We oldies had our moment – we cannot ask the young to lockdown again now

According to the QCovid risk calculator run by the University of Oxford, a male aged 60 with no risk factors has a 2.3 percent chance of dying of Covid following a positive test. For an 80-year-old man, it’s 16 per cent (one in six).

But the odds of falling a cropper to Covid as a youth are miniscule. For a healthy 19-year-old, the risk of dying after a positive test drops to just 0.01 per cent. And the risk of that teenager catching covid in the first or second waves and then dying was literally one in a million, according to QCovid.

A one in a million chance of death is called a “micromort” – a jolly little unit of measurement that is useful for comparing the riskiness of various day-to-day activities.

A trained scuba diver stares down five micromorts with every dive, while a single sky dive will cost you eight micromorts, for example.

On the more mundane side of life, a 230-mile drive equates one micromort. That’s the same tiny risk our 19-year-old runs from Covid. His 80-year-old grandad, on the other hand, runs a Covid risk which is 1,000 times greater.

The 19-year-old would need to drive 230,000 miles – equivalent to lapping the globe nine times – to clock up the same number of micromorts on a road trip.

None of this is to minimise the threat of Covid. The omicron wave, which is rapidly enveloping the country, is deadly serious. Unless this variant turns out to be very considerably less lethal than those before it, it’s a good bet that hospitals up and down the country will find themselves overwhelmed in the next three to four weeks.

If the worst transpires, there will no doubt be calls for another lockdown. People will say a developed democracy cannot operate without a functioning health system, and you may agree with them – especially if you think you may have a call to use it.

But we boomers have had almost two years to fix the roof. If Covid overwhelms the NHS this winter it will be because we have not done enough to expand its capacity, control the virus or to make sure all adults (not just some of them) were double jabbed and boosted.

The American physician Dr Anthony Fauci has called the young “vehicles of spread” and they do indeed carry the virus. But can we really close their schools and universities once again in order to protect ourselves given the damage we know that would bring?

I would say not. In the spirit of Picasso, we oldies embraced Freedom Day and, in doing so, opted to live with the virus rather than suppress it.

If that turns out to be more of a base jump (450 micromorts) than a gentle stroll in the park, we’re just going to have to live with it, or not.
 

Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security

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