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J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

What a beautiful and poignant essay. The developed world turned itself upside down to protect the very elderly yet, so often, was unable to provide them the support they needed, or killed them with loneliness in a well-meaning attempt to spare them from the virus.
Much respect for the author’s mother who repeatedly withdrew her feeding tube to hasten her own death. I hope I have that level of courage if my health is so broken I believe it’s not worth going on.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“The developed world turned itself upside down to protect the very elderly yet,”

The developed world, vampire like, took the health, education, jobs, future pensions, and youthful years from the children and young to give an increased chance of a couple more years to the very old, and infirm. This is very twisted.

“or killed them with loneliness in a well-meaning attempt to spare them from the virus.”

There was Nothing well-meaning in all the response, it was not about health. It was to take the working and saving peoples money and redistribute it to the ultra wealthy, and to kill freedom and rights of the masses.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

‘it was not about health’
Crazy

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

yeah – I think Sandford really does need 20mg of citalopram – I find it takes the edge off my own tendencies towards paranoia. His paranoia also spoils his otherwise interesting and informed contributions…

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Your conspiracy theories, for which you have not the slightest evidence, but which we have all heard now a hundred times, are grotesque and completely out of place here.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Whoever you are, Mr Fisher, you must understand that Galeti Tevas has exactly the same right to express Galeti Tevas’s opinion, right here, as you do yours. You are very much free to disagree with Galeti Tevas’s opinion, you might feel yourself to be morally, intellectually, or emotionally superior to Gelati Tevas; but if you have an ounce of humility you will know that you that you are not. Gelati Tevas might be right and might be wrong but please don’t try to deny Gelati Tevas’s right to speak. Because that way tyranny lies, and you blinking well know it.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The dedication and hard work of the people who work in hospitals is mostly amazing. But at some point in the system there is a disconnect, that too much power has been given to those in authority who would direct our lives, and as people with power are always inclined to do, they are tending to misuse it.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is no sense of a “customer” in the NHS; users are told, not asked, and often their wishes disregarded by those who think they know best. It is true in most branches of government, increasingly and alarmingly so, and it really underlines how fragile our freedoms are and how essential it is that we protect them.
If Boris will pick up this fight on the side of liberty I will forgive, if it needs forgiveness, all the parties and fibs.

Last edited 10 months ago by JR Stoker
Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
10 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

You are correct in thinking that there is no “customer” when it comes to the patients, however the customer is the relevant Health Authority.
With regard to being told, not asked about choices this should not be happening. NICE guidance is that the patient is asked what they would like to be done. Adhering to NICE guidance means that some people misunderstand, and by merely asking the question, it frequently elicits a “You’re the doctor, you tell me” response. Can’t win in this situation, either one does or doesn’t follow the NICE guidance.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
10 months ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Surely the customer is the patient? I don’t go into J Sainsbury and ask the relevant Food Authority to deal with what I should be eating.
That is a really weird answer, if you will forgive my rudeness; but summarises the whole problem in a nutshell!

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well meaning attempts, protecting elderly you must be kidding right?
In Canada 85% of the COVID death occurred in the long term care facilities.
Lockdowns of the healthy were not protecting anyone, it was insane and vile response never tried in history of human kind. Every country, well almost, had the pandemic response plans after SARS 2. They were abandoned immediately as the result of fraudulent Imperial College “model” that provided the blueprint for the two years devastation of healthcare, lives of elderly, lives of children, potentially destroying future of countless families.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrzej Wasniewski
Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Julie, I think everyone here just wants you to be happy. Or happier.

James Rix
James Rix
10 months ago

I am not a sentimental or overly emotional man by any stretch of the imagination. But this has made me weep at my desk on a Monday morning.
What have we become? When did we lose our humanity to this psychosis? and when did dignity become too much to ask for.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  James Rix

