13th April 2020

Entering fourth week of lock down

 Statistics - as of yesterday, the figures for the UK were

Confirmed Cases -  89,279Do not Deaths -  10,612

These are registered cases entering a hospital and the ensuing deaths of these people.Do not Include deaths in the community

Peak – we have not yet reached the peak of the infection, but the rate of increase in infections and deaths is slowing – it looks as if we are running a parallel course to Italy, but two weeks behind – at today’s date there have been 19,899 deaths in Italy. It looks as if the UK total may be around the earlier estimate of a minimum of 20,000 deaths.

Reporting – there is a rather low level of reporting from the BBC and newspapers. The disease seems to be broadly following the earlier predictions person and this is reflected in the excellent graphs. But reporters get carried away with the emotional drama of the sheer number of deaths relating this to forecasts. There is also no reconciliation between the deaths from the virus and the deaths that would have been taken place anyway.

Current Activity - the emphasis in the government has moved slightly from the saving of lives at all costs - to the need to preserve at least some of the economy. As yet there is no clear plan on just what to do and how to do it

The weather has been beautiful - but today but has deteriorated slightly – in the main, people have kept to the government’s slogan of:

Stay at home – protect the NHS – save lives

Testing - Much discussion about testing and why the UK appears to have been so ineffective. It is now thought that effective testing.  to find those infected and to confine them and their immediate contacts is the long-term answer to stabilising the disease

NHS – the NHS appears to have sufficient capacity to handle the forecast level of infections – there have been some problems with the supply and delivery of protective equipment, but this now seems to have been effectively addressed

Strategy - no new information given on the strategy for easing the lockdown restrictions - the current stance is that decisions will be made when the virus is clearly stabilised.

 Economy it is quite clear that the economy is being severely damaged by the ongoing lockdown - it seems unlikely that this situation can continue for more than a maximum three weeks from today before some relaxing action will have to be taken

Conundrum continues to be – ‘Lives or Livelihood’

Political - Boris Johnson – in hospital after three nights in intensive care – he has been told to take a rest and care when he might be returning to work

Vaccine – talk about a vaccine for this new virus being developed in June or July and a tested and proved version available by September. Then there will need to be production of the vaccine.  Present indications in South Korea are that it is possible that having the virus, and recovering, may not be a defence against future infection. if this is so then there may well be billions of people around the world who need vaccinating – with huge problems of production and delivery problems of the vaccine. This would need some completely new facility as most of the existing facilities are fully occupied in producing existing vaccines for polio, smallpox, measles etc. 

Other Questions – the questions about the future have not gone away but at present all practical activity is being concentrated on dealing with the current situation.  There is much chatter little constructive thought about the future.