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The Sun leads with two important dates: the date we’ll return to work (May 26th) and the date the Premier League will resume behind closed doors (June 12th). May 26th is the day after a Monday bank holiday and according to the Sun‘s Political Editor Tom Newton Dunn the date Boris is going to name as back-to-work day next Thursday. That makes sense because May 7th is the day the Government and its scientific advisors are reviewing the lockdown. According to Newton Dunn, the announcement will give offices, shops and some factories two-and-a-half weeks to install new government social distancing measures, such as perspex screens and gaps between desks, as well as give the public enough time to overcome their “coronaphobia”. That’s the Sun‘s word for the fact that two-thirds of the public are now too scared to leave the house, as revealed in a poll for Ipsos Mori.

Will the Government expect us to observe the two metre social distancing rule when restrictions are eased? Possibly not, according to the Telegraph. It’s main front page story says the Government has asked the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to look again at whether people need to stay two metres apart. If that rule is relaxed it will make reopening the country easier, not least because it’s unenforceable in schools, as Katharine Birbalsingh, the head of Michaela Community School, has pointed out. Christopher Hope, the Telegraph‘s political editor, has more details on the plans the Government is considering, which include staggered start times in offices and factories, a delayed lunch hour to reduce the likelihood of overcrowding in town centres, and temperature screening of employees as they turn up for work each day.

The Government’s plans for restarting the economy will almost certainly include a ‘test, track and trace’ programme, particularly after Matt Hancock hit his target yesterday of testing 100,000 people a day by the end of April. The number on April 30th was 122,347, but the Guardian claims this was inflated by including 39,000 test kits that had been sent to households and satellite testing locations. No evidence those kits have even arrived, let alone been used.

Among those industries hit worst by the lockdown is the aviation industry, with the Mail reporting that in the town of Crawley near Gatwick up to 50% of jobs are at risk of being lost or furloughed. British Airways has already announced it plans to make 12,000 staff redundant and its parent company IAG has just secured a £900 million loan from the Spanish Government. Meanwhile, Rolls Royce is cutting up to 8,000 jobs. Crawley Borough Council is among several local authorities that may have to file for bankruptcy, along with Liverpool City Council and Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council. Perhaps no surprise then that Simon Dolan, the businessmen who’s hoping to challenge the lockdown in the High Court, owns an aircraft charter business. The Mail has more details.

As the lockdown eases and we survey the economic wreckage, more and more people will start asking whether the cure was worse than the disease. And the evidence that the more modest social distancing measures put in place by the Government on March 16th were sufficient to “flatten the curve” continues to mount. A reader has sent me this interesting graph showing the use of mass transport in London, Birmingham and Manchester declining rapidly before the lockdown was imposed:

This is just one data point, but if you want to read a full survey of the evidence that lockdowns don’t work I recommend this paper by Thomas Meunier entitled ‘Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic‘. Here’s what the abstract says:

This phenomenological study assesses the impacts of full lockdown strategies applied in Italy, France, Spain and United Kingdom, on the slowdown of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, and reproduction number trends. Extrapolating pre-lockdown growth rate trends, we provide estimates of the death toll in the absence of any lockdown policies, and show that these strategies might not have saved any life in western Europe. We also show that neighboring countries applying less restrictive social distancing measures (as opposed to police-enforced home containment) experience a very similar time evolution of the epidemic.

One sentence in Meunier’s conclusion jumped out: “As a concluding remark, it should be pointed out that, since the full lockdown strategies are shown to have no impact on the epidemic’s slowdown, one should consider their potentially high inherent death toll as a net loss of human lives.” That’s a reference to those who’ve died, and will die, as a direct result of the lockdowns. We won’t know that number for some time – I predict we’ll still be debating it in 50 years time – but we can take a stab at estimating how many people have died as a result of the UK lockdown to date and Hector Drummond has done precisely that in the Critic. He analysed the excess deaths in Weeks 14 to 16, as documented by the ONS, that weren’t recorded as deaths from COVID-19 to see if they were undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths or deaths from other causes. If the latter, that suggests the lockdown itself is partly to blame. Of the excess deaths in that period, 7,486 were not attributed to COVID-19. Those who claim the “real” death toll from coronavirus is much higher than the official figures suggest take it for granted that these were undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths, but if they were you’d expect the ratio of men to women in that figure to be roughly 60:40, a skew that holds true for all Covid deaths. But when Drummond looked at the non-Covid excess deaths in Weeks 14 to 16 he found the ratio was roughly 50:50, which suggests that at least some of them weren’t undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths. Well worth a read.

Another unintended consequence of the lockdown may be that it has interrupted the natural evolution of the virus whereby it would have become progressively milder if we’d stuck with mitigation. Dr John Lee, a retired consultant pathologist, has a fascinating piece in this week’s Spectator in which he poses that question. Dr Lee points out that all viruses mutate, and a rapidly-spreading one like SARS-CoV-2 typically becomes less harmful as it changes because this helps it survive. After all, if the virus kills too many of its hosts, it is more likely to die out, whereas if it becomes milder, it spreads further. He thinks it’s likely there are dozens of different strains of SARS-CoV-2 currently in circulation, some quite mild, others deadly. What if the Government’s suppression strategy has meant stopping those people with the milder versions of the virus from circulating and, at the same time, herding those with the deadlier versions into hospitals where they can infect other patients and NHS staff? It could be, says Dr Lee, that the lockdown is giving the nastier strains of the virus a helping hand, thereby slowing the tendency of this new disease to get milder with time.

As we tot up the unintended consequences of lockdowns across the world, it’s worth bearing in mind that the quarantining of entire countries for extended periods of time is a new and untried strategy for managing a pandemic. Historically, there are very few examples of lockdowns being used before. The earliest historical example I can find is Florence in 1631, when an outbreak of the plague killed 12% of the population. More recently, Mexico in 2009, during the first days of an H1N1 influenza outbreak, isolated those suspected of being infected, closed schools, banned public gatherings and cancelled a regional soccer tournament. But those measures weren’t replicated in other countries and Mexico abandoned them after 18 days, partly due to the mounting social and economic costs.

We’re often told by lockdown enthusiasts that those US cities that introduced extreme social distancing measures during the Spanish flu pandemic experienced fewer deaths than those that didn’t. But those measures stopped well short of a full lockdown. For instance, in St Louis, which is often held up as a model of how to manage the current pandemic, churches and schools were closed, business hours were restricted and people were ordered to wear mask in public, but the city never issued a stay-at-home order and only cancelled business activity entirely for about forty-eight hours.

Also worth noting that lockdowns weren’t even suggested during America’s deadliest bouts of seasonal flu since 1919. In 1967, flu killed about 100,000 Americans and in 1957 it killed about 116,000. As of yesterday, the COVID-19 death toll in the US was just under 65,000. As a side note, it now looks almost certain that the outbreak in Germany, which Angela Merkel described as the worst crisis to afflict the country since the Second World War, will kill fewer people than the seasonal influenza outbreak in 2018 – and no thanks to the lockdown Chancellor Merkel ordered. Der Spiegel has published the latest daily mortality figures for Germany, which show infections beginning to fall before the more extreme measures were introduced. And contrary to a lot of misinformed nonsense in the news, there’s been no sustained uptick in infections in Germany since the the lockdown was lifted, something that’s also true of Denmark and the Czech Republic.

So why the rush to lock down citizens across the world in response to coronavirus? It’s all the more surprising when you bear in mind that the World Health Organisation (WHO) specifically recommended against quarantining as a strategy for managing the outbreak of a flu-like pandemic in a report it published in 2019. This was drawn to my attention yesterday by a reader with a background in epidemiology and public health who says she’s been horrified by the unquestioning acceptance of the Covid response measures by her colleagues whom she expected to be more capable of critical thought. The WHO report, which you can read here, even stopped short of recommending the quarantining of exposed individuals. No doubt some people will point out that COVID-19 isn’t a flu-like illness, so more drastic measures are called for. But the WHO report says that quarantining wouldn’t have done any good as a way to mitigate the impact of Spanish flu, a much more deadly virus than SARS-CoV-2.

What changed the WHO’s mind and prompted it to praise the response of the Chinese authorities in Hubei province, which included the virtual incarceration of 60 million people? It was this, more than anything else, that persuaded governments across the world to lockdown their citizens. It’s all the more mysterious, given that the WHO has now done a reverse ferret and praised the Swedish government’s herd immunity strategy as a “model” of how to manage the pandemic.

While we’re on the subject of Sweden, Philip Magnes at the American Institute for Economic Research has written an interesting article about a group of researchers at Uppsala University who plugged Sweden’s numbers into Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College model in early April, hoping to persuade the authorities to abandon the mitigation strategy and impose a lockdown. According to the model, if the Swedish Government continued to pursue its “reckless” policy the capacity of the healthcare system would be overwhelmed 40-fold and approximately 96,000 would die of COVID-19 by the end of the year. By May 1st, the Uppsala group predicted, the death toll would be 40,000. In fact, as of April 29th, Sweden’s death toll from COVID-19 was 2,462, and its hospitals are nowhere near the projected collapse. I illustrated the same point with a graph last week, showing the death toll the Imperial model would have predicted if it had been applied to Sweden

For my elderly readers whose eyesight isn’t what it was, the blue area represents what would have happened under the ‘do nothing’ scenario in Sweden according to Professor Ferguson’s model, the yellow area what would have happed if the Swedish Government had stuck with mitigation – which is what is what it did, obviously – and the red area the actual death toll in Sweden.

We learned yesterday that the response of the Chinese authorities to the outbreak, which the WHO praised so effusively in February, included lying about human-to-human transmission, locking up whistleblowers and refusing to help nations develop a vaccine. Those are among the revelations in a leaked 15-page dossier from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance. This dossier is almost certainly what Donald Trump was referring to earlier this week when he said he had evidence that the virus originated in a Chinese virology lab. The dossier says that a team of scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology conducted research in into deadly bat-derived coronaviruses, with at least one of the virus samples being a 96% genetic match for SARS-CoV-2.

This will be grist to the mill of Republican critics of the lockdowns imposed in states controlled by Democrats. Which poses the question: to what extent is your reaction to the lockdowns mediated by your political views? The short answer is a great deal, with conservatives being much more likely to oppose extreme social distancing measures than liberals. But why should that be so? The Heterodox Academy has published an article by Luke Conway, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Montana, who has researched that question. Here’s his conclusion:

Conservatives oppose the government telling them when they can or cannot leave their homes; liberals support such policies. Because a threatening disease might validate government interventions that conservatives dislike, conservatives appear motivated to downplay the severity. Or conversely, because a threatening disease might validate government interventions that liberals do like, liberals seem motivated to magnify the threat.

This jibes with an essay by Inaya Folarin Iman published in Spiked yesterday about how the lockdown and the British people’s surprising acquiescence to it has its roots in the “decades-long cultivation of a culture of fear and the sanctification of safety” and “the increasing hyper-regulation of everyday life and the growing normalisation of censorship and suppression of dissent”. Could this be what’s responsible for “coronaphobia”?

Happily, not everyone around the world has responded so cravenly to being bossed around by the authorities. The residents of Harris County, Texas have been having a laugh at the expense of a recent announcement about what face-coverings they should wear that misspelt “bandana” as “banana”:

Theme tune suggestions from readers are flooding in. The latest batch include ‘I’m Gonna Kill You‘ by Wynn Stewart, ‘I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself‘ by Buddy Knox and ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper‘ by Ashbury Heights. Keep ’em coming.

For more light relief, have a read of ‘The Good Flu Guide’, an article published in Punch in 1987 (author unknown). Hat tip to comedian Simon Evans – one of the few right-of-centre comics to appear regularly on Radio 4 – for unearthing this gem:

Thanks as always to those of you who donated to pay for the upkeep of this site yesterday. If you feel like donating, you can do so by clicking here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in tomorrow’s update, you can email me here. See you tomorrow.

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Gary
Gary
1 month ago
Reply to  wendyk

Some time in the next few days I’ll get round to posting some parody lyrics of popular songs, all now worded to oppose the lockdowns.

Gracie Knoll
Gracie Knoll
1 month ago

Question:

What happens to the tens of thousands of people CANNOT avoid getting “up close and personal” with their customers in order to earn a living? Will they have to wait 18 months-15 years until the vaccine becomes available, before they can get back to work?

I have a vested interest in this because I am a physio in private practice. But let’s just think of the huge numbers of people affected by this problem –

Off the top of my head, here goes:

• Hairdressers & Barbers
• Beauticians
• Opticians & Optometrists
• Doctors (GPs are “phone consulting” at present)
• Dentists (Emergencies only at present)
• Physiotherapists
• Osteopaths
• Chiropractors
• Podiatrists
• Acupuncturists
• Tattooists
• Audiologists
• Sports Massage Therapists
• Nail Salon Workers
• Trichologists
• Tailors

(Who have I missed out on? There must be others!)

Does anyone know how this is to be handled?

Gracie Knoll
Gracie Knoll
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

Oh, my wife suggested one I hadn’t thought of:
• Prostitutes
(THIS one might directly affect some of our leadership, if past revelations are anything to go by!)

wendyk
wendyk
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

Would lap dancers qualify ?

wendyk
wendyk
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

My sister is a yoga teacher; she’s doing online sessions at present but does have close contact with her clients as a rule, She also does aromatherapy ans fitness training on a one to one basis.

Steve Austin
Steve Austin
1 month ago
Reply to  wendyk

Does farting count as aromatherapy? I’ll need a new direction if BA give me the chop.

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

Ballroom dance instructor/partners.
Personal trainers

Digital Nomad
Digital Nomad
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

Airport security. There is a silver lining after all…

wendyk
wendyk
1 month ago
Reply to  Digital Nomad

Prison officers

RDawg
RDawg
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

What many of the fear mongers seem to be forgetting is that social contact IS life. We lose all meaning and joy if we prevent this from happening. The idea that so many people are willing to give up one of the fundamental aspects that makes life worth living, continues to baffle me.

Gracie Knoll
Gracie Knoll
1 month ago
Reply to  RDawg

The more I think about this, the crazier it gets.

As well as the aforementioned “up close & personal” industries, consider the following:

• Pubs
• Restaurants
• Coffee Shops
• Hotels
• Theatres
• Concert Halls
• Night Clubs
• Cinemas
• Gyms

These businesses need a lot of patrons to be viable. If “social distancing” is in place – e.g. “stay 6 feet apart” in a restaurant, theatre, concert hall etc., these industries would be barely surviving at best and more likely, collapsing.

So we can add to the growing list of the unemployed, all the staff of the above businesses, all our professional actors, and all our professional musicians (goodbye, symphony orchestras).

I reckon 50% of the nation won’t be able to work normally. Cue economic collapse, collapse of the NHS, and other horrors.

Solution – find a cure for “coronaphobia” and then all of us bloody we’ll go back to normal work. (While providing protection for the at-risk groups until the virus has burnt through.)

We appear to be dealing with a virus at a fatality level of a bad flu – the most figures suggest it has an IFR significantly less than that of the 1968 Hong Kong flu which killed 80,000 in the UK. We didn’t shut the country down then, nor was there “virus phobia” and total panic. We got on with our lives and accepted a slight risk.

If we don’t stop this nonsense we might as well all be dead – everything that makes life worth living will be gone.

