COVID Long term plan?

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 DD72 15 Feb 2021

I have been thinking about posting to ask if anyone has read anything useful or got any informed insights about what a long-term strategy for COVID 19 might look like, then I saw Devi Sridhar in the Guardian today who set out something which seemed plausible. It was;

  • Strong border controls along the lines of the most successful countries in this, Israel, NZ etc.
  • National level vaccination campaigns to achieve herd immunity
  • Rich nations helping the poor ones with the latter because fully opening up isn't going to be possible until the pandemic is under control at a global scale.

Whilst it isn't particularly appealing it does seem like the least worst way out of this. I can obviously see the political problems with this but I would be interested in any informed insights into the technical ones.

 profitofdoom 15 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

> I have been thinking about posting to ask if anyone has read anything useful or got any informed insights about what a long-term strategy for COVID 19 might look like......

I'm not informed or clever but my ideas are [1] keep vaccinating as many people as possible. Speed it up. [2] Open all borders everywhere without restriction and get the world moving again. [3] Get the UK working again e.g. the economy, businesses, restaurants, pubs, schools / universities, travel, holidays. ASAP

 Ciro 15 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

> I have been thinking about posting to ask if anyone has read anything useful or got any informed insights about what a long-term strategy for COVID 19 might look like, then I saw Devi Sridhar in the Guardian today who set out something which seemed plausible. It was;

> Strong border controls along the lines of the most successful countries in this, Israel, NZ etc.

> National level vaccination campaigns to achieve herd immunity

> Rich nations helping the poor ones with the latter because fully opening up isn't going to be possible until the pandemic is under control at a global scale.

> Whilst it isn't particularly appealing it does seem like the least worst way out of this. I can obviously see the political problems with this but I would be interested in any informed insights into the technical ones.

Strong border controls is the ideal short term strategy. We'd need a change of government though, and that's not happening soon enough.

If we'd all done that, we wouldn't need a long term strategy. Unfortunately, the West knew better, so now we do.

Once the numbers are low enough, we'll need someone to come up with that World Beating Track and Trace System you used to hear about on the news.

We'll need to keep sequencing and tracing new variants, and pumping money into vaccine development to keep up.

We'll need to develop a worldwide distribution system that allows us to target the dangerous new variants where they pop up, rather than concentrating on what's happening in the rich nations.

And we should massively beef up the WHO, giving it money and teeth, so that a few rich, myopic nations aren't allowed to f*ck things up like this again. (Wishful thinking, I know)

Post edited at 21:34
In reply to DD72:

It seems like a good plan, at a high level. The other aspect of it is not opening up too soon but that's more of a short to medium term thing.

From a UK point of view, we're ahead of most countries in the vaccine roll out, which is great. In order to keep those gains, it will be important to minimise the risk of vaccine resistant variants arising within the UK (so need to keep cases low before vaccine herd immunity kicks in later this year) and coming in from outside the UK (so need to have strong border controls - whether than means closed borders or effectively enforced quarantine with testing is a discussion point).

Once we've got our own house in order, in terms of vaccination and returning the economy to growth, we'd be well placed to help other countries.

Unfortunately for many poorer countries maintaining lockdowns for as long as we have isn't feasible from an economic point of view. The silver lining is that death rates seem to be lower in many developing countries, probably due to having fewer elderly people, though it's early days in terms of being able to compare the real death rates properly.

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

NZ is a very different situation though. It's an island state literally hundreds of miles from any other nation, and their nearest nation is likewise miles from others.

They've also invested for decades in biosecurity and are basically acknowledged as the world leaders in biosecurity.

 I'm not sure borders is the answer. Travel and tourism accounts for about 10% of the worlds economy. Israel is hoping to open up its borders to tourists this summer, many of my students are planning trips (large jewish population).

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Misha:

That is basically the argument Sridhar was making. I think that it will come down to a quarantine system as not even N Korea can seal its borders completely but it needs to be pretty good. It was a bit depressing to see the holiday industry has started a 'Save our Summer' campaign, a kind of 'Eat out, help (COVID) out' Max.

For once the UK government and others do seem to have grasped the severity of the situation we have to see how long they can hold out against this sort of pressure.

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

I agree about NZ up to a point but you can over do the 'very different situation' a bit to a point that it becomes, we have nothing to learn from the best.

That is interesting about Israel, I guess they will be the canary in the coalmine for the vaccine only approach. It may work but what a few articles I have read suggest is that all it takes is the 'wrong' mutation and you are basically back to square one. With an open borders approach you will always have that risk as long as there is plenty of opportunities for the virus to mutate as a result of high infection rates elsewhere.

I don't really like the idea of closed borders but it seems to be one of the few points at which there is the infrastructure to contain the flow of people and the flow of new infections. Local lockdowns might work in some places, where for example there are big gaps between cities or regions and people flow through a limited number of routes but it is much harder to see them working in places where if the pubs are closed in one town you can just drive 10 miles to somewhere they are open. 

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Ciro:

I can't remember the article but someone pointed out the other week that there has never been a conference of world leaders on a shared strategy for dealing with the virus. Something like that might be a good place to start.

The obvious problem no one is going to want to click on a Zoom link in an email from Vladimir Putin. 

In reply to DD72:

Science is the key not physical measures and track & trace won't work in the west because of a self entitled population mentality. 

Mass produce vaccines at cost globally, annual booster jabs of predicted mutations. Maybe 5 years down the line things will be 100% normal again. 

Even if the uk vaccinated all 70m, with billions not vaccinated elsewhere, there is a risk it'll mutate into something that could evade the vaccine and potentially be more lethal. The race is still on, despite the current vaccination celebrations. 

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to summo:

The problem with that approach is that it elevates 'science' to a sort of silver bullet that can solve all our problems.

Its certainly impressive how quickly vaccines have been developed but I suspect the people closer to the reality of viruses, mutations and vaccines are a bit more sanguine about what can and can't be achieved. There seems to still be a lot of unknowns about Corona.

What if the approach you suggest takes 10 years not 5 or even 15?

How many people would have died that might not have done?

Pandemics, like a lot of our problems, seem to be areas where science and policy interact and you can't expect one to do all the work.

In reply to Roadrunner6:

> NZ is a very different situation though

Vietnam, then? Another different situation, in that it isn't a western democracy, but it chose to be open and non-judgemental about covid case information, unlike China. They initially prioritised health over economy, but have managed to limit economic damage; their GDP hasn't shrunk.

They're fighting s bit of a tiny outbreak since the end of January, but I hope they manage to continue to suppress it. The peak was about 120 cases a day... Their low case rate means they can do TTI very successfully.

I'm sure we can learn from their experience; they learnt the lesson from SARS.

 Billhook 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

Whilst the current virus has caused an overload to the NHS, the virus doesn't have a very high death rate compared to some other illnesses in society.

So far as I'm aware we have only ever eradicated one virus - Smallpox.

All the other illnesses we live with and die with.   include Stroke, heart disease, lung diseases, Alzheimer's/dementia, kidney diseases,  Malaria, TB, Cancers and numerous other causes.   They all have a financial implication and we accept we cannot cure everyone and have limits imposed on health services.

We don't legislate against people getting ill - we just live with it for the most part and accept that that is a simple fact of life and death.  

So for me, this virus is going to outlive every one of us.  All the restrictions in the world won't stop it killing people, and at some point someone is going to ask the question of why are we spending so much money, time and effort trying to stop and prevent something that has a relatively low death rate and which in most cases are those who are older with underlying health conditions.

So the long term plan??  I think we'll see a gradual realisation that some restrictions are largely pointless ,wasteful or out of all proportion to the cost and death rate.  This won't happen soon though unless we get used to the the facts that we'll  die at some stage and we can't stop and do not stop all deaths at any cost.
 

In reply to Billhook:

> All the other illnesses we live with and die with.   include Stroke, heart disease, lung diseases, Alzheimer's/dementia, kidney diseases,  Malaria, TB, Cancers and numerous other causes.   

Most of those are linear mechanisms, and not caused by social interactions.

In reply to DD72:

I don't think the population will cope with continue restrictions mentally. Never mind the economic argument. 

It's a question of what the population desires; death is a sad reality when new easily transmitted virus appears. There will be additional deaths and suffering because of the measures put in place to reduce covid. At some point in the very near future, one will outweigh the other. 

There is a UK obsession with foreign holidays this summer, when the focus of the population needs to be shifted back to employment, education and non covid medical treatments.

In reply to Billhook:

In the main most western countries have a large proportion of the population whose life is prolonged through medication, from their 30, 40, 50s.. diabetes, asthma, heart, etc. If you reach 70 with one or more of these your organs are likely to be not in the best condition, just like with flu virus, covid challenges these and the stats show it wins most of the time.  

My mother had it last May, she has no medical conditions and she's still not back to full strength and fitness, likely never will be, whilst I've not said it to her, but I suspect the stresses on her body have probably taken a few years off her life expectancy. 

Post edited at 07:58
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

My take:

Lack of political will to do what is eminently achievable driven by persistent misunderstandings mean countries like the UK are ever likely to achieve near elimination - even though a raft of countries with very different situations have achieved and held near elimination and maintained or grown their economies.  Frustrating, as the more nations who do this the easier it becomes for all nations.

I am not sure elimination will be possible in some developing nations with much younger, less affected populations.

Between this devil and deep blue sea is scope for an endless arms race over vaccines.  I worry that their remains scope for significant increases to transmissibility and lethality.

Something not discussed much is the long term future of therapeutics. I don’t think the virus can evade these so easily as it can evade immunity.  I think in the long term, it will be rendered harmless by a raft of low cost compounds - largely repurposed from existing drugs - that render its effects basically harmless rather than ITU filling.  Particularly compounds that both prime and moderate the immune systems at the relevant times.  We’re surrounded by lethal diseases that we barely notice due to modern medicine.  This will become another one of those.

In the mean time I hope we continue to harden our border and push for local near elimination and near elimination in countries with travel-bridge with; near elimination being periods of no identified transmission and small outbreaks that can be handled by local, brief lockdowns and TTI.  These nations achieving near elimination have a very large, pragmatic and self serving interest in helping other countries with vaccination - but I don’t think we can morally push sufficient control measures for elimination on nations with much younger populations, especially if partially protected by vaccination.  But, I think for the next 12-18 months we should increase not decrease caution as we don’t yet know where it’s going in terms of vaccine evasion.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Billhook:

> We don't legislate against people getting ill - we just live with it for the most part and accept that that is a simple fact of life and death.  

We live with it by putting them in hospital and trying to save them when they have a likely treatable illness.

> and do not stop all deaths at any cost.

Nobody tried to stop all deaths at any cost.  They wanted to stop several hundred thousand people dying in hospital corridors, ambulances, tents and field hospitals in a couple of months, and the functional collapse of healthcare for all.

Post edited at 08:25
In reply to Billhook:

The difference is that I can potentially kill you (and you can potentially kill me) with Covid, we can't do that with any of the others.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

Thanks for that link - very cool that they're using exosomes as the delivery vehicle.  Being able to safely moderate cytokine / bradykinin storms could pay off in spades well beyond this pandemic if something like the Spanish Flu or SARS-nCov-1 emerges and gets out of control.

Interferon Beta has just gone to a combined Phase 2/3 trial in the US as a pre-hospitalisation intervention intended to prevent cytokine storms forming in the first place.  

It looks like there's a raft of compounds emerging - and many of them are inherently cheap to manufacture and distribute which is important for the developing world.

 neilh 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

Controlled borders imply narrow nationalism, and as the virus knows no borders, I am not really sure they help in controlling it in the long term.

Your point on rich nations helping the poor ones is spot on.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/aug/14/jeremy-farrar-viruses-know-no-borders-until-every-country-is-protected-we-are-all-at-risk

 groovejunkie 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> But, I think for the next 12-18 months we should increase not decrease caution as we don’t yet know where it’s going in terms of vaccine evasion.

Yes, absolutely that. I was quite chipper last night feeling reasonably optimistic that the numbers were continuing to decrease and that the Govt messaging was still one of caution. Within a couple of hours I’d seen breaking news (guardian, Reuters) about yet another new variant found in the U.K. with worrying mutations and scary quotes about it possibly “blunting the effects of the vaccines”. 
I have no idea whether this is media clickbait/scaremongering before they have all the facts or whether this really could be the one that sets us back again. It’s the former I sincerely wish they’d just zip it! If it’s the latter it feels like only a matter of time before the vaccine is indeed severely hampered. I hope it’s the former! 

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Thanks, I just wonder whether what might end up happening is that near virtual elimination ultimately becomes the policy through having tried everything else in order to keep the 'we are going to have to live with it' headbangers happy and it failing.

Therapeutics do sound very interesting, I guess the lack of coverage is because it isn't the 'magic bullet' of vaccination. I wonder though do they have the same problems with the virus mutating? I would assume less so as they wouldn't seem to stop the virus spreading just reduce the impact on its hosts but I admit my knowledge in the area is virtually non-existent. 

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

Don't get me wrong, I hate the idea of closed borders, but they just happen to be the only physical and political structures we have in the world that can manage the flows of people and the virus and virus mutations they carry. 

 Ciro 16 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Controlled borders imply narrow nationalism, and as the virus knows no borders, I am not really sure they help in controlling it in the long term.

"The virus knows no borders" is a glib statement. I'm not aware of any cases of coronavirus infection occurring because the virus blew in on the wind, so if you don't let people and un-decontaminated good cross borders then the virus can't cross.

Many countries managed near elimination of the virus, and controlling their borders was a key component of that. If enough countries did that, we could slowly open borders between those countries whilst maintaining near elimination - which is controllable by temporary local restrictions as and when required.

 Richard Horn 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

> The difference is that I can potentially kill you (and you can potentially kill me) with Covid, we can't do that with any of the others.

You could kill me in a car accident, why are you still driving?

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Richard Horn:

> You could kill me in a car accident, why are you still driving?

 Because after you died, you wouldn’t become a zombie driver who kills 3 people in more car accidents over the next week before you turn to dust, with each of those 3 people going on to kill another 3 people each in zombie car accidents.  
1>3>9>27>81>243>729>2187>6561>19683>59049>177147>531441 people dead by car accidents in the next few months, with 2,000,000 injured survivors needing extensive hospital care.

At this point I don’t see how regular posters are anything but deliberately missing the point about exponential spread of a new disease in a susceptible society, and the need to protect healthcare for all.

Post edited at 10:11
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

> Thanks, I just wonder whether what might end up happening is that near virtual elimination ultimately becomes the policy through having tried everything else in order to keep the 'we are going to have to live with it' headbangers happy and it failing.

It seems a possibility.  For a while it felt like there was rising political pressure behind the scenes; now a small but vocal group of back benchers are swinging the pendulum the other way.  Depending on how well or badly the next 9 months go, it still seems a possibility.

> Therapeutics do sound very interesting, I guess the lack of coverage is because it isn't the 'magic bullet' of vaccination. I wonder though do they have the same problems with the virus mutating? I would assume less so as they wouldn't seem to stop the virus spreading just reduce the impact on its hosts but I admit my knowledge in the area is virtually non-existent. 

The noddy way I’d describe it is that immune evasion is like a camouflage job repainting a tank a different colour to stop you spotting it and destroying m it when approaching, but the way the virus kills people is the tank.  Once you can protect yourself against the effects of being shot by a tank, it doesn’t really matter if it camouflages itself.  The mechanism of action of this virus’ lethality is very conserved across the novel coronaviruses (SARS and MERS as well) and probably the Spanish flu.  It’s a systematic weakness in the human immune response.  I don’t think that can be mutated around in the way antibody keying can (specifically the most powerful “neutralising” antibodies which seem to be the main part of the broader immune response to be knocked out by changes).  If you’re lucky one of the resident immunologists/virologists can come along and explain it better and tell me to stop being the Brian Cox of viruses... 

I think a big unknown is if the receptor binding domain of the spike protein, where key neutralising antibodies bind, can reach enough different variants to make immunisation an endless case of chasing the red Queen, or if there is a strictly limited subset of viable configurations meaning a single broad vaccine can eventually be produced.  So far, variants seem to be convergent towards one nexus - that just means there’s one viable route from the early virus to that nexus.  Will it find another route out towards another good configuration, or is that it?  Tune in to the next 6 months to find out...  I’m reassured a bit by the convergence seen in variants - it suggests there’s only one viable alternative configuration in direct reach of the early spike protein.  But we also think this spike likely evolved outside of humans and so has only just started trying to readjust itself for humans.

Post edited at 10:16
 neilh 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Ciro:

It is though and this is the critical point, not a long term solution.That is the fundamental issue with it. Just like lockdown, it is not a real long term solution.

Also you need to define what you mean by closing borders. I assume you mean that "critical" travel is allowed, like goods vehicle and sea freight movement.

Post edited at 10:25
 jkarran 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> NZ is a very different situation though. It's an island state literally hundreds of miles from any other nation, and their nearest nation is likewise miles from others.

The difference between NZ and GB isn't the breadth of the sea surrounding it, it's the quality of the leadership.

>  I'm not sure borders is the answer.

I agree long term. Covid will be circulating for decades even if we can ultimately eradicate it. It's proving difficult to detect reliably so screening is at best a risk reducer and quarantine isn't a long term solution (Britain's current set-up, over a year late and still bungled, quarantining some people from shared aircraft at huge cost under threat of huge penalties but trusting others to isolate at home is just a grotesque piece of political theatre).

I fear long run borders, specifically unwinding border restrictions, will prove a real and enduring problem with the ability to do all sorts of harm.

jk

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to groovejunkie:

I know what you mean, its like a rollercoaster of emotions.

Just like any other punter I'm watching the Flight Attendants to see how much they are panicking. The fact that they are not particularly gung-ho about opening up as soon as the infection rates begin to fall would suggest that at the very least they have learnt the lessons from last summer.

 neilh 16 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

Even in places like Aus, quarantineeing is debateable. long term.They have something like 35,000 plus citizens stuck overseas who cannot get back ( flights still being an issue).I do not know the numbers of NZ citizens in a similar position.

Short and medium term , then that is fine. Finding a long term solution is more difficult.

Post edited at 10:35
In reply to DD72:

I’ve never agreed with the view ‘New Zealand has basically eliminated it so why can’t we’ or ‘Scotland almost eliminated  it during the summer.’  We are way different to NZ and Scotland was nowhere near eliminating. Like many (especially ‘western’) countries we like to travel - we view it as a right. We can fly, train or ferry very cheaply. We are very densely populated and have lots of shit weather. 

I’ve questioned whether our govt and  scientists understand human and societal behaviour. Think last March: ‘no problems with football matches’ and think many of the naff rules the govt believes people will follow (self quarantine my arse!). 

Society will find an ‘acceptable excess death rate’. The media will stop feeding us negative Covid data - it won’t be news any more. Only a few years ago, a bad flu year had 50k excess winter deaths (more heart attacks etc) but most of the population knew nothing about it. Treatments will get better. Testing will improve (a rapid lateral flow type test but 99% accurate).  People need to be paid to stay off work - higher earners need to be taxed more to pay for this. 

Not a plan, but a summary of what I think will happen:

Travel and borders will open up quicker than the scientists want.
High level quarantine for red list countries (travel insurance will sky rocket to cover this) low level 3/5 day quarantine and daily home testing for everywhere else.

Regular vaccinations. 

Regular and improved testing.

Better treatments.

A societal acceptance of x number Covid deaths a year

Stricter guidance on defining a Covid deaths 

 jkarran 16 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Short and medium term , then that is fine. Finding a long term solution is more difficult.

It's not even really ok medium term is it unless you're happy creating an explicitly two tier society where travel is suddenly only available to those with thousands to spend on quarantine and the ability to work remotely while locked up (should they even need to). That's a steep and slippy slope to massive unrest.

jk

In reply to jkarran:

> The difference between NZ and GB isn't the breadth of the sea surrounding it, it's the quality of the leadership.

Starter: I hate our govt.

One of my key learnings over the last 12 months has been unraveling what makes our society tick. We flick the Vs to authority. A bloke keeping a gym open is a hero in the eyes of many. We are very densely populated. We are very ‘me me me’.  Nail bars and pubs opening are bigger discussion points than taxation and nhs resourcing.   Even  Jacinda Adern couldn’t lead us. (although she could have done a better job the Johnson). 

 neilh 16 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

I agree. Part of the solution is global as well which I said earlier. 

 Ciro 16 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> It is though and this is the critical point, not a long term solution.That is the fundamental issue with it. Just like lockdown, it is not a real long term solution.

It's not an ideal long term measure, however at present it's an integral part of the only strategies that have been shown to keep populations safe and leading relatively normal lives for more than a couple of months at a time since the pandemic hit.

As such it should be at the forefront of everyone's long term plans, until such time as an alternative (such as mass vaccination) had been shown to be effective.

> Also you need to define what you mean by closing borders. I assume you mean that "critical" travel is allowed, like goods vehicle and sea freight movement.

Well, I don't have to define anything - that's government's job. But I'd have thought moment of goods is much less risky than people.

Certainly anything that's been sealed in a container for a certain number of hours (perhaps the length of time depending on the make of the contents) should be perfectly safe to lift off a ship and stick on a truck.

The biggest dangers are always going to be tourism and unnecessary business travel.

I'd say strict travel bridges are the way to deal with that. Allow travel to and from places with sufficiently low incidence of the disease, but be prepared to close them at a moment's notice.

None of this "we'll close it in 48 hrs" nonsense, which causes a rush of people returning to beat the deadline. The minute a decision is taken to close the bridge due to infection rates at the other side, all travellers subject to compulsory quarantine.

That way people will think much more carefully about whether the travel is necessary, and if it does become necessary to close a route the measures will be effective.

 James Malloch 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Richard Horn:

> You could kill me in a car accident, why are you still driving?

That car accident would be a one-off (or possibly involve a few others in the immediate vicinity). It doesn't mean that accident could go on to create an exponential growth of car accidents across the country. 

 Ciro 16 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

Don't get me wrong, as someone who has spent a good part of the last decade living as an itinerant climber, and is now stuck on the "wrong" side of the channel due to coming back to work for a while, I think closing borders sucks. But I do think it's necessary.

 neilh 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Ciro:

Unfortunately if you dig round you will be surprised at how many people have got Covid in ports. In New York Port for example , longshoremen have experienced real issues. There are whole sections of the seafaring community which have been isolated and cut off having been unable to disembark ships. So it is not simple as let us close the borders.

 Richard Horn 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> 1>3>9>27>81>243>729>2187>6561>19683>59049>177147>531441 people dead by car accidents in the next few months, with 2,000,000 injured survivors needing extensive hospital care.

> At this point I don’t see how regular posters are anything but deliberately missing the point about exponential spread of a new disease in a susceptible society, and the need to protect healthcare for all.

I kind of assumed the discussion was talking about post vaccination, hence the 500k figure is reduced into the noise of other ways to die. When you get to that point why should you worry any more about being in a crowded venue any more than the journey to get there?

In reply to neilh:

> Unfortunately if you dig round you will be surprised at how many people have got Covid in ports. 

But is that due to incoming port traffic, or just due to close working with other people in a population with a high case incidence?

 jkarran 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

> One of my key learnings over the last 12 months has been unraveling what makes our society tick. We flick the Vs to authority. A bloke keeping a gym open is a hero in the eyes of many. We are very densely populated. We are very ‘me me me’.  Nail bars and pubs opening are bigger discussion points than taxation and nhs resourcing.   Even  Jacinda Adern couldn’t lead us. (although she could have done a better job the Johnson). 

We assume this is true because of who we are but we don't have the counterfactual, we don't really know how we'd respond to different leadership in a crisis. Sure we chose these dreadful people but via a deeply flawed process and in a very specific circumstance, they have minority support. I just don't believe we're fundamentally that different to New Zealenders or for that matter the Manx, they held together to eradicate and while that policy was a contentious hard sell at the time the leadership held their nerve and there is now widespread support. We didn't even try because we had the wrong leaders at the wrong moment.

Nor do I really buy the density thing. London's (normally exemplary) public transport dependence is an issue but housing density in general and the rural/urban balance much less so.