Many people ‘lost their humanity’ when they lost their perspective. Covid and Covid deaths became the only focus and protection and measures against Covid became the major (if not only) measure of morality. Many of us have witnessed this unfold with astonishment, anger and heartbreak.
I was reminded of a video I watched of Zach Bush in April 2020 (yes early) – a US doctor (now quack!) with three specialities – Internist, Endocrinologist, Palliative Care who said the epidemic would be over in 2 years. He had a very beautiful segment right at the end on life, death and dying with emphasis on Covid (at 1hr and 11 mins). If you cried during this article you will be enormously moved by these words – he speaks to exactly the issues that we have experienced during the past two years and the way our elderly (and others) have been treated.
Interestingly when looking for the end, I happened to click on the video at around 1hr 7min or 9min, where he said they would introduce a vaccine in 2021 and claim the vaccine had ended the pandemic – when in truth the virus has its own timeline. Note that he is not anti-vaccines per se, but sceptical of the way they have been safety approved in more recent years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXI0UEmCsEw

andy young
andy young
10 months ago

Years ago I watches a very odd film by the German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, which moved me to an extraordinary degree. I fantasised about hanging a huge banner across the front of my house bearing the title of the film
” FEAR EATS THE SOUL”

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
10 months ago
Reply to  James Rix

Years ago, during the foot and mouth event, I recall armed government staff bursting into a woman’s home were she was sheltering her pet sheep from certain slaughter. Of course, the slaughtered the sheep.

There may be times when such callousness is necessary. It wasn’t then and it was rarely necessary now.

D Ward
D Ward
10 months ago

Yes, it’s amazing how we have forgotten the brutality of the response to the foot and mouth epidemic. I remember driving down to my in-laws in Cornwall down the M5 very early one morning and seeing the smoke from the burning cattle pyres. Heartbreaking. We didn’t learn from that so I doubt we’ll learn from this.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago

My mother died an appalling, unnatural death during lockdown – alone. She was not afraid of dying and she was not afraid of Covid – she was afraid of lockdown.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
10 months ago

So what did lockdowns achieve, very little is my view. The evidence is there showing that infections were falling prior to them, certainly that is the clear case for the first and third ones in the UK.

Kate Marris
Kate Marris
10 months ago

Lesley knows her Mother’s story and it is to be respected.

Last edited 10 months ago by Kate Marris
Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago
Reply to  Kate Marris

Exactly

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
10 months ago

Julia, is there something wrong with your menstrual cycle or are you habitually this vulgar?

Additionally Lockdown will prove “ worse than death” for millions, perhaps your good self included.

How anyone, such as yourself could believe this is about ‘health’ is truly astonishing. Perhaps you work for the NHS?

Finally. In reply to your rhetorical question to J Bryant above, about what one might say to grieving relatives, the answer as I am sure the CC* would concur is “ tough”.

(*Chief Ch*nk Chairman of the CCP).

Last edited 10 months ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Kevin Carroll
Kevin Carroll
10 months ago

I worked throughout the lockdown with over a thousand construction workers on the same site Got covid twice. And yes lockdown is worse than death.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago

She was murdered ‘Julie’. ‘Julie’ I don’t believe that you are on the right forum here… this isn’t Twitter or Facebook where there are no holds barred and very unpleasant people on all sorts of psychological spectrums using unnecessary nom de plumes create many fake personas with different agendas. This is a paying forum where people agree and often disagree, sometimes robustly (although you think otherwise), but there is a modicum of politeness and respect between doctors, professionals, rebels, business people, scientists, retirees, mavericks, sailors and individual outrageous characters…. Mostly all good people of principle who are here to read usually well written articles and debate issues and tell their own stories. Sometimes the below the line commentary is better than the articles themselves. I have ignored you because you have made it your business to taunt me and many others. This obviously says more about you than your comments have said about anyone else. I’ve very recently started to screenshot your comments and will present them to Unherd at a point going forward. Keep it up if you wish.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
10 months ago

May I be the first to apologise for castigating Julia*, but her insolence towards you was becoming rather tiresome.

(*The correct Latin version of the vulgar, and all too common Julie.)

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
10 months ago

Lesley has written in the past about her mother’s death. Although you may disagree with her point of view, try a little compassion, huh?.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
10 months ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Well, I assume you’d know considering that you’re stalking her.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Quite

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Let me challenge you ‘Julie’. Dig back to SA President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on GBV in June or July 2020 and he refers to the 89 year old murdered in an old age home in Queenstown. That was my mother.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
10 months ago

What a devastatingly nasty and rude person you are. All responses are denigratory and unpleasant. You have an inflated sense of self worth that seems unmerited.

