The Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been slammed by scientists over his plans to unlock England from the current restrictions.
Professor Stephen Reicher from the University of St Andrews and sits on the Independent Sage group, who has advised Downing Street over the response to the pandemic has described Javid’s approach as “frightening.”
He warned that Javid’s emphasis over it is a “matter of personal choice” for the public to to decide what protections they need to make could be disastrous.
Professor Reicher warned on Twitter, “It is frightening to have a ‘Health’ Secretary who still thinks Covid is flu, who is unconcerned at levels of infection, who doesn’t realise that those who do best for health also do best for the economy, who wants to ditch all protections while only half of us are vaccinated.
“Above all, it is frightening to have a ‘Health’ Secretary who wants to make all protections a matter of personal choice when the key message of the pandemic is ‘this isn’t an ‘I’ thing, it’s a ‘we’ thing.
“Your behaviour affects my health. Get your head around the ‘we’ concept.”
This comes as the Health Secretary wrote in the Mail on Sunday, that “cases are going to rise significantly” and added that “We are going to have to learn to accept the existence of Covid and find ways to cope with it, just as we already do with flu.”
Alan McNally, professor of microbial evolutionary genomics at the University of Birmingham, warned on Twitter, “A year ago Brendan Wren and I wrote an editorial saying that bad decisions were going to make Covid an endemic disease, likely of children.
“This week government will make that an official policy.
“That’s a policy allowing one of deadliest infections in history run endemic.”
Professor Reicher was also asked if he was more concerned about the messaging around the pandemic or the end of requirement to wear face masks, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “I think both.
“I think we need very clear messaging and I think in certain spaces crowded, badly ventilated spaces, masks are crucial mitigation.
“Not lockdown, but support and proportionate mitigations to keep us safe. Along with the vaccine, that’s the way out.”
However, a spokesperson at the Department of Health told the Daily Mail, “The Health Secretary did not say Covid was like flu.
“He said we need to learn to live with it and find ways to cope with it, in the same way as we do with flu.”
Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at Edinburgh University Medical School said on Twitter, “New UK Health Minister saying Covid is like flu. Same position 18 months into the pandemic.
“We didn’t have to vaccinate the entire adult population against flu, or do mass community testing, or have lockdowns [because] hospitals full. I don’t understand this analogy.”