A year of blunders

The UK has made so many mistakes during the pandemic. We started by following the flu pandemic playbook which meant our goal initially was to slow the spread but not eliminate the virus. Something which is too late to do now and perhaps unfeasible anyway. I also realise that no one expected vaccines to become available so quickly but had we known at the outset this may have changed the initial strategy.

Next we discharged elderly patients with covid from hospitals back to care homes, seeding the virus there. We then deliberately chose not to treat patients over 80 so as not to overwhelm our hospitals. At the beginning we were not testing enough and so didn’t know where or how the virus was spreading. Now testing has caught up but we’re running an underperforming test and isolate program. We haven’t been enforcing quarantine for overseas travellers arriving in the country who bring new variants that are spreading through the community. And we’re not adequately supporting low-income workers who need to isolate but who can’t afford not to work. It looks like one of these issues is about to change with hotel quarantine coming in for overseas travellers. We should have done this right from the start and it should extend to travellers from all countries.

When the vaccine was approved I wondered what new blunders would come with the vaccine roll-out. To my surprise so far things have gone smoothly although I have questioned the decision to vaccinate all elderly people first. I agree that all health workers should also be first in line but I feel all key workers should come first including supermarket employees, teachers, police and people who can’t work from home.

This week Germany has advised against giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged over 65 on the basis of insufficient data that it works. If they are right then we’ve wasted a lot of precious vaccine. I do, naturally, hope they are wrong. Now the EU and AstraZeneca are in a row about supply of the vaccine with the EU demanding stock made by a factory in the UK because one of the European factories has had an issue affecting production. I may be biased but I think the UK factory supplying UK vaccine should stay in the UK. If we had a problem at our factory we wouldn’t be demanding the EU factory send us their stocks. The vaccine is the only benefit of Brexit that I have seen so far.

On another topic I listened to a podcast today about a TikTok conspiracy theory that Helen Keller is a fraud. A whole generation of young people think it’s all made up just because of videos on TikTok. How is our education system failing so much that people can watch a TikTok video by a person they’ve never met and believe everything they say no matter how nonsensical? We need to do more to counter misinformation. Young people should question everything (including this blog) and learn to look for academic sources for the information they see and read. If there’s no source then it should be deemed unconvincing until proved otherwise. We need to teach young people to think critically. If you have teenagers then please ask them whether they know who Helen Keller is and what she did. We can all do our bit to stamp out the misinformation.

5 Replies to “A year of blunders”

  1. I don’t know if I’m madder about the vaccine screw up or the Helen Keller thing. I seem to be permanently mad.

  2. The problem in the USA with the coronavirus. It is the people. They prefer open world, no mask and death is acceptable. They do not fear death and they pass the virus to the old people and the sick people. This won’t end. In USA, they have accepted “Acceptable death count.” I have good health and my youngest daughter, a nurse. Had the virus twice. I cured her in my home twice. She is 24 year old and she is brave. I work as a overnight Pharmacy manager and the young people. Wear no mask and I must ask to keep their distance from me. Three of four pharmacies got the virus with mask and a wall. Associate too. I hope we learn. Every life had value. When governments have acceptable body counts. We are in trouble. I pray for the days of norm. Tomorrow, here in Michigan. The state will open part-way. The children must have beer and drink. Thank you for sharing your words and reading my words.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, John. That does sound terrible. Can you ban people from coming into the pharmacy without a mask? Recently the supermarkets here have banned anyone without a mask from entering and I think that’s only fair especially to the people who work there.

      1. There are signs and the young children don’t care. Look at Texas and Florida. Must be open and soon. 40,000 will be dead from the virus. California re-closed. too late, almost 40,000 dead. I am old school. I can buy my beer and whiskey. Drink in my yard or house. People think a few dead people, it is okay. Dear Rachel, some things are hard to understand. They open up the school in October. The lower level of schools. No problems. The High school kids had to be closed down because half the kids were had the sickness. The small children schools were closed down because of the older children. I teach home school to three grandchildren now. Their mothers need to work. They reopened last week. Half classes and rotating days. Like the old wisdom. Common sense is common no-more, You are welcome, stay safe and try to have some fun.

  3. It’s hard to know who is in the right and I guess in the the end it will be very expensive in the fine print regarding who has priority rights when there isn’t enough vaccine to go round. I read the EU had put money into the UK factory facilities on the understanding that this is where they would be supplied from, but it’s hard to know whether this is true or not. If so I’d be miffed if I were from the EU. On the other hand, as I am British, I can’t help being glad we got in early and acknowledge that this was a good move from our government. Such is the nature of bias, I suppose.

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