Health professionals say the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions in ten days' time will "disproportionately impact younger people", further disrupting education due to increased chances of transmission and potentially affecting the long-term health of a group which it said had "already suffered greatly".
In a letter addressed to ministers published in British medical journal The Lancet this week, doctors and disease specialists criticised the Government s decision in wake of the continued spread of the Delta variant.
"This strategy risks creating a generation left with chronic health problems and disability, the personal and economic impacts of which might be felt for decades to come," the letter stated.
It added that high rates of transmission in schools and in children would lead to "significant educational disruption", a problem which it said had "not been addressed" due to the decision in "abandoning isolation of exposed children".
It continued: "The root cause of educational disruption is transmission, not isolation. Strict mitigation in schools alongside measures to keep community transmission low and eventual vaccination of children will ensure children can remain in schools safely.
"This is all the more important for clinically and socially vulnerable children. Allowing transmission to continue over the summer will create a reservoir of infection, which will probably accelerate spread when schools and universities re-open in autumn."
In a Zoom call joined by The Lancet as well as doctors and politicians on Thursday, Labour MP for Leeds East Richard Burgon criticised the “freedom day” narrative around lockdown lifting.
“It’s not freedom if it puts other people at risk,” he said.
Responding to the letter, a spokeswoman for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “The success of the vaccine rollout is saving lives, having severely weakened the link between cases and hospitalisations.
“We have taken a cautious approach to proceeding with the roadmap, delaying Step 4 to allow for millions more vaccinations so every person most at risk is fully protected.
“Our approach after step 4 balances the need to protect both lives and livelihoods and we will only proceed on 19 July with our four tests having been met.”