The Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson said two weeks ago that
"We are tantalisingly close to beating swine flu".
Anyone with any medical knowledge would know that this was a stupid comment to make. Although flu numbers were at the time falling, it was obvious that this was down to the school holidays. This was made even more obvious by the fact that flu numbers started falling first in Scotland (where they go on holiday first) and then started to rise again in Scotland (when they returned earlier than in England and Wales). So knowing this, why did Sir Liam say what he said ?
Now, with the holidays over, we have seen two rises in successive weeks, and now Sir Liam says he thinks "this might be the start of the second wave". Isn't that plainly obvious to everyone ? So why did Sir Liam close his eyes and hope for the best two weeks ago and make such an inane statement ?
Furthermore though, it does make you wonder why schools were not kept closed for another couple of weeks. Children apparently infect 2.4 other people with any virus they have whereas adults infect 1.6 people. This means that children will infect 50% more people than adults this meaning the return to school will make things much worse.
If they had hung on for a couple of weeks before allowing the reopening of schools we would have seen weekly infection rates fall to around 1000 a week. That means that within three weeks of schools reopening we would have been up to about 7000 infections a week just as the vaccine would come on stream. This means that the vaccine would have had a chance to be effective in halting the very worst of the second wave. Instead, by the time the vaccine comes on stream in around 3 weeks infection levels will be 72,000 per week. By the time the vaccine is effective (10-14 days) that means that infection levels will reach 250,000 a week. Assuming the current death rates persist it means around 50-80 people dying who need not have died.
And still Sir Liam thought we were closed to beating swine flu. What an absolute idiot.
Update : Interestingly, the highest number of hospitalisations for any age group so far infected with swine flu is the under 5s, according to the BBC documentary last week. So guess which group is not going to be in the first round of vaccinations ? Under 5s. Well done Sir Liam.