From The Telegraph… (obviously)Finally, we have a paper that has a set of balls and willing to push back against progressive tyranny. You don’t have to agree with any of the writers over at the Telegraph but this takes guts.
The Government is wrong to put England into lockdown
Lockdown is not the right answer and it will merely delay, rather than actually prevent, mortality.
Here we go again. England is being locked down for a second time, as if we hadn’t learnt anything or made any progress since this dreadful virus burst on to the scene at the start of the year. It is a depressing and debilitating development, one that will plunge Britain even deeper into a double-dip recession, a mental health crisis and a social, personal and cultural abyss.
The PM was clearly deeply reluctant to resort to such measures again, but the pressure from all sides must have been immense. Governments across the world have already panicked and imposed a lockdown, including the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Wales and, effectively, Scotland, too. Sage says we have passed its plausible worst-case scenario for infections, in which it assumes an extra 85,000 people will die.
There was perhaps some tentative evidence that local measures were starting to work, but the daily death rate has also grown rapidly. Mr Johnson had to make a snap judgment based upon the fact that Britain has failed to control the virus and that our bureaucracy does not have the necessary competence to fight it in a more targeted manner. This pandemic has exposed everything wrong not just with our centralised, outdated bureaucracy but with that of every other large Western nation.
The NHS, despite the Nightingale hospitals, despite months to prepare, isn’t ready to handle an influx of Covid patients (it can barely cope with the average winter). We are still waiting on a vaccine. Herd immunity is a long way off. And the much vaunted track and trace is no magic bullet. We might, theoretically, make such a system function if we were willing to submit to Chinese‑style control of everyday lives, but between the administrative deficiencies of our programme and signs that people are not participating in it, it is not going to work – or at least not in time.
It is an absolute humiliation for supposedly successful countries such as the UK, France or Germany to have to admit it, but the bureaucracy can still only find one tool it thinks will make a real difference: the biggest, bluntest instrument of all, another dreadful lockdown.
Despite all of this context, the UK Government is still wrong to do it. It is not the right answer and it will merely delay, rather than actually prevent, mortality. The argument for it rests on one metric alone, which is the avoidance of excess deaths from Covid-19. Every death is tragic, and we must hope and pray that as few people as possible succumb to this horrendous illness. But politicians must seek to minimise the overall harm from Covid, not just reduce the number of deaths. There are also immense, growing costs to lockdowns that must be taken into account. Yes, the curve will be squashed again, but many of the deaths that won’t happen this year will probably happen in the third or fourth wave of 2021. Health experts also look at quality-adjusted life years: we need a proper estimate of how many of those will be saved.
The costs of lockdown, on the other hand, are probably even larger, and far more certain: the economy will slide another 5 per cent; businesses will collapse; families will suffer; quality of life will tumble, even for the tens of millions for whom Covid is not a meaningful health threat. And what are the costs to freedom? It matters. It is what defines our country. The elderly, who lockdown is supposedly designed to protect, will endure the most, many of them consigned to isolation at the most dispiriting time of year.
The Government must publish a rigorous cost benefit analysis of its plan every two weeks. If it won’t offer one, MPs must campaign to get it. One side of the ledger should show what the Government believes it has saved with a lockdown; the other side must evaluate and detail the impact on the economy, mental and physical health. Every assumption must be analysed; MPs and the public should be able to track the Government’s performance. Last time, we operated in the dark and on faith, and the very fact that we are going into lockdown again proves we learnt too little, too late. We must now demand smarter, better, more open government.