Here is what experts and health professionals think about the lifting of the COVID restrictions in England by Boris Johnson’s government, and what they fear might be the consequences for the UK and for the entire world.
First published in July 2021.
As 60% of British people admit in a recent YouGov poll that they feel fairly or very nervous about the Covid-19 restrictions lifting, experts and health professionals have been sharing their views on the lifting of the COVID restrictions in England by the UK Government.
— WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY —
Professor Stephen Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology, School of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, Member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) subcommittee on behavioural science:
“Freedom day? Not for the vulnerable who cannot risk getting infected.
Not for the hospitality and shop workers exposed to a maskless public.
Not for staff and travellers on public transport.
This is not freedom for all.
It is a free for all.
And the devil take the hindmost.”
Transport Sec. Grant Shapps. | UK Government
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Dr Stephen Duckett, Health Program Director at Grattan Institute, former CEO at Alberta Health Services, and former Secretary of Department of Health of Australia:
“There is no reputable public health adviser of any kind who would recommend opening up at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly.
“It just defies any logic, any science of any kind to just accept that 40,000, 50,000, 80,000 cases a day, is somehow acceptable.
“What we do know, and what the evidence is from around the world, is if there is no trade-off between public health and economics, that the right decisions from a public health perspective are the right decisions for the economy.
“So, what they’re doing with opening up is both stupid in public health terms and stupid in economic terms.”
Health Sec. Sajid Javid. | UK Government
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Professor Walter Ricciardi, Professor of Hygiene and Public Health, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, President of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, Chair Mission Board for Cancer at the EU Commission, Official Advisor to the Italian government:
“I think we can quote the ancient Romans that said, ‘to err is human, to persevere is diabolical.’
“As Italians, we were struck first in the world outside China, and we already warned our neighbouring countries – including the UK – that this approach was devastating in February 2020 and it’s still devastating now.
“So, it’s very difficult for us to understand, having a worldwide perspective, why the UK – a country that has the best possible public health and epidemiologists in the world – has such figures that advise, in a very wrong manner, their government. I think this is something that has to be understood.
“And this is not, of course, a matter of internal affairs, but this is becoming international because, from England and the UK, the virus is spreading all over the world.
“I think that it’s impossible to sustain such things when the universal scientific community is saying exactly the opposite.
“So, you have to speak truth to power, and in particular, you have a big responsibility if you are an adviser to the government of a very important country with such important scientific institutions, with such important scientific international leaders.”
Foreign Sec. Dominic Raab. | UK Government
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Dr Deepti Gurdasani, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, Statistical Genetics and Machine Learning, Queen Mary University of London:
“Let’s be under no illusions: we are in a country where our government is taking steps to maximally expose our young to a virus that causes chronic illness in many. Our government is ending all protections for our children including isolation of contacts of cases in schools and bubbles.”
Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi. | UK Government
“When the prime minister set out his roadmap, he was extremely clear, from the outset, that the government would be looking at data, not dates.” (Nadhim Zahawi, 1 July 2021)
Professor Gabriel Scally, public health physician, visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol, member of Independent Sage:
“Exempting people who are close contacts from self-isolation does not make sense. Particularly healthcare workers. Even if you are double vaccinated, you can still catch COVID-19 and pass it on.
“The government’s policy of standing back and letting the virus reproduce freely is an invitation to disaster.
“I know of no episode in history where a government has willingly aided and abetted the spread of a dangerous infectious disease among its own population. History is being made.
“The government of the United Kingdom seems to actually want people to catch Covid-19 in the summer, rather than in the autumn and winter.”
PM Boris Johnson. | Number 10
Irony... Boris Johnson isolating on the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ because he is a contact.
Professor Andrew Hayward, Director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at University College London, member of NERVTAG, a subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that advises the government:
“We are heading into the biggest wave of COVID infection we have ever seen...
“Even though the vaccine will substantially reduce the number of deaths and hospitalisations, it’s still likely that we will see somewhere in the low tens of thousands of deaths, even if we’re cautious.
“That could move into the middle, high tens of thousands of deaths if we just went back to normal activity.
“Remaining cautious is really the key thing in this unlocking of legal restrictions.”.
— AUTHORS —
▫ PMP News reporting.
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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 20 July 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Flickr/UK Government. - Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick gives a thumbs up with Walsall council officials behind him. | 15 July 2021. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)