Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Imperial College paper: "managed epidemic" / "herd immunity" strategy would kill quarter of a million people in the UK

As you may have seen, a paper from Imperial College has concluded that the "managed epidemic"/"herd immunity" strategy followed by the government until now is simply not viable, because demand on the NHS would exceed surge capacity many times over, resulting in the deaths of 250,000 people in the UK.  For comparison, the UK death toll over six years of the Second World War was 450,000.  We all know Boris wants to be Churchill, but that would be taking it to an extreme.

I don't want to tempt fate in the way that some journalists have done tonight by taking it as read that the government will actually take heed of this paper.  Admittedly, it's hard to see how they can ignore it, because it's essentially an update of exactly the same modelling that gave rise to the "herd immunity" strategy in the first place.  But if we're now going to see movement towards a Chinese/South Korean-style suppression strategy, it's puzzling that there has been no sign yet of any U-turn on the decision to give up on testing of suspected cases and subsequent contact tracing, which the WHO have repeatedly made clear is the key part of any suppression drive.  Hopefully we'll see progress on that as time goes on.

It's incredibly frustrating that it's taken this long for the penny to begin to drop, when simply observing the experience in China could have provided a short-cut and saved many lives.  I recall watching an interview on the BBC News channel with a young doctor in Wuhan a few weeks ago, and he said the following -

"It turned out to be a pretty good idea to clamp down on travel, right?  If it had been done earlier, it might have had a bigger effect."

"The mortality rate with this disease is still far too high."

"Other countries need to be very, very careful with this virus."

We should have listened to him from the start.  But better late than never.

61 comments:

  1. Regarding the WHO advice to governments to engage in testing and contact tracing. It seems to me that, in the absence of testing, the official UK figures for 'cases' cannot be accurate. What are they based on? They must be an under-estimate, because people with symptoms are just being asked to stay at home and self-isloate. No-one seems to be logging them as cases. If I am wrong about this, maybe other blog readers could explain why. In respect of contact tracing - I have read many accounts in newspaper articles and other media of people's experience of having the virus, their difficulty in getting effective help, etc. I have not read anything that describes being contacted by a contact-tracer, or from a contact-tracing person describing their job (by contrast, lots of stories from GPs and hospital doctors about what things are like for them). Again, maybe other blog readers could comment, if they have a better understanding of the contact-tracing process. I think that these things are important. The WHO seems to have a clear idea of what has worked in other countries. Why aren't they happening in the UK?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The UK does not have a clue how many people have been infected and they do not seem to care. I know a few people who have been infected, not tested not recorded no tracking.

      The weeks the UK had to prepare for this outbreak have been wasted on Brexit. The advantage the UK had over China, for example, has been squandered by inaction.

      Delete
    2. As far as I am aware contact tracing was only carried out for a very short time and then abandoned in favour of more restricted testing. Latest guesstimates put the number of cases between 50,000 to 55,000 - evidence given at a Commons Committee today.

      In Scotland we have tested more widely in the community but still not rigorous contact testing. The community testing is based on the sentinel system used to track flu cases. It centres on a number of GP centres across the country, usually 21 but I think that has been increased to 40 or so.

      Delete
  2. That Chinese doctor - slitty-eyed little wog, never been to Oxbridge or a member of the Bullingdon Club, what does he know?

    BawJaws & Co will follow the Melchett doctrine: "If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through."

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  3. Think its important to remember that four sets of CMO's and their teams would of had access to the data and all signed off on it. That in a way is more concerning, how did so many people review the data and sign off that it was accurate.

    One of the pillars of science is that you don't take stuff on face value. This does not seemed to of happened in this case which is concerning.

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    Replies
    1. Did they have access to the actual data or an executive summary? The UK Gov kept going on about 'leading scientists' and following the 'scientific advice' but never once produced any of the scientists or released any of the actual data that underpinned that advice.

      This has happened before with a Tory Gov. Remember the research paper proposing austerity? George Osborne pounced on it and started implementing policies accordingly. Others kept asking to see the data and when it was eventually released it was shown to be flawed. A PhD student identified the mistake in the calculations. However, Osborne continued with austerity - a political decision. Sound familiar?

      Delete
  4. As usual the mainstream media have been complicit, parrotting the Govt line that they were following "the science", (yeah that's why the UK doing the opposite of every other country) then the Govt do a U turn and the mdeia still shield them, as if nothing has changed, they're following thee science after all.

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  5. Coronavirus spreading more rapidly in England than other parts of the UK according to the latest briefing from No. 10.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-51910748

    Population density of course is an unavoidable factor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Norway has been testing at 5 times the rate (per capita) of the UK, as per WHO recommendations.

      As of today, Norway has done >4,000 tests per million inhabitants while the UK is just 760 per million.

      It's therefore not a surprise if Norway is detecting more cases.

