BORIS JOHNSON’S policy of do-nothing to combat or turn back the coronavirus has now been dumped after 229 scientists wrote to the government saying this approach will put the NHS under additional stress and ‘risk many more lives than necessary’.
In the open letter the scientists argue that stronger ‘social distancing measures’ would ‘dramatically’ slow the rate of growth of the disease in the UK, and would spare ‘thousands of lives’.
The scientists lashed out at the government’s position that the population would reach a situation of ‘herd immunity’ if nothing was done.
Rough estimates indicate that ‘herd immunity’ to Covid-19 would be reached when approximately 60% of the population has had the disease. According to Birmingham University’s Professor Willem van Schaik, this will mean that in the UK alone at least 36 million people will need to be infected and recover.
‘It is almost impossible to predict what that will mean in terms of human costs, but we are conservatively looking at tens of thousands of deaths, and possibly at hundreds of thousands of deaths,’ he said.
The Tories have now dropped ‘herd immunity’ for the UK’s workers! The new policy is that every Briton over the age of 70 will be told ‘within the coming weeks’ to stay at home for an extended period and that the police will have power to detain and arrest ‘rebellious’ pensioners. Work is also underway to buy up thousands of private hospital beds to boost NHS capacity.
Meanwhile, a section of Labour is considering the ultimate betrayal. Labour leadership contender, Lisa Nandy said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday – when asked about a National Government – that ‘she would certainly want to step forward and work together to deal with this …We will be crossing the floor to say to the government let’s work together.’
The government after the exposure over how many corpses would be needed to achieve ‘herd immunity’ has rushed to appeal to Rolls Royce and JCB to change their production lines to start producing much needed ventilators.
Johnson has convened a ‘Your Country Needs You’ conference for today with leading manufacturers to ask them to produce ventilators. This will meet opposition from companies that have lost billions in the capitalist crisis so far, and are demanding billions in compensation to rescue the airline and other industries.
In a stark message, Airlines UK said the government’s ‘prevarication’ and ‘bean counting’ had to stop. ‘We’re talking about the future of UK aviation – one of our world-class industries – and unless the government pulls itself together who knows what will be left of it once we get out of this mess.’
British Airways warned employees on Friday that the industry was facing a ‘crisis of global proportions’ that was worse than that caused by the SARS virus or 9/11. On Thursday, Norwegian Air said it was set to cancel 4,000 flights and temporarily lay off about half of its staff. The Tories have helped create this crisis, they cannot resolve it.
However, Unite the union is calling on the government to listen to Airlines UK and provide immediate support for the whole sector, in order to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: ‘The aviation industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers and they are all looking at the government for immediate help, to ensure they will still have jobs in the future.’
Virgin Atlantic Chairman Peter Norris will reportedly write to the Prime Minister today to request a rescue package of up to £7.5 billion for the aviation industry.
Holland continued: ‘Ministers must not, however, write a blank cheque for irresponsible magnates to line their pockets or squirrel away offshore. State aid for aviation must have iron guarantees attached to protect jobs and pay of the many thousands of UK workers who depend directly and indirectly on aviation.’ There will be no iron guarantees!
The reality of this huge crisis is that the trade unions must stop begging and pleading with the Johnson government and use their strength, exercising what Marx called the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. The trade unions must call a general strike to bring down the Johnson government and expropriate the bosses and the bankers, installing a dictatorship of the proletariat, to go forward from workers’ power to socialism. This is the only way forward for pensioners, workers and youth!