Monday, August 2

COVID-19: what can we expect from the British experiment | Digital Trends Spanish

July 19, 2021 will go down in history – for better or for worse – as the day that England launched an unprecedented measure since the emergence of COVID-19: the total end of all the restrictions that have been in force for more than one year globally. Already known as the “British Experiment” or “Freedom Day”, this is what we can expect from one of the most radical bets of Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister.

In early 2020, contrary to measures taken by other countries, Johnson refused to confine the population to prevent the spread of COVID-19. After the blow of reality caused by the millions of infections – including himself – and thousands of deaths, he ended up giving way. Almost 14 months later, Johnson himself pushed for the total end of the restrictions.

Among other measures, as of July 19, the following measures are completed:

  • Mandatory use of masks in public spaces (although they are recommended).
  • Need to maintain a social distancing of one meter.
  • Limit to number of people in social gatherings, weddings or funerals.
  • Restrictions for the capacity of concerts, theaters or sporting events.
  • Prohibition of the operation of nightclubs.
  • Mandatory isolation of people visiting amber list countries (except France).
  • Restrictions on the operation of schools (from August 16).

What answers can we expect from the British experiment?


The measure comes at a time when 67 percent of the population has received their complete vaccination schedule against COVID-19, but when there has been an increase in the number of infections and the Delta variant – one of the most contagious – is the dominant in the country.

For this reason, more than 1,200 international scientists signed a letter in The Lancet, contrary to what they have called it a “reckless” reopening strategy. They have assured that it is a “dangerous and unethical experiment”.

For the same reason, more than 1,200 international scientists signed a letter in The Lancet, contrary to what they have called it a “reckless” reopening strategy. They have assured that it is a “dangerous and unethical experiment”. Specifically, these are some of the answers that the measures could leave us.

Will vaccines be able to contain another outbreak?

Johnson has said the vaccines will prevent another serious outbreak of hospitalizations and deaths from occurring, even as cases of contagion rise. However, scientists question these projections.

Although vaccines have been shown to be effective, it is still unknown how long their protection lasts. “What would happen if we stopped taking precautions and stopped taking precautions to restrict transmission after vaccination?” Asked Zania Stamataki, senior lecturer in viral immunology at the University of Birmingham.

Stamataki reminds that vaccines do not prevent infections, but rather activate a response that reduces the possibility of mild or severe disease. “A small percentage will continue to be seriously infected, and if we increase the number of infected people, the number of seriously affected will also increase,” he says.

Will personal responsibility be enough?

Another of Johnson’s arguments has been that it is time for the government to stop telling citizens how they should behave, to give way to a period where personal responsibility prevails. For example, while the mask is not required, its use is still recommended.

Scientists have recognized that lockdowns and quarantines have been effective in containing the spread, but they have also had a negative impact on physical and mental health. The point, according to Dominic Wilkinson, a professor of ethics at the University of Oxford, is balance and proportionality.

“The measures are being relaxed now, but may need to be reintroduced. Some measures, such as the use of masks in public transport or indoors, represent a minimal incursion into personal freedom and should continue ”, he warns.

What will happen to the vulnerable population?

An important point is what will happen to the vulnerable population after the end of the restrictions. The group that cannot be vaccinated, such as the immunosuppressed, or older adults, who face the greatest risks of facing severe.

According to Andrew Divers, for this population it will represent an increase in fear and an “almost total reduction in the decisions they can make”, since others have previously decided, by not wearing masks or not maintaining social distancing.

“Social distancing and the use of masks are as much (and possibly more) about protecting others as they are about ensuring our own safety. So there is a direct conflict between our choice to remain cautious and keep our distance and keep wearing a mask, and our stranger’s choice not to do any of these things, ”he noted.

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