Influenza is a coronavirus. Covid 19 is a coronavirus. In 2014 the Cabinet Office identified the risk of a coronavirus pandemic as the number one threat to the UK population:
Public Health England Pandemic Influenza Strategic Framework published in August 2014
From the introduction:
2.1 "With unpredictable frequency, new influenza subtypes emerge to cause an influenza pandemic. When it emerges, it is likely that a new pandemic strain will spread rapidly throughout the world, affecting large numbers of the population with little or no immunity. However, until the event occurs, the impact, expressed as the severity of the illness and proportion of the population that will be most severely affected, will be unknown. As a guide, the impact could range from a 1918-type pandemic, where there was significant morbidity and mortality in young adults, to a 2009 pandemic, where the illness was mild in most groups of the population.
Given the uncertainty and the potential impact of such an event on the UK, pandemic influenza has been classified by the Cabinet Office as the number one threat to the UK population."
What was Exercise Cygnus?
Exercise Cygnus was a 2016 government simulation of a flu outbreak, carried out to war-game the UK's pandemic readiness. It involved 950 officials from central and local government, NHS organisations, prisons and local emergency response planners. The simulation took place over three days in October 2016 and asked participants to imagine they were fighting a fictitious "worst-case-scenario" flu pandemic affecting up to 50% of the population and causing up to 400,000 excess deaths.
A report on the exercise was compiled the following year and distributed among its participants. It was frank about the state of the UK's readiness. "The UK's preparedness and response, in terms of its plans, policies and capability, is currently not sufficient to cope with the extreme demands of a severe pandemic that will have a nationwide impact across all sectors."
The report's findings were not made publicly available as part of the general antipathy towards the NHS by the Conservative party but the then Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies commented on what she had learnt from it in December 2016: that the public will now pay with their lives for deliberate government inaction and total disregard towards their primary function – to protect us all.
June 2020 after 40,000 excess deaths in the UK
The Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions:
"... an obvious question for the prime minister: who's been in direct control up till now?"
Prime Minister Johnson:
"I take full responsibility for everything this fucking government has been doing in tackling coronavirus, and I'm very proud of our record ... I really do not see the purpose of his endless attacks on public trust and confidence."
(Of course Boris's fantastic success in tackling coronavirus in the UK is nothing compared to Trump's in the USA)
John Grace (The Guardian): The truth is that Boris is a beaten man even before he stands up to speak at the dispatch box. He knows that. Keir knows that. Worst of all, the country knows that. The shouting is all just empty, white noise.
Martin Kettle (The Guardian): While his effective majority of 87 holds, Johnson can afford to treat everything except Brexit with contempt. He may well get away with it, even to the extent of making a trade deal with the one-man axis of evil in the White House.
Obviously, not all those excess deaths (and that's just since February) can be laid at the government's door. It did not cause the Covid 19 pandemic and a degree of excess deaths was inevitable, but 40,000 does not take account of those yet to occur, including people who will now die from other causes that would have been preventable had the country been properly prepared.
As if that isn't enough, not only is the UK likely to have one of the highest Covid 19 death rates anywhere. According to the OECD it is likely to suffer the worst economic damage of any country in the developed world. Johnson and his ship of fools hardly deserve the word "government." They are not just a complete shambles, they are a disgrace.
What can you do if you want a government (i) that actually functions and (ii) does so for the benefit of the general population?
- Never vote Conservative for anything. Not now, not ever.
- If your MP is a Conservative, write to him/her and ask what's the point of this useless government?
- Join the Labour Party even if you are not a socialist.