Saturday, 21 March 2020

When will it end?

I just got a notification that the BBC is saying “Coronavirus restrictions could last a year”.
Well, no. They can’t. I’m not saying the virus won’t last a year. That could well last a millennium or more. Our annual flu virus has been with us for over 2,000 years. I’m saying the restrictions can’t last a year and so they won’t last a year.
Two reasons:
a.  People won’t put up with it. Not being allowed to go the pub, to restaurants, to clubs, to gyms, to the theatre, to work? After a while the naturally bolshy Brits are going to go “up yours, Boris”. (Ditto in the US, I reckon).
b.  Cure worse than the disease.  The disease being something with a death rate of 1% to 3%, vs a “cure” that destroys the economy and the lives of millions, which bankrupts our governments, which loads crippling debts on our grandchildren. While apparently not even wiping out the virus entirely.
This morning I saw an interview on the BBC with a woman who had recently signed a five year lease on a pub.  It was her first time with her own business.  Her and her husband’s dream. And now they've been hit with this. No customers, no fault of their own. She was on the verge of tears -- as was I -- as she said they were trying hard to cope, she and her husband, but she didn’t know what she was going to do, what with zero cash coming in. Jing and I empathised totally: we’ve owned a business here in Hong Kong, faced challenges, had tough times, but nothing like this. To stare bankruptcy in the face, to realise that your life’s savings, your dreams, are about to be lost, all ... gone.... It’s heartbreaking and it’s going all over the world.
And that’s because we need to “flatten the curve”? Because there aren’t enough hospital beds to tend to all the sick? No.
I speak as one in the high risk category. An over 70 male. I’m at risk from this virus more than the young. But I don’t want the livelihoods of the young at risk because there aren’t enough hospital beds for us oldies, for goodness sake!
There’s going to be a crunch and it’s between lives -- mostly still of older people like me -- and the economy going down the gurgler, then it has to be the lives that go. It’s either that, or the lives and the futures of all our young. As Boris and Macron have said, “it’s war”. And in war you have to sacrifice.

That issue of hospital bed numbers, by the way, may be why Japan is managing to keep on with life pretty much as normal. They have, iirc, something like 13 beds per 10,000 population, vs just 2.6 in Britain (Added: and 2.8 in the US). They can afford to let more people get sick and to treat them. The benefits of a society that’s been preparing for ageing for ages...

So, these restrictions: they can’t go on. Not for a year. So they won’t. That’s my prediction.  At most three months of these restrictions and then we will start easing them. Or we’re down the gurgler. All for some old farts like me?  I say, No. No, and no again.

ADDED (14:00 HKT 22/3): From comments at this vid, thanks to a reader, and pretty much echoes my post. Click to enlarge: