The Elephant in the Room

I was once told I have a memory like an elephant! I didn’t realise what that meant, and the friend who told me explained. She said that elephants have long memories. They remember. It is true. I do.

I remember a time when governments were at least able to behave in a way we could say was responsible, in carrying out their duties, because they knew they were responsible for the delivery of services. Now we have a dereliction of duty. And appallingly stretched public services.

I remember when even this government, late with everything, at least, though late, did something. Now they are doing not much more than nothing.

There is an elephant in the room. It has a long memory. It knows that there was a better way of doing things, through long past and recent history. It understands that it was never acceptable to accept unnecessary deaths. It realises that the preservation of life itself is the greatest instinct of humanity itself. It remembers when, in progressive, tolerant societies, preventable deaths were not tolerated.

A crisis has not been solved. Vaccines have not solved it. They have lessened it. It could have been solved by the vaccines, to a greater extent, if the virus had been dealt with more effectively, and the variants not emerged as a result of ineffective government.

Money has not solved it. It is drying up. It could have at least helped to solve the worst suffering of the poorest of those suffering, with a basic income, or raised benefits made secure, but the government has wasted as much money as it does, time, and the money, like the time to deal with the crisis, is seemingly always not enough, though it could be.

This government has been behind on nearly everything. Even on the vaccine, others have matched the UK, and gone beyond. But once again, later, than reason, tells it, this government must do something!

The elephant in the room, is the awareness that a country with the worst results on Covid in the world now, must see and hear and listen to the sound of that elephant. It is telling us to do something to protect life and preserve loved ones.

The elephant in the room is happy to be told it must wear a mask. It understands it must keep a distance. It knows it needs to be told, because it also needs to be looked after. The elephant in the room is obvious and visible and vocal!

After all we have all experienced, it ought not need an elephantine response yet, and yet it seems now, it does!

* Lorenzo Cherin is an actor, writer, and regular contributor to politics as a member of the Liberal Democrats. He is based in Nottingham.

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73 Comments

  • Barry Lofty 20th Oct '21 - 5:49pm

    Hear Hear! Lorenzo, every life matters and our government seems constantly late in taking action to prevent further misery to our population or even indifferent.

  • Helen Dudden 20th Oct '21 - 6:32pm

    Every life does matter. No matter the age or health conditions, they matter.

  • a country with the worst results on Covid in the world now” What???? You mean we’ve done worse than Brazil? Russia? the USA? That doesn’t sound very plausible to me.

    (Note: I’m not trying to minimise that the UK could probably have done better with hindsight, or that policy failures on Covid inevitably have awful consequences for many families, but I don’t think exaggeration helps.)

  • The elephant in the room, is the awareness that a country with the worst results on Covid in the world now,…

    There are several countries that have higher rates than the UK. The UK conducts far more extensive testing than most other countries so we are likely to record a much higher percentage of actual infections. Currently, the Delta wave is sweeping across eastern Europe and the Baltic states…

    ‘Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people’:
    https://ourworldindata.org/explorers/coronavirus-data-explorer?zoomToSelection=true&facet=none&pickerSort=desc&pickerMetric=new_cases_smoothed_per_million&Metric=Confirmed+cases&Interval=7-day+rolling+average&Relative+to+Population=true&Align+outbreaks=false&country=GBR~LVA~LTU~EST~ROU~BLZ~GEO~BRB~SRB

    Expect to see rates rise elsewhere as vaccine efficacy against infection wanes and average vitamin D levels fall in the northern hemisphere as we move through autumn into winter.

  • It’s better than that in Scotland, Lorenzo, though circumstances are difficult and testing for Ms Sturgeon. Not sure why Mr Cole-Hamilton advises our good folk to go down to the English NHS when I gather waiting lists there are at a staggering level down there.

    Happily, we’ve both had third vaccine and flu jabs, and our local annual check ups for hip, diabetes and screening still on time and normal.

  • john oundle 20th Oct '21 - 9:08pm

    Simon R

    ‘“a country with the worst results on Covid in the world now” What???? You mean we’ve done worse than Brazil? Russia? the USA? That doesn’t sound very plausible to me.’

    Don’t even need to go to Brazil or Russia or USA,It isn’t, a quick check of Worldometer giving figures for 18 October for four European countries gives deaths per 1 m pop:

    UK 2,034
    Italy 2,182
    Belgium 2,213
    Slovakia 2,356

  • john oundle 20th Oct '21 - 9:15pm

    Can’t understand how an article like this can be published without at least a look at the integrity of some of the claims.

    It doesn’t do the site justice,there are plenty of other sites available for a rant.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 9:37pm

    Thanks to Barry and David especially.

    Yesterday the figures showed the UK had the highest case rate in the world. Google it. It is in several sources of news.A few days ago it was second. The rates are higher than Russia and The US, for those who alluded to those.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpiGgGTLRyA

    And for the posting that would like to stop a writer on here having a rant, firstly that makes no sense, many rant on here and ought to. Secondly the piece is very measured in its approach, compared to what I really would like to say, about this shambolic result with the virus!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 9:42pm

    And I am referring to cases, not deaths, as my comment says, the worst results, can be said to be many things. But any way you want to look at it, the UK fares terribly.

    It is the case numbers, the rampant spread, that is the reason for the coverage and concern.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 9:45pm

    If saying one of the top few worst results, satisfies those overly concerned with a figure that varies daily, but puts this country in the worst list, regardless of how you look at this, then please quote me, thus, “one of the VERY WORST RESULTS!”

  • Thank you for the piece Lorenzo my dear friend 🙂

    I agree with you entirely, it never needed to be like this.
    I am tempted to say that the Government gave up, but then there is a side of me that is not entirely sure that we ever actually even gave 100% effort in the first place.

    When I watch the Health Minister say this evening that we could start to see 100,000 infections a day and yet they are not going to implement plan (b) my heart just sank.
    All plan (B) asks for is mandatory face masks, covid passports and WFH, the first 2 which have no effect on the economy whatsoever and yet can help cut down on the number of infections.
    How bad do things have to get before plan (B) is put into action? 100,000 daily cases will result in many more hospital admissions, long covid and sadly deaths it will also result in more people who suffering from Non covid illnesses struggling to access medical resources and life saving / changing treatments.

    Throwing billions of Pounds at the NHS is going to do nothing to get through the rising backlog of those awaiting treatment. You can not magic staff out of thin air and you can not carry out many procedures safely with large amounts of covid transmission in the community and hospital settings.
    Allowing covid to get out of control like this is destroying wider public health for probably a decade, causing much suffering, many lost lives that could have reasonably saved and traumatised families who have not been able to be with loved ones during their final days.

    I will come back to this piece in the coming days Lorenzo when my head is clearer but had a rough day as you know.

    But you are so right in what you say and you need to keep saying it until more people are prepared to listen.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct ’21 – 9:37pm:
    Yesterday the figures showed the UK had the highest case rate in the world.

