Friday, March 20, 2020

UK continues relentlessly with its wholesale defiance of the World Health Organization

I've just been watching a news briefing by the UK government's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser, and it was an extraordinarily disheartening spectacle - it was as if time had stood still and the widely-briefed change of strategy from a few days ago had never even happened.  Yet again, Chris Whitty talked dismissively about the key recommendation of the World Health Organization to test every suspected case and trace all contacts as if it was some sort of fringe position taken by those who were "critiquing the science", rather than the international gold standard that it is.  He used a straw man argument to justify the abandonment of test-and-trace, suggesting that the practice is only supported by people who want "to make the virus go away" - but of course that's not the stated objective of the WHO, who merely suggest that the pandemic is "controllable" by means of test-and-trace.  Although testing in the UK will be ramped up, it doesn't seem to be with the intent of actually trying to control the epidemic - to a large extent it seems the aim is merely to prove Whitty's pet theory that a massive hidden wave of asymptomatic cases brought the outbreak in Wuhan to a natural end, which if true might be a get-out-of-jail-free card in this country.  But from what I can gather, that theory is regarded by most experts as optimistic at best and downright eccentric at worst.

And the situation is now worse than one of Whitty merely defying the WHO.  He also appears to be ignoring the recommendations of his own modellers, because of course the Imperial College paper reached the definite conclusion that a suppression strategy would have to be followed until a vaccine is available.  Incredibly, Whitty once again rubbished any suggestion of holding on for a vaccine.  If the modelling is right, that means inevitably at some point that the UK government's lack of sufficient action will lead to the NHS going into meltdown, with the potential for hundreds of thousands of needless deaths unless there's a change of course.  My own view is that a change of course would be bound to happen sooner or later in those circumstances, but I had been nursing the hope that the Imperial College paper marked the decisive turning point and that we no longer needed to rely on the UK advisers seeing the light when calamity struck.  It seems that may have been too optimistic.

There were a few crumbs of comfort - I didn't hear any mention of 'herd immunity' as a goal, or of the idea that it's actively desirable to let the virus spread as widely as possible in case it pops up again in winter.  (I didn't quite watch the entire briefing, though, which means there's a small chance those things may have been mentioned in the part I missed.)  So perhaps the impossibility of 'herd immunity' working has been grudgingly accepted.  Vallance also reiterated the objective of keeping deaths down to a few thousand.  But that leaves us with a mystery, because the Imperial College paper was adamant that such a 'low' death toll would only be possible with a full-on suppression strategy.  Do we just have two very stubborn men here who can't quite bring themselves to pull their public narrative into line with the steps that they privately know will have to be taken?  We'll have to hope that's what's going on, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.  There was some vague chatter about international technological progress providing the solution, so maybe what we're looking at is a modified version of the Imperial College recommendation, with some sort of suppression-lite strategy for a while, followed by the development of effective therapies as an exit strategy, as opposed to the farther-off development of a vaccine.

None of this exactly inspires confidence, though, and there must be a high probability that the weird mix of half-measures we've seen from the government thus far means we're hurtling headlong towards an Italian-style catastrophe, and a total lockdown as an emergency reactive step.  If a lockdown is near-enough inevitable anyway, it would be far better if it happened in an effort to stop us getting into a deep hole, rather than in an effort to get us back out of it.


  1. I don't believe that what these guys say is the science talking, but rather the politics talking.

  2. The briefing yesterday by the Prime Minister and health chiefs was not reassuring at all. The PM's claim that we can be through the worst of this in 12 weeks was just empty words. It is hard for even those who are convinced of the value of self-isolating, to do this in a disciplined and consistent way. There are many other people who are not even trying to take precautions. My sense is that leaders in many other countries use press conference to explain and reinforce key messages in a serious and compassionate manner. Our PM is a joker who is way out of his depth. Tragically, we are stuck with him for the duration.

    1. And we have Nicola Sturgeon complimenting this lot this morning at her conference, for their decisions on tackling the virus up till now. We are really in one clusterfuck of a bind here; it's going to be Italy times ten!

