Sadly, we’ve changed but not for the braver, says FREDERICK FORSYTH

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THERE is good news and not so good and some ruddy awful. The good is that this horrible contagion seems to have run its course – or be close to that point.

We know that finally the figure of 40,000 deaths has been reached, but the rate has plunged. Given that lockdown observance is quietly shattering as more and more become seriously fed up with it, that indicates one thing – that the original 40,000 hyper-susceptibles have succumbed and this vicious little virus is having to search high and low to find fresh ones.

That 40,000 figure sounds horrendous but we would be unwise to ignore the mitigating factors. Every year this country sustains a toll from seasonal winter flu and has done for years – with grief for the passed-on, but no national panic. About 20,000. But these this year are being folded into the overall figure to boost the case for lockdown.

Yet if you take the residual 20,000 deaths as a proportion of our nation 67 million it works out at one “extra” death per 3,350 citizens. It is neither harsh nor cynical to say that this is vanishingly small. 

The not-so-good news is that from a dozen reliable sources it is clear that death tolls from non-Covid causes are spiralling as a direct result of lockdown. More than 5,000 dementia deaths above average have occurred. Other causes, also spiralling, are heart disease, stroke, circulatory disease, meningitis, lung, liver and kidney ailments and the ever-present scourge, cancer. In large part all these increases are due to the prioritisation of Covid over all else, even to the exclusion of everything else. I know two surgeons who are fuming with rage after being told their patients must go “on hold” even though operating theatres stand idle with their nursing staff eager to work but on instructions not to.

And suicides are surging as poor so-and-sos who cannot take any more tragically decide to end it all. We have probably already passed the point where the non-Covid but lockdown-caused deaths have passed those of the contagion. We do not have overall death figures and their itemised causes but we will soon. They cannot be suppressed for ever or even much longer.

And finally, due to sheer bureaucratic incompetence, we are still criminally short of protective and testing kit that works – and fast. But the really bad news derives from the Cabinet Office. It is that our Government, having long lost its bottle, simply cannot re-discover it. The lifting of lockdown is creakingly slow, rife with illogic and timid as a mouse in a cattery. The officially inspired and run propaganda campaign continues with its pathetic slogans (stay indoors, stay alert). But the brain-washing of a newly-gullible people has worked. According to the polls 50 percent are still terrified into shuffling obedience.

What has happened to us – the fearsome British? We struggled, took the risks and finally won the Cold War against the mighty USSR which was a lot more dangerous than Covid.

But it seems we have changed – and not for the braver.

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