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Cast off our shackles, Boris – and throw away the keys: Professor ANGUS DALGLEISH

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When I picked up a newspaper yesterday and saw the headline ‘Johnson to tear up Covid restrictions’, my heart skipped a beat.

Under the terms of his so-called ‘winter plan’, the prime minister was apparently close to suspending the despicable ‘traffic light’ system, poised to abandon proposals for Covid passports, and had claimed to be ‘deadline’ by a new national closure.

On paper it seems like a welcome bonfire of the restrictions that have caused so much damage to society and the economy – until you realize that in reality this is little less than a wish list, with everything, right down to another full national lockdown, still in held in reserve.

During the 18 long months that the pandemic has lasted, many of the restrictions imposed on us by the central government have been counterproductive or worse.

Angus Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at a teaching hospital in London

Angus Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at a teaching hospital in London

The news shocked and angered me in equal measure. While Boris is clearly trying to restore the libertarian credentials for which he was once famous, the reality is that he has committed another giant fudge – one for which there is no justification whatsoever.

During the 18 long months that the pandemic has lasted, many of the restrictions imposed on us by the central government have been counterproductive or worse.

Working from home in particular has been a disaster – for people, companies and government. A dynamic and efficient economy thrives on personal interaction. Zoom calls are not a substitute.

And I remain convinced that mandatory masking is little more than a confidence-building measure, with little medical evidence that it plays an important role in preventing transmission of the virus.

Compliance

More than anything, I’m chilled by how easily we’ve succumbed to rules, which – with their reliance on barking orders and an expectation of compliance – couldn’t be less in line with traditional British values.

Even if you don’t take this opinion, it’s indisputable that a segment of the population has become afraid of what feels like an almost permanent isolation.

As Covid-19 remains, the deadly grip on society has collapsed due to our vaccination program

As Covid-19 remains, the deadly grip on society has collapsed due to our vaccination program

I am amazed at otherwise sensible contemporaries who have retreated to their homes and opened the door only to have groceries delivered.

I think history will judge it all as a gross overreaction, a response that had a horribly negative effect on the economy and destroyed the prospects of many younger people.

Unfortunately, we cannot undo these travesties of the past, but we can change the present. It’s time for a change of course. There should be no lockdowns, no vaccine passports – and if it’s up to me – no working from home or wearing a mandatory mask.

In other words, we must return to normality. This is what we were told our government wanted. Now they have to prove it.

I’m not saying this out of ideological zeal, but we seem to have the virus on the run.

As Covid-19 remains, the deadly grip on society has collapsed due to our vaccination program.

We’ve known this for much of the year, but two recent studies have underlined this.

In July, a report from Imperial College London showed that fully vaccinated people were three times less likely to test positive than unvaccinated people.

Last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that of the 51,281 Covid-19 deaths in England between early January and early July this year, only 640 had been fully vaccinated. That’s 107 deaths a month, or 3.5 people a day.

This figure becomes even more astonishing when you realize that it also includes fatalities among people who were infected before vaccination.

As the report’s authors themselves stated, “the risk of death from Covid-19 was consistently lower for people who received two vaccinations compared to one or no vaccination.”

The same ONS report found that the median age of death for double-vaccinated against Covid is now 84.

That’s nearly three years more than the UK’s life expectancy, which stands at 81.26.

In essence, people who die from Covid now die on average later than people who have not contracted the virus.

This is very welcome news, a justification for the vaccination program that the government has proclaimed would deliver us from this nightmare. As I write this, more than 80 percent of the population age 16 and older has been stung.

Risk

It shows that while we live with something that causes infections and death, the coronavirus is becoming less important compared to the huge risk of an increase in deaths from other causes, such as cancer and heart disease.

Those two conditions have long been serious, but today we have more and more reason to fear them.

Two months ago, colleagues of mine wrote a paper for the medical journal The Lancet underlining how we should expect a substantial increase in preventable cancer deaths due to diagnostic delays caused by Covid-19. To be fair, I believe we are on the cusp of a shocking rise in otherwise preventable deaths directly attributable to the government’s obsessive, short-sighted focus on the coronavirus.

Now is the time to stop hesitating and end the creeping erosion of our fundamental freedoms.  A view of the empty Fleet Street in central London

Now is the time to stop hesitating and end the creeping erosion of our fundamental freedoms. A view of the empty Fleet Street in central London

Both professionally and personally, I have watched with increasing horror at the number of people with troubling, sometimes chronic symptoms who are sent for a telephone consultation with a GP three weeks after raising a red flag.

And I can only thank that – so far at least – my wife is not one of them. Twenty-five years ago, she found a lump in her neck that turned out to be a lymphoma.

At the time, she saw her primary care physician the next day, was referred to the hospital, and was scanned and biopsied within a week.

If – as is likely today – she had to wait three weeks for a GP and a subsequent referral, it would have been too late. For many others it will certainly be too late.

The bottom line is that all the statistics show that if you’re double vaccinated and not massively overweight, Covid is unlikely to be life-changing.

Duration

This is certainly the best we can hope for, because even a brilliant vaccine is rarely a panacea. Every year people get the flu and die from it, despite being vaccinated.

Of course there are always outliers, and every death is a tragedy for the individual and his family – but it is no basis for sweeping, ruinously expensive policies that dramatically affect the lives of an entire country.

But here we are, ruled by ministers who, in their turning a blind eye to tackling Covid above all else, seem content to see deaths from other causes rise dramatically. At the same time, they are bringing the country into a state of near paralysis.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, after 18 months of what feels like countless U-turns by the government.

It has gone from one controversy to another, be it the chaos of the ‘pingdemic’, where endless numbers of the population were told to self-isolate unnecessarily, or the endless changes in travel rules.

Now is the time to stop hesitating and end the creeping erosion of our fundamental freedoms.

Angus Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at a teaching hospital in London.

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