Barney McGrew
Barney McGrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

The photos in this article would be funny if they weren’t so tragic:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11468119/europe-adapting-post-coronavirus-lockdown-covid-shields/

For me, the fact that these ‘solutons’ are even being suggested and tested is baffling. No one, surely, would pay money to go somewhere to feel either threatened by, or threatening to, other people..? Be scanned for temperature on the way in? Have to show your current medical status to the waiter? Wear a mask unless in a designated zone – perhaps with a ‘mask hook’ on your table where you can hang your foul, disgusting sanitary pad while you eat?

If they suggest opening restaurants on this basis then the whole concept is dead, if you ask me.

Lms2
Lms2
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

In 1968, did we have a media industry so determined to terrify the bejeesus out of everyone at every available opportunity??
The only light relief at the moment are sites like these, and I have to confess to having tears of laughter run down my face as I read out the description of the A2/HongKong/85 to my OH.

Anyway, when people do start to venture out, it’ll take a week or so to get used to it, but when everyone doesn’t drop dead, things will go back to more normal.

Annabel Andrew
Annabel Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Lms2

Being human, I suspect we will go back to normal fairly swiftly.
At least, this is my hope!

Annabel Andrew
Annabel Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

And for what? It’s just so ridiculous!
Every person that dies is a personal tragedy for someone and is truly awful.
This has to be separated from the politics or every person who dies in future could be the end of civilisation as we all collapse with grief and the fear of upsetting someone.

Annabel Andrew
Annabel Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  RDawg

Totally agree. We are human and need touch. Have had quite bizarre conversations today with people who truly believe that the sky is going to fall. So Chicken Licken.

Morris_Day
Morris_Day
1 month ago
Reply to  RDawg

100% social contact is life. And the long this goes, it’s only going to get worse.
I’ve had three bizarre experiences this week alone.
First, a little girl fell over whilst I was running. Her mum was about 100 yards away. Ordinarily I’d have stopped and helped her to her feet. I did stop but didn’t go near her. It felt wrong.
Today I saw an elderly lady carrying three large shopping bags. I’m sure she lived in the block of flats I was right next to, again, in a normal world you’d ask if she needed a help.
This evening I went to the corner shop for much needed alcohol and did a dance with a guy attempting to go in. I tried to hold the door open for him but could see he was hesitant.

Is this what the ‘new normal’ is? If so, count me out.

Catherine Young
Catherine Young
1 month ago
Reply to  Morris_Day

I don’t stress about social distancing. I just walk to where I want to get (in a shop/highstreet etc) and some people give me a wide berth whilst others blithely carry on as the ‘old’ normal. I really don’t expect people to stay 2 metres away and have no concerns if they don’t. I suspect many others may feel the same but think they ‘ought’ to stay away. Wish I could work out a signal to let others know I’m not a coronaphobic.

ianp
ianp
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

Here’s how hairdressing will be handled : as soon as this ridiculous lockdown is lifted I have agreed with my regular hairdresser that he will be coming round to my house to cut my shaggy mess of hair. Cash in hand. Black economy rules!

Amy
Amy
1 month ago
Reply to  ianp

When haircuts are outlawed only outlaws get haircuts! You’re lucky- my hairdresser put out a pious finger-wagging Facebook message about “not even asking” her to disobey our governor and make house calls. (I was one who asked). She must fit into Mark’s “martyr” category above.

ianp
ianp
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy

To add, said hairdresser would have been round weeks ago if it wasn’t for my paranoia about curtain twitching snitches and the fact that the other half is still, sadly, a bit of a sheep regarding this whole fiasco. She does go out to work so explaining a nice neat haircut on her return as ‘oh, did it myself!’ isn’t worth the grief

Jack
Jack
1 month ago
Reply to  ianp

Lets hope this can make cash-in-hand the new “authentic” thing, so all the pretentious trendy people will start recognising it as the way to go, not only us rational ones.

Lms2
Lms2
1 month ago
Reply to  ianp

If I can get hold of my hairdresser, I’ll be doing the same, unless the owner opens his salon. It’s either that or he’ll go bankrupt.

Vic
Vic
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

Not to mention close meetings in London flats with supposed IT entrepreneurs.

BecJT
BecJT
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

Psychotherapists & counsellors
Youth workers and youth clubs
Elderly befrienders
Homeless outreach workers
Domestic violence refuges and outreach workers
Drug schemes
Social workers (child protection are currently asking kids to stand on the doorstop and ask if they are OK in front of the neighbours)

Annabel Andrew
Annabel Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

It should be through choice:I decide that I would like/need this therapy. It has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else.

Gko
Gko
1 month ago

For context, I believe that Sweden will do very well without stay-at-home orders. But that graph comparing model vs reality isn’t at their advantage? If anything the graph shows that reality is higher than what the model predicted so far, no? I’m a bit confused as to what it’s supposed to show.

Gko
Gko
1 month ago
Reply to  Gko

Mid April in red is the same level than May 1st in yellow, so it has grown faster than the model thought it would as far as I can see? But recent data shows a flattening however

ThomasPelham
ThomasPelham
1 month ago
Reply to  Gko

It’s not a great graph. They’ve been level for a while – a newer version would be good. Certainly no sign of the exponential rise – if you read off where 2nd May is you’d be about 4/100000; they’ve not risen above 1.5 (on the 4th April). They’re not declining particularly fast, though it’s possible there’s a downwards trend. Certainly not exponential.

Gko
Gko
1 month ago
Reply to  ThomasPelham

Yes, I’m just saying that the graph shows that the real numbers for April are higher than the model predictions… So the graph doesn’t support anything, quite the opposite. It shows that so far, models were too optimistic. I think it will change for May though

ThomasPelham
ThomasPelham
1 month ago
Reply to  Gko

The curve of the model was entirely wrong both at the beginning and at the end; it’s not a good predictor of the curve Sweden are following, which rose quicker and leveled off well before the imperial prediction.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Gko

Gko, you are right to be dubious, I really don’t know why Toby is still using this plot, as a sceptic I find it embarrassing.

1) the plot needs to have Ferguson’s suppression prediction added to it which included modelling a 70% disruption of commuter movement, as neither of the two lines that have been did.

2) in all likelihood the blue and yellow curves are not in the right place in time, I imagine matching them to reality would require careful r0 measurement in the actual population, something the person who put this plot together would not have bothered to do on Ferguson’s behalf.

3) the reality line includes a deaths plot that is known to contain a false peak.
https://medium.com/pragmapolitic/the-ruse-of-swedish-death-data-bd29a5b9b0ea

We are better than this.

Matthew Reid
Matthew Reid
1 month ago
Reply to  Gko

The blue and yellow show a consistent exponential rise – Ferguson’s prediction. The red shows nothing of the sort, whilst the blue and yellow go through the roof towards May the red is going way down. The reality is orders if magnitude better than the predictions.

swedenborg
swedenborg
1 month ago
Reply to  Gko

https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/09f821667ce64bf7be6f9f87457ed9aa
Sweden has one of the best Covid-19 data in the word,updated each day and a downloadable excel file showing each day death,each day ICU admittance.ICU in slow decline but deaths each day clear decline.Naturally they might end up with 4000 or 5000 deaths but not the ridiculous Ferguson inspired figures with 40000 as minimum deaths and 150000 as maximum deaths and that was a conservative estimate according to those Ferguson inspired scientists.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Gko

Sweden has seen a 65% reduction in commuter traffic (vs our 80%).

They are in an suppression strategy.

This plot compares a suppression reality to a do-nothing and mitigration (social distancing only) model prediction… which is a little unfair if you think about it.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago

A little unfair, yes. But I think the overall impression still holds up.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

It’s not a suppression strategy, the Swedish government and their medical team regularly talk about herd immunity as a “byproduct” of their policy. My impression, fwiw, is that herd immunity became politically toxic and so a lot of people who are still (rightly) pursuing the herd immunity strategy have had to downplay it or pretend that they aren’t. But the reality remains that herd immunity is the only viable exit route that does not require us to change our society fundamentally and for the long term.
It’s a fair comparison to make because the real difference is between a coercive and a (mostly) voluntary lockdown. The Swedish example proves that coercive lockdown was not necessarily required to avoid the numbers used to justify it.

Barney McGrew
Barney McGrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

I saw the establishment’s re-casting of Sweden’s approach as a de facto lockdown before it happened. It was imperative for them that there wasn’t a country without lockdown to compare against. So for a while they tried to pressure Sweden to comply, using scare tactics, apocalyptical model projections and so on. When that didn’t work, they had to re-cast Sweden’s approach as a ‘voluntary lockdown’. Job done. There is now no relevant ‘control’ to compare against.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Barney McGrew

Job done only if we let them get away with it. “Voluntary” lockdown (Swedish style) is fundamentally different from coercive lockdown (UK etc style), and that’s the real point.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Mark

It is a suppression strategy, by the very definition they have asked people to work from home, and 65% of people in Sweden have complied. This has limited their freedoms.

By definition, mitigation, is not about doing that. It is about washing hands and only the sick staying home.

If you’re going to build a plot to compare things, and bash someone’s name as a consequence at least be comparing apples with apples. His line was a mitigation line, not a suppression line, so a data “misquote”.

We are all reaching herd immunity, that argument is flawed. A transmission dynamic suppressed population will have a lower herd immunity ceiling. It will burn out, just like people think it would have done without any measures. BUT, unless you get cases to 0 before you lift any measures (which will take months), all it means when you lift the measure is a second peak, as the true and higher underlying herd immunity ceiling re-emerges.

The answer no one has is which one caused it, and no argument I’ve seen disproves either as a possibility… so the question really is to Boris “Do you feel lucky, well do you punk?”.

… and you can’t make that decision in his shoes, he has to show prudence.

The only silver bullet, is finding concrete evidence that serology surveys have underestimated the spread. Without that, he ain’t going to be able to budge.

All the Swedish strategy showed is it might just have worked for Sweden (they still have new case growth). If you look at some actual data, our rate of change in new cases before any measures was much faster than theirs, so I just don’t buy the argument that looser measures would have turned the tide on (testing rate change adjusted) cases.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

No, you are focusing on overly narrow technical definitions, rather than addressing reality. It’s not helped by the prevailing tendency towards “political correctness” in evading the issue of herd immunity. The real issues are whether you are taking all possibly steps to reduce the spread, and whether and to what degree those steps include coercion.

As Johan Giesecke observed recently: “Lockdown moves dead people into the future”.

“… and you can’t make that decision in his shoes, he has to show prudence.”

Rather absurd to claim that it was “prudent” to take drastically damaging steps with unknown but open ended consequences. The plausible downside “worst case” for the kind of profound economic damage inflicted by coercive lockdown would be systemic collapses of various kinds, which is effectively an open ended situation, involving wars, revolutions, famines, etc. On the other hand, the plausible “worst case” for a disease like this one would be a percentage increase in the annual death rate.

It’s quite apparent that the government acted in panic, and as is usual with panic responses, it was the absolute opposite of prudent.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Mark

Address this reality…comment image
… I’ve never heard such guff.

I think both suppression strategies are blunt instruments that will lead to many deaths, they already estimate in the UK 18k cancer deaths alone…
https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2020/03/19/coronavirus-and-cancer-latest-updates/
… but, how many more are going to happen in Sweden too?

I don’t have any “political correctness” issues with herd immunity. BUT, I do have a problem with denying:
– people treatment in the short term along the way because you’re crap at sums, – or, that both countries are stretching their health services to the limit.

The level of suppression needed boils down to one simple question.

Do you think the UK and Sweden had the same rate of new case growth ahead of any measures?comment image
… if you can show me this was the same, then I’m perfectly happy to agree the same measures would have worked.

Trouble is when you actually look at the data (above), it doesn’t stack up. New cases per capita were growing in the UK at about 2x the rate in Sweden (there was very little change in testing rate in both over this period so this doesn’t explain it). Yet, their measures have not quite stopped new case growth.

This tells me we would have been in a worse situation than them with likely ICU overrun.

Now if you’re still happy with that reality, FINE, you’re a different person to me.

What makes me a lockdown sceptic is I think we need to plan a fast way out asap. It’s doesn’t mean I’m going to be stupid enough to deny that (in the short term) we might have needed a slightly stronger set of measures over Sweden.

Covid reality exists in both countries, I think you’re blaming too little on that and assigning far too much of the consequence on the slight difference in strategy.

Do you really think Sweden has none of these problems?
– abiity to provide cancer and other treatments in hospital
– number of deaths happening due to hospital fear
– deaths due to loneliness in self-isolating old people
– businesses going bust because of reduced footfall
– etc…

Address the REALITY of the real differences between the two countries, and start focusing on a way out of lockdown for us asap.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Why would I bother trying to “address reality” with someone who opens his post with the old propagandist’s trick of posting a closeup snippet of a graph out of context and without the zero point?

It’s pretty clear we are on very different pages here anyway, with you clearly fully bought into the nonsense idea of this disease as fantastically dangerous. I take the view that the numbers show it really isn’t a big deal from a national overview perspective, unless obviously we choose to make it so by our response (which is what we have done, evidently with your approval though you disagree on a few minor details). A few hundred thousand deaths mostly of people who were going to die this year anyway simply is not a cause for panic response. I’ll leave it with the apt words of a Nobel prize winning chemist and Stanford Professor of Structural Biology who has been studying the numbers for this disease since January, quoted on this very site:

“I think the policy of herd immunity is the right policy. I think Britain was on exactly the right track before they were fed wrong numbers. And they made a huge mistake. I see the standout winners as Germany and Sweden. They didn’t practise too much lockdown and they got enough people sick to get some herd immunity. I see the standout losers as countries like Austria, Australia and Israel that had very strict lockdown but didn’t have many cases. They have damaged their economies, caused massive social damage, damaged the educational year of their children, but not obtained any herd immunity. There is no doubt in my mind that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor.”

Based on outcomes so far around the world, he seems to have a much better grasp of the nature of this disease than the Ferguson character whose disastrous misguidance you seem determined, for some bizarre reason of your own, to defend.

P J Whitehead
P J Whitehead
1 month ago
Reply to  Gko

Anything Ferguson-inspired is going to be way over the top by at least a rough factor of 20 times. Have you SEEN his past history of spectacular fails?!
Why anyone listens to him I have no idea. Old Boys club I assume.

Tony Rattray
Tony Rattray
1 month ago

I commend someone to write a book about this lockdown period. Personally, as both a sociologist and businessman, it has unquestionably been the most interesting socio-economic and scientific event of my life. There would be so many captivating themes to cover from ‘herd behaviour’ to ‘moral panics’ and good old! proportionality and risk management, etc.

As data analysis of this event should be clearer by them, I also commend publishing the book for xmas when the wider public (at least a larger minority) will be ready for an alternative perspective on what has passed. It will also provide excellent competition of what will surely be a celebrity chef book with the title’ ‘cooking for the mass unemployed or those who have suffered a sudden and significant drop in income (tax). Not catchy, but you know what I mean…

BecJT
BecJT
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Rattray

That made me properly LOL (the book title). I agree, we do need that, it’s been fascinating and maddening to watch.

Peter Thompson
Peter Thompson
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Rattray

Chapter one would start no doubt in Wuhan , whether in some wet market or laboratory is still to be decided. Chapter two would of course be elbow bumps ( remember those) and toliet paper. Suitable title ” the World goes Mad ” .

