The Government Office for Science has today (Friday 29 May) published the minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) meetings 1 to 34, up until the beginning of May.
SAGE minutes outline the scientific and health issues discussed and actions and advice agreed during each meeting of the group during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been meeting regularly since 22 January when it convened for the first time and typically meets twice a week.
SAGE is responsible for providing Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) meetings with coherent, coordinated advice and to interpret complex or uncertain scientific evidence in non-technical language. The Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) represent SAGE at COBR, and SAGE usually convenes in advance of COBR. Ministers receive advice from SAGE in the form of these minutes, as well as verbal contributions from the GCSA and CMO in COBR and other ministerial meetings.
Minutes for SAGE meetings, along with the evidence used to inform SAGE advice, has always been published at the end of any event or emergency that it has been convened for, like the near collapse of Toddbrook Resevoir in 2019 or the Zika outbreak in 2016.
Given the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government, SAGE and its participants want to ensure there is as much available evidence and material as possible to the general public so there is full transparency on how science advice is being formulated.
The minutes published today cover those from its first meeting to the meetings that took place at the beginning of May. The minutes for meetings that have taken place after 7 May still contain sensitive information, with policy advice still under live consideration. These will be published in the coming weeks.