The Bow Group Calls for Urgent Government Rethink on Coronavirus Strategy

Health
Sunday, March 15, 2020

 Key Facts

  • The current mortality rate for declared and closed coronavirus cases is 7%*, with 20% developing severe pneumonia*. These figures have been consistent in China & Italy, that have had long-term exposure. Based on those figures if 80% of the UK population are infected (as the Chief Medical Officer has projected), 10.5 million people will potentially develop severe pneumonia and 3.7 million people will be at risk of dying. Globally that would translate to 1.1 billion being at risk of severe pneumonia and 400 million being at risk of death. *(Source,*Source).
  • The UK currently has among the lowest number of hospital beds in Europe per citizen with 2.5 per 1000 people or 167,600 beds*. 4123 beds are intensive care with ventilators, or 6.6 per 100k people. 83% of intensive care beds are currently occupied with 600 available*. The European average is dobule at 12 intensive care beds per 100k people*.(*Source *Source)
  • Based on current rates of infection the UK will see reported cases rise to 10,000 within a week to ten days, and 1 million within a month*(*Source)
  • It is likely that all UK hospitals will be completely overwhelmed and will not even be able to offer care to the seriously ill and dying. Some western countries may fare slightly better in terms of beds & ventilators, but all will likely experience overwhelming demand.
  • Six weeks ago the Bow Group warned the arrival of coronavirus to Britain was inevitable, and urged the government to undertake remedial action in restricting border access and preparing the NHS and the public.
  • Coronavirus will have a major long-term impact on the UK and global economies, likely causing shortages and unrest.
  • All of these elements make this likely to be the worst national crisis Britain has faced since WW2, and the worst domestic crisis we have ever faced. Urgent and comprehensive action is therefore required.
  • In the event of the crisis worsening in the next month the Bow Group will commit all available funds we have to aid relief, we encourage all able to do the same.  
"The government's "herd immunity" coronavirus strategy has placed the British public under unneccessary risk, and if they don't change course, has consigned the over 65s to death. The UK border must be closed and a national lockdown should be put in place immediately. "
Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman, The Bow Group 

We call on the government to undertake:

  • The complete closure of the UK border.
  • A national lockdown requiring all people to stay in their homes without special permission relevant to profession.
  • Mass flu & pneumococcal vaccination of high risk patients.
  • National procurement of ventilators.
  • Equal provision of care to all persons regardless of age. 
  • Sequestering of public spaces for healthcare, and shelter for the homeless and those in vulnerable housing.
  • The voiding of the government's recent budget to focus all government resources on the response to coronavirus.
  • The setting up of a national volunteer force to give aid and assistance to those most in need.
  • Presumed entitlement to Universal Credit for all, to be reviewed at the nearest opportunity after the crisis has abated.
  • Ban on all disconnection of essential utilities such as electricity, water, and gas.
  • Government funding of food banks.
  • National leaflet campaign with key information and home healthcare advice sent to all homes, including advice to stop smoking for the duration of the crisis.  

Quotes:

"We are two months into the world's most significant pandemic in decades. In terms of public concern only HIV struck deeper at the heart of the British people in this way. COVID19 is huge and it is getting bigger, the cases increasingexponentially, with a roughly ten fold increase every 8 days. In two weeks we can expect 100,000 clinical cases, in three weeks one million without immediate action.

The UK was well aware of the science behind the virus before it arrived on our shores and before it started to rise exponentially two weeks ago. It hasn’t done anything. Six weeks ago the Bow Group put out the call for border restrictions, a public health information plan, and to ensure those already at high risk to be reminded of the need for vaccinations against pneumococcus and flu. There has been no such action in a concerted way. No public information leaflets have seen sent to every household nor is the BBC being used to fully get the knowledge we have to the public.

Instead we have mixed messaging from Downing Street including the horrifying discussion of using “herd immunity” to suppress further infections. It is hard to believe that medical advice has been given to adopt a strategy of much higher risk than that advised by the WHO, to allow tens of millions of people to be infected by a virus with a mortality (in clinical cases) of 5-10%. We must see the ethics approval to this strategy and its methodology. Western democracies have seen dark days where the public or segments of it were subjected to human experimentation, including those at increased risk of dying. To consider a strategy that assumes a competent immune response and acquired immunity and that this will prevent future deaths, and therefore is worth the very real high numbers of imminent deaths we would see from an uncontained coronavirus pandemic, is very optimistic and risky.

There must be an immediate review of this strategy, in public, by the World Medical Association given that the above strategy seems to violate the Helsinki Declaration that underpins western medical research. In a world with the UK as a major aviation hub it is imperative we maintain confidence in the evidence based WHO and not undermine it. It is essential the UK conduct an independent public inquiry into every pandemic affecting us once it has subsided so that we can learn lessons and gain a full and open insight into the emergency decision making and capacity of Government.

The immediate remedial actions in this release are based on high impact measures to alleviate the current errors that I believe have fatally undermined our fight against this deadly disease."
Dr Jonathan Stanley (Medic), Senior Research & Health Policy Fellow, The Bow Group 

"The government's "herd immunity" coronavirus strategy has placed the British public under unneccessary risk, and if they don't change course, has consigned the over 65s to death. The UK border should have been closed weeks ago, and a national lockdown should be put in place immediately. Over the last month. when you observe nations with stringent border controls and quarantine, Japan, Signapore, Hungary, Poland, Russia, the rates of reported infections are far lower. These nations may not be able to avoid the virus, but they will have bought valuable time that will save many lives. 

As a result of not implementing these measures the situation in the UK is already on the precipice of the worst domestic crisis in our history, within a month a million people could be infected, and ultimately millions could die. Action must now be taken to do what is necessary to manage a crisis of this scale. Critics of the government's approach are not merely partisan snipers, right or left, most are those that have seen the true scale of this catastrophe and wish to see as many lives saved as possible.

We call on the government to now close all borders and place the UK into the same national lockdown Italy has undertaken. We also call on them to ensure the same level of care and protection to all citizens, regardless of age. Being over 65 or having a weak immune system cannot be a sentence to death and low priority care, these lives are as valuable as any.  

It will also be necessary to ensure the provision of food and basic economic sustinence, so funded food banks and universal credit should be offerred to all applicants. 

This is a new reality that will likely place Britain in a wartime situation for months. We hope that the government will set up a national volunteer service for those who are able to help those less fortunate. If the situation becomes as bad as is projected in weeks to come we will make all Bow Group funds available to support relief of the crisis, we encourage any other organisation or individual able to, to do the same." 
Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman, The Bow Group