Politicians and governments are suppressing science, and when good science is suppressed, people die, according to an article in the BMJ.
In an editorial, BMJ executive editor, Dr Kamran Abbasi, argues that covid-19 “has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health”.
“Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling,” he writes.
Dr Abbasi highlights a number of worrying examples. First, the membership, research, and deliberations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were initially secret until a press leak forced transparency, he says. The leak revealed inappropriate involvement of government advisers in SAGE. Next, he points to the PHE report on COVID-19 inequalities which was delayed by the Department of Health; a section on ethnic minorities was initially withheld, according to Dr Abbasi. He presents four examples in total.
“The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture COVID-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science - another form of misuse - and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates,” he writes.
“As the powerful become more successful, richer, and further intoxicated with power, the inconvenient truths of science are suppressed. When good science is suppressed, people die,” he warns.