Covid Conundrum

Is the UK leaving one devastating pandemic, only to blindly walk into a group of others? Some experts certainly think so.

AUGUST 27th, 2020

© Getty Images


one of it makes sense, does it?

The constant U-turning, the mixed messaging and incendiary language spouted by the government as we traverse our way out of lockdown, is seemingly adding to the misery of the “new normal”. We’ve seen the guidance of facemasks change hourly; the local lockdowns implemented with little to no warning; travel restrictions put in place, plunging the hospitality industry into chaos; what was initially actions to “flatten the curve” has since become “confuse the public.”

This “group” consists of cancer treatment, heart disease, depression, anxiety, just to name a few, and the lack of resources on offer are having a drastic and tragic effect. Adrian Rogers, from Retford, is just one Brit who is being battered by the confusing and limited resources available. In March, Adrian was scheduled to have six cancerous tumours removed through surgery; in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the operation was cancelled. The devastating effect has now left him with twenty tumours, each one inoperable, meaning that his tragic diagnosis is now terminal.

“I’m right at rock bottom at the moment, because I feel I’ve missed my chance,” Adrian says. “It’s tiring in the end – it just takes it out of you. Every day you just wake up and it’s there, every night before you go to bed, it’s there – it never leaves you.”

They are heart-wrenching words from a man whose chance at living a full life has been cruelly snatched away. Sadly, Adrian isn’t alone. Thousands of cancer patients have been left without treatment or the necessary operations to help them pull through what is a deeply traumatic time. A nurse working in a Yorkshire hospital on a cancer ward told The Rumble Online: “It’s extremely worrying. We are barely seeing any patients, and the drop in numbers of cancer diagnoses is astronomical. It’s like watching a ticking timebomb.”

The numbers being referenced do make for worrying reading. The Lancet Oncology report found after collecting data from 32,585 patients with breast cancer, 24,975 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 6744 with oesophageal cancer, and 29,305 with lung cancer, the percentage of increase in the number of avoidable deaths was “substantial”, “frightening”, and “urgent policy interventions” were needed.

For breast cancer, The Lancet’s results estimated an almost 10% increase in deaths; colorectal cancer could see a 16% increase; lung and oesophageal cancer 6% respectively.

Chris Whitty, Patrick Valance and Boris Johnson attend an early briefing on the Covid-19 Pandemic in March - © Getty Images

With such a drastic rise, why are patients still being turned away? When pubs and restaurants are opening, as well as cinemas and shopping centres – why are the country’s GP surgeries and hospitals running on limited resources? It seems all wrong.

When you add the recent numbers emerging from the covid-19 pandemic, the confusion intensifies – as does the frustration. There are over 147,000 hospital beds in the UK; 480 are currently being used by covid-19 patients, under 100 are being treated in ICU. On August 19th, PHE zero deaths due to coronavirus in England, and our covid-specialised Nightingale Hospitals have been closed and dismantled. It is becoming clearer day by day that the UK is pulling through this pandemic, and ultimately the figures point to a positive heading. Yet cancer patients are still going untreated. Why? Professor Karol Sikora, former head of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme, places the blame on the government’s “obsession” with covid-19, and believes that the true devastating effect of their “tunnel vision” will likely be greater than first predicted.

“Some estimates say a few thousand cancer patient lives could be lost. I think you can easily multiply that by ten,” he told The Times. “It’s far worse than people appreciate.”

“We have almost certainly caused the death of something like 30,000 patients,” he continued. “I think it’s going to end up in that sort of number… 30,000 who would have probably been cured if it hadn’t been for covid. I’ve seen a lot in my half a century in medicine. I’ve never been more worried about cancer care than I am now. This is an unfolding disaster and so many aren’t seeing it. Don’t get cancer in 2020.”

Professor Karol Sikora, former head of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme - © Getty Images

Worrying words from a leading expert, and with those concerns shared by many doctors and nurses working in our NHS wards; why does the government, their scientists and certain corners of the mainstream media continue to push the doomsday narrative over coronavirus, and neglect the impending chaos over cancer and other issues?

According to Professor Sikora: “The epidemiologists, to a certain extent. They have a vested interest in the whole thing running and running. A live pandemic means that “their specialism is important — people look to them as the gurus of what’s going to happen next. If they say, ‘Well it’s all gonna blow away by Christmas’… well that’s not what the epidemiology guys want to hear. They want to say, ‘You’re going to need me for some years to come’.”