    The link I posted in my first comment shows that there were NINE countries with a higher case rate than the UK (Latvia, Georgia, Barbados, Serbia, Lithuania, Belize, Estonia, Romania, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). If other countries conducted tests at the same rate as the UK there would likely be another dozen or more with confirmed cases per million higher than the UK.

    Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct ’21 – 9:42pm:
    But any way you want to look at it, the UK fares terribly.

    The UK was once 10th. worst for deaths per million, but is now in 26th. place. Moreover, recent analysis of excess deaths by the ONS suggests that UK death figures may be over-counted. We know that many other countries have undercounted their deaths. A recent analysis of excess deaths in Russia, for example, concluded that only around a third of their Covid deaths had been counted.

    Today, Romania reported 414 deaths attributed to Covid, yesterday it was 561. Romania has a resident population of around a quarter that of the UK – those are terrible figures.

  • Lorenzo Cherin

    ‘And I am referring to cases, not deaths,’

    OK lets look at cases, again Worldometer from 18 October cases per 1m pop:

    UK 126,675
    Czaech Republic 159,809
    Israel 141,529
    Lithuania 140,704
    #Slovenia 150,202

    Even Luxembourg is getting very close to UK numbers with 125,679 cases per 1 m pop.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 11:12pm

    Matt thanks you my valued friend .

    I know what you experience and it is reflected in how strong you articulate it.

    Others here, see my link, and comments, stop dancing on pins, the UK is doing badly and all my piece and Matt my friend, ask is some measures, we had and that improve this awful situation!

  • Jeff

    ‘The UK was once 10th. worst for deaths per million, but is now in 26th. place. Moreover, recent analysis of excess deaths by the ONS suggests that UK death figures may be over-counted. We know that many other countries have undercounted their deaths. A recent analysis of excess deaths in Russia, for example, concluded that only around a third of their Covid deaths had been counted.’

    Don’t let facts get in the way!

  • How can we believe that arguing about numbers is going to help us? Statistics are helpful to help us look at the real situations of real people. That is what we should be talking about.
    What has worried me is that there appears to have been an acceptance that there is an acceptable excess death rate each year in the flu season. We could have taken precautions like ensuring air circulation in buses or pubs at any time but chose not to do so.
    Is it not time we looked at the total picture, and the real stories of the avoidable deaths of many who are homeless or living in poverty?
    And how about looking at how we can ensure that everyone has an acceptable quality of like?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 21st Oct '21 - 8:34am

    Lorenzo, you seem to be suggesting that previous governments would not have “tolerated” high levels of deaths from infectious disease, and would have imposed restrictions to prevent this. But there is no evidence that this would have been the case. Previous British governments have not introduced restrictions during flu outbreaks, even though death rates from flu have often been very high, and perhaps could have been prevented by restrictions. Previous governments seem to have taken for granted that it would not be acceptable to take away people’s freedom, even if to do so might save lives. You may or may not believe previous governments were right to take this approach. But it is a fact that this government is the first British government *ever* to impose a full national lockdown, despite the fact that some previous governments had to deal with far more deadly epidemics than this one.
    At the time of the last major pandemic – the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19, we had a Liberal Prime Minister, Lloyd George. He did not impose a lock down. He did not impose any significant restrictions at all. Some other nations did impose restrictions, including mask mandates, but this not not happen in Britain, despite the fact that Spanish flu had a far higher death rate than Covid, and there was no vaccine.
    For the last instance of a British government imposing any restrictions during an epidemic, you would have to go back to 1665, when Charles II did impose some restrictions to combat the plague, although these did not amount to a full lock down. (Previously, the Privy council in the time of Elizabeth I had also imposed some restrictions when levels of plague were high, but these did not usually go beyond closing the theatres for a time).
    The current government is the first British government ever to impose a full national lockdown, and the first British government ever to impose a mask mandate, for a disease which is far less deadly than many that our ancestors had to live with. Perhaps this is the real “elephant in the room”.

  • @Catherine

    I am pretty sure during the times that you are talking about there was no “public health” system let alone an NHS

    There is currently over 5 million people and rising awaiting NHS treatment to either give someone a better quality of life or save a life.
    There are currently 10’s of thousands of people in hospital (Non covid) receiving urgent treatment. Due to covid and “trying” to keep covid away from non-covid patients, staff shortages , social distancing policies etc this is proving a logistical nightmare for hospitals. Trust me we are experiencing this first hand.

    There are families up and down the country who have relatives in hospital (non-covid) who are in critical conditions, but because of covid, hospital policies are that a patient is only allowed to have 1 designated visitor for their entire stay for 1 hour a day, meaning other family members are not able to provide support to the family member in hospital or the person visiting. family members are being left traumatised that they are never going to see a loved one again and not given the opportunity to say goodbye.
    There is nothing more cruel than this.

    Is it really to much to ask for the Government to be reintroducing mandatory face-masks, wfh, covid passports in order to drive down numbers?
    The state of of our NHS and public health as a whole is on a downward trajectory and will probably take a decade or more to overcome, throwing billions of pounds at it does nothing, as it does not address the staff shortage and it does nothing to address the levels of covid in community and hospital settings which is the “immediate” root cause of the problems that need addressing.

    Nobody is arguing as far as I am aware to go back into a full lockdown, what people are saying is vaccines have not got us out of this, yes they have reduced the amount of deaths, however, covid is still causing a public health emergency for non-covid patients and therefore some measures are needed to get these numbers down and encourage people to get more jabs into arms.

  • And please stop comparing things to flu. At times during this pandemic we have lost more people to covid in a month than we lose people in an entire year to flu. Flu tends to only be a major problem for us during the winter months, Covid is 12 months a year.

    Learning to live with covid, surely means we have to act responsibly to protect public health as a whole, it does not mean we have to accept that there are going to be “x” amount of covid deaths and “x” amount of NON-covid deaths as a knock on result of this virus and we allow the current problems with the NHS and waiting lists to spiral even further out of control….

  • Lorenzo Cherin “Others here, see my link, and comments, stop dancing on pins,” The article made – as a fairly central part of its argument – a claim that appears to be verifiably not true. I don’t think it’s ‘dancing on pins’ to point that out. After all when Boris Johnson says things that are not true, we rightly complain. Should we not hold the same standards ourselves in what we write?

    one of the VERY WORST RESULTS!” Looks to me like you’re misquoting yourself. Your own article says, “a country with the worst results on Covid in the world now” There’s quite a difference in meaning between ‘the worst’ and ‘one of the worst’ – although I’m sceptical that even ‘one of the worst’ is really correct. It seems to me that, overall the UK has got some things wrong and some things right, and ended up with typical infection rates similar to comparable European countries – but I’m open to persuasion if people have convincing data that shows otherwise.

  • Peter Martin 21st Oct '21 - 10:59am

    @ Lorenzo,

    “A crisis has not been solved. Vaccines have not solved it. They have lessened it. It could have been solved by the vaccines, to a greater extent, if the virus had been dealt with more effectively, and the variants not emerged as a result of ineffective government.”

