Current Affairs Health Politics

Coronavirus, Herd Immunity And The UK’s Darwinist Response

Can it really be true as the international media is speculating? That the Conservative Party government in the United Kingdom has adopted a policy that will risk the lives of thousands or tens of thousands of its citizens by letting Covid-19, the coronavirus, flame through the population in the hope that 60% to 80% of the community will acquire some form of partial or full immunity against the epidemic, albeit for variable periods of time? While the medical science behind the proposition of “herd immunity” may be sound enough, though caveats apply, good governance is about more than the implementation of values’ free science. Logic dictates that governments should avoid spending a fortune on fighting or ameliorating certain illnesses with very low rates of recovery and very high rates of mortality, and should focus instead on research, developing preventative solutions for the conditions in the first place. But that is not how we do things in our democracies because a democracy is much more than just a computer program, a series of algorithms and probability charts. We do not live in the emotionally stunted worlds of Dominic Cummings and Stephen Miller or the other representatives of the self-selected alt-human tendency.

The suggested policy of the UK authorities feels morally repugnant because it is morally repugnant. It is eugenicist in nature, reflecting the social Darwinism of the broad alt-right movement that has snaked into power in London in the wake of the 2016 Brexit referendum and the political turmoil that it has engendered. Given the close communications links between Britain and the European Union, and this country in particular given the British presence in the north-east, it is worth asking how this reckless behaviour will effect us. And worrying about the many lives across Europe that may be put in danger if the UK continues down this highly questionable path. None of us live in isolation from each other, whether as individuals or nation-states. As is now starkly illustrated. We rely on each other to help each other. To apply common mores and modes of behaviour, to agree upon common concerns and responses. We cannot have a Pyongyang-on-the-Thames pursuing aims and objectives that run contrary to the international norm or what the international community expects of its members.

21 comments on “Coronavirus, Herd Immunity And The UK’s Darwinist Response

  1. Realistically what the WHO is recommending- even with lockdown and quarantine- involve herd immunity as much as what Britain is doing. The idea is that the the virus moves through the population more slowly so that hospitals aren’t overwhelmed and proper attention can be given to the sickest people.

    What’s more shocking in most countries is that medications exist to prevent or halt a “cytokine” storm but not all hospitals are up to date on them. The most deadly manifestation of coronavirus (and some other things) is a cytokine storm.

    • Could detail where such medications have been found to be successful for covid?

      • I’m a pharmacy technician not a doctor. However two of the pharmacists I worked under were telling me that such protocols do exist, but most hospitals are behind the bell curve. Apparently they use a ferritin test to see if the early versions should be started. Also they were saying quinines had been shown to lessen the worst symptoms to the lungs, while NSAIDs or acetaminophen (paracetamol) should not be taken as they can make it worse.

        It’s not specific to COVID-19, but has been used on a number of viruses known to cause such lung damage or cytokine storm. I don’t know how many hospitals are trying those things, but they are trying different antivirals such as a failed Ebola drug called Remdesivir, or an HIV combo called Lopanavir/Ritonavir. Obviously it’s been a very, very short term to properly test these things.

        • Rod lawson

          I am a doctor. I’m aware of some of those trials of anti HIV drug drugs which might work as coronavirus as an RNA virus also relies on reverse transcriptase. I’m not aware of any evidence that anti cytokines help in covidvirus. Possibly anti cytokines could help but likely at the risk of secondary bacterial infection . It’s wrong to suggest a speculative treatment with unproven benefit, significant cost and significant side effects should be ‘routine’ and is being withheld

          • They didn’t say what the drugs were or if they were specifically anti-Cytokine. They said most hospitals were behind the bell curve in preventing and mitigating cytokine storm. I don’t think they were arguing anything is being “withheld”, so much as saying the the most updated knowledge hasn’t reached most places that probably well be treating coronavirus patients. I’ve worked with these two pharmacists long enough to know that they’ve been in that business long enough to know thing and that neither of them are the type to “talk out of their ass” just to impress.

