Like a virus, the spread of ideology relies on transmission among the community. Society is made up of various groups and has been since the dawn of time. We have a minority of thought leaders known as innovators and they are followed by Early Adopters.
Trumpism and Brexit, like Nazi Germany, have relied on the mass mobilisation of the majority. No amount of education, press influence or political opposition can stop the majority once they have got hold of an idea. It doesn’t matter whether than idea benefits them or not as it is safety in numbers.
Politicians use common enemies as an extra means of getting compliance. It seemed the Nazis required the most, discriminating against age, health, colour, religion and disability as well as political opponents, journalists, academics and scientists disproving their policies.
That type of totalitarian dictatorship still exists in some parts of the world. However, today dictatorships are much more visible to other nations than they were in the last century, which is our biggest protection.
That is, if thought leaders provide information, support and guidance to the rest of their communities to counter-act the more destructive elements of political leadership.
An example here is Tracy Daszkiewicz who dealt with the contamination from Novichok in Salisbury. Tracy Daszkiewicz was promoted to head of Health and Safety for the whole South West region after she guided the community of Salisbury to complete safety – which took a year – but we did not get the whole story and her name has not been prominent enough during the COVID-19 response.
Excess deaths rose steadily from 2010 when the Conservatives came to power as a direct result of austerity cuts to public services and healthcare leaving a weakened NHS despite numerous warnings and predictions of a global epidemic. Seven coronaviruses have been circulating since 2003, when SARS-COV-1 first spread and it reached the UK in 2013.
Additionally, Public Health England under the guidance of Professor John Newton has been shown to be unfit for purpose. Responsible for alcohol, Newton took funding from alcohol companies for Drinkaware. Responsible for diet and obesity, Newton took funding from ultraprocessed food manufacturers to create the Eatwell Guide, which would only serve during a real famine. As chief testing officer in charge of COVID-19, Newton advised the government to stop contact tracing and quarantining people arriving in the UK when he predicted ‘millions of cases’ and Public Health England’s team of 300 contact tracers would be overwhelmed.
What happened to the 5000 local contact tracers trained for just such a health crisis, that Newton never deployed? Here is a man taking hand outs from private companies and not declaring conflicts of interest. Like the Wizard of Oz he is controlling the machine behind the scenes. Local authority and NHS trust efforts were rejected.
Looking back at Salisbury, Tracy Daszkiewicz managed to avert central control from Downing Street acting remotely over the health and safety of the Salisbury community, which was essential for transparency (updates were given regularly), community response (questions were answered), action (investigation and testing was carried out to track down the source of contamination) and emergency measures (cars were destroyed).
What do we need to tackle COVID-19 in the community?
Mask Use – it is vitally important that information and guidance on mask use is unbiased, free of political or economic interest, articulate and accessible for all. To be efficient, masks must be:
- Used when inside, when social distance is not possible.
- Used when speaking to someone in person.
- In crowded places
- On public transport
- In shops
How many peoople are wearing the correct mask with hand washing before and after and not touching their face at all while wearing the mask and putting it on and removing it from behind the ears, with no gaps between face and material? Here the Rapid Response in the British Medical Journal outlined risks about a blanket mask mandate as is running in many countries now.
The same story that a mask protects others is vague and divisive. Why would the majority wear a mask if it does nothing for them?
From the outset, wearing a mask inside confined spaces where sustained contact and proximity with others would have reduced the spread of COVID-19. This is because, if you touched your face after travelling on public transport when you might have picked up some virus particles, the material of the mask would be a barrier to passing those particles into your nose and mouth.
However, those not used to wearing a face mask will touch their faces more than if not wearing a mask. This has made masks lethal for many people. They reduce breathing capacity, making the wearer pull the mask away from the face to breathe in more air.
Instead of breath from an infected individual dissipating outside, it can move up and straight into the eyes. People who wear glasses find they steam up. This increases viral load for the wearer, with more viruses particles entering the body before immunity has kicked in.
Why are we not being given basic facts? The common cold can incubate for a few days and we must surely know why this is and be aware when we have come into contact with someone who has caught a cold.
The period before symptoms appear is when someone is infectious and the virus is invisible. If we are able to act as if every person may be infectious, how would we behave.
- When in close proximity to this person, for instance while speaking to them, we could wear a mask.
- Before engaging in conversation with anyone or travelling with them, we ought to wash our hands, put a mask on from behind the ears, wash hands before touching our face and removing the mask and washing it or disposing of it responsibly. Talking while wearing a mask ought to be reduced to only where necessary and removal or change of mask ought to be possible as soon as possible after talking. The mask would reduce the distance the virus travels to others but speaking creates more particles than breathing.
- Breathe from breathing or talking ought not to be blown into the eyes or float around the nose and mouth. Ideally masks ought to allow breathe to leave away from the eyes, which become itchy, which increases risk of touching them to relieve the itch.
- This could be at home, at school, in a shop, on public transport or in a crowded public place where social distancing is not possible.
- It ought to be for as short a time as possible to avoid the risks of contaminating the mask or blowing particles into the eyes.
When would wearing a mask be less beneficial than not wearing one at all.
- For long periods of time – if you are at work surrounded by people all day, it is important to get regular breaks outside to safely remove the mask and take deep breaths away from other people.
- Outside – COVID-19 is not airborn enough to reach other people passing on the street but it does increase your risk of contamination when you touch public surfaces and touch your mask or face before washing your hands. This action needs to become second nature, as it is in countries where people wear masks often.
- When talking – you are going to be increasing the particles staying within your mask so it is better to socially distance than wear a mask. If talking is unavoidable within a couple of metres, to be able to wash hands and remove mask as soon as able to would decrease your risk.
Those in large households, containing members who go to work and take public transport need to get good at stopping contamination on shared surfaces in the home.
Those taking public transport need to get good at safe mask wearing – for minimum period possible, starting with clean hands and put on behind the ears and sanitiser used between touching surfaces and touching face and minimal talking while wearing the mask.
Here is a German film about Science Versus Politics to show the uneasy relationship between scientists and the politicians who ought to be using research to inform public policy
Those at work to take regular outdoor breaks to breathe and sufficient sanitisation for donning and removing masks as well as responsible disposal and ample supply of masks while interacting with other people indoors.
Where possible for work and study to be carried out online. Where students need to be in school, to make learning skills to protect themselves against the spread of a virus as accessible and easy to practice as possible.
Like fire alarms, schools and universities could use practice drills to help students internalise hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing.
Here is a rather infantile video on using masks.