      All that's happening in the UK is far more people are walking around passing it on because of a lack of testing.

      Delete
  6. Johnson was to busy with Brexit to pay any attention to what was happening in China. People will pay for this criminal negligence with their lives.

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    Replies
    1. Em no. He was too busy sunning himself in the Carribean when news of the Chinese cases of a new viral infection was starting to emerge

      Delete
  7. Save the fragile economy..

    Fcuk the plebs..

    Tally-ho!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Presumably brexit has been put on hold with plans to extend the transition period?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently not. Raab thinks it is still doable by year's end!

      Delete
  9. https://time.com/4406694/british-foreign-secretary-boris-johnson-had-mistakes-in-his-book/

    Johnson was asked what advice he would give to the mayors of towns that were still struggling with the results of the [2008-] recession. “My hero is the mayor in Jaws,” he said. “He’s a fantastic guy, and he keeps the beaches open, if you remember, even after it’s demonstrated that his constituents have been eaten by this killer fish. Of course he was proved catastrophically wrong in his judgment, but his instincts were right.”

    ReplyDelete
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51915302

    Coronavirus: UK changes course amid death toll fears

    Change course or a quarter of a million people will die in a "catastrophic epidemic" of coronavirus - warnings do not come much starker than that.

    The message came from researchers modelling how the disease will spread, how the NHS would be overwhelmed and how many would die.

    The situation has shifted dramatically and as a result we are now facing the most profound changes to our daily lives in peacetime.

    This realisation has happened only in the past few days.

    However, it is long after other scientists and the World Health Organization had warned [the English/UK government] of the risks of not going all-out to stop the virus.

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  11. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/mar/17/shutting-schools-would-reduce-coronavirus-transmission-expert

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  12. School closure. Much misinformation here. Jason Leitch , clinical director for Scot Gov is pedalling UK gov postion ( "all UK nations acting in lock-step ") on Radio Scot and elsewhere. He , like the UK gov is maintaining that if schools close , pupils will then :(1)congregate in groups ; (2) will then not be able to be supervised in washing hands; (3) will be looked after by grandparents.
    BUT: (1)

    Groups in large schools are likely to be in more intimate contact than smaller groups of friends in houses or outside.

    (2)
    Hand washing and hygiene cannot be overseen in large schools. Many teenagers just do not do as teacher says.

    (3)
    Many , many kids go straight to grandparents after school. This is a pattern that has grown up in recent years. Grandparents hold the fort till parents get hame fae work later on.

    Also , as far as we know , young people are infective even if they have no symptoms. Parents can not always be trusted to keep their bairns off school when they are only slightly ill. Covid 19 seems to give none or only slight symptoms in most young folk.

    In short Leitch's comments are at best naive or , more likely , disingenuous.

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  13. The Corona virus has clearly evidenced the now unarguable case for Scotlands Independence, Scotland is at the whim of every decision made in England because we cannot control our borders if we make different decisions on health than England

    As part of this Union Scotland cannot protect our citizens from Englands choices whatever they may be in a country that vastly outnumbers us no matter their state of health are able to cross our borders completely unhindered and unchecked

    Right now estate agents in Scotland are recieving countless enquiries on housing availability to purchase from people in England because the prices have dropped so heavily and Scotlands NHS and conditions are better than in England, as soon as this virus is over we can expect a veritable flood of English migrants to Scotland which in itself wouldn't be a problem but you can bet your life that most of them will use their vote against Scottish Independence

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  14. Travel should have been banned many weeks ago.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Every second accent you hear is English in more rural communities..

    It's not Anglophobia .. it's just fact

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My french wife asked me how you tell if someone was English or Scottish; accents not being so distinguishable to non-native speakers.

      I told her that even when Scots switch to speaking perfect English (which they often do automatically upon encountering a non-native speaker of Scots or English like her) they will still slip in little bits of Scots, e.g. using the word 'wee' here and there.

      'But I use the word wee' she replies. 'But of course you do, you are Scottish' was my response.

      Delete
    2. Why do Scots love France? Because when they ask fae twa drams they get given three.

      Delete
  16. The chancellor doing his bright house sales pitch

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  17. Correct but Scottish people will still call you anglophobic or racist or English hating .
    The number of English people living in Scotland is way more than what the media and Scottish commentators tell us they use the census figure from ten years ago.
    There are 750,000 or more English people living in Scotland now and many of them call themselves british rather than English but they always vote for England’s Westminster to continue its control of Scotland

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not all of us English oppose independence!
      See English Scots for Yes

      Delete
    2. Boris Johnson and the English ConservativesMarch 18, 2020 at 12:46 PM

      What are you on about old boy? We need Scotch taxes to fund England's lifestyle. We don't want to have to pay our own way in life! Hence us refusing the jocks a section 30.

