The word is that there is a so-called 'nudge unit', working from within No.10 Downing Street, that seeks to shift public opinion in the direction that best suits the interests of those in government in the UK. When I visit my local supermarket - Sainsbury's in Penzance - and I see that I am now one of the very few still wearing a mask, or when I visit my local surgery for my life-saving three-monthly injection as I did yesterday and I read a message that mask-wearing is now voluntary and patients are encouraged to show understanding for those (like me) who choose to continue wearing them, I realize the Tory nudge unit is succeeding - possibly even beyond its own expectations. We are, after all, still in the midst of a pandemic with its own cycle of peaks and troughs.
|Jeremiah tells it as it is - on Conwy mountain in Wales before the pandemic|
With over 200,000 already dead having contracted the COVID virus (SARS-CoV-2), the unacknowledged government policy since February 2020 of achieving herd immunity through allowing the virus to spread through the population at a rate that meant the NHS and the coffin makers were not completely overwhelmed has certainly left its mark. Johnson and Cummings were definitely 'world-beaters' in that respect. They were rescued from their own folly by the brilliance of those in the scientific
community who designed the vaccinations and those in the medical community who rolled out the vaccination programs.
And then in January of this year, the man who has recently been ejected from office as prime minister announced that we would now be living with COVID - no more state-imposed restrictions. Ever since then, I have been producing monthly blogposts warning of the dangers of this laissez-faire approach - they are all there for you to read if you follow this link here. And the nudge unit has been stepping up its work to dull our senses.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) was a source I could rely on for my latest UK data. No longer. The information stream has dried up and what data are still released is only for England and Wales. Moreover, the media coverage is now slight and partial. My 'i' newspaper on 31 August last month did carry a headline on p.12 stating:
Cost of living crisis 'will make winter Covid wave even worse'.
In the article beneath, Professor Karl Friston of University College London speculated that if heating bills are too onerous, this will compromise people's attempts to ventilate their homes, places of work and schools - leading to an increase in transmission risk. This would be compounded by the fact that that respiratory viruses tend to thrive when it is cold. The report also included the fact that 620 people had died within 28 days of a positive Covid test in England over the past seven days - 28 per cent down on the previous week.
Cheers all round, everyone! Only 620 dead this week! We won't mention the deaths in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, though.
|Covid kills - Covid wounds - Long Covid is now affecting around at least 2 million people - we are still finding out more about the consequences of infection|
But I bet you didn't know much about anyone still dying of Covid these days, now the pandemic is over.
On the 1 September, the next day, the 'i' carried this headline on p.11:
Decline in Covid cases 'has bottomed out' ahead of new wave in autumn.
The article underneath referenced the views of Professor Tim Spector at King's College London:
'I expect daily symptomatic infections to hit around 600,000 to 650,000 in late autumn or early winter, even with the booster campaign. This would be almost double the previous high of around 350,000 cases recorded in mid-July. The kids going back to school will probably drive this new wave.'
By 17 September, around a couple of weeks later, the nudge unit was back at work. The headline on p.25 read:
Covid cases drop to lowest level for a year.
Now, a week later, the latest reports that I can access suggest that the rate of infections is increasing just as predicted. That is now evident in ONS figures released yesterday: 1 in 70 of the population of England is currently infected with Covid; in Wales the figure is 1 in 71. Keep your eyes open - pick up information wherever you can. There are those who would prefer you remain ignorant. And think seriously about wearing a mask. If you have read this far, please consider sharing this post in the interests of public health.
|Photo image of the virus, SARS-CoV-2 (used under licence from Getty images)|