AN expert who advises the Government on its Covid response has dismissed claims by Neil Oliver that the coronavirus lockdown was the "biggest single mistake in world history".

In an interview with The Herald, the historian who will soon be hosting a current affairs and interview programme on Andrew Neil's GB News, described the economic impact created by lockdowns.

Oliver said: "I’m apolitical, but over the lockdown I have had opinions. I think it is the biggest single mistake in world history, and I’m just horrified by the damage that has been done.

"Whoever lockdown has saved, I think by an order of magnitude others have been hurt.”

In the interview, he accepted that the initial lockdown was probably a good thing but said he knew a number of people that had been "ruined by it" due to a lack of economic support.

The National:

READ MORE: GB News' Neil Oliver ridiculed for 'wackadoodle' lockdown claim

Now, Professor Stephen Reicher of the University of St Andrews (above), a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) which advises the UK Government on its pandemic response, has described the GB News hosts claims as "just plain wrong".

"I’ll leave aside how offensive this argument is, given all the awful and genocidal decisions in world history. The wording is plainly hyperbolic and is more about gaining attention than respecting the evidence," Reicher told The National.

"The point is that it is just plain wrong. The evidence points to the fact that those countries which acted early and acted hard did better, not just in terms of health, but also in terms of economy and civil liberties.

"Indeed when the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) came up with its 2021 list of most liveable cities 6 out of the top 10 were in Australia and New Zealand. Life is better all round when you get on top of this pandemic."

Australia and New Zealand were quick to act on the spread of coronavirus and as such have been able to remain relatively open. Tougher lockdowns in Europe due to a slower response have seen most remain closed off for longer.

The most liveable cities list was released this week and its authors said the pandemic proved to be the defining factor this year.

Auckland in New Zealand topped this year's list with Wellington placing fourth. Adelaide was Australia's best-performing city at number three while Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane also up the top 10.

European cities fell off the top 10 with Austrian capital Vienna, which had led the list for several years, falling to 12th position. The German city of Hamburg fell 34 places to 47th on the list while London placed 60th, just behind New York (59th).