What’s the Third Way? Let’s look at the options

Option 1: Restrict behaviour, restrict movement

This is the option that the Government is currently implementing. Why?  Because it worked last time during the first wave, surely it will work again.  Has Boris considered all the options, though, has he considered the Third Way to control the virus aka Nutrition?

But what does “success” look like?  If it means that it will cut the infection rate and the number of people accessing the NHS.  Yes it should work.  It should do that, because it did it last time. Although, I have seen some graphs that suggest that lock-down had no effect whatsoever, the pandemic curve would have been the same.  That’s for another time.

Does it work on other levels though?  It doesn’t keep the economy going, it doesn’t keep people in good mental health, it doesn’t give non-COVID patients access to medical care,  it doesn’t allow you to visit your elderly, vulnerable loved ones…even if they are dying. And it doesn’t improve the Nation’s immune health.  Perhaps the Third Way, is worth considering?

So there are a lot of cons to consider along with the pros of keeping down the infection rate and protecting the NHS.  But the biggest is that there is no medium term or long term solution or strategy.  Other than what appears to be a longer term strategy of relying on a vaccine. There seems to be no Plan B.  Certainly, no third way.

But this virus isn’t going to go away in the short or medium term even if we get a vaccine in the long term.  A large proportion of us live in urban areas. We are social animals. It is a contagious virus and it will spread anyway.

Option 2: Only protect the vulnerable, keep everything else open…Focused Protection

This has been advocated by an experienced, well regarded group of infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists recently.  They called it Focused Protection.

They suggested that anyone who was not in any danger of death or serious injury from COVID should be free to go about their normal business.  Focus should be on those people who are vulnerable, in care homes or in multi-generational households.  Protection aimed at these groups where procedures can be utilised to minimise risk.

This would then balance the need for reducing excess deaths related to the restrictions with the need to protect the vulnerable.  So that the “cure” doesn’t turn out to be worse than the virus itself.

You can read and sign the Great Barrington declaration here.

But how many will need hospitalisation?

There is an issue that the Great Barrington declaration doesn’t address. How do you in the meantime deal with the number of patients that get a poor reaction to COVID-19 whilst we get to herd immunity?

We’ve had 1 million reported cases so far which probably means there has been a lot more unreported. That is if you can believe the accuracy of the PCR tests.  But this is also for another day. We need more than 30 million cases before we start to get herd immunity.

If the NHS cannot cope when limited restrictions are in place (July-October) and we’ve only had 1 million cases. How is it going to cope as the number of cases rise to 5, 10 or 20 million?

What the future holds

It is undoubtedly the case that the consequences of the “cure” as currently implemented by the Government is going to be long lasting and catastrophic.

People are dying from heart attacks, cancer and other conditions due to lack of care. People’s mental health is adversely affected to the extent that suicides particularly in young adults have shot up.

The financial consequences are upon us and whilst the Government bail-outs will help some businesses survive, many others won’t.  Jobs are being lost and whole industries decimated.  So is it worth it?

Don’t forget we have Brexit around the corner too. That is still not a done deal so there is every possibility that we will leave without a deal.  And it is then anyone’s guess, how bad the cliff edge will be.  One thing is certain, it won’t be a walk in the park.

Let’s analyse what’s been going on?

This will be quite simple and direct. I am sorry if it offends anyone but I must say it as I see it.

The first wave came upon us relatively swiftly and we were wholly unprepared. It did what epidemics do, and travelled really fast, with devastating consequences. We undoubtedly could have been more prepared but we weren’t and lots of people who were primarily old or sick or unhealthy died.  About 60,000 people in the first 6 months of the pandemic according to the Sunday Times.  Although the Office of National Statistics, report that there were only about 37,000 deaths more than the 5 year average for the 9 months to September 2020.

Lots of sick, frail & elderly in the population

It is quite possible that less people would have died if we had been more prepared.  It is undoubtedly the case that less people would have died if last years morbidity rates had been higher.  But there were lots more people in the population that were frail, elderly or sick than would have been the case had this epidemic happened 2 or 3 years ago.

