The UK's chief science adviser suggested allowing the coronavirus to spread to build immunity. Government ministers said they'll promote self-isolation instead.
The United Kingdom is previewing a new self-isolation plan for all people over 70 to address the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, following backlash over a proposal to promote immunity by allowing up to 60 percent of its population to become infected.
Last Friday, the UK government's chief science adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said on BBC Radio 4 that one of "the key things we need to do" is to "build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission."
上周五，英国政府的首席科学顾问帕特里克·瓦兰斯爵士在BBC Radio 4上说“我们需要做的很重要的一件事”就是要“建立一种群体免疫，让更多的人对这种疾病免疫，从而减少传播。”
But last Sunday, Matt Hancock, the UK secretary of state for health and social care, stressed that achieving herd immunity to Covid-19 is not a stated policy. Instead, he said that "in the coming weeks," people over the age of 70 will be told to self-isolate. This stands in contrast with World Health Organization guidelines, which recommend that everyone, regardless of age, practice social distancing.
"What we will do is listen to all the credible scientists and we will look at all the evidence," he said. "Herd immunity is not our goal or policy, it's a scientific concept."
The UK has faced questions over the efficacy of its social distancing guidance — for instance, at a press conference last Thursday, where government officials, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, would not specify whether large public gatherings, including football matches, would be canceled.
Chris Whitty, the UK's chief medical officer for England, said Thursday that holding off on recommending the sort of social distancing other countries have encouraged was a strategic decision, arguing that imposing it "too early" would cause people to become exhausted and stop participating in it.