More than 1,200 scientists are urging the government to halt the lifting of Covid rules in less than a week and called the move ‘unethical’ amid soaring cases numbers.
On July 19 a raft of coronavirus restrictions are set to be lifted including legal requirements on wearing masks and the ‘rule of six’ for meeting indoors.
A ban on nightclubs opening is also set to be scrapped.
It comes amid a surge in new infections with the highest daily rate seen since January, when the nation was once again plunged into lockdown.
With just days to go before the relaxation of more restrictions a group of doctors and health experts wrote to medical journal The Lancet to raise their concerns over the planned changes.
Signatories said in the statement that the planned relaxation ‘involves recklessly exposing millions to the acute and long-term impacts of mass infection.’
The group said: “We believe this is a terrible mistake.
“This strategy is already putting intense pressure on struggling healthcare services and will lead to many avoidable deaths and long-term illness.
“The narrative of ‘caution, vigilance and personal responsibility’ is an abdication of the government’s fundamental duty to protect public health.
“‘Personal responsibility’ does not work in the face of an airborne, highly-contagious infectious disease.
“Infectious diseases are a matter of collective, rather than individual responsibility.”
More than 1,200 scientists have signed a letter to the Lancet setting out why they believe allowing mass infection in the summer is a ‘dangerous and unethical experiment’.
Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, called a strategy of letting infection spread through a population “moral emptiness and epidemiological stupidity”.
It’s the highest tally since January. There were 50 deaths recorded yesterday, which is a relatively lower figure than from earlier this year.
Confirming the planned relaxation earlier Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs there will “never be a perfect time” to lift the restrictions, and added: “To those who say ‘why take this step now’ I say ‘if not now, when?'”
Despite admitting cases could soar to 100,000 per day later in the summer, Mr Javid said the vaccine programme would prevent a surge in deaths and hospitalisations.
Nearly 46 million first doses of a Covid vaccine have so far been administered, as well as nearly 35 million second shots.