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To live with Covid, we will still need vital public health measures | Letters

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The government is in denial about its responsibilities towards the public, writes Dr John Puntis. Plus letters from Chris Phillipson and Hartley Dean

At a time of steep rise in Covid infections, with one in 20 people in England testing positive in recent weeks and hospital admissions going up, William Hanage is right to remind us all that measures in addition to vaccination have a vital role to play (From ‘herd immunity’ to today, Covid minimisers are still sabotaging our pandemic progress, 29 March). Unfortunately, the government is in denial about this and has withdrawn free lateral flow tests for most people, while also reducing funding for community surveillance studies. This is part of a dangerous narrative from the prime minister that we got the big calls right. Tell that to the relatives of the 175,000 who have died.

Wearing masks and providing clean air inside buildings are important public health measures. As Hanage points out, the scourge of epidemic cholera and typhoid was not removed by giving individuals personal responsibility for protecting themselves against enteric fevers, but through clean water and effective sewerage. A “head in the sand” approach has deadly consequences. While aerosol spread is now widely recognised as the principal mode of Covid transmission, it is astonishing that government guidance still means health and care workers are not being provided with the protection they need.
Dr John Puntis
Co-chair, Keep Our NHS Public

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