Our press with its narrow ownership would have been a problem but do we really believe if the government had leaned on them to toe the line in a health crisis they'd have pushed back hard enough against government to prevent success? It's possible but they can only push so hard before they're forced to flip for Labour which would have been unlikely to further their 'economy first' agenda in the short or medium term. They do wield a lot of power, it's not a given the government would prevail.

jk

Post edited at 12:18
 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor: 

> Like many (especially ‘western’) countries we like to travel - we view it as a right. We can fly, train or ferry very cheaply. We are very densely populated and have lots of shit weather. 

I think your right that people's perceived rights to travel and a lack of political will to confront this (by offering a plan whereby people would be able to travel again once the virus was properly under control).

If you think about it in moral terms though are you really saying that because someone thinks they have a right to a couple of weeks in the sun and a city break once a year for the next couple of years that is greater than someone else's right to live?

> Stricter guidance on defining a Covid deaths 

That sounds a bit sinister, the sort of thing that would have people hopping up and down if China did it. 

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

Ok so which states have done what they did?

I worked for a year in Biosecurity New Zealand.

The UK doesn't even have that organization. On a moment's notice NZ could swing prepared plans into action. The UKs stance on Biosecurity is incomparable.

I don't get the debate about NZ. That horse has gone. The UK has a constant flow of goods in and out, passengers in and out.

The UK has had a million plus air passenger arrivals per month during this pandemic. I find it hard to see them not restarting tourism this summer. 

all this is costing money and we need to generate money. Right or wrong I think tourism will restart.

Post edited at 12:30
 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

You have to remember that things get into the news because their extraordinary not because they're the norm. Far more people at least try to stick to the regulations and when they don't its not always selfishness but ignorance or a lack of knowledge of what the current rules are both of which are at least as much the responsibility of the people making the rules. 

Things are a bit miserable right now but I think we are still a long way off society unravelling.

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Ciro:

> The biggest dangers are always going to be tourism and unnecessary business travel.

> I'd say strict travel bridges are the way to deal with that. Allow travel to and from places with sufficiently low incidence of the disease, but be prepared to close them at a moment's notice.

Millions won't get vaccinated. 15-20 million probably. So that will continue to be a risk and the virus will continue to mutate in the UK.

I think we'll see air bridges and then only permissable travel to other countries with quarantine that I expect they'll drop to a week, with testing.

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Right or wrong I think tourism will restart.

Its wrong, they need to send a coffin round after every fifth suitcase at the baggage claim so people know the real price of their holiday.  

 neilh 16 Feb 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

Fair point.Although some of the cases that restarted in NZ or Aus those came via the ports.The fundamental issue is of course you have global connection on a vast scale these days.The volume of products both imported and exported globally has to be dealt with ( just like people).

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

> > Right or wrong I think tourism will restart.

> Its wrong, they need to send a coffin round after every fifth suitcase at the baggage claim so people know the real price of their holiday.  

It's already happening. Do that. We should be testing and provide 'safe' destinations. We can also do home quarantine following travel. But it's 10% of the global economy.

Compassionate travel has been happening throughout. The flow of people is almost impossible to stop for an island state like the UK situated on the edge of a continent.

I love how a bunch of people on UKC have all these plans to instantly close borders yet have no experience working in that field. You can't just close borders in a country like the UK. Likewise just holding containers closed can't happen. That's a lot of infrastructure required to do that, plus live transport.

The threat from within the UK is also considerable. The UK isn't anywhere close tor Eradicating covid. 

people have also been pretty good with compliance to see a return to 'normal' - which won't be normal. Even my mates who have largely been very compliant are now getting pissed off. 

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Richard Horn:

> I kind of assumed the discussion was talking about post vaccination, hence the 500k figure is reduced into the noise of other ways to die. When you get to that point why should you worry any more about being in a crowded venue any more than the journey to get there?

As a society I think we need to worry more about this one.

Why?  Because it's not clear that such a "post vaccination" future is within reach.  It seems the mutations go on to break immunity to the point that there's little protection against transmission but that there is protection against serious illness.  If that allows transmission to run rife, further immune evasion will almost certainly happen bringing back severe illness and/or lethality will increase (we know from other novel coronavirus that lethality of > 10x is available).  Although people draw parallels to the yearly updates to the flu vaccine, they are not relevant parallels as we have a big effort each year to estimate what the new flu strain will be based own countries "leading" us seasonally and the way flu varies its makes.  This is very different to the way this virus varies itself, with the first warning of a more transmissible (innately or by vaccine evasion) strain being when it explodes onto the scene spreading rapidly.   

So, until we wither have elimination or much better pharmaceutical disarming of the damage mechanisms of infections it's not clear to me that cases can be allowed to run rife, regardless of vaccination taking the edge off. Very low cases are a necessity for being able to use TTI to mop up and contain variants.

The way I see it, the vaccine programs buy us time to keep the wheels on wider society - back to school, back to work, some more socialisation and travel - whilst the work on therapeutics comes to fruition and perhaps whilst a more robust (to mutation) vaccine program is produced, perhaps by producing another vaccine that targets the membrane fusion protein, requiring coincident mutations to both proteins to provide immune escape (far less probable).

That's how I view it.  I wouldn't be surprised if caution is thrown to the wind soon enough and we end back up in the shit in a year or two's time.  I think it's a couple of years yet before most of the changes from the pandemic can be reversed.  Some are likely here to say over more WFH, more online grocery shopping and perhaps some video based household socialisation - various people remarking how they've seen more of distance friends during the pandemic.  

We need to treat this as the warning shot and teachable moment it is about future pandemics with far worse potential. 

Post edited at 13:08
In reply to DD72:

> Stricter guidance on defining a Covid deaths 

That sounds a bit sinister, the sort of thing that would have people hopping up and down if China did it. 
 

Nothing sinister intended, far from it. Basically most of my social contacts are saying: ‘deaths where Covid is mentioned on death certificate  what does that mean?’  And I share some of their concern. At some point society will want to know what deaths are caused by Covid and what deaths have their main cause elsewhere. The govt will push for this because it could help bring Covid death figures down. This is what I think will happen. 

In reply to DD72:

> Things are a bit miserable right now but I think we are still a long way off society unravelling.

I live and work in Wigan. We have had way above average death rates. I know lots of people who have been made redundant and lots more with a grim future. I have two children whose lives have been put on hold. So whilst society will not unravel, I know an increasing number of people who are getting totally pissed off. 
 I’m describing what I think will happen. The UKC community is an anti-litmus of wider uk society. 40 % increase in food banks in UK, wonder what the increase is on here?  

Post edited at 13:49
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

> And I share some of their concern. At some point society will want to know what deaths are caused by Covid and what deaths have their main cause elsewhere

I think that’s an unanswerable question.  That’s why more than one cause is often listed on death certificates.  The way deaths are recorded doesn't I think need to change, but the apportioning of covid’s role in the death could depending on the question being asked.

In this pandemic phase, we need to know how many people are dying that otherwise wouldn’t have done, and it’s clear covid is the factor driving most of the deaths.  The excess deaths figures make that bloody obvious.

Fro reporting after the pandemic phase, we could for example give a “weighted covid deaths” score where a person who has 3 morbities listed on their death certificate, of which one is covid counts as 1/3rd, and a person who died from covid alone counts as 1.  However, would that diabetes have killed them within the next decade?  What you need is an actuarial assessment of life years lost due to covid; I don’t know how well that can be derived from the medical files.

IMO the issue of reporting of deaths has had a lot of subtle manipulation going on behind these scenes to stir it up; the reality of what’s been happening is quite stark.

The critical difference to covid’s role as one of many co-morbidites is that it’s the only one that’s transmitted socially in the timescale of days, it’s the only one that has the potential to spread exponentially, it’s the only with the potential to quake healthcare apart for all.

> So whilst society will not unravel, I know an increasing number of people who are getting totally pissed off. 

I think they’d get more pissed off at the results of this being less controlled.  If it had been better controlled they wouldn’t have had such a bad deal, nor if we had sufficient social welfare.  This pandemic is widening social division at every scale, and ultimately that works in the virus’ favour I think.  

Post edited at 13:33
 Ciro 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

> Nothing sinister intended, far from it. Basically most of my social contacts are saying: ‘deaths where Covid is mentioned on death certificate  what does that mean?’  And I share some of their concern. At some point society will want to know what deaths are caused by Covid and what deaths have their main cause elsewhere. The govt will push for this because it could help bring Covid death figures down. This is what I think will happen. 

If someone has diabetes, heart disease and Covid when they die of natural causes, how do you expect to nearly categorise them into a binary "Covid death" or "Non Covid death" system? 

There no clean dividing line, other than whether or not they were infected with the virus around the time of death.

 Ciro 16 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Unfortunately if you dig round you will be surprised at how many people have got Covid in ports. In New York Port for example , longshoremen have experienced real issues. There are whole sections of the seafaring community which have been isolated and cut off having been unable to disembark ships. So it is not simple as let us close the borders.

Of course it's not simple. We don't elect our governments to stick to the simple, we need them to make the complicated work too.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Ciro:

> There no clean dividing line, other than whether or not they were infected with the virus around the time of death.

Which, if you look at the numbers in deaths within 28 and 60 days of a positive covid test, suggests that having covid is the dominant factor for at least 90% of those deaths.

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Ciro:

Yeah, it's still covid that kills them though. My wife has lots of patients at the end stage of cancer, covid will kill a number of them. Obviously the cancer put them massively at risk but the final cause of death will still be put down as covid. They could have lived a while longer.

Post edited at 13:38
In reply to Richard Horn:

> I kind of assumed the discussion was talking about post vaccination, hence the 500k figure is reduced into the noise of other ways to die. When you get to that point why should you worry any more about being in a crowded venue any more than the journey to get there?

In the longish term, assuming we can get therapeutics/treatments sufficiently good enough to greatly reduce the amount of serious illness & deaths (or a vaccine that will cover "all" variants), then yes it will become background noise like flu deaths and society will consider a certain level of illness & death acceptable without needing non-medical interventions (like lockdowns) that affect wider society.

But, the numbers coming down in the next few months to some low level after this wave is not that point, simply because they can easily go up badly again. We need to have 1) low numbers AND 2) the ability to stop them getting big again. Looks like we're getting there with 1, but very little progress has been made with 2 (beyond experimental levels which is a start at least).

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

We are developing successful therapeutics if given quick enough, once cases are low enough then supply won't be such an issue. But they need giving in a timely manner to work and that's basically impossible with the system so stressed.

 Richard Horn 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I wouldnt say caution should be thrown to the wind, but on balance I would prefer we open up see what happens rather than stay closed in case something does happen. What you are saying makes sense but its also speculating about things that might not happen, or might happen differently - viruses often mutate to be less harmful not more harmful (although its not guaranteed), current vaccines may reduce spread so R remains well below 1 etc. 

Sure it would be painful to close up again, but not as painful as staying closed the whole time. 

 Ciro 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree and Roadrunner6:

> > There no clean dividing line, other than whether or not they were infected with the virus around the time of death.

> Which, if you look at the numbers in deaths within 28 and 60 days of a positive covid test, suggests that having covid is the dominant factor for at least 90% of those deaths.

> Yeah, it's still covid that kills them though. My wife has lots of patients at the end stage of cancer, covid will kill a number of them. Obviously the cancer put them massively at risk but the final cause of death will still be put down as covid. They could have lived a while longer.

Absolutely - which is why the current measure of Covid on the death cert is the sensible measure, and the suggestion that it's inflating the numbers is wide of the mark.

The public doesn't need to know with certainty what the actual cause of the outliers was, we know that the vast majority of those Covid on the death cert died of Covid.

Querying it is just creating unhelpful noise.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Richard Horn:

> I wouldnt say caution should be thrown to the wind, but on balance I would prefer we open up see what happens rather than stay closed in case something does happen.

I would agree with you, but we've tried that twice, it's put > 100,000 people in to early gravers, resulted in months of lost time in schools for a generation of children and put healthcare staff through unimaginable working conditions for two prolonged periods.  Just going for it and seeing what happened is turning out to be a pretty shit policy for an emerging public health threat.

Like I said well up thread, we can open up slowly and progressively whilst watching the case and other statistics; so long as these keep falling we can keep relaxing measures; as soon as we see rising we need to reverse the most recent 2-3 measures (given the latency from relaxation to rising cases, it was not the most recent relaxation that caused the problem but 1-2 earlier).

> what you are saying makes sense but its also speculating about things that might not happen

At this point these things are all happening in front of our very eyes.  We know immune evasion is possible from lab studies.  We are learning how recent variants weaken immunity against transmission.

> or might happen differently - viruses often mutate to be less harmful not more harmful (although its not guaranteed),

Not on timescales of the next few years.  What actually happens quite often is that virus and their hosts co-evolve to a situation in which the virus is less lethal, because the susceptible are thinned out over generations.  Sure - in the end it's a harmless virus but in the short and medium term, all bets are off.

> current vaccines may reduce spread so R remains well below 1 etc. 

For a population that is half immunised, this present the perfect opportunity for an immune evading variant to rise to prominence.  It's like taking a half-course of antibiotics at the societal level.  Once we start immunising the population, if we don't hold cases low until the majority are immunised to a herd immunity threshold, we have the worse possible mix of high cases butting up against high immunity.  

This is why we can open up but only so long as cases remain in decay.  

Post edited at 14:28
 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

Sorry I didn't mean to sound glib, fair point about UKC.

What I was comparing the situation to were places like Syria or Ethiopia where things have really unravelled. 

What the basic argument I was making was that by closing borders things can get back closer to normal within them which I would think would give people using foodbanks more of a break than the chance of a foreign holiday.

I don't think the people making the arguments we should open up really care that much about the people struggling to feed themselves or places like Wigan for that matter. 

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> For a population that is half immunised, this present the perfect opportunity for an immune evading variant to rise to prominence.  It's like taking a half-course of antibiotics at the societal level.  Once we start immunising the population, if we don't hold cases low until the majority are immunised to a herd immunity threshold, we have the worse possible mix of high cases butting up against high immunity.  

I was going to ask about that as it seems to be the nightmare scenario where all the work and cost of immunisation is completely wasted and almost makes matters worse by creating a whole new population for the virus. I wondered how likely that was as even the current crop of vaccines seem to offer some immunity

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

But if we don't get tourism going more need food banks and less money to pay for food banks

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

> I was going to ask about that as it seems to be the nightmare scenario where all the work and cost of immunisation is completely wasted and almost makes matters worse by creating a whole new population for the virus. I wondered how likely that was as even the current crop of vaccines seem to offer some immunity

It's not all wasted as it's likely that the immunity might allow transmission but still prevent much serious illness, so the next "wave" would spread through the population updating immunity to the new variant without quaking healthcare to its knees and putting a lot of people in the ground.  

My worry is the pressure to let a wave "rip" given moderated healthcare consequence would be unstoppable, and this then creates 6x the number of infected people to produce yet more variants.

I think we have to hold the line for another 4-6 months to get the vaccine fully rolled out.  We can do this with progressively fewer restrictions starting with schools in just under 3 weeks if we are responsive to change, willing to revise all re-openings and make the best use of the summer.  This is weighing estimated harms vs known and quantifiable harms, but so far every time we've written off the estimated harms, it's made things worse.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> But if we don't get tourism going more need food banks and less money to pay for food banks

That depends on the balance of trade on tourism, no?   I haven't the foggiest which way it is in the UK, but the focus on the news is always on the great seasonal getaways to places with better weather...  And cheaper food/booze/hotels...

The money is here in the UK for nobody to need a food bank.  It is political choices that result in the demand for food banks, not Covid.  Our government chooses to leave people to depend on charity not to starve, and by and large society endorses or at least accepts this.  It is a false equivalence to suggest that opening tourism will fix this - especially when it carries the very real risk of making it much, much worse.

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

I don't think anyone is suggesting completely stopping all flows of people. Even the countries who have done well haven't done this. They just have been very tough on what counts as essential travel and tried to quarantine people properly when they get there.

In reply to Ciro and others

> Absolutely - which is why the current measure of Covid on the death cert is the sensible measure, and the suggestion that it's inflating the numbers is wide of the mark.

> The public doesn't need to know with certainty what the actual cause of the outliers was, we know that the vast majority of those Covid on the death cert died of Covid.

> Querying it is just creating unhelpful noise.

Try telling that to (the growing?) number of people who are not Covid deniers but are people like my mum - normal folk who are sceptical of the figures. Normal folk who reckon that in a year or two some of the Covid death numbers will catch up on themselves (if that make sense).  The same people who think Boris is doing OK (yougov - he is more popular now than before Covid and torys just nudging past labour). 
Anyway, I’m digressing. Tonnes of folk have had enough, we have a populist government with dodgepot libertarians on one side and some good science advisors on the other. Restrictions will ease quicker than most people on here want, but the wider public will be grateful and Johnson will gain hero status. 

In reply to DD72:

For folks info:  I’ve tried finding figures on how many people are flying into England but guesstimate between 5k and 10k, nearer to 10k. Per day. Let’s say 200k per month. And in this time cases/hospitalisations/deaths have come down. If Johnson can bring in better quarantine, there will be massive pressure to open up foreign travel. 

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> But if we don't get tourism going more need food banks and less money to pay for food banks

Sorry but that is a completely false connection to make. Foodbanks are a consequence of policy choices and the decision to remove a social safety net which we are still a long way from being unable to provide if we chose to do so. 

The places with foodbanks don't tend to see a lot of tourism so I can't see how that is going to help. 

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> > But if we don't get tourism going more need food banks and less money to pay for food banks

> That depends on the balance of trade on tourism, no?   I haven't the foggiest which way it is in the UK, but the focus on the news is always on the great seasonal getaways to places with better weather...  And cheaper food/booze/hotels...

> The money is here in the UK for nobody to need a food bank.  It is political choices that result in the demand for food banks, not Covid.  Our government chooses to leave people to depend on charity not to starve, and by and large society endorses or at least accepts this.  It is a false equivalence to suggest that opening tourism will fix this - especially when it carries the very real risk of making it much, much worse.

It's 10% of the UK GDP and 4 million jobs. You think the UK can bounce back without tourism? Even just UK tourism but I think Ireland, Iceland, US will open up. US tourism is worth 10's of billions to the EU.

I think we'll see. There's such a flow of people anyway, as an expat I know many who have travelled all over through this seeing family. We can travel pretty safely. Even if we just moved to home based quarantines for a week and testing. With WFH and remote schooling possible home based quarantine could be quite easy to bring in. We'll never get 100% compliance and as we move into the summer and cases drop compliance will drop a lot if things don't open up when they see the pressure off the NHS.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

I get where you're coming from.

> Anyway, I’m digressing. Tonnes of folk have had enough, we have a populist government with dodgepot libertarians on one side and some good science advisors on the other. Restrictions will ease quicker than most people on here want, but the wider public will be grateful and Johnson will gain hero status. 

I expect you're right.  

Will Johnson be the saviour / hero?  Not being cautious enough is a risk - perhaps it'll be a case of 4th time lucky if we do so again; the cards are stacked more in our favour than the last 3 times, but it's far from clear if they're stacked enough.  

 wercat 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

as a long term strategy I'd proscribe the 1922 Committee and the CRG

These many, then, .... their names are prick'd.

Post edited at 14:55
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

> Sorry but that is a completely false connection to make. Foodbanks are a consequence of policy choices and the decision to remove a social safety net which we are still a long way from being unable to provide if we chose to do so. 

> The places with foodbanks don't tend to see a lot of tourism so I can't see how that is going to help. 

Like what? The tourism sector is right through society. Not just tourism hot spots. Look at London, a huge area is dependent on heathrow and its supply chains. You have a very simple view of the world if you think tourism is just a resort town. Literally 10's of thousands of jobs in that area come from the airport. You are looking at 2.5-4 million jobs from travel. If those jobs aren't there where do you think food comes from? It's easy to say we have the money but people don't want to be dependent on charity.

Rolls are closing down their plant this summer directly because of lost flying hours (they don't really sell engines, they run a subscription service so need flying hours to service engines and get money into their factories). The first time in their history. That's a huge supply chain affected.

Post edited at 15:00
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> I think we have to hold the line for another 4-6 months to get the vaccine fully rolled out. 

I can see this working if they offer a large carrot at the end and an end date. Like Mid July. "Tonnes of folk have had enough," as Mick said.

And I know that's not ideal and we don't know but it has been a long winter and people thought things would open up faster. Moving the goal posts will rapidly lose buy in. I'm seeing texts from my mates annoyed at basically doing all this for little change.

Post edited at 15:05
In reply to DD72:

My mate, lives Wigan, got made redundant from a company that deals with crisis’s for high end holidaymakers. Manchester and Liverpool airports employ loads of people. Jobs lost in tourism impacts many areas. Fully get the point that with a proper benefits system we wouldn’t need food banks*. In fact, uk tourist hotspots will have been hit but most likely make a come back. 

* the whole food bank sector is worthy of a whole new forum, never mind thread.  A key driver behind their growth (pre Covid) is huge food waste driven by supermarkets and bad consumerism.  I know some food banks where anyone can get school meals for their children - this gives a false impression of need.

In reply to Roadrunner6:

I’m now going to have one of those moments when I get freaked out about the passage of time, but:

last spring UKC had discussions about universities etc. How many potential first year students will be hanging fire or quite simply delaying. And we have a shed load of local elections in early May. Furlough ending. And a vaccination that whilst going extremely well will be spun even more positively. The pressure is building, should find out more in 22 Feb but I fully expect a timetabled road map with lots of restrictions easing. 

 jkarran 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Ok so which states have done what they did? I worked for a year in Biosecurity New Zealand.

Right but keeping invasive species out is a different proposition to controlling the flow of people across borders, something every country on earth has the plans and infrastructure to attempt if not achieve perfectly. Island nations with resources and capable forces have a clear lead here mind.

> The UK doesn't even have that organization. On a moment's notice NZ could swing prepared plans into action. The UKs stance on Biosecurity is incomparable.

We have a navy, coastguard and border force.

> I don't get the debate about NZ. That horse has gone. The UK has a constant flow of goods in and out, passengers in and out.

The debate is arising as our government this week seeks to give the impression it is (finally!) controlling the flow of covid through our borders (Like NZ, and closer to home the Isle of Man actually has). Whether or not it is actually doing so is almost irrelevant to this discussion, once we believe they are there will need to be a discussion had when they choose to act to relinquish that control, there will be a price to pay if (when) that is perceived to backfire. This is doubly true in nations where their populations have actually been safeguarded by prudent border control rather than gas-lit into believing they have been, the differences as they open up will be stark.

NZ has a constant flow of goods in and out. They stopped the people, we didn't. Sure, some of the people coming and going in the UK are associated with RO-RO goods in a way they aren't for NZ but we could have controlled these people/risks and stopped others until we had risk mitigation in place (like testing which took us nearly a year to implement largely because of a lack of political will, the overwhelming tsunami of infection we imported as a result of that failure and the fatalism it inspired.

> The UK has had a million plus air passenger arrivals per month during this pandemic. I find it hard to see them not restarting tourism this summer.

Sure and I find it imagine to see high streets, the hospitality, arts and tourism industry all but closed down now yet they are, the unthinkable is the new normal.

> all this is costing money and we need to generate money. Right or wrong I think tourism will restart.

I'm not so convinced it will in the short term. As (if) we approach eradication the island fortress mentality will set in, relaxing restrictions is in many ways harder than imposing them. Restriction is an emergency measure, its costs can be overlooked to an extent but the relaxation is a deliberate act explicitly balancing risk and reward which is fine if the risk is controlled and the reward a reasonable counter. With new variants popping up all over the shop the possibility of importing one, putting us back through another wave of deaths and 18 months in and out of lockdown, it'll take a courageous government to take and own that decision.

So far ours hasn't been tested in this regard, as yet they've failed to create the safe environment from which we'd have to choose to emerge but now that prospect finally looms hence the discussion.

jk

Post edited at 15:40
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

Erm Biosecuritys pests and diseases.. 

they were set up to do this. No other country is. To argue otherwise is pointless. They've invested in Biosecurity for decades.

I worked on the first version of the NZ Biosecurity science strategy - the first in the world. All this was covered. DNA testing was covered. Capability and Capacity. Risk analysis etc. The UK just isn't there. Nowhere is. We even went into high school science curriculum and degrees. The society buy in they got came from that. You can't just turn that on. NZ is a unique case.

