Former WHO director Anthony Costello: 'Opening pubs before schools says something about our priorities'

The paediatrician and member of Independent Sage on Matt Hancock, the likelihood of a vaccine and why 50,000 deaths were preventable

Anthony Costello is a paediatrician and international expert on child health who has been an outspoken critic of the British government’s response to Covid-19. He is a member of Independent Sage, a group of experts set up to provide “robust, independent advice” in regard to the UK’s coronavirus policies, and former director of the Institute for Global Health at University College London. He has worked in a number of low-income nations, developing effective strategies for cutting newborn and maternal mortality rates. He also served as director of maternal, child and adolescent health at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.

What do you think about the decision to open pubs yesterday?
Well it’s very odd in Britain that we’re opening pubs before schools. It says something about our priorities. Being outdoors the risks are pretty low – 19 times lower risk according to a Japanese study. I would have said open pubs as long as you serve outside. The worry is that people will be crowding together to get drinks, and that as they’ll be drinking, they’ll lose their inhibitions. And in an indoor space there’s lots of potential to be a super-spreader. So I’m a bit opposed to pubs opening, but I understand the reasons why they’ve done it.

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