Last month, fellow JCVI member Professor Adam Finn said vaccinating children had not been ruled out, but said: “Vaccines have side-effects, so if we can control this virus without immunising children we shouldn’t immunise children as a matter of principle.”
Two weeks ago, Professor Anthony Harden, the JCVI’s deputy chairman, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We do have to be absolutely sure these vaccines are completely safe. The MHRA [Medicines and healthcare Regulatory Products Agency] said they are safe in trials, but of course that’s very different to immunising millions of children.
“We’ll be looking very carefully at the data emerging from the States and other countries on vaccines in children before making any assumptions, but we’re not there yet with children,” he said.
Prof Dingwall, who sits on Nervtag, a Sage subcommittee, also suggested that it was “well past time to panic about infection rates and to publish them obsessively.”
While daily case figures continue rising, reaching 26,068 on Wednesday, a high not seen since January, death rates and hospitalisations are nowhere near the levels seen during previous surges of Covid, with latest daily figures showing 14 deaths and 263 hospitalisations.
Prof Dingwall said: “Even hospitalisation rates are increasingly misleading as better therapy reduces length of stay. Covid is now a long way from being an important cause of mortality.”
He also suggested those taking decisions might do well to remember that “medicine cannot deliver immortality and it is profoundly damaging to society to imply that it can”.
“We are all going to die one day – the question is when and how,” he wrote.
And he raised concern about the idea of maintaining any restrictions or controls in a bid to reduce the spread of all respiratory infections.
Scientists have warned that Britain could face a worse flu season this year, or even an out-of -season epidemic, because lockdowns and social distancing last winter mean the population has less immunity.