UKC

Post covid strategic national infrastructure

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Post covid what are the chances that the government of the day and subsequent governments pay to maintain strategic national infrastructure to better prepare for future pandemics? The world has massively international supply chains but these have been shown to be easily stretched, abused and broken by national greed and requirements. Is the cost of reasonable self reliance worth it?

Some things are easy to implement such as maintaining a larger stock of PPE to supply the entire NHS for 3 months (or whatever level is required). 

Other things which require more specialist skills such as mothballed vaccine manufacturing plants and crucially the people to run then might be harder to keep on ice in the long term. 

Do you think that a) governments have enough foresight to increase national resilience for future pandemics and b) for the budget to be maintained over many years?

 wintertree 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

But who knows what the next crisis will be, and what the strategic infrastructure for that crisis will be?  It might not be a pandemic, it might be a "Carrington event" wiping out all the HV transformers on the grid, it might be a severe drought affecting agriculture.

What matters is our ability to respond to the next unpredictable, low probability event to hit us.  We can't stockpile every possible item that we could need for every possible eventuality, but we can stockpile resilience.  

  • Partly this is done by encouraging a broad and diverse manufacturing base that can be repurposed for use within national borders during a crisis
  • Partly this is achieved by encouraging broad academic research across the threat landscape - it is fortuitous that this had happened post SARS-nCov-1 and MERS-nCov and so gave us a running start on a Covid vaccine, and that we have manufacturing plants and expertise that could rapidly be turned to vaccine production.
  • The big one which is a kind of critical infrastructure is the population.  IMO one of the reasons Covid has hit us so hard is the deep and worsening inequality within British society.  A society that has large scale issues around basic quality of life, job security, housing, and the concomitant effects on health and wellbeing  is not well placed to deal with any sort of sudden, disruptive crisis.  In terms of a pandemic, this is particularly counter productive.   Here we are, one of the wealthiest nations per capita in the history of the species, with unbelievable knowledge and capability within our borders and yet there is such inequality and absolute hardship for many.
  • A well functioning advisory interface between academic and industrial science and government.  The last 30 years of policy on drugs, the build up to the first gulf war, climate change and Covid all point to there being significant work required to achieve this IMO.
Post edited at 22:11
 George Ormerod 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Obviously the answer to a) and b) is no.  But given the advances in vaccine technology (e.g. the recent Malaria vaccine), plants could produce these at cost for the benefit of humanity and for the 'soft power' of the new Global Britain.  Then switch to pandemic vaccine production if needed.

 Pbob 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

What we need to do is 1) educate our kids to be good scientists, nurses, engineers, farmers, builders etc., rather than insurance salesmen and youtube influencers, and 2) Focus on community cohesion and build a stronger society. With that we could cope with most of whatever nature throws at us. Finally we should ramp up our overseas aid and national philanthropy. What goes around, comes around. 

 Boomer Doomer 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

I know a certain poster likes to think they are UKC's Neil Ferguson, but you'd be better off asking Xi Jinping or Tedros Adhanom instead? We already had a detailed plan in place for such events, but it was immediately thrown out of the window and we followed China's "example" instead... which was backed by their paid for lackeys.

Post edited at 22:47
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Don't get your hopes up. There are billions of £ to be paid back and enough short term problems to deal with. Pandemic resilience might win votes today but in a couple of years time people will be more interested pothole fixing. 

 girlymonkey 29 Apr 2021
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

The biggest thing we could do is build a government which we could trust! If we have that, then whatever comes along next will be a bit less scary due to having competent people at the top who the nation trusts. 

In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Same thing will happen as happened before: morons will vote for c*nts.   Then you end up with Trump or Brexiteers in power and they will destroy the resilience more far sighted administrations had built to save money in the short term.

