As England goes into its second national lockdown in just a few moths, Noel Yaxley condemns the governments actions. The inaccuracies from scientific advisors, rising unemployment and decline to individuals mental and physical health make you wonder, is another lockdown worth it?

As the Coronavirus began to spread its tendrils across the globe earlier in the year, few at the time understood the threat it posed. Within a matter of weeks – from early January to the middle of March- the worldwide death toll had reached 13,000.

Around the same time, our prime minister Boris Johnson addressed the public and told us that in order to defeat Covid-19 he would do "whatever it takes." Those who claimed to understand the virus – such as Neil Ferguson, the government's expert in modelling the epidemic – calculated a scenario where the virus was capable of causing 500,000 deaths in Britain alone.

Fear grew and Boris Johnson imposed a nationwide lockdown on the population: a restriction unprecedented in peacetime and more draconian than anything imposed on the British population since the second world war.

Whilst in the grips of a new unknown virus, most of us understood and accepted that temporary sacrifices had to be made. Initially imposed for three weeks to help take pressure off the health service, it continued unabated for months.

When Boris announced he would do whatever it takes, it turns out that he really meant it. As Covid-19 hit our shores, it felt like the NHS was switched off. Entire emergency departments were closed, and many vital operations were cancelled. Due to a lack of treatment facilities, Cancer Research UK reported that 2,300 diagnoses were being missed a week. It was estimated that this could cause 60,000 avoidable cancer deaths.

By the time the lockdown was officially mothballed on July 4th, some restrictions were lifted, but for many the damage was already done. Three quarters of a million people were now off company payrolls. Thousands of businesses closed stores and axed jobs. The rob retention scheme – known as the furlough – initially meant the government would subsidise 80 per cent of employees' wages who, through no fault of their own, now found themselves technically unemployed.

For a few months the economy opened back up and it offered a short respite for the business sector. But once again, the country has been plunged back into a new shutdown: Lockdown 2.0. And now Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the furlough will now last until March 2021?

Whilst the virus is certainly a concern, it is predominantly an issue for those who suffer from pre-exisiting health conditions. Yet things have improved dramatically since the first round of Covid-19 in March-April. Of those who died with 'Covid-related' on their death certificate, over 1,000 were registered a day during the worst of the virus, now, at the start of November, this has dropped to roughly 200: an 80 per cent reduction.

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The hospitals that were built to cope with the anticipated surge of Covid patients were not needed. Although one must praise the efficiency of building a hospital in just nine days, the NHS Nightingale hospital in East London was barely used during the peak of the epidemic. During the Easter weekend, only 19 patients were admitted. By the end of April just 51 patients had been treated. It was closed in May.

The initial furlough scheme designed to insulate workers during the first lockdown has cost £35 billion, potentially pushing public spending towards £200 billion. Public sector net borrowing looks likely to be over £320 billion, contributing to government debt which has now passed £2 trillion, and the national debt has grown by 104 per cent of GDP. 

We are now in an economic crisis not seen since the second world war. It's good to know it's not just the attack on civil liberties that has broken records!

If our brightest and best think they can just print their way out of this, they are in for a shock. A first-year economics student will tell you what happens if you rapidly increase the money supply – hyperinflation.

Lockdown was enforced to isolate and treat those who are infectious, not to incarcerate the entire population. The fears of the National Health Service overwhelmed, and overcapacity turned out to be incorrect. Daily deaths are now relatively low, in some regions of the UK close to zero and for the month between mid-June and July excess deaths were below the five-year average.

At the same time, however, historic levels of unemployment and debt have been reached over a virus that has a survival rate of around 98 per cent. While the lockdown was indiscriminate, the lethality of the virus itself appears to discriminate among the elderly. The median age of a British Covid-19 death is 81 for men and 85 for women.

This is a disease that we must be aware of. But it is not the rampant, destructive killer many, notably Neil Ferguson, predicted. Mr Ferguson was the one who, in 2002, claimed that 50,000 would die from BSE (Mad Cow Disease) – but the UK figure was just 177. He was also the one who warned that 200 million would die from the 2005 Bird Flu. Another miscalculation: 282 lives were lost.

Now as we enter our second lockdown, we are about to shut down our economy and civil liberties once again- predicated on false statistics and out of date data.

Coronavirus is dangerous to some. But it acts as an indiscriminate killer when it comes to our economy and our civil liberties. It has injured thousands: those with missed cancer diagnoses, the educational prospects of students and inflicted untold emotional damage upon all those unable to say goodbye to loved ones. But like so many rushed and ill thought out government policies, it is the poorest and most vulnerable in society that have been hit the hardest.

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