Councillor’s Update

THE VIRUS

I am aware as I pen this that events are racing. By the time you read this we will have experienced dramatic changes. Already, everything is shutting down and there is no clear idea about its resumption. The current prospective more complete lockdown is London will probably have happened. The Coronavirus is the only story right now, and will remain so for some time to come.

The stockpiling and the markets for test kits, surgical masks, antiseptic gel, at a time when not available to NHS frontline staff were distasteful. However, an ethic of greater care has become apparent. So, it has been balanced by the dedication and commitment of NHS workers, carers and volunteers (helping neighbours). Equipment manufacturers and researchers have also played their part.

Locally, I am more than optimistic that the Council will acquit itself well in facing the challenge. This is essential ,as it must maintain services with diminished staff numbers. It will also have a major role in targeting and distributing the largesse promised by Central Government.

The crisis has highlighted that there has been excessive focus on optimisation in both private and public sector organisations – running lean, as if nothing disruptive will occur. The result is a lack of robustness and resilience to cope with shocks. Everything – the number of hospital beds, doctors, nurses, social carers – must be stripped to the bone in the name of efficiency. We would benefit in the future from a less cost-cutting and short-termist mentality.

Global Interdependence

Globalisation, with its complex and extended supply chains, lack of local self-sufficiency, tourism and air travel has assisted the rapid spread of the virus. Nevertheless, it has provided the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from others. The key area where this has been vital is in research to combat the virus.

Scientists around the world are seeking to understand how to halt or hinder the virus. This does not have to be a straightforward “cure” or preventative vaccine to be of value. A drug that was only able to reduce the fatalities or the seriousness of symptoms would also serve. Simply, by reducing the severity would keep down the number of hospital admissions, and also the time spent in hospital.

Identifying existing drugs that alone or in combination help to target the virus has progressed well through international cooperation. It is also feasible to scale up production of such drugs to achieve the necessary quantities of available doses. International trials organised on the same basis in several countries can increase the level of patients participating and produce a more comprehensive analysis.

I believe that we will soon be seeing progress on this front. A positive note to end on. I wish you all well

Richard

Cllr Richard Bennett South Twickenham Ward. Leader, Green Group Cllr.R.Bennett@richmond. gov.uk