Covid-19: The Global Pandemic

Since the imposition of restrictions on an individual, business, town or indeed country cannot be predicted we have decided to halt all tours for the remainder of the 2020 season. We feel this is the most prudent approach for our business at this time. We are disappointed to have to do this and apologise to all of you who had hoped to enjoy one of our tours this year. We hope to be running as normal in 2021 and look forward to seeing you then.

Some facts about Covid-19

Covid-19 is without doubt a fatal disease for certain people and for that reason should not be taken lightly. Anyone with a medical condition, particularly cardio-vascular or respiratory is advised to take appropriate measures to avoid contracting this disease.

The vast majority of the healthy population that contract this disease, however, are unlikely to die from it. Indeed, we know that large numbers of people display no symptoms at all, they’re asymptomatic. Some get a mild illness, and some get a more severe illness, while relatively very few require hospitalisation or admittance to an intensive care unit for that matter.

In the UK, statistics based on provisional data suggest that of those who have died from Covid-19, 91.1% had at least one pre-existing condition. The most prevalent pre-existing condition was Alzheimer’s disease. About 91.7% of people dying from Covid-19 across all regions of the UK were over the age of 65. The table below shows the percentage of deaths by age group occurring in England in June 2020 that were attributable to Covid-19 and compares these with a percentage based on the five-year average of all deaths by age group in England occurring between 2012 and 2016. The table also shows the proportion of deaths attributable to Covid-19 occurring in England in June 2020 as a percentage of all deaths occurring in England in June 2020.

Comparison of an average death rate in England by age with the Covid-19 death rate by age in England.

Age group Percentage of total COVID-19 deaths in June 2020 (% of COVID-19 deaths) Percentage of the total deaths in each age group that were due to COVID-19 in June 2020 (% of all deaths) 5-year average rate of death from all causes 2012 – 2016 (% of all deaths)
0-64 7.9 8.1 12.0
65-69 4.3 5.31 5.7
70-74 8.4 - 7.4
75-79 12.0 7.62 10.7
80-84 19.4 - 16.0
85-89 22.0 8.63 48.14
904 26.1 - -
NB figures do not sum 100 due to rounding; 1. The figure of 5.3 is for age group 65-74 which encompasses both the 65-69 and 70-74 age groups. 2. The figure of 7.6 is for age group 75-84 which encompasses both the 75-79 and 80-84 age groups. 3. The figure of 8.6 is for age group 85+ which encompasses both the 85-89 and 90+ age groups. 4. The figure of 48.1 is for age group 85+ which encompasses both the 85-89 and 90+ age groups.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Covid-19 survival rates: a more positive view of the data

According to worldometers.info, based on estimated cases of coronavirus, people under the age of 50-years-old have 99.6% or greater chance of survival if they develop Covid-19. In fact the younger you are the far greater chance you have of surviving and for children survival is almost guaranteed. For people aged between 50 and 59 the survival rate is 98.7%. It’s 96.4% for the 60 to 69 band, 92% for the 70 to 79 group and better than 85% for those 80 and over.

Other estimates give even higher survival rates. An article in the British Medical Journal discussing a study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases that looked at Covid-19 cases in mainland China, suggests a 92% chance of survival for 80-year-olds. And confirms that for the very young, children of 9 and under, survival rates are more like 99.99%. Overall survival rates were estimated to be about 99.3%.

A personal view

I have read some research papers on the impact of Covid-19 and their results tend to demonstrate the same fact. That is that for the vast majority of healthy individuals, regardless of age, Covid-19 is not likely to kill you. It might kill you but the younger and healthier you are the less likely that it will.

According to Professor Sir David Spiegalhalter from the University of Cambridge, talking on Radio 4’s More or Less statistics programme, if you develop Covid-19 you are as likely to die within the next 2 weeks as you are to die within the next year. My apologies if this quote is inaccurate. What I take the professor to mean is that if there is a one in a thousand chance of someone dying in the next year then if they develop Covid-19 there is a one in a thousand chance they will die within the next two weeks.

So, my question to you is this. Were you worried about dying within the next year before Covid-19 came along? If you are healthy then you probably weren’t concerned and so you shouldn’t be because the chance of dying in the next year is small.

If on the other hand you have health concerns such as being overweight or you’ve developed type 2 diabetes then you can at least do something about it by choosing a healthy lifestyle. The health advice is simple and straightforward. Eat a healthy wholefood diet and if you can and it’s safe to do so introduce some intermittent fasting – the benefits are well document. Get plenty of exercise in the fresh air and make several of your weekly sessions vigorous, like high intensity interval training (HIIT). Getting your heart and lungs working hard improves the efficiency of your cardio-vascular and respiratory systems and boosts your immune system.

Exercise needs to be part of a daily routine for any benefits to be maintained. I’ve heard people say: "but I exercise regularly. I play five-a-side football on a Tuesday and do Pilates on a Thursday. " This amounts to about 2 hours of exercise per week. Good exercise that may be, but it simply isn’t enough to maintain your physical health. My advice would be to aim for about 2 hours of exercise per day. I don’t necessarily mean go to the gym for 2 hours but rather walk for at least 30 minutes. A 30 minute brisk walk is great but so too are three 10 minute walks at a fast pace. Most people should be able to squeeze in a 30 minute HIIT session and it’s easy watching tv while doing Pilates, yoga or pedalling an exercise bike for an hour. House work’s also a good activity. Particularly if you put some elbow grease into your efforts.

Exercise in itself is not enough though. Watching what you eat is also very important. I’m as guilty as the next person of overeating or eating the wrong stuff like sweets, cakes and sausages. And regardless of your activity levels, if you consume more calories than you use then those calories will turn to fat and probably visceral fat. The fat in your abdomen that surrounds your internal organs and gives you a flabby belly when there’s too much of it. A small amount of visceral fat possibly protects your organs but too much has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. All prominent pre-existing conditions in Covid-19 mortality cases.

Staying healthy is a good policy for life and it’s clearly beneficial when it comes to fending off Covid-19. No doubt you will have heard stories about someone who was into iron man competitions, ran marathons almost every week and got all their nutrients from licking tree bark but they caught the virus and sadly died. They are the exception. Not the norm. The evidence borne from the data is clear. If you are fit and healthy then Covid-19 is unlikely to do you any lasting damage or kill you. You may not even know you have it or previously had it without a test.

Please stay safe and remember that even though you may not be vulnerable others could be so we still all need to take the necessary precautions.