22 Top Scientists Call for End of All UK COVID Restrictions by June 21st

An open letter to the government signed by twenty-two scientists over a variety of disciplines has called for the end of the “contradictory” and “obsessive” focus on COVID-19 and for “giv[ing] citizens back their lives.”

The letter, published by the Express, calls for social distancing, mandatory face coverings and mass community testing to be abolished by the 21st of June. It was signed by a number of Government advisers including Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University and a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), Prof. Carl Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, and Prof. Anthony Brookes, geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester.

The open letter comes in the wake of the announcement that more than half of the UK population has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The scientists, asserting their concern over “confused and contradictory directions currently being promoted in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic,” called on the Government to “give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.” 

The scientists noted the success of the vaccines, affirming: “We can be very confident they will reduce COVID death by around 98 per cent and serious illness by 80-85 per cent,” and implored the Government to recognise the virus as a “mild endemic infection, likely to recur in seasonal waves which renew immunity without significantly stressing the NHS.”

“There are sound evolutionary reasons why [the protection given by the vaccines] is unlikely to change in the near future with new variants,” reads the letter. “In short, the level of population immunity we have now achieved by targeted vaccination and natural infection means that the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the UK has become demonstrably less fatal than seasonal influenza viruses.”

Moreover, the scientists stressed the damage to mental health caused by “measures to reduce or discourage social interaction” - particularly to children, young people and those with disabilities. The letter concludes:

“We have learned that a good society cannot be created by an obsessive focus on a single cause of ill-health. Having endured the ravages of 2020, things are very different as we enter the spring of 2021. It is more than time for citizens to take back control of their own lives.”

Speaking later to Nottinghamshire Live, Professor Dingwall stated that “June 21st is not the great liberation date we think it is going to be,” elaborating on a view held among the 22 signatories of the letter - a group of people from “different backgrounds, political agendas and views who had come together on this concern.”

“What is the point in continuing [with restrictions] beyond June 21?” Dingwall said. “Some things are worth continuing - better vaccines, properly designed community surveillance so we know what's happening with new variants, and generally trying to promote better hygiene. The letter is quite consistent with the views of the Chief Medical Officer, in that we will end up living with Covid as a low-level virus like flu. Why would we have these restrictions for Covid when we have never suggested masks for flu?”

The professor continued to argue that there is a “real problem of COVID anxiety,” exacerbated by the “fear used in managing it.” 

“Humans are intensely social and depend on face to face interactions which you can't reproduce in the virtual world,” asserted Dingwall. “The damage being inflicted is growing and more time goes on. We are burning through our social capital and the longer this takes, the harder it is to escape from. We should not tolerate these measures continuing indefinitely, we need a very clear statement on if not [June 21], then when?”



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