The Government knew this and as a result knew that the NHS would be overwhelmed by these people. So they didn’t even allow them into hospitals. A “triage tool ” was circulated and other measures implemented by Public Health England that did a number of things (see Sunday Times Insight article 25 October 2020.

This had the effect of:

  • excluding patients over 80 years of age from any intensive care in hospitals
  • raising the patient scoring levels for paramedics, excluding prospective patients from ambulances until it was too late
  • set out groups of patients who should not be conveyed to hospital at all
  • identified individually or asked GPs to identify individual patients who were frail, elderly or sick who should not be transported to hospital
  • resulted in elderly, sick patients (many with COVID) being returned to care homes where they died in large numbers and infected others

What was the results of this policy

Effectively, the care that most of these people had paid for throughout their lives in taxes was denied them. The death toll can be explained as follows, based on approximately 59,000 so-called extra “COVID deaths” occurring in the first 6 months of the pandemic compared to the previous 6 years (as set out in the Sunday Times Insight article on 25 October 2020):

  • 25,000 extra deaths at home, no hospital care being allowed
  • 26,000 extra deaths in care homes, no hospital care being allowed
  • only 8,000 extra deaths in hospital, even though 30,000 people died (with as opposed to) of COVID on the wards.  Which shows normal hospital deaths had been displaced to homes or care homes.

To add insult to injury, many of those deaths in care homes and hospitals went unattended by family members.  Many  were denied the final moments with their loved ones because of lock-down.

So was this approach a success or not?

It was successful at ensuring some NHS hospitals didn’t get overwhelmed.  However, apart from specific areas of high demand, many hospitals from March – June were nowhere near full capacity.

None of the large Nightingale hospitals were near full capacity, most were empty.

Had we been prepared with a proper disaster plan which most companies worth their salt would have, there is every chance that patients could have been ferried to other hospitals.  Or was this denied them on purpose because of fear of spreading the virus?

So it depends whose camp you are in. If you had a relatively healthy 81 year old mother.. She might have pulled through in intensive care (because the success rate was pretty good). Or a 76 year old with a relatively minor health condition. You might be a little more than a bit aggrieved.

If your Dad was 92 and had already put in place a non-resuscitation order then perhaps less so.

Can you trust the Government now?

In reality it doesn’t matter what we think right now.  They are our elected officials so we need to let them get on with it.  Or do we?

Problem is they have proved to be pretty unreliable in managing a crisis that had been coming at them for some months if not years.

Opportunities missed

With the proliferation of bio-weapons and the growth of facilities like the one in Wuhan, China surely someone, somewhere in Government ought to have realised the risks to public health. Particularly, if one of the viruses escaped or developed in some other way.  That was the first opportunity missed.

There were then alerts in late 2019 and early 2020 that indicated that a potential public health threat was on its way. Nothing was done, so a second opportunity missed.

When it did hit in a big way in mid-late February, the Government was asleep at the wheel.  No question about it. Letting all the international travellers come into the Country was a school boy error. 

So no disaster plan, three opportunities missed and no-one at the helm until it was too late to give everyone a fighting chance.  Not a great track record.

So yes we need to get on with it but we also need to hold the Government to account. How do we do this? Traditionally in two ways:

  • via the press – we are seeing some signs of the press actually doing some investigations and providing some facts. I have tuned into some TV and been horrified at the scaremongering that goes on. I am singularly unimpressed by the lack of joined up thinking particularly on the BBC.  If anyone questions the perceived wisdom, you never hear from them again.  Censorship is a real issue at this time.
  • via the judiciary – we are starting to see some legal challenges to the way the Government goes about things. The Government doesn’t have much of a track record of doing things properly after all e.g. Brexit.

The Third Way – how to get back to normal

We have outlined above the two main options available to the Government both of which have huge downsides. This is based on taking the Government’s position at face value but we are not at all sure whether all relevant resources within the NHS are being used to the fullest extent.

What we do know is two things:

  1. This lock-down is going to be catastrophic for business, for mental health, for on-going immune health etc
  2. When we have reduced the R rate to below 1 and release the restrictions, we will be back in exactly the same position in March as we were in the summer.

