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Life should return to normal ‘for everyone but elderly and vulnerable’ according to experts

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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.

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“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.”

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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.”

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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’.

 

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Police seize over £3m worth of counterfeit goods in Cheetham Hill raids

GMP are stamping down on ‘the illegal distribution of counterfeit items’, and ‘the supply of illicit prescription drugs’

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Police have seized over £3m worth of counterfeit goods in a series of Cheetham Hill raids conducted as part of their ‘crackdown’ on counterfeit fraud.

According to a statement issued by Greater Manchester Police last night, Officers from City of London, North West Regional and Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU), Border Force, Immigration and local officers yesterday executed their tenth raid on Lockett Street and Bury New Road.

There, £1million’s worth of goods including clothing, accessories, bags, perfume and jewellery were found and seized. This added to the other £2m worth of goods found across the last week. 

Six men, all aged between thirty-six and sixty-one, have all been arrested and released under investigation pending further enquiries, according to the force.

The raids come as part of GMP’s Operation’s ‘Magpie’ and ‘Cranium’, which aims to tackle ‘the illegal distribution of counterfeit items’, and tackle ‘the supply of illicit prescription drugs’.

Inspector William Jennings-Wharton from the Cheetham Neighbourhood team said in a statement: “This is all part of our continued work to tackle organised crime taking place in Cheetham Hill and I want to reassure the local community that we are listening to their concerns and this week’s action is all part of our continued crackdown.

“Counterfeit goods and drug dealing will not be tolerated and all of these raids are a huge step in really driving a wedge in organised crime in the area.

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“Counterfeit goods are not a victimless crime – though these desired items may look good and are cheap, they are funding a wider picture that involves money laundering, organised crime and cheap labour.

“The profits from such businesses can be used to fund other serious crime, and often with that comes violence which can have a devastating ripple effect on communities and nearby legitimate businesses.”

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council added: “Counterfeit crime runs far deeper than just the sale of knock-off coats and handbags [as] there are deep links to other criminal enterprises and the sale of fake goods only puts money in the hands of criminals. 

“We remain committed to tackling this practice at the source and will continue to work with our partners in the police to secure prosecution against perpetrators… And get fake goods off our streets.”

Anyone with information has been encouraged to report it online or by using the LiveChat facility at www.gmp.police.uk or by calling 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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This is why some supermarkets are refusing to enforce the new face mask rules

Supermarket bosses have spoken out

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A number of supermarkets have addressed the reason they won’t be enforcing the new face mask rules that are now mandatory across the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the return of face masks and self-isolation over the weekend in a bid to tackle the new Omicron variant, which is believed to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

However, despite the mandate being backed by the government, a number of supermarket bosses announced that they would not be enforcing masks upon their customers.

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Iceland was the first supermarket to announce its stance on the matter, with the chain’s managing director Richard Walker saying he wouldn’t be asking staff to enforce the new restrictions as they focus on the ‘long-term recovery of the high street.’

Walker told The Daily Mail: “We fully support the reintroduction of compulsory face masks in shops, however, we won’t be asking our store colleagues to police it.

“Our store teams, alongside all retail workers, have shown heroic efforts in terms of ensuring safety for customers and building back consumer confidence and it’s crucial that we stay focused on the long-term recovery of the high street.”

Supermarket giant Co-op has also said that they would not be enforcing face coverings in their stores – nor would they refuse to serve a customer without one.

The British Retail Consortium has said it’s down to the police to enforce the measure, saying, as per The Sun: “Customers are asked to respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working shop staff.”

Since then, Tesco, Aldi and Lidl have all echoed this stance, with each saying they have no plans to challenge customers over the wearing of a face covering in store.

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Alternatively, Asda and Morrisons have announced that they will be regularly enforcing the use of face masks while also handing out free masks to those who don’t have them, while Sainsbury’s said it will have ‘greeters and security guards at the front of our supermarkets’ to remind people to wear masks. 

A statement from the Government on the rule change read: “From 4am Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.”

All hospitality is exempt from the rule change. 

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Boris Johnson reveals plan to offer all adults booster jabs by the end of January

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The government plans on offering all adults booster vaccines by the end of January, Boris Johnson has revealed today.

The Prime Minister spoke at a Downing Street conference this afternoon where he announced the planned booster rollout will take place across 1,500 pharmacy sites across England in age order. 

Over 400 military personnel will help with the rollout, Johnson added.

Noting that it’s ‘time for another Great British vaccination effort’, Johnson said: “The target we’ve set ourselves is to offer a booster to everyone eligible by the end of January.

“As with the first jabs, we’ll be working through people by age group going down in five year bands, because it’s vital that the older and more clinically vulnerable get that added protection first.”

The Prime Minister stressed that even those who had their second jab over three months ago should wait until the NHS contacts them about a booster appointment.

This announcement comes as face masks are made compulsory once again in all shops and on public transport.

The government made the decision as part of its response to the new Omicron variant, which is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

The change in rules was announced by the Prime Minister after cases of the new variant were detected at several locations across the UK. 

The Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed yesterday that all adults will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine as part of a reaching expansion of the jabs programme to deal with the potential impact of the new variant.

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