A reader has contacted me to suggest that I should spend less time commenting on Covid, because it can’t be eradicated, and is no longer a top killer or driver of hospital visits, ‘but cancer and heart failure have never not been, and the backlog of “minor” ops like hip replacements has a massive impact on both the individual and understaffed supporting services.’ I thought my reply might be of interest to other followers of this blog, so here it is:
‘I do accept that Covid is unlikely to be eradicated, and certainly not any time soon, and that in many ways the country needs to open up. I don’t want to go back to a lockdown, and one of the reasons I oppose what the government is currently doing is the fear that it may go so badly wrong that there will be a screeching U-turn when the NHS is overwhelmed – as there has been 3 times before.
‘1. Covid still is a killer. Double vaccination is protecting people a lot, but it was never 100 per cent effective and it seems to be only about 60 per cent against the Delta variant. So even vaccinated people are still becoming ill (a fully vaccinated 70-year-old friend of mine is still unwell over a month after contracting it) and some are dying. Half the population (mostly under-40s and children) are still not fully vaccinated and some of them will become seriously ill and die.
‘2. The scale of the new wave, if we drop all restrictions, could therefore still be massive. If we have millions of cases (and with 100,000 a day which Javid has talked of as likely, that will come), then even if only 1 in 1000 die, instead of around 1 in 200 in the previous waves, then tens of thousands will still die.
‘3. Covid is starting to drive hospital admissions. They are currently going up 45% a week. After a few weeks, they will have trebled, quadrupled or more. As the RD&E case shows, even a hospital which currently has few Covid patients is not in a position to cope, and cannot afford a big increase in cases. We could be back to people not getting treated as happened in other parts of the country last year.
‘4. This scenario is the worst possible one for people with cancer (Leeds is already cancelling cancer operations) and other problems. As more Covid patients are hospitalised, there will be fewer beds for others. If there is a massive wave, more NHS staff will get Covid or have to isolate (which they need to do because you can’t have infection spreading in hospitals), and there will be even fewer to treat the others.
‘5. This situation should not have arisen, because Johnson could have stopped travellers from India bringing Delta in during March and April. But it has, which is why his road map doesn’t work any more. We need to keep masks in all indoor settings, including schools. We need laws and inspections to ensure adequate ventilation in indoor settings. We need to cut back on gatherings which can be superspreader events. We need to accelerate vaccination of all over-18s and introduce it for 12-18 year olds, as other countries are doing. We will need booster vaccines for older people. With all this, we can hopefully get this back under control.
‘6. Without it, we risk a massive wave which could help the virus mutate further so that the vaccines work even less. Then we will be in trouble. The economy will go backwards because a lot of people like me will not go into shops or pubs, and a lot of people will have to take time off work because they or their family members are ill.’