As the UK daily coronavirus death toll exceeds anything seen in Europe, I just wanted to share a short observation on the government's ‘following the science’ claim based on some of my experience reporting on Grenfell/fire safety.

In particular, the below quote:
That’s from a study into the need to introduce a standard limiting the smoke toxicity for some products used in homes in 2005. It advised that such a measure wasn’t necessary. The government ‘followed the science’.
But actually what was happening is the study was balancing priorities. The benefit of saving some lives (as above) was valued at £174,000 a year. The cost to industry at £249m.

A separate economic and ethical judgement set these values. The science worked within them.
The point is, I think there is an unchallenged assumption that when we talk about ‘following the science’ in the context of coronavirus we are talking about ‘follwoing the best scientific way to save as many lives as possible’. That isn’t necessarily the case.
What you want your public health strategy to achieve in terms of the balance between economic damage and lives saved is an ethical and political choice, not a scientific one.
Eg, a strategy which only focused on protecting the economy (I'm not saying Britain's is) would be ‘guided by science’ in seeking to do that most efficiently.

A strategy which sought to balance economic damage and lives lost would also need to look closely at science
After Grenfell, the govt has always said its building safety measures follow the advice of its expert panel.

But there have plainly been political judgements too, chiefly on how much to spend and how much regulation to impose. It is the politicians' job to make these calls
So when people ask in the weeks to come why were pubs still open with deaths rising at 48 a day, and why construction sites are still open now, we need to hear clearly the strategy that was being followed not just the bare fact that science supported it (ends)
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