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The BMJ is unimpressed...

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 Bob Kemp 17 May 2020

A good analysis of the government’s pandemic response to date:

https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1932

1
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Ach, what do they know?

In reply to Bob Kemp:

A thorough analysis,with dozens of references, which basically says the government mucked up big time. Further confirmation!

1
 wercat 17 May 2020
In reply to earlsdonwhu:

there should be references to UKC threads there too!

I'm very glad that my initial comments on Scum attending the SAGE meetings aligns with the BMJ's

8
In reply to wercat:

I'm pleased that they agreed with the strategy I outlined at the end of March ... I assume the cheque is in the post.

Post edited at 18:00
2
 wercat 18 May 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I should have used the word "relieved"  rather than generic-glad.  It's nice to know there is still some sense of propriety out there!

hope you get your postal order from them

 neilh 18 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Excelltent comments at last on the marginalisation of public health over the past few years.

But no mention of the expertise available to SAGE from another subgroup which reports to them, which is NERVTAG.( and contains the infectious disease experts).So I would question this assumption that SAGE's view is too narrow with modellers etc.

It is also a political point about Cummins .

 ScraggyGoat 18 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

A good analysis of the UK (&England), Welsh, Scottish & NI  government’s pandemic response to date:

https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1932 276

Edited to ensure our nationalistic & political party devotees (of any persuasion) get the message that their darling maladministration's are also culpable. I also include  the respective opposition parties. When governments deliberately depart from WHO protocols (which they have helped fund & develop over decades), one would have thought the opposition parties would rightly have been asking very hard questions....

Though, to give credit, at least the SNP administration (of whom I am no fan) is now finally starting to follow WHO guidelines.......on trace and test.

Post edited at 14:01
 Bob Kemp 18 May 2020
In reply to neilh:

> It is also a political point about Cummins .

From the article:

"The Guardian revealed that several SAGE meetings had been attended by Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief political adviser, and Ben Warner, his adviser on data science.20 The involvement of two influential political advisers makes a mockery of SAGE’s claim to provide independent scientific advice to the government. "

So that's rather stretching things, to say that pointing out a political appointment is merely a political point. 

 neilh 18 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

There are of course different views on his attendance. Just like there are different views in the science/medical area.

Does detract from the big issue imho which has been the poor funding of public health in recent years.This ranges from addressing obesity to other issues which have ben pushed back and we are now seeing the results of.

Post edited at 14:33
In reply to neilh:

> There are of course different views on his attendance

Yes there are.  In that article, we're getting the viewpoint from a medical and scientifically well informed position.  Which is probably what counts when it comes to talking about whether independent scientific advice was being provided.

In reply to neilh:

I'm not entirely sure how poor the funding has been. Public Health England have employed over 5,000 FTE for over 8 years, and appear to have achieved precisely f*ck all.

1
 bonebag 18 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Wow scathing stuff from a scientific journal with the journal executive editor being one of the authors. Never saw anything like this in 30 years reading chemistry and bioscience journals about another organisation or individuals. 

Wonder if it got refereed before publication but then I guess the executive editor could by pass that.

Unprecedented times though. 

 wintertree 18 May 2020
In reply to wercat:

> I'm very glad that my initial comments on Scum attending the SAGE meetings aligns with the BMJ's

When I gave my views on this, I got accused of being blinded by my "hatred" for Boris and my "personal dogma", along with claims of armchair expertry.  Now big names in the exact field in question are saying the same thing, only a lot blunter.  I wait with interest to see on what grounds certain posters will dismiss this criticism...   Who'll give me odds on one of them going on about "hindsight"?

Post edited at 22:07
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 wintertree 18 May 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> I'm not entirely sure how poor the funding has been. Public Health England have employed over 5,000 FTE for over 8 years, and appear to have achieved precisely f*ck all.

Oh I don't know, in the early days, PHE motivated quite a few staff from the previous regional public health observatories to change career....  Local to me the transfer represented a really crap downgrade to pay and conditions for experienced staff.

 Yanis Nayu 18 May 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

In addition to PHE each county council has a public health team, whose outputs seem to be measured in what meetings they’ve attended. 

