Saturday, July 20, 2024
HomeCOVID-19Pass-the-buck virus paralyses ministers

Pass-the-buck virus paralyses ministers


THE Government has broken its coronavirus contract with the British people. It unequivocally stated that the lockdown was essential only in order to stop the NHS being overwhelmed and unable to cope.

 That was the only test, the only justification, for a livelihood-and-wealth-destroying lockdown.

The NHS is now coping admirably well after a huge and laudable effort, aided by the Army. The new facilities available are barely having to be used, thank goodness. Intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is no longer an issue.

The Government has not produced any evidence that the lockdown has had a material effect on the spread of the virus.  It has been widely published elsewhere that countries that avoided an indiscriminate lockdown, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, show no worse a pattern of disease spread. 

According to Professor Johan Giesecke, as Will Jones reported yesterday on TCW, the UK’s policy on lockdown is not evidence-based. 

Last week, a three-week extension to the lockdown was pre-briefed to the media and announced with an insouciance that suggested that little, if any, discussion of the prior lockdown terms it had given to the people, or of the accountability such a solemn promise entails.

Quite arbitrarily, the Government added four more conditions for ending the lockdown, none of which on its own could justify the lockdown, and one of which, according to the stand-in Prime Minister Dominic Raab, was the ‘need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS’.

Yet neither he nor anyone else would be able to say with a high degree of confidence that a second peak could not occur in any circumstances.

What he could have said with confidence, however, is that by then the NHS would be better prepared. It is a far too subjective a test; and so is the fourth, to do with NHS ‘operational challenges’ being met and which specifically relates to the delays in acquiring PPE equipment.

Rarely does the chronically and inherently inefficient NHS admit to such challenges being met. There is always more to be done. This makes it a scandalously open-ended criterion for keeping the lockdown in place.

For none of the tests to include the impact on the economic, social and psychological welfare of the 99.5 per cent of the population who, according to the latest forecasts, are not going to die of Covid-19, is negligent to the point of criminality. How can the welfare of the population not be a factor in a decision even to ease, let alone end, the lockdown?

The Government does not deserve to be in government and, if some journalists are to be believed, in actuality it is not. It seems to have been hived off to a few public health experts and questionable scientists whose sole interest is the disease numbers and the health system.  Their understandable monomania explains why nothing else is being considered. 

It is astonishing that Raab and his colleagues are now allowing those responsible for the Government’s mistakes to dictate how a problem that is their own fault and over which they have no expertise should be resolved.

Yet the rest really matters. Jobs, education, welfare, and income to the Government from economic activity to pay for it all, are critical, even for short periods.

The scientists have no accountability to the people and government ministers have given up theirs. Of course, life is so much easier for politicians if they duck difficult decisions and claim to be following scientific advice. But as TCW has pointed out before, experts disagree, their advice changes, and they should not be allowed to dictate what in the end must be political judgments and decisions.

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose report panicked the Government into introducing these draconian lockdown measures, has not been held to account for his team’s pessimistic and wildly incorrect forecasting record. 

These forecasts for the UK’s 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak led to the unnecessary deaths of millions of animals. -should-be-asked#  

He has not been held to account for that, or for his highly-exaggerated but influential estimate that 65,000 people in the UK could die of swine flu (457 did die). In 2005, he suggested that 200million people worldwide could die from bird flu, yet the estimated global death toll was below 500.

We could be close to the peak in the rate of coronavirus deaths. The number of daily cases reported has been close to flatlining for the month of April, with the average for the month lower than seven of the 18 days recorded for April. A similar but lagging pattern is visible in the number of deaths. The situation in the worst-affected countries of France, Spain and Italy is also rapidly improving.

If the new and now lower UK deaths forecast from the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is correct, then we are approaching the halfway mark and therefore would be near the peak, assuming a normal statistical distribution.

This marked slowdown in the spread of the disease should have been enough to see some easing of the restrictions and a clear plan for the rapid end to the whole lockdown nightmare. 

Ministers, including the Prime Minister, worried about a second wave, seem more in awe of forecasters with worst-case scenarios that are usually wrong, and of the hostile and hysterical media that reports them, than of their own accountability. They are much happier to break their word and recklessly risk the long-term welfare of the whole nation.

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Peter Lloyd
Peter Lloyd
Peter Lloyd is a former stockbroker and financial markets research professional.

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