Claire D
Claire D
10 months ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

You remind me of someone who used to comment on Spkd. You’re so clever with words but you use them to be unkind, I wish you would’nt.
Do you write poetry ? If you don’t you could. Put your talents towards something creative instead of personally vindictive.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
10 months ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

Self praise is no recommendation Julia. Your French also needs improvement.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
10 months ago

We don’t have to doubt people’s stories her to score points

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago

All touching and whatever, but the line:

“He taught me about the English pogroms before I was 10, taught me about the evils of blood libels, the lie of Hugh of Lincoln, and to never, never think that England was more free of anti-Semitism than any other place in Europe.”

Maybe it was that daily copy of the Guardian he walked for every day; but I totally repudiate this statement. Maybe I just need a good struggle session with CRT so I can also be made to believe in the innate racism endemic in all White people.

Anyway, a couple years before covid I had my fight with NHS over my ancient Father. I always criticize the NHS on here as I find they are more a political organization than a Health one. I had the struggle to get him from their clutches once they get hold of an old person – I brought him back to USA to live with me to get away from NHS, and he died in my place, cared for by us, as my mother will in her turn.

My mother spent all 2020 in London – I could not go there, years previous, caring for my old parents, my sister and I had taken turns staying with them, but Covid made it too miserable for me to go – with the terrible home quarantine I would have had there (and then I would have gotten into endless trouble because my masking/vax refusal) – anyway – Mother in her mid 90s also made her daily walks to the shops in London, couple miles every day, but she bought the Daily Mail – and in 2021 she finally moved here in the USA and lives with us in my cottage by my house. (she had been here with my Father previous, then returned to her home in London on his passing).

Caring for relatives during end of life, it is a trip. As a young man I had worked in an Old People’s Home of last resort (it was a He ll Hole) and so learned about such things. I have 2 other relatives I take care of, so I expect I will be doing this for years to come……. The Covid Response really Fu* ked things up for me – and so I fight against it –

“My father’s deepest feelings were set against authority.” I share this quality with your father….

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

P.S., sorry for my snide opening in the post above, But… “and to never, never think that England was more free of anti-Semitism than any other place in Europe.”” – saying England is as anti-Semitic as the very worst place in Europe, then by implication I am as well. I am not anti-Semitic, not anti-Islamic either, and I have had much dealings with both peoples. That triggered me I guess…..

David Winship
David Winship
10 months ago

Thank you for sharing this painful, poignant, story with us all. It so clearly reflects the lost humanity of our times. You and yours deserve much credit.

AC Harper
AC Harper
10 months ago

The title of the essay put me off – it indicated a whinge about how people had fared under Lockdown. But the essay was far more poignant and moving.
I often wonder if the real story behind lockdowns and forecasts will ever be told. My take is that the Government were thrown into excessive caution by overcooked SAGE forecasts, but considering the unknowns the precautionary principle was probably justified for the first lockdown if wrong in hindsight.
However, even though I am a non-theist I particularly care for the quote from Psalm 146 (taken out of context):

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
10 months ago

Beautiful and human. You made me cry.

Mark Sullivan
Mark Sullivan
10 months ago

Kate, to reassure you, I dont believe that dying alone is an issue for most people (I suspect that most of us would quite like to spare the family the indignity of watching us suffer) – it is dying thinking no one cares that is the biggest problem, and I know your mother would have known that she was loved.
I knew a nurse in the 1970s, and in those days they waited for at least an hour after the official time of death before attending to anything in the room, to allow the soul to leave on its own terms. Your description of the clandestine messages from the attending carers suggests that there are still some who understand life transcends the purely material.
By the way, it was Peter, not Judas, that denied Christ 3 times.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Sullivan

Beautiful

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
10 months ago

During lockdown, my mother thought she was back in WWII. Aged 97, we had to try to dissuade her from getting up on the roof,or filling buckets with water, she was absolutely convinced that she and two of her brothers were on fire watching duty. We went in one day to find her sitting under the dining room table ready for the air raid.

