdown would cost the nation.

Professor Gabriel Scally explained to Maajid Nawaz that a second lockdown would serve to buy time to get the UK’s test and trace up to standard.

Maajid asked whether the member of the Independent SAGE considers “the potential cost and deaths from having a lockdown and weigh them up.”

Professor Scally insisted that “you can’t have a response to this virus that doesn’t take into account the economic factors, social factors and the psychological factors” and his department would definitely take these factors into consideration.

He explained that the bottom line is that “we have to stop the virus – we have to stop it spreading,” and a second national lockdown is the best way to do so.

Pushed on the cost, Professor Scally told Maajid he hasn’t seen it, to which Maajid asked the epidemiologist after explaining that the sum is £2.4billion a day whether such funds could be spent elsewhere.

“I would imagine as a public health expert you would have some idea,” Maajid noted.

Professor Scally explained that “countries who bring the virus under control…have the least damage to their economy” and the monumental damage to the UK’s economy is down to a slow and ineffective pandemic response.

“What is the cost per day of the national lockdown you’re recommending,” Maajid quizzed Professor Scally, where he admitted he didn’t know the answer.

He explained that the bottom line is the less of the disease we have in the UK, the better NHS will manage but because the Government “totally failed to bring it under control” we have to implement new restrictions.

Maajid Nawaz wasn’t happy with President of Epidemiology & Public Health at the Royal Society of Medicine’s response.

“Is the scientific evidence for why we need to go into lockdown being compared with the scientific evidence for what happens if we don’t and then the death that can come from lockdown versus the death that can come from not locking down compared and the costs compared so we can have a holistic approach to it. Have you done that work?”

“I would have done that work if I was a member of cabinet,” Professor Scally said, when Maajid Nawaz turned the screw.

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