|Volume 50 Number 10, March 25, 2020||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
It has been reported that three 30-year-old junior doctors in London are on ventilators from Covid-19, and that there are also two ENT consultants on ventilators in the UK and that sadly another one has died. The following petition highlights that on January 24 Chinese doctors identified that one third of all patients with the disease need intensive care. Medical staff themselves need personal protective equipment. Despite supposed reassurances from the government, adequate PPE is just not getting to healthcare staff. The very real concern is that many precious doctors, nurses, paramedics, radiographers, physios, cleaners , porters, etc., are going to be lost. Here is the petition:
On the 24th of January this year Chinese doctors and scientists reported in The Lancet a new disease caused by a novel coronavirus. One third of all these patients had to be admitted to an intensive care unit, and half of these died. The Chinese scientists stated "The number of deaths is rising quickly". They strongly recommended the provision of personal protective equipment for health care workers and testing of the virus immediately a diagnosis was suspected. They concluded the mortality rate was high and urged careful surveillance of this new virus in view of its pandemic potential.
Richard Horton the editor of The Lancet writes in The Guardian "The medical and scientific advisers to the UK government ignored their warnings. For unknown reasons they waited and watched". He further states that these scientists believed the new virus could be treated like an influenza epidemic. Sir Patrick Vallance the government's chief scientific adviser suggested the target was to infect 60% of the population to produce "herd immunity".
After weeks of inaction the government announced a sudden U turn on Monday 16th March as new modelling by scientists at Imperial College London had convinced them to change plans. Richard Horton states that "what changed is that the government advisers finally understood what had really taken place in China". He further states "The UK's best scientists have known since the first report from China that Covid-19 was a lethal illness. Yet they did too little, too late".
There have been grave errors in the UK's handling of Covid-19, and this will result in a public health disaster with unimaginable consequences. We need to learn why opportunities were missed, and who is responsible.