      Delete
  18. Immediate deportation of the English required. And their children.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It is important that some of us oldies survive for a wee while and ensure the Scottish Nazis do no attempt to change history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Has Paraguay closed its borders?

      Delete
    2. Are these the same nats that have been arguing for the past few days that Boris has been planning a mass cull of brexit voters and unionists with his herd immunity thing?

      Looked to me like James has been desperately trying to keep you alive GWC. Nicola Sturgeon even called off the Rangers games and orange marches while the Brits were saying these could go ahead.

      Delete
  20. We're at a point where

    a) we're 12 to 18 months away from a vaccine;
    b) we're not by any means certain that "herd immunity" will work, since we're uncertain whether or not this virus can be contracted a second or third time and;
    c) the world's economy will not survive an 18 month lockdown.

    I think, James, as callous as this may sound, that sometime in the next two months (at the latest) the decision will be taken to send everyone back to work and let whatever happens, happen. I don't see what else CAN be done.

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    Replies
    1. If only people who greedily panic buy, leaving nothing for others, were more likely to succumb to it.

      Delete
    2. Athanius: I disagree, and I don't think that would be feasible anyway. Once you commit to a suppression strategy, you can't just tell people two or three or six months down the line to go to work and get infected en masse. But what may happen instead is the kind of on/off approach suggested by the Imperial College paper, whereby restrictions are temporarily eased if and when the numbers fall back a bit.

      Delete
  21. Johnson just isn't up to this is he.

    https://twitter.com/Saffiya_Khan1/status/1240019479402340352

    He thought it would all be a fun self promotion jolly to line his pockets and be adulated at the local Bullingdon club for a few years, maybe father a few more illegitimate children along the way.

    The look on his face tells you he just wants to quit right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wouldn't surprise me if Johnson quits, and not that long from now.

      I hope plans are in place to form some sort of national unity cabinet to replace him when that happens.

      He wanted to be a wartime PM like Churchill. Well, he's been handed that on a plate but looks like a rabbit in headlights.

      Delete
  22. That would be impossible to implement.

    You're better practising bush craft than trusting any of the government advice, and hoping for a long hot summer!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Geoff.. leftie English folk up here tend to be more supportive of independence .. GWC type English sadly outnumber them.

    By a large majority!

    ReplyDelete
  24. President Jamez has used his powers to cancel the Eurovision Song Contest.

    Now he has achieved a mystical expression of the Will Of The People.

    Viva President Jamez!

    ReplyDelete
  25. A Govan Doctor can't find a job in a Hospital in Edinburgh, so he opens a clinic and puts a sign outside 'GET TREATMENT FOR £20 - IF NOT CURED GET BACK £100.'
    An Edinburgh lawyer thinks this is a great opportunity to earn £100 and goes to the clinic.
    Lawyer: "I have lost my sense of taste."
    Govan doctor: "Nurse, bring medicine from box No. 22 and put 3 drops in patient's mouth."
    Lawyer: "Ugh. this is kerosene."
    Govan doctor: "Congrats, your sense of taste is restored. Give me £20."
    The annoyed lawyer goes back after a few days to recover his money.
    Lawyer: "I have lost my memory. I cannot remember anything."
    Govan doctor: "Nurse, bring medicine from box no. 22 and put 3 drops in his mouth."
    Lawyer (annoyed): "This is kerosene. You gave this to me last time for restoring my taste."
    Govan doctor: "Congrats. You got your memory back. Give me £20."
    The fuming lawyer pays him, and then comes back a week later determined to get back £100.
    Lawyer: "My eyesight has become very weak I can't see at all."
    Govan doctor: "Well, I don't have any medicine for that, so take this £100."
    Lawyer (staring at the note): "But this is £20, not £100!!"
    Govan doctor: "Congrats, your eyesight is restored. Give me £20"
    You can't beat govan Doctors

    ReplyDelete
  26. Johnsons handling of the Corona virus has finished him and Trump will go the same way
    The right wing thickos who voted these world class clowns into office to smash the left wing got what they wanted but the problem is they're too stupid to actually govern because they don't understand how to, they only know how to dominate

    As soon as this crisis is done it's over for Johnson and support for Independence in Scotland will shoot through the roof and no matter how hard the haters try with their crappy little websites by inviting every weirdo and misfit onto it like Internet clown Stuart Campbell and his buddies Nicola Sturgeon will emerge as the politician to support and Campbell and his crew will be off the air and onto whatever channel George Galloway can get himself on

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The left wing thickos helped tham gain power.

      Delete
  27. Scottish government has announced iref2 is on hold.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-51944044

    We need the UK government to officially announce that brexit is on hold too. They cannot put politics before lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pause on an indyref was a statement of the obvious and the unavoidable. Having said that, if and when things ever get back to normal, there'll be less room for excuses on all sides, because a lot more time will have elapsed since Indyref 1 in 2014.

