, For Some People In The U.K., “Freedom Day” Means Going Back Into Lockdown, The Nzuchi News Forbes

For Some People In The U.K., “Freedom Day” Means Going Back Into Lockdown

, For Some People In The U.K., “Freedom Day” Means Going Back Into Lockdown, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Amid soaring case numbers of Covid-19, England, the most populous nation in the U.K. has seemingly decided on an unprecedented tactic to navigate the next phase of the pandemic. To open up and let the Delta SARS-CoV2 coronavirus variant rip through the population with it’s new “hybrid immunity” strategy which has been widely condemned by experts.

As of the time of writing this article, daily cases in the U.K. had reached over 50,000, with hospitalizations and death rates also rising amid a rapidly increasing number of hospitals cancelling normal services to cope with the newest pandemic surge. The government has said that cases could reach 100,000 a day this summer and despite all of this, England where 85% of the U.K. population reside, has plans to remove the majority of remaining pandemic control measures on “freedom day” which is Monday 19th July. These include removal of mandatory masking in public areas such as clubs, grocery stores and retail and allowing employers to demand that staff return to offices. The other devolved nations of the U.K.; Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be keeping some restrictions.

The U.K.’s vaccination campaign has seen high uptake, with almost 90% of adults over 18 having received one dose of a vaccine and 67% having received both doses. This is likely to be responsible for lower death and hospitalization rates so far compared to previous waves, but as both numbers rise the notion that vaccines have broken the link between cases and serious Covid-19 outcomes is increasingly unbelievable. Despite mRNA vaccines being authorized for people over 12 years old, the U.K. has so far declined to vaccinate any children and spread through schools has been implicated in kickstarting this most recent wave of infections.

As a British person living in Canada where we are currently experiencing low case rates, I’m horrified as an increasing number of messages from people I know roll in, reporting they are either sick with Covid-19 or self-isolating after an exposure. Many of those sick are fully vaccinated, not surprising considering the huge case numbers in the U.K. and that the mRNA vaccines are estimated to be around 80% effective at preventing symptomatic infection against the Delta variant with the AstraZeneca vaccine being around 60% effective. All of the vaccines remain very effective (90%+) at preventing severe disease requiring hospitalization after two doses, but there is growing evidence that “long Covid” affects many and can be chronic and life-altering for a not-insignificant number of people, including children.

Almost everybody I know is fully vaccinated with just a few waiting for their second dose appointments, but what about people who remain susceptible to Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated?

I wrote last week about people with certain types of cancer who despite being vaccinated, may have no immunity toward the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus. People with blood cancer are known to have a far higher risk of severe disease and dying from Covid-19 and now, researchers are finding that some patients don’t respond favorably to the vaccines either. People with cancer on certain types of therapy may also have a reduced response to vaccines and it is these people who are likely to be less excited and more concerned about “Freedom Day” in the U.K.


On July 5th, when the U.K. government confirmed that “freedom day” was going ahead on the 19th, the U.K.’s largest blood cancer charity, Blood Cancer UK, tweeted urging people to keep wearing masks in public place and to be mindful that immunocompromised people remain at risk.

, For Some People In The U.K., “Freedom Day” Means Going Back Into Lockdown, The Nzuchi News Forbes

But it isn’t just people with blood cancer who are at high risk with huge case numbers and unmasked people everywhere. It is estimated that 3.8 million people in England are extremely “clinically vulnerable” including people with Down’s Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, COPD, cancer, organ or bone marrow transplant recipients and people with other immunocompromising conditions. Scope, a U.K. charity advocating for equality for disabled people also tweeted about the lifting of restrictions on July 19th.

As a long-term survivor of childhood leukemia, I remember being pulled out of school when various illnesses were circulating around the classroom. Mild illnesses such as colds, coughs and sickness bugs which would cause mild disease in everybody else could have killed me due to my weakened immune system. My school was brilliant, they did everything they could to make sure any illnesses in my classroom were reported quickly and made the environment as safe as possible for me so I could attend school. As any decent community or society should to protect the most vulnerable members within.

I cannot imagine the anxiety that clinically vulnerable people in the U.K. right now are experiencing after being completely abandoned by the U.K. government, where current guidance to “protect” them involves advice such as “You may still wish to consider going to the shops and pharmacy at quieter times of the day.” As of the 19th, even the simplest and most harmless of infection control measures – masks, will no longer be required in retail and grocery stores. So clinically vulnerable people may genuinely have to risk their lives to even get food.

For now, many clinically vulnerable people in the U.K. will be wondering why they are acceptable collateral damage in this population-wide pandemic experiment, where early signs of failure are already being seen.

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