Drumbeat of new three-tier lockdown restrictions : No Plan B …. yet

With coronavirus cases surging this week, there have been gathering media reports that new simplified restrictions in England to suppress coronavirus will come into force early next week. This could be a three tier system , with different levels of area lockdown :

Tier 1 areas – follow existing National lockdown restrictions, including the “rule of six” and social distancing etc..

Tier 2 areas – additional restrictions put in place, such as bans of households meeting.

Tier 3 areas – could include the closure of hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants, and reintroducing shielding of clinically vulnerable and elderly people.

Other than the shielding possibility, there is little evidence that Government is listening to  The Great Barrington Declaration, which argues against strict lockdown measures and policies, in favour of letting the virus run its natural course among the young and healthy in society, while still protecting those who are most vulnerable.

There are a number of arguments being used against the Great Barrington Declaration from Government and establishment scientists :

A Government spokesperson said : “We have considered the full range of scientific opinion throughout the course of this pandemic and we will continue to do so. “But it is not possible to rely on an unproven assumption that it is possible for people who are at lower risk, should they contract the virus, to avoid subsequently transmitting it to those who are at a higher risk and would face a higher risks of ending up in hospital, or worse in an intensive care unit.”

Prof James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute and a professor at the University of Oxford, points out, that we don’t even have herd immunity to another coronavirus – the common cold, despite many of us having one or more each year. Some studies have found a steep decline in patients’ antibody levels three months after infection with covid-19, which isn’t great news for the herd immunity argument. In lieu of the right antibodies, T-cells – a type of white blood cell specialised in recognising virus-infected cells and destroying them – might help us stay immune to the illness for a bit longer. However we need more studies to confirm if this is the case – and how effective they are.

Professor Tim Spector, the lead researcher of the UK’s Covid Symptom Study app, which has 4 million users, recently said the effects of long Covid could turn out to be a bigger public health problem than excess deaths. So it’s definitely an important factor to take into account. Long Covid appears to be rare in those under 18 and over 65, with higher prevalence among those of working age, according to a report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. The median age of those affected is 45 years-old, and it affects women more than men. It’s thought around one in 10 people who had Covid-19 go on to experience long-term symptoms including extreme fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog. Click full source from Huffington Post

Speaking on BBC Question Time last night, Michael Portillo, a retired senior Conservative Minister in the Thatcher and Major Governments, made some interesting points :

Michael Portillo was a minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major (Image: BBC QT )

Mr Portillo argued the UK is going to end up shielding the elderly and vulnerable whilst allowing younger people to continue with their lives. He said: “I feel sure we’re not going back to total lockdown. “What was quite effective in controlling the virus was total lockdown but if I’m right and we’re not going back to that, and partial lockdown seems to be relatively ineffective, then what that implies is we’re going to live with levels of the virus.

“Now what we know is the virus is much more lethal for certain age groups for certain age groups and certain sorts of people and much less lethal for others. “So I think there will eventually emerge a difference of policy towards people of different age groups and different vulnerabilities which will mean younger people will be encouraged to go back to work and older people will be protected.”

The Great Barrington Declaration appears to be gaining some traction in some government circles and also in the minds of some rebellious Conservative MPs. A senior Conservative is urging fellow MPs to join a new campaign against the “irreparable damage” from Covid-19 restrictions – demanding a return to “life as normal” for most people.The open challenge, mounted by ex-minister Steve Baker, underlines the growing Tory backlash against the measures – even as they are likely to be tightened further as infections soar.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Baker called it “a credible plan B”, saying: “It may be that there won’t be a vaccine or, if it comes, it may not do what is hoped. “In either case, we need a plan B and this is the only credible alternative plan supported by a wide range of specialists in their subjects.” Click full source.

Clearly, there will not be an immediate impact, but when when the new three tier lockdown policy, whatever it is, fails to halt the increase of coronavirus cases in the coming months, Plan B may be the only alternative strategy. Time will tell.

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