A barbaric experiment?

Lynne Mitchell - Informed Decisions Research
Insights Newsletter
17 September, 2021

Arriving into the UK from New Zealand, the fear of entering a “Covid world” has proven unfounded.  

In England, more than 90% of adults have Covid antibodies either from vaccination or having had Covid-19.   After long lockdowns, confidence in immunization is enough for most to accept living with Covid. Covid-19 continues to be a killer, but the fear factor is overridden by the desire for normality and belief that with antibodies you are unlikely to get seriously ill. Fully vaccinated people account for 1.2% of Covid deaths in England, most in the high risk and elderly category.  

Life has opened up in London and city venues are buzzing. While about half of London Transport users wear masks, there are few to be seen out of doors or in restaurants and cafes. More vulnerable people can choose to take extra precautions. In a high-end supermarket in the leafy Suffolk area, most senior folks wear masks.

Elimination in the UK is not an option, so we have to take personal responsibility. According to the NHS (National Health Service), one-third of people with Covid have no symptoms.  Rapid Lateral Flow Covid test kits are available free from pharmacies, shops and NHS courier. The NHS deem these rapid kits up to 99.9% accurate for those with a high viral load and they are for use at home by people who are symptom-free*. Anyone working with the public or going to social occasions can have a stack of kits at home and regularly self-test with results in 30 minutes. At the local nursery school, there is a sign saying their staff self-test twice a week.

 If you have Covid symptoms, PCR tests are recommended, available from public and private clinics, pharmacies and free NHS courier home service.  PCR results take 24 hours plus. For those at home unwell with Covid, there is an NHS phone hot line for regular monitoring of symptoms and free pulse oximeters can be couriered to enable self-check of oxygen levels. My family here when they had Covid were asked to submit oxygen level results and report on simple tasks like climbing stairs. A PCR test is required before medical procedures and hospital admission. 

Because of vaccination, testing and support, there is a resilient attitude not to be cowered by the virus and to take personal responsibility in living with Covid.  It doesn’t feel “barbaric”, in fact, it feels civilized.   

Lynne was a business librarian at the University of Auckland for a long number of years and is now a sometime independent writer and researcher
*Editor’s Note: the 99% accuracy figure from the NHS refers to false positives. Rapid antigen tests in general are not as accurate against false negatives; tests approved by the US FDA range in sensitivity from 80% to 97%.

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