A heated row between an Oxford University professor and a BBC News presenter erupted this afternoon. The on-air clash took place after Dr Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, urged the immediate end of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. This comes as new statistics from the ONS show that 0.1 percent of the population – or one in 975 people – was infected with the Covid in the past week.
BBC presenter Anita McVey introduced Dr Gupta as “a leading proponent of the herd immunity strategy for tackling the virus and has been a prominent critic throughout the pandemic of the use of lockdowns and travel bans”.
Ms McVey asked: “Do you think there is a strong case for bringing the easing of restrictions forward?”
Dr Gupta said restrictions should have been lifted in mid-February “when we vaccinated everyone who might be vulnerable to death from this virus”.
She added: “You described what I advocated as a herd immunity strategy. That’s not true. That is just something that happens as the virus spreads through natural infection.”
JUST IN: Map shows how Sturgeon’s independence obsession will tear nation apart
Dr Gupta continued: “The strategy I’m advocating is called focused protection, which means trying to protect those at risk of disease while the virus spreads naturally.
“One thing that is missing from everyone thinking at the moment is what has been the role of naturally acquired immunity in the decrease we are seeing.
“I don’t think we can say it is just lockdown and the vaccines that are bringing that level down.”
She said that a model of “where there was no effect of lockdown” on infections would “completely mirror what we have seen in many countries throughout the world”.
At one point, Ms McVey says: “Sorry to interrupt you professor but multiple scientists say lockdowns have worked, the Government says so too.”
“What we should do now is pride ourselves on the vaccines and move out of lockdowns because they cause harm, they cause deaths, and a lot of other problems.
“I don’t think we would risk anything by lifting restrictions now.
“We have vaccinated the vulnerable, we have achieved focused protection, all we are doing is perpetuating the harm done by lockdowns.”
The interview sparked a swift reaction on social media, with one viewer tweeting: “I wanted to listen to Sunetra Gupta but she was endlessly interrupted by the shouty BBC interviewer.
“Of course all the lockdown fanatics are going bananas-usually people on comfy furlough payments or pensions- we are NOT all in this together.”