    You’re right that vaccines could have been the solution “to a greater extent”. However, much as we might dislike the Tories we can’t blame them for the emergence of the Delta variant. It started in India and is now everywhere. Given the size of the global population we’ll always expect new variants which will be just a few hours away by modern jet transportation.

    The problem is that we only have 68% of the population fully vaccinated and it’s not enough.

    We need to discuss how to increase this number and particularly among the older non vaccinated There no shortage of vaccine nor any shortfall in the NHS’s ability to delivery it into arms.

    I appreciate that this presents problems for Lib Dems who have an inclination to assume that everyone will always do the right thing when it should be that most people will usually do the right thing. But what if ‘most’ and ‘usually’ isn’t enough?

    Masks may have some small benefit. Covid passports would have a huge benefit. If we really wanted to get serious we could insist that they were needed to leave your own home!

    We might have to make some exception for the homeless but not the high profile sports people who come out with anti-vax comments!

  • At the end of the day wherever the UK stands in relation to the rest of the world in terms of its general Covid response there is no getting away from the fact that our government has been extremely slow to respond to the dangers of this pandemic from day one and this has been the case again with an almost daily rise in infections and deaths over recent months and it is no wonder that the general public, by and large, have been so complacent about taking precautions when out and about, when the government show such poor leadership in their own behaviour towards the control on the spreading of this virus, perhaps the PM did not want to spoil his next variety performance as host at the upcoming meeting of world leaders?

  • matt 21st Oct ’21 – 9:10am:
    And please stop comparing things to flu.

    Catherine didn’t compare Covid to flu generally, but specifically to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 which she correctly states “had a far higher death rate than Covid”.

    ‘Covid-19 Is Not the Spanish Flu’ [March 2020]:
    https://www.wired.com/story/covid-19-is-nothing-like-the-spanish-flu/

    …a reasonable estimate for the global case fatality rate of the Spanish flu is 6 to 8 percent. To be clear, this means that 6 to 8 percent of those who were infected died.

  • Peter Martin 21st Oct ’21 – 10:59am:
    The problem is that we only have 68% of the population fully vaccinated and it’s not enough.

    Currently, 86.1% of the population over 12 years old have been vaccinated with 76% of that population having had two doses. The vaccines are not (yet) approved for younger children.

    UK Summary:
    https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

    Many of the non-vaccinated have similar or better immunity from previous natural infection…

    ‘Antibodies against coronavirus (COVID-19)’ [8th. October 2021]:
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19latestinsights/antibodies

    An estimated 93.6% of the adult population in England, 91.2% in Wales, 91.9% in Northern Ireland and 93.3% in Scotland tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in the week beginning 23 August 2021. The presence of antibodies suggests a person previously had COVID-19 or has been vaccinated.

    Covid passports would have a huge benefit.

    Vaccine passports are unlikely to have much, if any, benefit in reducing infections. Most nightclub goers will by now have acquired better immunity from natural infection. ONS figures for mid-summer showed 68% of unvaccinated 16-24 year olds had antibodies. That percentage will now be much higher. The UK Covid Dashboard shows vaccine take-up is lowest in Postcode areas with large ethnic minorities. It seems unlikely that a passport that enables entry to pubs and clubs would encourage many muslims to get vaccinated. Antibody passports that also include religious venues might help. However, research suggests that for some groups imposing passports may be counter-productive…

    ‘The potential impact of vaccine passports on inclination to accept COVID-19 vaccinations in the United Kingdom: evidence from a large cross-sectional survey and modelling study’ [June 2021]:
    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.05.31.21258122v1

    Overall, we find that the introduction of passports for either domestic or international use has a net negative impact on vaccination inclination, once we control for baseline vaccination intent.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 12:19pm

    Catherine

    Matt has answered the relevant comments with eloquent comments.

    I do not say the government did nothing. I clearly say the govt are now doing not much more than nothing. I make it very obvious that I remember when, yes, this govt, did something. It is why I would reckon, as the virus is spreading, a lot, then something ought to be done!

    I do not say I remember when previous govts did more with pandemics. I say I remember or know of govts that were more responsible. And more diligent with recognising their duties and attitude to public service. Are you saying you do not think many other govts in this country and other states, were not more responsible that this UK one?

    Matt dealt marvellously with this. In the olden days of yore we had no NHS and no state was considered to be responsible for the day to day health or welfare of the public.

    I am very mild in my criticism. Indeed I have been fair. And from Matt , he says it here, Catherine, this is not flu, and masks in public and some more rules on that or distancing, is not a loss of freedom!

    Tom Harney, thanks, my points were those, whether”the worst results” or “amongst the worst results,” Of necessity all I seek is to save people!

    Simon R Sorry, my link reveals, on new case numbers for a day this week, this country was the worst! And I did not misquote myself, I invited the few here obsessed with the daily figures, to rewrite my words in order to deal with the substance, that we ought to do more and now!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 12:31pm

    Peter

    I am of a like mind on much of that. I am not convinced Covid passports would do a lot, for reasons Jeff mentions, to some extent. I am though prepared to have them, for nightclubs, concerts, sports events. I disagree on Delta. Had India sopped the spread, had the UK govt stopped travel, and closed borders for non emergency travel, the variant would not have spread.

    My view is, had the world acted differently, this could have been beaten. Rather like Sars and mers were compared to this, contained and reduced and more or less eliminated. The first version of Covid, was not as bad, and ought to have been stopped. Or at least, with an internationally coordinated or combined plan, lessened.

  • John Marriott 21st Oct '21 - 1:31pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    I’m not sure that this dose of ‘whatiffery’ is getting us anywhere. As for ‘beating’ Covid, what interests me more is how the thing started off in the first place. I have a strong feeling that the Chinese knew a lot more about the virus in the autumn of 2019 than they are prepared to admit. Had they fessed up earlier, who knows? Perhaps you might actually have been able to have used the verb ‘beat’ after all.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 2:01pm

    John

    The way you describe the debate, is due to some unfortunately doing what you do , too, taking one phrase or word and obsessing over this. You do it here, regularly talking about me saying the virus can be “beaten!” You know I am as realistic as you, agreeing as we do on much apart from some words used to say pretty much the same thing sometimes!!

    I agree with you on the origins. I am going to write about that, but as most would probably agree with my views on much, but again criticise one or two phrase that derail the arguments or worse, ignore the feeling, I might reconsider?!

  • @Lorenzo: “taking one phrase or word and obsessing over this” It seems that a lot of this argument is hanging on your phrase, “a country with the worst results on Covid in the world now“, which you seem very defensive of. Let me try and explain why so many of us are objecting to it.

