Saturday, August 1, 2020

Since Scotland broke away from the disastrous Westminster-led response to the crisis, our outcomes have been dramatically - not "marginally" - better than England's

I raised a dubious eyebrow at this comment today from David Herdson over at Stormfront Lite -

"And what’s true in England is true in Scotland too. While Nicola Sturgeon likes to pat her administration on its back, the truth is that cases are rising there too, and the death total is still worse than just about everywhere else in Europe. Having marginally better outcomes and considerably better communication skills than London is nothing much to write home about."

Of course there's a grain of truth in that - over the entire course of the pandemic to date, Scotland can be reasonably said to have had a poor outcome by international standards.  But what that doesn't tell you is more important than what it does.  The vast bulk of infections and deaths were front-loaded in the early part of the crisis when Scotland was in almost total lockstep with the Westminster-led "Four Nations" approach.  The modelling suggests that almost 100,000 people were infected in Scotland the week before lockdown - that's nearly 2% of the entire population in just seven days.  I personally know people who were infected that week, and probably most of us do.  That was being allowed to happen by an intentional policy choice of herd immunity.

At some point, the penny dropped in Scottish Government circles that we were not in fact facing the "mild infection" that the likes of Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance had briefed them about, and as a result Scotland has diverged sharply from the policy south of the border.  To the best of my knowledge, the extent of the U-turn has never been publicly acknowledged, but it's been almost total.  We've gone from Jason Leitch saying in his Grand Complacency Tour of the TV studios in February/March that almost everyone was going to get the virus and that was totes fine, to a specific goal of eliminating the virus completely.

That hasn't left us with merely a difference of "communication" styles between Scotland and England (although the communication in Scotland has self-evidently been vastly superior), but a difference of substance.  And that divergence hasn't just led to "marginally better outcomes" as David suggests, but to dramatically better outcomes.  He's correct that case numbers in Scotland rose on Friday to their highest level for two months - but that was a rise of 30.  That's still well behind England on a per capita basis.

That said, past performance is no guarantee of future results, and Scotland's success story is about to be tested as never before by the gamble of opening schools on a full-time basis in a matter of days from now.  It's ironic, then, that David's piece is a call for the reopening of schools to be prioritised.

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57 comments:

  1. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 1, 2020 at 6:50 PM

    Another totally spot on article re the virus. Credit where credit is due. Two articles in a row. You are on a roll now.

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    1. Go out on the streets and tell the bereaved Scottish families that crap. Remember to put on your nat si face mask. All profits go to charity.

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    2. Those families blame the UK government, and rightly so, hence the polling on the previous blog.

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    3. Oh, GWC, if you were a Spanish tart I'd pay you €15 for a sesh (with drinks included in the price).

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    4. People sometimes say that I look Spanish.

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    5. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 5:43 PM

      GWC you should go back to practising what you are best at if you want to retain your championship. In fact it is the only thing you old Britnat fart can probably do.

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  2. I don't know about the penny dropping, but in the second week of March Public Health Scotland were briefing GPs about how many deaths to expect in their own districts/villages and the numbers scale up to 88,000 for the whole of Scotland. It seems to be the midpoint of the NERVTAG estimates from February.

    I can't imagine the First Minister didn't know about this. And yet she went ahead and stopped contact tracing anyway, at a time when we'd hardly started and it was going fine. We'd contained the Nike cluster and the virus had barely reached the more rural areas and the islands. Angus McNeill was begging her to continue contact tracing in the Highlands and islands, but she stopped because England had chosen to stop.

    England of course was significantly further ahead in its epidemic than Scotland and by no stretch of the imagination was this an appropriate thing to do. If contact tracing and isolation had been continued for another week to ten days into lockdown a huge number of lives would have been saved. (As an aside, Ceredigion council did do this on the initiative of the leader of the council who was a microbiologist, and have had a notably smaller death toll than other parts of wales.)

    Stopping contact tracing is a disaster, something you only do if you're completely overwhelmed and can't keep up. That was far from the case in Scotland on 12th March. If you can't keep up and the disease has got away from you, you must lock down immediately or the infection will spread like wildfire. It's against every principle of disease control.

    And yet Nicola Sturgeon announced on 12th March that contact tracing was ending and we were moving into the "mitigation" phase, as this was all part of the Grand Plan. I was terrified, and went home and stayed there. That evening I got the email telling me about the projected death toll, which as I said the First Minister surely knew about.

    She's doing well now, and the U-turn from Jason Leitch is eye-popping, but she knew what she was facilitating in March and this is something that needs to be faced.

