Covid expert in war of words with BBC Scotland’s Kaye Adams over interruptions

A TOP Covid expert have been locked in a war of words with BBC Scotland’s Kaye Adams over Boris Johnson’s plans to lift restrictions south of the border.

Professor Susan Michie, a member of the government’s behavioural advisory group SPI-B, which is part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, had been questioning whether it was sensible to relax rules and complainted she was “interrupted on several occasions” by Ms Adams.

She spoke out on Twitter after her appearance on BBC Radio Scotland when asked about Boris Johnson’s plans to scrap all remaining Covid legal restrictions in England, including the requirement to isolate.

Some experts have urged caution and Labour queried plans to reduce testing.

It came before a press conference on Monday evening, where the Prime Minister confirmed that all rules including the legal duty to self-isolate will end in England and Wales this week and free test will stop for most in April.

Mr Johnson said Covid was “not going away” – but the UK had passed the peak of Omicron with cases and hospital admissions both falling.

Ms Michie had questioned the logic of lifting the restrictions and warned that the public would be no long be able to go to work and be guaranteed safe air because we might be breathing in a virus “that could give us long Covid”.

After the interview, she responded to one user on social media who said: “So much for the BBC’s impartiality. From the start of the programme it was obvious that Kaye Adams sides with Johnson on lifting Covid sanctions.Having listened to her before it is clear that has no time for the Scottish Government.”

Ms Michie, who is also a member of Independent Sage and professor of health psychology at University College London, responded: “I was surprised as I have always found Radio Scotland to be very good – informative and intelligent questioning – when I have been on other programmes previously. Not this time.”

But Ms Kaye hit back saying: “I am surprised and disappointed, Susan, that a woman of your standing woujld resort to such snarky condescension and furthermore try to drum up a Twitter pile on. It was a v fair interview and you had ample time to present your view. I stand by it.”

It comes three months after the BBC was criticised for broadcasting an interview with a Ms Michie who was described as a “hard-left scientist” in which she attacked the government over new Covid-19 restrictive measures.


She interviewed following a Downing Street press conferenc at which it was announced that masks would be compulsory in shops and on public transport.

And Ms Michie criticised the government for not making masks mandatory in all public buildings or reintroducing social distancing.

At the time, the BBC said: “Professor Michie is a member of the government’s Sage advisory group. BBC News included a range of contributors with different views on the announcements across the day.”

During the Radio Scotland interview Ms Michie said: “This is a highly contagious and potentially for some people deadly disease and in situations of public safety, then the government takes a role. We don’t say to people, ah you can have the freedom and it’s your individual responsibility to decide what speed you drive at to decide how much alcohol is in your blood…”

Ms Kaye interjected: “I suppose it is dependent on the level of risk, isn’t it…”

There was then some interruptions as Ms Michie said that the the risks were high with an inaudible number of people dying ever week.

According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 1,390 deaths involving Covid registered in the UK in the week ending February 4. Of these, 1,162 were registered in England, 76 in Wales, 30 in Northern Ireland and 118 in Scotland.

That is 455 more than in the week to Christmas Eve, but 15% of the over 9000 that were dying weekly this time last year.

Ms Kaye said : So what is the measure of that then.

Ms Michie added: “A quarter of the population are vulnerable. So one can say, oh freedom, but for a quarter of the population, whether they have got underlying conditions, whether they’re in certain age brackets, they are more restricted now, because people don’t feel safe to go out in the public…

Ms Kaye interjected: “It’s difficult Susan, it’s interesting. You’ve got the Queen haven’t you, she’s 95 years of age, presumably she’s vaccined and boostered up to the hilt, we know she’s Covid postive and we are being told that she’s dotting about the palace doing light duties. You know, messages come from many, many different directions, not just from our politicians…


Ms Michie interjected: “…and the media too.”

Ms Kaye added: “Of course they come from the media, and that’s why we’ve invited you on. But I think that is a very interesting one, isn’t it? Because you know, you wouldn’t have to go too far for people to think, well, there’s a 95-year-old woman, she’s had a vaccine, she’s had a booster. She’s alright, she’s dotting about the palace…

Ms Michie responded: “Her workplace is at home. [She is not] going into a workplace and not knowing whether she’s sitting beside people who are infectious. When we go to a workplace we know up till now….”

Ms Kaye interjected: “But you said the risk is high…

Ms Michie retorted: “Can I just finish my point, please. We know that we can go to workplace and be guaranteed safe air to breathe because people aren’t allowed to smoke in the workplace. From now on, we’re no longer guaranteed to be able to go to work and be guaranteed safe air because we might be breathing in a virus that could give us long Covid. We have over three million people suffering with long Covid, or if one’s really unlucky, worse than that. So you know, it’s one has to think about the whole population.”

In July, last year, Good Morning Britain was hit with nearly 150 complaints to Ofcom following an interaction between Richard Madeley and Ms Michie.

The broadcasting watchdog has confirmed that 145 viewers complained that Madeley’s questioning being deemed inappropriate.

Michie appeared on the early-morning programme to discuss the benefits of wearing face masks after the end of lockdown.

In the midst of the discussion, Mr Madeley asked Ms Michie about her affiliation with the Communist Party, and if that affected her viewpoint.

When Michie tried to brush it off and continue discussing her work as a scientist, Mr Madeley persisted: “If your politics informs your sense of control, it’s not just a medical argument, but you have a political bent to want the state to tell people what to do.”

Ms Michie then told him: “I’ve come on your programme as a scientist, as do all people who come on to your programme as scientists.

“They come on to talk about the evidence, the relevant theories, how we approach scientific disciplines, and you don’t ask other scientists about politics.”

One-in-22 people in the UK had Covid last week, according to the latest Office for National Statistics infection survey – and a further 38,000 UK cases were announced on Monday.

In England and Wales, from February 21, the government is dropping guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.

From Feburary 24, people who test positive for Covid will no longer be legally required to self-isolate but they will still be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days.

Routine contact tracing will end, so fully-vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 will no longer be legally required to test daily for seven days.

The £500 self-isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive for Covid will no longer be available.

And Covid provisions for increased statutory sick pay will apply for a further month.

From 1 April free mass symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public will end, and will instead be targeted towards the most vulnerable People with Covid symptoms will be asked to exercise personal responsibility when deciding whether to stay at home – until then they are still advised to do so And current government guidance on Covid passports will end and it will no longer recommend venues use the NHS Covid pass.

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