    You’ve justified that phrase on the basis of a youtube/GBLink you posted that cites over 40K cases on one particular day in October as the highest in the World. That statistic is very obviously cherry-picked: It concerns just one individual day, and is therefore not very meaningful in the wider context of, how well we’ve dealt with Covid over the course of 18 months. It’s also not clear whether the comparison with other countries has been adjusted for population levels (the comparison is totally meaningless if it hasn’t been). Further, it’s measuring cases, not deaths – and the UK’s relatively high vaccination rate means that a given level of cases here is arguably less serious than the same level of cases in a country that has a lower % of people vaccinated. And finally, as others have pointed out, the UK has a very high rate of testing, which means a high rate of reporting. There are many other countries likely to have much higher actual Covid rates but which will be reporting lower figures because they don’t test as much (or in a few cases, because their Governments appear to be actively doctoring the figures).

    So for all these reasons, the statistic you’re relying on is meaningless in terms of comparing with other countries. And any statement that the UK has the highest rate of Covid cases – even on that particular day – is almost certainly false. The only valid point you can take from that statistic is that it shows cases within the UK are rising (by comparison with that the UK has been reporting daily over the last few months). Yet you’ve used that statistic to make the huge claim, “a country with the worst results on Covid in the world now” – using wording that implies (incorrectly) that the UK is somehow the worst country on some objective rating of dealing with Covid overall. Can you not see how that is hugely misleading?

  • That should be youtube / 9 News Australia link. not youtube/GBLink

  • I fully agree with the BMA Statement published this morning on the situation in England – and I do so wish the Lib Dems would now show common sense judgement and reconsider their opposition to covid passports.

    Published in the i : “BMA today on situation in England : Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s chairman, said doctors “can categorically say” the time to impose Plan B measures – which include mandatory face coverings and Covid passports – is now.

    “By the health secretary’s own admission we could soon see 100,000 cases a day, and we now have the same number of weekly Covid deaths as we had during March, when the country was in lockdown,” said Mr Nagpaul.

    “It is therefore incredibly concerning that he is not willing to take immediate action to save lives and protect the NHS.”

    He also claimed the government had “taken its foot off the brake, giving the impression that the pandemic is behind us and that life has returned to normal”.

    Living in Scotland, I’ve got a vaccine passport….. and I’ve yet to be bitten by it. Mr Cole-Hamilton should listen to and take due note of todays BMA statement. What’s happening in England could undermine the situation in Scotland.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 3:39pm

    Simon R

    You dispute one sentence which is not what this piece is even really about. I suggest everyone substitute “one of ” for “the worst”, so you can just get to the main purpose, that we might be allowed at least those here, me, Barry, Matt, who care to, to argue for more action, that is all!

    You obsess on a phrase I was accurate on, as the link reveals, on the day I wrote this piece. All statistics are, picked for a purpose in an argument, and if they are accurate and chosen in truth, have a valid point. Mine do, But I have never said a thing ever, that needs these to make the point. I argue for things based on research and experience. I mislead nobody. I am not a pedant. I am a Liberal Democrat!

  • Peter Martin 21st Oct '21 - 4:09pm

    @ Lorenzo,

    “Had India sopped the spread, had the UK govt stopped travel, and closed borders for non emergency travel, the variant would not have spread”.

    I’m not quite sure what India could do about it. Australia tried and failed to keep Delta out. Even if they had succeeded they would have become a hermit kingdom until such time as they chose to open up to everyone else plus their viruses.

    “My view is, had the world acted differently, this could have been beaten.”

    We all tend to think, after the event, when something does badly wrong that we could have done it better. We only get one go though!

    “Rather like Sars and mers were compared to this, contained and reduced and more or less eliminated. The first version of Covid, was not as bad, and ought to have been stopped. Or at least, with an internationally coordinated or combined plan, lessened.”

    It’s stopped or nothing I’m afraid. Once the virus is out there, ‘lessened’ is delayed at best. Covid wasn’t as bad as Sars or Mers. This, ironically, made it much harder to contain. The symptoms ranged from ultra severe to not detectable. There were no tests available. It simply was not possible pick up the asymptomatic cases.

    @ Jeff,

    “Currently, 86.1% of the population over 12 years old have been vaccinated with 76% of that population having had two doses. The vaccines are not (yet) approved for younger children.”

    Unfortunately the virus doesn’t recognise young children a no-go areas so my previous comment of 68% fully vaccinated is still valid from an epidemiological perspective. This means that we can’t afford anyone in the older age ranges to remain unvaccinated if we want to get on top of the problem.

    And spare us your advice on natural immunity being the better option. There are/were around 140,000 people in the UK who have, or had, perfect immunity. We know they will never catch Covid, or anything else for that matter, ever again.

  • To be honest, im not really bothered about getting into the nitty gritty of numbers, of which country is performing better than others etc
    It matters not if covid cases are 10’000, 50,000, 100,000 a day. It is not ALL about how many of these numbers convert into covid deaths (though every loss of life is a tragedy)
    The simple fact is that whilst Covid is putting a huge stress on limited NHS resources, which clearly it is through staff shortages, social distancing measures needed etc, which is resulting in difficulties in treating current hospital patients, let alone getting through the back log of 5 million people and rising awaiting life changing /saving treatment

    We have a public health crisis that is getting worse by the week which can not be be resolved in short term by just throwing billions of pounds at it, the only thing that can address the here and now and the “immediate” crisis that the NHS is facing ( along with the patients and relatives who are reliant on it) is to drive down infection rates in the community, so that people can get the treatments that they need now and cut into those waiting lists.

    As my dear friend Lorenzo has said Mandatory Masks, social distancing and WFH is not taking away anyone’s liberties or freedoms or damaging to the economy. Covid Passports IMO make large scale venues more safer ( even if just marginally) and would encourage more people to take up vaccination which in my opinion is a good thing, sometimes when the carrot does not work, you have no choice but to use the stick,

    As we have learnt in the past, just taking 1 measure does not make enough difference, but take a couple of measures in conjunction with one another and the difference can be very significant and change the trajectory that we are currently on.

    We can not be delaying taking action which is quite simply not only going to cause suffering to many but will also worsen and extend the length of time it takes to get over this public health crisis.
    Guidance is not working, Government is not setting an example, and to many people in the country are becoming complacent.
    Time to put things back into legislation is the right thing to do for society and public health as a whole

  • john oundle 21st Oct '21 - 4:15pm

    Dr Raghib Ali MD FRCP(UK)
    @drraghibali
    ·
    2h
    Replying to
    @drraghibali
    1. The UK has had the highest Covid death rate in Europe during the pandemic – mainly due to being late to lockdown twice. (see myths 2 and 3)
    Even compared to EU countries, the UK would be 11th on Covid deaths & 15th on excess deaths (20th in all Europe)
    https://economist.com/graphic-detail/coronavirus-excess-deaths-tracker
    Dr Raghib Ali MD FRCP(UK)
    @drraghibali
    ·
    2h
    2. Thousands of lives would have been saved if we had locked down earlier in the first wave.

