Update:  28/9/23


Latest numbers from Zoe study:


97,904 daily new symptomatic cases = 129,233 sympt and asympt cases = annual total of over 47 MILLION

1,285,247 currently predicted to have sympt Covid(11/9)


Gov.uk 26/9 weekly uk deaths – 222    TOTAL UK DEATHS = 229,902





Covid isn’t over. We all wish it were but it is not. The last thing I want to be doing now is writing yet another post about Covid for my website. I’ve been doing this for almost three and a half years and at times it’s been a bit of a struggle.


But … tragically the virus is still bringing death and suffering to millions of people globally and to thousands in the UK. It doesn’t matter whether we call it a pandemic, an epidemic or anything else the virus is still totally out of control and is not in the least concerned about what it is called.


We know that it is still present in large numbers because we still hear of those in our immediate circle of family and acquaintances who have recently caught it and we occasionally hear on the news about someone noteworthy who has been affected. However this is a rare event as there seems to have been a news blackout about the virus – ABC, Anything But Covid, as it is accurately described on Twitter.


The disastrous, wholly misguided, government policy of allowing the virus to spread by letting people think Covid is flu or just a cold and that Covid precautions are no longer necessary, has been a grotesque strategy to build herd immunity across the population without discussion or consent. The government wishes everyone to believe that life has returned to normal and their tacit encouragement of people not to be concerned about catching Covid extends to a relaxation of testing requirements and therefore an absence of crucial data needed to monitor the situation. Fortunately there are still some sources of information which prove beyond doubt that the virus is circulating dangerously.


One of these is the Zoe Health Study which estimates that symptomatic infections in the UK are running at one in a 108 people – a horrifying number for such a lethal pathogen; a number which means that at Glastonbury, Wembley or Wimbledon there have been thousands of infected people mingling in the crowd, and in cinemas, trains and school assemblies, not thousands but sufficient numbers to cause widespread infection.


Another source of information is that of excess deaths, a statistic collected by the Office for National Statistics. In June this was an alarming 900 a week. In the absence of evidence to the contrary it seems reasonable to conclude these were directly or indirectly the result of Covid – in which case they should be added to the number of total mortalities.


At present (14/7/23) these stand at 228,492, each one a loss of a precious life and a tragedy for individuals and loved ones. Since Johnson and Javid first relaxed restrictions two years ago 73,000 people have died because of Covid, dying with Covid not living with it. I have previously compared Covid numbers with civilian deaths during the Second World War and 73,000 is incredibly over three times greater than the annual average of civilian deaths between 1939 and 1945.


It is unimaginably tragic that as a global society we have allowed millions and millions of people to die as a result of Covid. It is equally tragic and horrific that in the UK we have allowed almost a quarter of a million people to die because of the virus, and as I have said many times, with most of the deaths being avoidable. Our political leaders have failed us as have many other leaders in positions of influence – in the Church, among members of the royal family, among sportspeople and among celebrities.  And in terms of our collective response we have failed ourselves by allowing the government to pursue the misguided and disastrous policies of mitigation rather than suppression and, for the past two years, living with Covid. It is the first duty of government to protect its citizens and in this our government has horribly failed.


At an individual level, though, we must never forget the many acts of kindness, heroism and service carried out by people throughout the country during the height of the pandemic especially when there was no vaccine available. We should all be grateful to health care workers whatever their role and to key workers supplying us with food and essential services.


We must not use the past tense when talking about Covid. To all who do so in the media and elsewhere my question is when did it end? What was the date, to the nearest month, when we could safely say Covid is no longer a threat and we can get on with our lives normally without having to bother about it? Surely no one is naïve enough to think our former discredited prime minister was sensible to relax restrictions when it was he who had been responsible for one of the worst death tolls from Covid in the world.


I have pondered the psychology of mass denial, avoidance and amnesia elsewhere and understand why these are instinctive human responses to help us cope with unpleasant events in our lives. On the whole I’m a great believer in avoidance - getting on with life or work or leisure pursuits is a good way of not having disturbing thoughts swirling around in one’s head;  the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is one way of putting it. Unfortunately there are many occasions in life when the unpleasant realities that inevitably occur must be confronted head on and not avoided – the “steep and rugged pathway” referred to in a well-known hymn.


I also understand why two other factors have determined the collective response of believing Covid to be in the past. Herd instinct is one – if everyone else accepts Covid is no longer a problem then it becomes difficult not to move with the herd and think the same way. The other factor is that of being “demob happy” – the instinctive feeling of relief we get when something unpleasant is over.


