Is Covid-19 over… no it’s not!

In this blog I try to keep to the science I know, and If I don’t have enough expertise, I reach out to those who do. I declare therefore, I am wandering into fresh territory in this post and, at least in part, it’s my opinion – although I believe backed up with the facts. I know others might disagree with the opinions – and that’s fine, but I hope the facts stand for themselves.

I’ve seen comments on social media declaring the Covid-19 lockdown is over and we can get back to “normal”. I’m witnessing pubs opening and people gathering in my local area and a distinct relaxation of social distancing. I find this disturbing because we are not out of the Covid-19 crisis yet and the scientific experts are warning of the likelihood of a second wave.

The claim from government, up to now, has been they are following the scientific advice. If this was true, then coming out of lockdown now is certainly not following scientific advice. The independent SAGE report on re-opening schools explicitly says,

“…. The most recent estimates for the UK are that R is between 0.7-1, meaning that all scenarios modelled by SAGE are at risk of pushing R above 1. The school reopening scenario chosen by the government is not one of those modelled by SAGE making the potential impact of reopening even more uncertain. Robust testing systems are not in place everywhere. Additionally, public adherence to social distancing is influenced by trust in the government and its messaging. This trust is increasingly strained. We therefore believe that by going ahead with a general school reopening from 1st June, the government is not following the advice of its SAGE group and is risking a new surge in cases of COVID19 in some communities.”

There are those who point out the economic damage of a prolonged lockdown and I understand that. The problem of course is how do governments and their advisors balance the risk of Covid-19 fatalities with economic damage. That’s a hard question and not one that I would want to tackle. The UK however, has an appalling record of Covid-19 fatalities. The current statistics show the UK is one of the worst hit countries, certainly in Europe and, depending how you cut the statistics, also in the world.

If this situation is because the country was late to enter lockdown, then we will not compensate by coming out too early. And what I fear most is that given the polarised politics of today, the government will try to shift blame towards scientists. If this happens, then just remember the words of the SAGE report,

“… the government is not following the advice of its SAGE group and is risking a new surge in cases of COVID19 in some communities.”

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