Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Sunday, May 31, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise itís Sunday 31st May and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

Firstly an apology to those who struggled to get the newsletter from the usual link this morning. I was so keen to get off to Helenís that I forgot one step in my usual editorial process Ė as my lads used to say it was my bad!

It was very strange being out of the Village again yesterday. I left very early to avoid all traffic and came back well before other people would have started back from their jaunts. I did hear about the A45 near Stanwick being shut by a collision yesterday and certainly didnít want to be caught in any incidents. Never mind the mess, I had Rachaelís quiz to get back for!

The news was fascinating to listen to yesterday as several key scientists on SAGE backed away from the Governmentís decision to relax lock down. These scientists believe that the release of the lock down was a political decision, prompted by the Dominic Cummings scandal and by pressure from businesses.

They expressed concern that large numbers of people were already ignoring the previous rules, and that they could no longer be policed. So these scientists were clear that the decision taken was not based on their view the data.

The Mayor London has also stepped in to say that the London lock down is being released far too soon, and that the data doesnít support the decision. So letís look at the data for a minute.

On Thursday the Government seemed satisfied that we were now stable at around 2,000 tested for infections reported each day. Interestingly that figure jumped to 2,400 new infections yesterday.

Unfortunately even the key Government scientists disagree. They argue that there are really 8,000 new infections a day in England alone, according to the Office of National Statistics. This is based on the randomised sampling and the fact that 70% of infections show no symptoms and that they wonít therefore get tested. The Covid Zoe symptom tracking app is even more pessimistic and suggests that there are actually 11,300 new cases each day at the moment. Many of these are mild symptoms and may not be Covid-19.

So which is correct? Unfortunately, we donít know but if either of the higher numbers is correct, then the new Track and Trace system will quickly get overwhelmed.

What about locally? Well just 11 new confirmed infections were reported in Northamptonshire yesterday, with specimen dates spread back over a few days. This doesnít seem too bad.

Unfortunately, there have been two reports in the local press suggesting that Northampton, Corby and Kettering are in the middle of a surge in new cases. However, these reports contradict the published data.

There have certainly been 10 recent deaths at Northampton General Hospital (spread over 3 days) and these may have related to the second infections wave on the 11th May. However, since then, the Northamptonshire figures have fallen back to a range of 10-15 confirmed infections a day.

And the official data released for Corby and Kettering doesnít seem to support the idea of a second or third wave there yet. However, the Covid Zoe tracking application has shown Corby at an infection level of 1-2% of the population, much higher than elsewhere. This contradicts the Government data which shows Corbyís overall epidemic has infected less that 0.2% of the population. This big lesson here is obvious and something I have said before. Rigorous testing should never have been abandoned as a strategy and week 3. We need accurate data more than ever now.

Well as predicted, England largely ignored the fact that the lifting of lock down was happening on Monday. As I drove back into the Village last night, it was noticeable how many cars from outside the Village were parked on drives or outside houses. I make no comment as I spent the day in Lincolnshire and I am sure that eyebrows were raised there. Interestingly, Helenís neighbour wondered why I wasnít staying the whole weekend. When I pointed out that it was against the law, she laughed and said ďbut you are no risk to Helen and no risk to our Village, youíre being daftĒ. Now she is a senior responsible citizen who still works for the courts. It just shows how far middle England has started to strain at the leash.

On the way home yesterday, I listened to a great 30 minute interview by Nick Robinson with a retired Supreme Court Judge, Lord Sumption. Like me he is absolutely non-political, and has supported policies from all three parties in his time.

Lord Sumption was making a fascinating series of points that our population has willingly submitted to the biggest act of voluntary incarceration in the history of mankind. He wonders where the Human Rights lawyers were in this process, why havenít they complained that people at minimal risk were effectively under house arrest. It certainly made me think and made me do some further research last night.

We have a huge dilemma facing us as we move forward in managing this pandemic. Just suppose, and there is no evidence to contradict this yet, that a proportion of the population are effectively naturally immune to Covid-19. I donít mean that they wonít catch it. I mean that they can catch it and live with it with no ill effects for ever. They will be symptomless, but might still be shedding virus every day.

A proportion of those people who then pick up these viruses from these people will suffer, and some will sadly die. But what can we do? Who should we shield and who should we lock up. Can we really deprive people of their liberty just in case? These are very tough questions.

Lord Sumption has said that he believes we need to take a different tack. We all need to take responsibility for our own health, understanding the risks and managing them.

However, I would say that we canít have potentially pathogenic people wandering round putting the vulnerable at risk.

So how can we reconcile these positions? It will be hard but the first step must be mandatory masks in public places where the vulnerable might be. It isnít a new message but it seems odd that it is missing given the uncertainties and disagreements amongst our scientists and judiciary.

Iím keeping my mask with me at all times. It is possible that I am an inadvertent super spreader and I could not live with the thought that I had killed someone by giving them the virus. Thank you