Fiona Archbold
Fiona Archbold
10 months ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

❤️❤️❤️

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
10 months ago

A beautiful, moving piece which spoke to some of my own experiences over the past 20 months. My mother’s partner passed in May 2020 from brain cancer left undiagnosed then misdiagnosed and identified only when it was far too late to give him the end of life care and remaining quality of life he deserved. Why? Because beginning in March 2020, covid became the only cause of illness or death our health services cared about. He was denied, in classic Kafkaesque style, in -person GP appointments and the CT scan that would have been routine prior to covid hysteria and my mother told that for him to get one he’d need to be a critical case. How do you know if he’s a critical case, my mum asked, to be told ‘by having a CT scan’. My elderly mother was left to care for him alone, without the support from their health service they’d both paid into. When, eventually, his health got so bad it couldn’t be ignored, he was finally admitted to hospital, correctly diagnosed and informed he had only weeks to live.
This callous, inhumane treatment of the very finest of men took place in Canada, a very wealthy country which prides itself on its allegedly progressive and humane credentials. Let those ideals turn to ashes in the mouths of PM Justin Trudeau, Premier John Horgan of British Columbia and his truly chilling public health officer, Dr Bonnie Henry. Because of its lengthy and expensive quarantine rules, I was unable to travel from the U.K. to Canada to support my mother until over a year after these events. Thankfully my brothers both live over there and stepped in.
Credit where it’s due, however: once belatedly diagnosed, mum’s partner received decent palliative care in the weeks remaining to him and, because of Canada’s assisted dying laws, was able to go on his own terms, at home, in mum’s arms.
However, what two elderly people had to endure, unnecessarily, at the heartless hands of the State, for months before that point I shall neither forgive nor forget.

Last edited 10 months ago by Derek Bryce
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
10 months ago

Beautiful moving essay. Now please explicitly withdraw your apology to the woke scum who made your life such a misery last year.

Michael Kellett
Michael Kellett
10 months ago

Very moving, thank you. Your father sounds like he was a wonderful man.
I will refrain from expressing my opinion about how the state treated him and your mother.

Vincent Verschoore
Vincent Verschoore
10 months ago

A philosopher, Ivan Illich, wrote about the way in which institutions become iatrogenic, ie: they become a threat to the population they were designed to serve.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
10 months ago

Heartbreaking. Having gone to boarding skool myself (Nigel Molesworth a hero of mine), I had experience of being freedom restricted and a latent desire to subvert ‘the regulations’ that now, it appears, were being subverted in the corridors of power.
Isn’t it the hospital managers, bureaucrats & apparatchiks who make the nasty rules that allow the death in loneliness?

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
10 months ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

Yup! got it in one.

Felice Camino
Felice Camino
10 months ago

In the first sentence, this essay became totally personal, as in March 2020, my 96 year-old mother lived in Wallingford.
In March 2020, she had been living alone, with only visits by one or other of her 5 daughters about twice a week. She too was adamant that she wanted to die in her own bed, in her own home. Like the author’s mother, covid denied her that.
Within 3 weeks of lockdown, she had a fall and spent 18 hours on the floor. My husband and I were the ones who made the 2 hour drive over to pick her up. My sisters insisted that she went into a home as that would be the safest place for her (oh, the irony…). She was there for 6 weeks whilst we organised carers etc, but when she came back home, it was obvious that she had deteriorated significantly. within 2 weeks she had another fall and it was decided that she went into another home, as her needs were greater than we, her 5 daughters, could cope with. How she railed against that. She died of a heart attack about 4 weeks later, no doubt brought on by the stress of the situation.
I cannot understand how we lost our moral compass in those early days of lockdown. I’m ashamed that I was almost too scared to drive over to my mum because I was afraid of breaking the law – my sisters certainly were.
But hey, if it saved just one old person from dying of covid, it was worth it…..

Elizabeth Boyle
Elizabeth Boyle
10 months ago

Thank you. This is incredibly important writing. I’m sorry for the loss of your parents and for what they endured. Here in America, I experienced the same care and love from healthcare workers within a locked Alzheimer’s ward where my mother starved herself to death when visits from family were cut off early in 2020. Astonishingly, my entire family was allowed to stay in Mom’s room for the final three days of her life, although she was no longer able to see or hear, and that’s when the skill and spiritual calling of the staff members came to the fore. I’m not sure how many rules we were braking. No one spoke of rules. It was a side of the nursing world I’d never seen first-hand, one I hope other people experience during this time of quiet desperation. You can’t read about it, you have to be part of it, this profound reminder of our humanity as a species. It hits you in the heart like a brick.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
10 months ago

Whether it was necessary or not there so cruelties inflicted on individuals to have made these two years so painful to people.

