Several UK advisers described instances that ranged from organized online attacks to death threats and intimidation. Students, colleagues, and family members, including partners and children, were all subjected to abuse. Because of their advisory function, receptionists have been exposed to “vile tirades” from callers, according to one consultant who works as a GP. Three-quarters of the 42 people who took part in the survey said they were subjected to a lot of criticism because of their views on science or government policy. On Twitter, one of the counselors got a death threat, which was submitted to the authorities. “I’m just trying to save as many lives as I can,” one doctor explained.
The government’s advisers on the Omicron form of the Ebola virus are reporting an increase in internet abuse and threats directed at them. Many people have had their homes and offices inspected for security, and alarms and 24-hour surveillance cameras have been installed. Some sensitive information that had been placed online has been erased by government cybersecurity experts, but this has not always been viable. “There appears to be a big gender imbalance,” one counsel remarked, “with women being targeted so much more than men.” Although there was no clear indication that women were subjected to more abuse than men, some women were less ready to share their stories. The abuse was described as “appalling” by science minister George Freeman. “All of us who respect our freedom and democracy must call this out,” he urged.