Mark Dolan: 'Another doomsday Covid scenario from SAGE - we can't continue living in fear'
The human story is one of survival, of prevailing over adversity, whether it's natural disaster, famine, pestilence or war, we always seem to come through
Another day, another doomsday scenario from the Sage scientists. This time with a report suggesting that a new Covid variant which could kill up to one in three people is a 'realistic possibility'.
Documents published today warned a future strain could be as deadly as MERS — which has a case fatality rate of 35 per cent. Now in the course of this pandemic, it's abundantly clear that the main currency of Sage has been fear.
Behavioural scientists on Sage have encouraged mask mandates, which some consider an instrument of control rather than public health.
We've had newspaper, billboard and TV adverts selling a message of fear, we've had the relentless, daily publication of Covid cases, whilst turning a blind eye to far more serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease. And of course we've had that junk modelling, so often wide of the mark, and starting with Professor lockdown Neil Ferguson's prediction of half a million deaths.
So how unsurprising that with week on week cases falling, and hospitalisations and deaths a fraction of where they were, they want another hit of fear, which is like crack cocaine to these advisors.
Shall you tell them or shall I, that life is dangerous and always has been. Shall you tell them or shall I, that yes the virus could mutate, or another one could come along which wipes all of us out.
Shall you tell them or shall I, that we might trip on a paving stone, fall down the stairs or walk under a bus. Shall you tell them or shall I, that always imagining the worst case scenario is irrational, counter productive and no way to live your life.
In fact, danger and risk are not just a reality of life, they are the very engine of life itself. The human story is one of survival, of prevailing over adversity, whether it's natural disaster, famine, pestilence or war, we always seem to come through. I'm not dismissing these predictions out of hand. Statistically anything is possible.
Next week I could win the lottery, have a number one record and marry Kim Kardashian. Busy week. But it's unlikely. So with the news around the pandemic undeniably positive – cases down again today - it's a sick joke to pedal more fear. What we've seen in the course of this pandemic from government advisors, is called the PRECAUTIONARY principle.
In which you roll out measures IN CASE things happen. But this so-called safety first policy has been safety last. Because in a vain attempt to stop the virus – I can’t see a definitive difference between the outcomes of countries that locked down hard and those that didn’t - we have closed once viable businesses, exploded the national debt, ignored other illnesses, created an NHS waiting list of 12 million people, damaged the nation’s mental health, curtailed the life chances of children and young people, and pursued a land grab of our fundamental rights and freedoms.
Don't tell me that all of this societal, health and economic damage, including creating the biggest recession in 300 years won't claim many more lives than Covid. So at this stage in the pandemic, the virus we must battle most of all is the virus of fear. And the vaccine we need now, is one for the Doomsday Sage scientists. Take my word for it, there is no insurance policy for life.
Which is why it's best to get out there, and live it. The government have shelved plans to extend the HS2 high-speed rail link beyond Birmingham, across to Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds. There are concerns about the spiralling costs. Since when in the last 18 months did this government worry about spiralling costs. Just think of the rail infrastructure we could've had, if we hadn't spaffed tens of billions of quid on a test and trace system that didn't work.
All the billions wasted on Nightingale hospitals and endless testing of healthy people. This decision is a mistake. Because great infrastructure is always money well spent. Leeds is now a growing financial hub and an HS2 rail line would've been just the ticket for this whole region.
If the Prime Minister was serious about levelling up with the North, this new this train link would be a no brainer. So far this year we've seen borrowing of £350 billion, all to bankroll a debatable lockdown experiment.
The borrowing will continue for the foreseeable and we will be running a budget deficit, with more going out than coming in, for years to come. This borrowing, which of course is on behalf of future generations - they will get the bill – only continues to be justified if it's an investment. Better faster rail, superfast broadband across the length and breadth of the country and new homes.
I was no fan of Jeremy Corbyn but he was right when he proposed building a million new homes in five years. That would've cost £15 billion a year, over five years, small change compared to what we are spending now.
This virus has had enough of our time, energy and resources and it's time to look to the future. Surely the PM is motivated by this, with the wonderful news today, that he is to be a father again, for the 27th time. So if we are serious about building back better and unleashing a truly successful global Britain, then it's time to put our money where our mouth is. Petty politics and short termism, must never derail Britain’s long term ambitions. Post pandemic, it’s time to get this great country of ours, back on track.
A good example today of how misinformation works on social media. One of the greatest vocalists this country has ever produced, the flame haired bombshell that is Carol Decker, complained on Twitter that a photograph of a supermarket with empty shelves was the fault of Brexit.
The strawberry-blond songstress, spotted another language somewhere in the corner of the photograph. She flagged up that the supermarket cannot have been impacted by Brexit, as it was clearly somewhere abroad. Little did Carol know that it was a British supermarket, but in Wales and the language that she didn't recognise, was of course the fabulous language of Welsh.