    Most of the countries with higher death rates (shown above) did lock down early & had small first waves followed by very large second waves.
    Discussed more here:
    telegraph.co.uk
    Would an earlier lockdown really have saved tens of thousands of lives?
    It’s likely many of these countries with early lockdowns and small first waves will end up having higher excess mortality than the UK
    Dr Raghib Ali MD FRCP(UK)
    @drraghibali
    ·
    2h
    3. Thousands of lives would have been saved if we had a circuit breaker lockdown last October.

    Wales did have one and their excess death rate in the second wave was the same as England’s – the main impact was to postpone the peak in deaths by two weeks.
    https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2021-03/technical-advisory-group-examining-deaths-in-wales-associated-with-covid-19.pdf

  • john oundle 21st Oct '21 - 4:21pm

    Dr Raghib Ali MD FRCP(UK)
    @drraghibali
    ·
    2h
    4. The UK has the highest Covid rates in Europe now. (and this due to our lack of vaccine passports, mask mandates, etc. – see myth 5)

    This is based on case rates and ignores fact that UK does a LOT more testing – you need to compare positivity rate where UK is about average.
    Dr Raghib Ali MD FRCP(UK)
    @drraghibali
    ·
    2h
    5. Infection rates would have been much lower if England had kept mask mandate since July.

    Wales & Scotland kept theirs but their rates been higher than England’s for most of this period.
    https://ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/15october2021
    (NB. I do voluntarily wear a mask in confined indoor spaces.)
    Dr Raghib Ali MD FRCP(UK)
    @drraghibali
    ·
    2h
    6. Only restrictions or lockdowns bring down cases/ hospital admissions / deaths.

    This is clearly not true given what happened in July and September when there were no restrictions – and is most likely due to people voluntarily changing their behavior as the risk increases.
    Dr Raghib Ali MD FRCP(UK)
    @drraghibali
    ·
    2h
    7. ‘Going early and going hard’ with restrictions is always better than waiting.

    Given what happened in July & September when a huge surge was predicted, that would have been the wrong advice as cases fell and actual outcomes have been well below the most optimistic scenarios.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 4:47pm

    Peter

    As often you make sense and in a way that is more constructive. I do think that at best, closing borders while countries got vaccinated, allowing emergency travel of course, with a world effort to do everything needed, might have saved lives. You are correct on as is said, hindsight being 2020, as well as being the year involved!

    Matt

    As ever we agree on nearly everything! I valued in these circumstances you coming on here and commenting. Thank you for your ability to see and feel, the substance of arguments and people, not merely the style!

  • @Lorenzo

    As you know I have been vocal from the very start about all this as my primary concern has always been towards sick and disabled people and public health as a whole as it is something that I have always been passionate about and it is something that the very most disadvantaged people in society are more impacted by.

    I cannot allow myself to fall to the wayside just because what I have going on now personally in all of this, it’s not who I am or who I was bought up to be, so I will continue to make those arguments, not only to continue to give a voice to the people I was trying to represent for, but now for my own family.

    Thank you for this article Lorenzo and I look forward to reading your follow up. What you’re doing is important to so many people 🙂 many of whom often feel unheard and forgotten and for some sadly expendable

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 21st Oct '21 - 5:24pm

    Lorenzo, and Matt, you suggest that the government did not have a role in public health before the introduction of the NHS. That’s not really true. The Ministry of Health was established in 1919. I think it had been accepted since at least the 19th century that the government did have some responsibility for the nations health. As I mentioned above, there were even some occasions in the 16th and seventeenth centuries when the government imposed some temporary restrictions – but this was only in response to plague, which of course was far, far more deadly than Covid, and the restrictions were far less than those that our government originally imposed in response to Covid.
    It was always been the case that deaths from an epidemic could probably be reduced by the government imposing restrictions. But it has also always been the case that severe restrictions are likely to have a devastating impact on health in other ways, perhaps causing more deaths than they save. Perhaps governments in the past understood this better than our government seemed to at the time of the first lockdown. Perhaps our government has, now, become more aware of the terrible price of lockdown, and that is why they are rightly reluctant to impose further restrictions

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 21st Oct '21 - 5:31pm

    Matt, I do hope that your father’s condition is improving, and that you and your mother are now able to visit him, and that he will soon be out of hospital and on the road to recovery

  • @Catherine

    Forgive me Catharine but can you please show me where in Lorenzo’s article he mentions the word “lockdown” as I am struggling to find it.

    In fact the only people who seem to be mentioning the word lockdown now are those who have been strongly apposed to them from the start.

    “lockdowns” became necessary at the time due to the lack of action from the start that could have avoided them. Due to the governments early inaction the virus went on a trajectory which gave the Government no choice but to impose a lockdown. It was this lack of action and a derelict of duty that was irresponsible considering we were dealing with a new virus with not enough information in regards to how it was spreading etc.

    We are now where we are at with a virus that is endemic. Hopefully we will be coming up with better 2nd generation vaccines that are more effective at stopping the spread as well as preventing hospitalisations and deaths and hopefully we will see more antiviral treatments coming into play soon.
    But none of that changes the crisis that Public health now faces in the “here and now” that is getting worse by the month and that is to get sick and disabled people treatment whether it be covid or non- covid and to start to make headway into the back log of those needing urgent treatment. 5 Million people and rising, I will keep repeating that over and over.

    When you see a crash up ahead, one starts to apply the breaks immediately, not only to protect yourself but to alert the people behind you in order to prevent adding to the pile up.
    Compulsory Face Masks, WFH, Social Distancing, Covid Passports….. they are all applying the breaks…
    I dont see anyone on here demanding for a slamming on the brakes to an emergency stop “lockdown” but for some reason your voicing your objections to it

  • @Catharine

    Thank you for your last comment

    I am now managing to get into see my Dad and taking my Mum to visit, but only after a lot of persuasion from her own GP that she needs the support of me in order for her to be able to visit and without that contact, she would probably end up in a hospital bed next to him.
    The hospital finally caved in but it was a fight 🙁
    it should not be like this, but I can understand why the hospitals are being cautious…Its just not fair on other family members who would like the chance to spend some time with their Dad, Grandad etc

    Hospital restrictions are not just affecting covid patients, its affecting all patients and families no matter what illnesses they are there in for, I worry sometimes that a majority of the public forget that

  • Barry Lofty 21st Oct '21 - 6:08pm

    Perhaps the reluctance of this government to take the necessary actions needed to control Covid lies in the overblown promises made to the electorate to get themselves elected, Covid has obviously cost the treasury a great deal of money and any further damage to the economy would put in jeopardy all those grandiose schemes for ” levelling up “. But at the end of the day it is the lives of everyone in the country which should take precedence, without people there is no economy! A sensible government lead approach to controlling this virus would hopefully avoid the need for more drastic lockdowns.

  • Barry Lofty 21st Oct '21 - 6:14pm

    Matt, best wishes to you and your family.

  • @ Matt And best wishes from me too, Matt.

