More than 120 scientists and doctors have called on Boris Johnson to stop the plan to fully lift lockdown on 19 July.
The government have been accused of “dangerous and unethical experiment” and warned millions will become infected, with” hundreds of thousands having long term illness and disability from long Covid.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the council of the British Medical Association, and Sir David King who is the former government chief scientific adviser also signed the letter to the Lancet.
The letter warned, “This strategy risks creating a generation left with chronic health problems and disability, the personal and economic impacts of which might be felt for decades to come.
“Allowing transmission to continue over the summer will create a reservoir of infection, which will probably accelerate spread when schools and universities reopen in autumn.
“We believe the Government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment, and we call on it to pause plans to abandon mitigations on July 19 2021.
“Instead, the government should delay complete reopening until everyone, including adolescents, have been offered vaccination and uptake is high, and until mitigation measures, especially adequate ventilation (through investment in carbon dioxide monitors and air filtration devices) and spacing (eg by reducing class sizes), are in place in schools.”
Dr Nagpaul said, “The government has also airbrushed the impact of long Covid on one in 10 people getting infected and with two million having been unwell for more than three months. It would be irresponsible to inflict further suffering on millions more.
“We know that masks are effective in stopping the spread, so it is nonsensical and dangerous for the Government to abandon compulsory mask-wearing in indoor public settings, such as public transport, on July 19.”
Dr Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist and senior lecturer at Queen Mary University who organised the letter, said, “The government has made a deliberate choice to expose children to mass infection, rather than protect them in schools or vaccinate them.
“This is unethical and unacceptable.
“Our young have already suffered so much in the past year, and are now being condemned to suffer the consequences of this dangerous experiment.”
A Department of Health & Social Care spokesperson said, “The success of the vaccine rollout is saving lives, having severely weakened the link between cases and hospitalisations.
“We have taken a cautious approach to proceeding with the roadmap, delaying Step 4 to allow for millions more vaccinations so every person most at risk is fully protected.
“Our approach after step 4 balances the need to protect both lives and livelihoods and we will only proceed on 19 July with our four tests having been met.”