The normal September increase in coughs and colds caused by the return of schools is creating “total chaos” in the UK as people fear Covid-19, according to a top scientist.
Professor Carl Heneghan, a former doctor and now medical expert at Oxford University, today voiced his frustration over the "panic" caused by the coronavirus crisis.
At a meeting with members of Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, he insisted that coughs and colds increase each September as children return to class and become more common in winter.
But government news of the deadly consequences of Covid-19 and the foreclosure of entire cities and regions – rules that now affect 9.2 million people – have made the public "fearful" and "terrorized".
He said reports from general practitioners seeing patients with chest infections who have the same symptoms as the coronavirus have increased by 50 percent.
Professor Heneghan's comments come as the government complains about the skyrocketing demand for coronavirus tests from people who fear they have them.
National test processing laboratories are crumbling under the pressure of the 200,000-plus-day swabs that flood them, and people are even showing up in A&E departments or standing in front of test centers eager to be seen.
The Oxford scientist said the cough will continue to increase over the winter months and there will also be an increase in deaths and people in hospitals – some are caused by coronavirus, he said, but most are not.
He argued that the virus is not circulating at epidemic levels and that if it were cold or flu cases, current levels would not be uncommon.
At his meeting with MPs today, Professor Heneghan said:
- A cough disease isn't usually considered an epidemic until doctors see 400 symptomatic cases per 100,000 – far higher than the Covid-19 rate;
- The Eat Out to Help Out restaurant voucher program likely drove the spread of coronavirus up.
- Reinforced testing still only catches a fraction of the actual number of cases, but it detects more background infections because they are more targeted and seem like cases are skyrocketing.
- High levels of infections can occur in Bolton as the virus was not spread there before the lockdown was lifted and people have not built immunity.
- Swab tests still select too many people who are not contagious, and examining people's viral loads could help officials pinpoint those who are actually at risk of spreading.
- The country cannot test its way out of the outbreak and there needs to be a coherent strategy on how to deal with knowing the number of cases and an acceptable level.
- Ambiguous expressions like "moonshot" are not helpful in communicating government plans and have no scientific basis that should be paramount.
Professor Carl Heneghan appeared before MPs on the Science and Technology Committee today and said the government's approach to combating the coronavirus and its reporting on the virus had "scared" people.
"It's important to keep our kids in school, but it's a complete mess right now with other respiratory pathogens that mimic Covid in children increasing by 50 percent," Professor Heneghan said.
It refers to diseases that cause symptoms similar to Covid-19, which are usually viral infections known as respiratory infections or chest infections.
Cases of this spike every winter because people spend more time indoors close to each other, and coughs and sneezes spread them easily.
And they are rising now, emphasized Professor Heneghan, because the children return to school every day and mingle more with others. This would happen regardless of the Covid-19 outbreak.
But because the symptoms are so similar – cough, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or fever – people think that they or their children may have Covid-19.
As a result, the demand for tests is increasing. The more people tested in an area, the more cases that may not otherwise be discovered, which makes infections look higher.
For example, parents have reportedly done coronavirus tests because their children are sick or because their classmates were afraid of Covid.
Professor Heneghan argues that increased testing is leading to more cases, raising fears that a deadly coronavirus resurgence is imminent, similar to the one that put the country on lockdown.
"I want to explain what happens in September," he said. & # 39; We found a 50 percent increase in consultations for acute respiratory infections in the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners) monitoring data.
“When you go back to school, when you open a business, and when we return from our vacation, an increase in acute respiratory pathogens is very predictable.
“In September alone, this almost tripled the (emergency) admission of children. Therefore, it is important to say that in the light of the events of September, you act for all acute respiratory pathogens.
& # 39; Of the 200,000 people who come forward (for Covid-19 testing), about 25 appear to be asymptomatic when they call and about 150,000 have some noticeable symptoms.
"97 percent of them have another acute respiratory pathogen on board and about three to four thousand have Covid. So let's get the context right."
Public Health England data shows a spike in appointments when doctors saw people with diseases that look like Covid-19 but nowhere near as high as they were in March and April
The number of people seeing doctors with breast infections increases sharply in September, and the annual average (dotted line) shows that it is increasing every year even before the coronavirus
The same applies to infections of the lower respiratory tract, which also cause coughing and difficulty breathing
Doctors will see more and more people with the flu now as winter approaches. The flu causes febrile symptoms similar to Covid-19
DIDO HARDING CLAIM'S DEMAND FOR TESTS IS 4 TIMES AS HIGH AS DELIVERY
The demand for Covid tests is up to four times the capacity of the system, Baroness Dido Harding admitted today.
The Tory peer who heads the Test and Trace system revealed the amazing discrepancy between the number of people who want tests and the ability to get them, as they claimed 27 percent had no symptoms.
Extraordinarily, she said no one "expected" the "substantial" increase in demand – although it was widely predicted – and accused SAGE of getting its estimates wrong.
Lady Harding has been brought before MPs to explain the mess that has led thousands to be scrutinized.
She told the Science Committee that she didn't have an exact number of how many people wanted tests. But she said phone calls and website visits indicated that there are "three to four times as many tests as we have available".
Lady Harding brazenly gave the money for the chaos, saying, "We have made our capacity plans based on SAGE modeling for what we should prepare for this fall."
Lady Harding confirmed the diagnostic test capacity is currently close to 243,000 a day – a figure the government hasn't released in over a week. Thousands of tests could be sent overseas to be processed to deal with a "surge," she said.
She said the government is on track to increase capacity to 500,000 antigen tests per day by the end of October.
And she admitted that it won't be enough. "I'm sure we will need more as we go past the end of October," she said.
Professor Heneghan argued that Covid-19 is not circulating at what would be considered an epidemic.
Although government and council officials feared infection rates could rise to 70 or 100 or even 200 cases per 100,000, Professor Heneghan downplayed the numbers.
He said, “When you talk about infections and epidemics in general – and this is a long established figure – we are talking about 400 per 100,000 consultations that constitute an epidemic. And these are symptomatic people.
“So when you talk about 200, 250, you're still in the same stadium as a seasonal pathogen.
& # 39; The question within that 200 or 250 is how many of them are symptomatic or asymptomatic. The other question is what impact does it have.
“For example, I looked at Bolton NHS Trust and found that there were two patients in hospital with Covid. I think this is where you start providing context instead of just throwing the number.
"And I think we need more data now that will allow people to put the information into context instead of just seeing a number, believing it is going up and then panicking."
The panic triggered by regularly referenced infection rates was a sticking point for Professor Heneghan, who has repeatedly spoken out against strict lockdown measures.
He has argued that a second wave will not occur like the first and that people are allowed to get on with life as normally as possible while efforts are made to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly.
Targeting the government's stance on the virus, he said people were too scared of the virus to go back to normal, especially in schools.
He referred to a case where a 13th grade student was believed to have Covid-19 and his entire grade group was isolated before they were even tested.
"We have restrictive measures now because nobody has a strategy," he said, adding, "What is happening right now is the language and the rhetoric makes people so fearful and terrorizing that they go beyond guidance." because they are so afraid of what's next.
"So the rhetoric has to be voted back, there has to be a thoughtful discussion about what exactly the government's strategy is because I don't understand it at the moment."
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Coronavirus