Covid should now be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and ministers should end mass-vaccination after the booster campaign, the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has said.
With health chiefs and senior Tories also lobbying for a post-pandemic plan for a straining NHS, Dr Clive Dix called for a major rethink of the UK’s Covid strategy, in effect reversing the approach of the last two years and returning to a “new normality”.
“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary,” he said. “Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end.”
Unlocked Exclusive — in a hard-hitting interview, retired NHS pathologist Dr John Lee discusses the government’s response to the pandemic, analyses why proven scientific procedures were abandoned, makes the case for ending Lockdown now, and asks the question most doctors are unable to discuss in public. Covid-19: is the cure worse than the disease?
- Scientists should not be involved in devising and implementing policies.
- The window of opportunity to suppress the virus is gone.
- The toll on public health caused by closed borders will be absolutely awful.
- Indefinite suppression may not have ever been an option.
- Vaccines may be helpful but won’t be a silver bullet.
- The virus is here to stay.
- Vaccines may be effective in reducing symptoms but we can’t gamble on an infection blocking vaccine.
- Some vaccines aren’t always suitable for the entire population.
- Banking everything on a vaccine is not a reasonable approach.
- National level measures are not convincing; targeted measures have more potential.
- Communication has been problematic so public trust has been lost.
- Fear over a long period of time is physiologically unhealthy and doesn’t ever just evaporate.
- The cost of allowing people to choose their own risk-level would be much lower than the current blanket proposals.
- Well-targeted testing can be extremely effective but mass testing in schools is not a good use of tests.
- The ‘medicalization’ of society is worrying.
- Blanket testing of asymptomatic people is completely new and presents multiple ethical problems.
- Proportion of asymptomatic cases for 2009 influenza pandemic was around 50%-75%; this is similar to what we’re finding COVID-19.
- COVID-19 is not so different from other viruses but the global approach is completely different.
- Normalising the mass testing of otherwise healthy testing is very dangerous.
- There’s not much to be gained from comparing the measures and results between countries; the move to technocracy is dangerous.
- Whole societies should not turn around public health.
- A constant climate of fear is counter-productive.
- There were other countries that took a similar approach to Sweden, such as Switzerland.
- Past pandemics have been comparable to COVID-19 but did not have the same response.
- Outbreaks in care homes is nothing new.
- The pandemic phase of COVID-19 should eventually be over by mid to end of 2021 and in all likelihood become endemic.
- The most important message: COVID-19 presents a severe health crisis but it is not a ‘new normal.’
- We have already developed herd immunity to COVID-19 and will continue to manage it through herd immunity.
- Flu is much more dangerous than COVID-19.
- COVID-19 will settle into an endemic state just like flu.
- Hopefully vaccines will be important in protecting the vulnerable.
- Another way to protect the vulnerable sector is to allow the population to develop natural immunity.
- There’s no reason to think the virus will mutate into a lower level of virulence.
- During the 1918 flu because of a large number of ‘immunologically naive’ individuals but this is not the case with COVID-19.
- Most of us have some degree of coronavirus immunity and therefore some protection to COVID-19.
- The current H1 influenza strain is antigenically identical to the 1918 flu. H1 flu doesn’t kill as many people as the 1918 flu because most people already have cross immunity.
“It is so transmissible, it’s so successful, we’re so susceptible, that actually it’s a little bit of a red herring to worry about it getting worse, because it couldn’t be much worse at the moment in terms of the numbers of cases,” he told the House of Lords Science and Technology committee on Tuesday.
“If you contrast with Ebola, which has very high virulence, kills many, many people, it makes it very controllable and you can very readily identify the infected people.