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Coronavirus outbreak As more local lockdowns begin, the hard truth is there's no return to 'normal'

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Morninglover, Sep 21, 2020.

  1. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    This may not be what you want to hear - but you should read it nevertheless:

    As more local lockdowns begin, the hard truth is there's no return to 'normal'
    Devi Sridhar
    The only certainty about the year ahead is the uncertainty. As a scientist, here’s my advice on how we can live alongside Covid


    "Rather than tell you comforting lies and what you want to hear, I’m going to tell you some unpleasant truths. The world has fundamentally changed over the past nine months since a small pneumonia cluster was reported in Wuhan, China. The “normal” version of reality does not exist anywhere in the world, even if politicians or snake-oil pseudo-scientist salesmen try to persuade you otherwise. If you are struggling with how to cope, know that the only certainty about the year ahead is uncertainty ahead.

    As we are witnessing in the UK, restrictions can change quickly as the government grapples with how best to control the spread of the virus with minimal economic and social harm in the process. Every country across the world has some sort of restrictions in place. Yes, even Sweden. The narrative of lockdown and release is no longer helpful as we move into a future of varying degrees of restriction.

    As a scientist, I’m often asked what to do and what not to do, and how to cope in this new uncertain world. Here is my advice on how best to enjoy life and get as much normality back while being a responsible citizen.

    My main advice is to get outside as much as possible when seeing other people. Research has shown that 97% of “super-spreading” events occur indoors, and that outdoor transmission is minimal. If an indoor setting is poorly ventilated, crowded and no one is wearing face coverings, it is best to avoid it. The upshot is that non-essential shops, outdoor hospitality and public transport look relatively safe with the use of face coverings. Now is the time to avoid non-essential travel and to visit nearby parks, and support your local businesses.

    It goes without saying that with a virus that spreads from person to person, the more contacts you have, the more likely you will have to isolate because one of them tests positive. How many people are you in close contact with each week? This means people who you are in physically close contact with for an extended period of time (more than 10 minutes) at close range. Quality of interaction over quantity of contacts is a good rule to follow.

    For those who are younger, it is tempting to just want to have Covid-19 and get it over with. But Sars-Cov-2 is a nasty virus that you do not want to get. There are an increasing number of cases of reinfection with the second infection sometimes being asymptomatic or mild, or, in some instances, being much more serious and requiring hospitalisation. Just because you have it once does not guarantee you an immunity passport for life.

    Worryingly, some people aged 30-59 are suffering for months, with horrible fatigue, lung damage and cardiac problems all being described as “long Covid”. The real story of Covid-19 may not be just the lives lost, but the associated disability in younger working-age populations and the burden this places on the economy and health services. Why risk potential decades of ill health instead of putting up with a few months of inconvenience?

    As well as the risk Covid poses to individuals, our actions affect others including vulnerable and elderly people. Think of it as a chain of infections – if you are a part of this and it gets passed on, others may become ill and die because of your role in that chain. A wedding in Maine resulted in more than 170 people contracting the virus, and seven people dying. None of those who died attended the wedding.

    The only alternative to more restrictions and modifying our own behaviour is a functioning test-and-trace system. Lockdown just presses pause on the spread of the virus. Once restrictions are lifted and governments have pressed play, it will start spreading again. The key objective of lockdown should be to carry out mass testing and tracing in order to aggressively seek out and eliminate community transmission of the virus (like China, Taiwan, Vietnam, New Zealand and South Korea have done). This also buys time for science to develop solutions (such as dexamethasone), and to build healthcare capacity. Simply to lock down for two weeks is pointless: it is kicking the can down the road.

    Nine months after South Korea and Senegal started building diagnostic capacity, it is comically depressing that the UK government, one of the richest in the world, does not have a functional testing system that returns results within 24 hours. In addition, given that we know the virus spreads easily through households, those who test positive should have the offer to isolate in external facilities (such as hotels). The “14-day isolation” measures for people entering the UK are also a box-ticking exercise where given the lack of screening or monitoring, a constant stream of infections keep coming into the country. It’s like trying to empty a bucket under a tap.