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    1. Sorry, but you clearly don't know what you are on about.

      March 12th was where infections were the highest out of the entire outbreak. It was the peak. Hence the peak of deaths followed ~1 month later. It was not the happy time before the storm; it was the point things became completely out of control.

      The entire population was contact traced / assumed as at risk, and so isolated a matter of days later with full lockdown. This should have been done earlier, but Holyrood didn't have the powers. It locked down as early as possible, and the legacy of that is clear for all to see.

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    2. I spent a fair chunk of my career in disease surveillance and disease control. While Scotland didn't have the full powers to do everything there was a lot that could have been done with the powers we had, but it wasn't done. We were committed to lockstep with England, despite our epidemic being at a different stage from England's, apparently to appeast the unionist faction.

      All the evidence was there to demonstrate the disastrous nature of the herd immunity strategy. Nicola Sturgeon nevertheless chose to pursue it rather than find a way to avert at least some of the deaths by using the devolved powers we had.

      I'll copy what James says above. "The modelling suggests that almost 100,000 people were infected in Scotland the week before lockdown - that's nearly 2% of the entire population in just seven days." Lockdown was announced on 23rd March, which is eleven days after contact tracing was stopped. 100,000 people were infected between 16th and 23rd March.

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    3. If 100,000 were infected, allowing say 5 people each, where would you get the amount of people required to do the tracing.

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    4. I spend a lot of time designing H&S procedures for and handling airborne poisons which will kill you at trace (ppm) levels. This doesn't qualify me on the biology of covid, but I understand poison contamination and, most importantly, contamination risk.

      2% infection rate would have been 120 cases at my work which I could see from my window... sitting next to me at lunch, using the toilet cubicle before me etc.

      This is the reason 'contact tracing' had me quarantined along with everyone else. There is little doubt I would have come within 2 m of a case in the next week or two of 12 March, particularly at the rate it was spreading, if I had not done so already.

      There is no doubt that relying on Westminster for new virus outbreak control - a largely reserved matter - was a mistake. The advice of SAGE was clearly politically tainted. Being part of the UK without the powers of border controls, lockdown and wage supoort killed people.

      Deeming the entire population as having been in contact and quarantining them as soon as that was possible saved lives.

      Some additional contact tracing and quarantining of people already deemed at risk and confined to their homes by lockdown would have not made much difference to anything.

      Lesson learned. Independence is needed for Scotland, which would allow proper contact tracing with border controls. Never listen to London.

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    5. Also, by the point of lockdown, we were coming on for 5% infected; at least that's what studies of England show. The lockdown was in response to the 2% rapidly heading for 5%.

      5% is 1 in 20. I'd have had, statistically, at least one case within 25 m of me all day at work. There is no doubt I'd have touched a surface they'd touched, be that the kettle or a door handle.

      It's comically insane to suggest test and trace in such circumstances. The probability is that everyone has been in contact with an infected case in the last few days, whether that was having breakfast with them, sitting on the chair they sat on earlier at a restaurant, opening the same door...

      Test and trace is designed for keeping a lid on a minuscule number of infections (relative to population) so the public can largely go about their lives. It requires border control and monitoring as needed. That's all it is good for.

      Once you have a few% of a population infected, you can stop testing and safely assume everyone has or will soon meet and infected person. So you lockdown.

      Testing people doesn't save lives. The disease has no cure. Contact trace testing just identifies cases for quarantine to reduce spread. If everyone is quarantined, you don't need to do this.

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    6. I understood people advocating for test and trace at the time. Back in early march, life seemed largely normal and there was huge uncertainty about infection rates. Other countries were testing and tracing with success too. The idea of lockdown seemed shocking. There must be some alternative!

      However, the test and trace successes had imposed strict border controls. In Scotland, cases were flooding in, notably from England, with soon to host one of the worst outbreaks in the world.

      Modelling suggested test and trace had become pointless. This modelling was totally correct.

      In retrospect, the decision to forget test and trace and fully lockdown was 100% correct.

      The mistakes were (1) not being independent so being unable to lockdown earlier (2) not having a S. Korea style test and trace system (coupled with border controls) and finally (3) relying on Westminster's SAGE for reserved matter advice.

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    7. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 5:39 PM

      Letting the match at Ibrox go ahead with 5,000 Germans entering Glasgow from one of the worst affected areas in Germany was a shocker. This happened in March only a few days before lockdow. Even Ally McCoist said on the evening it went ahead that it should have been cancelled.

