‘We are undertaking a mass experiment that could undo the gains made through vaccines’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

Boris Johnson touching elbows with a member of the public at a hospital
(Image credit: Alberto Pezzali - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

1. Ditching England’s Covid restrictions is a dangerous experiment

Dr Deepti Gurdasani for The Guardian

on herd immunity

Rushing to lift lockdown rules before more people are vaccinated is a “dangerous and reckless” strategy, writes clinical epidemiologist Dr Deepti Gurdasani in The Guardian. “The impact of these policies will be felt most by people who are vulnerable, disadvantaged, marginalised or young.” Infections are now surging among young, unvaccinated people, with positive cases now doubling every nine days. Due to the lack of protection among young people, “these numbers will continue to rise until millions more are infected, with hundreds of thousands developing chronic diseases we don’t yet understand or have treatments for”. As safe and effective vaccines are now available for most people in the UK, why, wonders Dr Gurdasani, is the government opting for herd immunity by infection?

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2. 7/7 bombings: it’s 16 years since I survived the attack – I’m still disappointed by counter-terrorism efforts

Sajda Mughal for the i newspaper

on tackling terrorism

On 7 July 2005, Sajda Mughal was on a Piccadilly Line train, sitting just a few carriages away from where the terrorist bomb went off. Sixteen years later, Mughal still dislikes taking the Tube “unless absolutely necessary” and screams in her sleep around this time of year. But even though more than a decade and a half has passed since that fateful day, “the UK is in a very dark place when it comes to counter-extremism”, she writes. “We have frequently heard about ‘missed opportunities’ to intervene” and “mistakes are still being made in surveillance”. But what concerns Mughal most acutely is that “those in power have still not figured out how to work with communities without furthering discrimination and mistrust”.

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3. European Union’s Covid-19 travel pass discriminates against the developing world

Kamala Thiagarajan for the South China Morning Post

on the EU’s travel “green pass”

“Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, Asians have been vocal about hate that has rocked their communities worldwide,” says Kamala Thiagarajan in the South China Morning Post. This discrimination can take many forms and is often “far more insidious” than blatant threats or outright physical harm, “especially when it creeps into social discourse through official policy”. For Thiagarajan, an example of this kind of “hidden bias” can be found in the European Union’s Digital Covid Certificate, launched on 1 July. “The ‘green pass’, as it is more popularly known, will disproportionately affect people of colour, discriminating widely against Asians, Africans and much of the developing world,” Thiagarajan writes. “In a Covid-19 world, it’s evident that vaccines are becoming the new tools of discrimination and division.”

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4. Children should never have been locked down

Sunetra Gupta for The Telegraph

on Covid tests for children

“Nowhere has the injustice of lockdowns been more apparent than in what they have required of children,” writes Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, in The Telegraph. For more than a year they’ve been forced to forgo their schooling, endure “uncertainties imposed by test, track and isolate policies” and access their education in a “dystopian atmosphere of masks, Perspex barriers and all the crude and corrosive accoutrements of social distancing”. Even when other lockdown measures ease this month, children will still be subjected to regular testing. “There is no point,” writes Gupta, “as this opens up the possibility that paranoid teachers and parents will impose further restrictions on them.”

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5. Gareth Southgate knows what women need

Alice Thomson for The Times

on the beloved England manager

Gareth Southgate “may no longer wear a waistcoat” but he’s the ultimate middle-aged crush, says Alice Thomson in The Times. A recent Twitter thread where women shared their fantasies about the England manager went viral – but they were mostly PG-rated; “for some it was watching Gareth doing 8lb of ironing in an hour, for others it was a cup of tea and a foot massage, toast buttered up to the edges or just an arm round their shoulders and a ‘well done’”. These rather dull daydreams “sounded like a plea for help”, writes Thomson. “No one suggested Love Island toe-sucking or winning the semi-final; what they really wanted was someone to appreciate their efforts and help manage their lives, their health and their children.” The government, says Thomson, needs to listen up and “show emotional intelligence in appreciating that women have suffered most in the past year”.

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