Saturday 9 December 2023

Covid, measurement and public health

Some thoughts, not necessarily connected.

The first is inspired by a letter to the Guardian in September this year. The writer criticised general vaccination measures as not cost effective when judged against  hospital admissions and deaths.  These are very short term and limited criteria.

There is now a mountain of evidence showing that, even among those who get covid mildly, the long term effects on their body is significant - albeit currently not detectable - with notably increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, compromising of kidneys, liver and other organs, increased likelihood of diabetes and other long term conditions, and more besides. And for those who are infected more than once, the effect and the risks increase with each infection. Not shielding everybody, even those in the rudest good health, is storing up a landslide of health conditions in ten or twenty years time that will dwarf the cost of a widespread and continuous vaccination programme. 

Then there is also long covid, which is already causing a strain to the economy with hundreds of thousands in this country alone unable to work or contribute as they could if they were healthy. 

I would argue also that we should be taking other precautions, for instance making normal the wearing of masks instead of privileging people's freedom to infect everybody around them. In all of this, my primary concern is enabling as many people as possible to live a life free of illness and disability, but in this context we are talking about money. If Professor Majeed would calculate the long term costs to the economy of illnesses made more likely by covid, I am sure he would re-evaluate his opinion on the cost-effectiveness of widespread vaccination. 

And then there was another article about mental health: "People who stuck by UK Covid rules have worst mental health, says survey". I think we need a very serious examination of how much it was lockdown that damaged people's mental health, or the crazy and lethal messaging around it. UK public health practice and narrative wasn't just bad, it was actually destructive. Largely because driven by the squalid Johnson and his friends, as we have just been reminded by Boris Johnson’s blathering appearance at the Covid enquiry. If the people who stuck by the rules, who took responsibility and deprived themselves had been told constantly over the ensuing years that they had done the right thing, they would certainly be feeling a lot better now. 

But the subtext beneath the government's messaging was always that being irresponsible was the right way to go, and very little credit was ever given to those who obeyed the rules to their own cost. How could it have been different when we had the most lethally irresponsible Prime Minister of modern times in charge, and an entire government either in thrall to him or looking to profit?