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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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‘Inspirational’ teacher with no underlying health conditions sadly dies from coronavirus

RIP Donna Coleman

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A 42-year-old teacher with no underlying health conditions has sadly died from coronavirus.

Donna Coleman, described as an ‘inspirational’ teacher, returned to her role at Burnley College when schools reopened even though she told her family she was ‘scared’.

Mourners lined the streets this week to pay their respects to the much-loved teacher, with tributes pouring in. One emotional message simply read: “This lady changed my son’s life.”

Donna admitted to her family that she ‘didn’t feel safe’, but she wanted to go back to the job ‘she loved’.

JustGiving

Now her sister Vicki, 45, has called for teachers to be given vaccine priority to protect them, telling the Mirror that the government needs to do more to help keep them safe.

She said: “We need teachers to be vaccinated as soon as possible… Donna told me in September that she was scared.

“Don’t get me wrong, she wanted to go back – she loved her job – but she said staff members were terrified.”

After she began to suffer from breathing problems on December 29th, Donna was rushed into Blackburn Royal Hospital, where she messaged Vicki on New Year’s Day.

She promised to FaceTime her sister the next day, but didn’t manage the call, as by this point she was already on a ventilator despite having no underlying conditions.

Vicki added: “She had messaged friends asking them to look after her family, so she must have been scared.

“My dad and sister went to see her and came back home looking shocked, saying, ‘she’s not coming out of this.’

“I went the next day, I held her hand, I said goodbye. That wasn’t Donna, she wasn’t there, she’d gone.”

Sadly, Vicki says she doesn’t think ‘we’d be having this conversation’ if schools and colleges had closed earlier.

A JustGiving page has been created in Donna’s memory, and has already smashed its target of £1,000, having raised more than £10.5k at the time of writing – you can donate here.

Our thoughts are with Donna’s family at this difficult time 

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Police to issue £800 fines to anyone attending house parties of more than 15 people

“Next week we will be introducing a new £800 fine for those attending house parties”

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Greater Manchester Police / Facebook

From next week anyone attending an illegal gathering of more than 15 people risks being hit with a £800 fine.

Priti Patel has given police the power to dish out new £800 fines to anyone who either organises or attends a large house party or other gathering.

The home secretary announced the new measures yesterday at a Downing Street press conference, with the fines going up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offences.

Greater Manchester Police / Facebook

She said: “Next week we will be introducing a new £800 fine for those attending house parties, which will double for each repeat offence up to a maximum level of £6,400.

“These fines will apply to those who attend illegal gatherings of more than 15 people in homes.

“The science is clear. Such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant risk to public health, not only to those in attendance but also to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.”

Martin Hewitt, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, also spoke at the press conference, where he said the new announcement was welcome news.

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He said: “We have repeatedly made it clear that house parties and other large gatherings should not be happening.

“They are dangerous, irresponsible and totally unacceptable.

“I hope the likelihood of an increased fine acts as an incentive for those people who are thinking of attending or organising such events.”

According to Mr Hewitt, 250 fines of £10,000 have been dished out across England to people who have organised large gatherings since August.

He added: “I make no apology for those fines… Now anyone who attends one of these gatherings can expect to receive a £800 fine”.

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Mum-of-two raffles off stunning £600k five-bedroom house and Ferrari for just £2

Wait until you see inside the stunning house

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Jennifer Matthews

After spending nearly a year locked down in our homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all thought about moving house at some point, just for a change of scenery.

Well, if you are thinking about moving somewhere a bit bigger, then we’ve got just the thing for you – a stunning £590,000 bespoke five-bedroom house.

And in even better news, you could grab this beautiful house for just £2, as owners Jennifer and David Matthews are raffling off the property, and are throwing in their Ferrari as well.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

The couple built Bramble Lodge – which is located between Bolton and Chorley, near to Adlington – from scratch eight years ago, but now want to sell up and move on.

They came to the difficult decision of selling their ‘dream home’ as they need a more manageable property to clean and run, because of Jennifer’s health condition.

Known as Ventricular tachycardia, it’s an incurable heart condition that causes a fast, abnormal heart rate, and means the mum-of-two could die at any moment.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

However, the coronavirus crisis has made it very difficult to sell the property, which is why they decided to try their luck on popular raffle site Raffall.

This is good news for anyone dreaming of moving into a huge, new family home, as the keys to the five-bedroom detached house – which is worth over half a million and is located in a sought-after postcode – could be yours for as little as £2.

Bramble Lodge is set in its own grounds, hidden away behind a dry stone wall with electric gates for maximum privacy and security, and surrounded by stunning gardens, complete with trees and even a swing.

There’s lots of parking space, with the large drive able to accommodate four cars, which will include the 2004 Ferrari 360 Spider that you claim alongside the house if you win.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

Once inside, there are three beautiful reception rooms and a huge kitchen area with a breakfast bar and an even an Aga.

Head up the elegant spiral staircase to five double sized bedrooms, including one with an en-suite and slipper bath. The second bedroom has a stunning feature window with the staircase to the kitchen area.

The area – once home to Ryan Giggs – boasts outstanding primary schools, a nearby train station with trains to Manchester, has good motorway links, and is also close to the award-winning The Cherry Tree at Blackrod.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

The Matthews need to sell all the tickets on Raffall by February 14th, or the raffle will end before that if the last ticket sells before that date.

The lucky winner will be chosen at random, so make sure you grab your ticket or tickets ASAP, as they’re sure to sell quickly.

You can find out more and grab a ticket on the Raffall site here – good luck!

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