      Using the football analogy it would be fair to say that the Scotgovs tactics were all over the place for the first 15 mins of the game but the coach changed tactics and the team then played a blinder for the rest of the game.

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    8. Which she clearly does, Rolphe (01.Aug). I made the same point via her web mail at the time, and I surely wasn't alone. It's well understood by everyone and their uncle, and will no doubt be revisited when the eventual PI is set up after the crisis has finally subsided.

      So why are you still whining on about about it on here now? Joining the dire choir of those evidently oh-so-desperate to prove that the SG is rubbish, despite all the subsequent evidence.

      It wouldn't be for base political motives a la Bitter Together (continuing), would it...?

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  3. The NEC decision to install an all-female shortlist for Glasgow Cathcart has been overturned. Marco Biagi for the former well liked MSP for Edinburgh Central is to seek the nomination for his old seat.

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    1. An excellent choice: neither a company stooge nor a narcissist. Definitely the Partick Thistle of the contest.

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  4. Opening schools is a gamble but its a gamble that needs to be attempted. If you argue that infection levels are too high now to open schools when do you open them? Say this is the low point in regards to infection levels and they slowly creep up during the autumn and winter and its not to next spring that levels are below what they are now. What do you say to students who are due to sit exams 'sorry i know that you have had not got any full time education for a year but you have to take your exams in a couple of weeks'?

    So I think the current thinking of the government is the correct one. Plan for schools to open full time, if cases can still be kept to a low level then you have the perfect situation kids in school and the virus under control. If not you have bought yourself some time to finalise a strategy for education if schools can not open full time.

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    1. "Plan for schools to open full time, if cases can still be kept to a low level then you have the perfect situation kids in school and the virus under control."

      Your language is giving you away there. What you're describing is an English-style strategy of "running hot", ie. regarding a certain level of ongoing infection and death as acceptable. The stated Scottish objective of elimination means no level of infection can be tolerated.

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    2. Then certain areas will have to stay shut or areas are going to have to reclose if needed. At the end of the day you cant shut down education. Aside from the negative effect on education, the social impact needs to be taken into account.

      Its the challenge that every country is going to face, how each country deals with the challenge will be down to them, but each will need to find a way to educate their children.

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    3. Anon: At the end of the day, as I stated in the blogpost, it's a big gamble and if it doesn't work out the full-time reopening of schools will have to be reversed. Education is more important than most things but it's not more important than life and health.

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  5. If Marco Biagi stands for Edinburgh Central that'll give local SNP members
    the wider choice denied to them by the party's NEC.
    Still unfair to Joanna C but very pleased for James Dornan if true that he can now stand in his own seat.

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    1. Better than working for a living.

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    2. The amount of time you seem to be on various sites, you must be retired, or a wonney work.

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    3. What other sites does GWC frequent?

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    4. GWC is never off the Tarts4Brexit website

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    5. A friend was wondering how you upload stuff to that.

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    6. You do it by shouting a lot and getting angry.

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  6. The SNP NEC needs changing. Such ignorantly, blatant factionalism to thwart Cherry displays at least two dangerous features:

    1. A prioritisation of factional advantage over the best interests of the independence movement;

    2. A lack of understanding, or lack of caring, about how divisive and splitting no.1. above will be.

    This kind of behaviour risks seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. At best the NEC acted stupidly, at worst deliberately maliciously. Either way this is a serious and urgent matter.

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    1. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 5:31 PM

      In the same way as they did not care about any negative impact on independence when they persecuted Salmond for 2 years and then continued to work with the MSM and other Scotgov funded bodies to persecute Salmond even after he was found innocent. These people care little for independence.

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  7. It would be vastly more educational to compare the Scottish government's response to that of Vietnam, or somewhere else that actually did well, instead of the London fixation.

    If you want to consider how random the Scottish government's decisions are, we can spend hours in a pub 1m away from strangers, without a mask, but we are supposed to spend 10 minutes in a shop, 2m away from people, wearing a mask. Of course, there is far, far more than that including no-brainer basic public health measures.

    It is hardly surprising they have done so badly. God knows who has been advising them, but it's obvious that they should get people who are less idiotic. Four months ago.

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    1. Vietnam is an independent country.

      Your lack of understanding on this simple, key factor, invalidates the rest of your post.

      As a region of the UK, the number of British dead in Scotland is unacceptable, yes.

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    2. Scotland as an independent nation voted in a Scottish referendum to remain in the UK Union. You as a Nat si want powers removed from Scotland to the EU.

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    3. Maybe you can outline which powers over COVID control the EU withhold from member states.

      I'll provide a list of those the UK withhold from Scotland.