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago

Has anyone found a graph of the COVID trajectory that starts in December, or whenever the first cases are now thought to have appeared? And that accounts for the hundreds of thousands of cases that seroprevalence studies suggest have already occurred? It would be interesting to see when the actual peak occurred by that measure, and how high it was.

Isn’t it possible that all the curves we’re looking at are in fact just a chunk of the right-hand side of a much bigger curve? Our curves that begin when testing started could show a rise that initially looks exponential, but that’s just until tested cases hit the bigger curve, and then the “peaks” appear to be peaks simply because tests have reached number of bad cases. The falling numbers are due partly to the fact that the epidemic is naturally petering out anyway.

I would love to see this modeled by someone with the statistical chops to do it.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago
Reply to  Mimi

I think I already replied to this on a different post so maybe you were hoping for a better answer from someone else 🙂

The Gupta paper is better than my noddy model:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.24.20042291v1

If you look at Figure 3, it shows various scenarios compatible with the observed deaths in the UK. The point they’re making is exactly what you’re saying: that you don’t know if it started earlier and was less fatal or later and was more fatal.

That “rho” value (Greek letter that looks like a p) is the proportion of the population at risk of severe disease. For “theta” (the proportion of those guys who die) they’re using 0.14.

The lowest rho they run with is 0.001, which, multiplying by theta, would be an IFR of about 0.014%. On that assumption you’re a bit further than half-way through the epidemic by the time you have 100 deaths, and it started in late Jan. They’re using yellow for this scenario on that chart. They’re not saying they think the severity of the disease is that low, they’re just exploring what things would look like for a range of severities.

Now it could have started even earlier and be even less fatal, and you would then be well on the downslope by the time you had 100 deaths, like you were saying. But then the IFR would have to be even less. But it’s very unlikely to be even as low as 0.014%.

If the IFR is 0.014% (the lowest they tried) and R0 is 2.25 then the total deaths for the UK after it’s all over would only be 4700. That looks about 10x too low. The whole point of their paper was to say let’s do some seroprevalence studies so we can see which of these scenarios is closest to the truth. Now we have done some and they put the IFR at around 0.14% (or so) which would be either of the two orange lines on those graphs.

Under those scenarios it started in early Feb, and reached about 25% or more infected by mid-March when we were on about 100 deaths. That looks the closest to reality.

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago
Reply to  guy153

Oh, no, I missed it! Thanks!

Mark Hunter
Mark Hunter
1 month ago

Right at the start of the lockdown, March 24th, I started to compile a list of “classes” we’d experience. 6 weeks later, I’m still adding to it. Feel free to reply with your observations of the different lockdown classes.

The Snitch Class:
Will happily phone the new government hotline to report you for leaving the house. They’re also keen for the proposed new changes to the Mental Health Act to come into play so that you’ll get locked up on the advice of one doctor.

The Martyr Class:
They know they’re not breaking the rules by going to work, but they’re happy to let their business – and finances – die. And they’ll let everyone know about it while looking down their nose at those who are determined to push through and keep their business going.

The Scrounger Class:
The ever-present among us. They’re delighted that new benefits and easier credit will be coming to them. And they handily develop a “dry cough” when it’s time for their visit to the Job Centre.

The Flagellation Class:
Nothing makes them happier than more pain and discomfort. They’re usually seen on social media posts screaming for the government to do more to make life already worse than it is.

The NHSists:
This new religious cult sprang up around the time of the economic melt-down of 2020. The need to venerate through offering rounds of applause to NHS workers picking up milk, bread and copy of the Guardian is their key means of worship.

The Snake Class:
Easily identified with the speed with which they were prepared to have no contact with their offspring on the basis of some poorly misunderstood government guidelines. Proceed with caution and never turn your back on the Snake Class.

The Wilfully Blind Class:
While possessing 20-20 vision, this group made itself know by its wilful inability to actually see facts, logic or reason. While some from this class also inhabit the Snitch Class – being able to see their neighbours break social isolation rules – they were unable to see the complete inconsistency and inherent dangers right in front of their noses.

The Furlough-Funday Class:
During lockdown the furlough-fun class enjoyed many afternoons lounging in their gardens posting to Facebook daily at 2 pm “It’s gin-o’clock!”. Week after week of paid holiday was all the comfort they needed, along with copious amounts of day drinking. However, their good mood was frequently broken, as demonstrated by social media posts extolling the self-employed to “stay the fuck at home!”.

GetaGrip
GetaGrip
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Hunter

Shocking statistic of the day – a YouGov poll shows 28% don’t want the lockdown restrictions lifted.

Co-incidentally ONS data shows 27% of the workforce were furloughed between March 23rd and April 5th.
I guess the additional ~1% are the 500000 teachers ?

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  GetaGrip

Lol. It’s gonna be amazing to see everybody’s attitudes flip once their furlough ends.
And, let’s be real, once furlough ends everyone is getting fired. Wonder how much they’ll love the lockdown then.

Mark Hunter
Mark Hunter
1 month ago
Reply to  Farinances

I wrote a lengthy post on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that referred to the “stay at home, it’s not hard” crowd, many of whom are not even considering that the jobs they’ve been furloughed from won’t be there when this is over. But never, mind, pour another gin, Tiger King is starting.

Lms2
Lms2
1 month ago
Reply to  GetaGrip

Would this be the 2;% who believe in global climate catastrophe change, and vote for Corbyn by any chance, or am I being mean??

Fiery
Fiery
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Hunter

The Feisty Rebel Class – albeit a very small minority who aren’t panicking, keep sneaking out under the radar and have no intention of acquiescing to mandatory vaccines or downloading the NHS contact tracing app.

ianp
ianp
1 month ago
Reply to  Fiery

…Or wearing a bloody facemask unless physically forced to do so

Chris Brooks
Chris Brooks
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Hunter

As a Guardian reading, left leaning sceptic who fiercely opposes the lockdown and has said from the start that tbe mitigation measures will be worse than the virus itself, I do wish we could get away from the left/right political points and snide digs. Any of us with common sense and an awareness of history know that the lockdown is a hysterical response and led by pseudo scientific modelling. You don’t need to be right of centre to know this. But I certainly do recognise a lot of your “classes”!

Beth_Riddle
Beth_Riddle
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Brooks

Oh, hello!!

Another Guardian reading left leaning sceptic!! You are right that ‘you dont need to be right of centre to know that the lockdown is a hysterical response…’

But there seem to be so few of us.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Brooks

The reality is that this does seem to be a strongly left/right biased issue. The study mentioned in the editorial above argues that this is probably to do with attitudes towards the state policies and moral attitudes that this fear-based crisis attitude mandates, and that chimes with my own experience. Those on the left tend to like the agendas promoted by pretending this disease is as infectious as flu and as dangerous as ebola – massive state spending, worship of collective health provision, suppression of individuality and dissent (as with “hate speech”).
I guess the exception that might include you would be the libertarian minority on the left. I would suggest that this crisis is probably illustrating just how small that libertarian minority actually is on the left. The left likes to talk a lot about being liberal, but when it comes down to it they love collective authority and suppressing dissent as “hate speech” etc.
Admittedly, it’s also the case that by no means all on the right are opposing the lockdown either, indeed in this country the “establishment” right is mostly fully on board with it. Though that merely confirms my own assessment that the establishment right is pretty much leftist anyway, and from an objective pov we live in a far left country – which any observer from the perspective of the early C20th would recognise as being the case immediately. Most of the agenda items of the left of that time have been achieved to degrees that would be viewed as astounding by most of those living then. and indeed it is now likely to cost you your job, if not being outright illegal, even to express many opinions that were regarded as mere common sense back then, that are opposed to those leftist ideas.
Alternatively of course, you could be a member the very small minority whose views are determined by an objective assessment of the merits of the case rather than ideology. but we all tend to assume that’s us, of course, when the reality seems to suggest few of us are.

mogg42
mogg42
1 month ago

Hector Drummond’s analysis is flawed by not adjusting for age. The ratio of male:female deaths is ‘normal’ times is not constant by age group but in the ratio, crudely, of 60M:40F in under 75s and reverses to 40M:60F in the over 85s. Obviously overall it is around 50:50 as in the long run, as Keynes observed, we are all dead. The impact of this is that the largest ‘excess’ deaths occur in the most elderly (2,500 more than expected) where we would expect more women than men to die. Note the ratio of females to males in care homes is 2.5:1

mogg42
mogg42
1 month ago
Reply to  mogg42

And to add, analysis of ONS data for deaths in care homes shows the ‘excess’ increasing week on week, with the increase in diagnosed COVID cases. If the excess was non-covid related i’d expect more of a flat line from the point of lockdown, certainly for acute MIs, strokes etc.

Obviously, a major concern is for more chronic conditions and oncology, and it is paramount that normal service is resumed as soon as possible, employing some some of the gusto and can-do spirit
that was evident in the creation of the Nightingales.

Annabel Andrew
Annabel Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  mogg42

The Nightingales that were so quickly put together by our Armed Forces…

Tony Rattray
Tony Rattray
1 month ago

Yes, exceptional article in SPIKED. The most articulate commentary I have read on the virus / lockdown in the last 6 week. This article should be posted to the nation!

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/05/01/our-culture-of-fear-has-driven-us-to-irrationality/

Victoria
Victoria
1 month ago

Economist Mike Schussler wrote: The past 5 weeks 86 people allegedly died in South Africa of Covid 19. Meanwhile the country’s economy lost R500 billion. Each death cost the country R5.8 billion. Are we using cannons to hunt mosquitoes?

For the people crying for the country to remain shut down, answer these questions:

1) How many children should starve in order to make you feel safe?

2) How many families must go bankrupt in order to make you feel safe?

3) How many wives and children must be stuck at home with an abusive husband/father in order to make you feel safe?

4) How many business owners should lose everything they’ve worked for in order to make you feel safe?

5) How many people are you comfortable with committing suicide from hopelessness and financial ruin in order to make you feel safe?

Come up with an actual number, don’t just dismiss the questions. Come up with the number of people that you think should surrender their lives for YOUR feelings and YOUR safety.

Does it make you feel safer knowing that your unwarranted fear and panic are costing others their livelihoods and even their very lives?

Each time you whine and complain about keeping the country shut down, remember what it’s costing OTHER people for you to sit in your house sucking at the teat of CNN, swallowing the panic narrative, and hoarding toilet paper.

Also, remember this – if the TV news had never told you to be afraid of this virus, you wouldn’t have. You’d have never given it a thought, you’d have gone about your life as usual along with everyone else. You’d likely have never known there was a virus at all, would’ve thought this was just another typical flu season. So, remember that all your fear and panic exists because you were TOLD to live in fear and panic….

“It is not lives versus the economy. It is lives versus lives,” said Schussler.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  Victoria

THIS. I saw someone I know on twitter today doing emoshuns about her father in law who died ‘of the corona’. (He was 85 and lived in a care home and had liver failure or something). He WENT OUTSIDE ONCE to get a hospital check up (where, I’ll concede, he probably caught it) and DIED. He’s the only person I know (of) so far irl who’s had the corona with a terrible outcome.
But. Quite frankly. He was dying anyway. I actually know one person who has killed herself in the past fortnight at the age of 35, and probably wouldnt have done if not for the lockdown. Now, honestly, which is worse? Are the ‘representative’ (old, already ill etc.) Corona deaths, even if there are more of them (and I’d wager there won’t be anyway) ‘worth’ more to society than young people’s? Is it worth saving 20,000 lives if you ruin 20 million?

Gracie Knoll
Gracie Knoll
1 month ago
Reply to  Victoria

Absolutely! I’ve flagged up the 1968 Hong Kong flu several times as an example. 80,000 dead in the UK and you barely knew it was happening. No panic, no hysteria, no lockdown. Oh, and no Bill Gates vaccine. It burnt itself out and the herd developed natural immunity.

old fred
old fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

I, too, have referred to the Hong Kong Flu from 1968 to 1970 on other websites. As you say, we knew nothing about it at the time and even if we had, it would have just been considered a part of life and death. It certainly never made the front pages of ‘The Daily Express’ or ‘The News of the World’, for instance. Wikipedia for 1968/69/70 similarly makes no reference to it, the only detailed information I have come across being in epidemiological papers on past pandemics.

The contrast between what did ‘not’ happen with HK Flu and the current hysterical response to Covid19, a disease probably no more dangerous in terms of its fatality, is staggering.

Unfortunately getting out of this mess is no longer about adopting sensible policies based on reliable up-to-date data. Instead, it is morphing daily into a face-saving exercise in political chicanery.

Gracie Knoll
Gracie Knoll
1 month ago
Reply to  old fred

For those who haven’t seen it:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/03/momento-mori-unpopular-thoughts-on-corona-virus/amp/

(Note the estimated 80,000 UK deaths is from “UK Govt. sources” in case the buggers try to change the stats later on!)

BrianJR
BrianJR
1 month ago
Reply to  Victoria

So true – if I may I will plaigarise those questions and use them myself to address the masses cowering away here in the UK.
Wouldn’t it be just sublime to have a decent investigative journalist sticking these to Matt Hancock and not letting him get away with the smug corporate style “Thanks for that great question” and then try to deliver his script.
If only….

Lms2
Lms2
1 month ago
Reply to  Victoria

Dennis Prager: “Safe means never.”
This was in reference to a number of people he knows who have said that they’d love to visit Israel, but wouldn’t until it was “safe.”
To which he says, that means they’ll never go.
Nothing is safe 100%. Nearly everything is a risk, e.g. just driving to work, or to go shopping. Life isn’t safe, but you can’t stay hiding in your home, in bubble wrap, forever.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  Lms2

Testing testing 123

Sim18
Sim18
1 month ago

Had a quick look through the WHO report mentioned in your article, Toby. Section 6.1 is about contact tracing. OK, it’s Flu not Covid but the report uses an Ro of 1.8, Covid is thought to be higher at 2.6ish. The report talks of a “presumed high level of pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic transmission”, again Covid has a very high asymptomatic transmission. The WHO recommendation:

“Active contact tracing is not recommended in general because there is no obvious rationale for it in most Member States. This intervention could be considered in some locations and circumstances to collect information on the characteristics of the disease and to identify cases, or to delay widespread transmission in the very early stages of a pandemic in isolated communities.”

