“Stay alert, control the virus and save lives”. This is UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest propaganda slogan — and like everything else his flailing, failing administration has done in response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic it’s an embarrassing shambles.
Stay alert? Alert for what exactly?
Deadly microbes hiding in dark alleys waiting to pounce on unwary passers-by?
Naughty lockdown-breakers — and there are more of us by the day — insolently flouting the government’s nannyish rules on how much sun you’re allowed in the park?
Dangerous columnists fomenting dissent by suggesting that all these measures are a complete waste of time because the virus has likely peaked as viruses tend to do, with or without lockdowns and the self-inflicted destruction of the global economy?
Here — courtesy of Lockdown Sceptics — is part of the case for the prosecution:
The Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), a great source of data about COVID-19, has published a graph plotting the rise and fall of deaths from the virus. This shows the numbers who have died in English hospitals and tested positive for the disease at the time of death up to May 7th:
Note that deaths peaked on April 8th, less than three weeks after the lockdown was imposed on March 23rd. Professor Carl Heneghan, the director of the CEBM, has repeatedly made this point. As he says, it suggests the social distancing measures recommended by the Government on March 16th were more than adequate to suppress infections without the need for more draconian measures.
Increasingly, it is starting to look as though the UK government — in common, it must be said, with a lot of other governments — has badly misjudged this pandemic. It didn’t react soon enough at the beginning; then, it overcompensated by overreacting subsequently.
The result is utter nonsense like Boris’s latest traffic lights policy, whereby Britain is to be gradually eased back to normality in a succession of stages from red through amber to green.
Currently, the UK is at Level Four (Lockdown) – though it is entering Level Three (Partial Lockdown) this week, which won’t feel an awful lot different, except that it some respects it will be worse: police are to be granted the power to impose increased fines for lockdown breaches; more people will be out and about — but restaurants and cafes will remain frustratingly closed; arrivals at British airports will have to undergo 14 day quarantine at some point in the future — so forget your summer holiday abroad unless you’re prepared to factor in a fortnight’s compulsory isolation when you arrive home.
Green — Level One — won’t be achieved, according to the Sunday Telegraph, until there are “no transmission of infections in England – a situation currently only foreseen in the event of a successful vaccine being administered across the country.”
So, not until at least well into next year, then. More likely never.
If you genuinely believe — as a worrying percentage of Britain’s cowed, bedwetting population still does — that Chinese Coronavirus is as deadly as Spanish Flu, then even Boris’s modest relaxations of the lockdown regime will still feel terrifyingly risky.
But if you do believe this stuff that makes you a low-information hysteric because, though many of us had a perfect right to panic when Coronavirus and its trajectory was an unknown quantity, we now know certainly at least enough to know that endless lockdowns aren’t the solution.
A biology professor put it well in the Telegraph: (h/t Lockdown Sceptics)
SIR – Science proceeds by putting forward conjectures or hypotheses, collecting empirical data to test them, and accepting, rejecting or modifying them on that basis. The implication is that our scientific understanding is not fixed, but changes as evidence accumulates.
In the United Kingdom the initial decision to impose lockdown to control the effects of COVID-19 was based on a conjecture or model that has now been tested against real data and is found to be wanting.
The model predicts that, under the sustainable public health measures taken by Sweden and in the absence of lockdown, there should now be 60,000 deaths in that country from Covid-19, whereas there are currently only about 3,000 there, with deaths now well past the peak and declining.
Given the failure of the model to make useful predictions, there is no justification for using it to guide future policy. In contrast, large amounts of empirical evidence have now been gathered which demonstrate that for a very large fraction of the population the virus poses a very low risk, while a small fraction – whose immune systems are compromised – are vulnerable.
Therefore, to follow the science, an appropriate policy is the targeted shielding of those who choose to be classified as vulnerable, rigorous screening of their carers to prevent transfer of infection to the vulnerable sector, and release from lockdown for those outside these categories.
Continuing the blanket lockdown cannot be justified on the basis that it is “following the science”.
Professor Richard Ennos, Edinburgh
Very well put, Prof. So why, you wonder, is Boris Johnson’s administration – which supposedly has many more talents within it than the dismal David Cameron and Theresa May administrations – proving so unresponsive to the changing evidence?
I have my theories – but we’ll come to them on another occasion.
There was no reason why the British economy needed to be flushed down the toilet and the British people turned into snitches, tinpot authoritarians and brainwashed bedwetters. Boris and his idiot crew fell hook line and sinker for the specious narrative provided by the left-leaning scientists on their SAGE committee. And now a once-proud nation is paying the bitterest of prices for it.