Im amazed you are arguing otherwise we saw nobody had testing set up. NZ just rolled out plans.

you're arguing about things that didn't happen and will take years (decades) to set up. Again the IOM is another argument.

Re the UK navy.. take a look. They can't even police their fishing grounds. It's tiny nowadays. We can't secure our borders like NZ can.

We won't eradicate covid. We've vaccinated against measles for 50 years and haven't. There's no chance of us eradicating covid in the next 5 years. Not even in the UK with no travel it won't happen. You've a vaccine which is 80-90% effective in the field, with far from 100% vaccine uptake.

Post edited at 16:03
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> It's 10% of the UK GDP and 4 million jobs. You think the UK can bounce back without tourism? Even just UK tourism but I think Ireland, Iceland, US will open up. US tourism is worth 10's of billions to the EU.

Is it? Really?  That's the trade industry body prediction for 2025, and that includes all tourism.    Far be it from me to suggest that trade industry bodies lump everything they possibly can in to their case.

I was clearly talking about the net balance of international tourism to and from the UK in the context of border closures.  This is very different to the total income from tourism.  The impact of border closures whilst opening internally is not to wipe out all income possibly attributable to tourism, it's more like cutting off external cash flowing in and retaining internal cash that would have literally flown out. 

 DD72 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

It is a very simplistic view of the economy to think that general benefits and any increase in activity automatically flows to people who are on the margins. It has to be directed there by policy.  

You made the connection between foodbanks and tourism income with the latter flowing to the former (a form of charity I believe). I would say the connection is weak at best, certainly insignificant in comparison to what policy can do. 

Quite a lot of economic activity is actually detrimental to people and the planet and if some of the less beneficial parts of the economy need to take a hit so that we can prioritise health and human life over economic gains that flow to a small group of people at the top then that's no bad thing in my book. 

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> they were set up to do this. No other country is. To argue otherwise is pointless. They've invested in Biosecurity for decades.

Yet other countries that had not invested so heavily in biosecurity, and that have land borders, have managed to go for local elimination early on in this pandemic.

So, there is more here than what you attribute.  I think that total elimination in the UK is very unlikely to happen, but that doesn't justify over-arguing the case of NZs uniqueness.

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> > they were set up to do this. No other country is. To argue otherwise is pointless. They've invested in Biosecurity for decades.

> Yet other countries that had not invested so heavily in biosecurity, and that have land borders, have managed to go for local elimination early on in this pandemic.

> So, there is more here than what you attribute.  I think that total elimination in the UK is very unlikely to happen, but that doesn't justify over-arguing the case of NZs uniqueness.

Who did?

Again though we're arguing about back in time. The horse has gone. The UK will take decades to get to NZ level. When Wales got pest issues back when I lived there had no expertise to deal with it. I contracted out and helped. We had offices of people doing risk analysis. We had teams set aside for incursion responses. We had government powers to act instantly. We closed down a naval base with a phone call. 

And hopefully this is a shot across the bows to get prepared in future. But NZ is unique.

NZ is unique, well Australia is too. But in a modern western nation heavily interconnected it's impossible to stop movement unless you act very very fast. Most countries can't. The US tried, then had to repatriate thousands anyway with no testing infrastructure. So although we say we closed entry from china we didn't.

NZ spends $200 million dollars a year on Biosecurity. I doubt theres any nation in the world that invests a proportional amount. The other nations that did well largely are tiny, or experienced SARS and or MERS so were prepared.

Watch a NZ er pull a boat out of the water and they'll clean it automatically. Biosecurity is just part of their every day life now. They have adverts on buses. We can't just recreate that buy in.

Post edited at 16:29
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Who did?

China appears to have achieved elimination with minor outbreaks.  Not bad for the population size and land connectivity.

Taiwan and Vietnam are holding a line very close to elimination - more outbreaks but all contained.

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

As said SARS and MERS.

China is doing ok but a very authoritarian regime. They literally sealed people in housing. Come on we know that wouldn't fly in the UK. The level of response taken by china would not be tolerated in the UK.

NZ has even struggled to get buy in and there response was more border driven.

Again though I fail to see the point in what should have happened 5-10 years ago. This was an inevitability in a global world with the level of investment we had. We even had to see it get very bad for people to realize and tolerate strict measures.

By the time the UK, and most countries reacted it was out of control.

Asian countries are more obedient, collective responsibility, mask wearing is pretty normal. The UK and US have strong libertarian streaks that make such responses impossible. Even now mask wearing isn't routine in UK schools. 

Post edited at 16:38
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> By the time the UK, and most countries reacted it was out of control.

Indeed, but if instead of listening to everyone telling them how we couldn’t do anything and what people wouldn’t take, if the government had done what was within their power and asked people to try, the loss of control would have been slower, the peak more contained, the destruction to healthcare, education and the wider economy more moderate.

This “can’t do” attitude where we spend all our effort finding reasons it couldn’t and won’t work is self defeating.  Every small improvement to an exponential mechanics helps.  I’d rather we tried and partially failed than the alternatives.  Because a partial success makes a big difference.

> As said SARS and MERS.

We had experience of SARS in the UK and had a classified binder of how to handle that sort of thing which, for some reason, was completely ignored when it happened for real and not in a simulation.  

Post edited at 16:38
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I think you misunderstand. You can do. But you need to invest for years to get that can do. It's just ineffectual pissing in the wind otherwise and makes people think you can't.

The binder is great. That doesn't give capacity for millions of diagnostic tests. I was in meeting after meeting in NZ in 2005 planing testing capability and capacity for diagnostic testing and how we even needed more mol biol degrees. We modelled what we needed almost 20 years ago. We had the technology then but had no capacity and slowly built that ground up.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> I think you misunderstand. You can do. But you need to invest for years to get that can do. It's just ineffectual pissing in the wind otherwise and makes people think you can't.

I don’t accept that it’s binary between “doing it perfect” and “not doing it at all”.   There is a lot we could have done that would have made things quite a lot better.  Never let perfect be the enemy and all that.

> The binder is great. That doesn't give capacity for millions of diagnostic tests.

Indeed, although it and the processes behind it did motivate a PPE stockpile which seems to have disappeared, likely as well as a lot of other preparedness which would have made a big difference. We can’t know because the government still won’t publish it.  Wonder why?

> I was in meeting after meeting in NZ in 2005 planing testing capability and capacity for diagnostic testing and how we even needed more mol biol degrees. We modelled what we needed almost 20 years ago. We had the technology then but had no capacity and slowly built that ground up.

We had a lot of capacity in the UK. We didn’t have a plan for now to use it (or did we?  Is that in the hidden binder?  I wonder...).  There is an abundance of molecular biologists and labs - academic, central, industrial.  The lighthouse labs were staffed to an amazing capacity from existing institutions.  
 

Post edited at 16:51
 jkarran 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Erm Biosecuritys pests and diseases..  they were set up to do this. No other country is. To argue otherwise is pointless. They've invested in Biosecurity for decades.

Every functioning country has control of people at its borders, this infection is carried by people. In what way is NZ's ability to control covid (a then new disease) at the border different from somewhere like the UK? Neither were equipped initially, one responded by accepting that and closing down while they implemented their plan, the other with fatalism. Both countries have scientific capability, both have pandemic preparedness plans, NZ used theirs, we baulked.

You say no other country was set up to 'do this', to control cross border contagion. I simply don't believe that but what we can see, from a country that really wasn't independently technically capable: the Isle of Man, is that simple works, it's worked for as long as we've suffered plagues. Border closure, quarantine, reduce internal transmission, wait. No fancy tools or agencies needed.

> I worked on the first version of the NZ Biosecurity science strategy - the first in the world. All this was covered. DNA testing was covered. Capability and Capacity. Risk analysis etc. The UK just isn't there. Nowhere is. We even went into high school science curriculum and degrees. The society buy in they got came from that. You can't just turn that on. NZ is a unique case.

Except it isn't unique, it's big and prominent but covid has been controlled well in a variety of disparate countries with radically differing circumstances and resources.

> Im amazed you are arguing otherwise we saw nobody had testing set up. NZ just rolled out plans.

After they closed their border, the step we could and should have taken, the one which prevented an emerging problem becoming an overwhelming disaster. One we were capable of taking and enforcing but didn't.

> you're arguing about things that didn't happen and will take years (decades) to set up. Again the IOM is another argument.

You've lost me a bit there, sorry.

Anyway, I'm arguing that once a border is closed or perceived to be effectively closed and the problem within it smaller than or perceived to be smaller than the problem without it becomes very difficult psychologically and politically to re-open that border. That is true in countries that have handled covid well, it will become true in Britain as our position improves. We're currently experiencing the early stages of this as we receive our vaccines (giving impression of things going well), as we see infections and deaths falling fast and as we showily quarantine some travellers (giving impression we have control).

> Re the UK navy.. take a look. They can't even police their fishing grounds. It's tiny nowadays. We can't secure our borders like NZ can.

What? We're both big island nations surrounded by sea with small navies but also critically no pending invasion threat, the sea does most of the work in both cases. My point is we have and had the resources to maintain very good control of people crossing our borders. Border security doesn't have to be 100%, we just needed in the first instance to not import a tsunami of sick people without any checks or subsequent control for the lack of the political will to do even a little bit better.

> We won't eradicate covid. We've vaccinated against measles for 50 years and haven't. There's no chance of us eradicating covid in the next 5 years. Not even in the UK with no travel it won't happen. You've a vaccine which is 80-90% effective in the field, with far from 100% vaccine uptake.

I agree, it's a big world and nature is resourceful. We can though this summer drive daily new cases right down, perhaps into double digits which will feel and function much like eradication after the dreadful year(s) we've had. If we do that it will to begin with at least be with meaningful controls at the border. The decision to row back from there, to tolerate imports and infection growth will at some point probably happen. My point is that's not an easy decision to make and once people start to feel safe, that this can finally be controlled, it's a decision that isn't as popular as you might expect even if we get beer and holidays in return.

Our situation is changing and how we think about it will too.

jk

 Billhook 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

What about other diseases which are transmitted from one person to another? 

Such as Plague, Malaria, flue (which kills up to 500,000 people world wide each year - WHO)

TB, HIV/AIDS, Chorlera, pneumonia, MRSA, Yellow Fever and others.  Ok some are no longer common killers in the Uk, but are still potentially killers.

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

Ok I'm wrong.

Every western nation just handled this badly.. EVERY SINGLE ONE.. not one globalized western country stopped it. But you think you could have?

The best scientific minds in the western world didn't know what to do but you did?

NZ will have had surveillance testing and reacted. By the time European countries and the Americas detected it, it was out of control. SARS and MERs were easier to detect, this was the perfect pathogen. Most everyone I know and worked with in the field said this was inevitable.

Without massive sunken investments that a few nations took or very strict (unacceptable levels for libertarian countries) an outbreak was inevitable.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next today. Now we can justify to the public huge sunken costs into pandemic responses. We didn't or couldn't so there's just no point in arguing about who left the door open.

Again though are we prepared to? Global travel comes with a cost we may say is justifiable. We make such decisions all the time. Speed limits could be lower but the level of deaths are acceptable. The flu could be essentially wiped out like we did this year, but the level of deaths are acceptable.

Post edited at 17:40
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Billhook:

> What about other diseases which are transmitted from one person to another? 

I dare say if any of those brought the UK to the point 1/3rd of all hospital beds were full of victims of that disease, and London busses were being turned in to 4-person ambulances because demand was so high to move patients around, and this was reasonably expected to get ten times worse if allowed to continue, that we would see the same response as we saw for Covid.

To illustrate why one of your examples isn't applicable, If HIV/AIDS was spread rapidly by people without symptoms sitting next to other people on the bus, do what do you think would happen?  

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

How soon did we initiate surveillance testing?

Could we have done more sure?

Could we have stopped it with the level of investment and globalization? No. I think it was Impossible for any integrated country to stop it pre border.

Should less have died? Yes of course. We handled it badly but we never stood a chance of stopping it with the level of travel we have and the level of investment. We never stood a chance. That's why not one country in the EU or US region did.

Post edited at 17:34
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Every western nation just handled this badly...

Let's compare per-capita deaths.  Approximate ratios for UK vs:

  • New Zealand - 340x
  • Denmark - 4.3x
  • Germany - 2.5x

There is a sliding scale of how badly this has been handled.  We have natural advantages over Denmark and Germany as an island nation, and yet we did much worse.  If we'd done as badly as Germany I'd be happy as healthcare would have remained much less disrupted throughout.  If we'd done as badly as Denmark I'd be over the moon.

> The best scientific minds in the western world didn't know what to do but you did?

What are you on about?  The best scientific minds were screaming lock down now and suspend travel now weeks before the UK government did.  The open letters are out there.  The advice is out there.   So were quite a few people on UKC....  Bit of an open question about how SAGE came to be dominated by modelling applied in a totally inappropriate way....

Some of the less sharp scientific minds knew what to do within a day of the government announcing the Kent variant.  Lockdown harder.  One of them showed a pretty conclusive analysis that the failure of the November lockdown-lite was spreading out geographically over time from an epicentre coincident with the new variant.  The government waited another three weeks to lock down, resulting in perhaps another 70,000 deaths and taking healthcare well beyond any sane operating conditions.  SAGE had access to spatiotemporal data on the SGTF pre-discovery data which was far more compelling than what I showed.  The government waited three weeks.  FFS they sent children back to school for one day before locking down.  

To paint this as a weakness of the scientific minds is bizarre whatabouterry that flies in the face of all the evidence.  

> We handled it badly but we never stood a chance of stopping it with the level of travel we have and the level of investment. We never stood a chance. That's why not one country in the EU or US region did.

It's not binary.  It's not a choice between perfectly stopping it and achieving basically the worse outcome in the world (as the UK has consistently done to date).  Every small improvement in between those binary points has a massive effect when projected forwards through the exponential mechanic of the disease. 

Post edited at 17:50
 Blunderbuss 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Who in the scientific/medical community was screaming lockdown at the start of March?

Can you provide links because I don't remember anything in the media.... 

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

No they weren't. We were way too slow. Seriously. You are the one on about what aboutery trying to rectify the past. It happened.#whataboutNZ as though every, literally every, european country wasn't getting advice. Yes the US was also slow but we are so integrated it was never going to happen quick enough.

It had spread way before we started to detect it. You even say 3 weeks. It was here way before that. 

Again 200 million a year investment. The UK and Germany put nothing like that in.

You're now reframing the argument I to post border clearance response which I agree with, we could have done better, I'm saying we could not have stopped it. Does the UK even have the government bodies for post border surveillance and monitoring?

We can argue it should have been eliminated - entirely pointless though, but now once here eradication is impossible. We most likely won't even mandate vaccines. What will uptake be? 

75%? I'd say anything over 66% would be good. 

Post edited at 17:56
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Who in the scientific/medical community was screaming lockdown at the start of March?

> Can you provide links because I don't remember anything in the media.... 

There was a fair bit of closed communications going on I think - it eventually coalesced in to an open letter that was published March 14th.  Edit: for some reason my QML link isn’t working.

There were other examples.

Post edited at 18:00
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> No they weren't. We were way too slow. Seriously. You are the one on about what aboutery trying to rectify the past.

No.  I am arguing against your repeated assertions of “we can’t do XYZ” by making the point that the last time we said “we can’t do XYZ” we ended up with the worst outcome in the world.

> It had spread way before we started to detect it. You even say 3 weeks. It was here way before that. 

Yes. And yet more came in.  And more.  And more spread.  If we’d done more 3 weeks sooner it would have more effect.

I’m starting to think you just don’t understand the exponential mechanic.  At all.  The point I’ve been failing to make is you continue to insist we can’t do stuff properly and seem to think the only alternative is not trying.  We can try, partially succeed and make the outcome better.

> Again 200 million a year investment. The UK and Germany put nothing like that in.

I don’t know what this means, but I’d point out again that Germany did much better than us.  

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> There was a fair bit of closed communications going on I think - it eventually coalesced in to an open letter that was published March 14th

> There were other examples.

Which was way too late. By then italy was experiencing hundreds of deaths a day and we had unrestricted travel for the last month. And that's ignoring travel from china through that time and their NY.

Post edited at 18:00
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I think we're arguing separate points now. 

The point is NZ had the infrastructure and lack of connectivity  to snuff this out, the EU and US didn't. Post clearance we could have responded better just not have eliminated it..

Post edited at 18:04
 Blunderbuss 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I remember that letter but that was published in response to our inaction that week....

I don't honestly remember any calls before Italy locked down on the 9th March....Ferguson admitted recently that changed everything in Europe...before that the idea of locking down a whole democratic nation was almost unthinkable. 

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Which was way too late. By then italy was experiencing hundreds of deaths a day and we had unrestricted travel for the last month. And that's ignoring travel from china through that time and their NY.

Ex-po-nen-tial.  It was less late than when we did lockdown.  The messaging behind that open letter had I think been going n in private for some time before it was published.  The more we wait, the worse.  The choices are not binary between “perfect” and “failure”.  It’s a sliding scale with action linked to consequence.

It’s never too late to take more action when a situation is getting worse. It’s always the right time to act.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

In this case I’m talking about travel bans not lockdowns with 3 weeks (or more) earlier; there’d been calls for travel bans and quarantine for some time IIRC.  Scientific dissent really wound up against policy around March 10th with the PM’s “take it on the chin” I think which was more like 2 weeks before lockdown than 3.  The open letter was one culmination of that.

Post edited at 18:09
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Yes its never too late too act, you just won't eliminate it. This crowing on about the NZ example is therefore stupid. They had buy in, they had testing, they had the infrastructure. Look at the UK track and trace system.  There was no chance the UK had the infrastructure to suppress it. It wasn't about making a decision, it was all the follow up which has to happen to stop EXP O NENTIAL.. without having that it's gone.

And once it spread that much you won't control it. Not in a liberal/globalized society. It's kind of arrogant to assume you could have stopped this and nobody else could. 

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> In this case I’m talking about travel bans not lockdowns; there’d been calls for travel bans and quarantine for some time IIRC.  Sorry you’re right that it was more like a week and a half for lock down nowhere.  I wasn’t very clear!

Chinese New Year was late January 2020.. If you think you could have elimated Covid-19 in the UK then great. Could we have done better. Yep. Stopped it. No chance. Sorry if that upsets you I just saw NZ prep first hand years ago. The UK hadn't. 

It had been in Spain since 1/31, 4-6 weeks before calls for a lock down, which weren't that well respected anyway even when we eventually did start to lock down. 

Post edited at 18:13
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> And once it spread that much you won't control it

Totally disagree and this is the nub I think of where we diverge.  We can control the rate at which it spreads even when it’s a everywhere geographically, and a fatalistic “it’s already everywhere, there’s nothing we can do” is just not true.

We can always control it; but at what cost?  So far at less cost than not controlling it.

> This crowing on about the NZ example is therefore stupid.

I see it as an example that doing 340x better is possible.  So, if we aspired to be 34 times *worse* than NZ, we’d still be 10x better than we are.  They define what is possible.  We shouldn’t proclaim it’s too hard and give up when the middle ground is so large.

> If you think you could have elimated Covid-19 in the UK then great. 

I’ve never said I could do that.  I’m not a bloody idiot.  I think we could have slowed the importation events and failing that could have slowed the loss of control and bought ourselves critical time.

Going back to the original post from JK that has been derailed; the quality of leadership in NZ is something we can still aspire to to improve our situation.  You don’t quite something because you can’t be the best, you try your hardest and learn what useful lessons you can from the best.

Post edited at 18:15
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Sorry I meant control as in eradicate it. You can manage it. 

NZ defined what is possible back in the 90's when they started investing in biosecurity. It was decades of sunken investment to be where they were. I was there as an advisor in Pre-clearance in Biosecurity 2005-2006 and we already had maybe 2-3 versions of a national biosecurity strategy, and we were on the first version of the biosecurity science strategy. 

The UK never stood a chance of elimination. Could we have slowed its spread? I think we're now seeing pretty good compliance after masses of deaths. But back then not much, the people weren't on board. But the EU still saw thousands of deaths.

And in the US, we had terrible governance but even with a better president I think we'd have been fucked. Just a matter of how much because we're even more of a libertarian society. Even now in liberal states like MA compliance is only decent, and we're about the most compliant state in the US.

Post edited at 18:20
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> But back then no, the people weren't on board.

Although if leadership had used the resources at hand - such as Cygnus - over the previous two months as part of a clear, coherent messaging strategy, people could have been a lot more on board.    The material was there coming out of China then Italy to evidence this.  That’s the point I see in JKs post.

This matters because we’re still not doing things now because it’s seen as hard and because people think others might not like it.  I’d rather we tried and partially succeeded than just said “nah”.

Do you think the U.K. was 340 times less well prepared than NZ?

Post edited at 18:22
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I'm not sure we're now seeing 'nah', I think the UK is seeing average to pretty good compliance but a fairly libertarian society, not like asian countries which tend to be more obedient.

I'm not sure in the UK and US you could ever get really good compliance at the level needed.

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> > 

> Do you think the U.K. was 340 times less well prepared than NZ?

That comes back to your exponential growth doesn't it.. You either snuff it out quick or you deal with a very serious outbreak.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> That comes back to your exponential growth doesn't it.. You either snuff it out quick or you deal with a very serious outbreak.

No, no it doesn’t.  

Because if you don’t eliminate it, your actions set the exponential growth or decay rate, and the whole raft of options is there from doubling every 4 days through to decaying just as fast. 

You still seem to have a fatalistic, binary view of total control or immutable outbreak.  That’s just not supported by the data.

A doubling time of 8 days vs 4 days early on would have given us something like 1.5 months months more before healthcare overload, which would have made all the difference in the world to our response and the net severity of the outbreak.

The rate of exponential growth is within our power.

 wercat 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Who in the scientific/medical community was screaming lockdown at the start of March?

> Can you provide links because I don't remember anything in the media.... 


eventually the worst case scenario was presented to the cabinet, 80% infection and 1% mortality - even with my maths I posted on here that that worst case evaluated to more than the total UK casualties in WW2 (including military) - it was actually discussed on R4 for a week before the government did anything.  I was shouting at the radio all week

Post edited at 19:18
 wercat 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

Can't you remember the protests when Cheltenham was allowed to go ahead as a lossleading superspreader - Dido "on the Board of Cheltenham Festival" Harding!!!

I was basing my concerns at living through Labour handling the beginning of F & M up here with all the urgency of a picnic.  Till Birtwhistle was appointed no one had a clue  The Front line passed through our area while they were fooling about - it was terrible

Post edited at 19:23
 Blunderbuss 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wercat:

> eventually the worst case scenario was presented to the cabinet, 80% infection and 1% mortality - even with my maths I posted on here that that worst case evaluated to more than the total UK casualties in WW2 (including military) - it was actually discussed on R4 for a week before the government did anything.  I was shouting at the radio all week

But there was no call for a lockdown from our scientific community before Italy locked down.....I even went back and read articles from The Times and Guardian in Feb and early March a couple of weeks back (just out of control interest to see how it progressed in the media) and there was nothing. 

The idea the country would have accepted stringent restrictions in the first week of March is simply untrue...like I said before Italy changed everything. 

 Ciro 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

> In reply to Ciro and others

> Try telling that to (the growing?) number of people who are not Covid deniers but are people like my mum - normal folk who are sceptical of the figures. Normal folk who reckon that in a year or two some of the Covid death numbers will catch up on themselves (if that make sense).  The same people who think Boris is doing OK (yougov - he is more popular now than before Covid and torys just nudging past labour). 

Well yes, pretty much all we can do is keep telling them the truth. We can't just make shit up to appease them.

> Anyway, I’m digressing. Tonnes of folk have had enough, we have a populist government with dodgepot libertarians on one side and some good science advisors on the other. Restrictions will ease quicker than most people on here want, but the wider public will be grateful and Johnson will gain hero status. 

☹️

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> The idea the country would have accepted stringent restrictions in the first week of March is simply untrue...like I said before Italy changed everything. 

Italy changed everything.  After several more doubling times for us...  You’re right though, it was more like 2 weeks before lockdown that scientists started to clamour publicly, and that was largely in the form of open letters, but it felt like a very long couple of weeks at the time!  There had been a lot of dissent with government policy for some time before that however including around travel and large events.