I would be surprised if the sum of these miseries was worth it.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
10 months ago

“He taught me about the English pogroms before I was 10, taught me about the evils of blood libels, the lie of Hugh of Lincoln, and to never, never think that England was more free of anti-Semitism than any other place in Europe.”
Jews were expelled from England in the thirteenth century. They were invited back by Cromwell, and I never heard of any pogroms following that . Indeed, one of our greatest prime ministers of the nineteenth century was of Jewish origin. (And I learned very young how Belisha beacons came by their name.)
Did the father not teach the author about the differences between anti-Semitism in England and Europe in 1939? My father could have, seeing how he spent the years between 1939 and 1945.
It would never occur to me to teach my children about Russian or European pogroms before they were 10, let alone ‘English pogroms’. In what subject was the father a scholar? These opinions were clearly inculcated by relying too much on the Guardian.

Warren T
Warren T
10 months ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

I was also curious about that quote and found this online, which is what he must have been referring to.

“Antisemitism in the United Kingdom signifies hatred of and discrimination against Jews in Britain.[1] Discrimination and hostility against the community since its establishment in 1070 resulted in a series of massacres on several occasions and their expulsion from the country in 1290. They were readmitted by Oliver Cromwell in 1655.“

Jesse Porter
Jesse Porter
10 months ago

It was the British Lord Acton who so poignantly observed that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Such observations about power are curiously rare for the past 250 years in supposedly free America, especially, in the young yet decrepit 21st century. The 20th century produced a long, lonely death of America, much like that of her mother that KATE CLANCHY so achingly and beautifully described.

David Lawrence
David Lawrence
10 months ago

Beautiful essay, shame about the headline. They were not rebels and her father died with dignity, enabled to do so by the system.

A S
A S
10 months ago

Beautiful and heart-wrenching. Made me remember my own father and his “hospital-kidnapping”. Perhaps a way out is for more (especially older) people to show courage and choose to not go to a hospital at end of life. Naturally these choices have to made when you are sound of mind and body. I am certainly sure I do not want to live an extra 10 or 30 or even 300 days via being admitted in a hospital. For me, the risk of hospital incarceration not worth taking, even more so than death.

Last edited 10 months ago by A S
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
10 months ago

Kate – I am moved by your article. A travesty of medicine and care has taken place especially in the West. I knew from the beginning the utter fear lonely old people must be facing. Not of dying but of having to live through. The most venerable moment a being faces in his lifetime is the moment of his/her death. We don’t know how it is to be but we can hope it is a peaceful passing …. Like an autumn leaf that slowly disconnects with the tree and gently lands on the ground & the soul lives on.
Everything is so wrong about what we do. From birth to death and all the in betweens. Why ? Because of fear . And in this short journey of life it pays for some people to keep others fearful. In this short life we are either culprits or victims of fear. So unless we change our own feeling and stop feeding fear, nothing will change.

D Ward
D Ward
10 months ago

Another great article in today’s Spiked, denouncing our inhumanity at allowing the elderly to die alone.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
10 months ago

Where is the bold mainstream journalist/editor prepared to pick up on this heart-wrenching story and others outlined in the comments, and make a gripping article or TV programme out of it, I wonder?

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
10 months ago

And through out the man who set these draconian rules ignored them.

L Walker
L Walker
10 months ago

I wish I had known your grandfather and parents. They sound like wonderful people. “Rage, rage, against the dying light.”

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
10 months ago

Are you drunk?

David McDowell
David McDowell
10 months ago

I can see that this essay is intended to be moving in a rather manipulative sort of way but isn’t the real problem that people are kept alive, essentially artificially, long after their usefulness has departed. Isn’t what happened in care homes etc just a reflection of that?

