ENTERTAINMENT

Great Britain must not be sacrificed on the altar of the fight against Covid-19, writes Professor ROBERT DINGWALL


Boris Johnson, as it became known this week, made a final decision not to approve of Sage, the science committee that appears to have been conducting our response to the pandemic since it became clear we were facing an international crisis.

They had recommended the temporary return of a full national lockdown on the species imposed in March to stop the virus from spreading.

Such a move would have meant the end of wholesale hospitality, the closure of outlets such as gyms and hairdressers, and a ban on all household mixes.

Your advocacy of this so-called "breaker" shows how some members of the scientific community have lost their sense of proportion.

In essence, they want the entire well-being of the nation to be sacrificed on the altar of the fight against Covid.

Prof. ROBERT DINGWALL: You had recommended the return of a full national lock of the species imposed in March to temporarily stop the spread of the virus

But it ignores the devastating social and economic impact of Covid restrictions and exaggerates the threat the disease poses.

Of course we must try to save the lives of those seriously affected by the coronavirus, but we cannot be so narrow-minded that we forget about people who are suffering from different conditions and the disastrous effects our approach has on the economy.

Here are the top issues that lockdown advocates need to consider. . . and whereupon some of our guides have been deafeningly silent.

The death rates are still remarkably low

Despite all the hysteria, this is not a modern day plague. In the week ending October 2, Covid was responsible for just 3.2 percent of all deaths in UK hospitals. Even with the recent surge in infections, the death rate from Covid is now dramatically lower than it was at the height of the spring pandemic.

On April 8, 975 people died of Covid, compared with 74 last Wednesday, according to the Office for National Statistics. Similarly, 8,758 deaths were recorded in the week ending April 17, with Covid-19 cited as a possible factor on the death certificate. In the first week of October there were only 321.

This toll can go up, but it is very unlikely to reach the levels we saw in the spring.

DISEASE OF THE OLD AND VULNERABLE

Covid-19 is a cruel disease that is directed against the elderly or those whose life expectancy is affected by illness.

While every life is precious, the average age of patients who die with Covid-19 is 82.4 years.

Since August, only one otherwise healthy person under 30 has died of the disease, while only 97 victims were younger than 60 in the same period.

The average age of people who have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began in England and Wales is 82.4 years

The average age of people who have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began in England and Wales is 82.4 years

This pie chart shows the number of deaths from coronavirus between August 1 and October 2, broken down by age, by ONS. It shows that only one of the deaths was recorded in the under 30 age bracket. Deaths differ from registered deaths, as not every death in this number was provided with a death certificate

This pie chart shows the number of deaths from coronavirus between August 1 and October 2, broken down by age, by ONS. It shows that only one of the deaths was recorded in the under 30 age bracket. Deaths differ from registered deaths, as not every death in this number was provided with a death certificate

A June study by the Office of National Statistics found that 91 percent of people who died with Covid between March and June in England and Wales had at least one pre-existing condition. This is not to trivialize the virus. All life is precious, but Covid-19 deaths are no more or less important than any other.

BETTER RESULTS

As knowledge about Covid-19 has increased, survival rates have improved significantly. Drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone are highly effective in treating the disease, while it is now recognized that ventilators can sometimes do more harm than good.

For those admitted to intensive care with Covid, the chances of survival have risen to 80 percent. Contract drafting does not have to be a death sentence even for very elderly people.

Contrary to the depressing propaganda, six out of seven people who have been infected for over 90 years actually survive.

GRIM WARNINGS WILL NOT BE REALIZED

In their controversial press conference on September 21, just before the introduction of new curfews and rules for wearing masks, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned that the UK will have 50,000 new infections a day by mid-October could.

While they stressed that it was not a "prediction" but "an illustration" of what could happen without action, they did not offer an alternative scenario.

However, we have reached mid-October and thankfully their grim warning has remained unfulfilled. Over the past week, the average infection rate was only 14,000.

The UK has less than half the government's doomsday forecast of 50,000 cases a day by tomorrow, figures show

SMALL, TO REMOVE PUB AND BAR LATCHES

The mix of curfews and closings was central to the government's anti-Covid strategy. In truth, however, there is little convincing scientific evidence to support the belief that these venues are major broadcast areas.

