Susan Michie, Professor of Health Psychology at UCL and a leading member of SAGE, says that mask-wearing and social distancing will need to stay in place “forever”, not only for Covid but also “to reduce other [diseases]”.
The top Government adviser and long-time member of the Communist Party of Britain (once nicknamed “Stalin’s nanny” because she tried to smuggle Communist literature into a political conference in a baby’s pram), told Channel 5 News that measures adopted by Brits over the past 14 months should now become a part of our “normal” routine behaviour, just as wearing car seat belts has become commonplace.
Vaccines are a really important part of pandemic control but it is only one part. [A] test, trace and isolate system, [as well as] border controls, are really essential. And the third thing is people’s behaviour. That is, the behaviour of social distancing, of… making sure there’s good ventilation [when you’re indoors], or if there’s not, wearing face masks, and [keeping up] hand and surface hygiene.
We will need to keep these going in the long term, and that will be good not only for Covid but also to reduce other [diseases] at a time when the NHS is [struggling]… I think forever, to some extent…
I think there’s lots of different behaviours that we have changed in our lives. We now routinely wear seatbelts – we didn’t use to. We now routinely pick up dog poo in the parks – we didn’t use to. When people see that there is a threat and there is something they can do to reduce that [to protect] themselves, their loved ones and their communities, what we have seen over this last year is that people do that.
This line – that “what we have seen over the last year is that people do that” – is faintly reminiscent of Professor Neil Ferguson’s comments when looking back to when Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown last February: “[China] is a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with [lockdown] in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.” Professor Michie has realised that she – and the Government – can “get away with” telling people to continue abiding by Covid regulations.
Professor Michie continues:
I think that we can just begin to adopt routines. When we go out of the house, we check that we’ve got our phone, we’ve got our keys, we’ve got tissues, we’ve got a face mask in case we need to use it. It’s not going to be a huge big deal, the kind of behaviours that we are talking about.
Unsurprisingly, Channel 5 News made absolutely no effort to scrutinise these claims. The programme’s presenter raised no objection to the idea that mask-wearing and social distancing could continue “forever”, resorting only to friendly laughter. Professor Michie’s co-panellist, a fellow scientist at UCL, Dr Shikta Das, said: “I think Susan has made a very good point here,” adding that the vaccine roll-out has created a “false sense of security”. She concluded: “I don’t think we are yet ready to unlock.” How’s all that for balance! At last Ofcom won’t have any complaints about this programme.
The video is worth watching in full.