IT IS an arbitrary statistic about a virus characterised by its arbitrariness. The announcement on Tuesday that one million people in the world had died from Covid-19 was accompanied by caveats to the effect that this figure was certainly incorrect. Disparities over counting, uncertainties over diagnosing, and large gaps in testing suggest that the milestone was reached a long time ago.
It was almost inevitable that the coronavirus would be treated by statisticians like a war, in which fatalities are logged but injuries are overlooked. But long-term Covid “injuries” are changing perceptions of the virus yet again. There is now clear evidence of persistent and often debilitating symptoms among those who have contracted Covid-19, including those who thought that they had escaped lightly. Breathlessness, fatigue, and loss of cognition are common, to be added to the range of severe disabilities caused to sufferers who emerged, scathed, from intensive care. As citizens in the UK, on the Continent, and elsewhere return to stricter regulations in attempts to flatten a second wave, it might encourage compliance if more people were aware of long Covid.
WE HAVE often written about safeguarding in these pages, and will again next week, when the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) delivers its final report on the Church of England. The array of new initiatives unveiled in the past week — the interim fund, the Safe Spaces service, the admission that an independent system is needed, etc. — gives the distinct impression of a church hierarchy that is scrabbling about on the bedroom floor looking for items of underwear to cover its nakedness, knowing that IICSA is about to draw back the curtains and expose its carelessness, cruelty, and neglect. We would have been more impressed by something not so obviously prompted by IICSA and the approach to the Charity Commission.
It is worth quoting from an earlier leader comment, from April 2018: “Past blunders, defensive policies, and deliberate obstruction have cast such a pall that they overshadow the better practices now being introduced, and have left a trail of damage in their wake.” Survivors have, of course, welcomed the new urgency given to this topic, but will be forgiven for not trusting an institution that has put off improvements till this last minute. And there is much still to do. The emphasis during the IICSA investigation was on the Church’s treatment of survivors and perpetrators. Since it finished, much more has emerged about the ill-treatment of those falsely accused, and of faulty procedures that have led to unsafe conclusions. We, too, welcome the new commitment, but will withhold judgement until we see wholesale reforms.