Sunday, 12 April 2020

From "very low risk"​ to 10,000 hospital deaths in just 80 days

Just eighty days ago the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, had assessed that the UK population was at ‘very low risk’ from the new emerging coronavirus.

The next day, on 23 January, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Parliament that the risk had been revised from ‘very low’ to ‘low’.
He said then of the coronavirus:
“The public can be assured that the whole of the UK is always well prepared for these types of outbreaks..”
“The NHS is ready to respond appropriately to any cases that emerge.”
Mr Hancock added:
“The UK is one of the first countries to have developed a world-leading test for the new coronavirus.”

A week later, the World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus outbreak
‘a public health emergency of international concern.’
On 12 March, the WHO announced that Covid-19 was a global pandemic, with Europe at its centre. ▪ WHAT A LOT HAS CHANGED IN 80 DAYS We’ve gone from zero known cases in mid-January to almost 80,000 known cases today, and so far 10,672 registered hospital deaths from the Covid-19 virus, with new hospital deaths at the rate of almost 1,000 a day. Of course, these numbers don’t give the full picture. Despite Mr Hancock’s boast in January that the UK was one of the first to develop a “world-leading test” for the virus, we’ve lagged behind other countries on testing for Covid-19. The UK policy has been only to test patients for coronavirus who are seriously ill in hospital from the disease, whereas NHS health workers, and those in the population with symptoms of coronavirus, have not been routinely tested, as they are in Germany. Promises to achieve 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month look like just more grandstanding by a government chronically prone to promise more than it can deliver. Currently, barely 20,000 tests are being done each day in Britain – a number only recently reached. Furthermore, the number of known deaths from Covid-19 is bound to be grossly understated. The data so far only includes deaths registered in hospitals, with registration often delayed. The numbers of deaths reported each day don’t include those who have died from coronavirus at home or in care homes. ▪ SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT HAVE BEEN BETTER PREPARED? Yes, of course. The Cabinet Office’s document from 2013 called, ‘Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza’ (coronavirus is similar to a pandemic flu virus) stated:
‘The Government judges that one of the highest current risks to the UK is the possible emergence of an influenza pandemic – that is, the rapid worldwide spread of influenza caused by a novel virus strain to which people would have no immunity, resulting in more serious illness than caused by seasonal influenza.’
The planning then was to prepare for a pandemic with “excess deaths” of between 210,000 and 315,000 over a 15-week period, representing a mortality rate of 2.5% from a new pandemic virus. That’s considerably worse than the direst predictions for Covid-19, for which the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Whitty, has anticipated a mortality rate of no higher than 1% (which, incidentally, is a death rate ten times greater than seasonal flu). So, considering that recent past governments were aware that a new, devastating global pandemic would come to the UK at some stage (we have on average three every 100 years) and that we should be ready for one that could involve considerably more deaths than those foreseen for Covid-19, you’d think that our government would be more than prepared for the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. But no. Our country, which was assessed by the WHO back in 2009 to be the most prepared in the world for a global pandemic alongside France, was caught almost completely by surprise. We were NOT prepared... ▪ WE WERE DEVASTATINGLY UNPREPARED Even when our government at last realised that Covid-19 was likely to be the big pandemic that past governments had been anxiously awaiting, their actions were entirely inappropriate. The government promoted a false sense of security by describing the virus as mild for most people, who could shake it off quickly and thereafter gain immunity from it. This ‘herd immunity’* policy has been discredited as grotesque and unethical, as it would have led to huge numbers of deaths.

The herd immunity idea was nonetheless endorsed and promoted by the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.
The potential consequences of pursuing a policy of ‘herd immunity’ are truly shocking, with a minimum of 36 million in the UK needing to be infected, leading to possibly hundreds of thousands of deaths and many needing critical care. To the astonishment of health experts across the world, including the WHO, the UK seriously proposed their policy that most people in the UK should catch the virus so that they would become immune from it. All without sound scientific evidence to support this strategy, and considerable evidence that it would kill an awful lot of us. As The National Geographic pointed out:
‘While countries around the world began to lock down workplaces, schools, and public gatherings in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus, the United Kingdom’s initial strategy [herd immunity] sent many into an uproar.’
Britain lost precious time in the battle against Covid-19 with its immoral herd immunity policy, and we still haven’t caught up.

  • [*UPDATE: According an 'exclusive' report in Byline Times, 'herd immunity' is still the government's 'secret policy'.]
▪ COCK-UP OR WORSE? In addition to the herd immunity calamity: → Instead of maintaining a stockpile of vital protective and medical equipment – that previous governments insisted was essential to prepare for a pandemic – we didn’t have nearly enough ventilators or masks or other essential equipment, and we still don’t. Consequently, health workers, and members of the public are dying who shouldn’t. → Instead of accepting a generous offer from the EU to join them in bulk-buying of ventilators from specialist manufacturers across the world, the UK asked companies who have never made ventilators before to design, produce and have them approved from scratch. (That idea still hasn’t worked out). → Instead of following WHO advice to routinely test everybody with symptoms, as well as health workers, and then quarantine all those who test positive and their recent contacts, the UK has done minimal testing. But countries who follow WHO guidelines, such as Germany and South Korea, have considerably fewer deaths from Covid-19 than the UK. All this either represents gross incompetence by our government, or a purposeful policy of killing a lot of us off, or possibly a mixture of the two. ▪ WHO KNOWS THE ANSWER? No doubt a future public inquiry will want to find out. But in the meantime, it is essential that we question every action of our government and measure it against this simple but vital test: Will it lead to more or fewer deaths? I am not suggesting anarchy. I am not suggesting ignoring the sound advice to stay home and keep safe. I am not suggesting breaking the law. I am suggesting that we don’t blindly accept everything we’re told or promised by this government. Our lives – and those of the people we love and care for – could depend on it.


▪ PLEASE NOTE: I am currently offering my community journalism here for free. I derive no earnings or funding from this, and certainly no income from clicks or advertising. My motivation is to report verifiable facts, regardless of whether I like those facts or not.

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