New Zealand scientists say UK’s ‘awful experiment’ on Covid will threaten the country

‘If you are going to train a virus to escape vaccine-induced immunity, you would do exactly what they’re doing’

Joe Middleton
Tuesday 13 July 2021 21:57
Comments
Chris Whitty says next peak will be lower but NHS will still be under pressure

Scientists in New Zealand have expressed concern at Britain’s unlocking of Covid restrictions, describing it as an “awful experiment.”

On Monday Boris Johnson announced plans to scrap a number of coronavirus lockdown measures on July 19, including ditching social distancing and dropping the legal requirement to wear a face mask.

This is despite coronavirus infections running at around 35,000 per day and the expectation that they will increase in the coming weeks.

“We’re seeing rising hospital admissions, and we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from COVID,” he said at a press conference on Monday 5 July.

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has already dismissed the strategy being adopted by UK policymakers, and said that “different countries are taking different choices”.

Academics and medical experts in the country have also raised concerns about the UK’s plan to drop restrictions despite the continuing surge of the Delta variant in the country.

University of Auckland microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles told Newsroom: “The question is, how much worse is Delta going to get?

“They are running a really quite awful experiment.”

Jemma Geoghegan, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Otago, expressed concern that just over half of the UK adult population has been vaccinated and that this could encourage new vaccine resistant variants to be produced.

She told Newsroom: “If you are going to train a virus to escape vaccine-induced immunity, you would do exactly what they’re doing.

“You’re basically providing a training ground for the virus to overcome those selection pressures. You’re allowing the virus to continue to spread.

“With this moderately immune population and with the Delta variant that has an R0 that’s estimated to be probably five or six, you need a threshold to be much, much, much higher than they currently have.”

New Zealand has implemented one of the more successful Covid strategies globally and has largely managed to eliminate coronavirus from the community.

It has so far recorded 2,500 cases and 26 deaths from the virus.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in