    Been there, done it, didn’t get the tee shirt, but know what it means.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 21st Oct ’21 – 5:24pm:
    …there were even some occasions in the 16th and seventeenth centuries when the government imposed some temporary restrictions – but this was only in response to plague,…

    Indeed. The word quarantine comes from the Italian quaranta giorni, literally ‘forty days’. So called from the Venetian policy in 1377 of requiring ships from plague-stricken countries to anchor outside port for 40 days to ensure no cases were aboard. An early ‘Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention’.

  • @Barry & David

    Many thanks and much appreciated.

  • Ruth Bright 21st Oct '21 - 9:14pm

    As one of the 5 million waiting for treatment (thanks for noticing us Lorenzo!) I was told this week by a GP and reception at outpatients that the relevant department of my local hospital no longer functions for those with any condition other than cancer.

    I last spoke to “my” specialist on the phone in March and the earliest next appointment she can offer is late January 2022.

    matt – as vivid as ever, take care

  • James Fowler 21st Oct '21 - 9:42pm

    The ominous, threatening and vaguely hysterical tone of this article nicely symbolises the posture of much commentary over past 18 months. It’s also riddled with cherry picked data and straight forward inaccuracies. The need to trash ‘Tory Scum’ and ‘Get Boris’ has been painfully apparent from ‘Britain is awful’ commentators like this from outset, but the result has not done their integrity any favours, or got rid of Boris.

    ‘Something ought to have been done sooner.’ Hindsight neither requires nor confers much wisdom, neither does constantly crying wolf. There’s been a sackful of both over the past year and a half – and this elephant remembers.
    The real question has always been whether ‘doing something’ causes more harm than it prevents. The pandemic presented society only with damaging choices. It is still far too soon to judge whether we made the least harmful.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 10:34pm

    Catherine

    I really do not need to add to what our wonderful friend and valued colleague Matt here responds above with, as you put us together in your comments and he eloquently replies.

    I would say though, I think public health concern, is not in the modern ers, like of the previous eras. We might not have known the detail of Covid, but we know the responsibility of govt. we have not funded the NHS ever, or properly run it, so thus see anything the patients find overwhelms it, the service, overwhelms them, the patients.

    Italy has a far greater proportion of spending, plus a far greater flexibility in delivering, with regard to health. Though overwhelmed initially, due to the outbreak being in one region, the north, it has , with the measures, myself, Matt, Barry, David here, favour, done better recently. Similarly, we do nor should, not like to be statist, like the French govt, but can and must see, wearing masks, social distancing, working from home, are not the vanishing of liberty some think, but the utilising of responsibility, we need.

    Ruth

    I do think of you. And care greatly about your plight and appreciate warmly your views. My wife is in pain every day, let down by health services for many years, after the car accident that leaves her with issues of real disability that are chronic. it was hard to be helped for her previously. Now she suffers in silence and we isolate, little money, few work from home opportunities, though needed, self employment dented in our creative field more as a result of covid. Please know we think of you, and come on here more for we miss you.

    Matt

    few words for you here other than, thanks, needed, and brotherly love really!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 10:45pm

    James Fowler

    To describe now, my piece as you’ve done, is odd. If you can find ominous, threatening, and hysterical, as the description, bearing in mind the situation some are experiencing, I have no response other than , why should I dignify such insidious comments?

    However, you put me in a category of people who utilise language I never have. You use words I never would. You refer to me as one who hates the prime minister and my country.

    Now i ask you to stop that. Nobody refers to me that way, do you understand why? because on this very website I have spent years as one of the least offensive, most positive. Because there is an article here which reveals, as a personality I quite like boris johnson. Because there is one that in relief of their actions, earlier, sings praise for what the govt was doing. Because I am often the lone highly patriotic voice here, the son of an italian father who served in the post war British italian police in Italy and thus, made the Uk his adopted country and brought me up to feel it also!

    I work cross party. i hate nobody. But i do loathe presumption and insults.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '21 - 10:50pm
  • Catherine Jane Crosland 22nd Oct '21 - 7:32am

    Matt, I am so glad to hear that you and your Mum are now able to visit your Dad. Your Dad, and your Mum, are very lucky to have you to fight their corner. But you should never have had to be in a position of having to “fight” for the right to visit your Dad in hospital.
    Not allowing hospital patients to receive visits from close family is so wrong – it really is a violation of human rights.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 22nd Oct '21 - 8:28am

    Lorenzo, I am rather worried by the implications of some of the assertions in your article. For example, “The elephant in the room is happy to be told it must wear a mask…It knows it needs to be told, because it also needs to be looked after”.
    You seem to be suggesting that the “elephants” want to wear a mask anyway, so why would they “know” they need to be told to? You paint rather a troubling picture of people feeling the need to constantly look to the government to be told what to do, and you seem to be advocating a very paternalistic form of government.
    My own feeling is that it was right for all restrictions to be lifted in July. Restrictions could only be justified as a very temporary measure. Once the people most at risk had all had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, there could really be no justification for keeping restrictions. It was important that people should have the freedom to make their own choices, and to take risks if they chose to.
    It is not the role or responsibility of government to restrict people’s freedom. It *is* the role of government to make sure that vaccine’s are available, and to role out the booster jabs as quickly as possible.
    On the subject of masks, my feeling is that masks should never have been made compulsory in any setting. Studies seem to show that the benefits of masks are minimal, at most. Any possible benefits of masks are likely to be cancelled out by the detrimental effects of mask wearing. Many people find it very difficult to wear a mask, for health reasons. The government did, of course, make it clear that some people were exempt, but people who could have been exempt often felt under pressure to wear one even when it was detrimental to their health. We also need to remember the detrimental impact on people who depend lip reading. I understand that some members of SAGE actually admitted that mask wearing was made compulsory for psychological rather than medical reasons – this was really not acceptable

  • Ruth Bright 22nd Oct '21 - 9:27am

    Lorenzo sorry for any misunderstanding. I meant that it is implicit in your stance on the pandemic that you DO notice the impact on the 5 million of us waiting for “ordinary” treatment.

    I have been studying John Locke recently (yes I should get out more) and it seems to me your position could be deemed quite reasonably Lockean. Though I know there is a big preference for Mill on this site xx

  • Peter Martin 22nd Oct '21 - 9:40am

    “It is not the role or responsibility of government to restrict people’s freedom.”

    The Lib Dems are skewed on on point of their own ideology, which has been formulated for previous more normal times, when it comes to a a new situation and highly abnormal times. The vaccine roll out has worked much better than anyone might have dared predict but it’s now stalled at 68% of the population who are fully vaccinated.

    There’s no getting away from the conclusion that 68% is not enough. Epidemiologically we need this to be at least 80%, and ideally much higher, to be on top of the problem created by a highly infectious strain like Delta and, possibly soon, sons and daughters of Delta. New vaccines should be more effective and reduce these figures somewhat but this cannot be assumed at the present time.

    Vaccines are not recommended for the under 12s so they are part of the 32% of the population which we can’t do anything about at the moment. But we can do something about the rest. Especially those who are over 18. The question is how to do it.