The Spingler
The Spingler
1 month ago

The Ipsos Mori poll should have distinguished between people who are regular users of social media and those who aren’t. The former seem to be the people most afflicted with severe “coronaphobia” and want lockdown to continue until a vaccine is found, or forever for some it seems, so terrified they are of the outside world, where death from CV19 stalks them at every tin of beans or door handle. Instead of going out they sit at home and scroll through Facebook for 18 hours a day, looking for all the scare stories to bolster their fears. I haven’t left my house for seven weeks because going outside is like playing Russian roulette one said and if we want to get out of this thing alive we have to stay at home, despite there only being 0.06 deaths per 100 people in her county. The fact that’s she’s far more likely to be killed in a RTA doesn’t register. Lockdown is essential to reduce risk of dying, they argue. One death is too many. So why aren’t those people insisting – once this pandemic is over – that speed limits on all our roads, including motorways, are reduced to 20 mph? That would no doubt save thousands of lives each year. One death is one death too many? More like all deaths are equal but some are more equal than others…

The Spingler
The Spingler
1 month ago
Reply to  The Spingler

I meant to add, as a positive aside, that my partner’s 84 year old mother, has turned into something of a lockdown rebel. Not only does she go to Sainsburys every day, even when she doesn’t need to buy anything, but she, and many of her fellow residents at her assisted housing accommodation, have rebelled against ‘the management’ who initially tried to close the communal gardens. They staged a revolt, took back the gardens and, despite management attempts to restrict visits to only one person at a time, the gardens have been fully liberated and are now enjoyed again by all those who value freedom and fresh air to being imprisoned in their apartments in their twilight years.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  The Spingler

I love this. UP THE GREY REBELS!

coalencanth12
coalencanth12
1 month ago
Reply to  The Spingler

This story gladdens my heart! Similar to what I’ve seen locally, the Sainsbury’s here has been allowing the grey brigade to gather in what was the café where they can be ‘kept an eye on’ in the words of the manager..

Peter Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
1 month ago
Reply to  The Spingler

We have 3 neighbours in their nineties. One has said she’s fed up of this silly fuss and being treated in such a condescending manner by government. At 90 I’m on borrowed time anyway so I’m not wasting it, she says! Atta girl!

Gracie Knoll
Gracie Knoll
1 month ago
Reply to  wendyk

Yes, excellent article and it discusses another “elephant in the room”. We have been brainwashed over decades by the pharmaceutical industry, to give away control of our health to this industry with the underlying notion that we all are weak and helpless against disease, and must rely on the patented products of giant corporations to save us.

Drugs and vaccines do have their place but we are also individually responsible for our own health. In viral pandemics there is the need for us to have (1) an immune system robust enough to deactivate the microbe, BUT also (2) an immune system that does not over-react to the microbe – this is the “cytokine storm” which is the cause of most deaths with this pandemic.

The immune system is much more likely to over-react if the person is already in a state of systemic low-grade inflammation, and this is seen most often in obesity and metabolic syndrome – which means that our diet and lifestyles are REALLY important!

If nothing else, this information needs to get out there so that people can give themselves the maximum chance of surviving whatever pandemic we are blessed with next time.

Gracie Knoll
Gracie Knoll
1 month ago
Reply to  Gracie Knoll

An anecdote from the early years of my practice to illustrate the above.

A 25 year old lad came to see me because of “joint pain”. When I quizzed him he had pain in virtually ALL his joints. He was 25 going on 90.

Fortunately, he’d already had a full medical work-up so I knew what was NOT wrong with him.

He’d seen the GP who did some basic blood work; all normal.
Referred to a rheumatologist. Loads of additional, sophisticated blood work done; all normal.

Thence to an orthopod. X-rays and scans done; all normal.

Back to the GP. “We can’t find anything that explains your symptoms – you’ll have to learn to live with it.”

My first question to this lad: “TELL ME WHAT YOU EAT AND DRINK EVERY DAY.” Answer:

• Chips
• Crisps
• Pot Noodles
• Pizza
• Beer
• Coca Cola

My second question: “Do you smoke?” (Each cigarette deactivates around 25mg of Vitamin C). Answer:

“Yes, about 30 a day”.

The guy was suffering from MALNUTRITION! In a fairly affluent part of the country!

Now, if that was today and he’d contracted Covid19, the nicotine might have had a slight antiviral effect but he would probably not have survived, feeding the hysteria headlines that “young people are dying!”

Riffman
Riffman
1 month ago

Until recently I thought the biggest government ‘faux pas’/cover up of recent years was the invasion of Iraq….

Until recently I thought comparisons of Boris to Churchill had some foundation…

I’m now thinking… Chamberlain, September 1938!

Please (if you haven’t already) all sign up to Simon Dolan’s action. It’s all we have

swedenborg
swedenborg
1 month ago

How do we explain that cases are increasing in line with more testing in the US while at the same time ICU admissions, hospitalizations and also deaths of Covid-19 are dropping? They are finding an enormous number of asymptomatic carriers. What is the poor governor of Tennessee going to do when he finds on his desk a report of more than 1000 cases of Covid-19 in one day in his state while the few deaths and few hospitalizations of Covid-19 are declining? More of the lockdown? He then realizes that those reportable PCR positive Covid-19 cases are all from prisons where they have tested 2450 persons staff and prisoners and 1200 were positive and 98% of them were asymptomatic.
https://www.wmcactionnews5.com/2020/05/01/tenn-covid-unified-command-group-launches-mass-testing-plan-state-prisons/
The UK is going to have an expanded testing guiding us from the lockdown. What are we going to do if we find massive increase of asymptomatic cases (heaven forbid if they start mass testing all our prisoners)? Continue with the lockdown?
Let us accept the defeat. There is no way we can outsmart this virus which is extremely contagious and infects asymptomatically most people and a few get sometimes a very nasty disease. You cannot control this infection in the current pandemic and we must live with it. This is not now a “crank” position and spreading into MSM.
https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/new-coronavirus-study-claims-outbreak-will-last-longer-2-years-23rds-humanity-infected
Professor Ionnadis,Stanford University, said this to get us a perspective. The risk of death from this virus is in most places the risk of death driving to your work. The risk of death in a hotspot like New York is higher in line with the risk of death for a professional truck driver.
We must end the lockdown with a big bang opening up everything. Only recommend people over 70 to stay home until end of May and during the same time period protect our nursing homes by screening staff and clients. Perhaps the great idea by paying each carer, nurse, cleaner having a PCR negative test to stay inside the nursing homes isolated with the elderly until the end of May and pay them 20 000 £ tax free for the service .It would cost peanuts compared to the billions the morons have wasted already and could also give a populist touch, rewarding the most low paid in our country, in order to sell the public the idea of a big bang opening.

Freddy
Freddy
1 month ago

“Conservatives oppose the government telling them when they can or cannot leave their homes; liberals support such policies”
I for one have always considered myself a liberal because I believe in the principle of everyone having a right to do whatever they will provided it doesn’t measurably harm others, hence as a liberal I’ve always been in opposition to bossy governments. I think the author of that article might want to be a bit more careful in how he tries to define people, anyone who is genuinely liberal opposes state interference in the private affairs of human beings.

Mark Hunter
Mark Hunter
1 month ago
Reply to  Freddy

I think his use of the term liberal is more in line with the American demographic of “liberal” who are typically very left-wing, and as a result, socialist…and by extension enjoy a big state that controls every aspect of life.

I’ve noticed on Twitter that the biggest fans of the lockdown, calling for it to be extended and tighter, are lefties. But, socialists like a high-control government and a healthy death toll…

Chris Brooks
Chris Brooks
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Hunter

I disagree. From my occasional twitter checking, I’d say the opposite is true and there is a very pro Tory, pro Brexit majority who are determined to outdo everyone else in their lock down martyrdom. But I really want to get away from the left /right split on this. Anyone concerned about freedom, the economy, mental health, a properly resourced NHS that can cope with spikes in viruses, not to mention Government reliance on a very suspect scientist, should want to end the lockdown.

coalencanth12
coalencanth12
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Brooks

I’d noticed that! One hypothesis I’ve come up with is there is a degree of hero-worship of Boris on the part of *some* Brexiteers* – they will probably follow his lead in things although how the ‘had enough of experts’ line of thought jibes with following Ferguson is anyone’s guess. This is possibly tinged with the isolationist views some Brexiteers have. I’ve noticed most of the serious Brexit commentators on Twitter tend towards scepticism.

*I do not wish to insult Brexit supporters, I understand both sides of this argument!!

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

I think we’re unlikely to be helped out much by the virus evolving not to kill its hosts. If you get COVID-19 you are either immune after a week or two or dead after three. Both scenarios are equally bad for the virus’s “survival”, although if you die you may actually be infectious for a bit longer.

Coronaviruses in general, including this one, will have evolved over millions of years not to be excessively fatal, which probably helps a bit, but obviously has nothing to do with lockdown.

It may well be true though that there are a lot of nosocomial infections and that if we had let the less vulnerable part of the population build immunity rapidly the overall outcome would have been better as the whole epidemic would be over sooner. But you do have to balance that against overwhelming the health service.

Chris Brooks
Chris Brooks
1 month ago
Reply to  guy153

You have hit the nail on the head with your final comment. The reality is that, despite all the emergency plans in place, the NHS cannot cope with spikes in demand. This isn’t a criticism of NHS front line staff, but is very much a criticism of a government that has systematically starved the NHS of funds. The result is that everyone has to suffer, the country is bankrupted, lives are ruined, NHS staff die, cancer diagnoses plummet as all attention is on trying to stop a few deaths of people who would have died anyway from something else. Even adding together deaths in care homes, I calculate that 99.94% of the UK population haven’t died of Covid 19. We need a proper plan for dealing with these recurring events. Which means not creating panic, misery and economic ruin through an absurd, unnecessary lockdown led by bad science.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Brooks

I disagree with this, though I agree with your overall view of the panic. It’s not rational, nor is it morally better, to spend lots of money maintaining surge capabilities that really aren’t needed, and I don’t see an NHS that has had fantastically expanding budgets over the decades it has been in place (mostly to deal with the expansion of collective healthcare to deal with things it was never originally intended to deal with, and with ever-extending life expectancy) as being remotely “starved”.

It should be the case that when a rare emergency situation comes along (a few times a century) we require emergency measures to expand the health service capacity to deal with it, and that should cost a few lives. If not, then we have been spending too much on it at the expense of other priorities. Prolonging every life at any expense is not a rational or a moral approach to policy.

If we had responded rationally to this emergency we would have addressed it as a medical emergency rather than turning it into a medical emergency combined with an economic crisis and a socio-political catastrophe , as we have done. Some people would have died (most of whom would have died soon anyway) and the country would have moved on.

Biker
Biker
1 month ago

We need to open up and forget about this. I’m sick to death of all the fear and loathing. Life is risky and all the better for it.

BecJT
BecJT
1 month ago
Reply to  Biker

If we hadn’t known about this virus, would any of us noticed anything was amiss by now? Would it have even made the news? No, it wouldn’t, which probably says something about the respect we have for our elderly as a nation (which is why the hypocrisy is driving me mad now) but I agree it’s a non-event, and we just need to admit we made a mistake, do right by our oldies, and forget about it.

Jack
Jack
1 month ago

Scrapping the “2 metre rule” seems a bit dumb. Might be wiser to adjust it to “keep 2 metres, or further if possible, from others whenever you can, but accept that this rule will inevitably break whenever a large number of people need to get into a space”. Leave the markings on the floor, encourage not brushing right past each other in the street, but let as many people as necessary into a shop so as to avoid queues. Encourage people to travel, especially for public transport, at off peak hours, stagger work shifts to remove rush hours, have shops open earlier and later so people can go when they are more likely to be deserted, but recognise that sometiems crowds will form regardles. These are things we should have been doing from the start, and need to be doing now, rather than the oppressive lockdowns.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

No, the two metre rule is unsupported medically, and contributes to the problem rather than giving any significant benefit, because the real problem is the endemic fear, not the really not particularly dangerous virus.

How many infection spreads will have been prevented by people staying 2m apart while outdoors? Virtually zero. How many deaths? Probably actually zero or thereabouts. How many people made ill by being discouraged from going outdoors to “prevent crowding”, or injured stepping into traffic to avoid getting within 2 metres of another pedestrian (I’ve seen people step into roads quite frequently like this – if they are doing that then a small number of cases will do it when it’s dangerous), and how may confrontations over people “getting too close” have resulted in assaults and injuries (again, this happens and has been reported)? Probably not many, but probably quite a lot more than zero.

But it’s the fear engendered by this stupid, paranoiac over-cautiousness that is the real harm done.

From yesterday’s Telegraph:

“Prof Robert Dingwall, who sits on the Government’s scientific advisory body New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, which feeds into Sage, said it “made sense” to reduce the distancing rule to 1.5 metres, bringing it into line with nations such as Germany and Australia.

“Standing in line two metres apart outside supermarkets does not make a lot of sense,” Prof Dingwall said.

“The two-metre rule does not have validity and has never had much of an evidence base. I’ve tried to trace it myself.

“There is a fairly solid evidence base for a transmission rate if indoors and within one metre of someone with a respiratory infection for 15 minutes, but that time detail has been lost somewhere along the way.

“It is extraordinarily unlikely that any transmission will occur in the few seconds you are standing next to someone as you both reach for the instant coffee.

“It means that people are worrying unnecessarily when a jogger brushes past them in the park, for example, when transient contact is not an issue.”

Some experts believe there is no airborne transmission outdoors at all, as larger droplets carrying the infection get caught on clothes or fall to the ground before they can be inhaled.”

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)

Toby, you can’t quote evidence of mass reduction in commuter traffic as evidence social distancing worked.

This is a lockdown measure, voluntary or not, Sweden has seen similar 65% reductions in movement.

This is a loss of liberty in both countries, to call is social distancing is disingenuous.

More so, to assume that both countries needed to same reductions is naive.

As this plot of new case growth against commuter reduction shows, Sweden has only just managed to possibly curtail new case growth, but has only voluntarily managed less commuter reduction…comment image

BUT, given the gradient difference before we stood no chance, we had much faster growth. So I find it hard to believe the argument the government could have asked us to do less like Sweden could given being less dense.

One size does not fit all…
https://medium.com/pragmapolitic/is-a-lockdown-digital-or-analogue-ead71e6fdd18

The real question is to what end is a government asking us to do this?

Both countries will end up at a suppressed herd immunity ceiling that will only rise if we all start moving around more again. Surely this is about both governments following the Chinese/South Korean super contact tracing models so that they can target quarantine to far fewer of us?

If so… it is really about the quickest steps to making that possible? One of which seems to be about getting case numbers down asap, rushing out of lockdown before we have this TTT strategy in place, would seem foolish.

Otherwise we all just have to live like this till a vaccine… and WE ALL WANT OUT OF LOCKDOWN.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

I don’t think it really is about trying to do track and trace (what’s the third T a tyop?) but they’re sort of half-pretending it is because they don’t want anyone to figure out that the gameplan is the unpopular but inevitable herd immunity.

You’re right that if it really was TT they’d need to be properly on top of it. More likely we will have a buggy app 18 months too late costing millions that nobody will install anyway.

For that strategy to work you’d also need a very effective lockdown. I don’t think ours was (fortunately). We’re probably pretty close to herd immunity of a sort and basically we need to find an equilibrium with sustainable recommendations about hand washing etc. Sweden is in the same boat.

Singapore seem to be aiming to go back to TT which worked quite well for them at the start, after a strict lockdown. It also worked in Iceland. So it is possible but too late for that in the UK and we wouldn’t get much benefit from it at this point.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

Test, Track & Trace…

You can’t get to real herd immunity with a suppression strategy. You get to a lower herd immunity (15% not 65%) for the rate of spread in lockdown. You’d have to hold the lockdown in place for ever. This can’t be their strategy.

Which is what I’m against.

It is possible as the S. Koreans have shown to have as much if not more freedom than Sweden and to eradicate the virus. This is the strategy the governement seem to be on. Bear in mind our population density, save and demographic is much more like South Korea than Sweden. So they are a much better comparison of what we could be doing.