    The UK government also needs a long-term economic strategy, especially for riskier sectors such as hospitality and bars. The “eat out to help out” scheme has been linked to the rise in cases: the government directly subsidised one of the riskiest settings, indoor hospitality. Instead the money could have been used for economic support packages for these businesses. What will happen to them once new restrictions are brought in? We’re taking one step forward, five steps back.

    This is an incredibly hard time for most people. It is perfectly normal to grieve for our lost normality, but denial needs to be followed by acceptance. It is time for governments to plan several years ahead with an acknowledgment and honesty about the severity of this crisis. And for each of us to be patient and compassionate, and take things one day and one week at a time".
  2. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

  3. Sally006

    Sally006 Star commenter

    A really interesting read. Of course what we need is long term planning and proper contingency planning. What we have is a “wait and see” approach and then fire fighting. This is a hopeless approach for both the health of the nation and the economy. Putting popularity and keeping potential voters happy seems to be their prime motivation of this government. As we are seeing, this will lead to damage to health, life and the economy.

    Had they taken A slower approach to opening up this crisis could have been avoided. Take schools for example. In the summer, where limited numbers were in schools, limited cases occurred. There was a contained and workable situation. Suddenly, we then went to full opening and the dramatic rise in cases is no coincidence despite what the government and media may say. If we had extended opening to all years but on a rota basis we could have avoided this. Of course parents/the workforce would also have only gone back on a shift basis but this would have been better than local or national lockdown.

    Worse still we now have a government refusing to admit they got it wrong, track and Trace is failing etc. This is a very dangerous moment indeed.
    Catgirl1964, Jamvic and Mangleworzle like this.
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I have been saying this for a while.
    What do people expect to change in the future? A vaccine may never be found. Or it may be available in a few years.
    Can the airlines hold on for a couple of years?
    Can hospitality hold on for a couple of years?
    The simple answer is no.
    International flying needs to be severely restricted to stop the spread of the virus. And kept restricted for a couple of years.
    Somebody somewhere needs to publicly acknowledge that schools where students do not wear masks are bound to spread the virus.
    Pubs and restaurants need to close for a couple of years.
    Proper test track and trace needs to be in place.
    Penalties for not respecting quarantine should be much worse than 10k fine.

    Or just be honest about it and go for herd immunity. Accept a few thousand deaths per day for a while.

    Airlines will go bust. Restaurants and pubs will go bust. Rishi will have no Pret a Manger. Mass unemployment is inevitable and needs to be planned for.

    The nature of covid19 is that we might all just keep catching it until we die from it.
  5. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Is there a real 'herd immunity' with this virus? There have been well documented cases of people catching Covid-19 more than once. Many scientists think any immunity may only last a limited time, even if it does exist.
    Jamvic and nervousned like this.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    We'll be under effective house arrest for ever. Get used to it.

    The military will be called in eventually with 'shoot to kill' orders to enforce permanent and compulsory quarantine.. Non-essential businesses will no longer exist. It will be quite like old times, most people will never travel more than a few miles from where they are now. Never, ever, again.

    There will be no schools or universities. Food will be standardised government rations delivered by the army.

    We're at war, and we're losing.
  7. Ivartheboneless

    Ivartheboneless Star commenter

    We beat smallpox. We beat Polio. We will get a vaccine. If the conspiracy Q-anon idiots do not want to be vaccinated change the law so that it is either compulsory or they cannot access the NHS. Scientists, who will get no thanks whatever they do, will find a vaccine and probably more than one. Unfortunately, due to government being run by Eton schoolboys and nutters like Cummings and Gove, and hapless dimwits like Hatt Mancock, Grunt Shapps, and Gavin (ooh Betty) Williamson and Raab C Brexit, people have died and will die while they take no responsibility.
  8. LondonCanary

    LondonCanary Star commenter

    That's a tricky one, quickly skipped over.
  9. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Still no HIV vaccine.
  10. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    That sounds very @Jude Fawley. It's a pretty dreadful prospect and I really do hope it isn't going to be as bad as that.
  11. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    I think there's something in that. It's not about wishing him ill. It's more about the fact that so many people really don't want to understand how serious the impact of the virus has the potential to be.
    Catgirl1964 and Jamvic like this.
  12. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    The evidence for that seems weak. My wife and I ate out on every possible day in August, and in many cases we were the only people in the restaurant or pub concerned. On the few cases when other customers were present, they were widely separated (more like 5m than 2m apart).
  13. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Spot on.

