The tragic death toll was all too predictable, in a system that decided old and disabled people weren’t worth keeping safe
“Who do we not save?” In marker pen brainstormed on a whiteboard, these five words – from a government meeting in the early days of the pandemic and leaked last month by Dominic Cummings – say much about this government’s catastrophic handling of the pandemic and the real value it places on the so-called most vulnerable people.
Think back to last spring, when ministers declared that their priority was to keep disabled and older people safe. Matt Hancock promised to throw a ring of protection around care homes. Boris Johnson thanked disabled people for their “sacrifice” of shielding for months. In reality, these were the very people who would disproportionately go on to die. About 42,000 care home residents in England and Wales have died of Covid, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although the true number is thought to be higher. As of February 2021, 61,000 disabled people had lost their lives to the virus – accounting for almost 60% of total Covid-19 deaths in England.
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