You don’t need a country wide lockdown strategy for TTT. You just need to find a keep a very small number of people in lockdown (quarantine) with 99.9% of the population free to go back to work.

You do need to get case numbers lower, the lockdown is lowing case numbers fast, I’d say in a 2 weeks we might be low enough to start trying to do it.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

Yes you get to a lower herd immunity but if the measures are sustainable you might be able to keep them in place until you have a vaccine. In other words not a lockdown but people keep washing their hands and being careful, that sort of stuff (which may well be just as effective as lockdown anyway).

The more immunity you have the easier this is– any handwashing etc. gets added to the effect of partial immunity. This seems like a plausible strategy for the UK and Sweden.

If our case numbers get low enough in 2 weeks to do TTT is that because of lockdown or is because of herd immunity? If the latter then there’s no point.

I suspect it is the latter because based on the number of people already dead in the UK and reasonable estimates of the IFR we should be close to if not at herd immunity already. In other words the epidemic has basically pretty much run its course irrespective of the measures, which were too late and too permeable (people were still travelling on the tube) to make much difference.

Also note that once herd immunity gets underway it grows nearly exponentially, just like the epidemic itself. It takes very little time to get from 15% immune to 50% immune.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

Sweden has 65% of people working from home. This is not just hand washing.

I don’t think either what they have or what we have is sustainable for 2 months, never mind a year.

It is the suppression measures that we have in place that are leading to the drop in cases, we have inhibited the transmission dynamics enough to mean at this level of spread (we are at about 12%) there are enough immune people to see cases fall.

If we get them to fall enough we can start contact tracing again.

I’ve been want to spend some time finding South Korean data on the size and sustaintability of their TTT model. We need to start forming an idea of how low case numbers would need to be in the UK for this to start. Without getting this clear, being able to hold Bojo to account over this is hard.

You are not understanding herd immunity with what you say. It is not a fixed thing, it is a function of the current transmission dynamics. By that I mean with the measures we have are artificially holding the herd immunity ceiling at about 15-20%.

If we lift measures the virus will find it easier to spread again and cases will start growing and by definition the herd immunity ceiling moves up again. If we just lifted all measure and went back to former behaviour back up to 65% again.

As to your point about it being easier to get from 15% to 50%. This is only true if you don’t squash cases to 0. If we’d just “done nothing” we’d have seen peak infections halfway between 0% and say 65%, with loads of people infected, it would have been quick. In having suppressed into an artificial ceiling at 15-20% and pushed cases down to start TTT, it will be like starting over again, the growth of cases will be slow, and then will accelerate, not as fast as originally, because of the immune people in the way, but still fast.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

My assumption about herd immunity is that you need 1-1/R0 of the population to be immune to have R at less than 1.

If R0 is 2, you need about 50% your population immune to kill the epidemic. If R0 is only 1.5 then you only need 33%.

There will be a few other effects like overshoot– if you let the epidemic run too quickly you may end up with more that 1-1/R0 infected. But I’m ignoring those for now.

Now suppose in a given society behaving normally, R0=2. You then got it down to < 1 by imposing multiple restrictions whose combined effect was to subtract 1 from R. So it goes from 2 to 1 and the epidemic starts to die out. Great.

If you now lift them then R goes back to 2 and you wind up with the same 50% infected and 50% * IFR dead people as you would have anyway, plus a bunch more unemployed people. Not so great.

But suppose that by the time you imposed the restrictions you already had 33% immune. This means that R was 1.5 at the time you imposed them. You therefore reduced it to 0.5 with the restrictions. But you only need it to be 1. If you release half of them, so that your restrictions now have the effect of reducing R by 0.5, then the epidemic will stay dead. Your only option at this point is to keep those restrictions in place until you have a vaccine.

Nobody really knows with any accuracy at all the effect of different restrictions. Some will be much better value than others (measured as effect on R per unit of damage to society, the economy, collateral damage to health). So rather than trying to target an R of 0 it's much better to turn this around and ask what restrictions are actually sustainable? And then do those.

In the case of the UK it looks like the infection peaked at or around the time the lockdown started anyway. So if we lifted _all_ the restrictions I don't think we would get many more if any deaths. But I could be wrong. It might be as you say– that even the voluntary restrictions in Sweden are not sustainable, and the level of immunity is much lower in both countries. Either way the proposed solution is the same: decide what restrictions are sustainable and do those.

Now if it's true that the IFR is 10x higher, and so the total death toll in the UK if we did nothing would be 500k, then it would follow that we only have about 5% immune now rather than 50%. In that scenario TTT would be a preferred option. We have 450k lives to save, and only 5% to TTT. But the evidence points towards the IFR being much closer to 0.1% than 1%.

If we really thought immunity was only at 5% then how would we go about doing TTT if we were serious about it? We would need a lockdown that properly stopped the virus (that means closing the tube, everything) for around 6 weeks, and then do a huge amount of random/voluntary PCR testing to find the cases and quarantine them. We would also need to quarantine all visitors from other countries until we had a vaccine. Before attempting this we would need a lot better evidence that immunity was only 5% with randomized antibody studies in different places around the country. A computer model with parameters based on guesstimated data from China sometime around February doesn't cut it.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

The lockdown announcement maybe increase compliance from about 65% to 80%, it pushed the measures a little bit further.

Commuter data shows that the suppression measure of asking people to work from home was pretty much voluntarily taken up by most people starting weeks before the official date. Toby’s entire argument is it didn’t need to be enforced as people were mostly doing it anyway, like in Sweden.

My issue with that is that new case rates were growing far faster in the UK ahead of any measures, and given Sweden’s rate of new cases is still growing, I just don’t think we would have turned the tide, and we need to in order to have a stab at making TTT work. As South Korea’s advice is, get cases as low as possible if you want to stand a chance of getting them under control.

You provide no evidence that lifting these transmission suppressing measures will not raise r0, and sadly I think (to be fair researchers) they do have a reasonable idea of which measures are having the most effect, with working from home is the biggest one.

All the serology studies calculate the CFR, and importantly the death/1m in that sample. If the sample was unbais (Santa Clara does not fall into this category) you can use these two numbers to estimate the national infection level.

So for Gangelt at 0.37% and a national death/1m of 80, would suggest that Germany has currently seen a national spread of 2.2% (1.8m). For the UK with a deaths/1m of 414 it would imply 11.2% (7.3m).

Bear in mind this means hospitalisation rates of about 4% and I don’t find it a made argument for that sort of ratio to cover all the people we feel in our gut were asymptomatic/mild.

Now, if we can find solid scientific evidence (not our gut) that serology surveys were not catching all those infected, then these estimates are too low, and I start to be able to agree with you.

BUT, if they are not, then your gut and feeling we at 33% and all the reasonable arguments your making about the move from 33% to 65% having a much lower peak – become dangerous because the spike from 12% to 65% would be almost as big as that one we have “likely” just avoided.

I agree if the spread is underestimated it would not have happened, but we have no conclusive proof either explanation is wrong.

Which I don’t disagree is crap, I hate the lockdown.

As to the TTT they are doing all the things you describe. They don’t need to be absolute at this stage, but we are at 10% tube use, tiny, and there talking about asking all foreign visitors to quaratine for 2 weeks, Italy already does this.

I think you’re not seeing it is it is all about lifting restrictions and replacing them with something else that will suppress r0. The idea is to make the lockdown only apply to a very small number of people – e.g. those that have seen an infected person in the last 2 weeks.

The lower the case numbers when you start this, the fewer people it will apply to and the more sustainable and successful it will become.

IF, and I agree it is a huge if, we can get this to work we can have hospitals back to normal and freedoms lifted possibly more than in Sweden ideally within a shorter amount of time.

Yes, this might be a dream, but the failure scenario is just what you’re describing anyway. I say let them have a good shot at it. South Korea has certainly had less economic damage than either the UK or Sweden.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

So did the Gangelt study indicate an IFR of 0.37%? This is often quoted but my reading of the press release was that IFR was 0.15% and CFR 0.37%. Extrapolating their numbers to the whole of Heinsberg gave me 0.12% so 0.15% seemed about right.

Santa Clara, another study in California, and recently one in Iran all put the IFR at about 0.15%. This is also consistent with Iceland were 0.7% is a strict upper bound (that was their deaths over actual positive tests last time I checked, and their epidemic is kind of over so you don’t need big time adjustments). But of course they haven’t tested everyone. If you assume their testing is random (but it won’t be) you get an IFR of less than 0.1%.

So an actual IFR in most places with an average age of about 36 or so is probably around 0.1% to 0.2%.

In NYC it is at least twice that. Whether this is due to the way they count deaths or to their health care system being overwhelmed or both plus other factors is not clear.

IFRs of closer to 1% are not believable unless you think Spain, Italy, the UK and of course Sweden had significant “voluntary” lockdowns before their actual lockdowns. You also need to explain Iceland and all the serology studies.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

Excuse my loose reference, the CEBM has the IFR (not CFR so including asymptomatic cases which is what I meant) of 0.37% for Gangelt which is what I meant…
https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/

You can’t do the “extending to the whole of Heinsberg” thing you are doing. You’re implicitly making a whole load of assumptions about the rest being uninfectable that you just can’t do?!

As to Santa Clara, I looked at the study in detail. They estimated deaths, and they conceded their serology sample group contained younger more mobile people and that were likely to have seen more spread in their sample group, but then made no account in adjusting for the death demographics, so the IFR is probably and underestimate as their denominator is likey too big for the age in the numerator.

So I tend to ignore it as an outlier… figures that seem way less bias to me are:
– Gangelt 0.37% IFR
– NY 0.6% IFR
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/stunningly-high-reported-new-york-infection-rate-illustrates-coronavirus-uncertainty
– Robbio 0.7% IFR
https://www.unz.com/isteve/even-a-town-in-northern-italy-is-still-pretty-far-from-herd-immunity/

… all IFRs so including asymptomatic, so I work to an average of 0.5%.

I don’t see the argument for any of the adjustments you are making.

Iceland has not done a serology survey. PCR results are not comparable.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

OK. I would estimate IFR to be between 0.1% and 0.5%, more likely to be at the lower end of that scale. Not far off but we’re getting into a grey area here.

I think we both agree lockdowns suck. The question is then which is a better strategy for the UK at this point? TTT or herd immunity (with sustainable distancing guidelines to lower the threshold)?

IFR between 0.1% and 1% corresponds to immunity levels in the UK between 50% and 5% respectively. If we’re at 50% then herd immunity is the better strategy. If we’re at 5%, TTT (I already conceded that).

So what about 0.5%? Difficult call. I don’t know where exactly I would draw the line between these two strategies.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

The problem with an IFR of 0.5% and a natrual infection ceiling of 65% is you talking about 215k deaths to get to herd immunity. With proper treatment for all which is starting to sound like Ferguson’s numbers…

… we either need to find proof that these numbers are CFR not IFR (so don’t really include all asymptomatic cases because the don’t all develop antibodies), and suddenly find we are much closer to herd immunity and we can just lift all the measures.

OR

I they are really IFRs and we think we are only 1/5 of the way to actual herd immunity we need to crack on with TTT asap. Squash cases fast and then switch from quarantining the whole country to just doing the very small subset that are in the contact tracing networks for confirmed cases – like the South Korea’s seem to be doing.

I agree the latter will be really hard to crack… but, if we can it is a great model for all future pandemics.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

Of course antigen tests are not the same as antibody tests. But they are still data and they can be used to estimate IFR, but not in the same way. Go and look at covid.is/data for yourself and see what you can conclude about IFR from it.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

I requires a very good estimate of the r0 for the actual sample population (which is almost impossible to measure), and a guess of which side of the infection bell curve you are on.

More importantly, if the sample doesn’t happen for a population without measures the % active infection measured becomes really confused by the change in underlying initial r0 caused by the suppression measures.

… voodoo if you ask me!

swedenborg
swedenborg
1 month ago

There are several flaws in this reasoning. There are an enormous number of asymptomatic There There are several flaws in this reasoning. There are an enormous number of asymptomatic infections. If the peak of infection had passed much earlier than the start of the lockdown, the Farr curve of the epidemic was already going down sustainably. It is possible that the exponential increase of diagnosed cases might be an artefact of an exponential increase in testing. A puzzling observation is that the percentage of positive tests did not increase and skyrocket from one day to the next, as it should have done. This is striking in the US figures. Whether we find the antibodies or not, if we have passed the top of the Farr curve, herd immunity has been achieved (at least temporary herd immunity). The level of herd immunity is supposed to be about 60% with R =2 for the COVID-19 virus. If we don’t find antibodies in 60% of the population, this doesn’t mean that we have failed to achieve herd immunity, and accordingly we cannot assume a lower herd immunity because of our (late) lockdowns.
There could be substantial cross-immunity with the four other coronaviruses that infect humans. The antibodies for Covid-19 could also be in such low concentration as to be undetectable but could still have primed our cellular immunity. There could also be other unknown factors explaining why some people are not getting infected. The epidemic curves seem remarkably similar everywhere in the world, with the exponential phase stopping rather early on. Professor Levitt in Israel stated that with R = 2 the entire world population should have become infected three months after the Wuhan outbreak. We are very far from that. There is an unknown resistance also at work in the population. Coronaviruses are very seasonal and disappear during the summer. This should be the prime reason for ending the lockdown immediately and seizing this golden opportunity. Nobody knows if the COVID-19 virus is going to mutate and/or circulate in the southern hemisphere in the autumn and return to us next winter or if it will disappear like the SARS virus in 2003.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  swedenborg

There was no dramatic increase in testing in the UK during the period up to the 10th of April. If anything the testing increased in the weeks when our new case numbers started falling, so by your argument you’d expect to see new cases increase more so, they did the opposite.

Sweden, has not dramatially increased it’s testing rate over this period, so that cases are still rising is likely because they have more cases.

You seem to be implying that asymptomatic infections don’t lead to antibodies. My understanding is they do. If you have actual research evidence that this is not the case I’d be really keen to see it, please do post any links. Same applies to any evidence on cross-over immunity.

As to herd immunity and r0, these are not fixed. The measured r0 of about 2.9 in the UK only lasted until we put all the measures in place. Now that the virus can’t spread as easily the r0 below 1 and the virus is burning itself out to a suppressed herd immunity ceiling probably of around 15%.

Lifting measure will make it easier to spread, and this will take r0 back up above 1 and this will lift the herd immunity ceiling back up again, causing a second spike.

This suppressed herd immunity ceiling created in a lockdown is the reason why all the serology surveys done in suppression strategy area (Robbio, Gangelt, NY) have all not shown 60% antibody levels. The virus propagation has been slowed.

I’m all for finding real research based evidence that more people are immune that the serology surveys are showing, but I can’t find any. Like I say if you have concrete evidence rather than just theories, I’m all ears.

Sunchap
Sunchap
1 month ago
Reply to  swedenborg

I liked your comment. My gut feel is that about 40% of humans have cross immunity from the other corona viruses. If this is correct, it might explain why in Wuhan the epidemic started to decline in early February – two weeks before lockdowns started. It is a bit hard to accept that 60% of the population had already been infected by then and evidence seems to indicate 20% infection rates only.

MedArxiv appears to have little new research on this. It would probably be a bit hard to prove. (I am worried the scientific community has also bought in to the “we need a cure” line.) If lockdowns are useless, as evidence now indicates, and infection levels are at most 20-30 % (as evidence now shows in New York) there must be high levels of existing immunity.

