A SENIOR lecturer in epidemiology spoke out against the UK Government’s scrapping of Covid restrictions in England during an interview with the BBC, warning that few countries have gone this far in “endangering their own public”.

Speaking to the Good Morning Scotland programme, Deepti Gurdasani of Queen Mary University of London said she is “terrified” for unvaccinated children as Covid-19 cases look set to rise rapidly in the coming weeks.

As videos showed young people packing out nightclubs south of the Border from midnight last night, the expert warned she is “very, very concerned” about the consequences.

“You don’t even have to look at hypotheticals,” she explained. “They had similar festivals happen in the Netherlands, with large gatherings, and thousands of people got infected. And they were actually outdoors. So having lots of people gathering indoors, screaming, shouting, dancing with each other, no social distancing, no masks, is a very bad idea.”

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She went on: “In those age groups [cases are] as high as one in 50 or one in 30. Having those people mix in a superspreader environment is going to lead massive surges of infection. The Government knows this, they’ve been told there will be millions of infections in the coming weeks, they’ve been told that our hospitals will struggle with up to 2000 admissions per day, it’s just that they don’t care.”

Gurdasani rejected the Tory government’s theory that allowing Covid to spread now, with potentially up to 100,000 cases a day, will save problems in the colder months.

“Saying accept mass infection now or mass death in winter – neither of those are real options,” she said. “Because in reality rather than infecting millions of children with the impact of long Covid which the Government has never considered, we could be vaccinating them in the coming weeks.

“We could be making our schools safer by introducing masks and ventilation in schools so we don’t see the same surge in September like we’ve seen before. We could be giving boosters to people who are vulnerable with waning immunity over winter to protect them. All of those things could be done, but we’ve been presented with two false options, being asked to choose mass infection now or mass death later and that’s completely wrong and we mustn’t accept it.”

Later in the interview, the senior lecturer expressed her concerns over the UK Government’s anticipated decision not to vaccinate under-18s, accusing ministers of “exceptionalism”.

“It's not just a disappointment, I’m terrified for our children,” she told presenter Gary Robertson. “The way we’re going requires children to get infected and immunity by infection, rather than get vaccinated, because we have people in our leadership who practice exceptionalism compared to almost all of the world.

“Almost every country is now vaccinating adolescents at pace including in Israel … more than six million children in the US alone have been vaccinated. But we’ve decided that it’s safer to expose children to a virus that causes long Covid, with 9000 of our children already having long Covid for more than a year, rather than offer them a vaccination. I cannot tell you how reckless, unethical, and crazy that is.”

Gurdasani added that Scotland is “justified” in taking a more cautious approach, for example by maintaining social distancing and mask wearing, but said she would argue for even more caution given the case numbers. Cases in Scotland have fallen in the last week, but are continuing to rise quickly south of the Border. 

“I’m really glad that Scotland and Wales have decided to take a different approach to England,” she said. “I think England should serve as a cautionary tale to pretty much all parts of the world at this point in time because I don’t think there’s any country that’s gone ahead and done what they have in terms of endangering their own public.”

Currently around one in six areas in England are reporting their highest rate of new Covid-19 cases since comparable records began last summer, when mass testing was first introduced in the UK.

The list includes almost all local authority areas in north-east England, close to a half in south-west England and nearly a third in Yorkshire and the Humber.

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Data also shows that every local area in England is now recording coronavirus rates above the symbolic level of 100 cases per 100,000 people – the first time this has happened since early January, at the peak of the second wave.

The third wave is also having a growing impact on hospitals.

The number of Covid-19 patients in some major hospital trusts in England has climbed back to around a third of the level seen at the peak of the second wave of the virus.

South Tyneside & Sunderland Foundation Trust reported 78 patients with Covid-19 on July 13 – the equivalent of 31% of its second-wave peak of 251.

The neighbouring Gateshead Health Foundation Trust reported 43 Covid-19 patients on the same day, or 30% of its second-wave peak of 141.