Plenary Lecture 1
Implementing evidence into policy and practice: was there a gap in the science informing the UK’s Covid-19 response?
Professor Susan Michie
Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change, University College London
Susan is a member of the UK’s Covid-19 Behavioural Science Advisory Group and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours, a sub-group of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). She also sits on the Independent SAGE committee, and frequently contributes to national media.
Responding well to a pandemic requires rapid access to good evidence from a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including epidemiology, modelling, virology, medicine, public health and the behavioural and social sciences. It also requires effective translation of that evidence into policy and practice. During the Covid-19 pandemic, a large and complex infrastructure was created to enable scientists to inform the UK Government’s response: the Scientific Advisory Group in Emergencies (SAGE). Its lack of transparency at the beginning of the pandemic resulted in a former UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor creating a complementary body of scientists to provide scientific advice directly and transparently to the public, organisations and media: Independent SAGE.
The UK Government’s response to Covid-19 has been widely viewed as less than satisfactory. Did this reflect limitations in the nature of the scientific evidence provided, its translation through the science-policy pipeline or political will? Was there a hole in the science informing the process (namely, Implementation Science)? As a participant in both SAGE and Independent SAGE, I will address these questions in this talk.