Monday, June 21, 2021

Sharon Horgan does the Coronavirus care homes maths

The BBC has finally had the guts to criticise the UK government handling of the pandemic.

Not BBC news operations which is as craven and as terrified of the Tory government as ever.

But BBC drama, in Dennis Kelly's excellent Together, with terrific performances from Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy.

Horgan's searing 9 minute monologue on the government's appalling incompetence and culpability in the killing of care home residents should be compulsory viewing. 

Horgan's unnamed character's mother dies, having contracted Covid-19 at her care home.

Hogan's avoidable care home tragedy dialogue starts 49 minutes and 51 seconds into the iPlayer version of Together

"I can't escape the feeling that my mother didn't die.

She was killed.

The problem is that people don't understand the word 'exponential'. They think it means 'a lot' or quite fastly, like you see it on TV, you know or in bad sci-fi movies. Good God this alien mass is growing exponentially. And you think: Yeah, that's a lot but, em,  it;s worth taking the time to understand the mathematics of exponential growth.

Right. So you, eh, you start with 1 and you double it, say, every 3 days... you, you you're doubling it every 3 days. So by the end of the first week you've got 4. 1 has become 4 in, in a week. And by the end of the 2nd week, you have 16. By the end of the 3rd week you have 128. And, as the month draws to a close, you have 512.

After just 4 weeks.

Ok. So that a lot more than 1 but, you know, no so much. But if you carry on, the 5th week gives you 2048. the 6th gives you 8192.

The 7th

The 7th gives you 65,536.

The 8th gives you 262,144.

And if you go one week more, pretty much as near as dammit to the... to the, to the two calendar months from when this whole thing started, you get one million, forty eight thousand, five hundred and seventy six (1,048,576).

So the difference between the start of the 1st week and the end of the 1st week is 4.

And the difference between the start of the 9th week and the end of the 9th week is 786,432.

So, the same amount of days.

Hugely different numbers.

This isn't an illustration of coronavirus, by the way. This isn't what actually happened. You know we didn't quite go 9 weeks before the 1st lockdown. There wasn't just one person who brought it into the country. There was probly as many as 1,300 patient zeroes and this doesn't take into account, you know, pre-lockdown efforts to to battle the virus, track and trace, people changing behaviour.

Wha what actually happened is far more complex than what I've just done. What I...what I've just done is illustrate the word 'exponential' an' it and it doesn't mean 'quite fastly'. What is means is...what it means is timing matters.

I... it's said that if we'd locked down 1 week earlier, just 1 week, that we could have saved twenty thousand (20,000) lives. So it seems to me that the word exponential is not understood. But I've just explained it to you in...

[at this point she turns to McAvoy who provides a time check from his mobile phone]

... 1 minute 34 seconds.

And, you geddit... right? It's not that hard, is it?

In January 2020, the care provider, Alliance, contacted the Department of Health & Social Care and said "What should we be doing about this new coronavirus?" And they were told "Nothing. Don't do anything different." And they contacted them a week later and said "What should we what should we be doing now? I mean should we be, you know, should we be self isolating, should we be restricting visits from family and or friends? Should we should we like should we wear masks? And this time they weren't told nothing. This time they were told... well this time they weren't told anything. This time they weren't told anything at all.

And it wasn't until a month later...that they were...given guidance. This is, this is the end of February. Now an, an, and the guidance was that they... you do not need to wear masks and it remains very unlikely that people receiving care, in care homes, will become infected.

And I am gonna to... I'm gonna repeat that, I'm gonna repeat that advice for the Department of Health & Social Care: It remains very unlikely that people receiving care, in care homes, will become infected.

You can look that up. There'll still be links for it.

And this is...this is 1 week before our prime minister is walking around just boasting about shaking hands with coronavirus patients.

And then, the Imperial College points out that, if left unchecked, the the virus could kill half a million people and the government are, like,

Oh, Oh fuck...really?

Oh shit. Fuck.

And then, then the panic kicks in.

The NHS is going to be overwhelmed, we're, we're gonna be like Italy. Oh, please God, don't let us be like Italy and ministers order 15,000 hospital beds to be vacated.

And the the guidance given to hospitals is that it shouldn't take more than than 3 hours. So patients are taken out of hospitals and they're, they're dumped into care homes, and and and they're not being tested. Because and again I'm gonna quote here, that "Covid sufferers can be safely cared for in care homes."

So while the, while the the NHS, the burden on the NHS was being so hotly debated an, an, an wh while, you know, the fact that there was no, not enough PPE gear to go around. While all of that was being discussed, the care homes were given next to nothing. I mean, they were given dribs and drabs while the prices shot up.

And , and some local authorities threatened to withhold money from care homes, if they didn't take in confirmed coronavirus patients.

So they were sent into these places like biological warfare.

They, they were like, like, like blankets laced with smallpox. the 1st lockdown, it's said that 40% of the people who died from coronavirus were from care homes. 40%.

So you see, I can't escape the felling that my mother was killed.

And not by a car or a, or a, or a gun, or a knife, or a cricket bat or, even, the virus.

She was, she was killed by stupidity.

She was killed by dumb fuckery.

She was killed by someone looking at something, coming at them at the, at the speed of a freight train. And just being, like, Oh, let's just carry on shall we? Let's just ... you know, it's a, it's a bit, it's a bit fucking Dunkirk spirit. You know. A bit...bit stiff upper lip. Let's just carry on, old man.

And my mother. My, my... mum"

At this point McAvoy's character intervenes and says: "I think that's it" Horgan's character, emotionally drained, continues a little longer:

"Do you, do you remember when we were supposed to lockdown and then we didn't. And then we came out and and they said, you know, don't go to, to, to clubs or, or, or restaurants, you know, unless you bloody well want to or something? That was when Spain an, an, an France and Lituania and Malaysia, they were all locking down."

McAvoy: "Is that it?"

Horgan: "Is that it?"

She then runs out of energy to go on any further. 

Only people whose loved ones died as a result of government Covid-19 negligence and incompetence can truly understand the pain of the loss and the added insult of the complete absence of accountability.

It really is time the mainstream media outfits like the BBC started behaving like a democracy enhancing 4th estate and poured some energy and resources into speaking truth to power and holding power to account.

Congratulations to Horgan, McAvoy, the writer Dennis Kelly, the production team and everyone involved, constructively, in bringing Together to air.

If BBC news remain too scared to do their job, then hopefully the drama side of the institution will continue to step up. Just a reminder, though, from the BBC's own editorial guidelines:

"The BBC is committed to achieving due accuracy in all its output...

The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content...

The BBC is committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output...

It does not require absolute neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles, such as the right to vote, freedom of expression and the rule of law...

We must always scrutinise arguments, question consensus and hold power to account with consistency and due impartiality..."