Professor Susan Michie, a member of Independent SAGE has warned variants could emerge if cases continue to increase – it’s estimated one in 16 people are positive in England right now
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Charging for lateral flow tests and reducing Covid-19 restrictions is playing “Russian roulette” with lives, a top scientist warns.
Professor Susan Michie, a member of Independent SAGE, fears a variant that defies vaccines could emerge if cases continue to increase.
There were already 4.26million people carrying the virus in the week to March 19, approaching the peak of 4.3million in the first week of this year.
Prof Michie also hit out at Downing Street for encouraging people to “soldier on” as if “everything’s normal”.
The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is now dominant in Britain and infections have been rising since Christmas.
One in 16 in England tested positive for Covid in the latest week of data.
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Prof Michie, of University College London, said: “Because of the emergence of new variants, it’s like playing Russian roulette and then saying ‘be cautious’.
“Many will die that way.
“The Government’s tactic of trying to act as if everything’s normal is having the effect of reducing people’s concern about the number of deaths.”
Around 100 people are still dying of Covid daily.
Prof Michie said: “If this was an airplane falling out of the sky every day people would be aghast.
“Pretending there’s not a problem will not make the problem go away.”
Around 1.5million people are suffering long Covid and those at high risk are too fearful to go out.
Clinical psychologist Prof Michie said: “This is not the time to begin charging for lateral flows.”
Free universal testing is set to end in April, with a pack of seven costing £30 – which, in a cost-of-living crisis, is likely to be one of the first household budget items to get the chop.
Prof Michie added: “We still don’t know what the long-term effects of this complex disease are.
“There’s worrying evidence about long-term damage, including brain shrinkage.”
Researchers at the University of Oxford found a reduction in gray matter thickness in Covid sufferers.
The Government says infections are expected to fail again as we enjoy the warmer weather and socialize outside.
Prof Paul Hunter, of the Norwich School of Medicine, said: “They will peak before the end of the month.”
Prof Michie said the Easter school holiday would act as a circuit break for transmissions but that Brits should be isolating, wearing masks and socializing outside to cut the spread.
She said: “The more Covid-19 transmits from one person to another, the more likely mutations are to occur, and the more likely there are to be variants that may escape people’s natural or vaccine-induced immunity.”