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Stephen Fry reveals how he thinks we can defeat coronavirus while taking a scathing swipe at how the NHS has been treated

Josh Milton April 24, 2020
Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry (Dave Benett/Getty)

Stephen Fry pointed to NHS underfunding while delivering a swift broadside against the bungled mishandlings of some countries in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fry lent his voice to a video published Thursday (April 23) entitled “Will 60 per cent Get Coronavirus?”, which explores various tactics that world leaders and health experts have recommended or implemented to beat the spread.

During the short film, created by YouTube channel Pindex, the actor compares different countries’ responses to the crisis and explains how regional news broadcasters shape public perception.

As an example, he points to the trope commonly pollinated by conservative outlets that the virus is not as deadly as the flu.

“[Coronavirus] is at least 10 to 20 times more deadly,” Fry says, based on hospitalisation rates provided by the American Center for Disease Control.

Fry alarmingly calls the US a “hotbed” of conspiratorial theories and misinformation, with around 50 per cent of Americans believing one. It comes as, Fry points out, some religious leaders are going against social distancing strategies.

Moreover, Fry rallied for a radical reform of healthcare systems across the world.

“Underfunding of the NHS left it highly stretched even before the pandemic. Surely now is the time to transform all of our health systems.”

He urged for a “science above politics” approach towards the way countries care for people. adding: “In the war on the virus and with so many lives in the balance, perhaps healthcare will be recognised as a human right.

“Without it, people are less likely to see a doctor when they have symptoms. And without a diagnosis, less likely to isolate themselves.”

Fry also busts open the devastating death toll of the “herd immunity” approach once peddled by some country leaders, and urged that “testing is our greatest weapon against the virus”.

Stephen Fry busts coronavirus myths and warns of a second wave. 

The coronavirus pandemic has presented a fresh test for presidents and premiers across the world, and, for the most part, many of them have failed, public health experts say.

Fry’s video came just hours before US president Donald Trump haphazardly recommend that heat, light and disinfectant products would be coronavirus treatments. He is, as result, facing mounting criticism.

In the video, Fry breaks down how, according to health experts and health care providers, the virus will likely play out as a series of waves.

The first wave will likely be the most devastating, and as Dr Leung, dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said: “We must prepare for several cycles of a ‘suppress and lift’ policy.”

In other words, governments will implement lockdown measures in various intensities for at least another year.

How we flatten the second wave is all seeded by our efforts now, whether through contact tracing or social distancing.

Fry points to the R0 (r-naught) – a messy metric you’re about to hear a lot more of in the coming months – which basically represents the number of new infections estimated to stem from a single case.

“When it’s below one,” Fry says, “cases are declining, above one, they are increasing.”

More: Coronavirus, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, Stephen Fry, UK, US

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