North East Connected


A leading North East manufacturing boss has written an open letter to chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty.

John Elliott MBE, DL, chairman of County Durham based Ebac, believes that the knowledge and skills gained through running a manufacturing business for many decades could be brought into play in tackling the current pandemic.

John wrote:

Professor Chris Whitty,

Firstly, may I thank you for your incredibly hard work during this challenging time.

I would not pretend that I am in any way qualified to give you medical or scientific advice, however as someone who has spent decades running a successful manufacturing business, I do feel qualified to talk about solving difficult problems.   In manufacturing I learnt a long time ago that the best solution to a problem is to get to the source of it and be prepared to consider a totally different approach despite the natural resistance to this.

It is a fact that deaths in the UK are higher than many countries and these countries are following a different strategy to us.

The countries where it is normal to wear masks there has been less than 1% of the death rate compared to other countries.

If we stand back and look at the issues objectively, I believe these are the facts:

Could it be that the masks trap the virus and stop it escaping into the air?

Our current strategy of nationwide lockdown is focusing on stopping the entire population from picking up the virus while it seems to me that it would be better to focus on stopping infected people from spreading the virus. For example, we have a problem on our production line that some of our dehumidifiers are leaking gas. We could increase our capacity to repair the units before they leave the production line, or we could stop the faults occurring. It is always better to look at the source of the problem to see if it can be solved. This may not be as quick or as simple as increasing the repair capacity but definitely better.

Personally, and looking at the issue from an outside perspective, I would focus on identifying carriers of the virus and stop them spreading it. If this is achieved the need for hospitals reduces and even more important, we save lives. Because the virus travels from person to person there must be clusters of infected people. If we identify these and focus 100% on stopping them from spreading the virus the virus decline will be sooner and we will have a system that can continue until other solutions are found. If this is the case, we would need to develop methods of identifying the infected people and reduce them from spreading and I have some ideas on this that I will be happy to share with you. As well as reducing deaths this method will be much less disruptive.

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