Ignore the political side of the ex UK Prime Minister – what follows is a common sense, choiceful four-step proposal for all nations to consider for implementation now – not next month, not next year – now.
Developed by The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and published on November 2nd, the paper lays out the steps we should take to counter the second wave of Covid-19 and use November to re-emerge in December stronger, freer, safer and out of lockdowns.
First some considerations.
1) The first wave globally has had an economic cost roughly three times that of the Financial Crisis.
2) The mental health issues arising from being disconnected and isolating are affecting around 50% of adults.
3) (Hopefully) the world can look forward to vaccines and therapeutic drugs to manage the disease before April 2021.
So good times will return – but the issue facing all of us is how to Survive, Revive and Thrive, starting today.
Mr Blair in his Foreword to the Institute’s proposal says: “My anxiety is between now and then. We simply can’t afford to put our society and economy into severe restrictions for the winter months. The toll in terms of health and the economy will be enormous.” I agree with him.
He goes on to say: “It is true that we now know a lot more about the virus.
We know how to reduce death rates significantly. We know more about how it is spread.
But increasingly, we know that the risks of Covid-19 are not simply about mortality rates.
We know that Covid-19 can affect people for long periods ….
And we are beginning to be aware that there is a significant possibility of long-term damage, particularly to the heart and lungs, possibly even among those who have had the virus relatively mildly.
For these reasons, Covid-19 remains a disease you should avoid if you can.
The only game-changers continue to be vaccines and therapeutics, combined with large-scale testing.”
So – how do we change the game now?
Four proposals from The Institute:
1) Any hospitalised patients at risk of serious illness should be offered drugs now that are safe and meet a minimum level of efficacy. There is no safety issue. We should give these patients the drugs and track the data from them. The AstraZeneca therapeutic drug – one of the most promising – is not part of the RECOVERY Trial in the UK, but we should speed up its introduction, even with limited doses being available.
2) We should aim to get the first vaccinations underway in December. There is no safety issue with the vaccines like that of AstraZeneca’s, and efficacy even at 50 per cent is worth having because it will save lives and mitigate significantly the severity of the illness.
3) Governments should organise the provision of rapid tests so that we’re testing people rather than quarantining them for long periods, catching asymptomatic cases as well as those with symptoms present, and measuring infectiousness and not only those who have the virus. This needs full-scale organisation for schools, universities, workplaces and other categories to participate. This is pre-conditional to any successful track and trace system.
4) We need the best tracing system in the world in place now, so that every aspect of Covid-19 data can be gathered together. That means all the information on patients; recording of every test and the setting up of a vaccine registration system so that as we vaccinate, every part of the experience is recorded.
We need to get organised. And we need to Act Now.
(Go to the Institute’s website for their full, detailed proposal – https://institute.global/policy/light-end-tunnel.)