Ground-hog day

This is in effect a real life version of Ground-hog Day, that classic dark comedy starring Bill Murray from the 1990s.  When the same circumstance keep on repeating themselves day after day and only end when the subject is sincere about falling in love.

Government has to come clean

What isn’t the Government telling us?  Well for one, we don’t really know what the true death rate is or rather the “excess death” rate.  They haven’t ‘fessed up to how many people would have died had a new strain of ‘flu appeared on the scene.  We should be looking at what the “excess death rate” is not the aggregate rate.

We had low morbidity for the last few years so those people who have survived longer than they otherwise would have should be excluded from the number of deaths.

And we have a certain number of people dying each year from other ailments like ‘flu.  There is too much anecdotal evidence about in the media that COVID is being put on everyone’s death certificate without proper analysis or scrutiny.  Dying from COVID as opposed to with COVID with another strong co-morbidity should also be excluded.

As a result, a proper examination of how deaths from other illnesses have reduced during 2020 should be undertaken and all these reduced co-morbidities excluded from the COVID calculations.

Some would say this has been done to induce fear into the population. But now we know a little more about this disease, the Government must come clean.

Policy must be based on trust (including vaccines)

The success or failure of this lock-down and any future restrictions imposed by the Government is going to be based on trust.   There are clear signs that the level of trust is at a low ebb. Everyone that you talk to as a story that contradicts the Governments portrayal of events.

Anyone under the age of 30, is thinking that this is total over kill and the numbers given by Government cannot be right.

The Government could have and should have immediately instigated a public inquiry to learn the lessons from the first wave.  But it has not done so thereby reducing trust further.

The only strategy that appears to be being relied on is the “cavalry” coming over the hill in the form of a vaccine. But there are some real issues associated with this:

  • the makers of the current front runner, BioNtech, have made it clear that the results of the vaccine will only really be seen by the summer 2021 (even if all the tests come back positive
  • due to the manner of testing, there is no way to tell how effective it will be, who it will benefit most or whether it will prevent transmission of the disease
  • public confidence in the vaccine is not high, probably because in part to the anti-vax campaigns on social media, only very few of which come from credible sources
  • But lack of confidence is more likely due to low confidence levels in Government and the perception, rightly or wrongly, that long-term adverse affects are not taken seriously.  Who wants to be a human guinea pig, after all?
  • the perception that the vaccine industry and big Pharma generally is not fit for purpose. Part of this is the fact that vaccines are often rushed to market by organisations that do not have a high moral reliability rating.  It comes back to trust and currently, this is at a low ebb particularly in relation to  Government, big Pharma and other large industries, such as big Food.  Long term adverse affects are not high on their agenda, after all.

Office of National Statistics numbers

COVID is 19th on the list of most common causes of death in England September 2020.  According to the ONS, 11.5% of the deaths in England in 2020 had COVID as the underlying cause.

Given the propensity to over-state the importance of COVID on death certificates, this is likely to be less due to co-morbidities.  This appears to be borne out by the overall number of deaths this year.

It appears COVID has been responsible for approximately an 8% increase in the number of deaths this year when compared to the 5 year average.  Either way, COVID is a relatively small proportion of the cause of deaths in England this year.  But there has been 35,000 more deaths this year so it is not to be under estimated.

The Press has to fulfil its constitutional role

It was a pity Howard Evans wasn’t around to see the work that the Sunday Times Insight team did on the 25th October.  A full analysis of what happened in the first wave.   We’ve mentioned the findings above but in short the tactics used by the Government kept a lot of frail, elderly and sick people away from the care they needed.

Why?  Because the perception was that the NHS would overwhelmed, that patients would be left waiting in corridors or even car parks to die.

But was this “over-whelming” of the NHS the reality or just political panic based on what has been shown to be over-exaggerated worse case scenarios produced by Neil Ferguson and his team from Imperial College.

Certainly, some hospitals were completely overwhelmed, in London particularly. But do we know about other areas of the country?  The Nightingale hospitals were definitely under utilised, so how many other beds in ordinary wards or ICU were available or under utilised?

