As of 20th October, the average number of people across the UK testing positive per 100,000 of the population is 96 per week. Of those that are unfortunate enough to become infected 0.5% will die. So if the whole population contracts the virus 340,000 will die. That is the worst-case scenario.
We know that the most affected are the elderly and October's data shows that 53% of deaths are over the age of 80 and 38% are aged 60-79. i.e. 91% of deaths are over the age of 60. Life expectancy in the UK averages 81 so although this may sound harsh 53% of those dying will die anyway. Add in underlying health conditions and frankly, it’s a question of time.
The point is that all those who are over 60 need the support of the younger generations to fund their pensions and the services they need. We have a very well-funded NHS that is seeing billions pumped into it. That doesn’t mean it can’t be overwhelmed in certain geographical areas or that those working in the health service are over-stretched.
But in the meantime, there is the hugely important issue of the economy. The UK needs a growing and vibrant economy to provide jobs and tax receipts. Lockdowns, firebreaks, circuit breakers destroy business confidence and with it jobs. People have less to spend and the exchequer receives less tax for all the things we take for granted. A vicious circle.
We, therefore, have no choice but to just get on with it, open everything up, allow people to make their own choices within the UK. At entry points into the UK, we can refuse entry to those who can’t prove they were negative before departure. This is easy for me to say. I am not quite 60, unaware of any underlying health issue other than too much weight and marginally higher blood pressure. I will take my chances and am improving my health. We have to be accountable for ourselves in following the advice, self-isolating when needed as well as getting on with business and ensuring an open and prosperous economy. The schools and universities need to remain open, theatres, cinemas, and creative industries need to get back to work and the hospitality and retail sector reset to as normal as possible.
Kate Bingham, Head of the UK Taskforce of Vaccines, assured listeners on Radio 5live last week that we will have a working vaccine in Q1 2021 with many others to come.
It’s our behaviour that has been the problem and whilst the young have had their education destabilised and job prospects minimised. The sudden spread in the young was to be expected as humans need to interact but that spike is now killing the elderly. Grandchildren will be responsible for infecting their grandparents. People live in multi-generational houses, many people have to go to work to be able to eat so there will always be risks.
Long term damage to the economy will create even greater harm, poverty, mental health issues, and non-Covid related deaths. We have to get on with a return to living with Covid and take the precautions we are asked to take.
The sole reason China has bounced back to normal is that people do as they are told. I wouldn’t want to live there with no democracy, freedom of speech, legal representation, or human rights. But if we can do as we are asked in the UK, we can also see an improvement.
Whatever we need to keep business open and protect and grow jobs, and help finance the NHS as that is the ultimate test of the health of the nation.
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