Nicola Sturgeon questioned on Covid daily briefings
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The Scottish First Minister and other politicians need to be better informed before briefing the public on the situation of the pandemic, Express.co.uk was told. It comes after Ms Sturgeon said Scotland’s objective must be “to eliminate” coronavirus. While completely eliminating the virus isn’t impossible, when comparing coronavirus to historical virus eradication, it is an unlikely feat.
Dr John McCauley, the Director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre, a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centres for Influenza, told Express.co.uk that leaders like Ms Sturgeon must be better informed before announcing such plans.
Asked whether such rhetoric was dangerous, he said: “I think I’d like policy makers to understand better what prospects there are.
“If we look at what we’ve known previously about viruses coming into the human population, or the animal population, we’ve really not been able to eliminate very many.
“Smallpox was eliminated through vaccination and relatively rare occurrences in epidemiology, and it was also a huge coordinated global effort.
“Coronavirus may not be eliminable – some things can’t be eliminated, so that becomes a problem.”
It isn’t the first time Ms Sturgeon has suggested COVID-19 might be eliminated.
Last June, after Scotland recorded no cases of deaths for 24 hours, she said the country was “not far away” from eliminating the virus.
Dr McCauley said that while Ms Sturgeon and others may not be “misinformed”, it is unlikely that they have been taken through the “sums” needed to properly grasp the extent of the health crisis.
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He added: “I look at some of the things political leaders say, like Boris Johnson, and sometimes I think, ‘Doesn’t anybody ever correct him?’ when he uses the wrong word, or the wrong concept.
“Often, it seems no one actually points out to him that his analogies are wrong.”
While scientists generally agree that making the UK – and the world – a COVID-19 free zone is a worthy cause, there is growing consensus that says it could do more harm than good.
As the New Scientist noted: “Lockdown has already significantly affected other areas of healthcare provision.
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“In the UK, elective medical procedures have been delayed, cancer screening has been put on hold and thousands of people have avoided seeking care for serious health issues, including for heart attack symptoms.”
Researchers are instead suggesting an alternative path: eliminating the coronavirus as a public health concern.
This would mean keeping case numbers so low that people are unlikely to come into contact with an infected person while out in public.
In the UK, over 120,000 people have died from COVID-19, with 4.3 million cases.
The country’s vaccination programme has hit the ground-running since the New Year, with around half of the adult population having received at least one dose.
However, just three percent of Britons have been fully vaccinated.
Mr Johnson this week said the UK should be “under no illusion” that we will “feel effects” of growing cases on the continent.
Much of Europe has in the past few weeks been gripped by a third wave following the easing of restrictions.
The soaring case numbers and hospital admissions coincides with a lacking vaccination programme – less than 10 percent of the EU population had been vaccinated at the beginning of the month.
Brussels is now threatening to cut-off the UK’s vaccine supplies, with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen warning the EU could “forbid” doses made in the bloc from being exported to the UK.
This is as the margin between Britain and Europe’s vaccination furthers every day.
EU leaders will gather on Thursday to decide what steps to take next.
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