> The idea the country would have accepted stringent restrictions in the first week of March is simply untrue...like I said before Italy changed everything. 

Indeed - which underlines jkarran’s point to Roadrunner6 that our bad position was not just the result of different bio security preparedness but differences in leadership.  Ours could have been preparing us for the worst, and instead were blundering round boasting about shaking hands on a covid ward.  This got severely derailed but that’s the point; claiming NZs main advantage was bio security preparation isn’t accurate - leadership has a big role, and ours apparently started by throwing their pandemic planning rule book out of the window.  (Cygnus). 

If we’d prepared perhaps we could have reduced social contact by early March which would have brought critical time, but instead we “waited for the right time to lock down” which can only really mean “waited until the death figures made up for a lack of clear, consistent messaging over the last two months and got the point across”.

Its not really worth rehashing all this again except to point out that the lack of investment in biosecurity is not a be all and end all against us doing more over the next 12-18 months.

Post edited at 19:45
In reply to wercat:

Re your ‘shouting at the radio’ and Cheltenham races comments.

I’ve mentioned this on here loads but last March I stood up and swore my head off the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harris spouting utter dangerous bullshit about sporting events being safe coz they are outside. Few days after that 73,000 city and Utd fans crammed in the concourse at old Trafford, in the pubs before and after, on the trams. Useless upper class twit knows nothing about the reality of ‘normal’ people. And we had the Liverpool European game with fans travelling from all over the bloody place (Italy IIRC).  And Cheltenham. There is a massive disconnect - a real ‘us and them’ situation. 

 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> No, no it doesn’t.  

> Because if you don’t eliminate it, your actions set the exponential growth or decay rate, and the whole raft of options is there from doubling every 4 days through to decaying just as fast. 

> You still seem to have a fatalistic, binary view of total control or immutable outbreak.  That’s just not supported by the data.

> A doubling time of 8 days vs 4 days early on would have given us something like 1.5 months months more before healthcare overload, which would have made all the difference in the world to our response and the net severity of the outbreak.

> The rate of exponential growth is within our power.

Even you say we should be more like Denmark or Germany. How come not one western country, not EU country with open borders managed to stop it.

Could we have been 3-4 x better (I think your stats)? yes. 430 x better no, at best we could have been 100 times worse than NZ probably. We can agree to disagree but we repeated this experiment 20-30 times in various countries and not one western country managed it. So why did nobody get this done?

Even you point to mid March, 6 weeks exponential growth (it was possibly 2-4 weeks more, some even say longer). It's why not one European country managed it. 

You keep going on about this like it was an easy decision when we should have closed the border. Then why did not one country manage it within the EU?

A few more obedient countries/affected by SARS/MERS and NZ and Australia reacted. Often very small island states.

I'm sorry but you are re-writing history to think we could have got out of this with 430 times less deaths or whatever your measure was.

Post edited at 19:56
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

"ts not really worth rehashing all this again except to point out that the lack of investment in biosecurity is not a be all and end all against us doing more over the next 12-18 months."

How the hell have I ever said otherwise?

We can do more. But I think we'll open up, I said right or wrong, I just think the economic argument will be persuasive.

 Blunderbuss 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

> Re your ‘shouting at the radio’ and Cheltenham races comments.

> I’ve mentioned this on here loads but last March I stood up and swore my head off the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harris spouting utter dangerous bullshit about sporting events being safe coz they are outside. Few days after that 73,000 city and Utd fans crammed in the concourse at old Trafford, in the pubs before and after, on the trams. Useless upper class twit knows nothing about the reality of ‘normal’ people. And we had the Liverpool European game with fans travelling from all over the bloody place (Italy IIRC).  And Cheltenham. There is a massive disconnect - a real ‘us and them’ situation. 

This highlights my point....we were warned of a potential 500000 deaths and people just carried on as normal at the start of March. 

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> I'm sorry but you are re-writing history to think we chould have got out of this with 430 times less deaths or whatever your measure was.

I’m not rewriting history.  I’ve never claimed 430 times less deaths.  You’re making things up.

I’ve said you are wrong to assert bio security and isolation were the only major differences with NZ.  I think jkarran is right about leadership being another critical issue.

I think 10x less death was achievable.  You have not offered any tangible reason why not.  Given the then doubling times on cases, if the advice in the open letter from March 14th had been acted on then, we’d have had 6x fewer deaths in the first wave.  That advice was being given in private I think another 2x fewer deaths in terms of exponential rise.  There’s another 50,000 deaths in the lockdown being delayed in December.  Our own advisors have openly said not locking down sooner was a mistake.  Scientists were screaming this in public two weeks before lockdown and in private before.  This is not rewriting history, and the doubling times then are clear as is the astoundingly simple conclusion.

I have very clearly said many times I don’t think we could have been like NZ.  For you to continue to suggest that as in your quote above is a gross misrepresentation of my position.  I don’t know why you are doing that.

The UK has failed more than basically any other county to contain this.  You might find it worthwhile to look for excuses for that.  I don’t.

Post edited at 19:59
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wercat:

> eventually the worst case scenario was presented to the cabinet, 80% infection and 1% mortality - even with my maths I posted on here that that worst case evaluated to more than the total UK casualties in WW2 (including military) - it was actually discussed on R4 for a week before the government did anything.  I was shouting at the radio all week

What date was that? Most of this was mid march onwards.

I teach about to about 10-20% Chinese exchange students so many were back for Chinese NY (and never came back), we knew from January that it was getting bad there. We had frequent travel between the US/UK/EU and China for around 2 months with this in circulation. I don't remember any arguments for actually closing borders before March. NZ did in Mid March but have much better tracking of who is in their country (again sunken investments). In the UK there's very little tracking (any?) from the EU and in the US internal travel is entirely unregulated. By the time we were panicking we were sat on a time bomb.

Post edited at 20:06
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> > I'm sorry but you are re-writing history to think we chould have got out of this with 430 times less deaths or whatever your measure was.

> I’m not rewriting history.  I’ve never claimed 430 times less deaths.  You’re making things up.

> I’ve said you are wrong to assert bio security and isolation were the only major differences with NZ.  I think jkarran is right about leadership being another critical issue.

> I think 10x less death was achievable.  You have not offered any tangible reason why not.  Given the then doubling times on cases, if the advice in the open letter from March 14th had been acted on then, we’d have had 6x fewer deaths in the first wave.  That advice was being given in private I think another 2x fewer deaths in terms of exponential rise.  There’s another 50,000 deaths in the lockdown being delayed in December.  Our own advisors have openly said not locking down sooner was a mistake.  Scientists were screaming this in public two weeks before lockdown and in private before.  This is not rewriting history, and the doubling times then are clear as is the astoundingly simple conclusion.

> I have very clearly said many times I don’t think we could have been like NZ.  For you to continue to suggest that as in your quote above is a gross misrepresentation of my position.  I don’t know why you are doing that.

> The UK has failed more than basically any other county to contain this.  You might find it worthwhile to look for excuses for that.  I don’t.

Hold on that is what this is all about? JK and others talking about NZ.. can we just keep one argument. You've jumped this all over the world. And I've never defended the UK so again you are grossly misrepresenting me. I said we were never going to get a NZ like elimination. We were always dealing with an outbreak. You can call it fatalistic but that's just the inevitable truth you seem to agree with yet don't... yet do.. And yes we can and should have done more. 

Post edited at 20:05
 Blunderbuss 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

There's a lot of hindsight used to criticise our government not just on here but  elsewhere....I've heard people claim we should have locked down before anyone even died in the UK!

Can you imagine the population accepting that? It's bonkers....

The thing is you don't need hindsight to criticise them.....Boris decided herd immunity had to be ditched on the 14th March but it took him another 9 days to declare a lockdown....this delay is the real scandal of that period in March. 

Post edited at 20:07
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Hold on that is what this is all about?  JK and others talking about NZ.. can we just keep one argument. You've jumped this all over the world.

I think we’ve both jumped it.  I’ve lost track a bit...

> And I've never defended the UK so again you are grossly misrepresenting me.

If you can’t beat em....  Seriously though to me a bunch of fatalistic “we could do any better because X, Y and Z” where X, Y and Z don’t include government , after this started with you saying to jk that biosecurity not leadership was the difference with NZ, comes across as exactly that.  Sorry - I’m probably jumping to a very wrong conclusion but I think without more prior investment in biosecurity (we had some and apparently ignored it and lost the PPE stockpile) and without more geographic isolation we clearly could have done much better.  As various EU nations and even - despite the obvious handicaps - the USA show us.

> I guess I jumped on this band waggon.

I didn’t mean to misrepresent and I’m sure you didn’t.  Arguing down a death spiral like it’s 2010 all over again...  Sorry!

Post edited at 20:17
 Roadrunner6 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> There's a lot of hindsight used to criticise our government not just on here but  elsewhere....I've heard people claim we should have locked down before anyone even died in the UK!

> Can you imagine the population accepting that? It's bonkers....

> The thing is you don't need hindsight to criticise them.....Boris decided herd immunity had to be ditched on the 14th March but it took him another 9 days to declare a lockdown....this delay is the real scandal of that period in March. 

the sporting events which went on were awful, We knew the risk. I think that set a tone.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Who in the scientific/medical community was screaming lockdown at the start of March?

I've just trawled back through this thread.  I stand by what I have written here, why I said it and the known chronology.  I think things have been confused, as I lay out below.  

Here is the sequence of messages - these were talking about March/April 2020.

Roadrunner6 to jkarran:

> The best scientific minds in the western world didn't know what to do but you did?

Wintertree to roadrunner:

> The best scientific minds were screaming lock down now and suspend travel now weeks before the UK government did.  

Blunderbuss to wintertree:

> Who in the scientific/medical community was screaming lockdown at the start of March?

I never said this was being called for at the start of March.  Lockdown was March 23rd.  The open letter was published March 14th and had been some days in the making, with increasing dissent from scientists ever since the "take it on the chin" comment in early March.

So, yes, I suspect jkarran did know what to do weeks before the government did it, as did many other people.  

I think you took a comment about "3 weeks" from Roadrunner6 and applied that to March.   That is manifestly not what I said.  It seems Roadrunner6 significantly misread my a part of my post about events that transpired in late 2020.   It might explain why we were arguing at cross purposes if they thought what I said about November applied to March.  It's clear what I was talking about, because I use words like "Kent variant" and "November".  I repeat it here.

Some of the less sharp scientific minds knew what to do within a day of the government announcing the Kent variant.  Lockdown harder.  One of them showed a pretty conclusive analysis that the failure of the November lockdown-lite was spreading out geographically over time from an epicentre coincident with the new variant.  The government waited another three weeks to lock down, resulting in perhaps another 70,000 deaths and taking healthcare well beyond any sane operating conditions.  SAGE had access to spatiotemporal data on the SGTF pre-discovery data which was far more compelling than what I showed.  The government waited three weeks.  FFS they sent children back to school for one day before locking down.  

Post edited at 20:38
In reply to mick taylor:

> Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harris spouting utter dangerous bullshit about sporting events being safe coz they are outside. 

And she has admitted that was an error, and she was trying to 'keep to the cabinet line', and try to present a united front. BBC documentary: 'Lockdown 1.0: Following the Science?'

[edit: poor memory; Blunderbuss has reminded me I was thinking of Susan Michie, part of the SPI-B committee]

Post edited at 21:08
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

I think we've been arguing at cross purposes since your 17:52 reply to me.  Go back and read the message you are replying to.

You said:

> It had spread way before we started to detect it. You even say 3 weeks. It was here way before that. 

I did not say that.  Where I said "3 weeks" was clearly, unambiguously with reference to events that transpired following the November lockdown in late 2020, and not in reference to March/April.

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

> > Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harris spouting utter dangerous bullshit about sporting events being safe coz they are outside. 

> And she has admitted that was an error, and she was trying to 'keep to the cabinet line', and try to present a united front. BBC documentary.

Did she ever clarify her position on her remark that test and trace wasn't important to first world countries?

 Blunderbuss 16 Feb 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

> > Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harris spouting utter dangerous bullshit about sporting events being safe coz they are outside. 

> And she has admitted that was an error, and she was trying to 'keep to the cabinet line', and try to present a united front. BBC documentary: 'Lockdown 1.0: Following the Science?'

Thought that was Susan Michie...

In reply to wintertree:

> The open letter was published March 14th and had been some days in the making

I had already restricted my movements by that point; not using public transport (I don't drive), and I started WFH on the 16th. I missed a significant family event on that weekend as a result of that decision. The magnitude of the pending shitstorm had dawned in the preceding week, and I did not want to risk taking infection to my family.

In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Thought that was Susan Michie...

 Ah. You could be right. I'd have to go back and check.

[edit: yes, it was Susan Michie]

Post edited at 21:06
 Billhook 16 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

All I am saying is that it is unlikely Covid will go away.  Even when everyone is vaccinated and./or herd immunity is achieved,  people will  still die from Covid - just like they die now from from other diseases, illnesses and so on.

Yes, I accept we must do whatever we can to prevent the NHS from bursting at the seams but we are going to have to accept that  Covid- 19 can now be added  to the long list of  terminal illness for some people - In the same way we accept deaths from other conditions without much song and dance and many of these other terminal illnesses target all age groups.  

I have lost two work colleagues to spinal cancer over the years one of whom was only 21 and  the other about 30.   I also worked with another lad of 18, who suffered a heart attack - and died.  A friend's wife whose around 35ish, is going to die with an inoperable brain tumour.  My own father died at 41 of a heart attack.

Being young or younger is no get out clause when it comes death.  It never has been and it never will be.

At some stage, whether you or any one else agrees or not, this government or the next is going to have to decide when the death rate and/or hospitalisation rate from Covid victims is acceptable to society.  Only then can we return to 'normal'.

  

In reply to captain paranoia:

That BBC programme is worth watching again...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000pjr1

In reply to: discussion  about NZ and leadership...

A key factor in us lot analysing how well the govt has done is: they have done shite and most of us don’t like them anyway. So it’s very easy to go X and Y countries  have done better. They have done better. I’ve looked at worldometers and if you rank countries in terms of deaths per million, then most comparable European countries are in the same quartile as the UK (Germany at the lower end , UK at the upper end). So whilst our govt has done bad, so have all the other comparable European countries. None of them are remotely as good as NZ or Isle of Man, and many of these countries have good leadership (Germany). So I do think to myself ‘surely we can’t all have got it so wrong?’ To put it another way, if Arden was PM in the UK, no way would her lockdown measures have been put into place in the UK - there would not have been enough support. It’s not just about technical stuff, we had shite scientific advisors (Whitty in March: ‘we shouldn’t be wearing masks’). Johnson is a clown and is not fit to run our country. But the tories won the election by a country mile and Johnson is more popular now than before Covid kicked off.  It’s more to do with society/politics/education/hegemony .  Whether someone can lead or not goes way deeper then the persons leadership skills. No way would the UK have bought into NZ style measures, and I doubt we would in the future. I would have done, most on here would have done. 

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

> [edit: poor memory; Blunderbuss has reminded me I was thinking of Susan Michie, part of the SPI-B committee]

I was surprised at a claim Harris would recognise a mistake, given at least one other comment from them.

> I had already restricted my movements by that point; not using public transport (I don't drive), and I started WFH on the 16th. I missed a significant family event on that weekend as a result of that decision. The magnitude of the pending shitstorm had dawned in the preceding week, and I did not want to risk taking infection to my family.

Quite.  We had Jr out of daycare by then, and had pulled back from all contact at work except the absolutely unavoidable - and then I was doing so with the office door open and asking my students to sit at the other end of the office.  I was lobbying work hard to shut down in-person teaching from the start of March based on a study out of Japan (I think it was) hi lighting the risks posed of symptom free transmission by young adults in small rooms with poor ventilation.

The wonders of hindsight, no?

 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

I pretty much agree with you, but...

>  So it’s very easy to go X and Y countries  have done better

That is to miss the point as to why people are still raising this.  It's because we can still do better by looking at countries X and Y.  We can't do as well as them, but we can learn from them and in doing so we can do better than we otherwise are.  Leaders can use those countries as examples to incentivise people to buy in to doing these things.  

>  It’s more to do with society/politics/education/hegemony . 

Absolutely.  This, far more than historical investment in biosecurity or happenstance of geography is why we are where we are now IMO.

 bruxist 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

I think that's nearly right, but relying on what was in the press isn't going to give an accurate picture. Going through my records, the date on which universities started to lock down of their own volition, under pressure from their staff, was the 13th March. 11 unis locked down that evening; by the morning of the 14th, 42 UK universities had closed their doors. Lockdown actual countrywide didn't begin until 23rd March.

The uni lockdown on the 13th/14th was, however, the result of a week of pressure against uni management. Academics had clocked that we needed to close by the 8th March, but it took another week to persuade the powers-that-be that we weren't just making it all up.

Italy locked down on the 9th March.

 jkarran 16 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Who in the scientific/medical community was screaming lockdown at the start of March?

> Can you provide links because I don't remember anything in the media.... 

Well I'm not in the scientific community but I clearly remember having a conversation about whether we should postpone our wedding because of what was very clearly coming, probably 2-3 weeks before it happened. I made the wrong call in hindsight, (detected) covid arrived in town and Britain on my wedding day.

I'm nobody, a dimwit with no professional connection to the disaster planning world but I saw it coming clearly enough to consider pissing off my fiance and our families. 

We didn't need crystal balls or specialist government departments, we just needed to occasionally not take the worst choice available and a bit quicker.

Jk

Post edited at 23:04
 wintertree 16 Feb 2021
In reply to bruxist:

Spot on.  A lot of this isn’t in the press.  

My then university was one of the first to effectively lock down by cancelling all in person teaching, and that was as a result of a lot of lobbying from many of their science staff - myself included - over the previous week.  I’m actually quite proud of senior management for taking a decision against government guidance.  A shame they didn’t hold that line over the next 9 months.

That open letter dated March 12th [1] (over 1.5 weeks before lockdown) didn’t just appear, it came out of ongoing discussions and concerns dating back another week or so.

At some point I gave up hope the government were going to act in time and ordered a small chest freezer for next day delivery.  I’ve checked my bank records tonight - March 10th.  A colleague of mine got theirs a week earlier. 

One poster addressed someone else suggesting the government were slow to act with the dismissive comment “The best scientific minds in the western world didn't know what to do but you did?”  (*). They then misread or misrepresented a comment of mine about advocating for action 3 weeks early in late 2020 as applying to early 2020 when the advocation was really ranked up two weeks earlier.  The open letter I have re-linked here and the actions within universities that you and I both note make it clear that many scientists were strongly advocating for more measures 2 weeks before lockdown.  That doesn’t sound like long, but with a ~4 day doubling time that delay equates to about a 10 fold increase in hospitalisations and deaths.

Given the strength of evidence out of China, then Italy, and the short doubling times they evidenced, and the delay in the UK from comments in the media and calls to action from scientists to lockdown, I think this comment:

The best scientific minds in the western world didn't know what to do but you did?

Is completely unjustified and counter factual.  I felt utter despair at the time watching this unfold as I withdrew my family from the world around us.  Have understood and publicised the spread of the Kent variant in mid December until lockdown on Jan 5th I felt the same despair again.  So long as some scientists argue that the inevitability of this was not avoidable, in the face of all the evidence, I remain despondent that we are our own worst enemy.

(*) the poster here implicitly assumes government scientific advisors are the “finest minds”.  They give no basis for this but drop to emotive language and perceived call to authority to dismiss someone they disagree with, rather than engaging in evidenced and factual basis.  

[1] http://maths.qmul.ac.uk/~vnicosia/UK_scientists_statement_on_coronavirus_measures.pdf

Post edited at 23:47
In reply to wintertree:

> The wonders of hindsight, no?

Well, with hindsight, I probably wouldn't have gone on our annual group trip to Scotland. The wife of one of the group had come back from Spain the week before, where there had been an outbreak, and she had come back with protective measures. It was that potential chain of infection, and the likely incubation times, that persuaded me not to risk taking infection to my elderly parents, more than the rail travel.

Admittedly, things were moving pretty fast in the first two weeks of March...

In reply to DD72:

According to the BBC, there are over 100k Palestinians crossing the border to work in Israel every day. The vaccination rate in Palestine is way, way behind Israel's. I suspect Israel will find out soon enough whether vaccinating your population while leaving your border open to 100k+ mostly unvaccinated people works... (what I mean is the Israeli government should have done the decent thing and extended the vaccination drive to the Palestinians, as much as out of self-interest as for moral reasons). I'm guessing here that Israel's borders with its other land neighbours are fairly tightly controlled anyway but having 100k+ cross border workers makes that fairly irrelevant anyway...

In reply to DD72:

> What if the approach you suggest takes 10 years not 5 or even 15?

Fair point but borders can't be closed for years on end either. It has to be a balanced approach. I would restrict cross border movement heavily for the rest of this year and see where things are across the whole world towards the end of the autumn before deciding what is required over next winter. In particular, emergence of new variants vs development and authorisation of new vaccines.

It would cripple the airline industry, which would be painful for those involved but would help with our green targets...

In reply to captain paranoia:

> Vietnam, then? They initially prioritised health over economy, but have managed to limit economic damage; their GDP hasn't shrunk.

They have less GDP to shrink in the first place and their economy is less heavily focused on services including public services.

Here's an interesting point I hadn't appreciated which was made by our in house economics team. GDP includes the public sector such as state schools and the NHS but how to do you measure that? One way is to measure input costs, i.e. salaries etc, and apparently that is what most countries do. However UK statisticians have developed way of measuring 'output', i.e. value placed on education and healthcare provision, even though it's free at the point of use. With both education and healthcare contracting this year (less 'face time' with teachers and lots of cancelled operations), this has contributed to the UK's GDP declining at a relatively higher rate compared to other similarly developed countries. I don't know how much of the 9.9% drop in 2020 this accounts for but it just goes to show that these things aren't necessarily directly comparable.

In addition, the UK has a heavily private services focused economy, even compared to many other European countries and a lot of these services will have take a hefty hit. Hence our GDP has declined more in relative terms - and might bounce back quicker.

Of course BoJo's ineptitude also plays a large part in the 9.9% decline... and there's no denying that countries like Vietnam have handled the healthcare situation far better. However I would be wary of making direct economic comparisons between countries with very different economies.

In reply to Billhook:

> All the other illnesses we live with and die with.   include Stroke, heart disease, lung diseases, Alzheimer's/dementia, kidney diseases,  Malaria, TB, Cancers and numerous other causes.

I think you're missing the point that Covid is pretty infections, whereas the only infectious disease in the above list is TB - which is nasty but it only tends to spread in certain environments and PHE manage to keep on top of it, plus it can generally be treated with antibiotics and there is vaccine available for high risk groups although it's not entirely effective.

To take another example, HIV / AIDS is very nasty but again can be treated these days, doesn't spread very quickly due to the ways it's transmitted and is generally relatively easy to contact trace (people generally have contact details for people they've had sex with or have shared needles with). Again, PHE and public health drives manage to keep on top of it.

Measles is highly infectious but we've got on top of it through vaccination and PHE mop up occasional outbreaks.

Covid is in its own category really. Just like flu, it spread easily and quickly and hence is laborious to contact trace once cases are above a fairly low level. Unlike flu, it kills somewhere between 0.5% and 1% of the people it infects. Which ends up being a lot of people, as we have seen, not to mention the Long Covid sufferers and the NHS being overrun. Hence Covid justifies a much more stringent approach.

In reply to summo:

> I don't think the population will cope with continue restrictions mentally. Never mind the economic argument. 

I don't disagree but I think most people would prefer not being able to go on holiday for a year or two rather than running the risk of Lockdown-4. Plus as a net 'exporter' of tourism it could be good for getting our economy going with domestic spending.

In reply to Richard Horn:

> You could kill me in a car accident, why are you still driving?

That is reductio ad absurdum.

In reply to mick taylor:

> Even  Jacinda Adern couldn’t lead us. (although she could have done a better job the Johnson). 

Now there's a thought...

In reply to Roadrunner6:

> I love how a bunch of people on UKC have all these plans to instantly close borders yet have no experience working in that field. You can't just close borders in a country like the UK. Likewise just holding containers closed can't happen. That's a lot of infrastructure required to do that, plus live transport.

