Written evidence submitted by Dr JR Ponsford, ret’d consultant neurologist (COR0008)


Re    Management of the Coronavirus  pandemic,  and  Net zero and UN climate summits

          Infection with coronavirus may be completely asymptomatic.   Even if PCR testing is 100% reliable there must be an interval from the moment of infection until viral multiplication and spread has ensured a test sample contains enough virus particles to exceed the test’s limit of detection.

         The more effective a lockdown is in shielding individuals from exposure, the greater the risk of a subsequent wave once precautions are relaxed, in the event of re-exposure. Repeat lockdowns, already evident around the globe, might ricochet for at least a year or two, and perhaps longer. The consequences for individuals, economies, the NHS, and social care are not appealing.

         To limit these it is suggested a safer course here, and globally, would be to require all cross border travel, with very limited exceptions, some geographical, to be followed by formal, rigorous, quarantine, lasting for two weeks unless PCR testing on arrival, repeated at least once after some days to be certain to exclude premature retesting, and perhaps a third time to minimise risk of false negatives, all proved negativeLong distance road freight drivers importing perishable food might stay cocooned in or adjacent to their vehicles. Rigorous checks for illegal immigrants, and illegal imports, capable of transmitting disease would be necessary but would slow trade.

       Ideally, such quarantine might be relaxed only after global elimination of identified new cases, and monitoring of sewage with PCR showed no statistically significant level of residual infection.

        Reduction of travel and tourism would have major economic costs. Against these, a permanent reduction in travel by air and sea would help reduce risk from coronavirus and inevitable future pandemics. It would be a first step to expedite the dangerously delayed halt of all man made greenhouse gas emissions, and release investment for renewable energy capture and education.

      Sufficient global education engendering the voluntary adoption by all of modern contraception to reverse population growth to ensure uncrowded housing, schools , and transport, and  then maintain well educated, multiracial, population sizes, in each country, no longer dependent on net food imports, use of pesticides, intensive agriculture and deforestation, able to match and recycle finite global resources, restore lost natural habitat, offer all children small class sizes, multiple manual, digital, musical and other artistic and intellectual skills, and much knowledge, and all adults rewarding work, would minimise poverty and risks of famine, disease and war, finally meeting Thomas Malthus’ plea in 1798 for humanity to achieve its full potential for good.  It would reduce man made greenhouse gas emissions, and thus should be an integral part of CoP 26’s agenda.

      Without sustainable population sizes globally and a cap on global warming in time to halt accelerating Polar glacial melting, man-made species extinction may include much of mankind.

      Alternatively, with sufficient effort to honour Malthus, in time the UK might not only help save the planet, its peoples, and much of its remaining flora and fauna, but also achieve the optimal, much safer, UK population size of 30 million people concluded by a House of Commons Committee over 4 decades ago.

      Dr JR Ponsford, ret’d consultant neurologist.