      Delete
    2. I don't really disagree, but when do we get the brexit delay announcement?

      Delete
    3. Brexit is an administrative issue. It can all be quickly negotiated by video link. Millions are still working so the politicians and beaurocrats can work.

      Delete
    4. You don't think brexit teams should be reassigned to cornoavirus control? You know, negotiating medical supply imports, managing supply chains to keep the UK economy going during lockdown etc?

      Anyway, thank god we are sourcing supermarket goods from Europe rather than having move this to the far east as part of Johnson's grand plan. Would take months to re-stock shelves.

      Delete
  28. Johnson has already announced Brexit goes ahead no matter what, he's finished as a leader so has to at least pacify the right wing into still supporting him and cross his fingers

    ReplyDelete
  29. That infant self obsessed wee numptie Wings Stuart Campbell is crediting himself with predicting there'd be no referendum this year

    Corona virus had nothing to do with that, I expect the silly wee man will claim he predicted that too

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wisnae that long ago you Nat sis were funding his court costs.

      Delete
  30. Wings is a bit like the national newspaper .. both pretend to be pro independence, but are only motivated by the gullibles money.

    GWC .. away and look at the pictures in your daily mail in your farty old bedroom.

    It's pension day ra morra!


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every other Tuesday is pension day for us muppets.

      Delete
    2. Every other Saturday is when your direct debit comes off. Or it used to be.

      Delete
  31. The lowest pension in western Europe .. the Tories are wanting to kill you auld yins off and you still sycophantically tongue their arses. Want you stuck in your bedroom for weeks in hope you peg it, using a flu bug as an excuse..

    No matter if you're in good health or not .. they're always banging on about how an ageing population is draining the countries resources ..

    But, still ..

    πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…

    ReplyDelete
  32. If you want my opinion, BoJo saw these graphs (the mitigaged and the unmitogated epidemic) and said, well there's not much difference, better go for the one that gets it all over faster and then the survivors will be immune. And that's quite convenient because we don't have to bother spending money on tests and contact tracing and quarantines and businesses can continue to trade uninterrupted. That's where the "take it on the chin" response came from.

    Then the advisors kicked in and supported him, because that's what government advisors do. If you're not the sort of person who is prepared to tell the PM what he wants to hear and give him reasons why he should do what he wants to do, you don't get that sort of appointment in the first place. So we had that positively criminal line about "herd immunity".

    But I suspect there were some discussions behind the scenes and people tried to explain to him that the mitigated outbreak was the one to go for. So we then got posturing about "flattening the sombrero" (God could you be any more crass?) without any explanation of what measures were to be taken to achieve that.

    Now we've had a fairly substantial re-think, but everyone has lost a full week, when all the modelling shows that even a day's delay in implementing the necessary measures significantly increases the number of people who will die. And there still isn't any testing and contact tracing going on. There's a firm in England making huge quantities of these tests and they're all being exported because they've had no orders from the NHS.

    And this after we had all the warnings from China, and the awful warning of Italy, right there in front of us. It's criminal.

    And what I think about a First Minister who essentially went along with all of this, put up no protest or opposition, and didn't use the devolved powers to the max to do as much as possible of what needed to be done A WEEK AGO is not fit to print.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What a genius you are Rolfe and a medical expert to boot who believes that you can have immunity from a virus
    Haven't you noticed the common cold every year, haven't you noticed the flu every year, there is no immunity from a virus, vaccines only inactivate virus they don't kill them, that's the whole point, virus's mutate, they learn, they grow, they change shape and even DNA
    If you could manage to totally isolate an entire population from a virus the minute people step outside off it goes again

    Corona virus is now with us probably forever like the flu but we will by slow stepping the curve eventually save time enough for a vaccine to be produced thus in future warding off the most severe effects on those with respiratory problems that we ourselves created by being arseholes and inventing crap like diesel fuel that no matter how clean the immission are the carcinogenic properties are not lessened

    The Wings over idiot Campbell and his sycophants who believe the crap he talks are every bit as bad a Farage and Cummings and Johnson, and who's Wingsy's best pal now George Fkn Galloway, the idiot is even agreeing with Piers Stupid Morgan now

    Just what does it take for you folk to wake up, does he need to come round your houses to laugh in your faces before you'll get it
    Campbell is an opportunist charlaton self promoting subversive

    Please send me £10 to my address in another country so that I can say more shit with your name on it



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, you know that I have only recently retired from a high-level professional job in disease surveillance, control and eradication? I think I know more about virology than you do, sweetheart.

      Actually your post is so confused and internally contradictory that I won't bother typing any more.

      Delete
  34. "What a genius you are Rolfe and a medical expert to boot who believes that you can have immunity from a virus"

    Careful. You might just get taken to the cleaners. Or the vets.

    ReplyDelete