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A little bit of knowledge

A little bit of knowledge

Those of you who saw JVT’s recent press conference about the AZ vaccination programme tweaks will have been struck by two things.

First, the complete absence of any footballing analogies. Which is probably just as well, because this particular trope is starting to suffer late season fatigue – rather like an Arsenal side briefly flickering with top four promise, only to sink to inevitable mid table anonymity. Instead, we had a nautical simile. The vaccination programme, explained JVT, is bound to require the occasional course correction, because it’s like a massive liner sailing across the Atlantic. Presumably now pointed towards a green-rated country.

Second, and rather more importantly, there was the amount of medical information he conveyed, and the clarity with which he conveyed it. We had in-depth explanations, data drill-downs and multiple pictograms showing risk-benefit analyses. He came across like a tough but fair headmaster determined to improve the country’s Ofsted rating. If he keeps this up, we’re in danger of having a medically literate public before too long.

Imagine that! Actually, don’t. Because the public’s medical ignorance is our bliss. ‘I need a strong antibiotic’ is something I can deal with – decisively, firmly and effectively. Whereas, ‘I’d like you to talk me through the latest evidence behind the risk/benefit ratios of me having amoxicillin in standard doses for this persistent cough, with particular reference to my specific demographic, and done in the style of a JVT press conference’ is not.

If a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, then a lot would be a complete disaster. Five minute quickie day duty appointments would degenerate into 15 minute hand-wringing marathons. But never fear. JVT is tipped to be the next England boss, which would mean the great health enlightenment of the public stopping in its tracks. Problem solved. Or, rather, ‘Back of the net!’

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 14 April, 2021 3:18 pm

I’ve never heard anyone say “I think I have a pituitary, pancreatic or adrenal problem”…it is always the “thyroid”. Ignorance is bliss, also comical. I heard a saying that “over-confident idiots” are a threat to our human existence. Sadly, their R-rate is above 1.