"Highly likely" earlier lockdown could have saved bus drivers lives, report's author confirms

27 July 2020, 14:48 | Updated: 27 July 2020, 15:14

Sir Michael Marmot on how earlier lockdown could have avoided deaths

By Seán Hickey

The author of a report on the impact of Covid-19 on transport workers said many workers could have been saved if lockdown was introduced earlier.

It is "highly likely that earlier lockdown could have saved lives," said Professor Sir Michael Marmot, the Director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity and former President of the World Medical Association. He joined Shelagh Fogarty after the release of his report which suggests that the death of London bus drivers could have been avoided if coronavirus lockdown was introduced earlier.

"In April in London the mortality from Covid-19 was so high that it swamped all other causes of death," said Professor Marmot.

"Covid-19 mortality in London was so high that it means that some of the people that were dying in April would have been infected in March.

"If lockdown would have happened earlier, there would have been fewer drivers infected, and fewer people in London generally so their passengers would have been less likely to be infected," the health expert told Shelagh.

Professor Marmot went on to state that where the drivers live impacts their health greatly, telling Shelagh that "they're more likely to live in areas of high deprivation," which put them at high risk of coronavirus.

The report from UCL suggested that bus driver's lives would have been saved if lockdown was introduced earlier
The report from UCL suggested that bus driver's lives would have been saved if lockdown was introduced earlier. Picture: PA

"Also there's a high portion of black asian and minority ethnic groups among bus drivers and BAME people are at higher risk," Sir Michael added.

The Director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity suggested that through his findings "it may be that being in a front line occupation is part of the reason for BAME groups being at higher risk of Covid-19."

Shelagh cornered the Professor when she asked "will we ever know if these drivers were let down by some organisation or individual?" Sir Michael insisted that his study has no evidence pointing to an answer.

"I hope we'll get more information in phase two of our study," he began, but said "earlier lockdown would've made a difference, I can't say whether more or different specific protective actions would have made the difference."

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