Mark Dolan: Covid measures have been a cock up not a conspiracy

Unless we reject this failed narrative we will continue to pay the price for the foreseeable future

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The NHS is being brought 'to its knees', even in the absence of any major Covid surge, according to official data, laying bare how A&Es, ambulance crews and hospitals are already struggling to cope, before winter pressures have truly kicked in. Doctors are warning that patients are dying in the back of ambulances and in corridors, because emergency units are so busy. Monthly NHS England data revealed a record-high of 5.83 million patients, who are now on the NHS waiting list for routine treatment, with the mammoth toll having snowballed during the pandemic. And that’s the problem.

This chaos isn’t as a result of the pandemic, it’s a result of the policy. The cruel irony, is that the devastating Covid measures inflicted on the British people, which were all designed to protect the NHS, appear now to have hastened its demise. I predict that in the years to come, with people so desperate for treatment they go private, the NHS will become like the BBC. A service we all pay for, but not one we all use.

And the Covid measures have exacerbated the spiraling non-Covid death toll, which of course will dwarf that of Covid, a nasty virus yes, but one non-fatal to the vast majority of the population. Don’t forget, a third of you – the asymptomatic – were told to act like you’ve got it. Amazing - we stopped the world for a virus millions have to pretend they’ve got. Now our NHS frontline workers – doctors, nurses, cleaners, porters - have been incredible and we will never repay their work and the hell, that at times, they’ve been through. But as an organisation the NHS closed its doors to the public – in the case of GP surgeries literally chaining the doors shut – and we are now paying the price.

I hate to say I told you so. The NHS became the national Covid service, at the expense of far worse illnesses, like heart disease and cancer. And a major aggravating factor was the doomed attempt, to make the NHS Covid secure. A bit like the £37 billion test and trace system, it didn't work, with the Telegraph reporting that over 11,000 people who went to hospital to be treated for other illnesses, likely caught coronavirus during their stay and subsequently died. And since day one, thousands of frontline staff have been sat at home self-isolating, because they were pinged on their phone. Go figure – they work in a hospital. In many cases, healthy, virus-free anaesthetists, nurses and surgeons were sat at home for weeks on end, twiddling their thumbs and watching Netflix. How is that not going to create a health crisis? But it’s not about your health, is it? This is just my view, but I think the policy should have been: if you have symptoms, or if you are vulnerable, stay home. Otherwise get to work and treat people and save lives. In the end, many medics were ignoring the ping for that very reason. Who could blame them?

When will we accept that you cannot control this virus? It was so arrogant of governments and scientists to think we ever could. It will do what it's going to do, virus gonna virus. Lockdown loving, mask-mandating Germany and Austria for example, are seeing their cases go through the roof. The soft touch approach of Sweden continues to embarrass policymakers here and across the world. Sweden remains the elephant in the room. The inconvenient truth. Why have we resisted the idea of more healthy people getting Covid and recovering, given the world cast immunity it bestows? Some epidemiologists believe that's why cases are now in good shape in England, as a result of our Sweden-like approach since Freedom Day on 19th July. Remember when that was reckless, but cases fell? And don't forget states in America like Florida who lifted all restrictions months ago, and now have the lowest rates of Covid in the whole of America. But it‘s not about your health, is it?

The latest published data on Covid-19 hospital admissions in England show that, in fact, the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is significantly lower than last year. The statistics for November 2 show 7,510 people in hospital with Covid-19 in England, compared with 10,397 the same time last year. This headline from the NHS chief, was seized upon by our rivals in the media, keen to push the doomsday covid scenario. Except that this statistic was wrong.