These could be classed as controversial comments, with the constant messaging remaining “follow the science”. Though many of the public are beginning to question that science, or perhaps lack of. A consensus is growing that the government is being overzealous with their focus on the pandemic and therefore neglecting other problems which are arising at astronomical rates. Whilst cancer is one, mental health is another.

The leading charity Mind have shared similar concerns to cancer experts over the need for stronger infrastructures in helping treat those in need – and their apprehensions are more than valid. Last week, a report released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that depression had almost doubled during the pandemic. One in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during June alone, an increase of one in ten since last year, it claimed.

Mind themselves carried out their own survey and discovered more than two thirds of people already suffering from mental health problems had stated their condition had worsened during the pandemic. This followed on from the report that the charity had seen a 55% increase in webpage views to register for support.

A doctor observes a Covid-19 patient in an NHS hospital in Scotland - © Getty Images

In response the government have claimed that tackling mental health will be part of their ‘long-term’ plan in recovering Britain from the pandemic, but those suffering from the lockdown and constant negative news aren’t looking at long-term care, but short-term. Without it, will it be all too late?

With unemployment rocketing, the threat of a second peak – although no other country has experienced one yet, and many scientists claim this is no longer a possibility – and the economy tanking, there will be many members of the public needing essential support. There has also been plans for a re-entry into lockdown – on a local level.

This news has caused serious concern with charities and leading figures offering support to those suffering from domestic abuse, and like most, there has been a devastating increase in cases here too.

MPs found that the first three weeks of lockdown saw the highest number of killings of women of any 21-day period in the past decade. Today, domestic violence killings now stand at five-a-week. The rise was sadly expected, with experts warning the inevitable outcome pertaining to the length of the lockdown.

The Nightingale Hospital London, which has now closed - © Getty Images

But that was then, and this is now. With such positive numbers, some areas are still entering a version of the lockdown – even towns who haven’t experienced a single case of covid-19 since March. Many of these communities are rural and are unable to access shops and care facilities with ease. They also rely heavily on tourism, an industry which is being ripped at the seams. But these livelihoods don’t seem to matter, as long as we continue to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic, which many would argue: can it get any flatter?

All these numbers and statistics, the lack of action and the confusing messaging allude to either two things. Our government knows something we, the public, don’t, or their incompetence is crippling the country at every possible turn. Either way, it paints a stark picture for the future, even though things appear to be improving for the better.

It is clear that we have now long passed the pandemic’s peak. The Oxford vaccine looks positive, and it has been reported that a military research facility has discovered a product found in insect repellent can kill the strain of coronavirus which causes covid-19. Whilst the R-rate has risen in some areas, more people are dying from pneumonia and influenza than the covid-19 virus. With such positives, the mainstream media has gone eerily quiet. At the peak of the pandemic, we were bombarded with the daily death figures. Today, it’s a struggle to find out the numbers. It leaves you wondering, what is actually going on?

Perhaps Mark Twain summed it up best when he wrote: “It is easier to fool people, than it is to convince them that they have been fooled.” Though, are the public being fooled? Together we supported our NHS. We did as we were told. We’ve social distanced, worn masks, stayed indoors when required – and yet, the vast amount of science which was used to advise us to do so has still not been presented to the public. Why?

At a time when people’s mental health is struggling, cancer patients are feeling abandoned, and the general public’s confusion is increasing, we need clarity, not ineffectiveness. Of course, science can change depending on the evidence. But when so much is at stake, can we continue to afford this seemingly blind, doom mongered, and far from transparent decision making? No, we can’t.

Being positive isn’t a sin. If anything, the recent evidence points towards a proactive and encouraging outlook. To hear the experts and media begin to mirror this could have a profound effect on the public’s mental, as well as overall, health. To continue down our current path will persist in the damaging impacts we are seeing on our society.

We have already lost too many to an unseen, unexpected pandemic, which has ravished our communities and way of life. But today we have more knowledge and evidence to help navigate any future without needlessly sacrificing our most vulnerable. So, let’s stop doing so. Otherwise, when all of this trauma ends – and be assured, it will – one way or another, we could be left asking ourselves, was it all worth it?

For those who are needing support in these uncertain times, please follow the links below for more information:

You can find all the latest information and figures on Covid-19 on the WHO's website, see here.

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