As the country enters its third lockdown, let’s draw some points from yesterday’s UK Covid-19 Data, Covid-transmission from abroad, the overstretched NHS, questions about the use, and meaning of the term ‘herd immunity’, and the strategy the government needs to adopt now.

First published in January 2021.

Some Data Out of Date

The UK healthcare details are worryingly now many days out of date, and the upward movement of all data provide a stark indicator of the dire situation.

Covid-19 hospital update provided today for England is 26,626 (on 4 January 2021). The highest number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England during the first wave was 18,974 (on 12 April 2020).

The delay in publication of such vital information remains a serious concern.

Transmission from Abroad

Too many errors along the way. It is difficult for any government to manage this Covid crisis, but the UK cabinet appears to have ignored the science, and turned ‘inaction’ into an art.

Failure to protect those living in the UK from Covid coming from abroad for example is shocking, if not negligent.

Virus Variant & NHS

Britain is involved in a high-stakes race to roll out a mass vaccination programme before the overstretched NHS is overwhelmed by the new Covid variant.

We have to pray it is not too little, though it may well be too late for some.

As Dr Daniel Sokol, medical ethicist and clinical negligence barrister, wrote in the BMJ yesterday, The NHS is not at risk of being overwhelmed — it already is!

“When the government talks of an overwhelmed NHS, it refers to a situation where patients with Covid-19 are deprived of potentially life saving ICU treatment.”

Population Immunity

The government has been behind the curve yet again in allowing self-appointed experts use the term ‘herd immunity’, without providing definitive guidance on what the term actually means, if it is the appropriate term to use, and on occasions even used the term itself, encouraged by some senior advisers, without explicit details regarding its meaning.

Absolutely, ‘population immunity’ is surely the preferable term, and one that should be used in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic? It would be helpful if the government, guided by its SAGE advisers, defines and publishes, exactly what is meant by this term. Indeed, the subject has understandably received global attention e.g. The World Health Organization and the New Scientist, both provide useful pieces, but what actually is our government’s stated view about the use, and meanings, of ‘herd immunity’ and ‘population immunity’?

Time for absolute clarity, not misinformation.

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy

The government needs an explicit, public, Covid-19 management strategy, and recovery programme; which set out specific actions, targets, and milestones, ahead for the next 12 months. Flexible, collaborative, transparent, shared with, and owned by, ALL, to ensure success.🔷

Further Reading:

Dr Joe Pajak, Professional experience applied scientific research and development, then director of a national children’s charity, trustee of a disability charity, and governor of NHS foundation trust hospitals.

[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 5 January 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

Creative Commons License
(Cover: Flickr/Number 10. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)