    The problem is partisan support as much as anything else. Boris and the Tories may be useless, but as they are ideologically on the same side as their supporters their practical failings in government will be overlooked. It seems it's better to have an approved driver who crashes the bus than have a competent driver you don't like much.
  14. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    I think it's difficult to assess. There were eating establishments in my area that were reportedly crammed with people milling about on the pavement outside.
    EmanuelShadrack and Morninglover like this.
  15. George_Randle

    George_Randle Senior commenter

    It doesn't have to be like this:


    Well, as things stand now, I haven’t seen a single covid patient in the Emergency Room in over two and a half months. People have continued to become ever more relaxed in their behaviour, which is noticeable in increasing volumes in the Emergency Room. At the peak of the pandemic in April, I was seeing about half as many patients per shift as usual, probably because lots of people were afraid to go the ER for fear of catching covid. Now volumes are back to normal.

    When I sit in the tube on the way to and from work, it is packed with people. Maybe one in a hundred people is choosing to wear a face mask in public. In Stockholm, life is largely back to normal. If you look at the front pages of the tabloids, on many days there isn’t a single mention of covid anywhere. As I write this (19th September 2020) the front pages of the two main tabloids have big spreads about arthritis and pensions. Apparently arthritis and pensions are currently more exciting than covid-19 in Sweden.
  16. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Well, I watched the announcement this morning. More of the same, really.

    Were they paving the way for a lockdown speech from Boris, tomorrow?
    Nanny Ogg and Jamvic like this.
  17. Sally006

    Sally006 Star commenter

    It was good to hear just them and not the usual Government waffle and emotive sound bites. In that sense it was rather refreshing.

    My take is that when we were in big trouble it took ages for them to act. They were in denial for weeks before lockdown - it took international pressure to get them to act. Result 41,000 + deaths. For the advisors to come in with those projections now is a sort of acceptance that we are in deep s***t. This was them speaking but no doubt to played down to avoid panic in my opinion. We are in deep trouble. The Government’s poor handling, bungled return to school policies, will now be forgotten and whatever they do now they can go back to the old chestnut: “We’re following the science”.

    in addition to all this we now have shady financial dealings with the Russians in the news. Not news to me. I’ve had my suspicions for a long time.
    EmanuelShadrack likes this.
  18. nizebaby

    nizebaby Star commenter

    In the end, we must return to normal. How can we not when life would become unbearable if we didn't? We are so risk-averse nowadays that we don't see the risk of ending up in the world of "Danger! Stinging nettles."
    Doitforfree and BelleDuJour like this.
  19. Sally006

    Sally006 Star commenter

    With the greatest respect we hear this sort of argument a lot but “stinging nettles” rarely cause someone’s death do they? You are right to say the whole situation has to be based on a balance of risk. We can’t go on hiding. We have to live with this virus threat somehow. But the argument you put forward doesn’t take into account the magnitude of the consequences if we fail to act. It was an argument used in the 60s and beyond to justify having the nuclear deterrent and proliferation or weapons of mass destruction. The argument focused on the very low risk that Armageddon would happen. The failure was that the consequences, however low the risk, were unacceptable.

    Here’s the thing. Do we ignore the projections and the inevitable catastrophic consequences for a relatively small section of the population (the unfortunate victims sacrificed so the rest of us can lead a more “normal” life) or do we stop and each of us do what we can to save those people? I’ll leave that to your own conscience to sort.

    Ok this particular virus won’t on its own cause mass annihilation but what is the acceptable level of deaths that you feel comfortable with. 50,000 uk? One million globally? This virus won’t be the last pandemic either. I recommend Sir David Attenborough’s “Extinction” programme. This pandemic is a warning to the human race to get its act together and change. This may well mean we change how we educate, generate economic growth etc but change there must be.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
    monicabilongame likes this.
  20. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter


    This idea is nonsense. There is no herd immunity for cholera, malaria, TB, yellow fever, measles, smallpox etc. They were all controlled until vaccinations or elimination strategies were developed.

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