“I’m f*cking furious” – leading scientist damns the government’s coronavirus strategy

An explosion and coronavirus Covid-19
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The UK government is putting thousands of lives at risk by continuing to apply its unofficial coronavirus (Covid-19) herd immunity policy. Clearly, it has not learned any lessons from earlier stages of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, clinicians and scientists are demanding the government cease its dithering and act now to mitigate against the likelihood of many more deaths.

Pandemic restrictions in schools nonsensical

Back in July, Queen Mary University of London senior lecturer Deepti Gurdasani tweeted how government policy was all about exposing the young to coronavirus and chronic illnesses:

Read on...

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Since 17 May mask wearing is not mandatory in classrooms or communal areas in schools in England. Nor are staff required to wear masks in classrooms. However that’s not the case everywhere. In Scotland, for example, masks remain compulsory in secondary schools for students and staff, though not for primary school children.

None of this makes sense. In a 23 tweet thread by Independent SAGE member Christina Pagel it is explained why:

Pagel also quotes from a recommendation over the summer by the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) that there should be “universal indoor masking for all teacher, staff, students, and visitors” in all schools for Kindergarten to Year 12.

In an August article in the British Medical Journal – on top of vaccinations for all 12-17 year olds – Pagel recommended:

social distancing (e.g. smaller class sizes, staggered breaks); ventilation (e.g. CO2 monitors, HEPA filters, window policies, outdoor learning); cleaning surfaces; mask wearing; keeping children within bubbles of regular contacts; frequent testing; and isolation of contacts of cases.

“Furious”

Pagel also provides statistical evidence that “hospitalisations in 6-17 year olds are rising steeply”. Indeed, Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures for week ending 16 October show that “The percentage of people [across all age groups] testing positive for COVID-19 remained highest for those in school Years 7 to 11, at 7.80%”.

Pagel concludes her thread:

I’m fucking furious. And no, I’m not sorry for swearing.

But the bad news doesn’t end there. According to John Hopkins university, coronavirus cases per million for the UK up to 13 October were way higher than, for example, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain:

“Wilfully negligent”

In July in a letter to the Lancet 1,200 scientists and clinicians described the UK government’s coronavirus strategy as nothing less than “herd immunity by mass infection”. In other words, the toleration of needless deaths. And in September The Canary reported that some clinicians accused the government of being “reckless” for allowing the “mass infection” of children.

Former chief scientific adviser and Independent SAGE chair David King condemned the ‘herd immunity’ approach:

It is unbelievable that the UK government should embark on a herd immunity strategy that will see thousands of unnecessary deaths and severe long-term illness when so much progress has been made with the vaccination programme.

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, says that currently the phrase ‘learn to live with Covid’ is being used to avoid “simple mitigations”.

Meanwhile, British Medical Association chair Chaand Nagpaul has accused the government of negligence:

It is wilfully negligent of the Westminster government not to be taking any further action to reduce the spread of infection, such as mandatory mask wearing, physical distancing and ventilation requirements in high-risk settings, particularly indoor crowded spaces.

He added:

We are rapidly approaching a position where, yet again, the government is delaying for too long, and equivocating over taking action. This is the time to learn the lessons of the past and act fast, or else we will face far more extreme measures later.

Demand for Plan B+

In September, Independent SAGE issued a 9 point plan to deal with the pandemic over the coming months. The official SAGE also recommended more homeworking and use of masks. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases have recently been recorded as more than 50,000, with the highest rates affecting 10 to 19 year olds. The British Medical Association (BMA) reported that thousands of doctors demanded that social distancing and face masks remain mandatory.

Doctors are now calling for Plan B to be implemented in England, which would at least see mandatory face masks in some settings, vaccine passports, and more homeworking.

The NHS Confederation commented:

NHS Confederation CEO Matthew Taylor added that the “government should not wait for COVID infections to rocket and for NHS pressures to be sky high before the panic alarm is sounded”. But the government appears to be doing just that.

Further pressure

Coronavirus: lessons learned to date is a review from the Health and Social Care, and Science and Technology Committees, published on 12 October. It reported on the government’s handling of the pandemic. According to one commentary, the review accuses the authorities of British exceptionalism, a slow response, and “groupthink”. The review says that the government’s policy “led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy”. The test, trace and isolate system also came under criticism from the report, stating it was “slow, uncertain and often chaotic”.

Meanwhile, family members of two coronavirus victims who died in care homes are to commence legal action against the government. They will argue that failure to protect their fathers was unlawful. The families’ lawyer, Paul Conrathe, said: “This case will give thousands of families a sense that justice has been done if we win”.

Those families, too, are undoubtedly furious with the government’s pandemic policy. As no doubt are the parents of the thousands of schoolchildren who unnecessarily suffered from the virus, thanks to government incompetence.

Featured image via Pixabay / Pixabay

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  • Show Comments
    1. Could this scientist please tell readers how many people under-18 without other health problems have died from covid in the UK in the last 18 months? Also, could she tell readers where covid ranks in the causes of death among the under-18s?
      Without such perspective, articles such as this are simply PR from lobbyists not the independent journalism that The Canary promotes.

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