Plan A, which is essentially very little, has been playing out in the UK since late July. This posts looks at how well, or otherwise, we have done since.
Well, since the Churchillian “Freedom Day” in the UK the plan was to be all getting back to normal and in many ways this has taken place. Schools are largely back, mass gatherings too; masks are far less in evidence and social distancing more or less non existent. Use of the NHS pass is limited and patchy. I have not got one as I never have a need to show it. Despite calls, pleas even from the health sector, the government has steadfastly rejected the case for Plan B and stick with Plan A. How has this played out?
I’m pressing on ahead!!!
A simple comparison came to me the other day when listening to doctors from the US and Rome discuss our way out of the pandemic. One big point came up: “What the hell are they doing in the UK?!” Let’s have a look at why this so exercised Susan Levenstein, author of the blog “Stethoscope on Rome” and eminent covidologist.
It’s clear that comparing nations can be tricky – they all have so many differences and particular nuances as to why they may be doing more or less well, and up to now the pandemic has hit different nations at different times and with varying levels of preparedness. But as the Delta wave more or less synchronously crashed and crashes over Europe, comparisons are more reasonable. The excellent Our World in Data shows the effects of avoiding Plan B.
The graph below show clearly that we are not doing well when it comes to hospital admissions when compared to other nations. In particular, I’m interested in the comparison of Italy (2nd from bottom) to the UK (2nd from top).
In Italy, they have maintained social distancing, mask wearing and have instituted a Green Pass, the certificato verde, which restricts entry to indoor and cultural events and travel to those who have been
- vaccinated against COVID-19 -OR-
- recovered from COVID-19 -OR-
- received a negative test result within the past 48 hours.
In other words, anyone, with a few precautions can go anywhere, essentially including all bar those with a positive Lateral Flow Test. This will not eliminate risk, but manage it. The vast majority of social and economic life goes on.
It’s not just penalty shoot-outs where Italy get the better of England…..the pandemic too.
Here we have not bothered with much of this at all. Freedom Day meant it all went out the window.
Since then, there has been about 1,000 daily admissions with COVID19 in the UK and about 200 in Italy. In total, there has been 81,450 UK hospital admissions since Freedom day, compared to Italy’s 25,380. Both nations have a population of about 60 million.
In other words, it can be reasonably said that the UK’s Plan A has cost about 56,000 extra cases of COVID severe enough to result in hospital admissions when compared to Italys policies which closely resemble our Plan B.
What about deaths? Again the pattern is different between our nations.
I have added up the figures and the result show 12,800 deaths in the UK and 4,500 in Italy since Freedom Day, a difference of 8,300.
In terms of cases, the difference is 2,700,000 extra cases in the UK.
Now it’s hard to state categorically these cases, 56,000 admissions, and 8,300 deaths have been directly caused by the Governments refusal to move to Plan B as soon as it was evident that admissions and deaths were increasing. But the association is clear and means that these ball park figures are unlikely to be too far off the mark.
This stubbornness might be due to an attempt to increase community immunity, either by vaccination or wild infection before the winter, an approach fraught with self evident danger. Personally, it seems more likely to be a pandering to libertarian hostility to restrictions of any kind.
While true that we will only be able to completely answer this in the Spring, the reality of what has happened up till now is clear. Lets say it again:
The lack of a Plan B has thus far been associated with:
- 2,700,000 extra cases
- 56,000 extra admissions
- 8,300 extra deaths
Im not surprised because nothing the UK government does surprises me. With Bo-Jo flying back from COP26 – in a private jet – to meet chums at an exclusive mens club in London in an effort to work out how he could use the Owen Patterson scandal to dismantle the Commons Standards Committee and get rid of the commissioner Kathryn Stone who is soon to look at his own financial misdeeds means nothing is beyond the pale.
For me it means that almost any price is worth paying for Bo-Jo not to retreat from his pseudo Churchillian Freedom Day concept – no matter how many lives it costs.
Think again Boris, or, er, just Think!
With the subsequent forced U turn on the Commission, is it possible that we might see Plan B dusted off? Already there are hints encouraging more mask wearing, a sort of PlanA+. It may be too late. There is optimism with case numbers falling, that this wave will decline and that Plan B will not be needed.
However, the price, to date, has already been paid.