In an attempt to persuade an increasingly bemused and sceptical public that CONTRIK-69 is "the deadliest threat ever to have visited Planet Earth", Dorset's Deputy Chief Scientist Professor Emm Pirical [BA, MSc University of Cambridge, Certificate of Advanced Payments University of Afpuddle] and Chief Medical Officer Professor DimWhitty [Intermediate Labwork NVQ and Cycling Proficiency Certificate, Canford Cliffs Technical College] have issued a joint statement to explain current scientific thinking and to help educate the layman [Careful [Ed]] in the devious ways of this devastating disease.
"Back in February when we first became aware of the potential of this devastating disease and realised that it might wipe out much of the population regardless of age, race, creed or sexual preference ["No respecter of genitals" Dorset Medical Journal editorial April 2020] our strategy was simple: flatten the sombrero, push back the peak into the warmer summer months, shield the vulnerable [particularly Mrs Irene Dimwhitty, 4 The Knoll, Hampreston*], save the DNHS and strengthen the RDC. For these reasons we recommended to Government that the entire County should be locked down, that no-one should be allowed to interact with a single other person and that households greater than 4 should be culled.
*Professor DImWhitty's 87 year old mother who, despite multiple underlying medical conditions and an expected "exemplary death", survived.
This was - and remains - a very good example of sound evidence-based Science in action: petrol prices fell, the DNHS was not overwhelmed and the RDC budget, alongside its peremptory powers of stop and search before fining and incarcerating increased manyfold. Whilst a predictable and necessary byproduct of the measures we recommended was that the economy would be trashed, livelihoods would be extinguished, deaths from other causes would increase exponentially and everyone would go stark raving mad as the Government fixated on our intended message, this was - as evidence continues to prove - "a price worth paying". The impact of the disease was delayed [the sombrero was now a somewhat squashed fedora] and the tactic of pushing the peak into better weather meant that thousands of DHNS staff had nothing to do bar making and remaking the additional 1.4 million unused beds we advised the Government to provide. ["Complete Paralysis: Modelling for the Ideal Society", Dorset Journal of Predictive Medicine, August 2020]
As a result of these measures and as the sun shone, we were able to relax conditions considerably in the hope that infection rates and the death toll would once again rise, that our sound predictions of 75-85% mortality would be proven right and that we could begin the CONTRIK-69 danse macabre all over again. For some time this didn't happen and it was distressing to those of us who understand the science properly and whose duty it is to stretch our version of the truth to breaking point to see the population at large beginning to go about its normal business in an apparently healthy condition. [Imagine the distress of our colleagues at the RDC who stared a return to their role as straightforward crime-solving peace-keepers in the face and didn't like the look of it!].
In short scientists faced scepticism, abuse and even ridicule. But we were not finished yet! Whilst it is true that some of our modelling was out by a factor of 10 or even 100, we were correct in all of the important respects: the population was anxious, terrorised and under the cosh. People were suspicious of each other and many were content to stay indoors preferring solitude to a random encounter with an enraged flack-jacketed riot-equipped police officer or a potentially-infectious cat [the scientific jury is still out on that one though it's gone a bit quiet]. But Government was, fortunately, still listening and we soon realised that it was Government rather than the population we needed to continue to frighten and convince. We immediately deployed all the weapons at our command: graphs, pie-charts, bullet-points , Powerpoint presentations and colossal numbers. It worked. ["Spooking ministers: how Excel saved my career" Afpuddle Department of Statistics Bulletin, July 2020.]
In our view all of the evidence now clearly demonstrates - beyond peradventure - that, despite general adherence to 26 meter rules, compulsory bio-suits and the death penalty for coughing, infections are once again on a satisfactory upward trajectory. Whilst it is true that an insufficient number of people are yet dying and that the 15th spike is a pathetic shadow of the first pathetic spike, asymptomatic infections as well as the number of people going happily about their business unaware of whether they have the disease or not are displaying a slow but satisfactory upward trend. The fedora is not yet becoming a sombrero again and certainly not at a fast enough rate to justify suspension of the current more relaxed measures but we are getting there and our improvised tactic of pushing back the epidemic peak into the winter months [who says the scientific method is rigidly inflexible?] is beginning to show signs of working**. To add to the difficulties, there is also evidence that this pathetic excuse for a disease is adapting to its host and becoming less deadly. It is even possible that there is an insufficient number of old and vulnerable people left for it to attack. This is a serious problem for us as predictive scientists, but we have colleagues working on an anti-vaccine even as we speak. Trials on bedridden and systematically undernourished old people in Batcombe's Nightingale Nursing Home show promise and suggest a break-through in overcoming residual natural resistance amongst the enfeebled could be imminent.
** scientifically speaking the advantages of a winter peak are [a] there are likely to be more cases [b] they will be indistinguishable from other causes of coughs, colds and influenzas [c] people will save money at Christmas and will accept with fewer complaints the piss-poor output of the BBC's "Festive Programming".
Taking all of the above into account, we are convinced that the recent normalisation of social intercourse and economic interaction must be reversed immediately and that life as we used to know it should go on hold for an indefinite period [no less than 10 years]. We have advised Government to introduce what we are calling a "spirit breaker"; recommending that everyone should stay at home, speak only when spoken to, do as they are told, obey all orders, welcome the police [but no-one else] into their bio-hazardous abodes, accept the proven facts, heed the dire broadcast warnings, toe the line unquestioningly, submit, give-up, give-in, abandon all hope and trust the Science to get it right in the long run. As a community of self-important professionals with lots of letters after our names we are determined to be vindicated. And by hook or by crook we will be.
Only by accepting complete submission can we ensure that this devastating virus saps our energies and beats us in the end.
Professor Emm Pirical Dorset's Deputy Chief Scientist [BA, MSc University of Cambridge, Certificate of Advanced Payments University of Afpuddle]
Professor DimWhitty Chief Medical Officer [Intermediate Labwork NVQ and Cycling Proficiency Certificate, Canford Cliffs Technical College]