England is beyond hope.  Complete corruption in Downing Street and Johnson responds by making sure he is in charge of deciding what gets investigated and can prevent any sanctions from concluded investigations.  They want to 'reform' the electoral commission so it doesn't conduct nuisance investigations against the Tory party.  And the polls say their popularity in England is increasing.

https://independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-standards-sleaze-geidt-b1839196.html

Lord Brownnose Tory donor who paid for Johnson's flat has a business empire involved in 100s of millions in contracts from government and needs government approval for property schemes and he hands out donations like smarties to Tory prime ministers.  Not just Johnson.  He 'invested' a couple of million in Samantha Cameron's failing business as well.   It is a cesspit.

https://bywire.news/articles/tory-donor-who-paid-for-pms-downing-street-refurb-won-lucrative-public-contracts-worth-up-to-pound120m


https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/27/lord-david-brownlow-tory-donor-paid-no-10-refurbishment-boris-johnson

 Andy Hardy 29 Apr 2021
In reply to Dax H:

> Don't get your hopes up. There are billions of £ to be paid back and enough short term problems to deal with. Pandemic resilience might win votes today but in a couple of years time people will be more interested pothole fixing. 

The government is not a company. It won't go bust. The billions will get "paid back".

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

The scandal that is after a couple of hundred years since it was donated, there isn't some annual or term allowance for each occupant to decorate, renovate, maintain it. It's a state building, owned by the population, you own it as much as Boris. 

Like any tenancy there should be rules to not decorate outlandishly, which may not be to the taste of the next occupant. 

What about Holyrood, £400m+ to build and it's on going maintenance costs are so high, many think it'll be cheaper to pull it down.

Anyway, Rishi has thrown his hat in the ring, saying he paid for all the work on his himself. 

 climbingpixie 29 Apr 2021
In reply to summo:

There's a £30k a year allowance.

In reply to Kalna_kaza:

The government already has a list compiled by field experts of every large risk. But, contingencies cost; money, time, freedom etc.  Depending on what they are, the public as a whole is prepared to run the risk, "it won't happen to me" mentality. 

I'd agree it should do more. Some risks are almost beyond imagination. I think the cme risk/ another Carrington event is the one turn least seriously. There's no build up like with a virus, there would be less than 48hrs notice and in many instances all countries can do is shut down grids partially, isolate, to try and minimise damage. More could be done now, but it's not free. An extreme event like 150years ago could see power loss for months, and these aren't rare events like some yellowstone volcano, that might go pop in the next 250,000. The sun is on 12 yearly cycles, next peak around 2025.

Post edited at 08:27
In reply to climbingpixie:

> There's a £30k a year allowance.

It's a start, but that's peanuts for maintaining a 300 year old grade 1 list building. If it's only for decoration, then if you can't freshen a place up for under £30k annually, you shouldn't be PM! 

In reply to summo:

> The scandal that is after a couple of hundred years since it was donated, there isn't some annual or term allowance for each occupant to decorate, renovate, maintain it. It's a state building, owned by the population, you own it as much as Boris. 

There is - they are allowed to spend 30K.    The god awful decor they wanted costed far more.  I see various numbers for just how much more. 

> Like any tenancy there should be rules to not decorate outlandishly, which may not be to the taste of the next occupant. 

What is for sure is the next guy is going to want to rip what they did out again.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9518183/Boriss-despairing-cry-Downing-St-aides-lavish-new-decor.html

> What about Holyrood, £400m+ to build and it's on going maintenance costs are so high, many think it'll be cheaper to pull it down.

40 million to 400 million is what happens when you let Labour run a project.  But nobody except unionist journalists are talking about pulling it down. 

In the scale of what happens in London 400 million for a parliament isn't that bad - at least they got a large, fairly nice looking and functional building.   They are talking about 10x that much to refurbish Westminster - and that is the starting estimate, it isn't what it will actually cost by the time they are done.   

> Anyway, Rishi has thrown his hat in the ring, saying he paid for all the work on his himself. 

I imagine most people whose wife has 400 million quid worth of shares in her billionaire dad's company can afford to paint their own flat.

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> There is - they are allowed to spend 30K.    The god awful decor they wanted costed far more.  I see various numbers for just how much more. 

