It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a year nobody expected, with Covid-19 changing our daily lives.
On Friday, September 25, the UK hit a record number of infections, with 6,874 new cases, which is higher than at any point during the first wave that led to a national lockdown.
And while the number of infections during that first spike were believed to be higher, though hidden because of a lack of testing, those testing positive for the virus as we enter winter is continuing to rise.
To date, more than 41,000 people have been killed by the virus and that number is still climbing, reports MirrorOnline.
Worldwide the death toll is approaching 1 million with 32 million cases in more than 200 countries.
However, despite the severity of the disease there are still some who insist it’s all over blown, the figures exaggerated and measures brought in to tackle are either unfair or don’t work.
During the summer conspiracy theorists went through a phase of destroying 5G phone masts in a fruitless bid to stop the virus’s spread.
Last weekend thousands of people made their way to UK cities for anti-lockdown protests and further protests have taken place today despite rules on social gathering being tightened this week.
Police made 32 arrests during one demonstration in central London against the restrictions and mass vaccinations.
More than a thousand people are estimated to have joined the rally in Trafalgar Square, among them 5G conspiracy theorists, coronavirus sceptics and “anti-vaxxers”.
With coronavirus myths still rife, Mirror Online turned to Dr Andrew Lee – a public health expert at the University of Sheffield – to debunk some of the most commonly repeated falsehoods.
1. Masks don’t work
They do. There have been studies from around the world that the (coronavirus) droplets spread through the air. Surgical face masks reduce the chance of infection.
Even a face covering can be 80% as effective as a face mask. If someone is infected – they are the source – wearing a mask has stopped that person spewing out droplets.
2. Cases going up but deaths aren’t so the virus is getting weaker
There is no evidence of this. It is (as strong). In the early stages in March we were only testing hospitalised cases. Clearly that does not reflect everyone in the community.
The fact we’re testing more now, it looks as if the proportion will get up. It can get up to May death levels.
In terms of the number of deaths, how bad can it get? Scientists believe to reach herd immunity, you would need to infect half the population.
That’s 35 million people in the UK infected in the next year. If 1% died that is 350,000 people. That is huge and scary and big.
You can’t revive the dead, but you can revive the economy.
3. Coronavirus is no worse than the flu
In terms of fatal infection proportions, Covid-19 is 1%. That is ten times worse than flu.
It is also almost double the infectivity of flu. I wouldn’t be taking my chances with it.
We are getting more and more reports of longer consequences.
We don’t know the full extent of this virus yet. There are a lot of longer term factors that are starting to be recongised.
There’s a national study looking at long term survivors, but it’s a bit soon to say what the full effect will be.
4. The nature of Covid-19 means we’ll never get a vaccine
I am very hopeful we will get a vaccine. Unlike the flu virus that mutates quite a lot, this virus isn’t mutating that quickly.
We have several vaccines in advanced stages.
I think by the end of the year we will have one that works. Even a partially effective vaccine will reduce death rates and infections.
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5. Any future vaccine will actually make people sick
We are quite stringent in how we produce vaccines in the UK. They have to get through rigorous trials of safety. Oxford and Imperial have cleared the safety trial.
People should be clear that any and every vaccine will have side effects, but that is not the same as a bad effect.
If I injected water into your arm it would ache, but that’s just a side effect. I am quite hopeful and reassured by the UK standards.
6. We already have herd immunity so another lockdown would be pointless
We do not have herd immunity.
One of the things we have been doing nationally is population samples. Population immunity at the moment is around 8%.
London is a bit higher at around 15%. That means 92% of the country are still susceptible.
7. Cases are only going up because we’re testing more
There is a tiny element of truth in the more you test, the more you find.
But we don’t just look at one indicator. The number of hospitalisations is going up.
Samples have higher levels of virus genetic material in them.
8.The young have nothing to worry about from the coronavirus
It is fair to say the risks are very low in the very young.
The risk increases as we start to age.
Even for a young person the risk is not zero however.
If you infect enough young people some will die, some will have bad side effects.
You are taking a risk on behalf of the community. Sooner or later you will come into contact with the elderly or people with health conditions.
9. Coronavirus is caused by 5G
There is no link whatsoever.