When people say close the borders, I don't think they literally mean don't let anyone in or out. Rather, it means don't let people in or out without very good reasons. Holidays and most work trips wouldn't qualify and that would reduce the numbers right down. Goods could still travel but measures could be taken there, eg sending HGV trailers on the ferries without the cabs and their drivers. If we reduce the numbers coming in/out by a factor of say 1,000, that would reduce the risk of importing / exporting variants but the same factor.

In reply to Blunderbuss:

> I don't honestly remember any calls before Italy locked down on the 9th March....Ferguson admitted recently that changed everything in Europe...before that the idea of locking down a whole democratic nation was almost unthinkable. 

Indeed. Italy was critical here. I think the best we could reasonably have done is locked down about a week earlier, same as France. Perhaps a few days before that. But not before Italy.

In reply to Roadrunner6:

Apologies if I've missed this in the discussion but I think there are much simpler reasons NZ's lockdown worked. Wikipedia tells me that travel restrictions were introduced there on 19 March and the 4 tier alert system introduced on 21 March, going to tier 3 on 23 March and tier 4 (lockdown) on 25 March. So very similar to the UK, except that the UK didn't introduce travel restrictions. So, to my mind, there are 2 main reasons:

1. Travel restrictions.

2. They were lucky. Being a relatively small country far away from anywhere else (other than Australia), it took Covid longer to reach NZ and in lower absolute numbers.

So despite locking down around the same time as the UK, they had a much better outcome as there were fewer cases in the first place an they stopped importing further cases.

As you say, NZ may well have been better prepared in the first place but I suspect that only made a difference for the 'mop up' during and post lockdown.

 Billhook 17 Feb 2021
In reply to summo:

"covid challenges these and the stats show it wins most of the time"  

If by winning you mean it kills most of the time then I'm not sure many people would agree.  Isn't the death rate between half and one percent?  And of those most are older people and/or people with 'underlying health conditions' 

 Billhook 17 Feb 2021
In reply to Misha:

I don't think I've missed the point at all.

Covid isn't going to go away.  We are going to have to accept that , at some stage and the costs & balances  in terms of acceptable levels of death from this illness,  In the same way we  accept the  death rates from all the other illness & diseases.

We've never done 'lock down' or placed any other restrictions on the public to prevent flu for example,  which also hospitalises many people each year and the consequences for many people is death.

Once we've done that  with Covid then we'll then be able to return to 'normal'.  Although I'm not sure given the current concern with Covid that they'll ever be a 'normal' again.

 neilh 17 Feb 2021
In reply to Billhook:

It is worth looking up the public health response at the time of Spanish flu. Considering this was 100 years ago, it would suggest that your comments are wrong and ill informed..Social distancing measures were for example employed in New York, public gatherings banned and so on.

 wintertree 17 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

Or indeed public health response to the plague.

The origin of the word “quarantine” for example.

Luckily this sort of thing only happens once in many generations, but it’s not unique or unprecedented and neither is the response.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarantine#Etymology_and_terminology

In reply to Billhook:

> Covid isn't going to go away.  We are going to have to accept that , at some stage and the costs & balances  in terms of acceptable levels of death from this illness,  In the same way we  accept the  death rates from all the other illness & diseases.

But, that point won't be until :

Either we're able to keep the incidence of Covid low enough so that the amount of illness (& deaths) are down to an acceptable level.

Or we have treatments and therapeutics that make sure that of the people who get Covid, a low enough number of people are seriously ill (or die).

Or of course both, which would be best.

I think you're probably right in that eventually Covid will become similar to Flu in its impact and how we deal with it and what's acceptable, more likely than total eradication (only ever done with smallpox).

Hopefully we'll get there without a more transmissible and/or lethal variant coming along. And hopefully lessons will have been learnt for the next time we have a pandemic - which if recent history is a guide, is likely to be in less than 20 years time.

 Si dH 17 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

Interesting reading everyone's views on here. I agree with those who think strong border controls are unmaintainable beyond the short term (this year, maybe the first half of next.) I also agree with those suggesting that broad pressure to relax restrictions fully will grow through the spring and in to summer if the death rate has dropped right down and no immune evading variants have yet emerged against which the vaccine fails to provide protection from severe disease. On the other hand, I understand (at a high level) the risk all of this presents.

Ultimately I am inclined to think that some restrictions should definitely, and will probably be maintained to keep cases relatively low through spring and summer, and I hope this will be maintained long enough in parallel with the vaccination programme continuing to younger age groups that we can then keep only relatively modest restrictions to maintain cases low in to the autumn, rather than having to ramp them back up.

However, if it turns out that we can't do much more this spring than open schools and travel domestically outside before a return to growth, then I think there will probably be a decision (if vaccine efficacy data is good) to open up anyway, accept the risks associated with new variants and continue ploughing investment into vaccine updates and therapeutics in hope that they win the race. Why? Because if we get past the point of mass vaccination of the vulnerable and then still have to return to or maintain an effective lockdown, many people will lose sight of the way out and lose trust in a solution being found. I could not fault teenagers, students or people who have built careers in closed industries for protesting fairly vigorously against the impact on their lives in that scenario. And if we get to the point where even many of the people most at risk start to reject restrictions then there will be little left to debate. Many people in their 80s might rather accept a 10% chance of an early death than an indeterminate period of not being allowed to spend quality time with their families, which could last far more than 10% of what time they have left alive anyway.

None of this is what I want, by the way, just what I think might happen in a certain scenario.

 wercat 17 Feb 2021
In reply to DD72:

I'd just like to excuse the government of any lack of preparedness to deal with a pandemic, to be taking precautions or setting escalation criteria and contingency planning in the early part of last year

YOU SEE THEY HAD RATHER A LOT OF MORE IMPORTANT STUFF to get on with.

rather like Eddie the Shipboard Computer putting all his processing power into solving the problem of the Nutrimatic Cup.  Put into the context of Brexit it is quite easy to see where their priorities lay, no time for horizon scanning.  It is a bonus of Brexit.

In reply to Billhook:

>   Isn't the death rate between half and one percent?  

That's the death rate of the entire population, what's the survival rate of the over 70s with one or two medical conditions? 

Of the 99% of all ages who survive, how many now have long lasting problems? Listen to r4 more or less programme from today on a podcast, and you'll hear about those young survivors who now have medical conditions. 

 Billhook 17 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

Pardon?  I have not mentioned social distancing.  And we don't live in NY.

 Billhook 17 Feb 2021
In reply to summo:

Have you ever thought about the people in this country who have 'medical conditions' brought about by other diseases?

I listened to the lunch time R4 programme today.  There was a bunch of experts including one or two from some gov ernemnt medical body.  They too were stating quite clearly that:-

a) We are going to have to live with Covid.

b) People are still going to die from Covid.

c) People die from many other causes - and whilst its unfortunate we don't take all possible precautions

d)  There is a cost benefit calculation taken before we introduce any new medical procedure.  And certainly not a 'save lives at any cost' cost anaylisis.

e) And all these learned 'oloists agreed that at some stage a decision will be have to be made on what is an acceptable death rate from Covid.   And only when we reach that point, will life return to some sort of normal.

Before you say that no loss of life is acceptable, then it was pointed out, that we all take countless calculated & uncalculated risks every day even though we know we might fall ill and die.  And the governement does not totally restrict us from doing so.

For example we get in our cars and drive on roads.  Every year, every week, people die in RTAs and members of the public die crossing roads.  The government to not ban driving & what measures they take are not designed to make the roads 100% safe.
Every year climbers  get rescued, injured or die climbing.  We accept that risk and the government do nothing about.  It would be simple to ban climbing with the result of no deaths..

 wintertree 17 Feb 2021
In reply to Billhook:

> And certainly not a 'save lives at any cost' cost anaylisis.

You keep returning to this, but absolutely nothing that has been done about covid has been to "save lives at any cost".  Nothing.

> e) And all these learned 'oloists agreed that at some stage a decision will be have to be made on what is an acceptable death rate from Covid.   And only when we reach that point, will life return to some sort of normal.

I expect they were over-simplifying.  It's not the deaths that's the pressing problem, it's having them and the hospitalisations - including of the many times more survivors - bunched up in time to the point healthcare can't cope.

"normal" will come back not when the death rate is low, but when "normal" won't lead to healthcare being overloaded.  As a consequence of this, deaths will be low, but the drive is not to eliminate deaths - as you endlessly say, we tolerate them from flu and RTAs - it's to make sure so many people don't become hospital levels of ill in such a short period of time that healthcare is overwhelmed - not just for Covid patients but for everyone else.

I feel like this is a simple point.

>  It would be simple to ban climbing with the result of no deaths..

If there were 30,000 injured climbers in hospital and another 4,000 going in every day I think climbing would be banned.

Post edited at 20:01
 Billhook 17 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Yes maybe I do go on a bit.  But then some one tells me how awful it was because they know someone with no underlying health conditions i and is still ill several months after catching Covid.  I think there's one or two posts above which keep banging on about these deaths being unnecessary. 

I'm not sure those on  R4 were 'simplifying matters, but I'd be typing what they said all night if I gave a full draft

I should really not continue banging on about Covid.  I'd just like to say, that despite what I say or infer I stick to all the covid restrictions and  if I mention Covid again, please remind me I said I'd not mention it again.  Its not doing me any good anyway.

 bruxist 17 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I wish I'd known about that open letter at the time. I'd have signed.

Instead, I spent that same day writing a report sent to management that evening summarizing the risk, highlighting how rapidly infections were growing in the UK compared to Italy (at over double Italy's rate on the 12/03/2020), and making clear that we were already on an exponential curve. And, sadly, making recommendations about PPE and other mitigation measures, because I'd judged management were already hostile to closing the doors, and because I feared they wouldn't understand what I was telling them but might accept some mitigation measures in the spirit of not frightening the horses, even if they thought the warning was overblown hysteria.

One thing I note from my report, reading it again now, is that I spent a good deal of it debunking herd immunity, and noted that UK GOV policy was as of that date "alone in Europe in having taken no measures against Coronavirus, except to propose that 'herd immunity' will ensue from managed mass infection." People forget how extreme an outlier the UK was at that point. The best scientific minds in the Western world did know what to do, and most of them had done it already.

In reply to Billhook:

I agree it's a balancing act. How many died in the uk today because of covid? Is that an acceptable number? 

 wintertree 17 Feb 2021
In reply to bruxist:

>  The best scientific minds in the Western world did know what to do, and most of them had done it already.

Yes, I'm a bit confused at the rather forceful attempt to put down the idea that some people might have seen this coming a few weeks earlier.  Luckily for all of us, some people at Oxford saw this coming in January and got very busy o the vaccine front.

It seems like you made a more systematic attempt than me at getting this across to senior management at the time - being in a lowly position I didn't have great routes in.  Watching my institution's senior management stumble through this was an eye opener - they're happy to call my colleagues World Leading in the marketing materials, but as an administration they barely listen to a word from their world leading scientists themselves, convinced they know better despite all signs to the contrary.  It was just the kick up my behind I needed to try something different.  

> One thing I note from my report, reading it again now, is that I spent a good deal of it debunking herd immunity, and noted that UK GOV policy was as of that date "alone in Europe in having taken no measures against Coronavirus, except to propose that 'herd immunity' will ensue from managed mass infection."

Thanks for mentioning this;  re: Blunderbuss' earlier post about scanning the papers from the time, it's important to realise that a lot of lobbying goes on behind the scenes within large institutions and to government, and that this can lead the press by some time. 

> People forget how extreme an outlier the UK was at that point. The best scientific minds in the Western world did know what to do, and most of them had done it already.

I haven't forgotten - it was a most surreal few weeks watching the severity of the approaching train wreck being downplayed despite two full examples of what was coming from Wuhan and then Norther Italy.  Still, I suppose it softened me up for watching another impending disaster in December 2020...

.

Post edited at 21:10
In reply to Billhook:

Look at the facts: over 100,000 people dead over the last year and hospitals bursting at the seams for many months, resulting in millions of cancelled operations. That's despite three lockdowns so imagine what it would have been like if we had carried on as normal as if it was 'just like the flu'. The evidence is undeniable and very clear shows that this is NOT 'just like the flu' until such time as we have effective vaccines and drugs.

What's going to be different by the autumn is most people will have been vaccinated and there's talk of being able to tweak the vaccines on an ongoing basis to deal with vaccine resistant variants. We are also developing drugs to fight Covid, though so far they haven't made a massive difference. So going forward we might be able to 'live with it' but we aren't there yet.

In reply to Si dH:

You may well be right but let's hope cases will be kept to low levels (low thousands at most, preferably hundreds) through T&T, increasing herd immunity and gradual opening up, until such time as most of the population gets vaccinated (80-90% seems feasible but it remains to be seen what the uptake level will be among younger people). At that point we won't be in the clear yet but we will be in a much better position. And let's hope that we won't get Kent's big, bad brother popping up somewhere...

 wintertree 17 Feb 2021
In reply to Misha:

>  We are also developing drugs to fight Covid, though so far they haven't made a massive difference. 

Hospitalised patients were going in to intensive care about half as often in December/January as a result of new treatments compared to March/April.  I’d say that’s a massive difference, although it’s nowhere near the difference needed to render this like a seasonal flu.  But there is a lot of promising material in the pipelines.

In reply to wintertree:

I was thinking something which would be over 90% effective at preventing serious Covid and death, i.e. equivalent to the better vaccines being developed - thus acting as a substitute for vaccines in the even that new vaccine evading variants emerge. Of course if it evades vaccines, could it evade drugs as well? This is so far outside my limited knowledge of such things that I can only ask questions here.

I didn't realise it was as 'good' as half the rate though. To put it another way, if ICU admissions had been double what the actually were in late Dec - early Jan... I suppose they might have locked down earlier.

In reply to Misha:

If the drugs deal with the effects on our bodies, rather than fighting the virus directly, then the virus shouldn't be able to mutate around that, unless it can produce new effects that are similarly harmful.

 Billhook 18 Feb 2021
In reply to summo:

Probably not - I won't be making that decision.  

But then around 14,000 die each week from other causes.

 Billhook 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Misha:

I haven't said its just like flu.

My comments have largely been around the idea that we are going to have to learn to live with it.  And 'living with it', means accepting that some people are going to die.  The number of deaths/illnesses due to Covid will he a government decision.

That will be the Covid Long Term Plan.

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Billhook:

> And 'living with it', means accepting that some people are going to die. 

That has always been accepted.

What has never been accepted is the idea having healthcare overloaded by it for months on end, with 3x as many people needing healthcare as are able to access it.

We can’t “learn to live with it” by accepting death.  We already accept death.

We can learn to control it to the point healthcare isn’t overloaded.  A consequence of controlling it that much is that it’s not going to kill many people at all.  Which is nice, but that isn’t the goal.  We start controlling it by breaking social links; as natural and vaccine induced immunity increases and as therapeutics get better, we move to controlling it by technological means and we restore the social links.

Accepting more death does not fix the problem of healthcare overload. Technological progress does.  Exactly the same would happen if a flu or a plague appeared tomorrow for which we had no immunity and no effective therapeutics.

Post edited at 09:15
 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Misha:

I agree; we need 90%+ reduction in severe consequences by some combination of vaccination and therapeutics.  That's in sight now I think...

> I didn't realise it was as 'good' as half the rate though.

It only took two weeks of exponential growth to eat up the difference.

> To put it another way, if ICU admissions had been double what the actually were in late Dec - early Jan... I suppose they might have locked down earlier.

You might think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

It does give one pause for thought when you look at two separate waves and both pretty much max out nationwide ITU capacity at the time.  It could be that we have been exceptionally luck that the lockdown wasn't a week later.  Or it could be what you suppose.  

 jkarran 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> I think you misunderstand. You can do. But you need to invest for years to get that can do. It's just ineffectual pissing in the wind otherwise and makes people think you can't.

You don't need to invest for years in specialist services to close or heavily restrict a border, to reduce domestic interactions. I sound like a broken record here but The IoM managed, Geurnsey managed. They weren't especially prepared or capable, they're not special, they're not meek and cowed, they didn't suffer SARS. You say they're small but I don't see why you think that helps? They still have all the needs of bigger nations and more beside, they outsource more including personal services like healthcare which necessitate significant ongoing border porosity. They're wealthy and connected, their citizens (previously) mobile. There will have been at least the same fraction of citizens getting sick in the alps last winter as for the UK.

> The binder is great. That doesn't give capacity for millions of diagnostic tests.

You don't need that capacity to close a border or an economy, to impose quarantine. It does help re-open and sooner.

The early phase difference was leadership. We have have a deliberately hollowed out government of distracted, morally and intellectually inadequate libertarians who came to power on an anti-intellectual platform. The result, as in the US with very comparable leadership was predictable disaster despite both nations historically having taken disaster preparedness very seriously the wrong people were on watch when this one arrived. The tools we had while perhaps no longer the sharpest globally were barely even deployed.

jk

Post edited at 09:53
 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

> The early phase difference was leadership.

Come now, that’s just hindsight.

Did you, me, a dozen other forum posters, thousands of scientists across the western world and many others really know better than governments? What’s that?  Open letters proving it?  Forums posts on record proving it?  Oh.  I’d better skulk off from this thread quietly and drop my argument...

 neilh 18 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

Whilst it is clearly a well proven point about the USA and the Uk in terms of leadership, you only have to look round at the results in Western Europe to realise its not as simple as portraying it as a leadership issue. After all Germany, France, Italy and Spain also have high numbers of deaths. I never thought I would see Germans toll being 67,000 for example.France is at 83,000.I did not think I would see the EU  vaccine rollout programme fall flat on its face.You can argue about the death rate, but the overall numbers direction are not exactly great reading.In the round its not exactly glowing.

The difference between that and some of the Pacific Rim countires - NZ, Aus, Taiwan, and so on is stark.A sense of lazy superiority optimism in Western Europe needs to be factored in and not being prepared to learn from distant neighbours." We in Western Europe know best" seems to me to be " We in Western Europe have had a right kick up our backsides".

I

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> A sense of lazy superiority optimism in Western Europe needs to be factored in and not being prepared to learn from distant neighbours." We in Western Europe know best" seems to me to be " We in Western Europe have had a right kick up our backsides".

Bit we did learn.  We built cat 3 labs to study the original SARS.  We built a PPE stockpile in preparation for a pandemic.  We ran a simulation  exercise at cabinet level on a pandemic that sounds like it make our wake points clear, and meant that cabinet were drilled in what they’d have to do if it happens.

What we learnt wasn’t enough to get deaths down 340x like NZ have, but it *was* good enough to get them down 10x.  Locking down two weeks sooner each time we had clearly lost control of the virus would have achieved that.  

It’s debatable that we could ever have done as well as the exemplar states in this, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have done a lot less atrociously.

Germany’s numbers may be bad, but we are twice as bad here - despite being surrounded by water instead of landlocked.  That factor two crosses a critical tipping point in terms of universal healthcare especially with the higher ratio of provision in Germany.

I don’t know if it was “lazy superiority” or a case or just not understanding.  Perhaps they equate to the same thing.

Post edited at 13:15
 jkarran 18 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Whilst it is clearly a well proven point about the USA and the Uk in terms of leadership, you only have to look round at the results in Western Europe to realise its not as simple as portraying it as a leadership issue. After all Germany, France, Italy and Spain also have high numbers of deaths. I never thought I would see Germans toll being 67,000 for example.France is at 83,000.

Why not? They started from much the same position as Britain, covid basically ignored then everywhere, then took similar half measures through the summer/autumn leaving them with a serious problem going into winter. Mistakes aren't confined to Britain but ours have been absolutely egregious.

> I did not think I would see the EU  vaccine rollout programme fall flat on its face.

Has it though? It's certainly a bit behind Britain's in getting started and they've had some early supply issues but then we're miles behind several other countries which we neglect to consider when blowing the vaccine trumpet.

> The difference between that and some of the Pacific Rim countires - NZ, Aus, Taiwan, and so on is stark.A sense of lazy superiority optimism in Western Europe needs to be factored in and not being prepared to learn from distant neighbours." We in Western Europe know best" seems to me to be " We in Western Europe have had a right kick up our backsides".

Absolutely but brexit-Britain is now that the US saw sense the the preeminent example of that lazy, wilfully stupid exceptionalism, that's reflected in both our per-capita mortality and outsized economic damage. Forget learning from distant neighbours we can look much closer to home, while Italy choked we didn't prepare, we sat arguing over how different we are from them.

jk

Post edited at 13:19
 neilh 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

They did the same in France etc. Its not a unique UK issue.You must have read about their farce on masks for example.

I do agree 100% we could have done better, but then so could alot of others in Western Europe.

 neilh 18 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

The exceptionalism is not just in the UK though and that is my point.

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

It’s true that many places could have done better.  The UK is still an outlier compared to all but one of them however.  2x or 4x as bad as many.  Despite claims from someone up thread that the UK hadn’t invested in preparation for this sort of thing, it had invested.  The real tragedy here to me is not that we did so badly compared to many of our near neighbours, but that we did so badly considering the significant investment of UK resources in to planning for a pandemic over the last decade.

  • Pandemic planning committee in parliament - disbanded 6 months before Covid hit
  • Cabinet level pandemic simulation exercise conducted in 2016. The outcomes are still not published, the national security committee of Parliament highlights how the key findings are not pushed down into infrastructure 
  • Strategic PPE stockpile established for pandemics was run down, NERVTAG recommendations to fill it were ignored.

This report is worth a read - straight from the horses mouth as well, being a parliamentary committee report.  Opening paragraph:

Regrettably, it finds that this test case exposed profound shortcomings in how the Government safeguards national security 

https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/111/national-security-strategy-joint-committee/news/137998/government-failed-to-act-on-its-security-plans-for-a-pandemic/

Despite the bizarre and non scientific dismissal of posters that saw this coming a few weeks before lockdown (the “finest minds” one...), the national security infrastructure saw this coming over a decade ago and ranked it as one of the most severe threats to the UK.  
 

Post edited at 13:49
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> The exceptionalism is not just in the UK though and that is my point.

This, the only difference I can see between us and virtually everywhere else in Europe is that we locked down about a week too late....beyond that was there really that much difference in any approaches?

I know the Germans had far superior test and trace but did the bulk of Europe take a different approach to us in Feb and early March before it became apparent Italy was in a load of trouble when it locked down...

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> This, the only difference I can see between us and virtually everywhere else in Europe is that we locked down about a week too late....beyond that was there really that much difference in any approaches?

I think it's pretty clear that we locked down two weeks too late.  Perhaps we were closer to one week behind comparator nations, but those are two different statements.

On other difference I think - we started with a lot less total and available hospital capacity than some of our comparators, and as I understand it there was a drive to create more headroom by discharging "bed blockers" back in to the various care homes.  Given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the virus and the lack of widespread testing (testing which, to date, is still far from perfect especially on recently infected people), this perhaps drove or contributed to a wave of infection through parts of the care sector.

 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

If you think we should have locked down at the same time as Italy then every other country in Europe was behind the curve...things escalated very fast w/c the 9th across Europe.

 neilh 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I shall read.

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> If you think we should have locked down at the same time as Italy then every other country in Europe was behind the curve...things escalated very fast w/c the 9th across Europe.

Two weeks before lockdown as March 9th.

  • On March 9th, we had 147 detected cases that day
    • That had increased 6.7x from the value a week before on the 2nd of March.
  • We knew that we were only catching a small minority of cases based on
    • We were not doing mass testing
    • We had abandoned contact tracing
    • The experiences of Northern Italy and Wuhan
    • We were unequivocally seeing the results of community transmission. 
    • Data from the UK on a super-spreader event and data from abroad strongly suggesting the role of symptom free transmission 
  • We knew that this had hit Italy like a runaway freight train from hell.
    • We knew our control measure to date did not substantially differ from those Italy had done

On Match 10th we had 265 cases

On March 11th we had 405 cases

So, yes,  I bloody well think we should have locked down by March 9th.  I thought that at the time.  The evidence at the time available to the government was unequivocal.

By March 9th, as a household we were isolating ourselves and dug in for the inevitable.  As an employee, I was lobbying my employer hard to effectively lockdown with respect to in-person teaching.  Bruxist notes up thread that they were doing likewise on March 8th.  I doubt all the people who signed the open letter dated March 12th were sat around twiddling their thumbs.