In which case it should be public money. Who else actually pays doesn't really matter. Boris will be gone in under 4 years.

> What is for sure is the next guy is going to want to rip what they did

agreed

> In the scale of what happens in London 400 million for a parliament isn't that bad - at least they got a large, fairly nice looking and functional building.   They are talking about 10x that much to refurbish Westminster - and that is the starting estimate, it isn't what it will actually cost by the time they are done. 

The question is will it be usable in 30 if 40 years time. It's costing £10m a year to maintain a building that's less than 20 years old.  

> I imagine most people whose wife has 400 million quid worth of shares in her billionaire dad's company can afford to paint their own flat.

 If you want to decorate purely on a matter of taste, because it's unlikely any of them were tatty, then you pay for it yourself. Who he's married to is irrelevant, he's made his own money too.  

 Bob Kemp 29 Apr 2021
In reply to summo:

> It's a start, but that's peanuts for maintaining a 300 year old grade 1 list building. If it's only for decoration, then if you can't freshen a place up for under £30k annually, you shouldn't be PM! 

It’s only for the flat, not the whole building. That’s part of a separate refurbishment project. 

In reply to summo:

> In which case it should be public money. Who else actually pays doesn't really matter. Boris will be gone in under 4 years.

Well yes.  He got 30k of public money and he actually spent f*ck knows how much because his GF wanted gold wallpaper.  So he allegedly got a 'loan' from the Tory party which came from a donation from Lord someone who got Lorded by the Tories for giving them money and has a bunch of companies that do business with government.  And there's nothing on his forms where he's supposed to disclose donations and loans to explain this.

> The question is will it be usable in 30 if 40 years time. It's costing £10m a year to maintain a building that's less than 20 years old.  

Mainly because the committee that Labour put together selected a design from a Spanish architect which looked cool rather than what worked in a country where it rains a lot.  But - it is a functional parliament and it does actually look cool.  And getting something that works for your money is actually pretty good going by comparison with a lot of what happens these days.

>  If you want to decorate purely on a matter of taste, because it's unlikely any of them were tatty, then you pay for it yourself. Who he's married to is irrelevant, he's made his own money too.  

It's not irrelevant.   Like Samantha Cameron 'makes her own money' but when her business goes to sh*t Lord Brownose 'invests' 2.5 million.  Obviously because she's such a great designer, total coincidence her husband is PM.  You marry a billionaires daughter or a prime minister you have people lining up to do you favours because there is plenty of quids available for the pro-quo.

Post edited at 09:16
 Richard Horn 29 Apr 2021
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

>  morons will vote for c*nts.   Then you end up with Trump or Brexiteers

or Scottexiteers?

SNP have successfully put the blinkers on to the point where a conversation about resilience immediately, repetitively, once again gets turned into a Scotland vs England hijack. Its hugely ironic that you then criticise others for being pawns of the Tories.

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> It's not irrelevant..   You marry a billionaires daughter or a prime minister you have people lining up to do you favours because there is plenty of quids available for the pro-quo.

It's probably not disadvantageous to have a chancellor, aspiring pm, with good global connections, that's what brings investment, funding, trade deals. It would be better for the uk to form better alliances with India after Modi goes, than chasing China for money like some of Scotland's green initiatives? 

It is also more beneficial than sturgeons bizarre 3 way lie fest, between her, her husband and salmond. Yes I know she just forgot salmond was accused of sex offences, it easily slips your mind. 

In reply to Boomer Doomer:

> We already had a detailed plan in place for such events, but it was immediately thrown out of the window and we followed China's "example" instead... which was backed by their paid for lackeys.

Agree. A friend is a senior public health consultant, and she said: ‘it’s as if they’ve thrown the ‘how to deal with a pandemic handbook out of the fekin window.’  
I see no reason why we will change or act on any learning. 

In reply to girlymonkey:

> The biggest thing we could do is build a government which we could trust! 

 

Sadly/annoyingly, an increasing majority of the public appear to trust the government we already have.