If the single, most important reason that we are in lock-down is that we simply don’t have enough beds on wards or in ICU to cope with the second wave.  How is this analysis carried out?  On what calculation?  Why can’t we use the Nightingale hospitals? Why weren’t we prepared with a proper disaster plan in place?

At this point, should not the press step up to ensure all is being done to enable everyone gets the same access to treatment.  Because they clearly didn’t in the first wave.

And shouldn’t the press be questioning how the NHS resources are being utilised?

What else can be done?

Let’s assume that the Government has properly prepared this time.  That every bed on wards and in ICU will be utilised to give every person equal access to care.

Let’s assume that the lock-down restrictions work as intended and that the “triage tool” is not brought out again. Everyone, gets a fair shot at being cared for properly.  We get to January and the R rate has reduced below 1 and restrictions are going to be released.

How long before we are back in the same position and the rate of infections are rising once again?

Why has COVID been so damaging in the UK?

You may have noticed that Europe and America have been two of the worst populations affected by the Coronavirus pandemic in terms of number of cases and rate of deaths. High on the list of contributing factors are being overweight and being either diabetic or pre-diabetic.

The Western diet of processed food, high in processed fats and carbohydrates and low in micronutrients is a major contributor to a compromised immune system. Europe and America also has an ageing population and doesn’t get much sunshine in the winter. Not a great combo to fight off COVID-19, is it?

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer before Sir Chris Whitty was appointed, being reported in the Sunday Times today said “There is a direct correlation between obesity and high morality for COVID, and I’m highlighting that, as a nation, one of the reasons we have problems with our weight …is because of the structural environment to which advertising, portion size, and many other things come into play.”

As a result many of us are lacking in some of the essential nutrients needed to allow our immune system to function normally.

Even for those people who eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, the food consumed today contains a much lower level of nutrients than it did just 20 years ago because of modern farming, depletion of soil nutrients, use of pesticides and soil erosion.

Even the 5-a-day campaign turned out to be watered down. Because of the lack of nutrients in food, you actually need 10 portions-a-day of fruit and vegetables to take in the right level of nutrition. How many people are doing this?

Improving the Nation’s immune system

Logically, if the majority of the UK’s population has a poor diet in terms of nutrients, the same majority will also have a compromised immune system to some extent.  An immune system that is weakened or compromised is not going to do well when faced with a new pathogen like COVID-19.

Would it not, therefore, be an obvious step to take to seek to improve the immune system of every single person in the country? Is this the Third Way before the vaccine takes effect?

How would this be done in normal circumstances? By testing people to find out what they were deficient in and then supplementing their diet with the nutrients they were missing.

However, we have found out that even if we are seeking to test for a deadly virus, we just don’t have the capacity to process the sheer volume of tests required.

So we need to adopt a one size fits all approach to prevention.  And we need to keep it as simple as possible.

Government advice needed

We suggest therefore that the Government advises the whole of the population to take the top 3 supplements that are known to improve or support immune health: vitamins C and D plus zinc. These 3 nutrients have the strongest evidence in terms of clinical trials and studies for immune support.

Read the article published in the British Medical Journal in May 2020 calling on the Government to advise the over 65s to supplement with zinc, vitamins C & D  here and the article it was based on here published.

Prevention not cure

This should not be confused with the use of these 3 nutrients in high doses, orally or intravenously, as treatments to combat acute COVID-19 symptoms.  Evidence is emerging from Spain and China specifically that vitamins D and C respectively have been used to significantly reduce death rates for acute COVID-19 patients in ICU.

Recently 2 pilot clinical trials in Spain highlighted

  • widespread vitamin D  deficiency in acute COVID patients (Santander University Hospital, Spain 2020)
  • taking vitamin D reduced ICU entry for COVID patients by 25 times
  • taking vitamin D reduced the number of deaths to zero compared to 8% in the non-vitamin D group (University Hospital, Cordoba 2020).
  • a 15 hospital trial is underway in Spain as a result seeking to answer a multitude of questions regarding the supplementation of vitamin D.

Whilst in China a pilot clinical study at Wuhan University Hospital

reduced the death rate in COVID patients taking high dose vitamin C by two-thirds.  The study is currently being peer reviewed.

