At least 30,000 more people will have died from Covid-19 because of the end of lockdown measures—and that’s if everything goes better than expected.
That’s the prediction from the government’s own scientists, who modelled various scenarios for how lockdown should end ahead of Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday.
Every scenario predicted a third wave of coronavirus infections as a result of easing restrictions.
One scenario from researchers at Imperial College London analyses a similar path to the one Johnson announced.
It estimated that a further 150,000-280,000 people would be hospitalised and 32,200-54,800 people would die between February and the end of June 2022.
Those figures didn’t appear on the front pages of any of the newspapers that welcomed Johnson’s plan—from the Mirror and the Guardian to the Sun and the Daily Mail.
Behind the celebration is a cold calculation that trades people’s lives for profit. An editorial in the bosses’ newspaper the Financial Times sees ending the lockdown as a question of managing the economy.
It decided Johnson’s plan “strikes a sensible balance.”
“Exit too fast this time and another resurgence may yet entail another lockdown,” it said.
“Too slow, and the toll on the economy and non-Covid health will be all the greater.”
Johnson himself put it more bluntly.
“We cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental wellbeing, and the life chances of our children,” he told parliament. That’s why the first move in every plan to ease lockdown is to open schools again.
No genuinely “cautious” plan would start by cramming hundreds of people together into buildings and classrooms.
But once schools are open, parents can more easily be made to go back to work.
So no one should trust Johnson’s claim that he will be guided by hospital statistics when judging when to move on to the next phase of reopening. Bosses and Tory MPs demand he moves faster.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the pace of Johnson’s roadmap put “the future of thousands of firms” at risk.
Throughout the pandemic and across the world, governments have put businesses first.
In the US, roughly one year since the first known coronavirus death there, 500,000 people have died—20 percent of the world’s total. Capitalism regards them as disposable.