The UK government's plan to scrap day-to-day pandemic restrictions in England next week has no basis in science and amounts to premeditated murder for thousands of people, scientists warned on Friday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week it was "highly probable" that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is over as he pressed ahead with Monday's reopening, despite the Delta variant spreading out of control.
The step is justified by two-thirds of all UK adults now being fully vaccinated, he said, but England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that infection rates are on track to reach "quite scary" levels.
After convening for an emergency discussion about the UK plan, international scientists including advisers to other governments had brutal words for Johnson.
"I've written that I believe that the strategy of herd immunity is actually murderous," US scientist William Haseltine said.
"It is knowledge that you are doing something that will result in thousands, and in some cases tens of thousands of people dying. It is a disaster as a policy," he added.