In reply to Andy Hardy:

> The government is not a company. It won't go bust. The billions will get "paid back".

You lost me there, who said they might go bust?

The billions will get paid back by us the tax payers. Tax payers typically vote for whoever they think will tax them the least, they also have very short memories. Give it a couple of years and the daily mail will be running stories on government wastage in ppe and equipment that hasn't been used. 

In reply to Richard Horn:

> SNP have successfully put the blinkers on to the point where a conversation about resilience immediately, repetitively, once again gets turned into a Scotland vs England hijack. 

Nope.  There was a flu plan and PPE stockpiles and the Tories cut them as part of austerity.

Exactly the same mindset as Trump firing CDC pandemic guys because he didn't want them on the payroll when they had nothing to do.

They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

There are people old enough to draw a pension in Scotland who have never in their lifetime seen Scotland elect a Tory government but have lived about half their life under Tory sh*ts like Thatcher, May and Johnson put in power by England.  We are a different country with different political views and we need our freedom.

 Andy Hardy 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Dax H:

On one of the economic threads somebody posted a link (or several) about the differences between government and commercial debt. When I get a minute I'll have to link it, but it was very interesting. Some govt debt from the 18th century has only just been "paid back" apparently, and the nature of money, tax and revenue would seem to be the inverse of what you expect, when viewed from the government end of the see-saw.

(The take home message was that government debt is not the bogeyman issue that we have been lead to believe)

In reply to Andy Hardy:

I'd say it depends, the uk spends £1.5bn ish monthly servicing, not reducing debt. 

If the actions that caused the debt generate growth, revenue, build an asset... beyond £1.5bn in value, it's a winner. 

If the debt is dead money, spent gone, frittered away, no assets, infrastructure, or growth from it, then £1.5bn is painful cost. 

Economic growth or inflation at current rates will take a very long time to out grow the debt, if left lingering. 

 Toccata 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Almost nothing will change. Robust infrastructure is expensive. Voters will still want everything as cheap as possible and to feel wealthier. Government’s only focus is staying in power. At best contracts will be handed out ‘to sort things if something goes wrong’ which offload responsibility with no real penalty for the recipient. 

 Tringa 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

I would like to think COVID19 has given the government and future governments enough foresight but I'm not holding my breath.

The government were warned in the assessment and conclusions from Exercise Cygnus in 2016 but it wasn't well prepared at all.

Dave

 Richard Horn 30 Apr 2021
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> There are people old enough to draw a pension in Scotland who have never in their lifetime seen Scotland elect a Tory government but have lived about half their life under Tory sh*ts like Thatcher, May and Johnson put in power by England.  We are a different country with different political views and we need our freedom.

But Scotland couldnt do anything more to help elect a Tory government... I am sure it suits the Tories very nicely that the SNP take 50 seats off any meaningful opposition. Meanwhile the same situation suits the SNP very nicely, they get to paint the picture of oppression they crave in their independence narrative. 

In reply to Richard Horn:

> But Scotland couldnt do anything more to help elect a Tory government... I am sure it suits the Tories very nicely that the SNP take 50 seats off any meaningful opposition. Meanwhile the same situation suits the SNP very nicely, they get to paint the picture of oppression they crave in their independence narrative. 

Jesus wept.

So the Tories and Labour, have a God given duopoly on power and getting governed by English Tories is Scotland's fault for not voting for English Labour?  

And the SNP, who we do vote for, are not 'meaningful' because the English don't vote for them.

 Andy Hardy 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Dax H:

found one of them there links!: http://moslereconomics.com/wp-content/powerpoints/7DIF.pdf

I don't know enough about economics to vouch for it, but it was very interesting and fairly easy to read

 Richard Horn 30 Apr 2021
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> And the SNP, who we do vote for, are not 'meaningful' because the English don't vote for them.

I dont think I implied the SNP were not meaningful....

In reply to Andy Hardy:

Can't open it on my phone, I agree that government / country debt is different to persons or business debt but Summo above has the right of it.