Amanda Pritchard is the new head of the National Health Service, but it’s not about your health, is it? I’m still waiting for her apology by the way. I won’t hold my breath. And there remain nutty Professors, opposition voices in parliament and commentators in the media who still want Plan B restrictions – mask mandates, social distancing and work from home orders - which Whitehall officials have said will cost another 18 billion quid. If the country is broke and needs more money for the NHS and social care, how is that going to help? But it’s not about your health, is it? When it comes to all of the pandemic measures, the burden of proof should always have been on policymakers to demonstrate that this extraordinary damage to our economy, our society and our lives was justified. That proof was not forthcoming – there was no cost benefit analysis in advance – and now all I can see 18 months on - is all cost, and no benefit whatsoever. Has the data from other countries, who took a different approach, not given policymakers pause for reflection? Quite the opposite. In what is either an example of stubbornness or Olympic level arrogance, these voices want more of the same. But it’s not about your health, is it?

And we are in a pandemic so bad that the government can afford to fire up to 60,000 care workers. Cleaners, nurses and cooks who have slaved away on very low wages throughout the pandemic and have lost their job, as a result of not being vaccinated. New health secretary Sajid Javid has ushered in this devastating, illogical and cruel policy and set up another self-inflicted heath and humanitarian crisis.

I welcomed his arrival after Matt Hancock, but he’s been a huge disappointment. No jab no job Javid should be out of a job himself.

But it’s not about your health, is it? They closed the gyms for a year and a half, but kept the fast food joints open, you couldn’t make it up. They closed schools, kids immune systems are reportedly now weakened from being locked up for so many months, not exposed to the usual bugs they’d get at school. But it’s not about your health is it? Social isolation from lockdown has caused huge mental health issues – mental health services are overwhelmed - but it’s not about your health, is it?

At the height of the pandemic, 80% of admissions to intensive care in America were among the obese. Covid impacts the very old and those with co-morbitities – absolutely - but beyond that, it’s largely a lifestyle related illness. BMI is a deciding factor, your weight and metabolic health are key. Look at Boris himself, who almost lost his life to the virus. But still, almost two years on, no conversation about diet, about lifestyle and about supporting your immune system to fight the next, inevitable virus. The answer apparently, is not: to eat less processed junk, go for a walk, or lift some weights. The answer is a jab in your arm. That’s the only answer apparently. But vaccinated people are still getting ill – I’m so confused. Look, I’m double vaccinated – I welcome it – fantastic against serious illness and death - but it’s not the silver bullet they promised. Throughout this pandemic, the extraordinary power of the immune system has been ignored, in favour of a pharmaceutical application. Because it's not about your health, is it? So what is it about? It's about politics.

Lockdowns were a symptom of governments desperate to be seen to do something, even though they were an unevaluated, unproven scientific experiment, and went against 40 years of agreed pandemic planning. The masks are there as a political statement, and a reminder that you should be afraid. And the arrows in supermarkets and plastic screens everywhere, an example of the corporate world, always hypocritical, protecting themselves against any future liability, by doing everything they can to be seen to make us safe. But it’s not safety, it’s safetyism. Those plastic screens have since been discredited by the way, with research suggesting they may actually trap the aerosols, helping the virus to linger in the air. But they're still there in most shops, because this isn't about your health is it? The measures we've seen and will continue to see, are the result of a generation of politicians and scientists who panicked, and are now wedded to the approach of mask mandates, enforced vaccines and lockdowns. They have to stick with this narrative, because to bin it at this stage, which of course they should, would be an admission of defeat.

So the broad set of measures that will inevitably, once again, be inflicted upon us, are born out of a self-inflicted healthcare crisis, as well as reputation management, political expediency and arse-covering on a grand scale. The bitter truth, is that the so-called health measures, have destroyed our mental and physical health, and the health of our economy and society. But any amount of damage is justified, if it protects those who led us on this ruinous path.

So what is this all about, if it's not about health? When it comes to the measures we've seen over the last couple of years, I don't actually think it's a conspiracy, I think it's a cock up. But unless we reject this failed narrative, which has caused so much damage to so little end, unless we press our leaders to take a different course, one of living with the virus and you and me identifying the risk for ourselves, then we will continue to pay the price for the foreseeable future. And with it, our health will be the ultimate casualty.