Skip to content

Corona Dairies – herd immunity: are we cattle now?

March 13, 2020

So we’re worth little more than a herd of cattle, is that right? I suppose you could argue that Britain’s elderly and vulnerable are worth considerably less than a farm full of Jersey cows. Cows produce milk, cheese, yogurt and, at the end of their days, meat. Old people consume them, and economically speaking make no recognisable contribution to society other than the money they spend, much of which comes from the government anyway.

I think I understand the concept of herd immunity, and I recognise that it would be good if the survivors are equipped to resist a second wave of coronavirus, which might arrive in the coming winter.

Yes, well we’re all entitled to our opinions, though those whose views carry the most weight appear to be prepared to sacrifice a generation in order to prove their opinion right.

I have a better idea. It’s not particularly sound economically, but morally it knocks the economic argument out of the ballpark.

If the Chinese have equipment left after their shipment to Italy, we should spend some of the money we’ve budgeted for roads, railways and other stuff on buying intensive care facilities from them. We should immediately start work on creating ten, maybe twenty thousand intensive care beds, whatever it takes. If the Chinese can build a hospital in Wuhan in a week, surely it is not beyond our capabilities to build, even on temporary premises, enough beds to save some of those who will otherwise die in their beds or hospital corridors because the NHS can’t treat them.

Would that not be an act of leadership? Would it not be proof that as a country we care about all our citizens, including the economically quiescent who paid tax and social security for maybe fifty years in order to raise and educate the generations who will benefit from this herd immunity. Better surely than treating them like exhausted milch cows?

I have no idea how long it would take to create the extra beds. Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes Minister would no doubt find a reason why it would take many months, at which point the intended beneficiaries would be dead. But the Chinese presumably don’t have Sir Humphrey equivalents. The orders come from on high and they jump.

If the objection is that it’s not a matter of equipment but staff, my question would be that given there are many people unable to work through being temporarily laid off, what would it take to train people rapidly to perform certain specific tasks in support of the intensive care effort?

In short, I would set a target of two months to get the new facilities in place. Just in time for the anticipated peak. Businesses love stretch targets. Why not governments?

And now a further thought. When the crisis is past, perhaps we should put the surplus equipment in storage and earmark it to be donated to faraway countries of which we know little when they have to cope with epidemics – zika, ebola, whatever – for which their health systems are underprepared.

If we wish to see it this way, would not the soft power that accrues from such a gesture more than make up for a few delays in our new roads and railways?

But, you might ask, what qualifies me to mouth off about this stuff? I can only say that I’ve learned much from the globally acclaimed expert in such matters, Donald Trump. His leadership, wisdom, and deep scientific knowledge are an example to us all.

More soon.

From → Politics, Social, UK, USA

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: