Sunday 20 February 2022

Did the BBC back up misperceptions during the Covid pandemic?

Harry de Quetteville, special correspondent at The Telegraph, has a report on one epidemiologist's view of how we reacted to Covid. 

Of relevance to this blog, Prof Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh has some things to say about the BBC's role during the pandemic. 

See what you think:
Yet the Government decided that telling half the population that they were at extremely low risk would dilute adherence to the harsh rules it was imposing, and instead ramped up the threat warnings. “We are all at risk,” noted Michael Gove in March 2020. “The virus does not discriminate.” But it did then, and it does now.

“I heard [the official] argument caricatured as: everyone died, but at least no one was saved unfairly,” notes Woolhouse. Policy became a form of epidemiological communism, with imposed equality, even if it was equality of misery. “BBC News backed up this misperception by regularly reporting rare tragedies involving low-risk individuals as if they were the norm,” notes Woolhouse.

When in April 2020, for example, BBC cameras were allowed into an ICU at University College Hospital in London, the first patient interview for News at Ten was Imran Hamid. “I didn’t take this seriously enough,” said Imran, as the sombre voiceover intoned: “Imran is just 37…” Strategies that challenged this universalist dogma by emphasising the protection of the vulnerable were dismissed. “It became a mantra that protecting the vulnerable was actually unethical. Unethical! I mean how on earth did we find ourselves saying that?”

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