There was a lot of communication between scientists from the start of March about this and a lot of push behind the scenes before it bubbled over in to the media sphere.  

The data was unequivocally clear two weeks before lockdown.  The context from Wuhan Province and then Northern Italy was unequivocally clear two weeks before lockdown.  By March 12 when the open letter came out 1.5 weeks before lockdown, the situation had progressed from unequivocally clear to sheer insanity.

I don’t know if you saw my post up thread, but Roadrunner6 was either severely misreading my post (or misrepresenting my views) to say I wanted lockdown 3 weeks before it happened in March 2020 - you chimed in on that quite negatively.  If you look at my post Roadrunner6 apparently misread you’ll see that 3 weeks was in reference to the lockdown in January 2021.

Yes, I think it’s clear many other countries were behind the curve as well.   None of which refutes my claim up thread that scientists were clamouring for more actions two weeks before we locked down.  You may not find much in the press for two weeks before lockdown, but that is not the be all and end all of what was happening.  In wonder if the full set of communications sent to all SAGE members from the scientific community will be released during the public inquiry?  If you read the text at the end of the letter dated March 12th, it speaks volumes about what had been happening before then.  "We urge anyone who has sympathy with our views, and access to the government strategy group, to make our concerns more widely known."  

But, exceptionalism prevailed both in government and apparently in the voices dominating SAGE, including someone mistakenly believing an old, unreviewed influenza model had meaningful predictive potential in the early days of a pandemic riddled with unknowns, where there were less days of data to fit their model to than there were implicit and explicit free parameters in their model.

Post edited at 17:19
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

The open letter came out on the 14th....I saw nothing before that from our scientific community calling for a lockdown.

My point is not what you think but what the prevailing attitude in the country amongst the public and perhaps more importantly the scientific community was....I think you are mistaken if you think that was for a lockdown on the same day as Italy. 

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> My point is not what you think 

My point is not what I think - it is what was happening behind the scenes at that point.  You have claimed nothing was happening 2 weeks before lockdown because it wasn't in the media.  I  refute that the media is the be all and end all of what was happening.

You claimed lockdown was not 2 weeks too late.  It was,  manifestly, both by hindsight but critically by the detailed set of evidence that was publicly available at the time, and which members of the scientific community were representing at the time, 2 weeks before lockdown.

> My point is [..]  what the prevailing attitude in the country amongst the public and perhaps more importantly the scientific community was....I think you are mistaken if you think that was for a lockdown on the same day as Italy. 

What the public felt at the time is a different matter, and quite clearly not what I have been discussing.  That loops back to leadership, and that the public had to be frightened in to lockdown (*) is a reflection on leadership - shaking hands and all that.   

Do you have an evidenced basis for your point about the prevailing attitude in the scientific community at the time?  I have provided evidence for my perspective.  Another poster, Bruxist has chimed in.  There was a lot of dissent from within the scientific community before the open letters started circulating.  I've never seen anything like it in 20 years in science.  

This argument started because Roadrunner6 dismissed jkarran with "The best scientific minds in the western world didn't know what to do but you did?".  I pointed out that there was a lot going on in the scientific community that was dissenting with government policy.  I have provided examples.  Another poster has provided their example.  You can call us liars if you like, but otherwise I think you have to accept the point that the consensus of opinions Roadrunner6 claims in order to dismiss jkarran was just not true.  

That open letter appeared 11 days before lockdown.  Do you think that it came together instantly?  No.  Those conversations had been going on for some time before it was published.  Read the plea in the last sentence.  It speaks volumes.  Many scientists were highly concerned about the lack of action more than two weeks before lockdown.  That is beyond any reasonable doubt.  It shows that Roadrunne6 was out of order with their dismissal of jkarran.  Beyond any reasonable doubt.   What you or I think about how the public would have responded to this is irrelevant to this point.

> I saw nothing before that from our scientific community calling for a lockdown.

This isn't about what you saw, or what had spilled over in to the public domain.  It's about proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a lot of scientists were highly concerned for some weeks before lockdown, and so Roadrunner6's dismissal of jkarrans's point was just not true.  A lot of the scientific minds - not just the best but bumblies like myself did know what to do.  And it was what jkarran wanted to do.  And we were doing it.  It was an arrogant, un-evidenced dismissal, a call to perceived authority to cover up a lack of a point.  It's simply not an accurate reflection of the truth.(Here is another example - you claimed you saw nothing before the open letter on the 12th March.  This is from 11th March.  Mark Handley from UCL pushed his plotting hard to the media showing that we were less than 2 weeks behind Italy.  The implications of this to scientists were astoundingly clear.  We're 2 days shy of 2 weeks pre-lockdown with publicly available documents.  Handley's analysis didn't come out of thin air and had been circulating for some time before with clear implications.   There was a lot more going on with less prominence than Handley's plots.

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/headlines/2020/mar/coronavirus-spread-shown-graph-form

You can claim the country was not ready to lockdown and you're probably right (*).  But many members of the scientific community were watching with increased horror and disbelief throughout March, and as one of them I couldn't disagree more strongly with how a former scientist on this thread dismissed jkarran. 

(*) or did they?  We'll never know, it felt like there was a fatalistic view over this. 

Post edited at 17:52
 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> We're 2 days shy of 2 weeks pre-lockdown with publicly available documents. 

Actually 1 day short of 2 weeks pre-lockdown, as the UCL press release came a day after the various media articles including Mark Handley's analysis showing we were following the same kind of rapid exponential process as Italy.  Given that it took lockdown to control cases for Italy, and that we were on the same trajectory, and that the longer we waited to control cases, the more people would die and the worse healthcare would be clobber, the conclusion from this was and is clear.

When you read scientists in the news, you have to keep in mind where they're moderating their opinions because if they're too blunt they don't get in the news, so there's an optimax to be found between strength of messaging and audience reach.  

Post edited at 18:04
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

The scientific community came out when the herd immunity policy was laid bare on the 12th/13th Mar.....so if they were behind lockdown on the 9th where were the voices in the media because I dont remember any.

Sure you can cite a few saying behind closed doors we needed to lockdown way earlier than we did....and if they think we should have locked down on the 9th they must have thought this a few days before that date.

Ferguson said Italy locking down on the 9th changed everything but you claim the scientific community was behind a lockdown well before that...where is the evidence of this? 

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> .so if they were behind lockdown on the 9th where were the voices in the media because I dont remember any.

I've provided you with a link to multiple media pieces with a scientist making the case on the 10th that cases were exponentially out of control in England and that they were doubling as quickly as in Italy.  

If we asked the scientist behind that "Do you think we should lock down now, or wait until 40,000 deaths and near healthcare collapse are locked in", what do you think he would say to you?  Why do you think he was pushing this analysis hard through the media with his press office?

> Ferguson said Italy locking down on the 9th changed everything but you claim the scientific community was behind a lockdown well before that...where is the evidence of this? 

I don't believe I have claimed the community was behind this - I said that scientists were screaming for more control measures including lockdown - I did not claim this was in the media - you added that.  Another scientist has explained how they were doing this in their institution on the 8th.  They were not alone - the slew of university closers a week alter did not come out of thin air but out of sustained effort from scientists within against disbelieving management.  That plea for routes in to SAGE in the open letter 11 days before lockdown did not come out of thin air.

I'm sorry if you can't read between the lines on this and demand media evidence of scientists asking for lockdown.  You're not going to find what you want - at least not unless personal and professional communications received by all SAGE members come out at the inquiry.

Scientists went to the media between 13 and 11 days before lockdown.  Scientists don't try and send opinions to government by the media.  What you see there are safety valves blowing.  

You can correctly state there was nothing in the media before that.

  • This does not change nor refute what was going on behind the scenes in environments where Bruxist and I worked.
  • This does not support Roadrunner6's dismissal of jkarran

I have made my point clearly.  I recognise your points one the media and over what the public were (probably) ready to accept.

I stand by my point.  I started making this point to show why roadrunner6 was wrong to dismiss jkarran as they did.

> Ferguson said Italy locking down on the 9th changed everything but you claim the scientific community was behind a lockdown well before that...where is the evidence of this? 

No I did not.  I have explained this to you *twice* already on this thread.  I said “weeks”.  The established media timeline is a day shy of two weeks, behind the scenes clearly predates that and another poster chimed in with their experience.

Roadrunner6 misread or misinterpreted and repeatedly misrepresented my “3 weeks” comment that was in abundantly clear reference to the situation in England in late 2020/early 2021.

I am not sure how I can continue to repeat this point until you recognise it.

Post edited at 18:21
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

OK let's leave as we are not going to agree.

I think everyone was expecting control measures to be introduced and ramped up on the w/c 9th but this is far short of a stop a home instruction that you claim should have been introduced on the same day Italy locked down....

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> OK let's leave as we are not going to agree.

I just edited my post to repeat something for the third time as I feel it’s kind of critical to this discussion.  The “3 weeks” claim you appear to be jumping in on was a gross misrepresentation of what I actually said, and applied to late 2020 not March 2020.   I am assuming this was a reading fail on another poster’s behalf which you didn’t chase back to my source message that they misread.

3 weeks before lockdown in March I think the prevalent view was that tighter control measures short of lockdown would diffuse the situation.  As the situation developed faster than control measures, that changed.  2 weeks before lockdown the wheels were in motion that lead to Handly data being pushed 13 days before lockdown and the open letter 11 days before.

> short of a stop a home instruction that you claim should have been introduced on the same day Italy locked down....

The data *was* there to support that.  I’ve outlined it.  You’ve not refuted any of the data nor it’s availability at the time.  The case for the data was made publicly in the Handley content in media the next day.  This was amplified in the open letter a few days later.  This was clearly being discussed before the media facing outputs appeared.  

I stand by my comments.

Post edited at 18:27
 bruxist 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

For media coverage, will this do? 26 February 2020 - https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-news-latest-deaths-uk-infection-flu-a9360271.html

Or for the scientific community's view, this, rather more specific and detailed, on the same date - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873723/03-potential-effect-of-non-pharmaceutical-interventions-npis-on-a-Covid-19-epidemic-in-the-UK.pdf

In the first week of March, France, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Germany among others forbade mass gatherings and closed schools and universities, no doubt led by scientific advice. It was announced that St Patrick's Day was cancelled. By the 13th, even the Premier League had suspended play (the Premier League has rather good scientific input) and I'm sure you can imagine how many weeks of back-and-forth was needed for that to happen.

Meanwhile, Johnson was shaking hands and talking about "take it on the chin" and lifting restrictions on incoming travel from Italy; Gove was chuntering about "run it hot"; and on that very same day, the 13th, Vallance was put in front of the cameras to talk about natural herd immunity. 

There are lots of timelines on the net of what happened when, and it's worth looking at them to refresh the memory or to see what you missed at the time. The voices in the media were there; and the scientific community was pressing as hard as it could.

In reply to Billhook:

> But then around 14,000 die each week from other causes.

You appear to be killing about 130,000 extra people a year.

 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to bruxist:

You might want to check when those countries closed schools as it wasn't in the first week of March......I am well aware of the time line.....perhaps you are not?

You are highlighting my very point, wintertree thinks we should have locked down on the 9th March yet on that date none of those countries had even closed their schools, never mind locked their respective countries down...so they were all behind the curve as well. 

Show me those voices in the media calling for a lockdown on the 9th March or even a couple of days later....if it was being pushed then their must be numerous examples. 

Post edited at 20:17
 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> You are highlighting my very point, wintertree thinks we should have locked down on the 9th March yet on that date none of those countries had even closed their schools, never mind locked their respective countries down...so they were all behind the curve as well. 

What I think is irrelevant to my point which was and remains that scientists were pushing for serious control measures two weeks before lockdown.  I made that point to refute roadrunner’s dismissal of jkarran with a juvenile taunt.

Of course I think now we should have locked down sooner.  How can you argue with that?  The deaths caused by not doing so are manifest.

I argue the data was there to evidence the need for this two weeks before lockdown.  You have refuted none of the evidence I have presented that clearly showed the inevitability of the disaster if we delayed lockdown.

Bruxist has shown you yet more evidence that the scientific community was clearly highly concerned about what was happening.  We both make the case that said concern clearly predates the actions.

I’m left very confused about what you are actually arguing against.  I have said more than once that I don’t think locking down then would have been an easy - or perhaps even possible - sell to the public.  

I don’t see bruxist’s post as countering anything I say - it makes it clear the amount of concern that existed within scientific circles well before lockdown in the UK.

> so they were all behind the curve as well. 

I have agreed with you that other European counties were behind the curve.  None of which has any relevance or baring to my point that the concern within and calls for action from the scientific community in the UK pre dated lockdown by more than two weeks.

> Show me those voices in the media calling for a lockdown on the 9th March or even a couple of days later....if it was being pushed then their must be numerous examples. 

Scientists don’t normally operate through the media.

Handley’s graphs were in print on the 10th.  They would have been submitted with the commentary on the 9th at the latest.  Italy had locked down out of desperation.  He made it clear on the 10th that unless we did more, sooner - in our exponential timeline - than Italy the same disaster lay ahead.  Reading between the lines keeping in mind his constraints - this is obvious.

Asking for media links is setting up a false criteria.  Handley’s contacting of the press in time for an article on the 10th, the open letter on the 12th (what is your view on the last sentence?  You’ve ignored my comments on this.  What do you read between the lines there?).  These public / media appearances are the safety valves blowing.  Pressure had been building for some time.

> I am well aware of the time line.....perhaps you are not?

You didn’t seem aware of Handley’s press push predating your earliest reference, and you’ve ignored Bruxist’s link to a press story on the leaked worst case scenario late February.  What do you think pushes someone - quite likely a scientist - to leak that against government policy?  It’s another safety valve popping from behind the scenes pressure.

Saying ”Show me the media” and ignoring all subtexts about how scientists normally operate and what was happening is setting up a criteria that doesn’t address the reality.

Post edited at 20:27
 bruxist 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

I'm afraid you're well into troll territory now. Tell you what - as you say you know, why don't you provide the dates when the countries I mention closed schools and universities?

 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

You are going round in circles...and Bruxist has showed me nothing to counter my points. 

The 500000 death toll was public knowledge... so where were the scientists saying lockdown now or very soon?

I never heard any..... bloody hell if it was so obvious and easy (remember you have to have the public on board) then why were they not shouting from the rooftops to lockdown?! You would thought in a public health emergency like that they would not keep quiet....

 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to bruxist:

You google the dates and you will realise your error..... But I am the troll..... Pmsl

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> The 500000 death toll was public knowledge... so where were the scientists saying lockdown now or very soon?

It was public knowledge because it was leaked by someone who felt it was important enough to risk their career to put it in the public domain. Why do you suppose they did that?

> bloody hell if it was so obvious and easy (remember you have to have the public on board)

We are not talking about bringing the public on board.  I have said this many times.  My point was that scientists were highly concerned.  “Easy” relates to leadership not science and I think we all agree leadership was lacking (shaking hands, etc).

> then why were they not shouting from the rooftops to lockdown?! You would thought in a public health emergency like that they would not keep quiet....

I think in scientific circles they were shouting it from rooftops.  The media do not normally feature at all in this process.  I think you’re failing to get your head around this point. 

March 10th.  Italy was in public health meltdown and had just gone in to lock down.  Handly got an article run across the press saying “we are less than two weeks behind them”.  He couldn’t scream disaster, the story wouldn’t run.  Read between the lines.  Lockdown now or overload all healthcare and kill tens of thousands more.  That’s what his analysis said in terms of identifying matched exponential growth rates and a time lag.

You will not find what you are looking for in the media.  That was the safety valve when normal channels closed.

Did you read the last sentence in the open letter?  This was release 11 days before lockdown.  Do you think it appeared from nowhere or out of discussions going back another week?

Read the last sentence.  Tell me what you read in to that.

Post edited at 20:40
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

You keep referring to one scientist saying something on the 10th but think the scientific community was for lockdown on 9th, the day before....show me one scientist who said before the 9th we need to lockdown the nation ASAP....just one please. 

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

Do you understand that scientists don’t work through the media?

Do you think the signatories of that letter published publicly on the 12th were sat around not doing anything 3 days before, then couldn’t find SAGE’s email and so published a public letter [1] that finishes We urge anyone who has sympathy with our views, and access to the govern- ment strategy group, to make our concerns more widely known.

That’s 501 UK signatories and 40 international signatories, most of them senior positions and high tier institutions.

If you want to insist that those 541 people wrote this on a whim on the 12th, you go ahead.  It seems astoundingly clear to me that this was a letter of last resort that had been in progress for more than the 3 days needed to meet your deadline of the 9th.

Handley’s submission to the press ready for publication on the 10th (ie at least one day before) looks to me like another clear last resort.

The leaking of the reasonable worst case in late February also seems like a last resort.

Having identified the geographic spread of lockdown failure associated with the Kent within variant within hours of its announcement and tried to push that to everywhere relevant, then watched a failure to lock down to control if for 3 weeks, I can promise you that concerned scientists do a lot behind the scenes that does not make the media.

[1] http://maths.qmul.ac.uk/~vnicosia/UK_scientists_statement_on_coronavirus_measures.pdf

> show me one scientist who said before the 9th we need to lockdown the nation ASAP

I have shown you 541, unless you genuinely believe that 541 people woke up on the morning of March 12th and wrote that letter out of the blue, having not tried to do anything else a few days before.

Post edited at 20:57
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

So you cannot provide anything.....not one letter to a broadsheet or even a blog?

That letter doesn't even state 'lock the country down asap' does it, yet you think this is some sort of evidence for your claim that the scientific community wanted a stay at home order imposed on the nation on the 9th......I can't join the dots here, sorry.

That really is it for me, I only replied to counter the misinformaton on Bruxists post which made his slightly patronising tone a bit annoying

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

I have made my case.

You are demanding - and only willing to accept - something in the public press.  You are not going to get what you ask for.  I have already told you I can’t give it to you.

I stand by what I have written on this thread.

> hat letter doesn't even state 'lock the country down asap' does it, yet you think this is some sort of evidence for your claim that the scientific community wanted a stay at home order imposed on the nation on the 9th......

You are putting incorrect words in my mouth here, and a lot of them.

My point to Roadrunner6 was that their rank dismissal of jkarran flew in the face of serious concern from many scientists.  I have evidenced that.   

If you refuse to read between the lines on what are manifestly the comments given in public when safety valves blew from parts of the scientific community we are never going to find agreement.

I know, I know, you’re going to ask me to show you a newspaper article.  

Here is a quote from that letter.  You still haven’t given me your interpretation of the last sentence.

By putting in place social distancing measures now, the growth can be slowed down dramatically, and thousands of lives can be spared. We consider the social distancing measures taken as of today as insufficient, and we believe that addi- tional and more restrictive measures should be taken immediately, as it is already happening in other countries across the world.

What was happening in other countries?  Measures up to and including lockdown.  This came out on the 12h, it was in preparation before the 9th I think.  It’s calling for more social distancing than we had - considerably more.  The rest of the letter includes explaining the imminent wave of healthcare overload and deaths within weeks.  The urgency of the letter is clear.

We’re in to semantics over “additional and more restrictive measures” and “lockdown”.  We never had a real lockdown in the UK, we did have additional and more restricted measures.  We all call it lockdown for convenience.  

Post edited at 21:22
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Right last post from me as to be clear I am not putting words in your mouth.....you said lockdown was 2 weeks too late....not measures should have been introduced wc 9th, which I would agree with and that letter alludes to.....there is a huge difference. 

 Billhook 18 Feb 2021
In reply to The New NickB:

Where on earth have I said that we shouldn't be doing anything to reduce the Covid death rate? - or indeed any other death rate.

Try reading my post at 1951 Wednesday.  Oh, to save you the bother I was largely summarising  a R4 interview which explained we are going to have to learn to live with Covid.  That doesn't mean we have to learn to live with the current death rate from Covid for ever.  

 Si dH 18 Feb 2021
In reply to thread:

All this I said you said it a bit unedifying. It's perfectly clear that:

1) lots of people including quite a few on these forums knew the UK was going to be hit hard by the pandemic a couple of weeks before lockdown began, and

2) none of us were in the position of having to take the momentous decision to do something about it.

It's blatantly obvious the UK locked down too late and made other mistakes early in the pandemic. Most of those have been recognised and the environment now is completely different.

Post edited at 21:38
 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Right last post from me as to be clear I am not putting words in your mouth.....you said lockdown was 2 weeks too late....not measures should have been introduced wc 9th, which I would agree with and that letter alludes to.....there is a huge difference. 

I don’t fully understand your point.

Cases were clearly evidenced to be rising exponentially via community transmission by the 9th.  That was two weeks before lockdown.  We knew from Italy that measures short of lockdown did not prevent the exponential spread of cases.  Ergo, unless we locked down before cases grew too high, we knew we would have healthcare overload.  It was inevitable.  

With the exponential growth rates made clear by Handley’s analysis - published in the media on the 10th and presumably submitted on the 9th or sooner, it was clear from the data that short of dramatic and immediate action we would have the same level of healthcare overload and death.

I don’t think you are trolling but I do think you are seriously misunderstanding how scientists communicate, and so are reading some of the evidence presented very differently to Bruxist and I.  

Handley’s analysis showed we were less than two weeks from locking in total healthcare overload, and it was *published* in the *press* on the 10th.  At that point given the doubling times he *published* it was abundantly clear serious control measures were needed.  You ignore this.  541 leading scientist publish a call for stronger social distancing measure than we had, citing immediate and horrific consequences.  This was clearly being discussed before the 9th to have the letter out on the 12th.  They don’t use the word “lockdown” but the message is astoundingly clear, especially given the then doubling times.

This started when I objected to Roadrunner6’s reply to jkarran mocking him for behind ahead of our “finest minds” or some such.  You’ve been presented with a lot of evidence that they were highly concerned more than two weeks before lockdown, utterly demolishing roadrunner6’s reply.   You’re basing your point on specific semantics on a word we now take for granted but that at the time was almost unheard off (Italy hadn’t locked down when the letter was being drafted) and on its absence from the popular press.  Which isn’t where scientists go.  Except they did, from the 26th Feb or 10th March onwards (depending on who leaked the reasonable worst case report) as safety valves blew.

Unkess your point is one of semantics alone I concede nothing and stand by my points.

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Si dH:

Good points, well made.  Both about the timeline and the discussion.

> It's blatantly obvious the UK locked down too late and made other mistakes early in the pandemic. Most of those have been recognised and the environment now is completely different.

The environment does seem to have changed a lot recently, but watching the late lockdown be repeated this December was very difficult.

 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

So why didn't that letter published on the 14th state 'lock the country down now'?!!!

You are using this evidence for your argument that the scientific community was for a lockdown on the 9th.....you are now also wriggling because they didn't use the word lockdown as though this word was unheard of at the time ....seriously?! 

There is no logic here, none at all..... Dont ever become a lawyer! 

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> You are using this evidence for your argument that the scientific community was for a lockdown on the 9th

I never claimed what you infer to be the whole community was.  This is a good example of you over interpreting and (I say this genuinely, not as a snark) inadvertently misrepresenting my position.

On the inadvertent misrepresenting both today and yesterday you’ve said I was calling for lockdown at the start of March.  I was not.  That was I think the result of another poster misreading my comments about December 2020 and “3 weeks”.  You continue to fail to acknowledge my pointing out of this and sometimes to argue against this claim I never made.

> There is no logic here, none at all..... Dont ever become a lawyer! 

I’ve been known to find logical flaws in contracts drafted by £500/hour teams of business lawyers.  

I’m also engaging in this discussion in good faith, not throwing insults at you, and defending you against the suggestion you could be trolling.   You might reflect on that and your posting position.

> So why didn't that letter published on the 14th state 'lock the country down now'?!!!

It did if you read it as a scientist along with the evidence on doubling times.  It was literally begging for a way in to SAGE.  You still haven’t given me your interpretation of the last sentence.

You said you were done with this argument but came back to throw something of an insult at me.  I guess you really are done.  I have made my case to exhaustion.  

Post edited at 22:02
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

You stated the country should have locked down on the 9th and have provided nothing to back up your claim that the scientific community was for this beyond that letter.....you have claimed I put words in your mouth when I haven't.