However, the number of participants was not statistically relevant because they were not able to recruit enough severely ill COVID patients due, it is thought, to the provision of 50 million 1 gram doses of vitamin C to hospitalised patients and care workers in Wuhan (Wuhan University Hospital 2020).

A US Community Hospital examined the correlation the between vitamins C & D and acute COVID

The pilot study found low serum levels of vitamin C and vitamin D in most of our critically ill COVID-19 ICU patients. Older age and low vitamin C level appeared co-dependent risk factors for mortality (Thornton, Colorado 2020).

Zinc is deficient across a number of COVID at risk groups 

Zinc has been shown to be a key modulator of the immune system. A study proposing it’s widespread use to counter COVID-19, highlighted the deficiency in zinc found in people with a number of underlying health issues. A known factor in poor COVID outcomes.

Also zinc deficiency has been found in a number of other groups that are also known to be “at risk” of poor COVID outcomes.

It has also been shown that supplementation of zinc reduces severity of symptoms, the frequency and duration of respiratory tract infections (Aachen University, Germany 2020)

Sense* proposal since March 2020

What we have been suggesting since March is that everyone should take zinc, vitamins C & D3 in standard doses initially so that the following benefits may accrue:

  • less people will catch COVID-19 or show symptoms if they do
  • less people will need hospital treatment
  • of those that do, less people will need ICU treatment (particularly if standard doses are increased in line with the additional dosing suggestions in this article and the trials conducted in Spain and China (see above))

Dovetailing with the Great Barrington Declaration

If less people caught COVID or were asymptomatic , we would no longer need to return to the ground-hog day scenario of new lock-downs again.  The Great Barrington Declaration could be implemented and most of the population could return to normal.

The key rests in those part of the population becoming more healthy as quickly as possible and in particular focussing on their immune health.  A simple message to “get zinc’d” (since each nutrient is identified in this message) could accompany this initiative.

Which parts of the population?

The media has rightly highlighted the unfairness of the current pandemic.  It has become a class issue since it is clear that the people who have been worse affected in terms of cases and deaths, is the least well-off and members of the BAME communities.

Whilst it is clear that the poorer in society have worse outcomes, the position in relation to those in the BAME communities is less clear.  However, across both groups  as stated above, are weakened or compromised immune systems.  The main reason or culprit being poor levels of nutrition, particularly deficiencies in vitamins C & D plus zinc.

Effectively, the working class in this country cannot afford to eat well enough or supplement their diets to such an extent where the levels of key nutrients would give them better protection against COVID.  They are more exposed to the virus because more are having to “go to work”, using public transport, working closely with others in various industries without the option to work from home or isolate even when at risk.  Loosing pay due to zero hours contracts and the like.

It is a national disgrace that it is these keyworkers have taken the brunt of this pandemic.

Government is starting to move

It appears that the Government is waking up to the importance of vitamin D.  Care homes and vulnerable people  may be receiving free doses shortly.  No clear details have been given.

We accept that this in itself is a paradigm shift in how nutrients will be viewed in this country.  It would be an acceptance in part that “Food be thy Medicine” as espoused by Hippocrates, the ancient Greek philosopher.  Contrary to the currently accepted view that drugs and only drugs are medicine.

However, it is not an overly surprising step for us to take.  In fact, it is a logical step that many intelligent people constantly overlook . If you accept that our body’s organs and processes are designed to work optimally on nutrients then it is not overly surprising (or new news) that nutritional deficiency will deplete the immune system. Especially when faced with new threats like COVID.

In turn, it is logical to assume that good or increased nutrition levels will also prevent or treat illness. Even if you are not allowed to say this because of pharma led medicine laws.

If you don’t accept the initial premise, then you are ignoring how a foetus develops in the womb.  As three tubes to begin with, the nervous system, the respiratory system and the digestive system.  The latter is there to fuel the other two and every other organ and process in the human body.  If nature intended us to work this way, how have we veered so far off course?

The sense* dual mission therefore is to:

Learn more about each mission:

The Mission to Improve the Nation’s Immune Health

The Mission to Thank Keyworkers