Says William Hagerup - a writer, translator and the author of the novel In Good Faith. He is originally from Norway and has lived in Colchester since 2009.

ONLY a third of people regularly attend church, down from two thirds in 1983, and only 28 per cent say they believe in God.

However, not to worry. We have a new God and it’s called our NHS. The Government is its church and we are all part of the congregation of worshippers.

From the clapping of hands to the publishing of books to politicians’ inability to refer to the health system as the NHS any more – it is now Our NHS, having replaced Our Father – the NHS has taken on the form of a national religion, as Nigel Lawson once suggested.

If you think this is facetious, look at what is happening to students: Denied the normal life of a young person, defrauded of the full value of an expensive education and denied the building of friendships and relationships, not to mention job opportunities, as coffee shops, pubs and restaurants close their doors, many forever.

All the while, only about 600 people under the age of 45 have died with Covid-19 on their death certificate, according to the ONS.

Ninety per cent of the dead are above 65 and 42 per cent above the age of 85. The average age of mortality is 83.

Consider also the point made by Philip Thomas, professor of risk management at the University of Bristol, writing in the Spectator, that the reduction in the economy caused by the lockdowns is likely to cause the loss of ten times more average lives (calculated using expected lifespan) than if we allowed the virus to run wild (which no-one is suggesting).

This completely blows the argument of “lives versus the economy” out of the water.

David Miles, professor of financial economics at Imperial College Business School, writes in a recent analysis that if we use the same yardstick for Covid-19 as we do for other conditions “it would seem as though the benefits of continuing with the lockdown are lower than its costs”.

People in Essex are feeling this. During the first lockdown, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit increased by almost 75 per cent and in Colchester the figure was a shocking 83 per cent. This will be young and working-age people.

Lockdowns clearly do more harm than good: Socially, mentally, economically, but also, crucially, in terms of lives saved.

Yet now we are in lockdown again. Why? Again, the justification is presented to us in terms of how the spread of the dreaded lurgy would affect the NHS.

Here in Essex the local Government’s website tells us that “there are currently 57 people with coronavirus in Essex hospitals”.

If Essex hospitals cannot cope with 60, or even a few hundred patients, then “chocolate” and “tea pot” are words that spring to mind.

It is a strange state of affairs when an administrative model, the National Health Service in its current form, has taken on such importance that people’s liberties, livelihoods and even lives have to be sacrificed in order to preserve it at, literally, any cost.

It is time to have an honest debate about reforming how universal healthcare is delivered – it is absurd to protect the NHS against the people it is supposed to serve.

At the start of the pandemic we sacrificed the nation’s elderly to Our NHS, then we went on to sacrifice the young.

The Prime Minister should be careful.

In ancient Greek civilizations, the ultimate sacrifice to the gods was a male representative of the queen.

But if they come for him, Mr Johnson can take solace from the fact that he is being sacrificed for Our NHS.

At least he will know it’s worth it.