Thursday 9 April 2020


My public duty is to use my skills as a blogger to shed light on what is happening now in this pandemic - and help explain how we got here. Reread my posts since January and everything the scientific and medical experts are now saying confirms the thrust of the Skwawkbox analysis that has shaped my blogposts. 

Here's one of those voices:

An Honorary Vice-President of the British Medical Association (BMA) - Dr Kailash Chand - has written this statement that appeared on Skwawkbox on Wednesday 8 April, this week:

Former BMA deputy chair Dr Kailash Chand writes:
Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care. We all wish him a speedy recovery.
But his hospitalisation cannot be allowed to distract from the fact that the nation is in a total mess and asking many questions about how it was allowed to get there and how it will get out of it.
World-leading disease-data analysts have projected that the UK will become the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, accounting for more than 40% of total deaths across the continent - even without the latest ONS revelations that the government has under-reported the figures by more than half.
I sincerely hope and pray the analysts' predictions are wrong. But this government needs to account for Johnson's initial 'take it on the chin' approach and his government's promotion of the idea of 'herd immunity' as a way out of the epidemic.

Dr Kailash Chand - speaking truth to power

That approach meant there was a delay in implementing physical distancing until 23 March, when there were already 54 daily coronavirus deaths. To say it was ignorance and stupidity would be an excessively charitable interpretation.
Johnson addressed the nation at a press conference on 3 March 2020. He claimed that the UK was 'extremely well prepared':
And let's not forget, we already have a fantastic NHS... we will make sure the NHS gets all the support it needs.
When doctors were asked about this in a Guardian survey by Guardian only 1% agreed that the NHS was in a position to cope with the COVID pandemic.
The shortage of doctors, nurses, beds and care packages for elderly patients meant that black alerts, trolleys in corridors and dangerous safety levels were at a peak even before the pandemic hit our shores. On top of that, social care services were and remain in a state of paralysis.
Johnson and his administration showed a total lack of understanding - or disregard for the consequences - of the disease and a shortage of protective equipment in the early weeks of the outbreak in January led to thousands of healthcare workers being infected while treating patients.
The availability of safe equipment is a little better, but still in very short supply and the UK ignored the simple message from the World Health Organisation (WHO)  to 'test, test, test'.
This means that to date we don't know how many people have been infected but have only developed a mild illness. The symptoms might not warrant a doctor's visit, but the infection can still be passed on and every country needs to know how many are infected and isolate those affected.

Test-Test-Test - that's the mantra to bring us health. So why hasn't been happening as promised?
And let's not forget Trace-Trace-Trace. We never hear of any attempts to plot the paths of infection. Why not?

Without comprehensive testing, we are fighting in the dark with no idea how many people in the community are linked in chains of transmission.
Remember, in early March while advising the general public on the virtues of social distancing, Johnson said that he was still shaking hands with everyone, including at a hospital treating coronavirus patients.
I couldn't agree more with Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet medical journal, that the response by this government to Covid is a 'national scandal".
In an editorial, Horton said he would testify to Parliament about a mismatch between "the urgent warning that was coming from the front line in China" and the "somewhat pedestrian evaluation" of the scientific advice to the government on the threat of the virus.
But once this crisis is over, the public will want to know how the NHS came to be left in this exposed position; how social care was stripped away to such a critical extent and how those in power exposed the nation to such a dreaded virus through a 'pedestrian' approach and a Darwinist ideology.
Nothing short of an independent public inquiry will do!  

And here's another Skwawkbox post from Wednesday 8 April 2020:

Arrogance, complacency, incompetence - you will struggle to find a better example of any of them

