Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Friday, May 22, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise it’s Friday 22nd May and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

So here is the forecast for the Bank Holiday Weekend. The weather will generally be warm and sunny with no rain forecast. It will be nicest late May Day bank holiday for several years.

So the beaches will be full, the beauty spots over run, garden centres will be heaving and the DIY stores will sell out of BBQs. Baps, burgers and beer will all sell out in the supermarket, as England decides to have a good time this weekend with their family, friends and neighbours. Of course they’ll all use the now hackneyed phrase “social distancing of course”.

So here is the forecast for 2 weeks time, it will be the second coming. Not the one Michelle and the team are hoping for, but the second wave of virus infections across the UK.

Some would say I am being a sensationalist party pooper. But the evidence is on my side. Lynne and I track two pieces of health data independently.

She uses the Covid-19 symptom tracker to plot the numbers of people currently with self-reported symptoms in the UK. On the 12th May this had steadily fallen to 243,000 currently infected people. Since then it has climbed almost every day. Yesterday 279,000 reported current symptoms consistent with Covid-19. That’s 36,000 more people who are potentially infected than there were 10 days ago. And all just 2 weeks after the celebrations on VE Day.

Now I track the number of confirmed new infections in Northamptonshire each day. 10 days ago, these were running at 10-15 additional cases a day. They are now running at 25-30 new cases a day. I issue the graph each day in the daily newsletter and the trend is obvious. Infection rates in Northamptonshire have doubled in 10 days.

But yesterday the Government proudly announced that the number of people seriously ill with Covid-19 had fallen below 10,000 for the first time since the peak in early April. And the Office of National Statistics said that they expected Covid-19 not to be appearing on death certificates within the next 6 weeks.

Something clearly doesn’t stack up. Someone somewhere must be talking complete tosh. Are infections going up or down – they can’t be doing both.

The problem with this virus is the lag time between the initial infection and untimely death, it can be weeks.

Most of the people seriously ill in hospital today are those who contracted the virus early during the lockdown period. Since then, the lockdown has been effective and fewer people have been hospitalised. That is great news.

It’s also great news that the most clinically vulnerable are now shielding themselves. So even if the virus does have a second wave, you would hope that these people are much less likely to catch it.

But nevertheless, the evidence is strong that infections are on the increase again, in spite of lockdown and in spite of “social distancing”. Surely people aren’t breaking the rules in such large numbers so as to completely overturn the progress that has been made?

I have spoken briefly about it before, but in my view the Government has a seriously flawed strategy for dealing with this virus. Every step of the way we have had knee jerk reactions to the latest, often conflicting, scientific advice. One minute, it’s business as usual but please wash your hands, the next minute we are in lockdown, except that huge numbers of people weren’t.

One minute there is no evidence that masks are of any use and the next, masks are being advised for anyone on public transport, in confined spaces or where so called “social distancing” is impossible.

So let’s look at this concept shall we – where did the 2 metre rule come from. Well first off, not everyone agrees on the distance. The World Health Organisation says 1 metre – and so do France and Italy. Germany and the Nederlands have settled on 1.5 metres. The USA has settled on 6 feet (which is 1.8 metres in new money). The UK and Spain have settled on 2 metres.

Where did these figures come from? Embarrassingly, they came from a widely quoted study from the 1930s that said that droplets from coughs or sneezes would evaporate or fall to the ground within 1-2 metres. Believe it or not Government advisers in the USA and Europe used this study to set their social distancing rules. Each just decided on a different threshold for risk.

However, recent studies using high speed photography showed that coughs and sneezes, and even talking, release aerosols of tiny virus carrying droplets which travel 4-8 metres, especially if the infected person is not wearing a mask.

If you remember, several weeks ago, I was sceptical about the 2 metre rule and suggested that 3-4 metres would be safer in this Village. I sincerely apologise for my mistake, I should have said 6-8 metres to be sure. But then again I am a grass cutter, not paid to advise the Government or make decisions.

And then the latest revelation is all about the time of exposure. 2 metres is only statistically safe outdoors if you spend just 15 minutes near someone. More than that, and infected droplets will start to build up in the air and drift towards you. So how many of you have queued 2 metres apart at the supermarket for more than 15 minutes thinking you were as safe as houses?

But think about it, you know this is true. How many times has a girl wearing too much perfume passed you in the street? They are surrounded by a cloud of perfume mist which follows them around and lingers. The same is true of heavy smokers, or worse someone with BO. All of these smells travel much further than 2 metres.

So how is our Government continually making these mistakes? The problem is that none of our elected officials leading this epidemic has a scientific or medical education. Boris studied classics and ancient philosophy, Matt Hancock, Philospophy, Policitics and Economics, Michael Gove studied English, Dominic Raab studied law. They wouldn’t know one piece of sound scientific advice from another. Officials and advisers are no better. Dominic Cummins was a historian, Mark Sedwill an economist.

But surely they have scientific advisers? Yes but they don’t always agree because real world science can be confusing. What was needed was a group of disagreeing scientists and military strategist to be meeting continuously to thrash out well argued options. Our political leaders could then have selected this most appropriate way of managing our risks.

Instead, they have taken advice from the latest person in the room and announced it to a press conference a few minutes later, making up policy on the fly.

So what should the people of Chelson-cum-Cawcud do this weekend.

Number 1: Stay in the Village if you can and don’t invite anyone else to come here.

Number 2: Recognise that you are not safe at a 2 metre distance with anyone from outside the Village. A safe distance is a minimum of 4 metres.

Number 3: Wear those masks if you leave this Village or have anyone round.

Your life, and that of your loved ones, may depend on it.

Please stay safe this bank holiday

Thank you