WORLD Living-with-Covid policies denounced


Living-with-Covid policies denounced

China Daily

09:58, May 05, 2022

People walk along the River Thames during sunny weather in central London, April 16, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Vulnerable people feel endangered as the nation goes back to normal

Many United Kingdom residents with damaged immune systems have attacked the government's policy of effectively ignoring the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The 'living with COVID' strategy is now fully in place, with almost all restrictions and most monitoring having been swept aside.

But, with the UK recording another 234 COVID-19 deaths on Monday and with the Office for National Statistics reporting one person in 25 had COVID-19 during the week ending April 23, many immunosuppressed people, who respond less well to vaccines, have been filled with fear at the prospect of returning to crowded buses, trains, and offices.

Helen Simmonds, who takes immunosuppressant medication because of multiple sclerosis and who has had five COVID-19 inoculations, told the Financial Times: "I feel like I'm trapped in March 2020 and everyone has moved on."

She said she does not expect others to "go around in hazmat suits "just to protect her, but insisted "there's more this government can do".

"There's just no political gain in caring about the immunocompromised," she said.

Simmonds is one of around 500,000 people in the UK with conditions that leave their immune systems severely damaged.

During the early days of the pandemic, they were ordered to strictly self-isolate, but many can no longer do so because of the government's encouragement of a return to the workplace.

Alex Richter, a professor of immunology at the University of Birmingham, told the Financial Times the UK's 'living with COVID' strategy is akin to "a game of Russian roulette "for vulnerable people.

She said: "The government has decided that there's one strategy and one strategy alone: vaccination. Anyone who vaccines don't work on has been hung out to dry."

Now the government has ended free and easy access to antibody testing, people who are immunosuppressed can no longer check to see they still have the antibodies that would protect them.

And with the strategy no longer requiring mass-testing, mask-wearing, or people who test positive but do not have symptoms to self-isolate, immunosuppressed people are feeling forgotten.

And experts say a new variant of COVID-19 - Omicron XE - could leave people even more exposed, because it is infectious for longer.

Professor Denis Kinane, leading immunologist and founding scientist at Cignpost Diagnostics, told The Mirror newspaper: "Since testing levels have decreased due to the government's lifting of regulations … we are testing much less now and not sequencing the virus to any great extent … This is naturally leading us to question whether current regulations are able to combat the spread of a variant which appears to be transmissible for longer periods of time."

He said the 'living with COVID' strategy will "leave many vulnerable groups extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, including the immunocompromised, as people in their social circle will not be tested and may be asymptomatic carriers."

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