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago

Please tell me what anti-lockdown people are saying:

  • lockdowns did nothing to quell covid
  • the NHS would have been fine
  • the NHS would have collapsed but personal freedom trumped any measures

Don’t just criticise a measure without suggesting the alternative.
..
For the life of me I cannot make sense of the arguments. Which is it Bubblers ?
.

David McDowell
David McDowell
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

Completely agree. This is piece is just someone’s opinion in a vacuum.

Katherin MacCuish
Katherin MacCuish
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

Maybe Sweden’s approach. But I accept that it won’t be for several years that we can properly evaluate which strategy worked best for dealing with Covid. But to deny loved ones the last moments with the dying-even if dressed in PPE was utterly inhumane and not replicated in many other health systems. I trust that that will never be countenanced again.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

The government tried a Swedish approach in the autumn of 2020.
The messaging in early December was “think carefully about what you are going to do this Christmas” (because there had been a nasty spike in hospitalisations in the US after Thanksgiving)
This message didn’t seem to resonate too well as Boris “cancelled Christmas” on the 19th December as case numbers were increasing.
A bit too late as it turned out as the NHS almost but didn’t quite fall over around January 8.
This virus can only transmit if people meet up so there must have been a lot of meeting up going on 3 – 4 weeks previously.
The Swedes had their case peak around December 23rd so clearly they got all their meeting up out of the way before Christmas proper.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago

My memory is that the UK government suggested a Swedish approach and almost immediately they were attacked by media and citizens as uncaring. It didn’t get out of the blocks and they introduced onerous restrictions.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
10 months ago

That is pretty much what happened. The pandemic preparedness plan, which was supposedly good for a virus with upto a 600,000 death toll, was the approach intended to be taken.
The media mobilised by suggesting this was “doing nothing” (the first sign the false-dilema would be liberally used to attack anyone suggesting an alternative) and that Italy and then France imposed lockdowns and that we should to. What is a little less uncertain, for me at least, is whether the government and its nudge department were already puppeteering the press, or if that came later.
Interestingly, the Nordic countries were actually waiting to see what we did (God only knows why) and followed with lockdowns of their own, except obviously Sweden, after the UK policy pivoted.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

And now almost two years later we look back on who was right. Freddie did an interview early on with Swedish Prof Giesecke and he asked to be judged in two years time. The signs were already there at the end of 2020 when all cause mortality for Sweden was almost flat. Just look at the graphs now….

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

Excess All Cause Mortality – depends on what you use as your comparator – 2019 ? 2015 – 2019.
From this lovely granular paper from the University of Stockholm : Excess mortality and COVID-19 in Sweden in 2020: A demographic account
https://su.figshare.com/articles/preprint/Excess_mortality_and_COVID-19_in_Sweden_in_2020_A_demographic_account/14679789
Life expectancy has been steadily increasing in all Nordic countries for decades. This longevity trend in Sweden stopped in 2020.
“We found that the pandemic reversed gains in life expectancy to levels last observed during the years 2017 – 2018. It is otherwise unusual for life expectancy to fall to any significant extent between calendar years. A significant decline in life expectancy for both sexes had not been observed in Sweden since 1968, when the decline was also less strong than in 2020.”
They go into details about where this excess mortality was located – age, region but not sadly other factors that they mention in their introduction – mutigenerational households and social deprivation.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago

It was all cause mortality for a decade. 2020 was slightly higher, but 2019 was slightly lower.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Look at comment below (Stephen Archer). We are reminded that Bojo might been ahead of his time with his targeted approach. It all happened quite quickly though those first few months.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

13 December : NHS bosses have urged people to think “really carefully” about more social contact over Christmas amid concerns it could lead to an increase in cases of COVID in January after there was an increase in cases in the United States following Thanksgiving.
19 December : With respect to just England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces that London and parts of the South East and East of England are to go into new Tier 4 restrictions from the following day. The rules are mostly the same as the national restrictions in November, with non-essential retail, hairdressers and gyms closing.
The total number of COVID-19 cases across the UK exceeds 2 million
The purpose of restrictions is to concentrate people’s attention on not meeting one another unless they absolutely have to. 9 months in to a pandemic and the Swedes seemed to have absorbed this message (right from the start) but the Brits hadn’t (otherwise why were there 2 + million cases on 19 November and an almost swamped NHS in January?).
No, the important question to ask is why the Swedes understood and absorbed the idea of transmission chains and the average Brit didn’t.

stephen archer
stephen archer
10 months ago

Probably because they were given a sensible, understandable and consistent message by public health experts as opposed to senseless, illogical and confusing directives from politicians combined with scaremongering and mandatory oppressive measures.

