WE might be all right, according to the UK’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, on Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday. China and foreign countries may succeed in containing the virus, with maybe ‘a little bit of onward transmission’ in the UK, and a change in the season may help. Together with NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens, he seems to think that we just need to take sensible precautions: many more of us in Britain may have to self-isolate.
That’s the official picture so far and if you revisit the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 tracker you’ll see the death toll outside China has actually gone down to one: they’ve diplomatically hidden the other one, in Hong Kong, in the list of ‘mainland’ cases, presumably to avoid irritating the Chinese Communist Party as it addresses the protest-ridden colony and institutes a harder administration there.
On the other hand, we could be headed for a pandemic, as Professor Neil Ferguson told us on the Today programme the previous day. In that case, he estimated about 60 per cent of the UK population could be affected. If the mortality rate was 1 per cent, that would be 400,000 fatalities.
If you appreciate dark humour, you could reflect that it’s an ill wind . . . Like flu generally, this virus seems to be most deadly to oldies with chronic health problems. ‘Seniors’ like me clog up the housing market: ‘Sixty-eight per cent of older homeowners live in a home that has at least two spare bedrooms, technically known as “under-occupation”,’ says Shelter. We’re a burden on the NHS and social care, and a good ol’ pandemic would cut a swathe through elderly, toad-like (© Phill Jupitus) Brexit supporters, so giving the better-educated and idealistic young an opportunity to demand a repeat EU referendum (assuming BoJo’s negotiations aren’t weak enough for their taste). We’d be a great source of spare parts for transplants, now that the Government has taken possession of our very bodies. As for the tricky business of reforming the House of Lords, the average peer is aged 70 – why not let Nature cut the Gordian knot for us? (It could even refresh the Chinese leadership, though on average (see Table 4) they’re younger than their Lordships.)
On the other hand, if levity is inappropriate, consider that every death so far has been in China, except for the one in the Philippines, and he was Chinese. Spare a thought for the victims, and the millions now living self-isolated in ghost cities in the Middle Kingdom while they wait for the curse to burn out. In the West we are focusing more on the potential economic fallout, having become dependent on a globalist system that made coolies of a billion Easterners and billionaires of a few Westerners. One way or another, we shall count the cost.