26th November 2020 – Christmas is coming but just because you can doesn’t mean you should!

A Blog by Dr David J Flavell PhD FRCPath & Dr Sopsamorn (Bee) Flavell BSc PhD
Scientific Directors of Leukaemia Busters

Christmas Cheer or Christmas Fear?

 26th November 2020


On Tuesday of this week, Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the UK government’s SAGE advisory group delivered a chilling message to the nation. Speaking about the governments easing of restrictions for the Christmas festivities where up to three different households will be allowed to meet indoors he said that this ran the risk of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”.

He was of course referring to the very real danger of a third resurgence of COVID-19 transmission between individuals from different households and generations as families gathered for Christmas in very close proximity to one another in the confined space of a million living rooms. This he argued would make little sense after the efforts everybody in Britain has made to reduce COVID-19 infections after national lockdowns and other local restrictions.

Is it really worth the risk of undoing all the good work?

Since Professor Hayward made his comments other infectious disease experts have given similar warnings arguing that we will pay the price for a relaxation of the rules over Christmas that will lead to a third wave infections and deaths come the New Year. The argument goes, here we are standing on the threshold of having more than one successful vaccine so why should we take the risk of being responsible for reigniting infection transmission unwittingly when in just a few months’ time a vaccination programme rollout will likely liberate us all from the tyranny of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A third wave of COVID-19 would only prolong the agony for all of us well into 2021. Ask yourself and then ask your friends, neighbours and family is it really worth the risk of undoing all the good work?

Another Sacrifice

The easing of restrictions is based purely on a political/sociological imperative that lacks any scientific basis. The government has judged that some freedoms over Christmas should be granted as a blunt psychological tool to keep the populace onside after a year of very necessary restrictions on personal freedoms together with all the financial and mental stress issues that these have brought.

But, and it’s a very big but, shouldn’t we take stock and understand that sacrificing our Christmas with family and friends this year will actually allow us to escape from the COVID-19 situation that more quickly and return to normality now there are successful vaccines on the horizon?

Cheer or Fear?

It seems that a large number of people can see sacrificing Christmas 2020 as the most sensible course to take. Many fearful of the effects of a third wave of infection and the subsequent deaths that will follow. The government has left the choice up to us whilst warning of the risks. Christmas is a time for family get togethers that naturally involves intergenerational mixing of young with old and it is the older generations who are at the at highest risk of developing serious complications and dying from COVID-19.

Christmas vs Easter

If you were to ask us personally, we would say that the correct thing to do would be to sacrifice Christmas 2020 for the sake of a quicker return to normality and for the safety of many older and/or vulnerable people in society. Consider Easter 2021 instead as a safer option once a vaccination programme is likely to be underway.

The question is how many will take the same view now that the government have sanctioned the easing of lockdown and mixing of tiers between the 23rd and 27th December. What happens next will be up to them but we will all feel the consequences of their actions whatever they turn out to be.

While we are waiting for that much needed vaccine it’s more important than ever that we follow the rules to help mitigate further spread of COVID-19 during that wait. Do not ease up with your social distancing, mask use and hand washing, this being something that we’re just going to have to live with for some time to come, perhaps for another six months, perhaps 12 but we will get there and in the meanwhile it’s up to everyone to do their bit in helping prevent more illness and death. Please do continue to strictly follow the trinity of mitigation rules and there’s every chance that infection rates will be kept under sufficient control to prevent any further lockdowns until a much needed vaccine eventually arrives.

A Free High Spec Washable Face Mask for You!

We have obtained specific funding for a supply of high quality reusable/washable 4-layer face masks that we are offering to people in limited numbers for free. To claim your mask please follow the instructions given at the end of the blog entitled Mask Up!.

Note: None of Leukaemia Busters research funds have been used in the supply of these masks.

Not to be missed!

Watch out soon for our next blog “Vaccination Challenges” that will deal with the enormous logistical issues that will need to be overcome for a mass vaccination programme of the entire population to succeed.

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