What is the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies?


The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) holds meetings to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic and then advises ministers. But what is Sage and who is in the group?

– What role does Sage play?

The group provides scientific and technical advice to support decision makers during emergencies, according to the Government website.

Sage has become active to advise on the UK Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is responsible for ensuring that timely and coordinated scientific advice is made available to decision makers to support UK cross-government decisions.

The advice provided by Sage does not represent official Government policy, the Government says.

– Do we know who is in Sage?

The membership of Sage depends on the nature of the emergency but it typically includes leading experts from within Government and leading specialists from the fields of academia and industry.

The group typically is chaired by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, who at the moment is Sir Patrick Vallance.

– Who is Sir Patrick Vallance?

The public will by now be quite familiar with Sir Patrick due to his frequent appearances at the daily Downing Street press conferences.

Sir Patrick is Government chief scientific adviser and head of the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) profession.

His personal research was in the area of diseases of blood vessels and endothelial biology.

– What has Sage been involved with in recent years?

Workers shore up the dam near the village of Whaley Bridge Credit: Jacob King/PA

Last August, Sage was activated in response to the potential breach of Toddbrook reservoir in Whaley Bridge.

A Precautionary Sage (known as Pre-Sage) was activated to advise on the Zika virus outbreak in 2016.

In 2015, Sage was activated to advise on the Nepal earthquake, and in 2014 it was activated in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Sage also advised on winter flooding in the UK in 2013, the Japan nuclear incident in 2011, the volcanic ash emergency in 2010 and the Swine Flu pandemic in 2009.