Writing for The Spectator with fellow researcher Tom Jefferson, he suggested the Government had panicked and made “rash decisions” and “arbitrary policies” at the first sign of a rise in cases.

They said those in Government leading the response to the pandemic were “little more than a Dad’s Army of highly paid individuals with little or no experience of the job at hand”.

“We were told to get back to work, what did the Government expect? Increased activity at the end of summer leads to an increase in acute respiratory infections, as it does every year. This is not rocket science,” they wrote. 

The scientists said they expected the “rule of six” to have a “minimal” impact.

“At Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, we have spent years trawling through the scientific evidence on the effects of measures such as distancing on respiratory viral spread. We are not aware of any study pointing to the number six. If it’s made up, why not five or seven?” they asked. 

The researchers were among many scientists questioning the inconsistencies between the devolved nations’ implementation of the rules, with both Wales and Scotland exempting children below the age of 12 from the “rule of six” restriction.

They said the decision seemed to reflect a “fundamental misunderstanding” of Covid-19 patterns in the UK (see graph below showing the pace of daily infections) , with hospital admissions, critical care occupancy and deaths now at an all-time low.

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