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Top UK scientists urge govt to protect most vulnerable from Covid-19 instead of carpet-bombing virus

British scholars penned an open letter to PM Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, as well as health chiefs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, asking them to urgently reconsider the current epidemic strategy.

Authored by Oxford professors Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan, as well as Karol Sikora of the University of Buckingham and Sam Williams of the Economic Insight consultancy, the letter says the “existing policy path is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of Covid-19.” The appeal has been signed by dozens of academics from the UK’s leading educational institutions.

According to the authors of the open letter, blanket measures aren’t the way to go. “Instead, more targeted measures that protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk, are more supportable,” they wrote.

“Given the high proportion of Covid-19 deaths in care homes, these should be a priority,” the scientists pointed out. The pandemic hit the UK’s nursing facilities exceptionally hard, claiming 19,394 lives between March and June, which accounted for 29.3 percent of all deaths in care homes during that time, according to government figures. 

Last month, it emerged that care home staff were allegedly pressured by the NHS to admit coronavirus-positive or untested patients at the height of the crisis this spring. Nurses were reportedly instructed to change the status of all residents to “do not resuscitate.”

However, the government seems to have learned its lesson. Care facilities will receive £546 million ($702.5 million) to upgrade, reduce all but essential movements of staff between nursing homes to prevent the spread of the virus, and allow for the distribution of free PPE – masks and gloves – to the elderly and workers.

The UK has reported more than 394,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the epidemic, claiming close to 42,000 lives.

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