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Up like a rocket, down like a stick: a Covid tale from the BBC

2.3 million people have listened to Matron Laura Duffel’s alarming account of a system overwhelmed:

2:00 PM, Jan 1, 2021.

BBC Radio 5 Live
@bbc5live

“It was minimally affecting children in the first wave… we now have a whole ward of children here.”

Laura Duffel, a matron in a London Hospital, tells Adrian Chiles about the Covid situation in hospitals.

The tweet in reply sent at 8:21 PM, Jan 2, 2021 by Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health saying, “As of now we are not seeing significant pressure from Covid-19 in paediatrics across the UK” has garnered less interest, though that may change. It includes a link to this article on the BBC website:

Doctors have sought to reassure parents that there has been no increase in the severity of Covid-19 cases among children because of the new variant.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said children’s wards are not seeing any “significant pressure” from Covid-19.

It comes after London hospital matron Laura Duffel told BBC Radio 5 Live that wards were full of children with coronavirus.

Doctors have denied this is the case.

Professor Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH, said: “Children’s wards are usually busy in winter. As of now we are not seeing significant pressure from Covid-19 in paediatrics across the UK.

“As cases in the community rise there will be a small increase in the number of children we see with Covid-19, but the overwhelming majority of children and young people have no symptoms or very mild illness only.

“The new variant appears to affect all ages and, as yet, we are not seeing any greater severity amongst children and young people.”

Dr Ronny Cheung, a consultant paediatrician at Evelina Children’s Hospital, in London, added: “I’ve been the on-call consultant in a London children’s hospital this week. Covid is rife in hospitals, but not among children – and that is corroborated by my colleagues across London.”

Prof Calum Semple said that he spoke to colleagues on intensive care units and “not one of them has seen a surge in sick children coming into critical care and we’re not hearing of a rise in cases in the wards either”.

“We’re not seeing a different spectrum of disease in children, certainly we’re not seeing a surge in cases,” Prof Semple told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

Dr Liz Whittaker, a consultant paediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital London, said “only small numbers” of children who test positive for Covid develop severe disease and these are “within expected levels” at the moment.

“I continue to worry for my elders, not my kids,” Dr Whittaker added.

Meanwhile, Dr Lee Hudson, from Great Ormond Street Hospital, said that none of his paediatric colleagues at hospital across London were reporting higher rates of sick children because of Covid but said that parents should never be afraid to seek medical help if they are worried about their children.

The Daily Mail says, “Ms Duffel is a vocal campaigner for nurses who has appeared on Good Morning Britain on a number of occasions”.

Edit: Having seen some of the comments made against Ms Duffel on Twitter, I want to add that I very much doubt she intended to misinform people. It is far more likely that she saw a local spike in children getting Covid-19 and mentally leapt to generalise it because oncoming catastrophe fitted her model of the world.

15 comments to Up like a rocket, down like a stick: a Covid tale from the BBC

  • bobby b

    I have relatives and friends in health care. Docs, nurses, techs, whatever.

    It’s a bright-line cutoff. The hard-core Democrat ones complain constantly that they’re overwhelmed, the rooms are full, there’s no rest, death is a constant companion, etc., etc.

    The others tell me there’s not much difference at work these days. There are more flu patients than normal, but nothing outrageous. They show me the utilization numbers of their facilities to back up what they’re saying.

    Liberal health care people are loving this new “they’re our saviours on the front lines” crap, and they’re going to play it for all it’s worth. Effin’ liars they are.

    Another relative works in the funeral industry in South Dakota. He was relating to us, in the early days of the sickness, how they were gearing up for the flood, and working long hours, etc., etc.

    I pointed out to him that the published stats showed six deaths so far in his entire state from Covid. We haven’t spoken much since.

  • George Atkisson

    The sudden, positive attention and praise can trigger a dopamine rush. Some people develop an addiction to that rush and must continually seek that same experience. See dancing and protesting medical staff. Just as some people can drink alcohol or use marijuana for years in moderation, others seem to become overnight addicts. Add in the fact that there’s a massive push from the Left to maintain The Narrative of a massive crisis to justify eternal lockdowns and increased government control of every aspect of life, and the combination of virtue signaling and dopamine can be overwhelmingly seductive.

  • Chester Draws

    And all over the world the State actively rewards the bedwetters and not the truth tellers.

    Saint Jacinda in her infinite wisdom has highly rewarded Professors Michael Baker and Shaun Hendy in the New Years honours.

    Hendy predicted up to 80,000 dead from CV in NZ. (https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120604818/new-model-shows-coronavirus-could-kill-80000-kiwis-without-lockdown) Sweden is just over twice the size of NZ and has not had a full lockdown. Deaths = 8,700. So Hendy was out by a factor of 20, at best. But he was ridiculous on the alarmist side, so he gets a gong.

    Meanwhile Michael Baker has thrown himself into the fray at every opportunity and obviously loves the publicity that it is bringing him. We’d be under literal house arrest if he got his way, and every single thing appears to scare him. Result = gong.

    Meanwhile Dr Siouxsie (yes, really) Wiles has pointed out that the vaccine might not stop it spreading very much. Since that utterly f**ks the NZ government’s strategy to hide from the rest of the world until it is under control that is very off message. Naughty girls don’t get gongs.

    So don’t worry about even being close to correct. Just give the government line and all will be well.

