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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
(PPC) 2024 General Election


BBC ‘misrepresented’ Covid risk to boost lockdown support

Unveiling the BBC’s Alleged Misrepresentation of Covid Risk: A Critical Inquiry


In a recent development, the UK Covid Inquiry has heard accusations that the BBC played a role in “misrepresenting” the risk posed by Covid to the public in order to garner support for lockdown measures. Professor Mark Woolhouse, an esteemed epidemiologist and government adviser, criticized the corporation for repeatedly reporting rare deaths among healthy adults as if they were the norm, creating a misleading impression about the severity of the virus. This revelation raises questions about the impact such reporting may have had on public perception and government decision-making during the early stages of the pandemic.

The Allegations:

Prof Woolhouse asserted that the BBC’s coverage contributed to a misconception that everyone was at equal risk of severe outcomes from Covid, while in reality, the risk varied significantly across age groups. He highlighted that the known risk of dying from Covid was 10,000 times higher in individuals over 75 compared to those under 15. The alleged misrepresentation, according to Prof Woolhouse, persisted throughout 2020 and may have provided justification for the widespread implementation of lockdowns.

The Impact on Government Messaging:

The professor cited a briefing from March 22, 2020, by a sub-group of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that focused on shaping public behavior. The briefing suggested that some people did not feel sufficiently threatened, and efforts were needed to increase the perceived level of personal threat, potentially through emotional messaging. Prof Woolhouse argued that the misperception created by the BBC’s reporting hindered the ability to target interventions specifically at the vulnerable minority who were at the highest risk.

Concerns about the Scottish Government’s Response:

In his written submission to the inquiry, Prof Woolhouse expressed concerns that the Scottish Government’s pandemic response may have been compromised due to the alleged misrepresentation of the Covid risk. He emphasized that the “climate of fear” existing during the pandemic, as described by some BBC journalists, may have influenced decision-making at both the national and regional levels.

Expert Insights:

Prof Woolhouse, who served as an adviser to the Scottish Government during the pandemic, concluded that lockdown measures were least effective at protecting the most vulnerable. He pointed out that individuals in high-risk groups, particularly the elderly, had unavoidable contacts with healthcare and social care workers, making self-isolation impractical.

BBC’s Response:

A BBC spokesperson defended the corporation’s reporting, stating that they followed rigorous editorial standards, using official and scientific sources. They emphasized that the BBC provided ongoing analysis from a range of medical and scientific experts, including voices skeptical of lockdowns.


The allegations of misrepresentation by the BBC raise important questions about media responsibility during times of crisis. As the inquiry unfolds, it will be crucial to examine the potential impact of such reporting on public understanding, government decisions, and the overall management of the pandemic. The revelations also underscore the need for transparency and accuracy in media reporting, particularly during health crises with significant societal implications.

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