    I’m open enough to suggest a somewhat more authoritarian line than many Lib Dems will be comfortable with. Covid passports should be required to enter public places including football matches, cinemas, public transport, pubs and restaurants and even places of worship. This would be a huge spur to many to get those jabs. The police would have powers to impose spot checks to ensure compliance. Penalties for non compliance would not be trivial.

    The alternative is to risk an unsustainable rise in Covid cases and deaths, at the same time as placing an intolerable strain on the near exhausted workers in the NHS.

  • John Marriott 22nd Oct '21 - 9:40am

    @Catherine Jane Crosland
    On the subject of wearing face masks or coverings of any kind, you may be right that this act does not afford the wearer massive protection. However, who are we actually trying to protect at the end of the day? A surgeon wears a mask when operating on a patient, not presumably as protection against whatever might be emitted when an incision is made but rather to protect the patient’s exposed body to what may be being emitted from the surgeon’s own mouth. So, are they wrong to be taking this precaution?

  • This says it far better than https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/22/england-covid-ethics-personal-responsibility

    “Since Boris Johnson declared “freedom day” on 19 July, almost all the previous restrictions on everyday life in England under Covid have been removed. “Personal responsibility”, as Johnson and his ministers like to put it with a libertarian relish, has replaced emergency legislation as one of the main weapons against the virus. In effect, a giant experiment in individual ethics has been under way.

    The results look increasingly alarming. In pubs, in shops, on public transport and in other enclosed spaces where the virus easily spreads, many people are acting as if the pandemic is over – or at least, over for them. Mask-wearing and social distancing have sometimes become so rare that to practise them feels embarrassing.

    Meanwhile, England has become one of the worst places for infections in the world, despite a high degree of vaccination by global standards. Case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths are all rising, and are already much higher than in other western European countries that have kept measures such as indoor mask-wearing compulsory, and where compliance with such rules has remained strong. What does England’s failure to control the virus through “personal responsibility” say about our society?”

  • The point about Government or any messaging is that what matters is what people Hear. Whatever the Government meant to say, what most people Heard was ” You don’t need to wear masks anymore.”
    The only way to reverse that is if The PM says publicly that we all need to wear masks again.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Oct '21 - 11:08am

    “Personal responsibility”, as Johnson and his ministers like to put it with a libertarian relish, has replaced emergency legislation as one of the main weapons against the virus. In effect, a giant experiment in individual ethics has been under way.

    Was it really an experiment?

    Most of us don’t drop litter or flytip our junk in the local layby but some of us must do otherwise we wouldn’t have these problems. They would be even bigger problems if we simply requested people to put their empty drink cans in the bin or take their old mattresses to the the council tip. They would be lesser problems if we cracked down on offenders with tougher penalties.

    Most of us do know the foibles of human nature. We don’t need an experiment to tell us what we already know.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct '21 - 12:53pm

    I am concerned about the tone of the poster above yesterday and it seems those with a stance of or attitude that implies, “let it rip” are happy even in this site, to be rather mean and even offensive, to those who feel a different approach is needed. The anti action troops, like those who constantly criticise the “woke,” tendency as they perceive it, the alt-right, and so called libertarian right, are capable in their approach, of letting their criticism go too far. Ironic that above, I am criticised for the tone of my article, when their tone, in criticising me, reveals my article, to be mild!

    Catherine

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct '21 - 1:02pm

    Catherine, apologies, as did not fir it above.

    You are of course, one of my favourite posters. But I cannot pretend we agree on this, we don,t. We share Liberal and democratic concern to not have a mighty authoritarian statist approach though, so please do not think I am supporting such a stance.

    I do agree with Peter here, in that, in an emergency, top down, is as important as bottom up, in how to do things, a well as what to do.

    I think paternalism is very good in that situation. A paternalism that makes sure people are looked after. The elephant, if in the room, needs looking after, caring for.

    I do not favour this other than in an emergency, as a rule, but I do dislike libertarianism, run a mock, and, unlike you, I think we are in an emergency, as yet, not dealt with. I think none of the restrictions ought to have been loosened in the Summer. I believe masks ought to be compulsory on transport and in buildings, with medical exemptions though allowed. I would not have let theatres, concert halls, stadiums, open that soon, until we reached vaccination levels, much higher than was so, in that period.

    I think a public emergency needs to be dealt with. I do think you and the government are now advocating the public response ought now to be minimal.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct '21 - 1:12pm

    Ruth

    You do not need to justify or explain your comments, which, as always, are received with , not misunderstanding, but real appreciation.

    I believe my views are compatible with the best of classical liberalism, social liberalism, social democracy. In that order , are the philosophies of this party’s orientation. We mix and match which is most suited, to each situation. On this pandemic, though, I am guided by mainly, the desire to, at least attempt, to beat it.

    I know my friend John Marriot does not like me to use that expression, but I believe, to beat something, is to overcome it, so we lead on that, it does not lead us. I think the current approach is worse, the virus is not leading us, it is overcoming us, or nearly is, in the medical realm, where, unfortunately we as a country, underfund and do not innovate in how we deliver it.

    I want the freedoms Catherine does, and those with whom on approach, I do not agree. I just think, as in war, you sacrifice some freedoms, to really be victorious against the enemy, and then, in victory, are truly free.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Oct '21 - 8:05am

    Lorenzo, thank you for your reply. Perhaps there can be different interpretations of the word “paternalistic”, when used of a government, but I see it as suggesting that a government believes its role is to “look after” its citizens in the same way that parents look after a young child. Parents of young children make all important decisions on their child’s behalf. Good parents will make the decisions that they believe are the best ones for their child’s health and wellbeing, even though this will often mean having to say “no” to things the child wants. The only real decisions the parent will allow the child to make will be about things like which toy to play with. This is the responsible way for parents of very young children to behave, because a young child does not have the understanding and experience to know that some choices are bad for them, or actually dangerous. But when children become adults, a good parent will accept that their child now has the right to make their own choices, even though these will sometimes be choices that the parent will believe to be mistaken choices, or even potentially dangerous choices. A parent will offer advice to their adult child, but will accept that their adult child has a right to reject this advice.
    A “paternalistic” government will behave like the parent of a young child. The paternalistic government may have benign motives, but this approach is not what adult citizens want or need. A liberal (small l) government will behave like the parent of an adult child, in their approach to their adult citizens. Or a better analogy might be that they will not behave like a parent at all, but like a good friend. They will offer advice, and help if it is needed. But they will accept that adult citizens have the right to make their own choices, and these choices may include choosing to take risks

  • Peter Martin 23rd Oct '21 - 12:19pm

    @ Catherine Jane Crosland,

    “…. they (Govts) will accept that adult citizens have the right to make their own choices, and these choices may include choosing to take risks..”

    Sure. If anyone wants to climb rockfaces, or do daredevil stunts on skateboards then we can let them get on with it. Providing that is they aren’t affecting others. We don’t want skateboards mingling with traffic on public roads for example.

