Today the Government is expected to announce the end to all Covid restrictions, including ending self-isolation and free testing in the country. However, in an open letter to the UK's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, the UK science and medical communities say this is a "HUGE mistake".
The open letter expresses concern about the Government plans to end testing, surveillance surveys and legal isolation of Covid-19 cases and asks the Government to clarify the scientific advice underpinning these policy decisions as they do not believe there is a solid scientific basis for the policy.
"It is almost certain to increase the circulation of the virus and remove the visibility of emerging variants of concern."
"The emergence of new variants and a resultant wave of infections can occur very quickly, potentially within just several weeks. The ability to rapidly detect and characterise new variants and to scale up necessary responses (such as TTI and vaccinations) quickly will be very important. Considerations for future response preparedness and surveillance infrastructure should take this into account."
"We believe humanity is in a race against the virus."
The letter goes on to say that some form of surveillance must be continued to ensure the situation is well understood and new variants of concern identified. Lack of testing is not only detrimental to controlling the spread of SARSCoV2 and detecting new variants, it also puts people who develop Long Covid at a great disadvantage by not having a confirmation of their infection, which is integral to the diagnosis, support and care they need to receive. For the 1 in 4 people in the UK who are clinically vulnerable, the current approach appears a perilous and politicised pandemic response.
The authors of the letter are asking members of the UK science and medical communities to sign the open letter.