Many lessons can be learned from drink driving and smoking laws to tackle obesity

Obesity has been a hot topic over the past week. The government announced it would delay its plan to implement restrictions on junk food marketing and volume-based price promotions. These had been presented as key elements in the strategy to reduce obesity. With a timing which was either impeccable or pure good luck, the Cancer […]

As Omicron sweeps through again, Britain has finally learnt to live with Covid-19

A huge third wave of Omicron cases is sweeping the country. This will be readily apparent in the everyday lives of many people. Family members have it, work colleagues have gone down, small restaurants and service businesses must close for a few days through staff shortages. According to the reliable Zoe Covid data produced by […]

Virus modellers must admit their mistakes and learn from the practice of transparency

By now, we all know about the poor track record of prediction by the academic modelling teams advising the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – Sage. The unreliable nature of economic projections is also evident, as analysis of  the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) database shows. Yet the epidemiologists could still  learn from the experience […]

Three Christmas presents for a Cabinet that lacks political grip

At this time of the year hapless members of the Cabinet, and even the Prime Minister himself, are entitled to some charity. We might usefully consider the gifts we would put under their trees on Christmas morning.   Top of the list could well be both a Peloton and a deckchair. Sarah Healey, permanent secretary at […]

Precaution is a useful thing, but designing policy based on maybes is a dangerous road

It is is so familiar, the script almost writes itself. Health professionals start to call for more restrictive measures at the slightest whiff of bad news. The government initially dismisses the concerns. Gradually, ministers – many of them almost wholly innumerate – are beaten into submission by projections of what might happen. If we were […]

New winter Covid restrictions would make it official policy to pray for a better day

A trip to the Scottish Highlands is always refreshing. Despite the shortening days, the hills were in perfect late autumn condition. It clears your mind and helps you reflect on what’s not working. This time around, it was more interesting than usual: it illuminated the stark contradictions and hypocrisy of the current Covid regulations, administered […]

In the end, the Swedes really did have the last laugh with a relaxed Covid approach

They never give up. The finger waggers who know what is good for the rest of us; the epidemiologists trying to intimidate us with their seemingly terrifying but actually rather trivial models of applied mathematics. The vested interests in the NHS creating excuses for the inefficiencies inherent in the system. If we already have restrictive […]

Science has been overrun with politics – it’s time to take it back

At the onset of the Covid pandemic in February 2020, the pages of the Lancet, a very prestigious medical journal, carried a statement eulogising China and the efforts it had already made to deal with the virus. For the luminaries who signed the statement, no praise could be too high for the Chinese. They had […]