Covid-19 news: England unlocking is ‘unethical’, say 1200 scientists.

The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

Latest coronavirus news as of 5pm on 16 July

Plan to lift majority of restrictions in England is a threat to the world, say scientists and health leaders

More than 1200 scientists have now backed a letter in the journal The Lancet saying that the UK’s plan to lift most coronavirus restrictions in England on 19 July is an “unethical experiment”, which poses a serious threat to the rest of the world. The letter argues that lifting restrictions at a time when infection rates are rising could increase the chance of new vaccine-resistant coronavirus variants emerging. “Because of our position as a global travel hub, any variant that becomes dominant in the UK will likely spread to the rest of the globe,” Christina Pagel at University College London said during an emergency summit of scientists and doctors on 16 July.

Public health leaders from around the world joined in the criticism of the UK’s plan. “In New Zealand we have always looked to the UK for leadership when it comes to scientific expertise, which is why it’s so remarkable that it is not following even basic public health principles,” said Michael Baker at the University of Otago, a member of the New Zealand health ministry’s covid-19 technical advisory group. José Martin-Moreno at the University of Valencia, a senior adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO), said: “We cannot understand why this is happening in spite of the scientific knowledge that you have.”

Other coronavirus news

Coronavirus infections are continuing to rise across most of the UK. An estimated one in 95 people in England had covid-19 in the week up to 10 July, up from one in 160 the previous week. Equivalent estimates for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in the week up to 10 July were one in 90 people, one in 290 people and one in 360 people, respectively. The highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus accounts for almost every case. England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned that covid-19 hospitalisations were doubling every three weeks and advised people to be cautious after restrictions are lifted on 19 July.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on China to be more cooperative in the ongoing investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. On 15 July, he told reporters that it was premature to rule out a possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and a laboratory leak.

Canada may start allowing fully vaccinated travellers from all countries into the country from September, Canada’s prime minister Justin Truedeau said on 15 July. Trudeau said that if Canada’s current positive path of vaccination rates and public health conditions continue, the border can open, NPR reported.

What to read, watch and listen to about coronavirus

New Scientist Weekly features updates and analysis on the latest developments in the covid-19 pandemic. Our podcast sees expert journalists from the magazine discuss the biggest science stories to hit the headlines each week – from technology and space, to health and the environment.

The Jump is a BBC radio 4 series exploring how viruses can cross from animals into humans to cause pandemics. The first episode examines the origins of the covid-19 pandemic.

Why Is Covid Killing People of Colour? is a BBC documentary, which investigates what the high covid-19 death rates in ethnic minority patients reveal about health inequality in the UK.

Panorama: The Race for a Vaccine is a BBC documentary about the inside story of the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against covid-19.

Race Against the Virus: Hunt for a Vaccine is a Channel 4 documentary which tells the story of the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of the scientists on the frontline.

The New York Times is assessing the progress in development of potential drug treatments for covid-19, and ranking them for effectiveness and safety.

Humans of COVID-19 is a project highlighting the experiences of key workers on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus in the UK, through social media.

Belly Mujinga: Searching for the Truth is a BBC Panorama investigation of the death of transport worker Belly Mujinga from covid-19, following reports she had been coughed and spat on by a customer at London’s Victoria Station.

Coronavirus, Explained on Netflix is a short documentary series examining the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to fight it and ways to manage its mental health toll.

COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened, and How to Stop the Next One by Debora Mackenzie is about how the pandemic happened and why it will happen again if we don’t do things differently in future.

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