How dare someone apologize for the Covid blockades: have they forgotten the terrors of early 2020?

Supporting the lockdown may not seem like the most appropriate way to enjoy a sunny holiday, but I fear it is necessary.

Thanks to some unwise remarks from those second-rate two vying to lead our poor broken nation, Covid deniers have been encouraged. Not only do they swear to resist any future public health precautions, but they demand that those of us who supported the blockades apologize, both for the blockages themselves and the undoubted misery caused, but also for the non-Covid excess deaths that now they occur. He is getting absurd.

Liz Truss, inexplicably and unforgivably, has ruled out blockades in the face of any future pandemic, no matter how deadly; and Rishi Sunak now says he didn’t argue hard enough in the cabinet about economic damage and let the scientists become “empowered.”

Where these two once claimed to want to be guided by science, they have now joined the ranks of anti-science conspiracy theorists. It is terrifying to see. At least Boris Johnson, genuinely reluctant and slow to impose the blockades, bowed to the reality of the position in 2020 and 2021 and took the painful action needed to save many lives.

His successors seem, strange to say, more cowardly at doing the right thing in the future. They seem to have sided with those who would have preferred not to accumulate more public debt, and therefore pay higher taxes, to save the lives of others. It’s a bad kind of backlash.

The myth is perpetuating that blockades actually caused more deaths than lives saved. It’s a ridiculous, but seductive suggestion, and one that’s catching on, on social media and among people who should know it best.

Have we forgotten the terrors of early 2020? A completely unknown, little known but highly contagious and potentially deadly coronavirus was sweeping populations in China and Europe, causing deaths and serious illness. Health services in Italy could not cope with demand.

People choked to death, effectively asphyxiated by the virus, before approaching a doctor. We were completely helpless at the time, and no matter how much we wanted to dismiss it as not much worse than the flu, in too many cases it caused an agonizing and unnecessary death.

To reiterate: when the first lockdown was announced by Boris Johnson in March 2020 there was little knowledge of the disease and how it spread, no cures, no vaccines, no cures, no test kits, few protective equipment in hospitals, few hand disinfectants, disposable masks and gloves for home use and, above all, ambulances, hospital beds, intensive care facilities and insufficient respirators to save lives.

We were trying to build Nightingale basic hospitals just to store the sick and make grim plans for mass graves. All of this seems to have been forgotten, strangely, in an orgy of post-event denial.

Covid was a potentially fatal disease that had – and has – the particularly nasty feature of spreading easily while people are asymptomatic. Before they have a cough or fever they can unknowingly make many others sick, a particularly insidious feature of Covid.

Like any plague, it spreads exponentially and soon there was hardly a place on earth untouched. As the slogan of the time said, we had to stay indoors to protect the NHS from collapse and to save lives. As the disease took hold in hospitals and nursing homes, staff became ill and there were even fewer people caring for those dying of Covid.

For some reason the nation now wants to indulge in an act of collective amnesia. We want to pretend now that things weren’t that bad and that lockdowns weren’t really necessary. The lie is spreading that the blockades have left us with a terrible backlog of cases, hence the delays and queues for NHS treatment now. Yet it was cold to do it, not the public health precautions.

So the opposite was – and is – the truth. Without social distancing, restrictions on gatherings, wearing masks, hygiene regimes and self-isolation, even more cases would have overcrowded doctors’ surgeries, ambulances and hospital wards and left even fewer resources available for treatment. other urgent cases.

The alternative would have been to simply leave people with Covid: feverish and unable to breathe, die alone at home, often with the excuse that they were too old anyway – the “let the bodies pile up” attitude once attributed to Johnson.

In fact, during the pandemic the NHS still took care of other non-Covid patients – I know this from personal experience – and it did so because lockdowns and other public health precautions have given doctors the space to do so. Furthermore, no doubt some people have suffered from mental health problems, many children have had educational problems, and some of those who are not feeling well have not stepped forward to get attention.

The economy, on which we depend to finance free health care, has been damaged. But all of those situations would have been worse if the blocks hadn’t broken the drive chain and prevented overload. With the collapse of the system, harder and longer blocks would become inevitable.

As I said, the unspoken alternative strategy (used in previous centuries) would have been to confine Covid patients to their homes and not let them out or offer them treatment. Boris Johnson was reportedly left to die in his Downing Street apartment after falling ill with his severe Covid case, perhaps seized by a contemptuous attitude towards the tiny microorganism.

The case for the blocks was eloquently expounded by Chris Whitty. A national hero, Whitty is now seeing his reputation silently trashed by people who should know her better. This is what Whitty told MPs last year when asked if the emergence of the omicron variant meant it took priority over cancer treatment: “This is sometimes said by people who have no understanding of health. , but I don’t think it’s said by anyone who’s serious, to be honest.When they say it, it’s usually because they want to make a political point.

“The reality is – and if you ask any doctor who works anywhere in the system they will answer you – that what is threatening our ability to get cancer and to do all of these things is the fact that much of the NHS effort, and so many beds have to be moved to Covid that we have to work less efficiently because Covid is there. Finding a way to manage Covid that minimizes the impact on everything else is absolutely central to what we are trying to do.

“In a way, I completely agree that there are many other things besides Covid. If we don’t decide to break Covid when we have big waves, as we have done now, we will do enormous damage elsewhere. The idea that blockages cause problems with things like cancer is a complete reversal of reality.

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“If we hadn’t had the blockages, the whole system would have been in deep, deep trouble and the impact on things like heart attacks and strokes, and all the other things that people still have to come forward for when they have them, would also have been worse than before. I want, through all of you, to make it absolutely clear that this is an inversion of reality. “

It appears that the current amnesia epidemic is an unexpected consequence of Covid. The constant refrain that we have to “learn to live with Covid” seems to mean that we don’t have to worry about it and treat it like a bad cold – indeed, we should forget all that bad pandemic, because if we stop thinking about the coronavirus then it will go a long way. But of course it won’t, and one day a variant that is both more dangerous and more contagious will emerge.

We should now make sure that the incidence of Covid is minimized, through simple precautions such as masks on crowded public transport, free test kits and mandatory self-isolation while it is infectious. And one day, in extremis, we may need a lockdown to avoid the collapse of the NHS. If we took more precautions now, a lockdown would be less likely, but it may still be necessary. Are we really that forgetful?

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