  • […] significant extra pressure on paediatric wards from covid. According to a linked BBC article on the Samizdata site, Professor Viner’s view was backed up by a number of other senior medical figures. They all […]

  • Mr Ed

    Lockdown Sceptics has a piece today arguing that the case against medicalised tyranny doesn’t get through to most people as it is an appeal to reason, not to emotion, and most people are too (let’s face it, but what I would term) bestial in their approach tho do anything other than think ‘Lockdowns keep people safe so are good’, and do not go beyond a ‘face value’ evaluation. It’s quite a way down the page, here is an excerpt, but it applies to pretty much all libertarian argument.

    Second – and this is an even bitterer pill, perhaps the bitterest of all – we have the failure of our liberty-based arguments. We have made all kinds of appeals to freedom and civil liberties during the past year. But the brute fact is that most people apparently couldn’t give two hoots about freedom when the chips are down. Security and safety are what matter. The moral truth for our compatriots is not that the Government rode roughshod over our liberties this year. The moral truth for them is that the Government justifiably deprived us of our liberties to keep us safe – and we’re grateful for it. We can bemoan this and debate the reasons for it all we like. But it’s the world in which we live.

    This piece is just part of it, put the ‘narrative’ of fear out there, lying is fine for the greater good. As the Vogon said ‘death’s too good for them‘, they like to use the fear of death, to suppress normal life.

  • Stonyground

    “But the brute fact is that most people apparently couldn’t give two hoots about freedom when the chips are down.”

    Perhaps they will care a bit more after they have lost it. When it’s too late to get it back.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Mr Ed, that is a great article, so merci for the pointer.

  • Katy Hibbert

    It comes after London hospital matron Laura Duffel…

    Do they still have matrons? I thought they’d gone the way of Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques:

    Tinkle : You may not realise it but I was once a weak man.
    Matron : Once a week is enough for any man.

    As for the NHS being overwhelmed, piffle. Perhaps they could sack everyone with “diversity” or “inclusion” in their “job” title and spend the money on agency staff, who don’t pull sickies.

  • Lock down the BBC and every other media outlet, not letting the journalists out of their residences for the next six months and shutting off the transmitters except for Teletext if you still do that in the UK. Government propaganda can just as easily be handled by trucks with loudspeakers.

    Lock down every elected official, from local councils up to Boris Johnson, for the next six months, not being allowed out of their residences either. Politicians are no more essential than human beings.

    The people supporting lockdowns actively want the increase in suicides and domestic violence, and actively want to put people out of business. Foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

  • John Lewis

    Government, media and nhs alike are all concentrating on positive test but paying relatively little attention to the actual death figures.

    The ONS website has a large number of graphs which yield interesting results:-

    2016:
    67.8% of deaths were aged 75 and above
    13.74% of deaths totalling 72.053 had respiratory diseases as the recorded underlying cause

    2017:
    68.3% of deaths were aged 75 and above
    13.77% of deaths totalling 73,143 had respiratory diseases as the recorded underlying cause

    2018:
    68.1% of deaths were aged 75 and above
    14.13% of deaths totalling 76,232 had respiratory diseases as the recorded underlying cause

    2019:
    68.0% of deaths were aged 75 and above
    13.59% of deaths totalling 71,674 had respiratory diseases as the recorded underlying cause

    2020 – Weeks 1 – 51 only
    68.7% of deaths were aged 75 and above
    10.39% of deaths totalling 61,545 had respiratory diseases as the recorded underlying cause
    12.62% of deaths totalling 74,774 had Covid mentioned on the death certificate

    ONS definition: An ‘underlying cause of death’ refers to the main cause of death, whereas a cause being ‘mentioned on the death certificate’ means that it might be the main reason or a contributory reason to the cause of death.

    So what, if anything, to make of these figures?

    1. What is going on with the 2020 figures for respiratory diseases being the underlying cause and Covid mentions? The figure of just 10.39% for respiratory deaths compared to a 4 year average of 13.81% suggest that at least 20,000 of this years “Covid deaths” would normally have come under the respiratory disease heading.

    2. If we assume there is little or no double counting and the number of “Covid mentioned’ and respiratory disease deaths are separate and distinct how does this fit in with the very small, possibly statistically insignificant, increase in over 75’s dying? If the “Covid” deaths were largely in addition to the “normal” respiratory disease deaths I would have expected a far greater increase in the death rate among the most vulnerable section of the population.

  • Fred Z

    “I very much doubt she intended to misinform people. It is far more likely that she saw a local spike in children getting Covid-19 and mentally leapt to generalise it because oncoming catastrophe fitted her model of the world.”

    As usual, stupid is much more evil than evil.

  • Stonyground

    The problem posed by disinformation online is increasingly serious, the BBC’s director general has said.

    Tim Davie told the Radio Times: “Traditional journalism has been playing catchup in the disinformation world.”

  • APL

    Tim Davie told the Radio Times: “Traditional journalism has been playing catchup in the disinformation world.”

    State sector just can’t abide competition.

  • Paul Marks

    Whether this lady intended to mislead, or was honestly mistaken, let us concentrate on the good news – there are NOT lots of children dying Covid 19.

    The sort of people dying of Covid 19 are people like ME – people full of years, who are also fat, male and bald (yes even baldness is said to be a factor – but who knows if that is correct) and have compromised lungs.

    I “tick all the boxes” but I am still here – at least presently.

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