Finally, we can confidently say what many of us have suspected for weeks: not only is the end of the pandemic now in sight, but those in the best position to recharge our economy have little to fear.
Thanks to final figures released yesterday by Public Health England, we know that Covid-19 is not a random killer, but a group targeting specific groups – namely the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or Madness.
The statistics are staggering: people over 80 are 70 times more likely to die from the disease than those under 40, while morbid obesity increases the risk of dying by two and a half times. Fortunately, the infant mortality rate is very low.
All of this means that the challenge now is to get the economy back to work, get the kids back to school and get our hospitals back to the crucial diagnostic work and routine procedures that have been suspended with devastating consequences that we haven’t seen it yet. .
Professor Karol Sikora (photo) is a consultant oncologist and professor of medicine, Buckingham University School of Medicine
It should also boost our economy considerably, as it means that factories and businesses, where workers are predominantly young and healthy, can reopen with reasonable precautions.
The easy part of locking was to start it. The message was simple: we are all in danger, do what we tell you and if you do not do it, we have given the police special powers to fine or arrest you.
Lifting it will be much more difficult, in part because the dangers of Covid-19 have been exaggerated for reasons of public policy and people have been brainwashed in a state of fear.
But now that we know that Covid-19 is a selective killer, we have to accept that we can’t have a single approach to locking.
Some people are more vulnerable than others – and it should now be up to them to make a personal assessment of their individual risk.
After all, we constantly make such judgments. To take an extreme example, my wife took a parachute jump; I didn’t do it and I never would. Our respective decisions are based on our fear of jumping out of an airplane and our rational assessment of the risks involved. The same goes with Covid-19. As an oncologist, I spoke this week to elderly patients with terminal cancer who will live no more than a few months. They ask me if they should take advantage of the loosening of protective measures to finally get out of their homes, and maybe see their families before they die.
“Now that we know that Covid-19 is a selective killer, we have to accept that we cannot have a unique approach to locking,” says Professor Karol Sikora
I tell them they have to make their own decisions, but I certainly wouldn’t blame them for taking a calculated risk to fully live their last weeks. But, I say, be reasonable.
While the latest figures should certainly boost the morale of people who may begin to think of a return to normalcy, many unsuspecting Britons will be shocked to read that they appear disproportionately threatened.
Those of us who work in hospitals could not help but notice the depressing number of our Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) colleagues who died from Covid-19 in the first weeks of the pandemic.
And these worrying trends were confirmed yesterday with the release of ONS data showing that people of Bangladeshi descent are twice as likely to die as infected white Britons. He also showed that people of African, South Asian, Chinese and Caribbean descent have a 10 to 50 percent higher risk of death.
We do not yet know how to explain this. Socio-economic factors can have an influence, and this is partly explained by the greater risk of South Asians to suffer from kidney disease. There could be hidden genetic explanations that we don’t yet understand.
Some colleagues say that I am too optimistic, but I have the impression that we will be largely finished by September
Elsewhere, the news is more encouraging, including the drop in the number of people who died with Covid-19 to 2,872 in the week ending May 22, compared to 3,810 the previous week.
Likewise, the risk of infection has dropped to about one in a thousand, down from one in 40 at the top of the curve.
The truth is that Covid-19 in most parts of the world except Latin America is showing signs of running out of steam.
Of course, we should not ignore the peaks of the disease, as in South Korea and in our own northern cities. These require intense vigilance and rapid local action if necessary, but we must not be afraid.
Some colleagues say that I am too optimistic, but I have the impression that we will be largely finished in September.
And when it’s all over, we have to do our best not to emerge in a “new normal” – in this dismal cliché sentence that suggests a dull and constrained future – but an “old normal”, as we resume our previous lives .
With the flexibility of our politicians and the judicious application of our own judgment, such an end no longer seems impossible.
Professor Karol Sikora is a consultant oncologist and professor of medicine at the University of Buckingham medical school.