I’m COVID-centric. This means I’m not one of those people who believes lockdown was a waste of time, that the disease is a bit of a conspiracy and that warnings of mass deaths were alarmist. Nor, do I think that we have experienced an absolute disaster or that we need to go back into lockdown until it is all over.
My view is that we were warned about the prospect of deaths in the hundreds of thousands. Therefore, to have managed to keep that figure down to around 50k is a positive. I also think that we should be wary of attempting to compare country to country to produce a league table given that the data is probably statistically within normal variation and that different countries had different factors to contend with.
However, I do think that mistakes have been made, serious mistakes which could have saved lives. These include
- A failure to secure the borders and introduce effective quarantining measures early on
- A failure to protect care homes so that many lives were lost amongst the most vulnerable in our communities.
- A failure to have an effective contract tracing system in place.
- A failure to shift COVID-19 specific demand away from the usual NHS hospitals in order to protect healthcare provision for other illnesses.
- A failure to get the level of buy in needed to ensure the highest level of compliance possible with measures.
Now, some of those failings were perhaps understandable first time around. I have stated in the past that I could see good reasons why countries like Germany and South Korea would be better prepared for testing. I also accept that it would have taken time to get the necessary public understanding and compliance with measures. However, we should be in a better position now.
Therefore it is concerning that we are still struggling to get an effective Trace and Trace system in place after half a year of trying. I am also concerned about reports of care homes under pressure to take in COVID-positive patients and of hospitals being told to clear capacity for a second spike. Finally the scenes of people dashing home from Portugal to beat quarantine and young people heading out to enjoy nights on the town with no evidence of social distancing suggests that the compliance problems have not gone away.
I hope that there is still time to do something about this and that we will learn the lessons from the first wave of the virus.