I haven't posted on COVID since mid-October when I was sharing the news that Europe was facing another wave of the pandemic with the continent's medical authorities fearing that vaccination rates were still not high enough. The British Office for National Statistics no longer give their updates as regularly as they used to - and they have become more selective both about what data is shared (displaying statistics for England only is usual - UK statistics are harder to track down) and how that data is presented (last week, I read that deaths from COVID were over 150,000 - the number accepted by the scientific community is in excess of 208,000 - such an attempt to play down the catastrophe of COVID in our medical history is an insult to the memory of those who have died from this deadly disease).
Please note that I still wish to spread a Christmas message of cheer as well as send a warning. That's why this post is illustrated with screen shots from my inimitable Jackie Lawson online Advent Calendar. I do recommend you get one next year - and explore what fun and games are available right now on their website.
|Jackie Lawson Screen Shot - 1|
The media were remarkably silent about COVID as we approached Advent and then entered this Christmas season. I waited. I knew what the medical and scientific authorities had been saying in October and they were unlikely to have changed their minds. When the weather turned colder and people moved indoors and gathered together, infections would increase. Their thoughts, their voices, were simply not being given air-time or press-space as the warm autumn season turned colder. Why? It is difficult not to conclude that the pursuit of profit was yet again trumping public health needs. I go into Sainsbury's for a weekly shop on Monday mornings and I am now amongst the 5 per cent who are stillwearing face masks. Those who wield media power appear to be in cahoots with those who hold political power. The message to be communicated is that the pandemic is behind us. Spend and shop, mix and be joyful. But there is a real threat that this approach could turn into a sick pantomime joke. This virus is not behind us.
|Jackie Lawson Screen Shot - 2|
My wait ended this last weekend. My 'i' newspaper carried a frontpage headline:
BRITAIN HIT BY 'TRIPLE WHAMMY' OF FLU, COLDS AND COVID
Underneath, I learned that 'Covid infections were up 43 per cent in two weeks and had now reached 220,000 cases a day, as immunity drops'. These statistics were coming from the ZOE Health Study which I have referenced before. It provides the best data since the participants in Zoe have been carefully selected to give the most accurate snapshot of the nation's health. Professor Tim Spector of King's, London runs the Zoe app. His view is that "With COVID, there's cold weather and then you've got huge crowds Christmas shopping and football bringing people together".
At the more serious end of the scale, the average number of patients in hospital with flu last week was 1,162, up by two-thirds in a week and slightly higher than the number of those in hospital with COVID. The double whammy of COVID and flu is placing a huge burden on hospitals - I don't need to repeat what twelve years of Tory Austerity and neglect have done to the NHS, do I?
So why is there not a public health alert from those who govern us, those who have a responsibility to safeguard our health and well-being?
|Jackie Lawson Screen Shot - 3|
Interestingly, today, the 'i' newspaper chose to downplay the threat from COVID by headlining a piece on HEALTH thus:
DEATHS FROM FLU AND PNEUMONIA NOW EXCEED THOSE FROM COVID
The figures from the ONS were carefully crafted. They covered the period from the start of September to the start of December, thereby excluding data from most of the cold spell period which provides the context for the ZOE app data. Lies, damned lies - and statistics.
The 'i' article did contain a section that reported that ONS statistics show that in the last three months, '3,899 people - an average of 279 per week - have died in England and Wales as a result of contacting Covid'. Notice, these are not UK figures. The 'i' writer continued: 'Nearly all of these have been aged 65 or older with a large majority being over 80'. Is it just me who feels that here is an idea that such older people are somehow more dispensable?
|Jackie Lawson Screen Shot - 4|
On the same page today, in a piece headed 'SOCIETY', we learn that 18 per cent of adults don't feel safe due to the risk of the virus in public spaces such as restaurants and public transport - and that this is likely to be a factor in the growing level of economic inactivity among working-age adults. You see how the economy shapes what our concerns should be. I am appalled at the triumph of these people who are misgoverning us. They have persuaded 82 per cent of the population they don't need to worry about COVID.
I think they are wrong. They are being gulled by those who have wealth and power. That is how an unregulated capitalism works.
|Jackie Lawson Screen Shot - 5|