Considering the above I think I have been quite polite... 

You also seem to have ignored that Ferguson said Italy actions on the 9th changed everything..... How the hell does this square with the claim that our scientists were all for lockdown on the same day?

You both can't be right and I'm going with Neil, sorry.... 

 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> You stated the country should have locked down on the 9th and have provided nothing to back up your claim that the scientific community was for this beyond that letter...

Beyond the letter signed by 541 largely heavyweight scientists you mean?

Behind the case made by Handley’s data you mean?

> you have claimed I put words in your mouth when I haven't.

You have claimed I said this with reference to the start of March, when that was a misunderstanding by Roadrunner6 of me talking about December 2020.  You continue to refer to the “scientific community” when I never did.  I have used various plurals for scientists but have never claimed it was the (whole) community.  My first message you may note deliberately reused some pointed words from roadrunner6’s dismissive post to someone else and so may have needed a little bit of nuance to interpret.

> Considering the above I think I have been quite polite... 

And yet you have insulted me and I have not insulted you.  

> You also seem to have ignored that Ferguson said Italy actions on the 9th changed everything..... How the hell does this square with the claim that our scientists were all for lockdown on the same day?

I *never* said all.  Never.  Nor the (whole) community.

> You both can't be right and I'm going with Neil, sorry.... 

You can believe what ever you want.

I’ve never said we *could* have locked down two weeks early, but that serious concern was there in the scientific community, and that *some* (I never said all, despite what you claim) wanted far more control measures sooner.  

We clearly read that open letter and Handley’s press event - pushing his basic but highly competent, critically important and precisely and aptly interpreted analysis on events well outside his field through mainstream newspapers *very* differently.

You continue to ignore many of the points I raised and engage with them not at all - “3 weeks” and your interpretation of the ending of that open letter being two example.  I’ve tried to engage with every point you raise.

In my 17:09 post I outlined the evidence available at the time to suggest an urgent need to go for highly restive measures around March 9th.  You’ve refuted none of that evidence - either factually or in terms of its then availability.

You’ve claimed twice to have surveyed the timeline and then to be sure of it, but were apparently wrong given your lack of knowledge or Handley’s work and his big media push appearing on the 10th.

Post edited at 22:18
 Blunderbuss 18 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

You should read what you posted earlier this evening, you clearly stated we locked down two weeks too late and this wasn't a view held with the benefit of hindsight.... and since then we have gone back and forth on whether this was a view held in the scientific community....you seem prepared to die on a hill for this claim all evening for some bizarre reason and have provided nothing of substance to back it up. 

Anyhow I'm off to bed... 

Post edited at 22:20
 wintertree 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> You should read what you posted earlier this evening, you clearly stated we locked down two weeks too late and this wasn't a view held with the benefit of hindsight....

It wasn’t and isn’t.  I’ve never said otherwise.  I didn’t say we *could* but that we should was a view held by quite a few scientists.

Personally, for me, it wasn’t hindsight.  I was bricking it, trying to convince my institution to lockdown and withdrawing my family from the world.  Bruxist has detailed how he produced a report for his institution on the 8th to do likewise.  I vividly recall conversations with many colleagues from them.  Then, some of what’s going on that week boils over in to the open letters and you refuse to acknowledge that these didn’t suddenly appear but clearly had a lead in time.

> and since then we have gone back and forth on whether this was a view held in the scientific community...

No.  You continue to misframe this as applying to the (inferred; whole) “scientific community”.

> you seem prepared to die on the hill for this claim all evening for some bizarre reason and have provided nothing of substance to back it up. 

Do you understand that the open letter was a letter of last resort?  What is your interpretation of its last sentence?

I keep raising these pints and you keep ignoring them - neither giving a reason for you to refute what I am inferring, nor agreeing.

You even recognised the letter a few posts ago and now you go back to ignoring it.

You seem to think the only valid evidence of what was going on amongst scientists is articles in the press.  You haven’t engaged with what Bruxist said about the time.  You continue to ignore much of what I say.  Not refute it, not disagree with it, just ignore it.  

You’ve resorted to personal insults and/or childish language to myself and Bruxist (the lawyer quip, pmsl).  I continue to make my point in good faith.  You continue not to engage with a lot of what I’m saying.

Post edited at 22:35
 3 Names 18 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

To be honest, anyone reading that letter and not seeing 'lock down now' probably has a serious issue, with reading comprehension.

In reply to wintertree:

Leave it, the only acceptable evidence would be the DM using the word "lockdown" before 9th March.

Obviously there's a case of 🙈 & 🙉 but not 🙊

Post edited at 22:47
In reply to wintertree:

> The environment does seem to have changed a lot recently, but watching the late lockdown be repeated this December was very difficult.

The difference is that people now have the benefit of experience. We know that Covid gets out of hand quickly and that lockdowns work. Back in March these were concepts which made sense in theory but there wasn't experience from the UK. There was experience from China but you never know whether to trust any official numbers coming out of China - how bad did it really get; did they really get on top of Covid or did they just say that? We now know that it was pretty bad and they did get on top of it but at the time it was natural to be a bit skeptical about claims from an authoritarian regime.

Then there was experience of healthcare overload in Italy, which was more immediate but there was still hope that it would be different in the UK because Italy is still quite far away and not that many people come from Italy to the UK (we now know there were a fair few because of the half term ski break and that it doesn't take that many imported cases anyway). Also Italy was reported to have an older population with more multi-generational households, so there was still hope that the UK wouldn't get as bad. At a very basic level, I suspect most people simply hoped that somehow the UK would get away with it. Things happening in other countries are far less immediate.

There was also a degree of fatalism perhaps. It's coming our way and there's not much we can do about it, so might as well carry on as we are for as long as possible, then do the best we can.

So for all of these reasons I can totally understand why a lot of (most?) people weren't ringing alarm bells until too late. I was certainly in that camp. This was partly because I was in Cham focusing on skiing and climbing as wasn't paying as much attention to the news. I was certainly aware of Covid being an issue but wasn't too concerned about it.

Whereas by December people could see what was going to happen and that it was just a matter of time. People knew from past experience that THIS will happen HERE, as opposed to SOMETHING might happen SOMWHERE ELSE. That's pretty powerful.

Of course a lot of people believed BoJo that there won't be a second wave or that it won't be too bad, because that's what they wanted to believe. Personally I had been expecting a second wave in winter since the summer, since that's what the scientists had predicted. I was just a bit surprised that it arrived sooner and got as bad as it did (partly due to Kent I suppose). However when people could see that the numbers were rising rapidly again, most people could easily put two and two together based on previous experience.

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to 3 Names:

> To be honest, anyone reading that letter and not seeing 'lock down now' probably has a serious issue, with reading comprehension.

Nonsense.....social distancing measures range from cancelling mass gatherings to a Wuhan style lockdown with all sorts in between....clearly a stay at home message is at the more extreme of any SD measures. 

To claim that letter was imploring the government to implement a stay at home measure ASAP is extremely disengenuous... It wasn't.

You must remember by the time it written only Italy had locked down IIRC, other countries were implementing less extreme SD measures at the time...the concern was that we were not doing this, not that we hadn't gone for full lockdown. 

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

So to summarise a few scientists wanted to lockdown on the 9th March but you cannot provide any written or media evidence of this, not even a blog or letter to a broadsheet.....perhaps they did, I'll be very generous and agree (despite no evidence being produced)...so it was a few and not the mainstream opinion...my whole point from the start that the general scientific community was not for this at that time..... They were of course later on as events escalated. 

Please don't go back to that letter  

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Leave it, the only acceptable evidence would be the DM using the word "lockdown" before 9th March.

> Obviously there's a case of 🙈 & 🙉 but not 🙊

Not at all....i am sure they could have written a letter to The Times, Guardian or Independant....or even written a blog... after all this was the biggest health crisis for a century. Surely if they wanted full lockdown by the 9th they would have been screaming about it in the days before. 

No doubt I'll now get something about scientists not using the media...

Post edited at 05:52
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Leave it, the only acceptable evidence would be the DM using the word "lockdown" before 9th March.

Quite.

 I gave them a link to stores in the i News, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Times and ITV News published on the 10th (presumably therefore arranged on the 9th) stating that we were on the same growth curve as Italy with a lag of 9-14 days.  The implication is astounding  obvious - in 9 to 14 days we will be forced to lockdown out of desperate last resort; with horrific levels of death locked in.  Do you think the scientist behind that push perhaps hoped to avoid such a disaster or were they just looking to get their name in lights?  These stories show the strength of the data that was out there to evidence our situation two weeks before lockdown, and given the source had only access to public data, they show that it was a audible to everyone back then, even before it was double underlined in red by this push through the media.  It doesn’t say “lockdown now” and if it did I doubt a single media outlet would have run with it.  

Mark Handley’s analysis was a go to resource for many of my colleagues and myself at the time.  

In reply to 3 names:

> To be honest, anyone reading that letter and not seeing 'lock down now' probably has a serious issue, with reading comprehension

Quite.

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

You are all over the place....one minute you are claiming scientists don't use the media (when I ask for evidence of anyone wanting a lockdown on the 9th) then the next telling me one scientist publishing some data in the 'media' on the 10th is evidence of scientists wanting a lockdown on the 9th, the day before!

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> You are all over the place....one minute you are claiming scientists don't use the media (when I ask for evidence of anyone wanting a lockdown on the 9th) then the next telling me one scientist publishing some data in the 'media' on the 10th is evidence of scientists wanting a lockdown on the 9th, the day before!

I am not all over the place.  I am not repeating everything I say in every single post.   Let me engage in some utterly pointless repetition for you to ignore again.

For about the fifth time, scientists do not use the media normally over stuff like this.  They do so as a safety valve when normal routes are not working. Hence my question to you, asked about a dozen times now, of what your interpretation is of the last sentence of the open letter from 541 scientists.  You won’t answer.  You’ve never answered this.  Do you think they all woke up that morning - all 541 of them - and wrote the letter on a whim?  What do you think the early signatories we’re doing in the proceeding days before writing that last sentence?  You won’t engage with any of this - the subtext.  Another poster gave their interpretation.  You write that off.  

I am telling you that Handley’s analysis was widely circulating before it’s publication on the 10th.  It’s on Twitter I believe.  The analysis is astoundingly clear to me, I am sorry if it isn’t to you.  Several days later the open letter from another 541 scientists comes out.  We are now around a week from being forced into a desperate lockdown out of last resort considering the data - was laid out in a timeline by me you’ve ignored, and as made clear days before by Handley’s analysis which you’ve ignored.  

You’re not going to get any more from me.  You think what you want going forwards.  I’ll know what I know about myself and some of my colleagues, and other scientists elsewhere (one has chimed in on here), and about what I read in the press at the time, and about what I saw in the data at the time.

> my whole point from the start that the general scientific community was not for this at that time

And I have been abundantly clear that I www not referring to the whole (or, now, “general”) scientific community but scientists plural.  As I explained before my original post on this lifted a phrase from the unpleasant post I was replying to, and that that reply needs a bit of nuance to understand.

Post edited at 07:20
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

That letter, which is the whole backbone of your argument called for more SD measures not a stay at home lockdown, the 2 things are very different and you know this...........do you think brining that up in a court of law as evidence for scientists wanting a lockdown on the 9th March would hold any water?

The judge would probably laugh at you...

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> That letter, which is the whole backbone of your argument called for more SD measures not a stay at home lockdown, the 2 things are very different and you know this...........do you think brining that up in a court of law as evidence for scientists wanting a lockdown on the 9th March would hold any water?

So you are back to ignoring Handley’s analysis from a few days before that made it clear we were 9-14 days from disaster? You seem confused.

> The judge would probably laugh at you...

This is a false analogy and one that is utterly inappropriate.

Do you understand the difference between

  • A legal contract
  • Scientists becoming increasingly alarmed at a situation and speaking out, outside their fields, looking to make things better?

You’re ignoring 95% of what I write - and then often coming back with quips that rely on ignoring 95% of what I write, and repeatedly returning to treating this as a legal matter when it’s anything but and when the analogy is utterly inappropriate.

I’ll tell you what.  You’re 100% right, you’re gosh darned clever too to have swung me round to recognising it with your demanding of a letter to a broadsheet, and your utter refusal to accept that there could be any subtext to any of this.  You win.  

Post edited at 07:29
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I ignore most of what you write because it's just aimless waffle skirting round the fact you can produce nothing from even one scientist that said we should lock down on the 9th.....tbc they would have had to state this at least a couple of days before as you could not realistically expect our government to decide and implement such a drastic policy on the same day.

I have even accepted that maybe a few scientists were saying this behind closed doors but my point is that this was not a widely held view in the scientific community at the time and therefore to criticise the government for not locking down on the 9th is extremely unfair......trust me I hate this government but will defend them on this point for the very reasons I have stated.

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> I ignore most of what you write because it's just aimless waffle

I am trying to help you understand my perspective on those communications.  You can write it off.  You’ll see I’m not the only poster to read some of this very differently to you, I see you wrote them off too.  You’ve written if everyone you disagree with.

> I have even accepted that maybe a few scientists were saying this behind closed doors but my point is that this was not a widely held view in the scientific community at the time and therefore to criticise the government for not locking down on the 9th is extremely unfair......trust me I hate this government but will defend them on this point for the very reasons I have stated.

It seems clear to me that government were following SAGE advice.  So they can’t be criticised for that.  What do you make of the last sentence of the open letter?  You continue to ignore this point.  It’s begging for access to SAGE, not government.

I said we should have locked down sooner. I did *not* criticise government for this.  I gave an example of 541 scientists going public to call for access to SAGE.  This shows that a large number of scientists from many fields were highly concerned and were using exceptionally public means to try and reach SAGE. 

You are over reaching in taking my comments on what should have happened, and outreach from scientists, into a criticism of government.  They were it seems closely following SAGE advice. I had something to say about that group far up thread.  It was something of a collective failure.

How about we park this and come back after the public enquiry?

Post edited at 07:51
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

This was my post in reply to someone else:

> This, the only difference I can see between us and virtually everywhere else in Europe is that we locked down about a week too late....beyond that was there really that much difference in any approaches?

You then replied to me with:

> I think it's pretty clear that we locked down two weeks too late.  Perhaps we were closer to one week behind comparator nations, but those are two different statements.

We then set off a journey where I asked for evidence that the scientific community was behind a lockdown on the 9th as without this to expect the government to implement a stay at home message on the 9th is beyond ridiculous........you have not been able to produce any evidence for backing from the scientific community at the time to back the 'we should have locked down 9th' argument, not one shred......and you won't back down.

Post edited at 07:56
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

We did lock down two weeks to late.  That’s beyond any doubt.  Cases were spreading exponentially by community transmission three weeks before lockdown, that was evidenced and published on Twitter and then in the media two weeks before lockdown.

Did we know that at the time?  Government, following SAGE advice, didn’t.  

> you have not been able to produce any evidence for backing from the scientific community at the time to back the 'we should have locked down 9th' argument, not one shred...

There’s a scientist up thread saying that, you wrote them off.  You persist in holding “last resort” public communications from scientists to the standard of a legal contract.

> and you won't back down.

I won’t back down but I do give up.  You will no doubt take that as your victory.  I hope it makes you happy.  I am under no doubt about what I and many of my colleagues made of the situation back then.  

 neilh 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

In Covid planning. Any thoughts on other public health measures long term. As I understand it from nursing friends the hospitals this time are full of obese 40/50 year olds. In the first wave it was mainly over 80 year olds. 
 

do your stats back this up.  Or is it too casual an observation.  

Post edited at 08:57
In reply to Michael Hood:

> I think you're probably right in that eventually Covid will become similar to Flu in its impact and how we deal with it and what's acceptable, more likely than total eradication (only ever done with smallpox).

I work in electronics and every single year of my career I have worked on projects which have never been done before.   It is *normal* to be able to do things now we couldn't do before.

The fact that we only managed to eradicate one disease before we had the technologies we have available now and without the funding that is being thrown at Covid doesn't tell us that we won't be able to do it.

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> There’s a scientist up thread saying that, you wrote them off.  You persist in holding “last resort” public communications from scientists to the standard of a legal contract.

Show me where they explicitly stated we needed to lockdown before the 9th March......I'll take anything in print that was actually written before the 9th March, even a post on here

 wercat 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

mmm, Dominic Cummings was present and advocate at Sage meetings wasn't he?  I think that goes a long way to explain that the relationship between the scientists and government was far from simple.

A highly opinionated unelected Brexiteer with his own agendas providing a channel and "interpretation" to government which might have had a higher signal strength than the scientist channel?   Quite easy to see why the message could have been modulated with noise

Brexit has had a severe impact on the country's ability to act promptly and strategically and effectively in the face of this pandemic.  We had a special purpose Enstatz government with advisors inherited from the time when they set the governments policy itself and one that had purged itself of any contaminating men of ability from earlier political eras

TENS of THOUSANDS are dead because of this

Post edited at 10:10
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wercat:

None of this is relevant to my point. I have read all the SAGE documents from that time and yes no one in SAGE was saying before the 9th March to lockdown.....SAGE did say before the 9th the only way to surpress the R below 1 was to lockdown but once measures were released we'd see a resurgence.

My point is there is whole scientific community beyond SAGE and I am meant to believe there was a weight of opinion within this community that wanted the government to implement a stay at home order on the 9th Mar despite wintertree providing zero evidence for this beyond a letter published on the 14th March asking for more SD measures (not a lockdown) and another scientist publishing data on the 10th March.

Honestly, it's ridiculous....

 jkarran 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> None of this is relevant to my point. I have read all the SAGE documents from that time and yes no one in SAGE was saying before the 9th March to lockdown.....SAGE did say before the 9th the only way to surpress the R below 1 was to lockdown but once measures were released we'd see a resurgence.

Which is (and was) both obvious and not a reason not to 'lockdown' given finite resources and the exponential growth/decay mechanic.

It's pretty clear from this early phase that Sage's advice was self censored for a government not responding appropriately to bad news. How and why that happened (Cummings probably) will hopefully emerge at inquiry so measures an be put in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.

> My point is there is whole scientific community beyond SAGE and I am meant to believe there was a weight of opinion within this community that wanted the government to implement a stay at home order on the 9th Mar despite wintertree providing zero evidence for this beyond a letter published on the 14th March asking for more SD measures (not a lockdown) and another scientist publishing data on the 10th March.

It's only you saying 'whole'. You've been picked up on this dozens of times. It's ridiculous.

jk

Post edited at 10:32
 wercat 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wercat:

unintentional chauvinism - delete "men of ability" insert "people of ability"

delete "Einstatz" insert "Einsatz"

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

> Which is (and was) both obvious and not a reason not to 'lockdown' given finite resources and the exponential growth/decay mechanic.

> It's pretty clear from this early phase that Sage's advice was self censored for a government not responding appropriately to bad news. How and why that happened (Cummings probably) will hopefully emerge at inquiry so measures an be put in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.

> It's only you saying 'whole'. You've been picked up on this dozens of times. It's ridiculous.

> jk

Talk about disengenuous! The use of whole in that post means the community outside of SAGE.....I have not at any point demanded proof that the whole scientific community was for lockdown on the 9th...just some evidence even parts of it were, however small...and I have got nothing but a letter and data issued after the 9th!

I then get told reason for this is that scientists don't operate via the media and it took ages to get a enough together to publish a letter on the 14th that doesn't even call for a lockdown!!!! Can you not see how ridiculous this sounds? 

So forgive me if I am not going to criticise the government for not issuing a stay at home order on the 9th....if you and others have want to then go ahead, but you are not looking at things objectively. 

In reply to Billhook:

You have completely misunderstood my post.

You stated that 14,000 a week die of other causes in the U.K. Average deaths in the U.K. is 600,000 a year. Or 11,500 a week.

130,000 is the difference the two, the fact that it is roughly the number of people that COVID-19 has killed in the U.K. in the last 12 months is a coincidence.

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> So forgive me if I am not going to criticise the government for not 

I said we should have locked down on the 9th, and that the data was there, and that scientists were raising it.  

You yourself have given SAGE comments that - to a scientist - read exactly that as well.  They say we are going to have to lock down to prevent cases rising.  Italy showed us what was in store if cases continued to rise.  Handley's analysis - circuiting before and in the media on the 10th showed us this future was 9-14 days away for us if we didn't make significant steps to stop cases rises.  That step was identified by pre-existing SAGE documents as necessarily being lockdown.

I have not said "we should have locked down and it's all the governments fault" so I don't know why you are clinging to this so strongly..  I have repeatedly - completely ignored by you - hi lighted how scientists - 541 of them - were using a public letter of last resort to try and reach SAGE - not the government - over their concerns.  

You won't consider joining the dots on the case I make, and then you join the dots from my comment to an attack on the government.   It's a lot more complicated than that, and how we failed to lock down two weeks earlier in the face of highly compelling evidence from multiple sources is something that is going to need a detailed unpicking with access to more than the publicly available stuff thee and me can read.

I am surprised you find it so contentious for someone to say that we should have locked down two weeks sooner.  I also say that reasons we didn't need to picked apart and understood.  This didn't happen in time for December 2020 and we all see what that did.  

Did you read the parliamentary national security committee report I linked?

https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/111/national-security-strategy-joint-committee/news/137998/government-failed-to-act-on-its-security-plans-for-a-pandemic/

The pandemic has thrown our vulnerabilities into sharp relief and it is vital that we use this opportunity for some critical introspection. The Government must acknowledge the areas in which they failed to adequately prepare a response to biosecurity threats, such as the one we are currently facing.  

Adequate preparation IMO includes being able to recognise and respond rapidly to the evidence which was in the public domain - much of which came from PHE - and which by two weeks before lockdown was  as plain as the nose on my face said we were going to have a public health meltdown unless we locked down. 

For the avoidance of doubt, I think a lot of the problem was not with the government, but with how they and the opposition came to be in the state they are in, and with the interaction of institutional science and government even before an oddball SPAD and his sidekick are parachuted in to the mix.  The interaction between successive governments of both colours and scientific advice has been a rocky road for at least two decades, with particularly prominent examples around the Iraq war and drugs policy.  The difference is that the consequences of a failure to effectively and efficiently mesh science and government did not have immediate, devastating and exponential consequences within our shores.  Which is not to minimise the cost of failure from the other examples I give, just their visibility.  I am heartened to see this collective shortfall put front and centre in the parliamentary report I linked - I've used the phrase national security a few times in my comments.  I don't know if I missed this report in the media of if they skipped right over it, but it's critically important.  

Post edited at 12:08
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Simple question and a yes or no answer will suffice:

Are you critical of the government not introducing a 'stay at home' order on the 9th March?

 neilh 19 Feb 2021
In reply to jkarran:

Was it really self censored  though or is that just your opinion? The minutes are publically available.

Post edited at 12:48
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Simple question and a yes or no answer will suffice:

Do you think that this situation - the worst crisis in a generation or more - can be boiled down to a simple yes/no answer?

That’s a reduction to absurdity.

Given the government (XA) produced , publicly available data and the analysis available at the time there was unequivocal support in the data, combined with SAGE’s early minutes, that lockdown was inevitable, and that the sooner we locked down, the more lives would be saved and the less healthcare would be hammered.  

  • Community transmission - proved (PHE).  
  • Exponential growth - proved (Data).  
  • Inevitable consequences - proved (Italy).
  • Lockdown the only effective control measure - asserted (SAGE).  
  • A doubling time so short, measures recognised as not sufficient to set R<1 by sage (social distancing less strict than lockdown) would only buy days of headroom - right there in the data and SAGE minutes.

This was all known at the time.  You have not refuted a single piece of these - not even tried.  You have not refuted the availability of any of this information - just returned to your bizarre straw man of needing it in the newspapers, and then dismissing an example of exactly that because the author didn't spell out that which was astoundingly obvious and backed up by the SAGE minutes you yourself have noted.

If you knew all of this on March 9th, would you have wanted to lock down then or to wait another week whilst infections and locked in hospitalisations and deaths ballooned almost 4x?

As the parliamentary report I linked said:

The pandemic has thrown our vulnerabilities into sharp relief and it is vital that we use this opportunity for some critical introspection. The Government must acknowledge the areas in which they failed to adequately prepare a response to biosecurity threats, such as the one we are currently facing.  