Health Secretary Matt Hancock talking arrogant nonsense to MPs

As the UK's ability to conduct coronavirus tests crawls questionably upward and his promise of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April looks ever more a perverse fairy tale, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and his boss are rightly being criticised for their lack of preparation and their failure to act quickly when the opportunity was there and the need was unmissable.
But the arrogance, complacency and incompetence that underlies the Tories' reckless and lazy approach to what has become a horrific national crisis was plain in Hancock's statement to the House of Commons more than two months ago.
A blasé and pompous Hancock told MPs that:
  • the threat to the UK was 'low'
  • the UK was leading the world on testing
  • the country was 'well prepared' and 'well equipped' to deal with 'these types of outbreaks'
  • that clinicians were ready for diagnosis of the disease and for infection control
The UK's testing capacity, which Hancock and Boris Johnson failed to build up until the crisis was already here - and even now - is a sick joke compared to countries like Germany and South Korea, which actually prepared in advance and followed World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance.
Infection control is even worse, with NHS staff left treating infected patients for weeks with utterly inadequate protective equipment and infected care home residents sent home from hospital to infect others just as vulnerable - entirely in line with the lethal 'herd immunity' strategy the government has supposedly abandoned.
Meanwhile, NHS staff who blow the whistle on the dangers, shortages and failures face disciplinary action as health bosses try to cover up the scale of the government's guilt and incompetence.
Nobody in the UK could credibly argue that the UK was ever 'well prepared' or well equipped' - and the mere fact that Hancock could even say 'these types of outbreaks' shows how desperately he had failed to grasp the scale of the threat, in spite of clear warnings from China and the WHO.
Even now, the Tories are ignoring WHO appeals to 'test, test, test' as the only way to defeat the pandemic.
Leading medic Dr Kailash Chand called today for an independent public inquiry into the Tories' handling of the threat and ensuing crisis. This video should be exhibit A - but criminal negligence and manslaughter charges for thousands of avoidable deaths would be more appropriate.'


On 23 March, the government announced that in order to protect the NHS, these measures were to be tightened further, with wide-ranging restrictions made on freedom of movement, enforceable in law,[28] resulting in the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 and other similar statutory instruments covering the other home nations
In conclusion, here's a Skwawkbox account of the state of the pandemic in South Korea, one of the first countries to be infected after the outbreak in China. This is a tale of what might have been the case in the UK - and so sadly is not:

Shops open. Schools about to re-open. No healthcare crisis. Just 47 new cases - many of those returning from overseas. All without lock-down

Shops open as usual in Seoul, South Korea

South Korea has provided a damning indictment of the determination of Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to ignore World Health Organisations warnings and recommendations on the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK has entered its third week of a lockdown that has gutted its economy and impoverished many of its people - and huge numbers of people continue to become infected, with hundreds dying daily.
And the NHS - already on its knees after a decade of Tory fragmentation and cuts - is in crisis, with front-line staff reduced to trying to hold their breath around infected patients and virus sufferers denied intensive care treatment and sent back home to infect others.
But in South Korea shops have stayed open, people are still working and economic meltdown has been avoided. There has been no 'lock-down' and no healthcare crisis - and the number of new infections in the country was just 47 in the last 24 hours, with a third of those involving people infected overseas and returning to the country. In the last fortnight, half of cases have been returners from abroad.
Because the South Korean government didn't ignore the World Health Organisation on either the seriousness of the virus - or on the need to 'test, test, test' and trace the contacts of every infected person to isolate them and break the chain of transmission:
In the early days of the global outbreak, the UK government dismissed its threat and even when it arrived here, Boris Johnson quipped about 'taking it the chin' as his advisers told the nation the aim was 'herd immunity' - a goal that has now been disguised, rather than abandoned.
Even as death numbers spiralled, the Tories only half-heartedly began to prepare - and the wasted weeks are costing huge numbers of lives: health workers in our crisis-hit NHS are both more likely to die and more likely to transmit the virus to their patients because of lack of testing and lack of protective equipment.
And the UK economy fell apart as workers lost jobs, businesses closed their doors or shut down completely.
While in South Korea, whose government actually listened and acted, life is returning to normal - and never 'locked down' in the first place.
The Tories are now reaching out to other parties in the hope of sharing blame when the UK tries to pick up the pieces shattered by their arrogance and incompetence.
The UK must understand how deep is the guilt of Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and their helpers - and must not be allowed to forget.
                                                   LEST WE FORGET


  1. I am in a state of complete shock and my only pleasure is in reminding myself of how history will see this morally bankrupt Prime Minister ad government... things have to change