It is highly possible, therefore that a 25% penetration by this novel corona virus may be enough to give herd immunity.

Here in New Zealand, our leader Saint Jacinta Ardern, is not even carrying out seroprevalence testing to check on accurate infection levels. I believe she is scared to find out the answer as it will abolish her “eradication” fantasy. She has ordered random, supermarket PCR tests. What use are they three months after the bug hit!!??

IMHO independent scientists need to find out ASAP; do the other corona viruses provide immunity? If so, herd immunity is quite easily reached. As a physics/maths grad I am very worried however; has Einstein’s research objectivity disappeared?

guy153
guy153
1 month ago
Reply to  Sunchap

The Gangelt serology data was interesting because they found 15% immune and only 2% active infections implying that for whatever reason it had peaked. It was thought to be one of the first places in Germany to be affected, so would be least affected by lockdowns. It’s a relatively rural area. Maybe R0 is as low as 1.2 in a place like that? It will be much higher in a big city.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago
Reply to  guy153

So just to follow up on this. I live in a village in the UK. I hardly ever catch colds, probably about once a year or less, nearly always from visiting people who have children, and sometimes possibly from occasional trips to London. I don’t believe I’ve ever caught one from going to the shops, and very rarely from going to work in an office. When I do have a cold I think I’d struggle even to spread it to 1.2 people. Take children out of the equation (and a few studies have shown that they really don’t spread this virus much if at all) then I can see R0 being very low outside of busy urban areas.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

Lot of assumptions in that statement.

If the Gangelt CFR applies to people in general (which it is believed to do as it was a unbias population sample), you’d expect to see more deaths in the cities to make that statement hold. Gangelt was at about ~520 deaths/1m at the point of sample to a German wide average of ~50 at the time. So they did not. The theory is they have been far better at contact tracing and quarantining, so breakouts have not moved.

I agree it likely had a lower r0 so spread would have been slower, but starting earlier would have meant by the time the stay at home advice was given (and transmission dynamics changed) they would have seen a relatively higher level of spread. Which bears out in the deaths/1m measure.

Given the testing was done weeks into the suppression strategy the 2% active 14% serology statistic would support the theory of an infection burning itself out into a suppressed herd immunity ceiling.

So none of what happened there disproves what they are saying.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

They actually found 15% immune or so in Gangelt and 2% were present for active infection with a PCR test. These are facts. I don’t understand what you’re saying are assumptions?

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  guy153

I agreed with those numbers, it sounded to me like you were saying:

1) Gangelt could not have had it’s spread slowed by suppression measures.
2) The r0 for Gangelt must be lower than a city, so a city should have seen more spread.

BUT…

1) Gangelt was not sampled till well after work from home orders were given, so there is no data to say what it was like just before. Suppressing will have meant cases were burning out, so when measured weeks later 2% active cases tells us nothing about what it was like at the peak before the measures hit. However, the fact that it has 10x the German national average of deaths 518 vs about 50 at the time, it would imply spread was much higher despite as you say having likely a lower r0. Which for me only goes to arguing for there having been a longer period of spread before the measures. Which sort of make the measures seem more likely to have done the trick, and it being less likely that it would just have burned itself out naturally… so it is evidence against the theory that the measures would have had no effect…

2) If you’re implication about city death rates were true we would have seen far higher deaths rates in German cities than we have, but there aren’t the deaths, and even if we are undermeasuring spread, actual number of deaths is pretty real and comparable. So something has stopped it moving from a skier returning to Gangelt into cities. We know from testing evidence that Germany has done way better than other countries at containing outbreaks using contact tracing, so there is plenty of evidence for why this did not happen there.

In the UK, sure, London is way ahead of where you are.

guy153
guy153
1 month ago

Well I said “maybe”– I don’t know how much of that is “natural R0” for that region vs due to work from home etc. It sounds like I’m mostly agreeing with you.

As for Germany as a whole their reported total deaths per unit population is some way behind ours so either they’re counting them differently or their measures have been effective and they will indeed get a second wave if they lift them without being careful.

If you go on the RKI website they have daily reports and about every week these include graphs of % positive PCR tests for different parts of Germany. I haven’t looked at those for a week or two so it may have changed but my conclusion then was that whatever level of susceptibility they had got to in the south they were only about half way there in the north.

Caswell Bligh
Caswell Bligh
1 month ago
Reply to  Sunchap

@sunchap and swedenborg, your comments are grist to my mill. Yes, the idea of innate immunity, or learned immunity without many persistent antibodies, would fit the picture of what we’re seeing so well. But the models don’t include such subtle stuff, and it certainly wouldn’t cut much ice with the press and public. Unfortunately, they seem to be calling the shots (hey, a clever pun I didn’t intend…)

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Caswell Bligh

Find evidence, and I’m with you. I’ve been in agreement with you since the start that the data can ALSO be explained by higher levels of immunity.

All I’ve been try to stop on this site since the start is badly formed statistical arguments for why they might be wrong. From what I’ve looked at their argument that disrupting transmission dynamics (people working from home) could have caused it is as equally likely to be true as our gut sense the spread estimates are too low.

None of the arguments I’ve reviewed trying to dismiss this are well founded.

Without concrete evidence to back up what our gut is telling us about underestimating the spread, we are trying to argue that case whilst also looking incompetent in dismissing theirs…

… which isn’t going to convince Bojo over the CMO & CSA.

Barney McGrew
Barney McGrew
1 month ago

Evidence is good, obviously, but requiring more evidence than is usual for, say, the annual flu epidemic doesn’t seem reasonable. What ‘evidence’ has Neil Ferguson provided? Is it even possible to find evidence to prove a negative? – which is what seems to be required here.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Barney McGrew

Debates about which year they would have happened aside, there is pretty conclusive evidence the “rate” of mortality is dramatically above seasonal flu?!comment image
… even if the CFR is the same as that in 2018 (the yellow line) the rate of spread of Covid is clearly far faster than flu.

It is not just about 2018’s seasonal flu CFR being 0.5% and the same as Covid, it is about the initial r0 being so much higher. Which is very clearly presenting itself in the data.

A study in Germany showed 6% of people ended up being infected with the 2018 flu with no measures. The de Gaulle showed 59% of the crew actively had Covid with no measures, which supports the natural initial r0 predictions.

The evidence we need is a medical study that shows immunity to Covid in the presence of infection without showing antibodies. Silver bullet.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

No, you are just wrong in your usage here. Social distancing and other measures can be either coercive or voluntary. In Sweden they are mostly voluntary in practice, though there are threats to back them up coercively which have occasionally been followed through on in a few particular cases, but are not in practice done anything like as much as in the UK.

Toby’ s point is absolutely correct and legitimate – the drop in traffic he referenced is absolutely evidence that the coercive lockdown was not needed.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Mark

On reread I agree with you my opening sentence should have read “mitigation measures” not “social distancing”… in my defence the plots he quotes against Ferguson are “mitigation” prediction plots, and Toby talks about them “social distancing” and lists they are just:
– washing hands
– staying 2m apart
– still going to work and socialising
– not seeing grandparents
– and, not doing too much more.
I agree by Ferguson’s actual definition, this is the act of not going to work or seeing people, and we do all need to be clearer about terminology, I will endeavour to do so.

Having tried to dig myself out of a loose tongued hole…
… and addressing the substance of your point.

He did not show any commuter data for Sweden, I did, and it clearly shows that 65% are not commuting anymore. So by the distinction between “mitigation” (the measures above) and “suppression”, which about limiting freedoms. Sweden are in a voluntary “lockdown”.

He seems to be accepting we can ignore the principles and benefit of a lockdown, voluntary or coercive, in both countries whilst denying Sweden is in one and claiming ours was never needed.

Which I find duplicitous.

More importantly though, his point would only be right if you could show evidence that a voluntary lockdown would have been sufficient.

He does not.

The data I present clearly shows this not to be the case.

The relative gradients of the two blue lines before the measures bit clearly shows the UK was growing new cases at about twice the rate of Sweden. We went from being behind to being ahead, and bear in mind these line are normalise to 1m of the population.

So whatever measures we needed voluntary or coercive, they needed to be stronger to have the same decelaratory effect.

As it stands, Sweden is still left with a positive new case growth, and I find the argument with twice the new case grwoth before their strength of measures alone would have been enough.

So the data does not NOT support his claim.

… even as a fellow sceptic, he needs to be called on this, arguments need to be supportable by data we can clearly measure. His is not.

iainclark
iainclark
1 month ago

The difference between what the Ferguson model predicted for Sweden and the reality is scandalous.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  iainclark

Actually. How that man is still in a job, let lone advising gvts, is beyond me

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  iainclark

Sweden has seen a 65% reduction in commuter traffic (vs our 80%).

They are in an suppression strategy (voluntary lockdown).

My understanding is that the yellow prediction did NOT include this level of measure. So I think this plot is the graph equivalent of a misquote. My understanding is he made a suppression prediction, but for some reason they left it off the plot.

ThomasPelham
ThomasPelham
1 month ago

Can you clarify what you think the difference between suppression and mitigation is? I quite get your point that the reality is similar but there is a huge difference between being forced and being asked to do something. They are still attending pubs and restaurants. Their children are attending schools. Where possible they are working from home, and traffic has dropped as a result.

The point is that there are similarities but also massive differences between their suppression and ours. I suspect their suppression looks much like our mitigation.

I know where I’d rather live.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  ThomasPelham

I just don’t want to participate in something dishonest. It doesn’t make clear which of the many permutations Ferguson explored, it just calls it “moderate”.

If we look at the plot from his paper to work out what it might be…
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdfcomment image?source=Alphaville

Referring to his code from page 6, if you took out PC (School closure) it might look like a:
– Hand washing
– CI: Case Isolation, staying at home for 7 days
– HQ: Case Isolation with household quarantining, the 14 day whole house thing

BUT, nothing more, so NOT:
– PC: school closure
– SDO: social distancing of > 70
– SD: social distancing of entire population = working from home

The blue line includes PC and SDO, but NOT SD, and it is relatively way lower than the yellow one in Toby’s plot.

From this other plot in the doc…comment image?source=Alphaville

… in the blue section SD squashes the line down below the red line so you’d be looking at Ferguson’s prediction being pretty much what Sweden is actually seeing.

Which is why I find this plot so distasteful as it is just not an accurate representation of what he said, and therefore for me FAKE NEWS.

So to be clear his definitions seem to be:
– mitigation: is doing things that don’t restrict freedoms not SDO, SD or possibly not PC.
– suppression: is restricting freedoms, SDO and SD

I totally agree it feels like there is a massive difference, but they are at 65% working from home, us 80%, they are in a voluntary lockdown suppression strategy. The reality is we needed stronger measures as new case growth was much faster here, as per my plot.

Bear in mind you can’t sit next to people in pubs or restaurants and many indoor only places are closed. It is not some utopia…

BUT, yes I agree I’d still prefer it too.

ThomasPelham
ThomasPelham
1 month ago

I quite agree Simon; we need the strongest and most unassailable case to end the lockdown, any comparison with Sweden needs to be done with caution and facts. I think it is an important data point though, maybe you could draw up a skeptical primer for Sweden?

For example what can we say about their death curve? It’s clearly been suppressed by their measures (or something inherent in the virus) enough to prevent exponential growth.

It’s not solely about their population density, it’s not dissimilar to the UK’s in areas where they actually live.

There are social differences though, it would be hard to account for them.

Their measures are maybe better targeted? They allow for a more normal life. They are not having to borrow as much as other countries. The education of more of their children is less disrupted.

Can they be a model for the UK? How might that look?

What do you think we can draw from Sweden to advance a lockdown skeptical position?

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  ThomasPelham

We don’t really know why their new case growth is still slightly growing, it is for sure that they have less strict suppression measures, my gut feeling is something about their demographics meant they needed less strong measures. This is based on observing that our new case growth rate was much higher before. Given they haven’t quite got r0 8.28% spread
– Sweden: deaths 264/1m -> 5.28% spread
… but, we could really do with adjusting for the death demographics in more detail than that.

IF, we believe the theory that a higher suppression lowers the artificial herd immunity ceiling, all we can say is:
– UK: having r01 is not much above 1.

So theirs might end up being similar to our with weaker measures, suggesting that liek we saw with the new case grwoth rate something about their society means its natural capacity to spread is less aggressive.

Saying more than that from the observed data, is just speculating.

BUT, the IFs are predicated on getting a concrete answer (and in my view we don’t have one yet) as to whether:
1) suppressing transmission dynamics burned the infection out
2) it would have happened anyway as serology surveys have underestimated spread

As to carry on trying to help get these answers, or putting together a Sweden primer, I’m also not sure my efforts are really appreciated as it is. The mood in the room is people would prefer to be left to their own views. Regardless of whether there are data science flaws in them or not.

If this argument wants to be a lynch mob, who am I to stop it, I’m certainly no Toby. If he is going to use these sorts of plots, I’m not going to stand much chance of keeping this honest.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)

WordPress has just garbled that post, top section should read…

We don’t really know why their new case growth is still slightly growing, it is for sure that they have less strict suppression measures, my gut feeling is something about their demographics meant they needed less strong measures. This is based on observing that our new case growth rate was much higher before. Given they haven’t quite got r0<1, so we would probably have reall struggled to keep the NHS below ICU capacity.

Reality is we might learn something from looking at the sorts of demographics Ferguson is using to vary the impact of r0 in his model, but we can't discuss him without lynching him so this is probably a bad point to make…

IF, we believe a Robbio/Gangelt/NY CFR of 0.5%:
– UK: deaths 414/1m = 8.28% spread
– Sweden: deaths 264/1m = 5.28% spread
BUT, we could really do with adjusting for the death demographics in more detail than that.

IF, we believe the theory that a higher suppression lowers the artificial herd immunity ceiling, all we can say is:
– UK: having r0 1 means they are not quite halfway there yet, but close as it is slow growth.

So theirs might end up being similar to ours, but with weaker measures, say around 12-15%, when we both burn out, but that they have managed it with weaker measures suggesting as observed with the new case growth rates there is something about the underlying capacity to spread that is lower in Sweden.

Dwayne
Dwayne
1 month ago

Not that I am a fan of the WHO but their advice on distancing has changed from 2 m to 1 m.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

So, perhaps the governments who have used their previous guidance can update.

coalencanth12
coalencanth12
1 month ago

A few thoughts for the day:

Airlines – I imagine the ‘big three’ middle eastern airlines will be the beneficiaries of the current situation, maybe the Asian airlines. They will have the resourcing and government backing to put in place whatever ‘health theatre’ measures governments demand to complement the ‘security theatre’ we have to put up with. And international travel will return! Of course, I imagine the BoJo administration won’t do anything to help our UK airlines, due to their free market principles and their need to appease the Guardian. Meanwhile British jobs gone…

Local anomalies – I was looking at these local ‘Rona death maps that have appeared in a few papers. I expected my Great Western/Thames Valley town to feature quite strongly in the death stakes. In fact the situation was better than I thought, but there are some anomalies. For example, Didcot and the surrounding villages register no deaths, despite Didcot being very well connected to London and well within the commuter belt. On the other hand, Abingdon, not on the railway system and rather popular with Oxford University staff, has been much harder hit. Reading wasn’t as bad as I expected either.. Slough seems to have taken quite a hit. I wonder what could be going on – maybe age or ethnic demographics?