 Bob Kemp 18 May 2020
In reply to bonebag:

It's an editorial, not a refereed article, so that is hardly surprising. Do you have any actual criticisms of the article or are you just trying to undermine it by any means possible?

 bonebag 18 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Neither Bob. Sorry if you thought that. Was an interesting read.

 Bob Kemp 19 May 2020
In reply to bonebag:

No problem... 

 Blue Straggler 19 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I got no sense of bonebag trying to undermine the article. Quite the opposite 

 Bob Kemp 19 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I thought it was a complaint about editors' pieces not being refereed properly, and therefore not being credible. I think I've seen too many cases of people not addressing arguments but engaging in various forms of messenger-shooting... must relax!

 Doug 19 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I'm co-author on a paper  'in press' where one of my co-authors is the editor in chief of the journal. He was not involved in the refereing at all or the editorial decision making process & the reviewers comments were numerous. That's for plant ecology but imagine its normal in other fields as well. And as you say this is more of an opinion piece so different to a full peer reviewed article.

 cb294 19 May 2020
In reply to Doug:

That should be banned.

I recently had a couple of papers rejected, only to learn that surprisingly the editor in the chief of the journal published something similar in his home journal (not stolen of my manuscript, but clearly dealing with the same subject matter) while we were trying to sell our stuff elsewhere....

CB

 Doug 19 May 2020
In reply to cb294:

if the author/editor is excluded from the review & editorial process where is the problem? 'Stealing' ideas when reviewing is appalling behaviour but a different problem.

 cb294 19 May 2020
In reply to Doug:

Because it is naive to assume that the handling editor will be immune to the interests of their boss, and will treat a manuscript the same way when he reads the boss name on the submission rather than some random junior group leader.

The playing field is uneven as it is, no need to add home advantage.

As I said, in these cases it was not so much about stealing my ideas, but about stalling my publication until the editor in chief got his stuff in press in a better journal than he would have been able to had he been scooped by me.

CB

 neilh 19 May 2020
In reply to Niall_H:

There are different view points  on this within the scientific commumuty. This includes well publicised comments from the Dr Jeremy Farrer ( Wellcome Trust guy who sits on SAGE) .

 Billhook 19 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Every one's wise after the event.

 Bob Kemp 19 May 2020
In reply to cb294:

Don't people use blind reviewing at all in your area?

 Bob Kemp 19 May 2020
In reply to Billhook:

I try to improve... wisdom may take a while!

 Doug 19 May 2020
In reply to cb294:

the case I described was a journal run by an international scientific society, the editor in chief can hardly be described as the 'boss' of the other members of the editorial board (they are mostly in different countries).

How do you regard an author submitting papers to a journal where s/he is a member of the editorial board ? I've done that a couple of times and never felt the process was any different from submitting to another journal.

 neilh 19 May 2020
In reply to neilh:

Thanks for that.

Post edited at 12:03
 cb294 19 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Reviewers are anonymous, at least in theory. I think I know who is who in two out of three cases.

Trying to make authors anonymous would not work at all, to easy to identfy from the citation list alone.

CB

 cb294 19 May 2020
In reply to Doug:

Yes, for journals like that it is a little better, but I would still consider it bad style.

I have also submitted to journals where I am one of the scientific editors. IMO this is also less than ideal, and it was never my first choice, but sometimes this cannot be avoided due to the specialization of both research fields and journals.

Anyway, maybe we should stop or move this conversation, as we are getting completely off topic!

CB

 Bob Kemp 19 May 2020
In reply to cb294:

Some journals have procedures like not including self-citation to try and preserve author anonymity. But in some fields the content alone can be enough to identify the author. Probably works best for relatively junior researchers, whose positions and approaches may be less identifiable.

 cb294 19 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

No chance. Any paper will start something like "..... we previously found the following. We therefore checked XYZ.... " to give context to what you are doing.

The anonymity game is up before you even start describing your experiments.

Even if you tried, everybody in my field knows what I am looking at, and which tools I have developed to do so. Conversely, give me a manuscript from any of the 10 or 20 labs worldwide closest to my research subject, and I will tell you where it comes from even without looking at the citation list.

Publishing something in a completely new field is something I have tried as well, and it is no fun. We were completely shut down by established editor/reviewer networks, and we only ever got our stuff published by adding another co-author largely for their established name in the field rather than lots of actual science (just enough to merit their authorship, the rest was unchanged)!

