by Martin Odoni

Tony Blair is advising the Government on how to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tony Blair.

That is… Tony Blair.

A lawyer.

A man with minimal training, and no serious qualifications, in science, let alone medical science or human biology.

Tony Blair is advising on the pandemic.

Please, let that sink in.

This Thatcherite lawyer thinks he can advise on medical matters?

Now, as any regular reader of this blog will know, I have little time for the former Prime Minister who, despite being a Labour man, oversaw one of the greatest, most damaging increases in inequality Britain has ever seen, during his decade in office. He deserves credit for tightening safety nets somewhat for people at the bottom of society, but his utter disinterest in combating inequality allowed enormous wealth and power to concentrate at the top. The effect of this has been to create a new uber-stratum that is so rich and has so much influence that they are now, effectively, free to behave in any way they choose, ignoring many laws. The oligarchy-in-the-making can simply buy its way around rules to a growing degree. Fines for law-breaches can be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, but are meaningless, as they amount to a couple of hours’ wages. Meanwhile, these vast fortunes cause economic damage, as they slow the circulation of money around society.

And that is before even considering what a startling war-monger Blair proved to be.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that I oppose Blair being involved in any way in the country’s attempts to fight the pandemic. But my opposition is not just about, “If-Blair-says-it-do-anything-else.” My opposition, as implied above, is that Blair is unskilled in science, including crucially medicine. He has already demonstrated this in quite startling fashion.

Blair’s initial intervention in the pandemic, in the lead-up to Christmas, was a particularly inept bit of ‘Choice Economics’ (arbitrary statisitcal targeting) writ large. The vaccine developed by Pfizer needs to be administered in two doses, recommended to be approximately two-to-three weeks apart. But supplies of it are short and will be slow to arrive in the UK. Blair therefore publicly encouraged the Government to delay the second dose for people who have already had the first, and to reallocate the vaccines to people who have received no doses at all, spreading protection further around the population.

This is exceptionally ignorant advice, and anyone who has ever had to take a course of medicine prescribed by their doctor should be able to explain why. Particularly, doctors are always at pains when prescribing medicine to tell patients to make sure that they complete the full course of medicine within the allotted time period, and not to skip a single dose – even if they are feeling better days sooner.

The reason why is simple, Darwinian, natural selection. Early in the course, the medicine will be highly effective at combating the bacteria/virus strains most vulnerable to it. Within a few days, most of the ‘alien’ substances or microbes will have been destroyed by the immune system, thanks to the fortification of the medicine, and so, of course, the patient will feel a lot better before the course is completed. But there will almost certainly still be some of the invading substances, be they germs or viruses, left over. These are the ones that, by the freak of random mutation during the spread and reproduction of the illness, have a feature of some kind that offers partial resistance to the medicine. This mutation is likely to be slight at this stage, so continued exposure to the medicine should still be enough to kill it off, just more slowly. But if the medicine dosage is stopped instead, the mutated invader will not only still be there, it will be present in all the surviving remnants of the illness. Therefore, the mutated form with this bit of resistance becomes the dominant form, and as it starts to reproduce and re-spread, all of the new specimens will have that resistant feature. With each cycle of reproduction, the mutation is encouraged to develop further, and the disease becomes even more resistant to the medicine.

So, if the dosage is skipped for long enough, the mutation could continue to the point where the medicine ceases to be effective against it. (Notably, Boris Johnson’s father, after all the harm he has done to efforts against Covid-19, will not face that risk.)

And Blair, who I repeat knows practically bollock-all about medical science, is publicly writing in the national media asking for the delay in administering doses of the anti-SARS-Cov2 vaccine to stretch from three weeks to one quarter of a year. All because, in his Choice Economics-addled mind, part-vaccinating more people sounds better than properly vaccinating fewer. He misses that his proposal would encourage resistance to the vaccine to build up in the virus; if resistant versions of the virus become dominant nationwide, we could be back to square one within months.

I admit I am no Stephen Jay Gould myself, but I do at least understand the Principle of Natural Selection, and the phenomenon of Punctuated Equilibrium, enough to grasp the dangers of overlooking microevolution effects in medicine. Blair, as a Christian, has Creationist leanings, and that alone demands skepticism of his thoughts.

Why doesn’t a major Government try prioritising specialists in the relevant field of science?

Why consult Blair at all? (“Had enough of experts,” Michael Gove?) I fear the answer is pure cynicism. Blair has a history of very effective Public Relations. Controlling the public debate about the pandemic – and ensuring that Johnson’s Administration does not get any of the blame for all the countless needless mistakes it has made in trying to contain its spread – has always been the Government’s only real priority. Saving lives certainly has not.

Therefore, Tony Blair is “more useful” than someone who actually knows about medicine.

Oh, the state of this country…