UK is 'pursuing herd immunity again' says New Zealand pandemic adviser

18 July 2021, 16:01

By Tim Dodd

An adviser to New Zealand's Covid response Professor Michael Baker has told LBC it appears the UK government is 'pursuing herd immunity again', as England scraps most of its remaining Covid rules tomorrow.

It comes as capacity caps, enforced mask-wearing and social distancing are to be dropped as the scheduled easing of restrictions goes ahead on July 19, billed as 'freedom day'. 

Tom Swarbrick began by saying: "When it comes to leadership these islands have had very good success in the rollout of the vaccine. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, has said even at the peak of this wave the NHS will not be overwhelmed, it will be able to cope. That should be enough shouldn't it?"

Professor Baker replied: "The first concern is very much one of worry for the fate of people who get sick and die from this policy in the UK.

"Around the world there are other countries who are looking for a way through the pandemic, and basically the UK model which you started with was immunity through widespread infection - the herd immunity model, which you abandoned last year.

"It appears you're going back to that and you're saying we're going to have a whole cohort of people who are not vaccinated who are just going to get this virus, and that's immunity by mass infection."

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Tom replied: "If young people, who have a much greater chance to resist the worst ills of this virus, feel unwell but get over it in a few days and develop natural immunity, does that not help ultimately fighting Covid and pushing it back?"

"Getting immunity through infection is far more dangerous than getting it through vaccination," Professor Baker replied.

"They're far more likely to suffer Long-Covid getting immunity this way, they won't get that effect from vaccination, so they are going to be at the brunt of this policy."

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