Opinion: A tsunami of pain is headed NI’s way thanks to Covid lockdown

Like many of you, I have been spending sleepless nights and anxious days wondering and worrying about what the future will bring. The omens are not good.

By Alex Kane
Friday, 9th October 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 10th October 2020, 2:59 pm
The iconic 'tsunami' image, The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai; this doctor writes that a great wave of pain is heading our direction as a result of our Covid policies
The iconic 'tsunami' image, The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai; this doctor writes that a great wave of pain is heading our direction as a result of our Covid policies

What was to be a few weeks of removal of all of our civil liberties to “flatten the curve” and “protect the NHS” has now eight months later morphed into a dystopian police state.

Humans, that most social of species, seem isolated in a laboratory which used to be their lives, in terror of an unseen threat, so small but omnipresent that every object and experience poses an immediate threat to health, or even to life itself.

Small wonder that people are anxious, depressed, fearful and uncertain.

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Aontu councillor Dr Anne McCloskey

Families are divided, the experts disagree, the media seem to have only one preoccupation, and there is public signage reminding us of contagion and imminent death everywhere.

Yet thankfully few of us have seen anyone sick, hospitalized, or succumb to this pandemic.

I in no way wish to dismiss the pain and loss of those who have lost loved ones, often in the most harrowing of circumstances, but SARS CoV-2 is of low lethality, and has been fatal overwhelmingly in those who were very frail and old, as is true of any respiratory infection.

The roughly one million people who are estimated to have died of coronavirus represents about 0.013% of the current world population – and overwhelmingly victims were those who are already very ill.

No child without underlying serious health problems has died in the UK to date.

What is adding to people’s terror and disorientation, apart from the relentless propaganda, is the realization that never before in history have governments, in lockstep across the planet, closed down entire societies and economies, in response to a health threat. It just doesn’t make sense.

I have spent the past six months reading primary science, following worldwide data, and gleaning knowledge from my daily experience working as a GP, and in communication with other colleagues and academics in Ireland and internationally.

I speak what I believe to be the truth, and will take the personal and professional consequences.

The evidence is now in; very many serious scientists, statisticians, and epidemiologists think that the lockdowns made no substantial difference to the course of this disease across the planet. Around the world, approximately 500 people or so per million of population die with Covid – with less-restrictive Sweden not that different from the UK or US (though a bit better).

The conclusion is, as we’ve known for generations, viruses can’t be evaded (or that new word, so beloved of politicians, “suppressed”). We must learn to live with them.

In many of our hospitals, patients over the age of 65 were routinely written up for palliative care drugs, the expectation being that they would not be given what had till then been routine interventions if their condition deteriorated.

Many died without last farewells from loved ones, or spiritual help. Similar things happened across Europe. Colleagues told me that they were warned that speaking out about what was happening would be a disciplinary offence. Many I’ve spoken to were distressed and indeed traumatized by what they witnessed.

The current restrictions indicate that such a scenario may well re-occur.

Today we see terminally ill patients allowed a visit of one hour once a week with the people with whom they have shared their lives for decades.

As early as May this year, The British Medical Journal published an article showing that only a third of the excess deaths seen in the community in England and Wales was attributable to Covid-19. So, two out of three lockup deaths was due to hospital avoidance, where people were too frightened to go there, non-availability of help, or other factors we don’t fully understand.

Furthermore, the economic devastation which has been caused, which has been so far hidden by furlough (and which will be paid for by workers and our children for a generation) is yet to be manifest. Poverty kills, across all age groups and demographics.

The tsunami of unemployment, mortgage defaults and repossessions, despair leading to self-harm and drug/alcohol misuse – and yes, suicides – has yet to break over our heads.

And what of the test and trace project that Boris the Blundering plans to spend £100bn on. To put that figure in context, the total NHS budget for last year was about £150bn.

And yes, I’m angry.

If this about health, it makes no sense whatsoever. Already, people in their tens of thousands have died needlessly. The worst is yet to come.

These deaths are not from Covid, but from the stupid, antiscientific, inhumane policies imposed as a response. Let our children have their lives, their relationships, their education, their careers, their freedom. Let our old live with dignity, with friends and family around. Let our workers earn to feed their families.

Let us all have the old normal back.

~ Anne McCloskey is a Londonderry-based medical doctor, and an elected councillor for the republican Aontu party; she was writing in a personal capacity, rather than as a spokeswoman for her party

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