The Covid inquiry in the UK is, at last, underway and it aims to find the answers to many significant questions in the three or more years that it will hear evidence. The inquiry will cover a wide range of areas from preparedness to procurement to vaccines but there are other, more urgent questions about the nature of the disease and its consequences that are not being openly discussed or reported now.
Most people believe the pandemic to be ‘over’, the disease to be mild, particularly for children, and the impact largely in the past but is that true? And if not, why aren’t the public being informed?
Is it over?
Despite there now being fewer sources of data, as the government stopped counting many aspects of the pandemic as part of their ‘living with it’ approach, it is clear that the impact of Covid-19 infections continue at a significant level. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data published last week continues to show deaths are significantly above the five-year average and more than 2%, just over 200 people a week in June, died with Covid-19 as an underlying cause on the death certificate.
These figures include children. The latest published ONS data shows 188 under 19s have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test in England. A recent study led by the University of Oxford, together with a number of leading international academic institutions, concluded Covid is a leading cause of death in children and young people in the US.
The numbers of people infected as counted by ZOE – a health science company working in partnership with doctors and scientists at King’s College London – consistently shows about one million people infected at any one time. The ONS reports that there are about two million people in the UK with long Covid and it is estimated this includes 62,000 children who suffer too – with the World Health Organization advising that one in ten infections are likely to lead to long Covid, this suffering and the need for long term health care are only going to increase.
So no its not over, children are affected and the ‘herd immunity’ approach which is based on unproven expert opinion that Covid will eventually be a harsh cold for all, is clearly not working.
Is it ‘mild’?
As we know for most people, especially after vaccination, the acute stage of the illness can be relatively mild but there is considerable evidence now that, like other viruses, a more significant impact on health can become evident much later.
Pick an area of the body, any area and there are many published scientific papers on the impact of Covid infection. Of particular concern are Imperial College London’s finding that Covid is linked to an increase in type 1 diabetes in children, and recent findings from the University of Texas of worrying implications on the neurodevelopment of babies and complications for mothers following Covid whilst pregnant. Just as disquieting is a recently published Brazilian study that “found mild Covid was associated with the development of important persistent cognitive deficits even in younger adults”, so does Covid damage the brain? – Anthony Komaroff, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School says yes!
Nature reports high risk of autoimmune diseases and Fortune reports Covid isn’t just infecting you – it could be reactivating viruses that have been dormant in your body for years. There are many, many more scientific papers confirming long term damage to the major organs after a Covid infection.
So no it’s not mild – infection can impact the health of us all including children.
Is anyone joining the dots?
It seems very odd that the Institute for Fiscal Studies commentary on latest data showing 2.7 million recipients of working age disability benefits – 25% more than in 2019 – makes no link or even mention to the ongoing pandemic during the same time period? But it does highlight the significant economic concern that numbers are rising by about 250,000 a year and spending will go from £14bn in 2019/20 to a projected £25bn in 2027/28. If any of this is driven by ongoing Covid infections this is only going to rise – is anyone investigating if the two are linked? Or even wondering if they may be?
Similarly government data on pupil absence in schools shows an overall absence rate of 7.5%, significantly higher than the 5% (or lower) levels before the start of the pandemic, and the latest report goes on to state that “the majority of absence was due to illness … includes where positive Covid-19 cases were reported … in line with increases in rates of respiratory illnesses” (including Covid). It also highlights that “24.2% of pupils were persistently absent in the Autumn 2022/23 … this has been driven by illness”. Teacher absence data shows similar patterns.
Any parent of a school age child will know the amount of ‘colds’, ‘fevers’ and other illnesses that are now regular occurrences, but we now lack testing and data collection to know definitively that this is or is not Covid. If it is, absence rates are not going to decrease and more importantly what long-term damage are we doing to our children?
In the week that the privileges committee conclude that the ex-prime minister who led the country through the first and most difficult three years of the pandemic should be barred from parliament for “unprecedented” lies – is anyone ‘joining the dots’ and asking whether the ‘whole truth’ has been or is being told about the most important aspects of the ‘once in a generation’ disease that has rocked our world? Or are key facts about Covid still not being communicated to the public?
Is this a cover up?
The Covid inquiry will attempt to answer many important questions. Questions that are important to those affected by the past decisions taken by the government. What about those who are about to be impacted as infection rates remain constant and wave after wave continues – many important questions arise that are about the here and now, and the immediate future:
- Why aren’t the public being informed about the risk of continued infections?
- Why isn’t everyone offered the choice of a vaccine booster – including children – as in many other countries?
- Why can’t those who want a vaccine pay for one like flu?
- Why aren’t mainstream media reporting any of these scientific studies?
- Why aren’t we installing air filters into all public buildings, especially schools and hospitals, as many other countries are? To clean the air and reduce the spread of infections.
And perhaps most importantly why aren’t these questions being asked by the mainstream media? Why aren’t the political leadership being held to account?
We all want the pandemic to be over, for Covid to have gone away, but it hasn’t. We all deserve to have answers to these questions and to have them now, not in three or more years when the Covid inquiry reports its findings.
The longer we put our heads in the sand and pretend it’s ‘over’, the longer we extend its impact on our health, our economy and most importantly our children.
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