Last edited 10 months ago by stephen archer
stephen archer
stephen archer
10 months ago

I’m not sure what you mean by the Swedish approach in terms of avoiding isolation of the elderly and sick. There was no lockdown as such although there were strong recommendations for not visiting elderly or vulnerable relatives at home and there are very few generation households in Sweden, aside from non-European immigrants. Most of the vulnerable and dementia elderly were in care homes and there was also a no visiting policy there until spreading started to decrease and then it was outdoor meetings or separated by glass screens. Sweden had no magic formula for giving the elderly a more comfortable social existence, the lack of lockdowns only benefited the rest of the population. One criticism of Sweden’s handling was in not transfering the Covid-sick elderly from care homes to hospitals. The reasoning was they were close to death’s door and would in any case not survive the intensive care in hospitals. It was judged to be more humane for them to spend their last hours in familiar surroundings rather than in the alien environment of intensive care units and ventilators. That their loved ones could not be present in their last hours was no different in Sweden.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

You are right! Teasing out the detail and now engaging memory from early 2020, Sweden pretty much didn’t have a good policy in respect of the aged and very soon in the pandemic admitted that they had got it very wrong. That said, I have subsequently read from Sweden that their care homes were specifically for end of life residents (not just the aged), so their residents were particularly frail – most were estimated to be in their last year of life. Their care homes were also very large and were private care – the virus went through them very, very quickly.

stephen archer
stephen archer
10 months ago

I’ve written comments previously on elderly care in Sweden where the whole system was so run down and privatised with venture capitalists owning large proportions trying to syphon off public funding of these. Working in home care, my wife witnessed this over a 25 year period. There was no way of avoiding the consequences of the pandemic without at least one year’s forewarning of what was about to take place. PPE was an important issue initially but was the least of their long term systematic problems.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

I hope it will be addressed now…

D Ward
D Ward
10 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Interesting comment, given we are led to believe that Sweden is a lefty, caring, Socialist utopia by our left-whingers .

stephen archer
stephen archer
10 months ago
Reply to  D Ward

It is a lefty and a socialist utopia but there’s also a lot of capitalism in industry and services with less conflict between these and trade unions. The health service is a good example, available to all but with a lot of specialist care and even primary care contracted out to private companies who have an annual budget allocation for treating health service patients. Many of these also run private healthcare in parallel. There’s a lot of bureaucracy and some problems, mainly staffing, but my impression is that it probably provides a better service than the NHS. Elderly care is another story.

Last edited 10 months ago by stephen archer
Andy Moore
Andy Moore
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

I think you need to define why you believe they were needed. As yet I’ve not seen any scientific evidence that they were required to control the virus, yes they may have been needed do make people think something was being done, but that’s about it. What we do know, because the data shows it to be the case, infections were falling prior to the first and third UK lockdowns, and had plateaued for the second one.
Peoples behaviour changes the direction of a pandemic, that can be achieved without lockdowns.

John Montague
John Montague
10 months ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

Think you might find that if seat belts only saved 1% of people who have a car crash, and potentially damaged someone walking down the road – who had nothing to do with the crash -with flying debris and removed their job, money and future. Then I guess we wouldn’t need to wear seat belts.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago
Reply to  John Montague

If you choose to manage a Covid patient rather than an RTA victim in an adequately staffed ICU bed, whether they were wearing a seat belt or not becomes irrelevant UNLESS this factors in to your triage decision as one of the deciding doctors making this decision.
How would YOU make this decision ? what factors would you take in to account ? does “not wearing a seat belt” = “not being vaccinated” ? and don’t pretend this sort of decision making doesn’t go on all the time in hospitals and particularly when they are at their limit (January 2021).
FYI there are NO approved governemnt guidelines in the UK for end of life care for this sort of situation – too many critically ill patients and not enough adequately staffed critical care beds.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
10 months ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