Round here, I think people are taking matters into their own hands. The walking routes and town are busy and I was a bit naughty today and went out for a two hour exercise into the surrounding villages! I’m not sure where these lockdown supporters are. What is going on here? Are people virtue signalling in these surveys? Is this some sort of middle class/mumsnetty ‘do as I say not as I do’?

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  coalencanth12
coalencanth12
coalencanth12
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

I’d seen that thread referenced over at Guido’s place on order-order, but hadn’t visited, closed eh? Someone has either been lent on or raw nerve touched. Mumsnet not exactly being a beacon of reasonable-ness…

Nel
Nel
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

I’ve just checked the link and it’s still there.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  coalencanth12

I may have gone for a drive this morning into the neighbouring town to get shopping. Because I was lazy (this town is literally teo miles down the road).

On my way there and back I counted the number of walkers and cyclists I saw both in the town (a small town with a small high street) and in the area from my town to them. It was 118 going, 124 coming back. It was relatively packed with footfall. I’d say probably twice as busy as I’ve previously seen it on a sunny Saturday morning.

Now round here people have never been very zealoty – but generally obedient I’d say. But I’d say we’ve had a distinct change in mood since a few weeks ago. There is dissent in the ranks.

It also leads me to question the lockdown rules in general in the sense that – is encouraging twice as many people to walk around a small town as there would normally be (because they can’t go anywhere or do anything else) really more ‘socially distanced’ than letting people drive to their local shopping centre and wander round for a few hours?

coalencanth12
coalencanth12
1 month ago
Reply to  Farinances

It sounds like we’re seeing quite similar effects! Like I said I’m puzzled at the disconnect between peoples actions and the apparent YouGov results… I also agree that the social distancing aspect is difficult in practice. My commuter town is pretty densely packed at the best of times and with travel restrictions people who would normally buzz off elsewhere are hanging around the pavements and local paths…. How the cabinet and civil servants expect ‘social distancing’ to be adhered to for, potentially, years is beyond me. Academic fantasy land, and I work there…

eastberks44
eastberks44
1 month ago
Reply to  coalencanth12

I visited a local garden centre (still trading because it contains a farm shop) on the first weekend of lockdown and it had about 1/10 of the usual number of customers. Today the car park was as full as it would be on a normal Saturday, however I would also say that my visit took about twice as long as usual due to the social distancing queues in place. So probably about 50% of usual number of customers, up from 10% five weeks ago. If the police raided it they’d find few of the customers were buying anything “essential”.

Cbird
Cbird
1 month ago
Reply to  eastberks44

A local garden centre has been staging a very brave protest against the lockdown, including staying open despite police intimidation and action from the local council. Purely trying to stave off bankruptcy. They also have a change.org petition. Details below. I was there yesterday and it has a lot of local support. Given its size and structure there are no issues with Social distancing, and it is arguing that it falls within the definition of a hardware store.

https://www.growndirect.co.uk/

Oaks79
Oaks79
1 month ago

NEW TODAY

Fascinating alternative perspective from Nobel prize-winning Stanford Prof Michael Levitt. He believes the Covid-19 epidemic was never truly exponential, and that outbreaks naturally start slowing down regardless of govt interventions:

https://t.co/z77bwNyGic

https://twitter.com/freddiesayers/status/1256552040202932224?s=19

Mark Hunter
Mark Hunter
1 month ago
Reply to  Oaks79

The tweets in response stating “yeah but he’s not an epidemiologist”… Neither is Prof Neil Ferguson

eastberks44
eastberks44
1 month ago
Reply to  Oaks79

Actually this is what was discovered by William Farr in the 1840s, long before computers and before much was known about the actual microbes that cause infectious diseases. He showed that all epidemics, when cases numbers are plotted over time, follow a Gaussian or normal distribution, popularly known as a “bell curve”.
Now if all you can “see” is the extreme, bottom left corner of the bell, it is indistinguishable from an exponential curve that theoretically goes ever onwards and upwards to infinity. This is when the media usually gets hold of the story. They assume that the initial tens, hundreds and thousands must invariably become millions, then absolutely everyone.
But as soon as the rate of growth starts to slow, even though the numbers are still increasing day by day, you can make a stab at calculating the overall size of the bell. And that is usually much smaller than the total population. Which is proving to be the case for all European countries today.

Thunderchild
Thunderchild
1 month ago

Hello, greetings from a new member! It has been really interesting to read the daily updates and the discussions which are taking place through the comment section. Thank you Toby – the daily summary is so helpful.
I was just wondering if anyone has a good (easy to understand) explanation of how R0 is calculated. I have tried researching this online, but can’t find a clear account of how it is arrived at. It seems to be cloaked in secrecy and simply announced (along with warnings that it could change at any time). I would like to try to understand it as it seems to be a critical factor in what happens next. Thanks!

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  Thunderchild

You and me both. It seems to me like they just pluck this fabled R-garbage out of the air, seeing as they can’t possibly know how many people are actually infected at any one time

ianp
ianp
1 month ago
Reply to  Thunderchild

Who gives a shit? It’s all macguffin bollocks based upon cooked up numbers to keep the sheep in line

guy153
guy153
1 month ago
Reply to  Thunderchild

I think you just have to guess it from the data.

If you know the number of new cases per day at the start of the epidemic (before there’s much immunity) and know the average number of days people are infectious for you can estimate it from those two things.

It isn’t just a property of the virus itself because it’s a count of how many other people each person infects. That depends on whether they use public transport, sneeze all over everyone, how densely populated the place they live in is, whether they wash their hands, etc., as much as it does on how easy it is to catch the virus. It will also therefore vary in different places being much higher in big cities with public transport than in small villages.

StevieH
StevieH
1 month ago

More important is 23rd May – the end of Ramadan! How is HMG going to manage this?

Jenn
Jenn
1 month ago

While I was angry before, I am even angrier today. We took a bike ride to Hyde Park with our young son and sat down in the grass to change his diaper. Stasi immediately approached and ordered us to get up. Keep in mind the next human was maybe 10 meters away. How people can take this is beyond me – and for what???? I truly hope Simon’s lawsuit goes somewhere, or at least serves as a wake-up call.

BecJT
BecJT
1 month ago

Brace yourselves, lockdown has gone woker than woke (he would be posh, wouldn’t he? Not sure kids who’ve been locked in a council high rise for the last God knows how long will be sharing his sentiments) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bea4jCAkXsI “Daddy, tell me the story about the virus”

Ben McDonnell
Ben McDonnell
1 month ago

Mr Young
2 lines above the graph you wrote
“In fact, as of April 29th, Sweden’s death toll from COVID-19 was 2,462,”
Did you mean “with Covid”?

rossum
rossum
1 month ago

Listening now, less than one year after release, Tool’s “Fear Inoculum” seems eerily prescient. Bless this immunity!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7DfQMPmJRI

Jim8888
Jim8888
1 month ago

Quite amazing that the President of America states there is evidence that the virus was made in a lab in China and we all just shrug and move on. This is the tragedy of Trump – you read his statement and think that this is the clown who injects Domestos, why believe anything he says? Unless you’re Steve Bannnon who, on his podcast Warroom Pandemic, continues to come up with some jaw dropping stuff. Well worth a listen to.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim8888

I think it’s more likely that the virus occurred naturally (if.you can call what goes on in wet markets natural), but then did actually escape from.a.lab that was researching it to cause the major outbreak. The fact that those disease research labs are in wuhan is just too damn coincidental for me. However the idea that it was made purposefully as a bio weapon…. nah. Surely you’d want a more lethal bio weapon! Some people are saying that this whole thing is awfully convenient though for China money wise (our supply side dependence on them, their potential focused takeover of western businesses, technology capture etc. in the ensuing chaos). I suppose so, but honestly I think this is just China capitalising on everyone else’s misfortune :/

swedenborg
swedenborg
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim8888

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/coronavirus/bombshell-dossier-lays-out-case-against-chinese-bat-virus-program/news-story/55add857058731c9c71c0e96ad17da60
This published today very thorough discussion.Not bioweapon but accidental release.You won’t find this in MSM and the government propaganda machine BBC. Australia and US(NIH) outsourced dangerous work to the Wuhan lab.Incompetent handling of virus in experiments which was both dangerous and unethical.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  swedenborg

Wow. Well. I feel vindicated lol

David Mc
David Mc
1 month ago

Serious question about all the polls which seem to reveal the British public being overwhelmingly in favour of the lockdown: are we seeing a ‘shy lockdown scepticism’ phenomenon akin to the ‘shy Toryism’ we see with election polling? I have no doubt there is support for the lockdown among a significant proportion of the population. But I also suspect a lot of people are telling pollsters what they think the appropriate/moral/virtuous/acceptable opinion is, rather than the opinion they actually have. This might explain why my giant local Tesco is practically back to its pre-lockdown level of usage and none of the people inside appear to give two figs anymore about the 2m rule.

coalencanth12
coalencanth12
1 month ago
Reply to  David Mc

I’ve also thought along these lines, as you say the ‘shy tory’ effect. None of my colleagues or social circle are lockdown supporters – even those who were keen on it are starting to crack, and this is a variety of skill and social levels from experienced scientists and engineers down to our cleaners, who are still being made to go into work despite being the lowest paid…..

RDawg
RDawg
1 month ago
Reply to  coalencanth12

Sadly all but one of my friends are pro lockdown. They think I am a mass murderer akin to a eugenics fetishist, don’t care about the elderly and believe the NHS would have been “completely overwhelmed” without lockdown.

Despite the plethora of evidence I have presented to them, they simply refuse to even look at or acknowledge it. It makes this so much harder when you feel like a lone voice amongst many.

Thanks Toby for creating this site. I hope and pray that one day the truth will out itself…

coalencanth12
coalencanth12
1 month ago
Reply to  RDawg

Another factor in the high levels of support may be that ‘lockdown’ here in the UK has been fairly mild in its enforcement compared with a few other European countries, some of which have kept even the children locked up for weeks on end. I suspect the politicians here worked out that would not fly in the UK (and to be fair our legal tradition is very very different to many of our European friends as regards civil rights and policing style), and given that we have a comparatively low number of police officers and little tradition of paramilitary policing on the mainland would be an enforcement nightmare anyway. Here, we will probably have to wait for redundancy notices to start going out before the people are roused….

hail
1 month ago

“For my elderly readers whose eyesight isn’t what it was, the blue area represents what would have happened under the ‘do nothing’ scenario in Sweden according to Professor Ferguson’s model, the yellow area what would have happed if the Swedish Government had stuck with mitigation – which is what is what it did, obviously – and the red area the actual death toll in Sweden.”

Here is the same information graphed reflecting the May 2 update from the Swedish govt., and with larger font-sizes for all eyesight conditions. (From my post Sweden’s Vindication is Complete:
comment image
comment image

Another, Ferguson-like study published as late as April 15 still predicted up to 180,000 deaths under the Swedish strategy; Sweden’s total, with its epidemic now winding down, looks set not to (much) exceed 3,500; maybe 4,000. That includes all deaths that were coronavirus-positive. And with herd immunity, the epidemic in Sweden is over.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  hail

FAKE NEWS

This was NOT what Ferguson predicted for the Swedish strategy. His moderate mitigation (the grey line) included ONLY:
– Hand washing
– Case Isolation with household isolation: 7 days at home if ill, 14 days if a household

The grey line in the plot did NOT include:
– School closure: Sweden has closed senior schools and universities
– Social distancing for > 70 (stay at home): Sweden has done this, you can’t visit care homes too.
– Social distancing for population (75% working from home): Sweden has 65% voluntary home working.

Ferguson’s prediction for all these looks pretty much like the Swedish line.

I don’t even really like the man, but I can’t abide FAKE NEWS.

Dwayne
Dwayne
1 month ago

You have some inane desire to keep defending the guy that predicted doom based on 13 year old code that has no peer review! None of the models that any agency around the world has been peer reviewed, to my knowledge. We have been shut in by spineless politicians appealing to “experts” authority.

The predictions of mass deaths were wrong, Sweden’s thoughtful approach with monitoring and voluntary restrictions worked, making the ‘hide under your bed’ experts look incompetent.

hail
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwayne

“[S]hutting down the economy…was based on one person’s guestimate of 2,200,000 deaths.” — Knut Wittkowski (April 20)

“The point of decision (at least in the US) was around March 10-15. At this time, there should have been a discussion involving epidemiologists who could question the Frankenssonian predictions. If that discussion would have had, we would not have had a shutdown.” — Wittkowski

“It’s not that people realized that a different reaction would have been required compared to the Swine flu, it was the number of 2.2M that Frankenson pulled out of his hat that got everybody scared.” — Wittkowski (April 21)

swedenborg
swedenborg
1 month ago

Not correct.The biggest mistake was that they closed visits to care homes too late I think 1st April.This is the reason for the many deaths in care homes in Stockholm together with language problems instructing the carers the best hygienical practice and that is a hot political potatoe not to be discussed in MSM

Dwayne
Dwayne
1 month ago
Reply to  swedenborg

I think that people around the world are going to have to review the buildings that we house our older loved ones in. If “care homes” and “nursing homes” were equipped with proper HVAC HEPA filtered systems with UV-C viral and biological treatment then many of the problems could have been controlled by the care givers ensuring adequate hygiene and some basic spreading controls.

We have to learn from this, and apply it to future pandemics, and even to flu season. With better system in place to stop the airborne spread of virus and bacteria it will cut down the transmission of these things. Add to that some protocols such as masks for visitors during flu season, or in the case of a pandemic such as this, it still allows for much needed family contact. Our loved ones need that contact, to deny it is a travesty.

Old fred
Old fred
1 month ago

Your emphasis on FAKE NEWS is not worthy of this website. I suggest you leave that to Donald Trump on Twitter,

Willow
Willow
1 month ago

Surely your reply just highlights the main problem with all Ferguson’s models which is that he totally fails to account for human agency. Apart from university closures, the other two measures you mention have been voluntary. Ferguson modelled humans as if he was modelling cattle. He seems to have been completely oblivious to the fact that, given accurate information about a potential threat to health, rational beings such as humans, will voluntarily take steps to minimise risk. You can hardly moan that the voluntary steps taken by the Swedes are not included by the grey line, when the very fact that he forgot humans might change their behaviour is one of the reasons his models are so badly wrong.

Farinances
Farinances
1 month ago
Reply to  Willow

THIS.

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Willow

I think he was entirely relying in human agency. His model made no assumption of the law being changed, and he modelled a 70% voluntary compliance to all the suggested measures.

That Bojo decided to make it a law is not Ferguson’s fault.

I have no great love for the man, but I do like honesty in debate, and that plot above does not allow for this. It leaves out his suppression strategy prediction and compares a suppression reality with his case isloation/hand washing (grey line) and do nothing (orange) predictions. It is comparing apples and oranges on purpose just to muddy the man’s name.

In trying to build a sound argument to lift the lockdown it just makes us look dishonest.

Barney McGrew
Barney McGrew
1 month ago

“trying to build a sound argument to lift the lockdown”.

