Introduction – Sept 21, 2020
Little more than six months ago we were warned that Covid-19 could leave as many as 500,000 dead in the UK.
With that grim warning the British government was able to impose a stringent national lockdown with barely a murmur of protest.
As it turned out, the death toll from the pandemic has so far only been a tiny fraction of what was originally predicted. While the man responsible for that original dour forecast, Professor Nail Ferguson, has since been utterly discredited.
Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands at least have lost their jobs or seen their businesses ruined. While the economic impact from the lockdown will continue to be felt for years to come.
However, if you thought that the government’s health advisors would be a little more cautious about issuing such grim forecasts you would be wrong. Not content with being way off the mark with the 500,000 death toll the government’s health advisors are now warning that we could see as many as 50,000 new Covid cases a day with the onset of winter.
Anyone would think that they were actually trying to scare us with such forecasts. For it almost seems as if the government’s scientific and medical advisors are going out of their way to emphasize the magnitude of the threat Covid-19 poses.
Despite England’s chief medical officer Prof. Whitty warning: “If we do too little, this virus will run out of control,” neither he nor chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, dwelt too much on the number of expected number of deaths from “50,000 new cases a day”.
That’s significant because the vast majority of these cases will NOT be life threatening and most will be little worse than seasonal flu.
According to Sir Patrick Vallance, the 50,000 new cases a day could result in a further 200 deaths daily. That is in the upper range of the estimated 0.2%-0.4% fatality rate for Covid-19.
That compares with the estimated 0.1% fatality rate for seasonal flu, mostly among the very old or those with pre-existing conditions. Crucially however, the 200 daily deaths may be no more accurate than Professor Ferguson’s estimated 500,000 deaths. We won’t know for months yet precisely how accurate those estimates are but given the record of “experts” so far we should at least be cautious..
Call me a cynic or a conspiracy theorist but I would suggest that the government’s advisors are actually trying to alarm the public. To do so they are emphasing the number of ‘cases’, which in the vast majority will not be life threatening, while they ignore the fact that seasonal colds and flu account for tens of thousands of lives every year. For example, in 2014/2015 seasonal flu accounted for an estimated 44,000 additional deaths in the UK.
In other words, the coronavirus is nothing new. We’ve regularly seen threats to public health of a similar magnitude. What’s new is the scale of the official response and the uniformity of government’s worldwide to impose restrictions on movement and association.
I would suggest that just as Professor Nail Ferguson’s prediction of half-a-million deaths was used to justify the imposition of a draconian lockdown, we can expect that “50,000 new cases a day” will be used to justify further draconian measures.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a national announcement later on Tuesday so the following should be seen as preparation for that. In other words, expect the worst. Ed.
UK Covid cases on course to hit 50,000 a day without urgent action
Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe, George Parker and Jim Pickard in London, Andy Bounds in Huddersfield and Mure Dickie in Edinburgh – Financial Times Sept 21, 2020
The UK was on Monday told to expect new limits on social contact, as Boris Johnson’s chief scientific advisers warned that coronavirus cases could hit almost 50,000 a day within weeks on the current trajectory.
In a televised address from 10 Downing Street, Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, said the country faced a “very challenging winter”.
Amid warnings from the scientists that deaths could top 200 a day by November unless action was taken, Mr Johnson is expected to set out new measures to fight the virus on Tuesday.
Ministers are discussing the case for new national restrictions across England and Mr Johnson on Monday was set to hold talks with the leaders of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. T
The prime minister will convene a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee on Tuesday and hold a regular cabinet meeting before setting out his new approach. He said last week that a new national lockdown would be “disastrous” for the economy.