THE Prime Minister reluctantly imposed the UK lockdown on 23 March, to be reviewed in 21 days, i.e. on 13April. The reason was to buy time for the NHS to prepare, specifically more ICU beds, and to procure more ventilators. The hope was that a lockdown would slow the rate of progression of the disease.
Since those seemingly far-off days circumstances have changed. Firstly, mostly thanks to the Army’s Royal Engineers, the NHS now has more ICU beds available than it has had ever – some ten times the number. There are no corpses piling up in the streets. The economy has not tanked. Yet.
Unfortunately it has also become obvious that the Health Service approach to protecting its front-line staff is on a par with the MoD sending soldiers to patrol Basra in Snatch Land Rovers. It also seems that it has not bothered testing many people, or even anticipated the need for test kits in its pandemic preparation plans. Nor does it have data. Nor is it sharing information sensibly. How come pharmacies still aren’t delivering prescription medications to the vulnerable? Many of the 750,000 who volunteered to help perform such tasks have not even been contacted.
Anecdotally I hear that there are (non-NHS) labs still unused. That there are hospitals outside London (but in high population density areas) that are not swamped. And while there may be some petulant posts on social media, out here in the sticks I see good-humoured order in supermarkets and loo paper on the shelves. I see good humoured policemen doing their normal thing (with one exception) and the public co-operating on the two metres distancing.
Which is why I am concerned at Mr Hancock’s threat to tighten the lockdown. He seems to want it to stay in place until the rate of spread reduces. That is not what is for. This medical mission creep is also the path to economic Armageddon, even if it is possible, which at least one senior police officer doubts. The police know that they can do their job only with public consent.
Hancock seems to have fallen into the delusion of his benighted department that they will be given the time and money to conduct a full scientific analysis (for which so far they have near-zero data) and only then will the lockdown be eased. By that time there will be no UK economy. Every week of lockdown increases the chances of economic collapse, from which there is no cure.
The lockdown may or may not have ‘flattened the sombrero’. If it did, fine. There are empty ICU beds (and more coming). If front-line doctors and nurses need masks, why not use the armed forces’ nuclear biological and chemical warfare kit (which includes a superbly effective gas mask).
If the lockdown did not flatten the sombrero, OK. The reasons could be because it was not obeyed, or that it was adopted too late, or lockdown won’t work in UK due to population density of London (or something), or because the two metres should be five metres. No one knows because there is no decent data. But the NHS has not collapsed, it has way more capacity that it did at the start so it is not in danger of being swamped. So there is no need for the lockdown.
It may well have saved the NHS from Covid-19. Now it needs to be lifted so that we can save the economy (and thus our entire way of life) from the NHS.