Also as Toccata said, voters will still want everything as cheap as possible. 

 Andy Hardy 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Dax H:

Worth opening on a computer, I downloaded the pdf and read through the first half (the second half seemed to be an autobiography). The author is American and hence he constantly refers to the fed and $ but I'm sure the same principles apply to the BoE and £.

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> There are people old enough to draw a pension in Scotland who have never in their lifetime seen Scotland elect a Tory government 

Much like they have never seen Scotland elect Labour, SNP, LibDem or any other UK government because the UK as a whole elects them.

In reply to Kalna_kaza:

How about a “civil TA” so that there is a pool of folk pre trained to expand critical civil infrastructure - rather than relying on the consultants and the politicians mates?

 Tonker 01 May 2021
In reply to Tringa:

> I would like to think COVID19 has given the government and future governments enough foresight but I'm not holding my breath.

> The government were warned in the assessment and conclusions from Exercise Cygnus in 2016 but it wasn't well prepared at all.

> Dave

There may have been failings from the implication of recommendations from Cygnus but ever since Blairs government formulated an official pandemic plan it's inherent policy of 'mitigation' meant the NHS would never have been able to cope with a pandemic.

We could have implemented everything from Cygnus but this underlying issue remained.

Alan Johnson in 2009 admitted the NHS would not be able to cope with a serious flu pandemic and it was likely ICU capacity would be exceeded x10 in a reasonable WCS (remarkably close to Neil Fergusons figure of x8 for COVID-19).

From my reading this was never 'questioned' by either those in power or the medical/scientific community. It seemed to be accepted that if a pandemic took hold you would let it 'flow' through the country and aim to mitigate it's impact. The idea of 'supression' was never on the table.

Of course when it actually happened and the real prospect of the NHS collapsing was in our face then suppression became the only viable option.

 wintertree 01 May 2021
In reply to Tonker:

I do wonder ; if the modelling work and other recommendations from Cygnus had been followed up, if conversations about NPIs would have happened before this pandemic, changing how prepared we were for them legislatively and politically with the result that we could have locked down a couple of weeks sooner.

In reply to MG:

> Much like they have never seen Scotland elect Labour, SNP, LibDem or any other UK government because the UK as a whole elects them.

UK = England because it has 10 x the population.  It is a colonial government.

The last time Scotland voted Tory was 1955.  It is clear the people of Scotland want different government from the people of England.   The only way we will get the government we want is to leave the UK.

Post edited at 08:59
 Tonker 09:23 Sat
In reply to wintertree:

> I do wonder ; if the modelling work and other recommendations from Cygnus had been followed up, if conversations about NPIs would have happened before this pandemic, changing how prepared we were for them legislatively and politically with the result that we could have locked down a couple of weeks sooner.

I don't know tbh. The Flu pandemic plan had no NPIs apart from school closures and banning mass gatherings. 

The predictions on deaths and load on the NHS are positively frightening from the flu modelling and are similar to  those for Covid that Imperial did in March 2020.

I can't get my head around how succesive governments from Blair's onwards thought society would function whilst the NHS was collapsing. 

The only way I can rationalise it is that they thought there was no other option as extreme social distancing would not be practical or accepted. We have seen of course how when faced with disaster our population is remarkably accepting of draconian measures. 

I'll admit I got this completely wrong when I saw what the Chinese were doing. I said there would be riots if our government tried to lockdown cities! 

 wintertree 09:36 Sat
In reply to Tonker:

> I'll admit I got this completely wrong when I saw what the Chinese were doing. I said there would be riots if our government tried to lockdown cities! 

I think the public have exceeded what most people thought over control measures and over vaccine uptake.  Sometimes it's great to be wrong.

I think perhaps this pandemic will be a bit like Eyjafjallajokull and mass airspace closure - once the dust settles, everything is processed and better instrumentation (airborne dust, disease surveillance) is carried forwards any future event can have more finessed, less disruptive control measures that are effective enough.


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