It’s weird that in a free country this is what people are having to do rather than the lockdown enthusiasts having to argue *their* case! The lockdown was brought in because of the output of one man’s model. The model is not reality, and is not falsifiable because of the universal lockdown that was brought in as a response to it.
(The new narrative of Sweden’s moderate measures really being an extreme lockdown results in this).

Simon Nicholls (sinichol)
Reply to  Barney McGrew

I don’t like the lockdown, I think it is at best a short term blunt instrument with many lethal hard to quantify side effects. We need a way out ASAP.

BUT, I’m not going to put my hands over my ears and go “la la la” about it not having served a purpose in the presence of data evidence it did… just because I don’t like it. I can’t honestly say I think with just Sweden’s level of suppression we would have reversed new case growth. As a data scientist, having actually analysed the data for myself, and determined our new case growth was much faster than theirs ahead of these measures, I’d be lying to myself if I did.

My only observation, and I seem to be getting misbranded as some Ferguson lover for this (which I’m not) is that HIS moderate estimate in that plot above was for just hand washing and case isolation from households for 14 days. Nothing more. Not 65% of people working from home. His actual predictions for that are pretty much what Sweden is actually seeing.

So I find myself looking at the plot thinking, that is unfair to the man and his work. When I say something about the decency of that, I get attacked. This is becoming a lynch mob, not a reasoned debate or movement.

Sweden is in a more moderate suppression strategy. This is no “new narrative” it is just the narrative till now has been painting a false picture.

Dylan Jones
1 month ago

John Lee’s piece was indeed fascinating. It makes sense that a virus that kills every host in its path is not an efficient virus and is not going to go far in life (or death). However, given the data we have now, there is no reason to assume that the virus was ever as lethal as it was made out to be, even in Wuhan. Indeed, there was an epidemiological study back in March that concluded:

“…that the fatality of Covid19 even in the Chinese city of Wuhan was only 0.04% to 0.12% and thus rather lower than that of seasonal flu, which has a mortality rate of about 0.1%. As a reason for the overestimated fatality of Covid19, the researchers suspect that initially only a small number of cases were recorded in Wuhan, as the disease was probably asymptomatic or mild in many people.”

https://swprs.org/facts-about-covid19-march-2020-archive/

RDawg
RDawg
1 month ago

This interview with Prof. Levitt on UnHerd is fantastic. From 12 minutes in, it is absolute gold. This should be broadcast to the world:

https://youtu.be/bl-sZdfLcEk

I like Freddie’s interviewing style. He lets the interviewee speak openly, without judgemental “gotcha” style interjections.

RDawg
RDawg
1 month ago
Reply to  RDawg

Just seen this was already posted earlier by Oaks79

Oaks79
Oaks79
1 month ago

Florida gov sharing the facts, this is brilliant

https://twitter.com/GovRonDeSantis/status/1256214452363460610?s=19

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago
Reply to  Oaks79

We need more politicians to be brave and speak the truth. We’ve got to have some counterweights to the gloom and doom MSM, which for some reason wants lockdowns to continue in perpetuity.

Florida has a keen interest in getting people there in the summer, starting Memorial Day weekend (end of May). Funny, that used to correspond with the start of school holidays, back when children went to school and didn’t just run wild.

On Facebook, I just saw a posting from a Florida greyhound park, which is evidently back in business. Vive la Commerce!

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago

Several encouraging articles in the Telegraph. Makes me feel better, because the Telegraph has also had its fair share of lockdown lovers. But I’m not getting much resembling sense out of any of the US MSM newspapers, with the partial exception of the Wall Street Journal, so it’s nice to see the tide perhaps turning? We can hope?

At least UK schools will reopen this year. American children have been unschooled since early March and most districts long ago abandoned any plans to reopen until end of summer. But whatever, anyone who complains about that must want people to die!!!!! Millions!!!!! (Sorry, just losing my mind for a moment.)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/02/public-opinion-not-scientific-advice-keeping-us-lockdown/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/02/doctors-warn-crystal-ball-gazing-covid-19-has-left-nightingale/?li_source=LI&li_medium=liftigniter-rhr

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/02/isolation-dangerous-smoking-15-cigarettes-day-lockdown-adviser/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/02/world-misunderstands-swedish-response-coronavirus/?li_source=LI&li_medium=liftigniter-onward-journey

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/02/german-tourists-demand-access-spanish-island-holiday-villas/

Also, my state (South Carolina) is going to allow restaurants to have outdoor seating starting Monday. It’ll be weird, and I really hate being served by masked people, but we might just give it a try to support our local folks.

Odds on Swiss holidays happening this summer? Mountain treks in the lovely fresh alpine air?

swedenborg
swedenborg
1 month ago

Interesting articles discussing possibilities of previous flupandemic 1890(Russian flu) might have been another now common corona virus jumping from animal to human
https://theconversation.com/a-brief-history-of-the-coronavirus-family-including-one-pandemic-we-might-have-missed-134556
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24632800-700-what-four-coronaviruses-from-history-can-tell-us-about-covid-19/

Peter Forsythe
1 month ago

I think you need to fix that Sweden graph. You have actuals to date, but the Ferguson model predictions to July. To prove the model’s inaccuracy you need to overlay what it would have predicted over the Actuals to date. In other words to “backcast”.

Beth_Riddle
Beth_Riddle
1 month ago

Just commenting to say ‘hi’. I feel a sense of what I may reasonably describe as relief to have stumbled across this website.

These are very strange and scary times.
I find the sense of hysteria a bit terrifying. And I am honestly appalled at my fellow citizens’ love of enforcing rules that make no sense. I find it hard to see how we extract ourselves from what I have come to think of of the ‘logic of the lockdown.’

This all feels doubly strange for me since I find myself aligned with the political ‘right’.
(Tbh, though, I have long been a Peter Hitchens fan).

Politically I am what might be described as Social Democrat with a socialist bent…… I am left wing with a socially liberal outlook. I voted for Corbyn first time round when I was a member of the Labour Party. I have historically backed the case for a bigger state in the belief that it could be an enabler in people’s lives, as well as a safety net and protector. I am a remainer (albeit a reluctant one) and a Civil Servant. In short I tick all the boxes.

I do note that there does seem to be a clear correlation between the political right and opposition to the lockdown and I confess that I feel let down by my political ‘side’. I also feel a bit confused by it.
I had always thought there was a tradition of questioning of authority in those traditions – and a commitment to activism. But not, apparently, in this case.

Anyhow, ramble over. Keep going with this initiative – it is sorely needed right now…..

swedenborg
swedenborg
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth_Riddle

It is very strange that the left has been the biggest cheerleaders for the lockdown. It is now obvious that the whole response has been dictated by Big Pharma. They want to have lockdown until a vaccine is ready. A vaccine against coronavirus has never been done before and has many odds against it ever being produced. They want to stop a cheap generic drug to be given to Covid-19, hydroxychloroquine, but this is now in widespread use outside Europe. Seeing the low figures of deaths in Turkey, where it is widespread used, compared to the high number of cases, gives a hint that it might be useful. But the big pharma wants new expensive drugs for treatment. Dr Fauci has a very dubious record. They wasted billions of dollars for an HIV vaccine during the last 20 years. Fauci was also outsourcing dangerous work on coronavirus to the lab in Wuhan. This is now even in MSM Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/dr-fauci-backed-controversial-wuhan-lab-millions-us-dollars-risky-coronavirus-research-1500741
The left and the labour should be on a sensible total public heath response to this pandemic and not being duped by Big Pharma.

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth_Riddle

My feelings exactly. For the first time in 30 years, I’m finding common ground with the right wingers, which is bizarre to me.

Barney McGrew
Barney McGrew
1 month ago

BBC headline: “I needed ‘litres and litres’ of oxygen, PM reveals”.

Because everyone knows that the main descriptive quality of oxygen is its “litres-ness”.

What else, PM?

“If there’s one thing I remember about those nurses, it’s their PPE. They were changing those masks like nobody’s business, taking a fresh one from the enormous pile every ten minutes. And the testing! Don’t talk to me about testing. It was testing, testing, testing all day and night. Yes, that’s what I’ll remember. The testing and the PPE.”

Tim
Tim
1 month ago

It’s good that Baroness McGregor-Smith has written to the PM urging action on the economy. However, it’s hard to see how this statement can be reconciled:

“Government should not shy away from sustaining high levels of public spending in order to restart and renew our communities and the economy in the short and medium-term, while not tying the hands of future generations,” she says.

… while not tying the hands of future generations? That will be quite a stunt! We’ve only just finished paying for WW2.

Tim Bidie
Tim Bidie
1 month ago

I think this may be what we have been up against:

‘”People underestimate the power of models. Observational evidence is not very useful,” “Our approach is not entirely empirical.”

Attributed to Prof John Mitchell

There seems to be some kind of academic subculture that regards empiricism as outmoded. The massive growth in computing power mean that modellers believe that they can model the entire universe.

Covid 19 constructs have been yet another example of modelling coming up against the complexity of real life, and losing.

Now, unfortunately:

“The people have failed the government. The government must elect the new people.” Bertold Brecht

What newly created reality now awaits us, given that the most recent one has just, so clearly, bitten the dust?

Old fred
Old fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim Bidie

‘Covid 19 constructs have been yet another example of modelling coming up against the complexity of real life, and losing.‘………I think you would have a hard time convincing computer modellers that their model had indeed lost ….they would simply say it needs refining. There is no winning or losing in their world.

Barney McGrew
Barney McGrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim Bidie

I’m something of an empiricism sceptic. Attempting to interpret an N-dimensional phenomenon via the medium of a couple of columns of data doesn’t work – but at the time you can’t tell that it doesn’t work.

I think you need to have the proverbial open mind and attempt to piece together the truth from little clues here and there. If this means you have to improvise a ‘model’, then so be it – this is the hypothesis part of science: create a ‘model’ then try to devise real experiments that can refute it.

The trouble with computer models is that they are self-referencing and circular. The modellers probably think they are themselves empiricists. They can pretend they didn’t create the world they are observing – it is self-evidently correct in their mind. They then sit back and observe the ‘natural’ world in the computer as though it is real. They do ‘experiments’ on the self-evidently correct world, and then they tell politicians of the results. They are so confident of the truth of the results, and their skills so esoteric, that they are very persuasive and impossible to argue with, and the politicians can’t help but believe them. It’s disastrous.

Tim Bidie
Tim Bidie
1 month ago
Reply to  Barney McGrew

The preference for virtual reality over reality itself; the preference for a weather forecast over sticking their heads outside; the preference for satellite navigation over map reading even when the satellites are down and it is clear that they are going downhill into the sea rather than uphill into the mountains as the GPS would have it.

Models are decision support tools not decision making tools but it is increasingly to the latter that our leaders incline. As our PM himself once quoted ‘O Tempora, O Mores!’

Tim
Tim
1 month ago

Priceless! People are presenting themselves at A&E on a Thursday evening with clapping injuries!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52506114

Gillian
Gillian
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

There will need to be a Public Information Film warning of the dangers of NHS clapping injuries: Stay Safe Stay Home Protect the NHS Don’t Clap

IanE
IanE
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

I understand that they used to have special clinics for victims of clap!

John Bradley
John Bradley
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

This comes hard on the heels of reports that A & E departments across the country are being overwhelmed by a new mystery disease, a not-so-silent killer that scientists have called ‘Clap-20’. Symptoms of this potentially lethal disease include the sudden appearance of abrasions, lesions, and shattered bones. There is no known cure for this terrifying disease and the public have been advised to stay well clear of these so-called Clappers. The distinguished consultant neurologist Professor Neil Nutter told the BBC that the only way this deadly disease could be contained is if clappers were locked indoors until a vaccine is found, and all objects that could be used to aid ‘clapping’, such as pans and spoons, immediately destroyed.

Cbird
Cbird
1 month ago

For those who haven’t seen it, this is the latest report from the King’s College tracker app. Numbers still going down….

https://covid.joinzoe.com/data

Sim18
Sim18
1 month ago

This has probably already been posted. Interview with Prof Michael Levitt

https://unherd.com/thepost/nobel-prize-winning-scientist-the-covid-19-epidemic-was-never-exponential/

Oaks79
Oaks79
1 month ago

Super interesting that the Gov’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King sees the need to start a rival expert panel tomorrow to offer advice to the Gov on the lockdown via youtube

https://t.co/BSYdYrDyxK

Some fresh thinking is *very* overdue, lets hope King delivers

AN other lockdown sceptic
AN other lockdown sceptic
1 month ago
Reply to  Oaks79

Agree that we desperately need some counter-arguments being made to the Gov. I won’t hold my breath that King is part of the solution though.

“Former chief scientist Sir David King admitted Wednesday he was wrong in advising the U.K. government to encourage diesel vehicles to fight global warming.”

https://www.thegwpf.com/ex-chief-scientist-our-advice-to-govt-on-preventing-global-warming-was-wrong/

Adele Bull
Adele Bull
1 month ago

ITV news Online “second wave” scaremongering! What is wrong with these people?

Graham Matthews
Editor
Graham Matthews
1 month ago
Reply to  Adele Bull

Indeed the problem all along in the UK is that our scientific community is so beholden to influenza as this is the disease that all their funding is reliant on. They cannot understand the pathology of SARS. Those countries, like Taiwan, S Korea, New Zealand, Thailand who used SARS as their frame of reference have very low death rates – only 6 in Taiwan, 55 in Thailand – because they followed a SARS response – close borders, ELIMINATE, not mitigate. SARS was eliminated in one year and never returned (except for 4 leaks from labs in China…..). There is no guarantee whatsoever that C19 will have a second wave, although what worries me is that BECAUSE we did not follow an elimination strategy, we may have caused it to live longer than it otherwise would. It seems our scientific community learned nothing from SARS.

Mark Hunter
Mark Hunter
1 month ago

I’ve not long returned for a visit to my parents with my two youngest children. Both my parents are in their mid-70s. My mum has dementia.

We stood outside their front door chatting to them. My dad was on the verge of tears several times during our socially distant visit. He admitted to me he’s really struggling with this. He’s the quintessential social animal, always have been. They’ve been cooped up for weeks, haven’t had a hug from their grandchildren the whole time. I strongly urged my dad to take my mum and go for a drive. Stop somewhere and just sit in the car and enjoy the change of scenery. It’s very painful to visit them like this and see how it’s affecting them,

My mum kept asking my 15-year-old daughter when she’ll be round for her knitting lesson. She keeps forgetting the “current situation”. I can’t allow myself to think about this too much. She’s so keen to spend time with her granddaughter, passing on a new skill to her. How long does she have left in life, considering her dementia, to be able to do this?

I’ve told my dad to mark on the calendar when their 12 weeks of self-isolation is over and when it is, to just take his chances as he would do for everything else in life. They don’t know how many years they have left, and with my mum’s conditioning worsening, we don’t know how long we have with her.

It’s painful to see how this is affecting them…

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

A fine example of how the culture of fear is indoctrinated into the upcoming generations, voluntarily, by people who genuinely think they are doing good:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-northern-ireland-52419865/coronavirus-staying-at-home-with-the-scared-gang

Paul Deen
Paul Deen
1 month ago

Toby would it be possible to get that Sweden actual compared to Imperial predictions graph bought right up to date as I think it’s one of the most powerful visuals to show bed wetters

Great work with this site, thanks for putting the work in

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