06 Jul 2022

Anne McCloskey: Was lockdown the right way to go?

Derry councillor and retired doctor is concerned about the impact of coronavirus restrictions

Dr Anne McCloskey

Dr Anne McCloskey

My daughter remarked the other day that it would be great if we could go back to talking about Brexit again.

Those days seem positively idyllic now, but alas, like the car journeys of her childhood, we’re not nearly there yet.

The Covid story fills our daily lives, with a relentless stream of media coverage of illness and death, with graphs distorted so as to frighten and confuse, with front page pictures of the victims.

Everywhere is the constant reiteration of the now disproven narrative that the lock up is saving lives.

Our politicians vie with one another to virtue signal their intent to prolong the misery and impoverishment of our people, and of future generations.

Our elderly are told they are being kept alive, but denied all of the simple pleasures which make life worth living-family, friends, society and their religious practices.

Meanwhile, the entire healthy population is under house arrest, policed by the state, but more worryingly by their neighbours in a social media shamefest.

Those who “follow the science” know that this foul disease is behaving as many such seasonal viral illnesses have done for millions of years.

They travel through communities, and wreak havoc on the elderly and infirm.

In Ireland, the median age of death is 84 years. 86% of those dying have other, often multiple medical problems, like cancer heart disease and strokes.

In most of the community, viral illnesses cause illness and misery to many, but most have a mild illness, recover completely and are conferred with immunity to further infection.

Each death is a personal loss for those left behind, but death is a necessary and inevitable part of the human condition. Many older people do not fear it.

The science also suggests that this virus was in Europe much earlier than previously thought-possibly in December and January, that the peak of deaths was on 8th April, which given an incubation period of 10-14 days, meant the lockup came too late to influence outcomes.

The evidence for this timeline is growing daily, but doesn’t seem to have reached the politicians who are deciding the fate and future of our very civilization.

The dire predictions of tens, even hundreds of thousands of deaths in the UK alone were based on computer models which have been heavily criticized by independent statisticians and mathematicians.

The original aim of protecting the NHS, and flattening the curve has been achieved.

But now we see the narrative changing, with dread warnings of second waves and the new normal, indeed no return to an open society until there is a vaccine.

The rules around social distancing, plucked from the ether, without any evidence base are internalized by the population.

The media, which is essentially an arm of government, eagerly reinforces the narrative.

We should realise that the search for a vaccine for HIV/AIDS is now entering its fourth decade. Also safety trials for any vaccine historically take years, and rightly so, given the exposure of entire populations to potential harm.

It is clear, as I pointed out in a previous article for this paper about a month ago, that countries who have imposed lockdowns have outcomes comparable to those who took more moderate steps to protect their people.

Also, since around half of the fatalities occur in the care home sector, the total failure to protect these facilities with whatever resources were available has cost many lives.

It is also clear that the lockup policy is causing at least half of the excess mortality we are seeing, and that this proportion is likely to increase significantly as people are being denied treatment and diagnostics in the other areas.

Heart disease, strokes, cancer and mental health problems haven’t gone away, but their recognition and treatment have.

I’ve been working in the NHS throughout this period.

On my one shift in the GP Covid assessment centre, I counted fifteen staff, including three doctors and many highly skilled nurses, who in a four-hour shift saw three patients, none of whom has Covid.

Hospitals are half empty, highly skilled staff idle.

There are no elective surgical lists, nor routine outpatient appointments, so people wait in pain for surgery or in anxiety and stress for tests to find out if they have serious illnesses such as cancer.

Meantime in the out-of-hours GP service, we see people in mental health crises, deal with people isolated and displaced, those suffering from a relapse of addictions under control for years, and an elderly population terrified and reluctant to seek help, because they have been repeatedly told that their NHS is in danger of being overwhelmed, and because they dread separation from loved ones.

The distress of those families with children with behavioural or learning difficulties, or additional physical needs is truly heartbreaking.

Discussion of the economic consequences of all of this are beyond my remit, but experts say there is not a linear, but exponential effect on the crash which is certainly coming as a result of the almost total cessation of economic activity.

In other words, a four-month lockup isn’t twice as bad as a two month one, but many, many times worse.

Here in the developed world we are unlikely to starve, although there will be widespread austerity the likes of which we have not seen in generations.

But in the global south, where millions live on subsistence wages, the abrupt loss of economic activity and markets for produce will cause catastrophic starvation and cost the lives of millions.

Disease is a constant challenge to societies and governments.

But the unprecedented response to this one takes us to uncharted and very dangerous waters.

There is no evidence that the political decision makers have done any intelligent cost/benefit analysis, looking at the big picture of the physical, mental, social and economic outcomes for those whose lives they are entrusted to improve.

They are either inept beyond imagining, or willfully colluding in the destruction of society, especially for future generations.

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