From Alasdair Galloway:
Some thoughts on some consequences of Covid
An article on the BBC website just caught my eye – “Covid Cases: This summer compared with last”
It reports that comparing 20 August with this time last year, there were 37,314 this year, compared with 1,182 a year ago. Or put another way, there were more than 31 times the number of cases this year than last year.
The author of the piece seems remarkably untroubled by this. They write “The numbers admitted to hospital or dying are also both higher than last year. However, this still reflects how far we’ve come with vaccination – if there had been 37,000 cases a day last summer it would have had a severe impact on the NHS. Instead jabs are saving lives.” Probably true enough, and its also true to point out that this year restrictions have been done away with almost entirely.
However, it is still the 20th August when much of our interaction is able to be conducted out of doors (as we are encouraged to do by that patronizing woman in the Scottish Government ad). What will happen when the weather turns and the “dark nights are drawing in”?
Lets take a couple of examples. The peak of the wave prior to Christmas (about end October, early November) was about 25,000 which is 21 times the number on 20th August last year. On that basis we might expect 783,594 cases.
Even worse the post-Christmas/ New Year peak last year was about 60,000, which is 50 times the number of cases on 20th August last year. On that basis, we might expect 1,865.700 cases by just after Christmas. The reason for the increase last year was the change of weather and more social interaction indoors.
According to the BBC, while people are still getting ill and some are dying, “What really matters now is the number of people becoming so ill that they need hospital treatment.”
Would 1,865,700 cases, even with the lower rate of hospitalisation create a problem that the NHS couldn’t cope with? I don’t know. However, it is a little ironic that in the next paragraph they quote Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia that “It wouldn’t matter a jot if Covid caused a million cases a month if it didn’t make anybody sick. It’s the actual illnesses which have to drive what we do next”. Isn’t that the truth!
We know that Covid, while some carry the virus with no symptoms and others – especially if vaccinated – experience fairly mild symptoms (though easy to say if you’re not ill). However, we also know that even with the vaccines that some people become very ill indeed and some still die. Most importantly we aren’t talking about less than 40,000 cases per day, but perhaps three quarters of a million or almost two million a day. And then there is “Long Covid” ….
But one thing this article quite simply ignores is that with that sort of number of people falling ill on a daily basis, what will the effect on society generally be? I’m old enough to remember the 1968 flu pandemic, and my main memory is going into a class at school and thinking “where is everyone”, or getting taught History by the Metalwork teacher, or Maths by the French teacher. It was chaos for a while.
Already there are distribution problems and stories (perhaps exaggerated?) about empty supermarket shelves, a problem which no doubt has been exacerbated considerably by Brexit. But how are things going to be if there are fifty times the number of people ill with Covid (even if not in hospital) today? Moreover, some of these are going to be in the NHS which takes the issue back into “will the hospitals be able to cope?” territory.
I am not actually suggesting that this will necessarily come about – the numbers are very crude. However, one thing does seem likely, and that is as winter sets in and there is more social interaction indoors that there will be more cases.
Johnson has said he does not rule out more lockdowns, but the attitudes in much of the Conservative Party would be against this. How many would have to be ill, how disrupted would our society have to be to force his hand to bring back restrictions? Could he survive this politically in his own Party?
Unless there is a lockdown in England, there can be none in Scotland because only if there is a lockdown in England will furlough return. Nicola Sturgeon could not call another lockdown without the sort of financial measures that only Sunak has the power to put in place.
There is nothing wrong with whistling in the wind, but how long will this go on for?