Don’t take my word for it; this information comes from leading medical journal The Lancet.
Editor Richard Horton makes his feeling clear in this tweet:
It said it took a study from Imperial to understand the likely burden of COVID-19 on the NHS. But read the first paper we published on COVID-19 on Jan 24. 32% admitted to ITU with 15% mortality. We have wasted 7 weeks. This crisis was entirely preventable. https://t.co/eahwRnaBFZ
— richard horton (@richardhorton1) March 17, 2020
He points out that the current strategy of “suppression” was recommended by The Lancet on January 24. That’s now eight weeks ago.
That’s the strategy followed by China, South Korea, Taiwan and other countries that have been successful in reducing the rate of infection. China is now reporting no new cases at all.
And it was also recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Conservative government is saying the science has changed, citing a report by Imperial College which states that Boris Johnson’s former policy of “mitigation” – allowing the virus to spread to create “herd immunity” – would lead to 250,000 deaths, both from the virus and because people with other illnesses would be denied treatment by an overwhelmed NHS.
(Fears are high that other patients will still be passed over for treatment – including cancer patients.)
But the information in the Imperial College report was already available when Johnson was forming his “mitigation” policy.
Writing in Byline Times, Mike Buckley stated that the government was right to think “herd immunity” was worth having – but ignored the fact that it has never been achieved through mass infection; it has only been managed via vaccination.
“To attempt to create herd immunity through mass infection for a disease with at least a 1% mortality rate would lead to an unacceptable numbers of deaths, all the more so in a country with a comparatively low number of intensive care beds, ventilators and specialist staff where access to care will be at a premium,” he wrote.
“Given that the UK knew that containment is possible from examples in Asia, to choose to go down this path – being aware that tens of thousands of vulnerable and elderly people would die as a result – is abhorrent.
“What makes the policy even more flawed is that we do not yet know enough about COVID-19 to know that mass infection would equate to mass immunity.”
“Foreign governments, the WHO, teams of scientists and our own NHS professionals have been arguing for weeks that the Government’s strategy would lead to disaster.
“We have lost seven weeks which could have been used to order and make ventilators, testing kits and protective gear for medical and care staff.
“We have lost seven weeks which could have been used to retrain staff and build capacity.
“We have allowed the Coronavirus to spread for seven weeks when we could have held it back.”
Those are the facts of the coronavirus in the UK.
While Johnson has finally moved in the right direction by closing schools and leisure facilities, and launching an economic package of support for affected businesses, it comes more than seven weeks late.
When we come to count the cost, it will be our duty to hold Johnson responsible for his dithering. Will we?
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