A top Google executive specializing in artificial intelligence joined the government's science experts at a top-level meeting, it was revealed today.
Demis Hassabis, the founder and CEO of & # 39; DeepMind operation of & # 39; e tech giant, attended a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meeting last month.
His presence at Sir Patrick Vallance's invitation comes at a time when membership of the body remains largely a secret on security grounds, despite pleas for greater transparency.
His presence at the & # 39; meeting will raise questions about how many private companies are involved in developing public policy and the response of & # 39; a UK on & # 39; a pandemic.
Google is already believed to be working with the NHS on launching a contact tracking app in May.
A DeepMinds spokeswoman told the Guardian: & # 39; Demis was one of several scientists who didn & # 39; t ask to contribute his thoughts on the & # 39; a government on Covid-19. & # 39;
Demis Hassabis, the founder and chief executive of the tech giant's DeepMind project, sat at a meeting of Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) last month
Boris Johnson, pictured this morning, and other ministers have claimed several times that the government's approach is led by expert advice
DeepMind in London was launched in 2014 by Google owner Alphabet for £ 400 million.
Three years later, it was involved in a data protection breach involving a pilot project for smartphone apps with the Royal Free Hospital of London. But last year, it got ahead of it to gain access to five years of sensitive data on NHS patients.
The internet giant was handed hospital admissions from thousands of patients in the UK, including medical history, diagnoses, treatment dates and ethnic origin, increasing concerns about the privacy of & # 39; data.
It came about & # 39; it was revealed that scientific advisers of governments fear that ministers will visit the & # 39; buck & # 39; by commenting on the UK's coronavirus response by constantly insisting that decisions be guided by expert advice.
Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) are thought to be concerned ministers have gone too far in always referring to guidance, to & # 39; t it eventually & # 39; political decisions & # 39; are & # 39; t the approach of & # 39; e eruption thickness.
Many senior figures in Whitehall now have one eye on the inevitable public inquiry into the & # 39; government's handling of & # 39; e current crisis.
That probe is likely to focus heavily on the substance of the advice given to ministers when it was made available to them, how the government responded to it and when die.
The & # 39; early government response to & # 39; An outbreak is facing increased scrutiny, asking critics why Boris Johnson failed to set a lockdown by March 23, despite experts warning the disastrous consequences of not suppressing a disease.
But some members of the & # 39; SAGE committee are afraid that ministers will visit the & # 39; buck & # 39; by providing about the & # 39; a government. SAGE member Professor Chris Whitty is pictured today in Downing Street
Mr. Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have relied heavily on the advice of Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance during the crisis. The four were filmed on Downing Street on March 12
Professor Graham Medley, a SAGE member and chairman of & # 39; s modeling sub-committee, told The Guardian that it always ended up being a & # 39; political decision & # 39; was about how to respond.
Senior Ministers have repeatedly stated during the severe crisis that every action has been driven and informed by expert advice.
But there are some concerns that ministers are simply trying to change the blame if things go wrong.
Prof Medley said that & # 39; public insistence of ministers that they follow the advice & # 39; sometimes a little past the mark & # 39 ;.
Asked if there was an element of politicians & # 39; past the dollar & # 39 ;, Prof Medley apparently replied: & # 39; Yes & # 39 ;.
SAGE is mandated by ministers to provide impartial answers and evidence to important questions. Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance both attend the group.
But the secrecy surrounding the group, with its membership and evidence not routinely published, has sparked controversy.
That controversy has only grown in recent days after the top Johnson of Domin Johnson Cummings had attended SAGE meetings.
Number 10 claimed this was so he could be informed of the latest scientific thinking, but some sources have claimed that he was & # 39; more than a caretaker & # 39 ;, prompting critics to ask how impartial the SAGE opinion was is.
However, some at SAGE believe the presence of & # 39; Mr. Cummings was actually helpful, because & # 39; it meant that important points could be passed on to & # 39; e Prime Minister.
The relative lack of public information regarding SAGE's coronavirus work means that it is difficult to fully assess the dynamics between the commission and prime ministers.
However, one paper from a SAGE subcommittee on March 2 said it was & # 39; very likely & # 39; that there is already & # 39; continuous transfer & # 39; was of & # 39; disease in & # 39; t United Kingdom.
It warned that without restrictions, about 80 percent of the population could be infected.
It also estimates that the death rate could be up to one percent, which would equal 500,000 deaths.
The government later moved on to the delay and reduced phases of its response to the coronavirus.
The government reveals new data showing the numbers of deaths inside and away from hospitals for the first time – but the seven-day average of deaths falls
Downing Street's daily briefing yesterday revealed the numbers of new coronavirus cases in the UK, the number of intensive care deployments and total hospitalizations
But the messages remained about the importance of hand washing, even as other European nations began to put in place more draconian measures.
The UK's approach was already under fire, after the World Health Organization said testing was key to tackling & # 39; e spread of & # 39; s disease, but Britain's tests were underwhelming.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson was accused of a premier & # 39; part time & # 39; after spending an extended period at Chevening and failing to attend four of & # 39; s first five Cobra coronavirus meetings.
It was in & # 39; mid-March that the government appeared to change its approach of one attempting to slow the spread and & # 39; link immunity & # 39; to one of aggressive & # 39; a disease.
On March 13, Sir Patrick said that the & # 39; aim was to reach the peak of & # 39; reduce the outbreak and also & # 39; because the vast majority of people get a slight illness, build some kind of herd immunity & # 39 ;.
The government has always rejected the suggestion that it followed a strategy of & # 39; herd immunity & # 39 ;.
The WHO had declared a coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, but important meetings were still ongoing in the United Kingdom.
Thousands of people attended Cheltenham Festival between March 10-13, while Athletico Madrid fans turned off at Liverpool for a Champion & # 39; s League game on March 11.
On March 12, the government began to step up its approach to encourage the elderly not to go on a cruise, suggesting that more measures were in the works.
The main point of change is widely believed to be the publication of modeling on March 16 by Professor Neil Ferguson, which suggested that a mitigating approach could result in 250,000 deaths and the NHS being overwhelmed.
Professor Ferguson told The Guardian that the way forward was for ministers: & # 39; While policy can be guided by scientific advice, it does not mean that scientific advisers determine policy. & # 39;
The government believed that all action had to be taken at the right time, in order to alert them to potential social distance & # 39; fatigue.
In essence, they argued that people will eventually become tired of restrictions, so the timing should be just to get the maximum benefit from them.
But behavioral scientists in one of Sage's subcommittees apparently never mentioned in & # 39; official reports & # 39; fatigue & # 39; around & # 39; it & # 39; is not a concept that exists in behavioral science & # 39; and ministers who had the choice to use it were & # 39; useless & # 39 ;.
In conversations in Whitehall, more and more came when a state of lockdown would be imposed.
The Cabinet was split over timing and the seriousness of & # 39; measures amid fears of some long shutdown to & # 39; an economy could do.
Finally, lockdown was introduced by Mr Johnson on March 23 before the government's own attachment to social distance was put under the spotlight, with both Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both testing positive for the disease on March 27.
A Downing Street spokeswoman dismissed criticism for its approach, saying, & # 39; This is an unusual global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, led by the best scientific advice. & # 39;
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