4,000 scientists have signed an anti-lockdown petition that wants those who are less vulnerable to coronavirus to ‘resume life as normal’.
The petition now has over 40,000 signatures, and it calls for a herd immunity approach to the pandemic while protecting the most vulnerable populations.
Among experts from around the world, academics from the universities of Oxford, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Cambridge, Sussex, York, St George’s University of London, Strathclyde, Leicester, Queen Mary University of London and the University of East Anglia have signed the declaration.
Sir Simon Stevens, leader of the NHS in England, said that asking all over-65s to slow shield to help slow the transmission of the second wave is ‘aged-based apartheid’.
The declaration states: “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing Covid-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.
“The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.
“Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.
“Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.
“We know that vulnerability to death from Covid-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, Covid-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.
“As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimise mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.
“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.
“We call this Focused Protection.”
It continues: “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal.
“Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practised by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold.
“Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed.
“Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open.
“Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”
However, some scientists disagree with the proposals. Honorary senior lecturer in virology at the University of Kent, Professor Rossman, said: “Unfortunately, this declaration ignores three critical aspects that could result in significant impacts to health and lives.
“First, we still do not know if herd immunity is possible to achieve. Herd immunity relies on lasting immunological protection from coronavirus re-infection; however, we have heard many recent cases of re-infection occurring and some research suggests protective antibody responses may decay rapidly.
“Second, the declaration focuses only on the risk of death from Covid-19 but ignores the growing awareness of long Covid, that many healthy young adults with mild infections are experiencing protracted symptoms and long-term disability.
“Third, countries that have forgone lockdown restrictions in favour of personal responsibility and focused protection of the elderly, such as Sweden, were not able to successfully protect the vulnerable population.”
Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute and University of Oxford Prof James Naismith explained why he will not be signing the declaration: “The main signatories include many accomplished scientists and I read it with interest. I will not be signing it, however.
“The declaration risks the same error we have seen with the UK’s track trace and isolate scheme – one can promise a scheme that is very easy to describe but is hard to deliver.”
He added that it omits some ‘critical scientific information’.
McDonald’s pledge £1m worth of free meals joining Rashford’s calls to feed kids over half term
McDonald’s have joined Manchester United hero, Marcus Rashford, in the fight to feed families in desperate help this half term.
If you head over Rashford’s Twitter you’ll see the amount of support he’s received this past week, with restaurants up and down the country offering free meals to those in need.
McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food restaurant, are among the many out there supporting this campaign. Providing funding to FareShare to urgently redistribute food to families who need it most.
McDonald’s tweeted: “Our funding will enable the urgent redistribution of meals across the next couple those in greatest need.”
It’s not the first time McDonald’s have worked with FareShare, they have previously donated over 400 tonnes of food and 100,000 litres of milk through FareShare and other organisations.
FareShare is a charity aimed at relieving food in poverty across the UK which the star striker has already raised a huge £20million for.
The FareShare CEO says: “The funding will enable the equivalent of 1 million meals to be redistributed to our charity network very swiftly, and we are very grateful for their urgent support.”
The announcement comes days after Rashford said kids were made to feel like they “don’t matter” – after he lost his bid to get the nation’s most vulnerable youngsters free school meals this winter.
Earlier this week MPs rejected a motion to extend free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021.
Despite this Rashford pleaded with the government to re address talks on the issue on Wednesday night adding: “A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter.”
The striker is keeping an up to date list of restaurants cafes and bars offering free meals to schools, stating he was ‘blown away’ by the amount of small businesses offering their help.
They include Bolton, Liverpool, Wirral, Sheffield, Wigan, Bristol and Devon, Whitley Bay, Staffordshire, Nottingham, Stevenage, Teesdale , Anglesey, Whitehaven, Watford and County Durham.
Toy donations urgently needed for this year’s Wood Street Mission Christmas Appeal
They need donations!
The Manchester charity, Wood Street Mission, is in urgent need of toys and gifts for the children of Manchester.
The Manchester and Salford children’s charity, Wood Street Mission, has been providing Christmas support to low-income families in the region for over 150 years.
Ensuring that every child, no matter what their circumstances, wakes up on Christmas day with something special to open and a huge smile on their face.
In 2019 Wood Street was able to provide over 11,000 toys to 4000 children thanks to the generosity of local people and businesses
Through the 150 years of operating, Wood Street Mission has never failed to fulfil its Christmas appeal. However, the COVID-19 crisis has completely thrown the project into doubt for the first time this year.
Wood Street Mission faces the unthinkable: thousands of children across Manchester and Salford waking up on Christmas Day without a single gift.
Thanks to building awareness on social media, great Northern Warehouse have stepped in to lead the drop off point and provide the space and resources needed to house the gifts. Helping over 1500 families this festive season.
At this difficult time the charity is issuing an urgent call for donations of new and packed toys for all children.
The Great Northern Gift Hub will open November 10th and donations can be made today to Wood Street Mission HQ!
Those not local to Manchester can order donations via Amazon Wishlist that will deliver the toys directly to the charity. The toys on the wishlists are separated by age category plus one full of family basics like pencils and nappies.
Mark Schofield, Centre Director at Great Northern Warehouse added: “We are so pleased to be able to offer space at Great Northern and support the incredible work that Wood Street Mission are doing with local families this Christmas.
“Our team will be doing everything we can to support this essential project and bring some happiness at this incredibly challenging time.”
Marcus Rashford and his mum help out at FareShare food bank
Well done Marcus.
Marcus and his mum, Melanie have been helping out at FareShare this morning.
It comes following the vote on the extension of the free school meal scheme being defeated in the House of Commons this week.
Rashford has been an ambassador for the national food redistribution charity, FareShare since March this year.
The charity says they’ve seen a huge soar in demand for food since the outbreak of Covid-19 and now find themselves distributing double the amount since before lockdown.
The charity is delivering enough food for two million meals a week.
The charity has taken on additional warehouse space to allow for more food redistribution in the region.
The new warehouse is named after Rashford’s mum, Melanie Maynard House. The charity have launched a £300,000 fundraising appeal to fund it.
Rashford said: “The real superstars in this country can be found in the heart of most cities, towns and villages, working tirelessly to support our most vulnerable across the UK.
“As FareShare and other food-related charities approach one of the toughest Winters on record, with demand higher than ever before, it is important that I stay connected and lend my support wherever it is needed.
“When we stumble, there will always be a community to wrap their arms around us and pick us back up. For many of us, that is FareShare or the local food bank.
“Food banks who are staffed with selfless volunteers, dedicating their lives to protecting those most vulnerable, those who, in many cases, have fallen into unforeseen circumstances due to illness, personal loss and unemployment.
“It should be noted that a lot of these volunteers have themselves suffered unemployment as a result of the pandemic, yet they still strive to help others less fortunate.
“That to me is the greatest example of what we can do, and the difference we can make, when we just work together.”
FareShare is now delivering more than 80 tonnes of food a week in Greater Manchester alone, equating to 200,000 meals.
Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare UK, added: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the vote, which would have been the first step on the road to providing some peace of mind to the millions of struggling UK families.
“FareShare continues to provide over two million meals each week to vulnerable communities across the UK and we stand ready to provide all the food we can obtain, so we can continue supporting those families and children that seek help to access good, healthy food.”