    So if someone doesn’t want to be vaccinated that’s fine. They can take that risk but we don’t want them mingling with anyone else in pubs , clubs and other public places. At least not at the present time.

  • Peter Hirst 23rd Oct '21 - 6:27pm

    Politiican will do what they estimate will win them votes. We still live in an imperfect democracy with elections at least every five years. What we need is a more educated politically astute electorate willing to transfer votes for maximal effect. The party system is part of the problem, along with the media and advertising. We should campaign for democracy training throughout the educational curriculum because without it we will not succeed.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 24th Oct '21 - 9:38am

    Peter Martin, The Covid vaccine is very effective in preventing serious illness. But the vaccine does not stop people from getting covid, it just means that people who have been vaccinated are likely to have only a mild illness.
    The vaccine must have saved many thousands of lives. It saved lives because people who might have died from Covid if they had not been vaccinated, have instead had only a quite mild illness. But it is important to remember that people who have been vaccinated can become infected, and can pass the infection on to others, in the same way as unvaccinated people do. This is why there is no logic in the idea of vaccine passports. The fact someone had a vaccine passport would not necessarily mean that they were not infected, or might not pass on infection to others.
    If someone chooses not to be vaccinated, they are taking a risk with their own health. But they are not necessarily any more of a risk to others than someone who has been vaccinated. Vaccinated people are protected by their vaccine from becoming seriously ill, so why should they worry about coming into contact with someone who is not vaccinated?

  • @Catharine

    I simply cannot agree with your above post.

    Vaccines do “lower” the risk of getting infected with coronavirus, so clearly the more people who get vaccinated, the less virus we have spreading in the community.
    On an “individual” case by case basis the statistic might not look that impressive, but when combined with everyone as yet to have a vaccine in the UK, than that figure becomes much more significant in real terms on the effect it can have collectively for the epidemiology of this virus.
    There are still something like 5 million over 60’s yet to even take the vaccine, I do not know what the figure is for 12-60 year olds.

    We are now coming into Winter months when the NHS is always under pressure, with rising covid cases and concerns over flu and other respiratory viruses. Many hospitals are already having to cancel elective surgeries due to staff shortages and control measures in hospitals to contain the spread of covid in hospitals reaching seriously sick non-covid patients ( Vaccinated or not, these patients cannot afford to even get a “mild” version of covid)

    We are facing a public health crisis which is going to take a decade to over come at this rate with rising numbers of people waiting for urgent life saving / changing treatment, surly you can see that??? Throwing money at it does not solve the problem here and now.

    If vaccine passports are the stick that we now need to encourage more people to get vaccinated, then bring on the stick. The individual still has the right to refuse the vaccine if that is there choice, but then they must accept that there are things that they will be unable to do in the meantime until this pandemic and public health is brought under control.

    As a collective, we all have a social responsibility to ourselves and to each other….

  • Nonconformistradical 24th Oct '21 - 10:05am

    @Catherine Jane Crosland
    “But the vaccine does not stop people from getting covid, it just means that people who have been vaccinated are likely to have only a mild illness.”

    There are studies indicating that people who have been vaccinated are less likely to spread the virus to others if they are themselves infected. It might not be a permanent benefit and it might vary between virus variants e.g.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02689-y

    Seems reasonable – e.g. if one only has a mild illness one might be less likely to cough large amounts of virus around for others to pick up.

  • I wasn’t going to comment on the elephant thread but it just keeps trundling on…

    Catherine Crossland eloquently makes many of the points I would make more (although we usually think people are eloquent when we agree with them).

    I would add though that we seem to have lost sight of the end goal. We can’t eliminate Covid so the fact it is we are all going to catch it multiple times.

    Therefore is there any point in trying to stop the spread anymore? Perhaps slow down the spread a bit during the height of winter but no more than that. It’s time to stop seeing restrictions as being there to protect people rather than institutions.

  • Peter Martin 24th Oct '21 - 10:18am

    Catherine,

    “But the vaccine does not stop people from getting covid, it just means that people who have been vaccinated are likely to have only a mild illness.”

    “Just”? There is a bit more to it that this, though naturally it will help overworked and near exhausted staff at the NHS tremendously if they only have mild cases to deal with. One big advantage of the Covid vaccine passport is that we have to the jabs in the first place to acquire it.

    The full picture hasn’t yet been determined. However this Nature article starts to answer some questions.

    “The study shows that people who become infected with the Delta variant are less likely to pass the virus to their close contacts if they have already had a COVID-19 vaccine than if they haven’t. But that protective effect is relatively small, and dwindles alarmingly at three months after the receipt of the second shot.”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02689-y

    It doesn’t mention the possibility that the infection may be so dramatically reduced that it doesn’t even become a noticeable infection at all. It will also follow that if the infection is milder then the frequency and intensity of any coughing and possibly sneezing will also be lower, and which will naturally reduce transmission risks.

    The bottom line is that the effect, contrary to your claim, is not zero and still worth having, especially if it is decided that future booster shots are in order.

  • Peter Martin 24th Oct '21 - 10:28am

    @ Nonconformistradical,

    Sorry, your comment hadn’t appeared when I wrote mine. Interesting we are quoting the same paper and making the same points!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Oct '21 - 1:35pm

    Catherine of course is an articulate commentator on the subject of paternalism, appreciating this as I do that has to be my reacyion.

    As a woman, of course, maternalism, is more appropriate, anyway, in that it really contains, implicitly, less top down, perhaps even patronising connotations, more loving and caring. But such metaphors, whether stereotypes or stories, just like mine, the elephant in the room, serve, rather than rule, what we seek to do.

    Here we seek to save lives and improve their quality.

    There are many who think only of themselves. In an emergency that is not tolerated. It is an emergency. If paternalism treats people like children, only, it is not good parenting. If it presumes no real need for no rules at all, it is not parenting at all, if the children are very young. we are, as children to some degree, ignorant, about this virus, all of us, even the experts. We need guidance and we need direction. As someone who knows about both, I relate to this metaphor.

    As a teacher, or seminar leader an adviser, in the past, to unemployed people trying to go self employed, I used to open with words like this: “Self employment is not self indulgence, it is self interest, if it works for you though. But it is only by serving the customer or consumer. So you are offering something that is in their interest.” I would guide clients. My clients, being unemployed, in my eyes, often made them more, not less keen, to go self employed, more, not less keen because they chose that option, without compulsion. I treated them, as Catherine suggests, like a professional friend.

    As a director of a play or a film, or a workshop, I would offer lightness of touch, always, because actors, students of acting, participants n dramatic rehearsals, are keen to be there, hungry to explore, to work on that, to perfect or develop the scenario involved.

    In both, inspiration is what is needed.

    Corona virus is not reliant on teaching or directing intelligent adults, only.

    It is dealing with good and bad, intelligent or not, responsible or irresponsible , adults, and indeed children. It is not pursuing self employment, or putting on theatre productions. It is saving lives.

    We cannot rely on only a sense of responsibility from the responsible, when many have neither of the one, or, neither, are they, the other!

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