Facing a huge public backlash over suggestions that United Kingdom was pursuing a ‘herd immunity’ strategy to combat Coronavirus by allowing up to 60 percent of its population to become infected, the country’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock sought to allay fears by saying that his goverment will do everything in its power to protect life.
On Friday, the UK government’s chief science adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance said that one of “the key things we need to do” is to “build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission.” This led to a huge panic across the country with critics claiming that government was risking more lives than necessary in order to try and achieve the end objective.
Denying that ‘herd immunity’ was a stated government policy, Hannock said that “in the coming weeks,” people over the age of 70 will be told to self-isolate.
“Herd immunity is not our policy, it's not our goal. Our goal is to protect life. I want to be absolutely crystal clear that we will do what is necessary to protect life.'” the health secretary clarified.
“What we will do is listen to all the credible scientists and we will look at all the evidence,” he said. “Herd immunity is not our goal or policy, it’s a scientific concept.”
Hancock also debunked suggestions that government actively wanted younger individuals to contract the illness in the coming weeks. He said that the consequence of the infection rate rising will place burden on healthcare system of the country and all efforts were afoot to bringing infections down even as NHS is being prepared to cope with possible surge in cases.
As of today (Mar 15) in UK, more than 1,100 people there have tested positive for the virus and 21 people have died.
In contrast to many other countries with similar rates of infection, UK has adopted different approach to combating coronavirus. It has so far not completely adopted the WHO recommended practice of ‘social distancing’.
Over 200 scientists and medical professionals criticised the idea of herd immunity arguing that it does not “seem a viable option” because it could overwhelm the UK’s National Health Service.
The group of scientists argued that stronger "social distancing measures" would "dramatically" slow the rate of growth of the disease in the UK, and would spare "thousands of lives". The group also said the current measures are "insufficient" and "additional and more restrictive measures should be taken immediately", as is happening in other countries.
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