Medical experts strongly advise against ‘freedom day’ UK: ‘Dangerous and irresponsible’
The British government will embark on a “dangerous and unethical experiment” if it also releases the latest corona restrictions on July 19, as planned. More than a hundred scientists and doctors warn about this in a fierce letter. “It is very unwise to give this virus-free rein,” one of the signatories told RTL Nieuws.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to announce an end to the measures on Monday before July 19. From then on, people no longer have to keep their distance, no longer have to wear a mouth cap if they do not want to, and that nightclubs can open again and festivals are allowed again. Only the travel rules remain quite strict.
But according to the medical experts, completely abandoning the measures on the so-called Freedom Day can not only lead to more infections, but also to more acute illness, hospitalizations and long-term complaints (lung covid).
At least as alarming is that it offers a ‘fertile breeding ground’ for the emergence of new corona variants against which current vaccines do not protect. Those vaccines can be updated, but that takes time and will ‘disproportionately affect disadvantaged Britons’.
Especially the unprotected British youth who have not yet been vaccinated will be affected by the relaxation, the scientists and doctors write in the letter published in the scientific journal The Lancet. They, therefore, urge the government to postpone the reopening.
Among the signatories is also one scientist who works in the Netherlands, the Italian Valentina Gallo, associate professor of epidemiology and sustainable health at the University of Groningen.
Gallo, who previously worked in the United Kingdom for 15 years, is deeply concerned about the relaxation. “The most important point is that we do not know the long-term effects of a corona infection. A considerable number of these people get lung covid, which is very limiting. Preventing infection is therefore always better. It is very unwise to release this virus give game.”
The number of infections in the United Kingdom has been on the rise since June due to the delta variant, which is estimated to be 60 per cent more contagious. Yesterday, more than 32,000 new infections were added, bringing the country back to the level of December before vaccination.
Because the British are vaccinating at record speed, more than half of the total population was fully vaccinated at the beginning of this week and more than two-thirds had a first corona jab. As a result, the number of hospital admissions and corona deaths is low, but according to medical experts, an estimated 17 million Britons are still unprotected against Covid-19.
That’s why the rapidly increasing number of new infections is alarming, Gallo says. “When the virus was largely under control in April, it was still justified to relax. But that has really changed because of the delta variant. That variant causes many more infections and therefore disease. By being around an infected person, you’re already at risk.”
The rising figures can therefore still throw a spanner in the works. But what if the promised relaxations do not take place on July 19? According to news correspondent Anne Saenen, this has a lot of influence on the catering industry and events such as nightclubs, pubs and festivals.
“Until now, the British had a clear step-by-step plan that they could stick to. With dates on which they could expect relaxation,” says Saenen. “But if a big wave of contamination comes in September, as is predicted, and the rules have to be tightened again, then people will become hopeless: where does this end?”
That while, according to her, many Britons feel: it’s summer, nice weather and we can meet again. For example, to follow the national football team – which plays the final at the European Championships on Sunday – together.
Epidemiologist Gallo says she is certainly not advocating a return to full lockdown. “But there is still a lot of space between a full lockdown and the release of all measures. I understand very well that people want to relax and that there are so many mental problems. But you can also relax in a sensible way, keep your distance, wear mouth caps inside and ensure good ventilation, especially in schools.”
According to her, the same certainly applies to the Netherlands. “Allowing people into distancing clubs on the basis of rapid tests is just madness. Nobody knows how often such a test gives false negatives. But people trust rapid tests because they are provided by the government. matter.”
According to Gallo, therefore, as many people and young people as possible from the age of 12 should now first be vaccinated in both the Netherlands and the UK. “And invest in vaccines for poorer countries to prevent new variants. We are only safe when everyone is safe.”
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