JUST two years ago, in the Beast From The East winter of 2017-18, a flu epidemic prematurely claimed the lives of more than 50,000 frail and elderly victims.
In the official jargon, these were “excess winter deaths”.
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To the medical profession they were a “pensioner harvest”. To the rest of us, the carnage went almost unnoticed.
Nobody thought then of turning the Excel exhibition centre into a 5,000-bed field hospital or crippling the economy for decades to come by trying to slow the inevitable death rate.
Fast forward to today. The coronavirus death toll has topped 1,200 and, according to expert Prof Neil Ferguson, it could all be over in weeks with a final tally of “less than 7,000”.
That’s a big drop from the Prof’s terrifying forecast two weeks ago of up to half a million dead and perhaps 18 months’ lockdown.
It was the same Neil Ferguson whose nightmarish forecast of mass fatalities from “mad cow disease” proved totally wrong and whose policy of mass slaughter for foot-and-mouth disease cost us £8BILLION.
His initial Grim Reaper scenario on coronavirus threw Downing Street into panic, forced the UK into lockdown, crashed the economy and put millions out of work, some permanently.
FIT OF MASS HYSTERIA
To be fair, the same panic engulfed most of the world, with French gendarmes dragging old folk to the ground for leaving home without a permit. Given the chance, our Plod will follow suit.
Only Sweden bucked the trend. While the rest of Europe incarcerated its citizens, the Swedes allowed bars, restaurants and schools to remain open.
“Sweden cannot take draconian measures that have a limited impact on the epidemic but knock out the functions of society,” says its health secretary, Johan Carlson.
It remains to be seen if they will pay a bigger price than next-door Norway, which has locked up the entire population.
Coronavirus was born in China among the bloody guts of disembowelled bats, snakes, poultry and wildlife peddled in Wuhan’s infamous “wet markets”.
Authorities first tried to conceal the epidemic then used totalitarian powers to shut down whole regions at the point of a gun.
To its eternal shame, in a fit of mass hysteria the rest of the world followed suit — giving China a velvet glove for its iron fist and allowing Beijing to put the blame on us.
I do not in any way minimise the tragedy of those frail and vulnerable individuals who die before their time.
But as one of those most at risk, I suspect I speak for many in their vulnerable over-70s who believe the world has gone stark, staring mad.
Hysteria has been fanned by broadcasters with round-the-clock 24/7 crisis bulletins and correspondents declaring: “Protecting public health must come before protecting the economy.”
Wrong. We MUST protect the economy — industry, commerce, retail and financial businesses without whose taxes our precious NHS will shrivel, not grow.
The cost of this lockdown on schools, sport, gyms, pools, golf and civil liberty is incalculable — and not just in hard cash.
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We are building a colossal national debt which will take our children’s and grandchildren’s lifetimes to pay off.
Mental and physical ill-health, children’s shattered life chances, suicide, murder and alcoholism will claim many more lives than Covid-19.
Patients with cancer, kidney and heart disease are already going untreated as beds go to Covid-19 victims. Yet no vaccine is likely for a year or more.
We are in lockdown over a death risk of less than one or two in a THOUSAND, most with a limited life expectancy anyway.
Yet we seem to take far more horrifying death risks in our stride.
Sepsis is avoidable and often agonising. It kills 48,000 people a year — 11million worldwide — more than bowel, breast and pancreatic cancer combined.
Boris Johnson, one of the latest victims of the insidious virus, insists he always acts on scientific advice.
He has written to every householder asking us to carry on self-isolating.
As soon as he is well enough, he must make political choices and tackle this Covid craziness before it does far more real damage.
As soon as the NHS has enough ventilators, hazmat suits and testing kits to take control of this epidemic, he must do two things . . .
First, he must release the brake and get the economy going again. Labour will go mad, of course. But we need people back at work, earning a living, keeping firms and High Streets alive.
Then the PM must halt the ghastly new emergency laws which license jobsworth cops to run amok, track dog-walkers by drone, bellow at harmless citizens and urge us to spy on our neighbours.
DAN WOOTTONLet’s get angrier at China's cruel wet markets that caused coronavirus
KARREN BRADYSelf-isolating is fine… but not being able to dye my grey roots really gets me
DAN WOOTTONYet again, Harry and Meghan's priority is their new Hollywood lifestyle
DR JENNY HARRIESThe UK is a world leader in preparing for serious disease outbreaks
JEREMY CLARKSONI have the answer to going out and staying safe... it’s called a motor car
ARTHUR EDWARDSMeghan wasn't ready to give up Hollywood…she and Harry need to give it a go
After barely a week of lockdown, ordinary, decent British people are chafing at the loss of their freedoms.
BoJo is at a record high in the polls.
He needs to seize his chance, time it right and get us back to normality as soon as possible after Easter.