21 February 2022
Open Letter from UK Scientists and Medics Re: Early End to England’s Isolation Rules

20 February 2022

Dear Sir Chris and Sir Patrick,

Re: Early End to England’s Isolation Rules

As members of the UK's science and medical community, we are writing this open letter to express our concern about Government plans to end testing, surveillance surveys and legal isolation of COVID-19 cases. We ask you to clarify the scientific advice underpinning these policy decisions.

We do not believe there is a solid scientific basis for the policy.

It is almost certain to increase the circulation of the virus and remove the visibility of emerging variants of concern. SAGE 105 minutes noted that:

"The emergence of new variants and a resultant wave of infections can occur very quickly, potentially within just several weeks. The ability to rapidly detect and characterise new variants and to scale up necessary responses (such as TTI and vaccinations) quickly will be very important. Considerations for future response preparedness and surveillance infrastructure should take this into account." 1

Further, SAGE’s “Viral Evolution Scenarios” document, dated 10 February, noted:

"higher global SARS-CoV-2 prevalence provides more opportunities for viral evolution, while new variants can drive higher prevalence". 2

We have no reason to assume that all future new variants will be mild. The SAGE document also noted that:

"higher transmissibility does not necessarily mean lower severity or vice versa." 3

Finally, in their consensus statement of 2 February 2022, SAGE SPI-M warned of increased transmission if self-isolation and testing are removed:

"Warwick’s estimates are equivalent to there being the potential for transmission to increase by between around 25% to 80% if the population were to return to pre-pandemic behaviours and no mitigations." 4

We believe humanity is in a race against the virus.

We believe the science strongly supports using vaccines combined with public health interventions to slow transmission and regain the upper hand on viral evolution. We must encourage vaccination in all demographics for which there is a medically approved vaccine and give a timely opportunity for vaccination.

Some form of surveillance must be continued to ensure the situation is well understood and new variants of concern identified. Lack of testing is not only detrimental to controlling the spread of SARSCoV2 and detecting new variants, it also puts people who develop Long Covid at a great disadvantage by not having a confirmation of their infection, which is integral to the diagnosis, support and care they need to receive. For the 1 in 4 people in the UK who are clinically vulnerable, the current approach appears a perilous and politicised pandemic response.

Continued and unopposed transmission is a recipe for further adaptation

by the virus.

Every strain of SARS-CoV-2 to date has failed to reach population saturation. Instead, each has been replaced by a new variant that is more transmissible, more immunity-escaping or both. This pattern will likely be repeated, and further reinfections will occur, with a continuing burden of disease and displacement in the healthcare system.

We urge you to clarify the extent to which the planned policies are consistent with scientific advice and what specifically that scientific advice contained. We feel that transparency on such matters is an essential requirement of your roles as Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, respectively.

We look forward to your response, with thanks for your hard work throughout the pandemic.

Yours sincerely,


Professor Anthony Costello, University College London

Professor Trish Greenhalgh, University of Oxford

Dr Rochelle Burgess, University College London

Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Christina Pagel, University College London

Dr Stephen Griffin, University of Leeds

Dr Kit Yates, University of Bath

Dr Daniel Goyal, NHS Consultant Physician, Oban

Dr David Tomlinson, Consultant Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

Professor Peter Boyle, University of Edinburgh

Dr Nisreen Alwan, University of Southampton

Dr Alison George, GP & GP in Emergency Medicine, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Dr Sarah Todd, GP, North Derbyshire

Dr Joe Pajak, FRSC CSci, NHS FT Governor

Dr Lucy Williams MRCA, Associate Specialist Anaesthetist, Great Western Hospital

Dr Katherine McConkey, GP, Cumbria

​​Dr Ian Jackson, Clinical Lead, Vaccination Hub, York & Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHSFT

Dr Yvette Rean, GP in Kent

Dr Linda Dykes, Consultant in Emergency & Interface Medicine/GP, Herefordshire

Dr Kate Cushing, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Professor Colin Davis, University of Bristol

Dr Peter Dilworth, GP, Merseyside

Professor (Emeritus) Raymond Agius, The University of Manchester

Dr Simon Ashworth, Clinical Director Critical Care, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Anna Batchelor, Consultant ICM Newcastle upon Tyne, Clinical Lead for GIRFT

Update 21 February 2022


  1. In the final paragraph, Chief Scientific Officer should read Chief Scientific Advisor
3,113 verified
  1. Stephanie M Rainey, Research Associate, University of Glasgow, Glasgow
  2. Dr Caz Sampson, Critical care Consultant, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester
  3. Jana Javornik, Dr, University of Leeds, London
  4. Dr Lily Read, Physician, COVENTRY
  5. Dr Emma Weidblatt, Paediatric neuropsychiatrist NHS and clinical researcher, CPFT and Department of Psychology, Cambridge
  6. MR PHILIP R JONES, Retired teacher, GLOSSOP
  7. Professor Eileen Kaner, Professor of Public Health & Primary Care Research, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne
  8. Mirre Simons, Sir Henry Dale Fellow, University of Sheffield, Sheffield
  9. Dr Rachel Bevins, Coventry University
  10. Dr Melissa Sargaison, Specialty Doctor, UCLH NHS Trust, London
  11. Karen Bates, Occupational therapist, London
  12. Charlotte Brown, GP, The gold street surgery, Cambridge
  13. Jo Waller, Reader in Behavioural Science, King's College London, London
  14. anonymous, Housewife (retired), British Women Pilots Association, Eastbourne
  15. Becky Bloom, Book Publisher, London
  16. Emma Shaw, Medical Librarian, Imperial College London, London
  17. Dr DL Clements, University Reader, Imperial College, London
  18. Dr Pietro Oliveto, University of Sheffield
  19. Dr Pauline Nelson, Research Fellow in Applied Health Services, University of Manchester, Manchester
  20. Nigel Hall, teacher, Truro
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  6. Maile O’Hara, Psychologist, London
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  11. Mike Meakin, Business Analyst, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Warrington
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  14. Dr Karin Lanthaler, Biochemist, Moelfre
  15. Harriet Carroll, SARS-COV-2 Researcher, NHS Scotland, Aberdeen
  16. Katy Morrison, Doctor, University Hospital Bristol and Weston (currently overseas), Bristol
  17. Jenny Maslin, Clinical Psychologist, Retired, London
  18. Paul de Mornay Davies, Neurologist, Middlesex University, London
  19. Tony Gray, Lead Nurse, CNWL, Guildford
  20. Susan Carnell, Retired, Swansea
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