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Monday, 28 December 2020

Day 287 of self-isolation - Why are we locking down?

Why are we locking down?

Paul Embery posted the following on Twitter:

The number of Covid-related deaths in England involving individuals under the age of 60 and free from a pre-existing condition is 377. This is for the entire period of the pandemic. 

 Source: NHS England https://england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/12/COVID-19-total-announced-deaths-17-December-2020-weekly-file.xlsx

 

This is true. So why are we locking down?

Because people over 60 matter. People with asthma or diabetes matter.  Because long Covid happens to younger people.

But most of all, because of the 30-40,000 new infections each day. Some of them are so ill that they need hospital treatment. 


There are two limitations - hospital beds (and other equipment), and medical people (doctors and nurses). When you reach the limit, someone has to start deciding who gets treatment and who does not. And without hospital treatment, there are more deaths - that's the whole point of hospitals. And although the temporary Nightingale hospitals have beds, there is still a limit on the number of doctors and nurses.

That's what happened in Italy in April. I saw the desperate videos from Italian doctors, begging us to learn from their experience.

In the UK in April, the peak was 3100 per day. As of 20th December, it was around 2143. There is a lag of about two weeks between someone getting infected, and the need for hospitalisation. So the level of hospitalisations on December 20, links to the number of infections two weeks ago, December 6th which was 15,000. Now, we're seeing more than twice as many infections, so the corresponding number of hospitalisations would be 4000. And that's how many ICU beds that we have. If you need ICU, and you don't get ICU, then you die.

And without the current lock down, that number would continue to rise.

When our hospitals are swamped, and people can't be treated, the death rate will rise more than in proportion to the number of infections.

That's why, last March, the slogan was "Protect the NHS". That was shorthand for "Don't let the NHS get swamped, because if it does, the percentage death rate climbs."

And that's true now, even if the slogan "hands face space" has stopped mentioning the NHS.

So that's why we're locked down post-Christmas, and will stay like that for weeks, at least. School is supposed to reopen on 4th January.

I doubt if it will. The issue isn't school kids getting ill and dying, because they don't. The issue is school kids becoming carriers, bringing it home, and their parents or grandparents needing to go to hospital.

And we need hospital capacity for them.

Which is limited.

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