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    4. That was a sudden change of tact. I have no interest in the corrupt EU. It is health workers who deal with covid and we pay the bills.

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    5. List of specifically reserved matters:
      - immigration
      - quarantine
      - borders
      - national security
      - emergency powers
      - medicines, medical supplies and poisons
      - broadcasting
      - public records and public sector information
      - Government budgets, spending and borrowing
      - health and safety
      - marine & air transport
      - employment and industrial relations
      - social security
      - welfare foods
      - health profession regulation
      - research councils

      And of course the UK government is responsible for every covid death in Scotland as Holyrood is answerable to it. Sturgeon is a regional British government official answerable to Johnson. If she e.g. 'killed thousands of Scots in care homes', it's because Boris chose not to stop her. He is e.g. responsible for H&S in care homes and regulation of the medical/care profession.

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    6. Terrible of Boris not stopping Knickerless killing the elderly. Sad we did not let Salmond alias Eck not take charge of defence, immigration and border control. I recollect that the Scottish Lab /Lib with Nat si / Tory support passed the care for the elderly bill.

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  8. And obviously, it is inconceivable that the Scottish government would stipulate something so blindingly obvious as routine testing of teachers in a couple of weeks when kids start sitting 2ft away from each other for hours. As per their previous, that will not happen until teachers start dying.

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    1. This is nonsensical.

      How does diagnosing a teacher with covid save or protect them? If they test positive, it's their immune system that will do this, maybe with some ventilator help. If they test positive, it's too late.

      You need to test the source of the infection and remove that from contact with teachers. That's the kids.

      Test and trace doesn't save the lives of those that test positive, but those that might have met them and contracted. Me being tested doesn't help me, it only helps my family. D-oh.

      You even state the kids are at higher risk, yet advocate testing the low risk group (those sitting more than 2 m away). If they kids were at risk from the teachers, you might have sounded like you had a point.

      this is really basic stuff. we are lucky you are not a Scottish government advisor.

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  9. The NEC vote.

    Was it a full NEC vote OR was it the "Special due to Covid19" mini group?
    Instead of 20+ elected members was it the half dozen elite?
    Why don't we know!

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    1. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 5:23 PM

      Julia Gibb - you question the SNP and presumably think it is reasonable to do so. When others do the same you traduce them. Time for you to rethink your approach. Not everyone who questions the SNP is a British Nationalist. Unless you are, of course.

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  10. Random Totty From Freedom SquareAugust 2, 2020 at 1:13 PM

    When James gets on to his favourite subjects he can be totes emosh.

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  11. Greetings, readers.

    We have noticed your recent concerns over organisational matters and extend the hand of friendship as we celebrate the outcome of a small skirmish.
    Be assured that it is only a taster of what we have predicted and the things which will duly transpire.

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    1. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 6:17 PM

      It would be nice if you could kiss and make up with James Kelly and Paul Kavanagh - you are all on the same side.

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    2. S S S. They could form a circle in a clockwise fashion and have a good time.

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    3. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 8:54 PM

      As distinct from you GWC only having a good time on your own. No wonder you are Govans Champion.

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  12. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 6:12 PM

    Tory MP and ex UK Minister arrested and bailed on accusations of rape charges by staff member. Why is there no leak of the salacious details to that disgusting rag the Daily Record? Where is the member/leaker of the Scotgov/Civil service when you need them? Where is that scumbag from N. Ireland? The Daily Redcoat - the Britnats own in house sewer.

    Funny how no investigation in to who leaked the info has ever been carried out. Is it the fact that the leaker may also be the gamekeeper?

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    1. We're you referring to Gerry Adams as being the scumbag?

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    2. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 8:51 PM

      GWC - thought you would have sprained your wrist by now with all the practising to retain your championship.

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    3. I am happy that the Nat sis can retain the choking of the Bishop championship. It is what you do best. Gives your women members some peace.

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    4. ScottytheScotinScotlandAugust 2, 2020 at 11:39 PM

      Flying solo again tonight GWC. Lockdown was probably just a normal day for you.

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  13. I baked six Ecclefechan Rainbows the other day. I'm not going to let things get me down.

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  14. Skier, the German left and right we're out in force in your EU Berlin capital yesterday protesting about the lockdown. The left saying it was fascism. The right saying it was a conspiracy. And you want this lot to run Sconie Boatland. NEVER.

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    1. I am more interested in whether you agree with Elon Musk that the Pyramids were built by aliens.

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    2. Covidia believes whatever it is instructed to believe. It is an obedient colonial servile.

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