I have one question. As we all cower in our own homes, denied our human right to freedom, is somebody shoo-ing the big bad virus away?! When we emerge from lockdown, will we, miraculously, be able to continue as before? Will there have been a point to all this? To scaring people half to death, ensuring loved ones die alone and crippling the entire country financially, individually and as a whole? The answer is a resounding ‘No’!
Boris appeared, last night, in his dramatically anticipated ministerial address. Yes, it appeared he had smartened himself up, even taming his hair, in a nod to the gravity of the situation but … it was pre-recorded! Was such an important address not worthy of a live deliverance to the nation? At 7pm, could he not have spared 15 minutes? Perhaps it was Wilfred’s bath-time … Seriously, when the entire nation has been complying with self-imprisonment for almost two months, could our Prime Minister not appear in person?
While on that very subject … the Queen’s address to her people on Friday at 9pm. I’m sorry but if Stanley Baxter had been exhumed, he could have done it better! The Queen is, thankfully, alive but, at 94, is she no longer capable of any form of expression? Of any emotion? Much was made of the fact that the address would take place at exactly the same time – 9pm – as that of her father, King George VI, seventy-five years ago. That seemed very fitting and in-tune with the nostalgic mood. However, her father, courageously, chose to do it live. He, who, openly, battled with a crippling stutter gauged the moment and deemed it worthy. His daughter took the easy route, as did the Prime Minister. Still, we must give it everything we’ve got and remain in our cages!
I am disappointed by them all but, sadly, not surprised. Boris played his dramatic part with aplomb, last night, and ensured he filled ten minutes with a message he could have delivered in two. Of course, the scene must be set and the gravitas emphasised before … before what exactly? What did he say? Well, it was all in the diagrams! The ever-important ‘R’ is floating, vaguely, somewhere below ‘1’ and the different steps towards easing lockdown were depicted by a hill, a tree and someone on a bike, if I remember correctly? Perhaps not. Suffice to say, the childish diagram confirmed that one is, now, permitted to leave one’s house as often as one chooses for exercise! Thank you. For my part, I was using my intelligence as to how often I could venture beyond my front door without being of risk to anybody else! Intelligence. Common sense. Apparently, we can lay claim to neither.
I have found myself becoming increasingly irritated by this herd mentality. We are, each, individuals possessing of an intellect – to varying degrees, granted. Those among us who are able to assimilate information and make informed judgements, therefore, do not appreciate pre-recorded addresses instructing open-ended weeks of confinement to no avail. The chaos is glaring. There is no strategy. There can be no strategy! If one damns a river, where does the water go? Once free, it flows with increased force …
Have I mentioned my dislike for herd mentality? Ironic, then, that Boris’ initial reticence to impose strict lockdown was due to his contemplating the possibility of herd immunity. To choose that path would always have been a risk requiring of great courage. It meant facing the enemy head on. There was no guarantee that it would not backfire and, of course, there was the chance that the NHS might buckle under the strain. What to do? Well, Boris buckled under attack and chose the path of least resistance – and controversy. In other words, he listened to the pandemic modelling of the Imperial College London team led by Professor Neil Ferguson, scientific adviser to the Government for twenty years. Yes, it was that Neil Ferguson and his team who, on 16th March, forecast deaths of up to 500,000 from coronavirus if the Government didn’t take action and it is that Neil Ferguson and his team who are largely credited with persuading Boris and the Government to impose a lockdown on Britain with no foreseeable end. Of course, it is also that Neil Ferguson who chose to ignore his own advice!
Meanwhile, Scotland was listening to the advice of its Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, who appeared, daily, on our screens with strict lockdown instructions for the proletariat whom, it turns out, she believed herself to be above. In whom to trust? At the end of the day, it seems it all comes down to politics. Thus, Nicola Sturgeon is determinedly steering in the opposite direction to Boris, revelling, too, in the opportunity to showcase her leadership with her dream of Indyref2 ever alive. Wales and Northern Ireland? It seems our Prime Minister – that is, as he reminded us, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – has been relegated, for now.
I spent last Thursday’s post (7th May) writing about Sweden and her courage to stand alone in the face of this pandemic. In an article in The Telegraph of last Wednesday (6/5/20), courtesy of Jack Hardy, it cites the UK’s death toll as being ten times that of Sweden who have, to date, lost less than 3,000 of their population to COVID-19. The architect credited with her strategy in the face of the pandemic, Johan Giesecke – who advises the World Health Organisation – claims the UK’s lockdown ‘has been largely “futile” in containing the virus.’. While Sweden has kept many schools, businesses and restaurants open, refusing to impose the strict lockdown measures of other European countries, Britain, he believes, has only delayed the inevitable: ‘There is very little we can do to prevent this spread. A lockdown might delay severe cases for a while but, once restrictions are eased, cases will reappear.’.
I could go on. Professor Giesecke is of the same mind as Professor Knut Wittkowski (7th May post) believing that herd immunity is the only sensible response to this virus. The young and healthy are not at risk and, whilst protecting the elderly and vulnerable, they are the ones who are infected. Instead of a blanket enforced lockdown, the importance of individual responsibility is given credence and the enemy is challenged face-to-face – and with confidence. Herd immunity requires immunity in 80% of the population – the young and healthy – before the elderly and vulnerable may be re-integrated. That constitutes a strategy; one with a clearly defined end. Sweden’s all-important ‘R’ number, meanwhile, dropped from 1.4 at the beginning of April to 0.85 at the end of the month …
Hindsight is a great thing. It would seem that Boris’ original gut instinct may have been right. Sadly, he dismissed herd immunity in favour of herd mentality and now we are in utter chaos imprisoned by an invisible virus whose power is merely on pause. An end is inevitable. It is the credits which will be interesting …
‘One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.’ Plato.
This is Trish, signing off.