Experts in the time of COVID-19

While parts of China were in a lockdown in an attempt to contain the Coronavirus outbreak, we were told that it was the response of a repressive police state. Nothing like that could ever happen here in the UK. In any case, the Government, its scientific advisors, and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told us that Coronavirus would never come to the UK. There was nothing to worry about. There was no need to panic. There was no need to check people arriving from Coronavirus hotspots around the world.

When one or two cases cropped up in the UK. They told us not to worry, those people had been infected overseas. The UK had the worlds best monitoring for contagious diseases and all the necessary procedures to prevent it spreading further. They told us that there was no need for testing. And then the virus started spreading to the general population. The government told us that the NHS was fully prepared, the most advanced health service in the world. They told us not to wear masks and that we should carry on with our normal lives.

And then the virus started spreading. People started dying. Then they told us that it was too late to do any testing. It was pointless. It wouldn’t make any difference. The virus couldn’t be stopped now. 250,000 people were likely to die. There was little that could be done to stop it. But, there was still no need for a lockdown. It was best to let 80% of the population become infected with Coronavirus so that we would acquire ‘herd immunity’. There were plenty of ventilators and protective gear. There was no need to worry.

The most important thing was to ensure that business carried on as usual. Still, more people were dying — but this wasn’t the right time to act.

The numbers of people dying rapidly increased. Businesses started acting on their own initiative, preempting the government’s lack of action. The government relented and imposed a confusing lockdown request. Draconian rules didn’t need to be imposed — this was Britain.

Boris Johnson suggested that we use our time to visit our parents and work from home. And then the message changed. He told us not to visit our parents. People were even more confused. What exactly were the lockdown rules?

The lockdown rules were not working and had to be strengthened. The hospitals were becoming overloaded. There were not enough ventilators. There was not enough protective gear. There was not enough testing. A government report was leaked. It said that the NHS was unprepared for a pandemic.

Another report was released. It said that wearing masks (which we were told not to do) helped to reduce the spread of the virus.1

Today, the government announced that 563 more people, infected with COVID-19, had died. That’s slightly more than double the number of British military personnel who died during the entire Falkland’s Conflict.

When the government said that things were going to get a lot worse before they got better — sadly, that might have been the first thing they’ve said that turns out to be true.

1: Not to protect the wearer so much as the people around him or her.