This is confirmed by the Sage papers released on Monday, which accepted that the economic harm of closures outweighs potential health benefits.

SAGE warned that a pub curfew would only have a "marginal impact" - but a complete shutdown could lower the R significantly

SAGE warned that a pub curfew would only have a "marginal impact" – but a complete shutdown could lower the R significantly

The government claimed in a private press conference yesterday that up to 30 percent of coronavirus transmission is associated with pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. The slides leaked - and today ministers decided to publish them in full. Above is one of the 13 slides from the press conference

The government claimed in a private press conference yesterday that up to 30 percent of coronavirus transmission is associated with pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. The slides leaked – and today ministers decided to publish them in full. Above is one of the 13 slides from the press conference

PHE data released today showed that infected people were most likely to come into contact with the family they live with, followed by friends who visited and people during their leisure time - including pubs and restaurants

PHE data released today showed that infected people were most likely to come into contact with their family, followed by friends visiting and people during their free time – including pubs and restaurants

LOCKDOWNS DO NOT WORK

Much of the North and Midlands have lived with Covid restrictions for months, but hasn't stopped the surge in positive cases.

Revealingly, Chris Whitty stated at the briefing on Monday that he doesn't believe that even the most extreme crackdown on Tier 3 now imposed in Liverpool would have much of an impact.

Much of the dynamic behind the recent surge has been driven by the return of students to universities with no symptoms – only to be mass tested and found out that they are infected. But young people are the least at risk. There is not a single documented case in which a student died of Covid this fall.

Given these low risks, curbing infection in high school students can be counterproductive as contracting the disease can help boost immunity in their communities.

HUNTING A VACCINE

The government, longing to be released from the cycle of desperation of Covid, has been encouraged by the government to put its hopes on a vaccine.

But such a belief can be out of place. The task is not easy. In 40 years scientists have not found an HIV / AIDS vaccine, nor has one been discovered for the SARS virus in 18 years.

Second, a vaccine cannot be a panacea. It will likely be more like an annual flu shot – which offers some protection but doesn't stop you from contracting the disease – than a measles vaccine which offers lifelong protection.

The government has encouraged the public to put their hopes in a vaccine.

The government has encouraged the public to put their hopes in a vaccine.

We'll likely have to learn to live with the virus, with almost all of us infected at some point.

A report by the University of Edinburgh last week argued that persistent use of lockdowns and social distancing could cost between 149,000 and 178,000 lives as the pandemic progressed – far more than died from Covid – by preventing herd immunity from establishing itself.

ECONOMIC CATASTER

The economic damage caused by bans, curfews and restrictions is becoming more apparent.

We are now facing a winter of lengthening queues, mounting poverty and failing mass businesses. Entire areas of business life, from the cinema to the travel industry, are being wiped out.

Even with Rishi Sunak's Eat Out to Help Out program, growth was sluggish in August.

The redundancies in the three months to the end of August increased by 114,000

Redundancies in the three months ended August increased by 114,000

As recently as yesterday it was announced that layoffs rose 114,000 in the three months to the end of August, while between March and September the number of people using unemployment benefits rose 120 percent to 2.7 million.

And the rising national debt – the government is likely to raise more than £ 350 billion this year – will be paid for by generations to come.

THE FURTHER IMPACT

The wreck of the economy will worsen physical and mental health. Depression, family breakdown, and suicide are sure to increase.

Due to the tireless narrow focus of the authorities on Covid, other diseases are severely neglected.

Oncologists warn that delayed treatments and diagnostic screening errors could result in 50,000 premature deaths from cancer.

Oncologists warn of 50,000 premature deaths from cancer

Oncologists warn of 50,000 premature deaths from cancer

The same pattern can be seen with other health problems, made worse by reluctance to go to the hospital for fear of being a burden – or getting Covid.

It is time for a wider range of ideas and voices to be heard.

The question we must ask ourselves is: How can we transition to living with this virus instead of being traumatized by a futile struggle against it?

Robert Dingwall is professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University and a member of groups advising the government on the pandemic.

He writes in a personal capacity.