22 I DON’T NEED NO DOCTOR
The number will have changed by the time this sentence is completed but the United Kingdom has a population of 67,886,004 people. I am one of them. The United Kingdom contains England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The census of 2021 reported that England had a population of 56,521,000 people. I am one. Merseyside is in the north west of England and has five metropolitan districts. 1.4m people exist within these borders. I am one of those people. Within the last week, between 19/3/2020 and 25/3/2020, 599,244 people in the UK had a positive test result for Covid confirmed. I was not one of them but only because my Covid infection was not recorded by the NHS. During the period I was infected by Covid I was neither able to record my illness nor order a PCR test. Perhaps if I had been more resourceful this might have been possible but the process defeated me as it would have done many others. In seven days time the processes will defeat all because they will no longer exist. In the last week there has not been one day when fewer than 150 Covid sufferers died in British hospitals, and on one of those days the number reached 250. I am not one of the fatalities. Nor am I one of the 180,000 people that have died so far because of Covid infections. People like me, those that were infected in the last week, are described as belonging to the seventh wave of Covid. Chris Whitty is the Chief Medical Officer for England. He has predicted that more Covid waves will mar the next two or three years. Despite this warning the government has removed all the restrictions that were intended to inhibit the spread of Covid. This new approach is called ‘living with Covid’.
If the Covid daily death figure of 150 from last week is maintained over the next 12 months then an additional 53,600 will die from Covid. And if my luck holds out, I will not be one of them. We know that pressure has been put on NHS staff to identify secondary causes of death rather than Covid. We know because NHS staff have described how they have been encouraged to massage the figures. All the numbers quoted above underestimate what has happened in the United Kingdom. This underestimation will continue as Covid continues because the figures and information supplied by the British government are unreliable and because Pfeffel is a liar. Even optimists should worry about the removal of all Covid restrictions including the wearing of masks, the closing down of apps that record Covid infections, abandoning a test and trace scheme that admittedly never worked properly and withdrawing PCR tests and free lateral flow tests. The eighth and ninth waves of Covid could transform the seventh wave into halcyon days.
And what is Covid like or what was it like for me? My age means I am classified as vulnerable. I am, though, a compulsive walker and walk at least three miles every day. I am not overweight. I am five foot ten inches and weigh 10 and a half stone. I have had two vaccinations and a booster but the booster was nearly six months ago. Because the impact of boosters fade, I might have been more vulnerable than I realised. Covid, or the Covid I experienced, cannot be compared to a common cold. I have never experienced coldness like I did when suffering from Covid. The initial influenza type symptoms were memorable because they created mental confusion and reduced my appetite to half a glass of water on each day. These symptoms did disappear after two days but I still suffered from face ache, burning eyes and a sore throat for much of the next fortnight. All this eased during the second week and after I coughed up a pile of green mucus. Anyone that lives in Merseyside will be familiar with sinus infections but the mucus that left my throat was unique. The sinister dark green blob that landed in the sink was as big as a portion of mousse in an expensive restaurant. Exhaustion unlike anything I had previously experienced lasted the full fortnight.
In the past my reaction to ‘flu has been to retreat to my bed, read some thick tomes and watch the odd DVD. For over a week I was unable to read. Even watching a movie was draining. In the last two days I have finally tested negative but my energy levels do not feel fully recovered. Some of this, though, could be psychological. The experience has left me more timid. I am relieved that there is not a football match to attend this weekend. My hope is that this bout of Covid will give me immunity up to when the next booster arrives. I do know someone that has had three Covid infections in the last two years although each infection has had less impact than the one before. I think about that, the people that have already died because of Covid and also the people that have died in the last fortnight while I was suffering and shivering. I worry about the unfortunate that will die in the next waves of Covid. I think about what needs to be done by all of us to at least ensure fewer people will lose their lives – having the vaccination and wearing a mask in shops and so on. I do not understand why behaviour that will reduce the suffering of others is resisted.