This goes back encompassing times before our current government.  They and their structures weren't prepared to understand what was manifestly going on around them.  Perhaps if they hadn't hidden the results of Cygnus away and disbanded their pandemic committee that would have been better placed.

Post edited at 13:12
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

No it is not, you can either take my view and not criticise them....the alternative is to criticise them and clearly state your rationale. 

Look at the SAGE minutes from the meeting on the 5th March and show me where it says the government should be locking down the nation imminently.....it doesn’t.....it doesn't even mention a lockdown as part of the next actions. 

So we have SAGE not advising this, we have no scientists kicking up a fuss in the media in the days before the 9th, but you are still of the belief the government should have locked down on the 9th....and were wrong not to do so.

That's fine, that is your personal view but can you really expect the government to do this in the face of the advice from SAGE and hearing nothing from the scientific community outside of SAGE to say 'lockdown now'? Seriously?!!! 

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Was it really self censored  though or is that just your opinion? The minutes are publically available.

His opinion, he has no evidence at all for his claim....i would bet my life on it  

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> That's fine, that is your personal view but can you really expect the government to do this in the face of the advice from SAGE and hearing nothing from the scientific community outside of SAGE to say 'lockdown now'? Seriously?!!! 

It's like you're reading about 5% of what I'm saying.

I think we should have locked down then.  The data was there, the understanding was there.  We did not.   We need to understand why we did not, and not make that mistake ever again.

You haven't event tried to argue about the data and evidence being there at the time. 

This "the government should have locked down", and that the wider community should have directly informed government - preferably via the newspapers - is a strawman you continue to beat, that you reduced to absurdity from a complex situation.

We must recognise that the systems failed badly in the face of clear evidence, and that the human and economic costs is large.

By trying to reduce this to a simple blame game, you make acknowledging this impossible. If we can't learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.  We have repeated it once already, likely to far greater cost.

In terms of hearing things from outside SAGE, I have presented you a public letter - a step of last resort - from 541 scientists publicly soliciting anyone with the ability to take their views to SAGE.  This explains that the community was trying to say things, and wasn't being heard.  I can't help it that you are unable to read that letter in the context of SAGE's statement that only lockdown would set R<1, Handley's clear analysis of the data that we were 9-14 days from healthcare collapse, and myriad other factors that you continue to flat out ignore. 

I'm reduced to agreeing with Bruxist that this is troll territory now.

Post edited at 13:22
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Was it really self censored  though or is that just your opinion? The minutes are publically available.

I think it is a valid concern. It is a concern I have seen raised by scientists.

I assume you're not naive enough to assume that minutes are typically a verbatim record of a meeting.

This remains a grey area for me, one where we do not have insight or oversight enough to know what effect, if any, this addition had - but where there are clear concerns both in general and in specific.

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Itis not troll territory, you have not deployed any logic so far and I continue to pull you up on it.....your damning piece of evidence against the government decision not to lockdown on the 9th was a letter published 5 days later that did not even call for a lockdown!

I have now told you in the last SAGE meeting before the 9th March they do not even mention an imminent lockdown or even any lockdown at all!

Why do you refuse to answer my simple question  about cristicism of the government for the decision not to lockdown on the 9th? Yes or no.....

Post edited at 13:36
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> I think it is a valid concern. It is a concern I have seen raised by scientists.

> I assume you're not naive enough to assume that minutes are typically a verbatim record of a meeting.

> This remains a grey area for me, one where we do not have insight or oversight enough to know what effect, if any, this addition had - but where there are clear concerns both in general and in specific.

Valid concern based on what? Which scientists have raised this.....I presume you can provide quotes?

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Valid concern based on what? Which scientists have raised this.....I presume you can provide quotes?

Christ in a bike.  

Here’s a broadsheet including quotes for and against - all from committee members themselves.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/26/attendees-of-sage-coronavirus-meetings-worried-by-presence-of-dominic-cummings

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> Christ in a bike.  

> Here’s a broadsheet including quotes for and against - all from committee members themselves.

Un-named.....and rebuffed by Ferguson.

Are you suggesting Cummings was directing the advice/actions of those meetings he attended or that the actions were not recorded correctly?

Post edited at 13:47
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Un-named.....and rebuffed by Ferguson.

You keep coming back to him.  Do you understand that rebuffing a concern does not mean the concern was not raised?  You are not addressing my point, you are misdirecting.  

I see - when you don’t like something you write it off.  

> Are you suggesting Cummings was directing the advice/actions of those meetings he attended or that the actions were not recorded correctly?

Once again you are putting words in my mouth, aren’t you?  What I actually said is in black and white from what you claim I said, and has no connection to it.  I said “grey area”.

Post edited at 13:53
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

So what are you claiming about Cummings involvement, spit it out in plain English....

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> So what are you claiming about Cummings involvement, spit it out in plain English....

I said it above.  If you stopped reading totally different meanings in to what I say it would help.  I can’t speak only more plainly.

Concerns were raised by scientists.  From coffee room discussion up to the piece in the guardian.  I said is was a “grey area” to me.  I noted other spoke out against those concerns.  You seemed to confuse Furgeson speaking out against them as meaning they weren’t evidenced in a newspaper when they plainly were - or so you accuse the piece’s author of lies?

Post edited at 13:56
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Concerns about what? If someone tells me they have concerns about something I will ask them what they are and look at the evidence for them being based in reality....

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Itis not troll territory, you have not deployed any logic so far and I continue to pull you up on it.....your damning piece of evidence against the government decision not to lockdown on the 9th was a letter published 5 days later that did not even call for a lockdown!

> I have now told you in the last SAGE meeting before the 9th March they do not even mention an imminent lockdown or even any lockdown at all!

> Why do you refuse to answer my simple question  about cristicism of the government for the decision not to lockdown on the 9th? Yes or no.....

Come on Wintertree, make my day and answer the question.....please.

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Concerns about what? If someone tells me they have concerns about something I will ask them what they are and look at the evidence for them being based in reality....

Give over.  You just wrote off the concerns I sent evidenced in the Guardian article based on a refutation from one committee member.  One you’ve oddly referred to in a first name basis several times.  A suspicious reader might start to wonder about impartiality here.

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Come on Wintertree, make my day and answer the question.....please.

The answers are there for those with eyes to read.

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

The coffee discussions I mean, I am assuming you were involved in or passed on details of them....tbh I don't care anymore.

I mentioned Ferguson before to push back against your nonsense that the government was wrong at the time to not impose a lockdown on the 9th.....you seem to have missed the very point he made and have provided zero evidence to suggest that in the days leading up to the 9th anyone in the scientific community was calling for this. Zilch, just a letter published on the 14th that doesn't even call for a lockdown and one scientist publishing data on the 10th.....oh, and reams of waffle to skirt around your lack of evidence.

I have also given you details of the last SAGE meeting before the 9th in terms of them not mentioning lockdown once in the meeting minutes.

Yet you still believe the government should have imposed a lockdown at the time and refuse to not criticise them for not doing so........OK.

I'm out and this time for good

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> I'm out and this time for good 

I disagree with you and I stand by what I have written.

I believe the evidence by the 9th clearly showed the inevitability of lockdown.  You have been apparently unable to refute any of that evidence.

It is beyond question that every day we did not lock down from this inevitability cost more lives and healthcare overload.

I believe we were two weeks to late to lockdown.  I believe the evidence then supports this.

You have done absolutely nothing to convince me otherwise but have resorted to belittling myself and another poster.  You ask for evidence than rapidly dismiss it when it doesn’t fit - eg the evidence of scientists on sage raising concerns over political interference.

Remember - you’re out. 

 RobAJones 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

My interpretation of the extract below is that at least some scientists must have been suggesting a lock down before the 9th March. Otherwise why would they feel the need to make up the  idea of "lock down fatigue" as a justification for delaying it?

Speaking at a live televised briefing on 9 March, England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said, “It is not just a matter of what you do but when you do it. Anything we do, we have got to be able to sustain. Once we have started these things we have to continue them through the peak, and there is a risk that, if we go too early, people will understandably get fatigued and it will be difficult to sustain this over time.”

On 12 March he added, “An important part of the science on this is actually the behavioural science, and what that shows is probably common sense to everybody in this audience, that people start off with the best of intentions, but enthusiasm at a certain point starts to flag.”

This idea of behavioural fatigue for measures such as lockdown was repeated in other briefings—including by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance—and it has since seemingly been treated as fact.

The deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, told the US news outlet NBC News on 11 March,1 “Just because a lockdown is imposed doesn’t mean that that is the right thing to do. Timing of an intervention is absolutely critical. Put it in too early, you have a time period [where] people actually get non-compliant—they won’t want to keep it going for a long time.”

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3166

 jkarran 19 Feb 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Was it really self censored  though or is that just your opinion? The minutes are publically available.

Opinion. The alternative interpretations while possible are significantly less charitable and or likely IMO. Give it a couple of decades for the enquiries to run their course then we'll be better able to guess what lies beneath the redaction.

jk

Post edited at 14:59
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to RobAJones:

> My interpretation of the extract below is that at least some scientists must have been suggesting a lock down before the 9th March. Otherwise why would they feel the need to make up the  idea of "lock down fatigue" as a justification for delaying it?

> Speaking at a live televised briefing on 9 March, England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said, “It is not just a matter of what you do but when you do it. Anything we do, we have got to be able to sustain. Once we have started these things we have to continue them through the peak, and there is a risk that, if we go too early, people will understandably get fatigued and it will be difficult to sustain this over time.”

> On 12 March he added, “An important part of the science on this is actually the behavioural science, and what that shows is probably common sense to everybody in this audience, that people start off with the best of intentions, but enthusiasm at a certain point starts to flag.”

> This idea of behavioural fatigue for measures such as lockdown was repeated in other briefings—including by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance—and it has since seemingly been treated as fact.

> The deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, told the US news outlet NBC News on 11 March,1 “Just because a lockdown is imposed doesn’t mean that that is the right thing to do. Timing of an intervention is absolutely critical. Put it in too early, you have a time period [where] people actually get non-compliant—they won’t want to keep it going for a long time.”

All those people are members of SAGE........not one meeting before the 9th recommended that the government should impose a lockdown......read the minutes if you don't believe me.

They are not referring to lockdown fatigue but fatigue with general SD measures....as I stated before these can range from the banning of mass gatherings to Wuhan style lockdown.

The measures they were referring to were those of the inital herd immunity policy:

  • self isolation of symtomatic cases
  • whole household isolation with one member symptomatic
  • social distancing for over 70s
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to RobAJones:

Thanks.  It’s good to see another poster noting another subtext to all this.  Unfortunately the subtexts all lie outwith Blunderbuss’ terms of reference... 

But yes, the odd and seemingly preemptive defence of not locking down stood out at the time, especially given some of the other safety valves blowing from parts of the scientific community, and the discussions going on within parts of the community.

 RobAJones 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> They are not referring to lockdown fatigue but fatigue with general SD measures....as I stated before these can range from the banning of mass gatherings to Wuhan style lockdown.

From this document 9th March (written on 6th) it appears at the time their definition of social distancing measures was  "Cessation of all activities outside household (including social contact between different households) bar essentials and attending school and work."

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/887638/05-potential-impact-of-behavioural-social-interventions-on-an-epidemic-of-covid-19-in-uk-1.pdf

I accept I'm cherry picking my quotes but

Hong Kong and Singapore are undertaking extensive contact tracing as well as a raft of social distancing measures such as school closures and self-isolation, but not to the same level of stringency as seen in Wuhan. There is also anecdotal evidence of extensive self-isolation by the general population. The roughly linear increase in the number of cases in Hong Kong and Singapore suggest that this approach has held the reproduction number around 1.

combined with

A combination of these measures is expected to have a greater impact: implementing a subset of measures would be ideal. Whilst this would have a more moderate impact it would be much less likely to result in a second wave. In comparison, combining stringent social distancing measures, school closures and quarantining cases, as a long-term policy, may have a similar impact to that seen in Hong Kong or Singapore

when you consider the measures they are suggesting combining are closing schools, only leaving home for essential work, and not allowing over 65's out of the house. You can say that they don't actually recommend a lock down in the document, but they seem to be saying quite clearly, that to reduce deaths by 70%-80% you need to have restrictions that are the same as the ones we have at the moment. Their concern seemed to be about a second peak in the winter??

 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to RobAJones:

Yes I have read that document, months ago admittedly....

This point is crucial in my defence of the government.

Point 7:

SAGE advises that measures relating to individual and household isolation will likely need to be enacted within the next two weeks to be fully effective, and those concerning social distancing of the elderly and vulnerable 2-3 weeks after this. However, the triggers for individual and household isolation could be met earlier depending on the progress of the outbreak in the UK. CMO, GCSA and PHE will review case numbers daily to advise further on the meeting of any trigger points.

Yet I am somehow expected  to believe that the government should have gone against the advice of SAGE at the time and go with a 'stay at home' policy no one else was calling for in the media, a policy no other country In Europe had implemented in the days before the 9th and crucially a policy the country would not have accepted......and by not doing this the government deserves criticism.

Honestly it's laughable....

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

I thought you were out.

> Yet I am somehow expected  to believe that the government should have gone against the advice of SAGE

Where have I told you the government should go against the advice of SAGE?  Is this another strawman?

I have said what should have happened.  We should have locked down.  

I have more than once emphasised a group of 150 odd scientists using an open letter as a means of last resort to publicly beg for their views to be represented to SAGE.  Not directly to the government.

(The advice from SAGE did not openly reflect the stark severity of the situation on March 9th.  Having given a reasonable worst case prediction, and having previously stated lockdown was the only way to prevent this, and with us being on a clear exponential trajectory I would say that they had given all the pieces of this, and that they were not being put together.  You are determined to disregard any and all subtexts so we can set that aside.)

You claimed my "damning" evidence was the letter.  It was not, it was the state of the data by March 9th.  I've explained this, talked you through it and its then availability and the attempts to underscore the severity through an extraordinary media release of some analysis.   The letter is I think what emerged from a failure of behind the scenes attempts to get SAGE to pay attention to the damning evidence in the data.

The data absolutely damns the lack of a lockdown.  

I have repeatedly refused to assign a direct and simple blame to "the government" as of March 9th.

You seem incapable of joining the dots on this, with SAGE right in the middle of the dots.

> Honestly it's laughable....

I find this all rather sad, rather than laughable.  You're determined to argue against a strawman reduced to absurdity when the issue is complex.

>  a policy no other country In Europe had implemented in the days before the 9th

I have not said it should have happened before the 9th.  This looks like another strawman.  

The  "everyone else in Europe messed up" angle does not excuse us from asking why we failed so badly when the data and evidence was so clear, nor what we must change to do better next time.  

You refuse to say if you think the data was clear or not by the 9th.  If you think it wasn't, I think you are fundamentally wrong.  If you think it was clear, then the question is why did we not use the data to save lives and protect healthcare?  The answers to those questions are how we do better next time.  Undoubtedly some of it is making sure that people are ready to be more accepting of more control measures in the future when this situation re-arrises.  Many of the failures that left us in such a difficult position lay weeks, months and years before the 9th.   

Post edited at 18:00
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Out as in not engaging you any more.....I will respond to more reasonable posters.

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Out as in not engaging you any more.....I will respond to more reasonable posters.

The data on the 9th justified a lockdown.  You have noticeably never argued otherwise.

You can interpret that as me blaming “the government” all you like.  I have done my damndest to spell it out but you are still - in your replies to other posters - falsely reducing my argument down to that.

I feel I have gone out of my way to be reasonable.  I’m not the only poster you have insulted during this discussion in earlier posts.  I have not sunk to that.

Post edited at 18:13
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> I’ve never accused you of being unreasonable. We hold different views. 

> I stand by mine.  You stand by yours.  You continue to reduce mine to an absurd straw man.

> The data on the 9th justified a lockdown.  You can interpret that as me blaming “the government” all you like.  I have done my damndest to spell it out but you are still - in your replies to other posters - falsely reducing my argument down to that.

God you dragging me back in. These are the facts:

  • SAGE was not advising the government to lock down,
  • no other scientists were calling for this in the days up until the 9th (of if they were they kept very quiet),
  • no other country in Europe in the days before the 9th had locked down (the point here was if we were going to lockdown on the 9th the decision would have had to be made at least 2 days before)
  • the country would not have accepted it at that point

You can go on about data all day long and that YOU saw the need to lock down in the days before the 9th, which I fully accept, but to expect the government to lock down on the 9th in light of the above is laughable, sorry......can you imagine how the public would have reacted.....SAGE are not advising it, no other scientists in the media are advising it, no other country in Europe has locked down and Boris tells the nation on the evening of the 8th March to 'stay at home'.

You are not living in the real world....

Post edited at 18:18
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

You are still not understanding my point at all.

The data justified a lockdown by the 9th.

The ensemble of systems failed to react to that.

There is blame behind that failure, and lessons to be learnt.

As I’ve said, some of that is failures over proceeding weeks, months and years.

You continue to assert your points.  I continue to assert mine.  Several other posters have chimed in to agree with my take on the subtext from various documents or other aspects. 

> You are not living in the real world....

Says you.  You have failed to convince me that you have yet understood my point, at all.  You are monomaniacally obsessed about interpreting everything I say in a very narrow way despite me making it quite clear that’s not what I’m saying.  

The data by the 9th showed clearly that every day we delayed lockdown would lead to more deaths and more healthcare damage.  We did not lock down for another 14 days. Ergo, more people died than could have if we’d locked down when the data supported it.

I prefer my real world to be one where this can be acknowledged without an incessant attempt to misrepresent it as a very specific blame (government actions at that moment in time) and not a call for a systematic root cause analysis of this failure so that we can be better prepared next time.  I do not believe this is an unreasonable expectation.  

Post edited at 18:28
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

My point is simple and has been from the start....to blame the government for not locking down at that time is unfair in light of the advice they got from SAGE, the lack of alarmist voices in the media from other scientists in the week before the 9th and perhaps more crucially before Italy locked down the idea of a democratic nation in Europe doing this was virtually unthinkable, the point Ferguson made, their action on the 9th 'opened the window' ....you are imo too engrained in the data, you're a clever chap but remember most of the country are not and would have seen nothing untoward apart from a serious outbreak in Italy, certainly nothing warranting shutting the nation down....any measures have to have buy in from the public and it simply would not have been there on the 8th March and especially as the scientific community did not back it inspite of the data. 

Post edited at 18:59
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> the lack of alarmist voices in the media from other scientists

This is a fallacy.  I have shown you a scientist saying "we are 9-14 days from Italy" that came out immediately after Italy was forced to lock down by how bad things had got there.  They were saying it in the media by this point.  You can refuse to draw the conclusion from the message, and to ignore that the message "we're going to kill 50,000 people if we keep dong what the government are doing" had to be moderated to get out in many press including the Mail.  

You continue to ignore the sub text of the open letter from 541 scientists publicly asking for a route in to SAGE.  This clearly represent the tip of an iceberg of other channels.

> ...you are imo too engrained in the data,

The data is how we understand where we are and what needs to be done.  Everything starts with the data.  The data was clear that we should have locked down to save lives.  That we did not (could not, you claim, although we'll never know as we never tried) is a manifest failure.  It is a failure that spans the years, months and weeks leading up to that date.  We must learn from that failure so it is never made again.  We can learn.   

> you're a clever chap but remember most of the country are not and would have seen nothing untoward apart from a serious outbreak in Italy....any measures have to have buy in from the public and it simply would not have been there on the 8th March

More support could have been there if the government had recognised the severity of the threat and acted accordingly - for example messaging about the gravity of the threat over the proceeding weeks and not blustering about shaking hands on a Covid ward.  (1)

> and especially as the scientific community did not back it inspite of the data. 

"did not back it" is not true.  There were very few scientists opposing stricter control measures.  There were a lot pushing as hard as they could beyond their fields of expertise.

Why were we not ready?  Partly:

  • The government had disbanded our pandemic preparedness committee half a year before Covid struck. (2)
  • The government had chosen not to share publicly the risk of a pandemic combined with the inadequacy of our preparation by sitting on the Cygnus outcomes - something that they continue to do.  (3)

Actions taken weeks (1), months (2) and years (3) before March 9th are part of why we didn't lock down when we should have.

Multiple different governments took these decisions in different timeframes, and each contributed towards the UK going on to have a standout worst outcome to date on the global stage, in part because those actions contributed to us not locking down when we should have.

Post edited at 19:03
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Right, lets keep this simple...

You claim the data before the 9th showed we needed to lockdown on the 9th......explain this to me then, why did the letter published on the 14th from all those scientists not explicity state that the government needs to lockdown the country asap? It didn't even state the government should consider doing this in the near future.

They had the data that you say was sufficient and clear that this was the correct option, it was obvious to you.....what was their excuse?

Please don't waffle about that letter being a cry for a route into SAGE......they had the data, they knew the danger, they did not state 'lockdown now'.

 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

As another poster said of that letter:

To be honest, anyone reading that letter and not seeing 'lock down now' probably has a serious issue, with reading comprehension.

I agree with them.

> Please don't waffle about that letter being a cry for a route into SAGE

It is not "waffle".  It is my take on what the latter was.  You are back to playing semantics over wording.  It's very frustrating.   Given the severity of the consequences the letter painted and the exponential timescales at the time their call of more measures is abundantly clear even before we consider SAGE's pre-existing determination that only lockdown would halt growth in cases.  Other than dismissing this as "waffle" you haven't done anything to suggest to myself or a couple of other posters are all barking up the wrong tree.

I'm starting to think that you just don't understand the stark clarity that was available by then, and so you assume it did not exist, and you project that on to everything.  Many of my colleagues saw it.  People at other institutions saw it.  One on this thread was trying to convince his institution to shut down all teaching because of it - as they said the raft of university closures (*) around the 16th were the result of a lot of internal pressure building over a week before.  One saw it and pushed out a media release on the 9th/10th showing we were 9-14 days away from healthcare meltdown, following Italy like we were on rails towards imminent disaster, at a time when SAGE had already identified that lockdown was the only way to avert that disaster.

As I literally just said and have said several times over this thread, "actions taken weeks, months  and years  before March 9th are part of why we didn't lock down when we should have."  If this doesn't make it clear to you what my point is, I despair. 

(*) An important point - these closures happened in the absence of both SAGE and government guidance to do so.  Who within these many universities had spend the last week making a case to senior management to do the unthinkable and pull all face to face teaching with their paying customers?  Do you think that this was in any way an easy sell?  It took a lot of scientists a lot of effort.  It was where mine was focused, because I understood where my limited influence lay, and I understood the domino effect and how these closures would contribute to pressure on SAGE and government.

Post edited at 19:35
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Where does it state to lockdown? It does not and that term was well known by then....

It refers to a need for further social distancing measures.......you know this covers a whole host of measures with a 'stay at home' order being at the extreme end, certainly extreme enough that it they believed that was required then they sure as hell should have stated it explicity.

This is why I called you 'unreasonable' in that you are disengenuous when you cannot provide a credible and honest answer to a reasonable question because if you do, your argument falls apart....

Post edited at 19:39
 wintertree 19 Feb 2021
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> This is why I called you 'unreasonable' you are disengenuous when you cannot provide a credible and honest answer to a reasonable question because if you do, your argument falls apart....

I disagree.  We've been round the houses.  Several posters have agreed with me in posts on this, none have agreed with you.  Therefore I have grounds to believe I am not being unreasonable or disingenuous.  

I accept that you and I are reading the sequence of events over that time period very differently.  It is possible for two people to interpret the same events in very different ways and to both be reasonable. 

Actions taken weeks, months and years before March 9th are part of why we didn't lock down when we should have.  The data was clear that doing so would have saved more lives, and received more pressure on healthcare.

You have done nothing to challenge that data.  Unless you can my comment above stands.  In case you hadn't noticed, it's not concentrating cause and effect, or "blame" in to the period at which we should have locked down.  As I have said before the problems go back much further in time, and relate to how institutional scientists and government interact.  I haven't even pinned the blame for that to any particular side at any particular point in time, just said that it desperately needs addressing.

Post edited at 19:42
 Blunderbuss 19 Feb 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Why did the letter not state the government needs to lock the country down immediately?

You and those scientists knew this was needed a week before that letter was published.....


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