Let the under 60’s get back to work and restrict the elderly, says guest writer Peter Munro, after analysing some statistics.
Peter Munro is retired and lives in Stoke Trister. He tries to lead an active life sailing, golfing, ski-ing and travelling. He is also the Chair of Wincanton Live at Home, which supports the elderly to live active lives at home.
At last the Government taken a few tentative steps towards easing the lockdown and the response of the public is mixed to say the least. On the one hand people are heading in their tens or hundreds of thousands for beaches, parks and beauty spots caring little for the social distancing rules. On the other hand less than 40% of those who could have turned up for work did so and the limited but vital re-opening of primary schools has been frustrated by the teachers unions and many labour councils. It is a fair bet that many of those who headed for the beaches failed to turn up for work and failed to send their children to school. The risk of catching Covid 19 has been used as the excuse for such absenteeism whilst the Government has used the risk of a second spike as its excuse for not getting the country moving.
Are these risks real? The Government has continually claimed that it is “following the science”. There are two problems here. First, none of the decision making cabinet members are even remotely scientifically trained and so have no idea what questions to ask the scientific advisers. Second, the scientists themselves have their own axes to grind – witness the spats between Oxford and Imperial – and are busy bombarding each other with their own view of the science. It is thus impossible for the scientifically ignorant to get sane and cohesive advice.
It is often claimed that we know so little about the virus that it is bound to be the case that the Government gets things wrong. This may be true at the detailed entomological level and may explain why, despite the vast numbers of scientists working on the problem worldwide, we have neither a vaccine nor a treatment. At any other level though we know lots about it – we have after all in the UK alone tens of thousands of case studies available. We know that the factor most affecting the severity of the disease is age. We know that in very many cases of death, possibly most them, patients had other problems and that Covid 19 was the straw which broke the camel’s back. We know that the most efficient disease factories in the country are hospitals and care homes and that it is these institutions which drive R, the incidence of new cases in the community being quite small- 0.1% according to the ONS.
We know that in April the percentage of deaths which occurred to those of working age was only 3.3% (ONS report Deaths Involving Covid 19 dated 15.05.2020) many of whom will have had another co-morbidity. We know that less than 9 people of school age have died with Covid 19. We know that it is actually quite difficult to catch the virus hence the track and trace limit of less that 2m from and infected person for more than 15 minutes.
In a nutshell the risk to those below 65, and we might stretch this to 70, is very small and certainly not high enough to justify the continuing damage which the lockdown policy is now causing to our country. The country is stacking up enormous debts for future generations and clearly a mindset is taking hold which leads many to prefer to remain supported by the state rather than to get back to work. Perhaps more serious though is the damage to our physical and mental health.
Increased poverty will inexorably lead to worse health outcomes, mental health problems, domestic abuse and divorce are on the rise and the interruption to education will, if it goes on for too long, damage the life prospects of this generation of children. We in rural South Somerset are extraordinarily fortunate – imagine how awful life must be for those on meagre incomes living in tower blocks in cities.
We must get the country moving and the first step is to understand that the population is not a homogeneous mass. We can treat people differently and indeed do so as regards the 2.5 million shielded. Whilst the under 65s must get back to work secure in the knowledge that the risks to them are minimal and certainly less than those they face in normal life the over 65s must accept some restrictions. For example they should not travel on public transport and they should not use the inside areas of pubs and restaurants. In this way we can begin to salvage the economy whilst continuing to protect the section of the population in which 96.7% of deaths occurred in April. Standing in the way is the refusal of politicians and scientists to accept that they may have got some things wrong. One only has to watch the daily No 10 briefing to see heads in the sand. We just need the most responsible politicians to summon the courage to abort the lockdown and get on with it.
Thank you for taking the trouble to write for us Peter. If anyone else has something to say on the subject, please comment, or submit something to email@example.com.-Ed