Dr Hilary Jones on herd immunity - 'We don't know enough about the virus yet to say there are no long-term effects'

Dr Hilary Jones says herd immunity "can't be guaranteed" following calls from top scientists to consider the herd immunity approach which would allow those who can deal with the effects of Covid to return to normal life and shielding the vulnerable and the elderly.

A number of leading experts have signed the Great Barrington declaration which suggests a herd immunity approach could be the way forward in terms of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Discussing the news with Piers and Susanna on Good Morning Britain, Dr Hilary said: "There’s value in both approaches. We know that lockdown works in reducing the prevalence rates and allows the NHS to cope but at the expense of mental health and social mobility and education."

"On the other hand, we can’t guarantee herd immunity by having this age-related apartheid where you protect the vulnerable who can’t do anything and mix with young people and go about their normal work and young people can go off and get the virus mildly or moderately and then hope for herd immunity. We can’t guarantee herd immunity and what really worries a lot of people is the fact that we don’t know enough about this virus yet to say there are no long term effects. We know there are long term effects. Long Covid is being increasingly described," he added.

On the topic of the claims that the long term public health consequences of the coronavirus restrictions are too dangerous, Dr Hilary said: "If you don’t control the virus sufficiently, all of those services that look after heart disease and cancer can’t function. We only have a limited amount of staff in the NHS, a limited amount of hospital beds. So if they become overwhelmed, you can’t see any patients with cancer."

Professor of epidemiology at Harvard Medical School, Dr Martin Kulldorff signed the Great Barrington declaration.

Stating that herd immunity makes "sense to a lot of people because there's a big difference in risk by age", Dr Kulldorff told Piers and Susanna: "Anybody can get infected but older people have more than a 1000-fold excess risk compared to young people, so this is a feature of Covid 19 we should utilise."

"It’s imperative that we do a better job protecting the elderly and there are various ways that can be done. Young people should go to school. That’s very important not only for their education but also for physical health and mental health," he added.