Saturday, 30 May 2020

Government's Top Scientific Adviser Warns against Easing Lockdown

The government's top scientific adviser Professor John Edmunds OBE who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warns reopening schools is a "bit of a risk" because Covid-19 infections are "really quite high" and says "we can't lift things very much at all".

Along with schools, sporting events are set to reopen on the condition athletes are tested twice a week for their safety, which of course begs the question of why teachers, children and carers won't be tested twice a week too. Is their safety less important?

We are currently seeing 8000 new infections a day and the R number is believed to be just below one, so it really isn't difficult to see how easing lockdown early could lift that number above one, causing new outbreaks and leading to a second wave.

The Prime Minister has insisted from the beginning he is following the science, but which science is he following, if not the science from his own scientific advisers? A cynical person might suggest he is keen to protect capital interests and taking unnecessary risks with public health.

Is Boris Johnson willing to take personal responsibility if Britain sees a second Covid wave while other countries are seeing numbers fall close to zero? Indeed, Greece has taken the step of banning flights from Britain because of our weak pandemic response and high infection rate. Why can't we wait until Covid deaths are in the tens per day, rather than the hundreds? Why can't we wait until a track and trace system is properly in place?

We are half a term away from the summer holidays. If we keep schools shut for the next 6 weeks, we will have until September to ensure the safety of our children and teachers. And let's not forget incidents of Kawasaki disease in children - a potentially life threatening illness which can lead to complications like heart damage - has been linked to Covid-19. Do we really want to expose our children to that?

I'm a father of three and extremely reluctant to send my kids back to school. I know the majority of parents feel the same way. We do not know enough about this illness. We do not know if immunity is possible or if Covid-19 can linger in the body long term like HIV and Hepatitis C. Also, there are fears the virus could be neurotoxic and increase the risk of cancer. We are dealing with unknowns and surely our focus should be on exposing the minimum number of people possible.

Heading to the beach should not be a concern when you are at war, whether that be with humans or a virus. Easing lockdown can wait for the sake of our children and all of us.

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