Coronavirus is serious – but lockdown seems to be worse than the disease itself

LOCKDOWNS and restrictions are costing lives.

The Alzheimer’s Society has raised concerns about the elderly suffering from loneliness, Breast Cancer Now is worried about over a million women missing cancer appointments and even a government report shows that the first lockdown led to more cancer deaths and deteriorating mental health. 

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Children have missed out on their education, watched parents lose their jobs and seen us ruin their economic futures and job prospects.

By trashing our economy we are causing so much more suffering, pain and death in the future. But it’s not too late to change course. 

That is why I and a number of MPs in Westminster have set up the Covid Recovery Group, to make sure our response is rational, balanced, takes account of all types of suffering, and that we are not being governed by panic. 

We are asking the Government to tell the other side of the story. Extinguishing our freedom and smashing our economy has costs for our health and economic wellbeing.

It’s time for ministers to tell us what those costs are rather than keep pretending that these restrictions are not causing anything other than enormous economic, social and non-Covid health harm to our citizens. 

Perhaps most importantly of all, we must ensure we help government scientists to give the best possible advice to our Prime Minister. Boris often says he is “following the science”, but listening to just one set of scientists is far from scientific when we know they often disagree.

Since the start of the outbreak, many of the rules formed by government have been based on models – on predictions rather than facts. That’s the nature of policymaking during a pandemic.

There are some exceptional data scientists in government, and I’m lucky enough to have met them recently. But something went horribly wrong with the modelling in government a week ago. 

When the Prime Minister announced the upcoming lockdown, the death predictions used were based on data that was out of date. They over-estimated imminent deaths by up to four hundred per cent, prompting the Independent Office for National Statistics and a former Prime Minister to complain.

Given the huge sacrifices and risks we are taking by living under these restrictions, we deserve so much better than this.

So the Government must give a range of competing expert groups and scientists a seat at the top table. If they could test and challenge government advice and data, and if this data was then published, dreadful mistakes like this will be far less likely to happen again.

Covid is a serious virus which can be very dangerous for many people, but the solution we’ve come up with seems to me to be worse than the disease itself. 

We must adopt a radically different and enduring strategy for living with the virus until a vaccine is rolled out, stop throwing away our prosperity and ensure that lockdowns and restrictions of any type are not costing us more lives and suffering than they are preventing. 

Together, our nation will emerge from this crisis, enabled by science and technology, leaning on each other for support. Then we must stride forward with courage to rebuild our health, relationships and livelihoods to secure a great future.

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