08:24 GMT25 October 2020
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    The debate over how to respond to Covid-19, which shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon, continues to rage the world over. In the UK, there is an increasingly loud chorus of scientists and experts claiming that strict social distancing measures are doing more harm than good.

    The UK’s envoy to the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for governments across the globe to cease national lockdown measures because of the socio-economic downturns they are producing.

    In an interview with The Spectator’s Andrew Neil, Dr David Nabarro slammed what he called the “ghastly global catastrophe” being caused by the use of lockdowns as “the primary means of controlling this virus.” He said that lockdowns should only be utilised to “buy you time to reorganise, regroup rebalance your resources” and to “protect your health workers."

    The scientist offered up the grim prophecy that if the lockdowns continue on the current trajectory then there will be a “doubling” in the levels of world poverty and child malnutrition by 2021. Lockdowns make “poor people an awful lot poorer” he said.

    “I want to say it again: We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as a primary means of controlling this virus…Look what's happening to poverty levels - it seems we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition because children are not getting meals at school and their parents, in poor families, are not able to afford it,” he added.

    Dr Nabarro, who previously worked as a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, elaborated to The Daily Mail that too often the options that governments can take to combat the spread of Covid-19 are presented as a “stark choice” between lockdown or a Covid-19 rampage resulting from no lockdown. 

    He said that he has now “become more and more convinced” that lockdowns should only be used as “a last resort.” “This is because of the way they impact on people’s livelihoods, mental health, non-Covid illnesses, access to education and more.” He has called upon governments to “develop better systems” by “work[ing] together and learn[ing] from each other” to beat the virus.

    “If clusters and outbreaks do appear, they should be slowed and then suppressed promptly and that is why localised and targeted movement restrictions, implemented jointly by local actors and national authorities, will be needed from time to time. They should be kept as time-limited as possible.”

    Dr Nabarro’s comments come hot on the heels of a letter which was written by Oxford University’s Dr Sunetra Gupta and has been signed by more than 6,500 scientists which warns that lockdowns and stringent social distancing measures are having “damaging physical and mental health impacts.”

    The scientists claim that most of the population is not at risk of dying if they catch Covid-19 and that the majority should therefore be Abel to continue their lives as normal while the vulnerable are given extra protection.

    “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal,' the scientists say… keeping these [lockdown] measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed,” the letter says.

    Globally, there are around 36 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, with over 1 million deaths. In the UK, there are approximately 576 thousand confirmed cases, with 42,679 deaths so far. 

    lockdown, coronavirus, COVID-19
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