Seat belts have nothing to do with it, that’s just a dead cat argument.
I asked you to define why you believe lockdowns were required. If you believe in them, I would hope you have a valid reason.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

“Peoples behaviour changes the direction of a pandemic, that can be achieved without lockdowns.”
Sort of worked in Sweden until maybe their second and third waves in December 2020 and March 2021. Didn’t work in the UK judging by what happened in January 2021.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

Please see The Barrington Declaration (via Duckduckgo)

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

That was very similar to Bojo’s first suggestion – concentrate on protecting the elderly and those at risks and etc.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

So how do you think this would have played out in the UK ?
This virus only transmits when people meet.
If you were going to really protect care home residents you would have had to ensure that all their carers and any visitors didn’t meet anyone else – that is that the care homes and their staff were kept in their own bubbles (not mixing with their families) until all the elderly inmates were vaccinated.
1.49 million people in the UK are in receipt of adult social care (private and NHS and Local authority and direct payment recipients). According to Satista about 490,000 of these are in care homes. There are 1.52 million social care workers (potential transmitters to this vulnerable population). This doesn’t include those that are being cared for by immediate family members about 13.6 million informal carers according to this paper :
COVID-19 and UK family carers: policy implications
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215036621002066#!
a number of whom are schoolchidren / in college eductaion / working.
In addition.
The population at risk of severe COVID-19 (aged ≥70 years, or with an underlying health condition with a fully adjusted hazard ratio of getting severe covid of 1.13 or greater) comprises 18.5 million individuals in the UK, including a considerable proportion of school-aged and working-aged individuals.
34% of households in the UK are multigenerational – 9 million homes.
According to the Actuaries Friday report # 51 : Priority Groups 1 to 9 i.e. over 50s, Health & Care Staff, Extremely Clinically Vulnerable and “At Risk” amounts to around 31m people.
Big numbers requiring lots of financial and logistical support in a GBD scenario + a massive sacrifice by direct care workers unless you chose to bribe them (to isolate with their charges) with what ? an average junior doctor’s salary perhaps for 1 year ? (Foundation year doctor year 2 £33,345) x 1.52 million care workers = aproximately £ 50 – 51 billion.
So that just leaves the ? millions who are still clinically vulnerable but still working and contributing to the economy and under the GBD recipe would be obliged to continue since they are not in a care home.

Last edited 10 months ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

I’m still in favor of the GBD approach but your post is an important contribution to help understand the cost and limitations of selective protection measures. No approach is perfect, that’s for sure, and the decision comes down to balancing costs (not just financial) and consequences.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
10 months ago

The GBD was flawed for the reasons you present, but I remain convinced that it would have been far better on any sensible measure to the actions we did take.

Claire D
Claire D
10 months ago

Thank you for your informed posts. I agree with you.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago

Ultimately the point of the GBD was that you take all the money saved from things like furlough for the young and healthy (so a HUGE amount) and find creative ways to protect those most at risk. If they want to be protected of course.

Keith Dudleston
Keith Dudleston
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

They are pointing out that emails disclosed to investigators in the US last week appear to show that those who created our COVID lockdown restrictions [at the beginning of the pandemic] believed that the virus was not only man made but could very well kill 500,000 people a year in the UK. This is probably why they panicked and seriously over-reacted. The evidence mounts [from jurisdictions which introduced few restrictions – including Sweden] that non pharmaceutical interventions [including the lockdowns, closing schools and wearing low grade masks] made very little difference to overall mortality.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

The Swedes voluntarily reduced their contacts – constitutionally the government was not allowed to impose restrictions.
Schools for > 16 years were online only March – October in 2020 and again in January 2021
Mortality on its own is a totally useless statistic to use when comparing different country’s responses because of the number of confounders – age demographic, percentage of multigenerational households, percentage and character of co-morbidities within the population, social cohesion and adherence to guidelines / mandates, trust in public health authorities, degree and distribution of deprivation within a population.

The driver in the UK for application of restrictions was always NHS capacity (or lack therof) and avoiding a Belgrano optic (triageing by age for large boluses of morphine in hospital corridors)