The fake story about the unpredictability of the epidemic

This is the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser spinning heavily:

Encouraging a range of opinions, views and interpretation of data is all part of the process. No scientist would ever claim, in this fast-changing and unpredictable pandemic, to have a monopoly of wisdom on what happens next [1]

The context is that he is responding to criticism of the recent official scare-mongering about Omicron. (6,000 deaths a day, hospitals overwhelmed*). But what I want to focus on is this line about a “fast-changing and unpredictable pandemic”. This is a sheer lie. From February 2020 the overall trajectory of the pandemic has been pretty clear. The one factor which at that time could not have been predicted was the relatively successful development of vaccines. (Vaccines which are now of course beginning to show their predictable limitations). Everything else; the rapid global spread, the asymptomatic transmission complicating control efforts, the arising of mutations, the fact that such mutations would very likely start to evade any vaccines – all of this was anything but “unpredictable”. On the contrary it was either known (asymptomatic transmission was known about in February) or completely predictable to anyone with the most basic grasp of science and how viruses spread and evolve. I would like to simply say that it is surprising that the Chief Scientific Adviser to the British government can’t ‘do basic science’. But the reality is he probably can. (Initially he was one of those who fully understood that the virus would proliferate rapidly and wildly and was indeed advocating a policy of letting it do so). This line about “fast-moving” and “unpredictable” is in fact one of the main official defences which they are prepping for the upcoming public enquiry into the botched handling of the pandemic by the government which he advises. They don’t want the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths pinned on them. (In care homes; from non-Covid illnesses as people stayed away from GPs and hospitals [2]; from hospital acquired infections).

* They might be but then they should build more capacity and do what they are paid to do; provide health services. Not terrorise the public into not getting ill so that they don’t have to do anything which they don’t ordinarily do.

Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/24/vallance-hits-back-at-tory-accusations-of-omicron-fear-mongering
  2. See also: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23210222211046412 it is clear that there have been excess deaths resulting from people not accessing normal health care though the statistics are complicated due to a range of factors.

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer