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Now we know coronavirus is not a random killer

June 4, 2020

This one-size-fits-all lockdown must come to an end …


Finally, we can say with confidence what many of us have suspected for weeks: not only is the end of the pandemic now in sight but also the people best-placed to recharge our economy have little to fear from it.

Thanks to definitive figures released yesterday by Public Health England, we know that Covid-19 is not a random killer, but one that targets specific groups – namely the old and those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or dementia.

The statistics are astounding: those aged over 80 are fully 70 times more likely to die of the disease than those under 40, while being morbidly obese increases your risk of dying by two and a half times. And fortunately the death rate among children is very low.

All of which means that the challenge now is to get the economy back to work, to get the children into schools, and our hospitals returning to the crucial diagnostic work and routine procedures that have been put on hold with devastating consequences we have yet to see.

Professor Karol Sikora (pictured) is consultant oncologist and professor of medicine, University of Buckingham Medical School

It should also act as a massive boost to our economy, as it means that factories and businesses, where workers are predominantly young and healthy, can reopen with sensible precautions.

The easy part of the lockdown was starting it. The message was simple: we are all in danger, do as you’re told, and if you don’t, we’ve given the police special powers to fine or arrest you.

Lifting it will be much harder, partly because the dangers of Covid-19 were exaggerated as a matter of public policy and people were brainwashed into a state of fear.

But now that we know that Covid-19 is a selective killer, we have to accept that we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to the lockdown.

Certain people are more vulnerable than others – and it should now be up to them to make a personal assessment of their individual risk.

After all, we make such judgements all the time. To take an extreme example, my wife has made a parachute jump; I have not, and never would. Our respective decisions are based on how scared we are at the thought of jumping out of an airplane, and on our rational assessment of the risks involved. So it is with Covid-19. As an oncologist, I have spoken to elderly patients this week with terminal cancers who will not live more than a few months. They ask me if they should take advantage of the easing of the shielding measures to finally get out of their homes, and maybe see their families before they die.


From → Health, World Watch

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