Zero Covid UK welcomes the inclusion of reinfection statistics in daily Covid data but cautions that the rumoured end to the publication of the daily death tolls altogether by Easter would only prolong the pandemic. The updated figures show that Covid infection rates in the UK are still extremely high, with new infections making up most of the reported cases. This continues to endanger the lives and well-being of the population, especially those who are most at risk, as well as significantly disrupting school attendance and putting health services under severe strain.
We are told that “living with Covid” will involve a great deal of personal responsibility and risk analysis, and then an anonymous Whitehall source floats the eventual removal of an important tool for making these decisions. This happened on the same day that 112,458 people tested positive for the virus, 219 people died of Covid, and 1,472 people were admitted to hospital. If we do not have access to such statistics, how can we evaluate how dangerous it is for us to go about our daily lives? With the advent of the potentially more transmissible BA.2 variant causing reinfections to jump, and the total abandonment of protective public health measures, if we are to keep ourselves and others safe, we must at least continue to receive the data that make it possible to understand the situation.
Not only is this potential development dangerous, but our government’s approach flies in the face of advice from the World Health Organization. On 1 February, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, its Director-General, said, “This virus will continue to evolve, which is why we call on countries to continue testing, surveillance and sequencing. We can’t fight this virus if we don’t know what it’s doing.” He reminded reporters: “This virus is dangerous, and it continues to evolve before our very eyes. WHO is currently tracking four sub-lineages of the Omicron variant of concern, including BA.2.”
A vaccines-plus approach is the only way out of this pandemic. The Government should be following best practice and protecting us by keeping transmission rates down. Countries that have done this have had far fewer deaths and suffered much less damage to their economies.
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