    2. I agree he is a joker. However, he may have given the impression we would be through the worst of it in 12 weeks but that is not actually what he said. He said we would have started on the way down on the bell curve. That is still at a very high rate of infections deaths.

  3. Well said James . It very difficult to find any sensible and reliable analysis in any of the mainstream media . You really are providing a useful service here. I'm absolutely p... off with the unquestioning and sycophantic approach to government ministers and employees such as Jason Leitch by the British Bias Corp etc.

    I'm concerned about , what seems to me , the only partial closure of schools . It remains to be seen but in some cases it may be that teachers and other employees may have to go in to " baby sit". I realise the difficulty about childcare for essential workers but I have a sneaking feeling that this might grow arms and legs!

    Also they may ( at least this idea is being mooted) be taking in children/young folk that get free school meals for dinners, obviously this would require canteen staff too. Is this really a sufficient "social distancing" ; I doubt it. There must be better ways of helping the pupils from poorer families.

    Here in Moray they are talking about still taking in senior pupils next week . If this comes about , are the they really getting this?

  4. I see Norway lawyers are questioning the authoritarian laws and legislation that is being passed in the name of corona virus that takes citizens rights away, maybe a good time for lawyers in Britain to question where this will end, perhaps they won’t be needed in the future either if you can just incarcerate the population.

  5. it is already too late.
    Italy started restrictions at 100 cases
    We are at 3000 "official" cases
    a clampdown will serve now only to keep the population inside their houses to die

  6. Constantine! Tell me that you don't have any involvement in this.


    "It was supposed to be a highlight of the social season in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo: but a glamorous wedding celebration in the upmarket neighbourhood of Carrasco has gained a different kind of notoriety after it emerged that 44 guests contracted the coronavirus at a party.
    Uruguay has been disproportionally hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. While its nextdoor neighbour Argentina (population 45 million), has registered 97 cases, Uruguay (population 3.5 million) has seen confirmed cases leap from four on 12 March to 79 on Wednesday, with another 392 suspected cases.
    That explosive growth can reportedly be traced back to a socialite who decided to attend the 500-guest wedding on 7 March just hours after arriving from Spain."

  7. I have no faith in the UK government at all. Johnston lies with every word he utters and there is no reason not to believe that he is still not lying now. At first we had the "herd immunity" theory, where they were happy to let older and more vulnerable people die and we are talking large numbers. They will not give the order to close bars, restaurants, hairdressers and other small business leaving them high and dry without any financial support. My opinion is that we have a callous right wing government, who are more concerned about passing laws in order to impose a form of martial law that is to be in place for 2 years, rather than try to help the peoples of these islands.

    1. After watching the highly depressing and alarming doc on BBC 2 called Taking Control by Emily Maitlis your post is spot on. It gives a very clear indication of the direction this UK gov is going . Essential viewing !! When will people in Scotland realize that Westminster is not interested giving power back to the people but orchestrating an ultra right wing free market agenda where the only people to gain are the very few.

  8. Big Eater From PerthMarch 20, 2020 at 3:56 PM

    It is particularly the constitutional issue that is the matter we are supposed to put entirely from our minds. Nobody suggests that the coronavirus crisis obviates the climate crisis. Nobody has suggested that the conflict in Syria has ceased to be of any importance because only the coronavirus crisis can be important. The public health crisis certainly hasn’t put a stop to the British political elite’s constitutional machinations. If anything, the malignant child-clown in Downing Street is accelerating its plans and intensifying its efforts to forcibly mould these islands into a new state made in the image of the imagined ‘Great Britain’ of a grotesquely mythologised past. Only in Scotland are we expected – required – to abandon our aspirations for something better than Boris Johnson’s tawdry blend of Little England and Greater England where every day is a crossover between Dad’s Army and Terry & June. Don’t you ever ask yourself why?
    (Unless you're a lying bladder.)

