The UK Government has scrapped free Covid tests. Millions of essential workers, including NHS staff and teachers, plus schoolchildren, people visiting their elderly relatives, and families with members who have health issues, now have to pay for rapid lateral flow tests. This stingy government has decided that free tests will only be available for a small number of at-risk groups! PCR tests, which are more reliable, are being scrapped altogether for most of us, and testing facilities have been closed. The legal requirement to self-isolate if infected, and financial support for self- isolation have been scrapped. Only the rich will be able to take tests and to stay at home when sick; inequality will rise further in our society.
Around 500 Covid people are dying of Covid every week, with 3,000 per week going into hospital. This is not like flu. Almost 180,000 deaths from Covid have been reported in the last two years, compared to around 1,500 flu deaths a year. Unlike flu, Covid can affect multiple organs, with serious long-term effects, like long Covid.
More than 6 million people are on waiting lists for NHS treatment. There are not enough staff, and many of the existing workforce are burned out. Clearly, NHS staff are not valued and patients’ lives don’t matter to this government.
How are we going to protect those who are more vulnerable if we have no way of knowing who is infected and can pass on the disease to hundreds of others?
The Government’s ‘let it rip’ strategy allows the virus to spread unchecked and bring death and disability on a huge scale, while forcing those who are more vulnerable to stay isolated indefinitely or risk their lives.
The Government wants us to believe it’s all over, or to accept these shocking figures and ‘live with’ the virus (i.e. do nothing about it). For the Tories, corporate profits are more important than public health. Having an effective, publicly run test-and-trace system, with financial support for those self-isolating, together with some mitigation measures, could bring this nasty disease under control. Waiving vaccine patents around the world, and properly funding a fully public NHS are essential. Doing nothing is simply a dereliction of duty.
Zero Covid was formed to challenge the UK Government’s approach to the pandemic. We argue for a multi-layered, ‘vaccines-plus’ approach, which would bring transmission rates down and keep people safe while keeping society open. A concerted international approach could lead to eventual elimination.