Monday, 6 April 2020

Opinion: Apportioning the responsibility for a mishandled pandemic


A mishandled pandemic
Through several news stories, one begins to see the fundamental issues with how the Coronavirus pandemic has been handled by certain governments and how the infection and death rates have been reflected as a matter of consequence.
This especially with the admission of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to hospital last night for further tests having not shaken off the symptoms he acquired 10 days before. The real condition of the Prime Minister is subject to conjecture but generally immaterial. My comment on that matter is that all the best of my humanity wishes him well, yet there is nothing of his principles, his virtues, or his policies regarding the pandemic that persuades me to feel more that way. [BBC News]
Our sympathy towards a situation of human frailty should not automatically confer absolution from culpability and responsibility for the way the UK government has failed to grapple competently with this pandemic in scaling up tests to determine who is infected, in providing protective equipment to NHS staff, some of whom have unfortunately succumbed to the COVID-19 virus and in acquiring sufficient treatment facilities as ventilators.
Michael Gove confirms death of seven NHS workers fighting coronavirus [Evening Standard]
Indecision cost too many lives
A study puts the mean duration from the onset of symptoms to death at 17.8 days, the range being between 16.9 to 19.2 days. Whereas, from the onset of symptoms to hospital discharge with the patient having been through the worst of the disease to recovery is 24.7 days with a range of 22.9 to 28.1 days. [Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis - The Lancet]
The UK was finally asked to lock down on the 23rd of March 2020, that is 14 days ago, going by the data capture today at COVID19Info.live, 4,948 people have lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus, people who otherwise might well be alive if this virus had not complicated their underlying conditions and sped them to their demise.

These are the people who inadvertently took it on the chin as Boris Johnson suggested we should in early March and were knocked out. The loved ones who we have lost before their time.
People make up these numbers
That would imply the 625 people who have died in the full day of yesterday, the 5th of April were infected somewhere between the 17th of March and the 20th of March, by inference, if the UK government had acted a week earlier on the 16th of March, there is a likelihood for each day from the 31st of March, 3,529 lives might have been saved. The UK breached the 100 mark on the 26th of March with 115 deaths. [COVID19Info.live]
This could link up with the well-attended Cheltenham Festival that ran from the 10th to the 13th of March and the Liverpool FC match with Athletico Madrid with visitors from Spain on the 11th of March.
This is information we cannot ignore because too many individuals, people with names who through unfortunate happenstance died lonely deaths in hospital and had no immediate family at their funeral ceremonies.
Stripping off our human dignity
In the story of two COVID-19 victims, Pastor Landon Spradlin, 66, was survived by his wife and four daughters, an entertainer and evangelist, he was recently attended at the Mardi Gras, yet when he died there were two guests at his funeral and none of his immediate family. Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, himself had parents and siblings, none of whom were at his graveside, he was buried by strangers. [BBC News] [ITV News]
The Coronavirus, in life and in death dehumanises us and strips us of all human dignity that decisions are being taken for reasons that do not essential protect life and more towards rationing treatment and intervention depending on assessments of viability determined almost unilaterally by GPs as seen in letters informing the aged and extremely vulnerable of decision not to attempt resuscitation if they should fall ill.
We were adequately forewarned
The argument of the benefit of hindsight is moot as we all had the warning signs from China, the extreme measures taken were indicators and as it swept into South Korea and then Italy, our government was not oblivious, just unpersuaded and caught flat-footed. Including in the US, we had almost a 2-month lead time and it was squandered valuing the economy over human life and the atrociously untested policy of herd immunity with a vaccine does not exist for a virus we know little about.
The lockdown has its usefulness, but the emphasis should be on social distancing rather than on people filling up parks. This considering many might just live in apartments without outer spaces as balconies or gardens. Obviously, going out should not be for the leisure of it, but for essential activity.
The responsibility is with the government
What would save the NHS the most is the social distancing and the equipping of the NHS staff with protective kit, the widespread deployment of testing and kitting intensive care units with ventilators to manage respiratory distress. There is enough space for us to keep our distance of 2 metres and maybe more, but I see a surreptitious ploy to deflect attention from where the problem really is, the incompetence, the ineptitude and the lethargy of Boris Johnson’s government.
We should not be inured into just seeing the numbers with recognising that the statistics are made up of individuals, people like you and I, over 4,000 families grieving the loss of loved ones over and above the nominal death rate, in the space of a month. That is why I cannot absolve my government from this somewhat avoidable human tragedy.


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