Thousands of scientists and doctors in the United Kingdom on Monday rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnon\u0026#039;s assertion that it is time to begin \u0022living with Covid\u0022 and demanded to know how his government is justifying its decision to end nearly all pandemic-related public health restrictions in the coming weeks, warning the policy change could worsen the spread of future variants.\r\n\r\nWriting to Patrick Vallance, Johnson\u0026#039;s chief scientific officer, and Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, more than 2,900 physicians, epidemiologists, and other experts in science and public health called on the officials to share the \u0022scientific advice underpinning\u0022 the new policy.\r\n\r\n\u0022We 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.\u0022\r\n\r\nUnder the plan announced by Johnson on Monday, people in England will no longer be legally required as of this Thursday to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 or if they suspect they have the disease.\r\n\r\nThe same day, the government will also terminate a program under which some people with lower incomes have been able to receive nearly $700 in \u0022test and trace support\u0022 funds if they have to self-isolate.\r\n\r\nIn most cases, the government will stop providing free coronavirus tests to the public on April 1, and as of March 24, sick pay for Covid-related reasons will only be paid after four or seven days of absence from work instead of immediately.\r\n\r\nThe \u0022weakening of sick pay\u0022 is \u0022proof once again the Tories simply aren\u0026#039;t on the side of workers,\u0022 said Jonathan Ashworth, a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party.\r\n\r\nThe scientists and doctors said they \u0022do not believe there is a solid scientific basis for the policy\u0022 and warned the government\u0026#039;s call for the public and employers to treat the pandemic as though is it is over \u0022is almost certain to increase the circulation of the virus and remove the visibility of emerging variants of concern.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe letter cited a document released less than two weeks ago by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), a government panel.\r\n\r\n\u0022The emergence of new variants and a resultant wave of infections can occur very quickly, potentially within just several weeks,\u0022 wrote SAGE on February 10. \u0022The ability to rapidly detect and characterize new variants and to scale up necessary responses (such as [test-trace-isolate] and vaccinations) quickly will be very important.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Considerations for future response preparedness and surveillance infrastructure should take this into account,\u0022 added the panel.\r\n\r\nDespite that warning released earlier this month, Johnson on Monday also asserted that the country\u0026#039;s rate of vaccination would allow officials to \u0022tackle\u0022 new variants when they arise.\r\n\r\n\u0022We have no reason to assume that all future new variants will be mild,\u0022 said the signatories of Monday\u0026#039;s letter.\r\n\r\nThe health experts cited data released by SAGE on February 2 which showed that if self-isolation guidelines and testing availability were eliminated, transmission could increase \u0022by between around 25% to 80% if the population were to return to pre-pandemic behaviors and no mitigations.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022We 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,\u0022 wrote the doctors and scientists. \u0022For the one in four people in the U.K. who are clinically vulnerable, the current approach appears a perilous and politicized pandemic response.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe concerns expressed in the letter were echoed by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said Johnson\u0026#039;s plan amounted to \u0022inexcusable negligence.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSteve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Charitable Trust, which includes more than 50 schools across England, said the government\u0026#039;s decision to lift public health measures was \u0022a huge gamble\u0022 for immunocompromised students, teachers, and family members around the country.\r\n\r\n\u0022I think it will become a forced form of exclusion of those who are vulnerable, those immunosuppressed children and staff who are put at increased risk,\u0022 Chalke said of Johnson\u0026#039;s new plan. \u0022They will not be able to afford to take the gamble. I think we will see a group of children turning away from education.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Removing the requirement for positive cases to self isolate puts them all at increased risk,\u0022 he added.