As the NHS Confederation was calling for urgent measures to ease pressure on hospitals (Implementeer 'plan B'-wintermaatreëls nou of waag NHS-krisis, Johnson gewaarsku, 19 Oktober), Kwasi Kwarteng was doing the morning media round reassuring us that things are “not as bad as earlier in the year” because the vaccination programme is working. This consistent line since the ending of restrictions flies in the face of the evidence and a government’s primary duty to protect the nation’s health. It also exposes the callous, inhumane nature of this libertine-led government. It is unconscionable for thousands of deaths to be brushed aside in this way.
The deliberate minimisation of the pandemic is also bound to be a key factor behind the surge in Covid cases and deaths: many have been persuaded that vaccination provides complete immunity. It does not. Once again, it is the most vulnerable who are paying the price for gross governmental negligence. Instead of widespread docility, there should be outrage at this continuing slaughter and its official acceptance.
Professor of social policy, University of Sheffield
When is the government going to act to prevent more infections and deaths? My grandson was off school for a few days because he was in contact with an infected friend. He did not develop Covid and tests were negative. On Wednesday my daughter, who has diabetes type 1 and is therefore vulnerable, had to send him back to school, where there are no year bubbles, no mask-wearing, and where 50 students in his year have Covid. She feels as if she’s sending him back to catch it. He has had his first jab, but too recently for it to be really effective. Does the government not realise that, in a situation like this, vulnerable people are put at unnecessary risk, or is it just that they don’t give a damn?
Name and address supplied
I cannot believe that Sajid Javid is prepared to let Covid case numbers reach 100,000 per day before implementing public health measures to reduce its spread (MPs should set example in battle against Covid, sê Sajid Javid, 20 Oktober. Very high rates of Covid mean an increased chance of new variants, which may be resistant to current vaccines, and unacceptably high levels of long Covid. This winter could see the NHS workforce collapse under extreme demands.
Mr Javid must realise that the chances of face-to-face GP consultations will decrease as the numbers of Covid cases rise. Boris Johnson must realise that overseas travel will wane if more countries ban visitors from the UK. He must also realise that pressure on the NHS may mean that we will be in lockdown this Christmas.
Emeritus professor of psychological medicine, University of Manchester
Sajid Javid is right to suggest politicians lead by example with behaviours that help prevent the spread of Covid. He could make a start by encouraging more of those on his side of the House of Commons to wear masks in the “crowded and enclosed space” that is the chamber. The same example at Cop26 might help prevent a spike for us here in Glasgow too.
I have a photograph taken on Wednesday afternoon of 28 ambulances queueing to offload at Cornwall’s only acute hospital, yet the secretary of state for health and social care informs us at his press conference that NHS pressures are “not unsustainable”. Would he be quite so sanguine if one of his loved ones was involved?
I despair at the continued failure of the government to respond to the rocketing Covid cases. We recently returned from a holiday in France, where masks are mandatory in enclosed spaces, with a simple rule and clear, consistent signage. The “pass sanitaire”, evidence of double vaccination, recent negative test or confirmed recovery from Covid, on paper or phone, is required in bars, restaurants and other settings, and simply managed by the staff. The French, not a people known for their slavish following of state diktat or taking their liberties lightly, appeared to just get on with it, thus enjoying both an open economy and low infection rates. Does Brexit mean we are no longer able to learn from the French?
Smethwick, West Midlands