Howling at the ‘moonshots’

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BE AFRAID, be very afraid’ was the message this week as new Covid-19 restrictions were sprinkled like fairy dust across the four nations of the United Kingdom.

The brothers grim – Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief medical advisor and chief scientific advisor respectfully – appeared on the box as a double act to spread doom and gloom.

The two members of new coronavirus wave band the Horsemen of the Apocalypse ramped up the fear factor as figures show transmission of coronavirus are rising exponentially.

While on one hand, they explained the UK was following in the wake of Spain and France into another round of contagion, Sir Patrick also turned the occasion into a script worthy of a Hammer Horror film production of old.

It was not a prediction, he said, but a model and warned, without determined action, there could be 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October, which could lead to 200 deaths per day by mid-November. Not the experience on the Continent as yet.

The pair, who broadcast from No10, did not face questions over the maths. They are at odds with other scientific experts in the field of pandemics and contagion. One moot point is why focus on the picture in Spain and France where there has been a surge in infection; why not look at Germany or Italy, or even Sweden – the Scandinavian country now a favourite of Commons backbenches as a model of superior crisis handling.

The following morning, newspapers were full of a new rule of six. That’s the six months new restrictions could be heaped upon the long-suffering families of Great Britain…at least the turkeys will be optimistic about Christmas.

And there were some extra figures too, apparently printed to put the 200 deaths a day model into perspective. A bad winter brings the UK around 430 fatalities each 24 hours from a double whammy of flu and pneumonia; some 450 people lose their lives to cancer each day; 230 dementia sufferers will pass away; and heart disease will cause another 174 daily deaths.

Read more in this week’s print edition or go to e-paper

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