· Javid’s negligence has left a legacy of death and chronic illness
· Omicron is not ‘mild’; it’s a dangerous infection that can do long-term damage to all the organs in the human body
· Far from attaining herd immunity, we’re exposing ourselves to multiple reinfections, each of which weakens us and makes us more susceptible to further health problems
· A revamped public health system should be part of a ‘vaccines-plus’ approach that brings the virus under control and makes people safer.
Following Sajid Javid’s resignation, the new health secretary must, in Javid’s words, take a ‘new direction’. The Covid pandemic is not over. Over the past year, the death toll from this preventable disease has only dropped briefly to under 50 people a day and now cases are sky-rocketing again, in spite of the government’s attempts to suppress the data and pretend that nothing is happening.
Steve Barclay must tackle this pandemic properly and introduce public health measures that will reduce community transmission and save lives. Such measures need not be unduly burdensome. Masks should be worn on public transport and in crowded indoor spaces. Ventilation should be improved so that this airborne virus is less likely to spread. Carbon dioxide monitors indicate how fresh the air indoors is, and HEPA filters and other such systems filter viruses out of it. Lateral flow tests should be available to everyone free of charge. Crucially, our public health system needs to be revamped and run by public sector professionals, so that proper testing can be carried out and those who test positive can be required to self-isolate and given proper sick pay and medical support.
Contrary to what we have been told, combating this pandemic doesn’t need to involve a choice between a free-for-all and a total lockdown. Strategic, proportionate safety measures will bring down case rates while enabling people to go about their daily lives in relative safety. A ‘vaccines-plus’ approach like this uses a combination of measures to help bring the virus under control.
What’s the alternative? Already, over two million people are suffering from debilitating long Covid, most of them too sick to work or be educated. Covid can leave sufferers with long-term organ damage, making them more susceptible to heart attacks, strokes and diabetes, even after a mild infection. Omicron is not ‘like the flu’, and it isn’t necessarily ‘mild’. Leaving this potentially fatal disease to run rampant through the population amounts to social murder, as evidenced by the 180,000 people who have died of Covid, many of them on Javid’s watch. Herd immunity has turned out to be a myth, with people being reinfected over and over again and becoming weaker each time. The continuing absences from work are damaging our economy and causing chaos in all sectors.
Let today be a ‘moment for humility, grip and a new direction’. Let’s have a ‘fresh start’ with a new Covid policy.
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