UK gone too far with Covid lockdown? Damage experts three years later

According to a leading sociologist, future governments should consider the detrimental impact of lockdowns on future generations. Professor Robert Dingwall, who helped develop pandemic plans for the country at the turn of the century, spoke ahead of the third anniversary of the first lockdown next Thursday, which led to nearly two years of work-from-home, school and border closures. and the closure of businesses deemed “non-essential”.

There is still debate about the value of lockdowns, with some claiming they have saved thousands of lives by slowing the spread of infections, while others insist they have done more harm than good due to economic and social costs, and some even suggest that lockdowns cost more lives than they saved.

Professor Dingwall, who served on two advisory panels supporting the UK government’s response to Covid-19, said: “Governments need to find a compromise between Covid deaths and other important population targets. During the pandemic, the obsession with a single disease and a single cause of death and infection control as the sole goal has led and will continue to lead to death from other downstream causes. This includes untreated cancers, diabetes, heart disease, poverty-related deaths, addictions, and harm and premature death from the social and economic damage caused by these policies.”

He added: “Pandemic flu planning for 2005-2007 called for a worst-case scenario of 650,000 deaths in 3-6 months – far more than the worst-case imperial forecast for covid-19. But our focus was on “how do we keep the job going?” For example, you would only close schools on a case-by-case basis if you could not keep them open because there were too few teachers due to illness. The educational progress and social development of all children were affected. Mental health problems among children have increased dramatically due to the regime of self-isolation.

“Schools are also seeing a silent epidemic of smoking cessation. As Ann Longfield, a former children’s commissioner during the lockdown, pointed out, the social contract for school attendance has been broken, and now we have almost a million children permanently absent from school, some of whom have disappeared from the school radar. This is not only a direct loss of learning, but also a sense that having children in school matters.

“This culture change is also reflected in other aspects of employment. We have seen how leaving the workforce early leads to a new trade-off between people choosing jobs they can work from home and transferring skills to the next generation of workers.”

He added: “Some people say that if we didn’t close the hospitals, they would be overcrowded, and this would lead to a decrease in the ability to treat diseases. However, the hospitals were only approaching capacity, and the Nightingale facilities were never used. We still have no evidence that the lockdown has affected the death rate compared to the more voluntary approach taken in Sweden, and no evidence has subsequently been published to justify the lockdown strategy – it was all based on assumptions. There has been no systematic attempt to evaluate the various elements of blocking in real time, so we still don’t know what worked, if anything at all, and we’re not in the best position to balance benefit and harm next time.”

“Instead, we have current data on excess deaths over a three-year period, and we see that despite Sweden’s decision not to quarantine, they have a very low number of excess deaths, and they are not much different from Norway and Denmark, which have quarantined. . The overall picture is that there is not much difference between the Scandinavian countries, no matter what they do, and if you look at the 30 countries that make up Europe, the UK is in the middle of the table.”

He concluded: “I suspect that when all the dust has settled and epidemiologists, demographers and sociologists have finished arguing, they will find that pandemic, mortality and post-pandemic mortality are focused on people who are always more at risk of disease. , mortality and reduced life expectancy – the poor, representatives of national minorities and the disadvantaged. To the extent that isolation achieved anything, it was supposed to provide targeted protection for the middle class.”

He concluded: “Professor Amitawa Banerjee, a data science expert at the University of London who provided evidence to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty to justify the first lockdown and also advised the government’s pandemic advisory body SAGE, said:

“The first lockdown was necessary. There was no viable alternative to protect high-risk populations, such as those with heart and lung disease. We didn’t have good treatment and we didn’t have a covid vaccine. At the same time, we estimate that this group represents 20 percent of the total population, and without the lockdown, we estimate that 70,000 patients from this group would have died.”

Professor Banerjee, a leading cardiologist, added: “Despite our concerns, the reports have been inconsistent and this was one of the reasons why we had longer lockdowns because many people did not take the virus seriously enough resulting in a high infection rate. This meant that our already overburdened healthcare system was overwhelmed and unable to cope with other diseases. The problems in the NHS were exacerbated by the fact that many NHS staff were on holiday with covid or long-term covid, which meant that many patients could not get to appointments quickly.”

He added: “During the first lockdown, we were caught like rabbits in headlights. But by the second lockdown, we should have been able to think more broadly about the indirect effects of the lockdown on mental health and cancer among other things that were unforeseen, although the lockdown was still needed to make sure we had capacity for hospitals.”

Professor Banerjee, who specializes in heart health, added: “We are now seeing excess non-coronavirus deaths, especially cardiovascular disease, a weak economy, people struggling with long-term covid and post-traumatic stress. The causes of these problems that we face are much more serious than self-isolation.”

He added: “The UK has exceptionally good data so going forward we should use it to track and reassess current problem areas.”

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