Our Covid Bind

If not now when? is the right question. Too many issues raging as England / UK passes “Freedom Day” and removal of legal restrictions on anti-Covid behaviour. The bind is we’ve got into a naïve “science-led” mindset against which disagreement is anathema.

A bit of a rant … should be busy with other things right now.

The Cummings / Kuenssberg interview! Where to start. The more I hear from the little toad, the more I side with Boris. And with Sumption, as ever. The Cummings interview being heavily promoted by the Beeb, no doubt in justification of his “fee”. The Amol Rajan / Sumption interview being panned by radical-liberals at large. The rational naivety is scary.

    • Vaccination Freedom? OK, so vaccination isn’t legally mandated, not compulsory in that sense, but social pressure and pragmatic business arrangements should quite rightly make life very inconvenient for those that fail to vaccinate  without good cause. Any age, we’re all part of the same population. Just a question of timing and resource priorities, UK vs rest of the world. And their dumb choices certainly must not limit the lives of those who have done the sensible thing(s). It’s only psychological tactics that should drive these decisions – even “nudge” god forbid.
    • Protecting the NHS from overload? Yes, this was a credible and appropriate tactic for setting early measures – though as I always pointed out, resource limitations of an NHS now are simply the result funding decisions earlier. Not science-led, but pure politics. But I too believe, from own eyes and anecdotal evidence, that serious Covid illness is back to being a pretty small part of the NHS workload around which operations have been organised.
    • The “Over-80’s” Body Count? Covered this at length early in the pandemic. Rising cases no doubt to do with rising testing and the “delta” variant, in younger unvaccinated people etc, but … the real question is about causes of inevitable death and serious illness and about life & quality-of-life expectancy. It’s certainly not about arithmetic. It’s about value judgements. It’s about earlier death with Covid not necessarily primarily from Covid and avoiding earlier death due to flu and other respiratory diseases. Yes, other things being equal, when prioritising resources, an over-80 life is worth less than the quality of an under-80 life. Don’t take my word for it, ask my 92 year old mother. And what about the quality of those over-80 lives, as several have commented publicly, locking down a year or two of a remaining four or five year life expectancy halves the value of that over-80 life anyway. Every death is a tragedy individually, but population-statistically we have life-expectancy & death rates, neither is infinite nor zero. McNamara anyone?

Time to live rather than further prolong life. Prediction – with hindsight, like all real science – we will look back on a sharp drop in all-causes death rates over the 2020/2022 period. (Caveat – provide the anti-vax-youth warriors are not allowed to win. My biggest concern now is a 2021/22 winter flu seasonal variant, and as I said before the west could adopt sensible eastern public-health habits for seasonal SARS infections anyway.)

Personally, I wish the conversation would move on to what are rational aspirations and reasons for increasing human life expectancy, quite independent of Covid or the next natural disaster. Population statistics are not about how much we love our parents and grandparents, that’s a given, but about how much we care about younger and future generations. That’s a value judgement, not arithmetic. If I learned anything about statistics, it’s that which criteria we choose to apply to our calculations are not calculations in themselves. It’s about recognising the real issue.

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