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Chief medical officer backs academic freedom to comment on pandemic

Dr Michael McBride said there had been no attempt to stifle opinion.

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Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride has backed academic freedom during the coronavirus pandemic (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride has backed academic freedom during the coronavirus pandemic (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride has backed academic freedom during the coronavirus pandemic (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer has backed academic freedom to comment on the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Michael McBride said he was “most grateful” to university colleagues for their significant contribution in the public arena.

He added there had been no attempt to stifle opinion.

He said: “I would like to take this opportunity personally and professionally to record my support for academia and the wider scientific community in contributing to public debate on the uncertainties, complexities and challenges we face in these unprecedented times.

“It is essential that the public hear from a diverse range of informed authoritative voices to further understanding of the complexities we face, articulating those matters where we have a high degree of confidence and where there is unanimity and equally where there is uncertainty and rightly a range of differing views and interpretation.

“It is essential that the public understands the uncertainties with which we are working and that academics and the wider scientific community continue to assist in debating those uncertainties.

“Such engagement to be effective must be informed, open, transparent and robust.”

Debate has surrounded issues such as the wearing of personal protective equipment and many others.

PA