Boris Johnson’s plan to lift virtually all restrictions on the pandemic in England is a threat to the world and offers fertile ground for the emergence of vaccine-resistant strains, said international experts, quoted by The Guardian.
The UK’s position as a global travel hub means that any new variant identified in the country will spread rapidly around the world, alerted 1,200 international scientists and doctors in an open letter, expressing serious concerns about Downing Street’s plans.
+ The show must go on, say artists protesting UK social isolation
Government advisers from New Zealand, Israel and Italy were among those who warned of the policy pursued by Boris. The letter, published in the magazine ‘Lancet’, also warned that the British strategy could allow the development of resistant variants of the vaccine, which is why the relief should be suspended.
“We believe the government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment and we urge it to suspend plans to drop the restrictions on July 19, 2021,” they say in the document.
In support of the letter, several other experts gathered at a global summit this Friday. The New Zealand government adviser said he and his colleagues were surprised by the approach taken in England.
“In New Zealand, we’ve always looked to the UK for leadership when it comes to scientific expertise, and that’s why it’s so surreal that the country doesn’t even follow the basic principles of public health,” said Michael Baker, professor of health University of Otago public and member of New Zealand’s Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 technical advisory group.
Others warned that the British government’s approach would be imitated, for political convenience, by officials elsewhere. “What I fear is that some of the worst impulses in many of our states will follow the example of the UK,” said William Haseltine, a former researcher at Harvard Medical School.
Christina Pagel, Director of the Clinical Operations Research Unit at University College London, said: “Because of our position as a global travel hub, any variant that becomes dominant in the UK will likely spread to the rest of the world. UK policy doesn’t just affect us. It affects everyone and everyone is interested in what we do”.
Deepti Gurdasani, clinical epidemiologist and senior professor at Queen Mary University London, who participated in the summit this Friday, also warned: “The world is watching the current avoidable crisis unfold in the UK”.
“Let’s not be under any illusions, we are in a country where our government is taking steps to expose our young people as much as possible to a virus that causes chronic illness in many,” he added.
The expert also said: “Our government is ending all protections for our children, including isolating contacts from school cases and bubbles.”
+ Learn about the effectiveness of each vaccine against Covid-19