We’re not supposed to call it the “Indian variant”, any more, obviously, in case that makes ordinary people feel suspicious of Indian-looking people they see on the street (who comes up with this stuff, exactly?).
But we are all supposed to be absolutely terrified of it. It is more transmissible, and it is on the loose in the UK.
But what if…… it is not that bad?
Very important news from Matt Hancock in the Commons, confirming Covid jabs are working. Out of 12,383 Delta variant cases in UK till June 3rd:
– 464 people went to emergency care
– 126 admitted to hospital
– 83 were unvaccinated
– 28 had one jab
– Just 3 both doses
— Sebastian Payne (@SebastianEPayne) June 7, 2021
Out of 12,383 recorded cases of the Indian variant in the UK, just three cases in total requiring hospitalisation have been recorded in people who have received both doses of a vaccine. That is an extraordinary testament to the effectiveness of the vaccines, and a hammer blow to the repeated insistences of Irish Public Health experts that the vaccine alone is insufficient to ward off the latest “deadly new variant”.
The vaccines themselves, obviously, have had their fair share of safety scares since they were released, and figures suggest that there is still a significant cohort of the population in most western democracies who are either completely opposed to taking one, or are adopting a “wait and see” approach. That is, of course, their right.
But the issue is this: The need for Covid restrictions has always been based not on the idea that Covid is inherently bad, but on the idea that Covid posed a unique risk to hospitals and the public health infrastructure. Those UK figures, given that well over half of Britons have had at least one dose of the jab, suggest that the newly-renamed “Delta” variant poses very little risk to hospitals and public health infrastructure.
What we do know is that across western society, a majority of people are willing, if not eager, to be vaccinated. In fact, in most English speaking western countries, the proportion of the population with at least one dose is approaching, or exceeding, 50%. If these figures from the UK are correct, then those people have very little to fear from this variant.
And what of the rest of the population? Well, in the UK, out of the total number of infections – 12,383 – just 464 people in total went to the hospital. That’s 3% of those infected. Of those who went to the hospital, only 126 were actually admitted to the hospital. That is 1% of those infected.
To put that in perspective, if we had 100,000 cases of the Indian/Delta variant in Ireland tomorrow, we should expect only about 1,000 people to end up in hospital. To put that in further perspective, Ireland has only had 255,000 cases of coronavirus in total since the beginning of the pandemic.
With approaching half the population vaccinated, and another 255,000 people with natural immunity of some form, what are the chances of us ever having 100,000 simultaneous cases of the Delta/Indian variant?
It is, in the end, relatively simple mathematics.
Nevertheless, this variant is presently being used to justify the continued closure of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and a range of other amenities. It has been used to justify the cancellation of the electric picnic this year, as well as a whole range of other events. It has been used to justify the disgraceful scenes at the weekend, when Gardai shuttered central Dublin.
And yet, right in our neighbouring democracy (which, by the way, is open for business, to a far greater degree than Ireland) we can see that the Delta/Indian variant is proving nowhere near as terrifying or scary as our public health experts portray it.
Once again, it is worth wondering why the Irish media is entirely abrogating its role in questioning the science and the public policy here. These figures are publicly available. It is patently obvious that even in a situation such as the UK, where there is an uncontrolled outbreak of this variant, it is not causing the chaos that has been advertised.
But can we expect that point to be put to any public health scientist on the Irish airwaves?
You know the answer to that as well as I do.