The experience with Covid also helps me remember the performance of Pfeffel and his libertarian fantasists during the last two years. Rishi Sunak this week made his spring statement as chancellor. Rather than address the escalation of UK poverty Sunak concentrated on a handful of gimmicks that were intended to grab a few votes for the Tory party. Sunak is the man that was unable to understand that managing Covid was essential to avoiding an economic recession. This was despite advice and pleas from the World Bank. He has this quote from the Office for Budget Responsibility on his CV, ‘The UK experienced the highest rates of infection, hospital admissions and deaths among advanced economies’. The same report noted that economic contraction within the UK was ‘one of the largest amongst advanced economies’.
The All Party Parliamentary Committee Group on Coronavirus said the same, ‘holding back restrictions caused the UK to have the highest death toll as well as suffering one of the deepest recessions.’ Sunak was also responsible for the disastrous Eat Out To Help Out campaign. A study by Warwick University provided analysis that demonstrated this wheeze increased Covid infections between 8% and 17%. Sunak and Pfeffel were always the voices that urged for a delay in lockdowns. Covid was serious enough for Dominic Cummings to acquire a social conscience but not Batman Pfeffel and sidekick Robin Sunak. Their insistence on delaying the Covid lockdowns in 2020 alone created an extra 4.5m infections and an additional 45,000 deaths. These figures were quoted in a report from Imperial College. Amongst the 45,000 the lucky ones died in a bed in a hospital ward. NHS staff have revealed that many victims choked on their last breaths in overcrowded corridors and wherever they could pile the bodies. Pfeffel had a different experience. He spent three nights in intensive care despite not needing a ventilator. He claimed a bed that was needed for someone that was seriously ill. Of the 3339 patients that died prior to 4/4/2020 only 10% were given access to an intensive care unit.
Before that happened and on the 19th of March, Northwich Park Hospital in Harrow had 30 Covid deaths. This was declared a critical incident. That day the government requested the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens to remove Covid from their list of High Consequence Infections. This was done because of PPE shortages. The revised classification enabled the NHS to supply its staff with aprons and masks that did not meet the required protective standard. When it comes to living with Covid no one can say this government lacks ideas.
And there was money to be made. A small loss making firm in Stroud was given a £120m contract to import protective personal equipment from China. A vermin control company whose assets were valued at £19,000 was given £108m to supply protective personal equipment. Despite concerns from medical experts the Cheltenham Festival went ahead on 10/3/2020. This is the same racing event that years before was cancelled to inhibit the spread of foot and mouth. A day later Spanish football fans were invited to Anfield to watch Atletico Madrid play Liverpool. Madrid had the highest Covid infection rates in Spain, and the Madrid fans and others had been banned from attending Spanish football matches. Two days before this slaughter began Pfeffel grinned at a TV camera and claimed that the effects of Covid would be moderate.
The defenders of Pfeffel and his witless cronies say that it was unreasonable to have expected an operational plan to combat Covid. Well, Singapore had one, and it worked because they have had far fewer Covid deaths. The plan they used was created by British civil servants and health officials. Pfeffel and his mates dumped that plan. And now, despite high rates of infection and stubborn death rates from Covid, they are abandoning all Covid restrictions and preventative processes. Liberated from tiresome responsibility and taking advantage of a gaze deflected by the conflict in the Ukraine, Pfeffel will resort to his libertarian dream of herd immunity. He will be assisted by the somewhat nutty Ayn Rand onanistic devotee Sajid Javid. On 27/2/2020 a Sage meeting predicted that 80% of the UK Population would be infected with Covid, 54m people. Sage predicted that of these 1% would die, that is over half a million people. This was the nightmare scenario that the British government found acceptable. The lockdowns and furloughs only arrived in Britain after it became clear that other countries were taking action to reduce the number of Covid deaths and support their economies. The impulse to vaccinate against Covid produced initial success but it only happened because the government had to do something to mitigate the chaos they had created. I may no longer be infected with Covid but, like many, I am tired, tired of these clowns.
Howard Jackson has had thirteen books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories, travel books and collections of film criticism. His latest book Long After This is now available here.