To bring the virus under control and reduce the dreadful suffering it continues to bring we must confront it not hide from it or run away from it. To do this is abject surrender. Except for the first few weeks of the pandemic it is what the government has been doing all along.


We must also do something else which has not been the government’s number one priority. We must put saving lives before anything else. This should always have been the absolute priority. Yet somehow, appallingly, the “balance to be struck” argument was allowed to gain momentum and thus for many people saving the economy and preserving the familiar pattern of their everyday lives became an equal if not greater priority. For some of us each human life was, and still is, precious whatever a person’s age, infirmity, ethnicity or social environment. We must reject the immoral and poisonous view that individual lives can be sacrificed for the so-called greater good of the comfort of society as a whole.  


What, then, are the imperatives that we must demand of our political leaders and ourselves in order to save lives and finally bring Covid under control? There are three things we must do.


The first is to ensure we behave sensibly and cautiously all the time. Much as we may not wish to, we should be aware of the high possibility of acquiring Covid wherever we are and do our utmost to avoid being infected. We must make this our mission for the sake of our loved ones and ourselves, and for the sake of everyone else in society. If no one gets the virus it cannot spread. It is as simple as that. No getting it, no spreading it, is the message I’ve been trying to push for a long time.


We should all know by now the behaviour we need to implement in order to reduce the possibility of catching Covid. We need to keep our distance from other people, preferably the old 2 metre rule. We need to wear close-fitting masks in confined indoor settings and we need to let fresh air flow through indoor spaces. We should return to wearing masks in taxis, on public transport and in planes. They should be made mandatory in hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries and in all health care situations. It is senseless that this is not happening.


We should be especially careful not to get Covid from young children and equally careful not to give it to elderly relatives and friends. Hand hygiene should continue as should disinfecting surfaces. Ideally we should be testing as much as possible and everyone should ensure they are fully vaccinated.


The second thing we need to do is to use science even more than we are at present. It must surely be possible to have simple, inexpensive devices which detect any Covid in a room, a shop or a café. Similarly I would have thought that by now we could be doing a quick, reliable test for Covid on ourselves which required us just to blow into a tube containing a replaceable material. Prophylactic lozenges or chewing gum should be developed immediately with supplies being freely available. And air filters and decontaminant air sprays must become essential household items.


The third imperative must be for the government to initiate the most enormous public information campaign ever seen in this country. We, the general public, must demand to be told the truth by our servants–  the government, its advisors and every member of parliament.  It must be the whole truth with no political spin and no avoiding, disguising or sweetening the serious threats to life and health in all age groups that Covid continues to present.


The government must instruct every media outlet to broadcast regular, clearly explained, information about the number of deaths from Covid, the number of excess deaths, the number of infections, the adverse health effects from infections, hospitalisations and the age groups where there are high mortality rates and infections.


Alongside this every media outlet must convey clear, regular messages about what we must do to avoid getting infected – the behaviour and science just mentioned. This messaging should be a mix of serious, firm advice and more light-hearted presentations with catchy jingles and images. There are plenty of advertising businesses that could produce memorable catchphrases and slogans that would quickly become embedded in our culture and shift public opinion to an acceptance that we must continue the fight against Covid.


The fight should be presented as a challenge for individuals and families not to get infected and for society as a whole to take on the challenge. Twice weekly broadcasts across all television and radio channels would report the latest data and describe successes and failures in a totally honest and transparent way. To ensure the latter would happen a small, independent body, with forty members only, would be established made up of scientists, health professionals and lay people not appointed by the government but nominated by organisations such as charities, faith groups, small businesses and sporting associations. The remit of this body would be to inform the public on all matters relating to Covid and recommend action to be taken by the government of the day. A suitable name for it would be the Board of Covid Control – BCC.


I cannot see how all of us coming together voluntarily to behave cautiously and sensibly in order to bring Covid under control is going to disrupt our daily lives. It is not difficult to put on a mask in a crowded indoor space or open a few windows.


I keep saying it because I still believe it to be true: with an abundance of discipline, determination, kindness and compassion we can defeat Covid and bring the horrific suffering it has caused to an end.  And if we want a mantra to repeat it should be: let’s beat Covid with caution and kindness.


For other Covid posts, including my personal paper which has been used as a submission to the UK Covid Inquiry, please visit: www.quercuspublications.co.uk