            • Rod lawson

              There is a little research on preventing cytokines storms in other situations. Mostly it’s giving steroids which don’t work or are harmful in covid. Anti il6 has early research showing it might help in other situations. Research is not yet conclusive. It costs about. 20000usd per time and has side effects. Latest reports I read today say it has been used in some cases in China but no reports of efficacy yet. Your pharmacy friends are mentioning early phase research studies which are interesting and may eventually bear fruit, but which would not be used speculatively by any responsible hospital outside a reaearch setting.

  2. The latest plan is for those over 70 years old to self quarantine for 4 weeks even if they don’t have the virus. And the supermarkets are asking people to stop panic buying.

  3. If Johnson and Co are practising Social Darwinism and accept a higher death rate among elderly people they are showing either an admirable unselfishness or rank ingratitude. They are killing the people most likely to support abd vote for them.
    Pyongyang-on-the-Thames is not a plwasant prospect, but just what can “we” – whoever “we” are – do to stop it “pursuing aims and objectives that run contrary to the international norm or what the international community expects of its members”?
    “We” haven’t got very far with Pyongyang-on-theTaedong River.

  4. Seems to be the usual Eton “ethics” at work.

  5. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic written in 2012 by David Quammen , The emergence of zoonotic diseases these afflictions which jump from other species to us exactly what has happened,

    • gendjinn

      Zoonotic diseases have always been with us. This is not a 21st century, nor a 20th century phenomena.

  6. One of the many British “experts” the UK is placing such faith in, with their unique knowledge that makes them right when every non-British expert in the world is wrong…

    • gendjinn

      The Fox News quarter is pushing the same line as the UK govt. In the US there is a striking dichotomy in how the political left and right are reacting to COVID19, one that mimics and parallels the UK govt. In about two weeks we will see the outcomes of those approaches. I fear it will be stark.

    • The schools are mostly shut down in most of the US. Since there isn’t a single government responsible for any such decision but rather 50 states, assorted other jurisdictions, over 12,000 school boards, and several private school associations. Many states have their own “declared emergency”. Private businesses have made their own choices to close down or restrict their hours. Most private movie theater made the decision on their own to close, and loads of restaurants are on “take out only”.

      • That’s a remarkable depth of ignorance on the ROI health system. It’s not the NHS, and I’ve seen first hand in the last four weeks the state of A&E (my mother had a stroke five weeks ago, thankfully is well on the mend and home) but simultaneously the care the far side of A&E in emergencies is very solid and available to all regardless of income. None of which is to dispute the need for a true public healthcare system, but the sort of nonsense that guy is trotting out is… just breathtaking.

        • I didn’t say anything negative about the ROI’s health system!!!! I didn’t mention it at all in my posts, and on other occasions here have argued that hybrids with some element of “top-off” insurance have advantages over an NHS model.

  7. Astonishing…

    • ar an sliabh

      Kind of like during the “emergency”, just make sure Paddy stays behind the mixer!

  8. I just looked at the British government’s herd immunity plan. It turns out the idea was to tell the older, sicker, and more medically fragile people and their caregivers to go into quarantine-while letting the young and healthy teens, 20’s, and 30’s just get the virus and get better, so when the more vulnerable come out of “quarantine” they’d be somewhat protected by herd immunity.

    That plan isn’t really Social Darwinist as it opts to let the relatively healthy take the risks, rather than the older and sicker people. It is however a pretty extreme gamble. It assumes that not only can the medically vulnerable have caregivers that can also stay in isolation, but ignores the ones who live in crowded apartments or who are in multi-generational households. Basically it’s a decision to throw some members of society under the bus for the good of the many-an age old moral dilemma. I can’t say I agree with that plan. However the “flattening curves” and long term “social distancing” are pretty grim in their own way. What I’m hoping will happen is that with a vaccine a way out, that some cases of repurposed anti-viral drugs will work. If at least one of them works, they might be able to ramp up production to the point where some vulnerable people take prophylactic prescriptions. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the US FDA ends up shortening the usually -very long and conservative- time frame they require to test a vaccine.

  9. Pat Mc Ginley

    Darwin did not define the fittest as the strongest or most clever. He defined the fittest as those most able to adapt to challenging situations for survival. So-called ‘Social Darwinism’ is a right-wing, fascist, deliberate distortion of Darwinism which insists that the strong should see their wealth and power increase at the expense of the weak. It’s used to support eugenics, racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism etc.

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