CB

 Billhook 19 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> I try to improve... wisdom may take a while!

Bob, I wasn't getting at you - just the report.  No offence meant.

 Bob Kemp 19 May 2020
In reply to Billhook:

None taken... 

 mik82 19 May 2020
In reply to Billhook:

>Every one's wise after the event.

The problem is that this was quite obviously going to be a disaster - I'm a healthcare professional and I was so worried by the government's initial response that I went home and saw my parents, prepared for it to be the last time, when they announced they were no longer trying to contain it.

I was seeing patients in mid March with no PPE, even though the peak number of infections probably occurred only 2-3 weeks later

There were posts on here such as "We're not going to follow Italy", and guess what, we followed Italy. It being the same virus and the same delayed response.

For the last 3 months I have felt like a Cassandra, and I'm sure there's a lot of us that feel the same.

Post edited at 22:24
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 wintertree 19 May 2020
In reply to mik82:

I couldn’t agree more.  The willingness of some posters to write off the clear, accurate and evidence based foresight of many UKC posters and external domain experts as hindsight has astounded me.  Some slavish urge to defend a government who have failed their people > 2x worse than Donald Trump’s government has failed theirs to date.

The problem with Billhook’s post (“Everyone’s wise after the event”) is twofold

  1. The domain experts - epidemiologists and medical professionals - were wise before the event.  They were saying wise things clearly and publicly long before lockdown and were being ignored.   I imagine they were being a lot more blunt to government behind closed doors
  2. I don’t think government is being wise after the event.
Post edited at 22:43
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 wintertree 19 May 2020
In reply to mik82:

> There were posts on here such as "We're not going to follow Italy", and guess what, we followed Italy.

That thread has taken all the satisfaction out of being right for me.  The sad thing is that in another 7-14 days it’s likely that Italy will be following us in terms of per capita deaths.  

 Billhook 20 May 2020
In reply to wintertree:

But some epidemiologists were making such wild predictions and forecasts  that could not be  based on previous experience of Covid-19 may well just have been guesses for all their worth.

As an example, the now disgraced Ferguson was variously quoted as saying that 250,000 could die, then 510,000 could die.

And in any event the purpose of most governments is to get elected the next time too - it isn't just about saving lives unless of course you make a total balls up of some disaster and the electorate don't vote for you next time.

3
In reply to Billhook:

> As an example, the now disgraced Ferguson was variously quoted as saying that 250,000 could die, then 510,000 could die.

With no measures taken. Do you think he was wildly wrong, given 50k+ deaths to date with lockdown? (His behaviour is irrelavant to the accuracy of his prediction too). 

 wintertree 20 May 2020
In reply to Billhook:

> As an example, the now disgraced Ferguson

For a bad decision in his personal life that doesn’t affect his credibility in his professional life.  Not that I’m a great fan of his by any shot.

> was variously quoted as saying that 250,000 could die, then 510,000 could die.

That was the range of estimates for *if we did nothing*.  As we did a lot, it’s almost certain that less than 10% of people have had it and about 50k have died (by excess deaths), those numbers look pretty reasonable.

 wercat 20 May 2020
In reply to Billhook:

510000 was simply the calculated result of the worst case scenario of 1% mortality based on 80% infection of the population.

This scenario implied that the 80% would include a lot of the most vulnerable people and that would provide the high mortality rate.  I actually calculated it as 532000 when ~I heard the 1% of 80% months and months ago (a week or two before they changed their minds) but my maths were never good and we did not statistics in my day, trajectories of shells yes (a maths teacher who was  in the RE during the war), stats no.

Post edited at 17:54
 Blunderbuss 20 May 2020
In reply to Billhook:

> But some epidemiologists were making such wild predictions and forecasts  that could not be  based on previous experience of Covid-19 may well just have been guesses for all their worth.

> As an example, the now disgraced Ferguson was variously quoted as saying that 250,000 could die, then 510,000 could die.

> And in any event the purpose of most governments is to get elected the next time too - it isn't just about saving lives unless of course you make a total balls up of some disaster and the electorate don't vote for you next time.

I'd suggest you read the full report to understand the rationale behind those figures.....imho he was underestimating as our health care system would have completely collapsed had we either done nothing or continue with the initial mitigation strategy, leading to a higher IFR. 


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