SAGE is the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, a key body which advises the UK government on its approach to emergencies. Its membership is not fixed, the gov.uk website linked above states:

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.

During previous emergencies, the membership of the group has been published on that same page, see the summaries of prior meetings here. However, the heading for the current pandemic just states that:

SAGE has been activated to advise on the UK government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

and includes a link to the scientific advice informing the government's response.

Has the current membership of SAGE during the current pandemic been published or reported on anywhere? Do we know how the membership is chosen; is it chosen by the Government or by the group chair?


1 Answer 1


Update: On May 4th, the Government published a list of SAGE participants, excluding two individuals who did not give permission for their names to be published.

In a letter sent on April 4th to the chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, the Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance said the following about the group's membership:

Members of SAGE and the expert groups come from over 20 different institutions and have the following areas of expertise: molecular evolution, epidemiology, clinical science and practice, modelling emerging infectious diseases, behavioural science, statistics, virology and microbiology. Other SAGE participants include the Chief Medical Officer, Public Health England, Medical Director for NHS England, the Office for National Statistics, the NHS, the Food Standards Agency, Health and Safety Executive, and Chief Scientific Advisers of government departments relevant to specific meetings or their own scientific expertise.

However, he also confirmed that the full membership list will not be published until the end of the pandemic:

The decision to not disclose SAGE membership for the time being is based upon advice from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and is in line with the standard procedure for COBR meetings, to which SAGE gives advice. This contributes towards safeguarding individual members personal security and protects them from lobbying and other forms of unwanted influence which may hinder their ability to give impartial advice. Of course, we do not stop individuals from revealing that they have attended SAGE.


Once SAGE stops convening on this emergency the minutes of relevant SAGE meetings, supporting documents and the names of participants (with their permission) will be published.

Despite this secrecy, on Friday April 24th, the Guardian published a leaked list of SAGE members:

  • Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific officer
  • Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer
  • Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer
  • Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England
  • Prof Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England (PHE)
  • Maria Zambon, director of Reference Microbiology Services at PHE and head of the UK World Health Organization National Influenza Centre
  • Meera Chand, consultant microbiologist at PHE
  • Prof Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser to the Department for International Development
  • Prof John Aston, Home Office chief scientific adviser
  • Angela McLean, professor of mathematical biology at Oxford University’s department of zoology
  • Ian Diamond, head of the Government Statistical Service and chief executive of the UK Statistics Authority
  • Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Neil Ferguson, professor at Imperial College London faculty of medicine
  • Prof John Edmunds, specialist in design of control programmes against infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • James Rubin, reader in psychology of emerging health risks, Kings College London
  • Brooke Rogers, professor of behavioural science and security at Kings College London and chair of the Cabinet Office National Risk Assessment Behavioural Science Advisory Group
  • Peter Horby, former professor of infectious diseases and global health at University of Oxford and chair of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag)
  • Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust
  • Andrew Rambaut, member of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at Edinburgh University’s school of biological sciences
  • Emma Reed, director of emergency response and health protection at the Department of Health and Social Care
  • Dr Edward Mullins, clinical adviser to the chief medical officer
  • Dominic Cummings, chief adviser to the prime minister
  • Ben Warner, Downing Street adviser on data science
  • The real question is why Dominic Cummings is there. Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 15:08
  • In hindsight it is worth pointing out that some of these individuals did indeed suffer personal threats to their safety, as well as significant online abuse, as a result of their names being published. Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 17:31

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