    1. Peter (if it's you, I can never work out whether it's you or your impersonator), don't be ridiculous. There's no way of campaigning for independence in the midst of a global emergency. It's utterly impossible. This situation will not last forever, and at some point the Yes movement will pick up from where it left off. But for now, everything goes into cold storage.

    2. There's not enough Big Eater on here.

    3. Big Eater From PerthMarch 21, 2020 at 11:12 AM

      King Kenny Rogers said it all:

      You've got to know when to call things, you've got to know when to bawl,
      You've got to know what to scoff and not get the runs...

    4. I doubt that the genuine article would describe himself as "Big Eater from Perth". Surely just a well-done parody.

  9. "Hello. I'm a pollster from six years in the future, 2020 to be exact. In March 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson will decide to let a deadly virus work its way through the UK population, unlike every other county and unlike countries that have shown the virus can be contained. Then when the virus is at its second peak and the UK in a Great Depression he'll take it out of the EU in what we call a No Deal Brexit anticipated to cause food and medicine shortages, and that will also end the EU’s ability to aid the UK with the virus. Knowing all this, would you now vote Yes in September's referendum?"

    "Nut. I just don't like Salmond's face."

  10. Roddy Collarless-ShirtMarch 20, 2020 at 4:16 PM

    I feel it is imperative that I share with you this short and poignant statement from Harrods:

    £Our Knightsbridge store is closing for a while, but our Food Halls and Pharmacy remain open to serve our community."

    1. The finest day.....that i ever had......

      Was when i cry on command.....

      (kurt cobain)

    2. 'Sir' John CurtassMarch 21, 2020 at 9:11 AM

      The finest day that I ever had was when I learned how to predict the SDP Liberal Alliance vote with a 95% confidence level.

    3. The finest day I ever had is when you Nat sis lost your neverendum. It was also the last good day I ever had, which is why I keep bringing it up.

    4. Govan young team.March 21, 2020 at 6:53 PM

      Geez peace GWC. Turning out to be a rather pyrrhic victory for you so far int it?

      yeev no stopt moaning since 2014.

    5. Govan young team.March 21, 2020 at 6:56 PM

      A while back, I picked up a lovely lady at her parents' bearsden home.

      It was our very first date and I was really excited.

      Being a university student money was tight but I had scraped together enough money to take her to a fancy restaurant.

      But to my horror she ordered the most expensive items on the menu. Oysters. Lobster. Champagne. She was not holding back!

      I asked her, "Does your maw feed you like that when you eat at home?"

      "No," she replied, "but my mother's not expecting torrid, wild, uninhibited sex tonight."

      I said, "Would you care for dessert?

  11. Hello everyone,
    The condition of the country today is battling the corona virus !! And at such a time, I would like to give you only one advice to take care of yourself and your family !! There is an outbreak of Corona virus everywhere and in such a difficult time, just one thing will be said that you take special care of your body !!
    Today's info!

  12. If Scotland had been Independent already we'd have been able to close our borders and also had around a trillion£££ in the bank like Norway has so no resultant shock to our economy and plenty of cash to have upgraded our own health system by miles

    So thank you Unionists for your loyalty to the country that we have to sit around waiting for to make us sicker than we already are, don't believe me? take a look at London right now nobody is doing what's asked of them just like Italy didn't, so they're getting sicker and sicker and spreading it like the plague of the feckin Zombies, the morons

    Don't blame the authorities in Italy they told them, blame the people for not listening, just like England isn't listening

  13. We wouldn't have a trillion in the bank ... we (the UK) blew the money years ago. We would have full powers to react more quickly and much more sensibly to deal with the crisis. Even though the Scottish government has been ahead of the curve compared to Westminster it has still been held back from doing what's required as quickly as it should have been done because of its limited powers.

  14. No, England is the UK and Great Britain and the British Isles snd the Empire, ask any Englishman, everywhere alse is a property they own but don't remember about until they think they're going to have it taken away, they even occupy countries overseas they've been ordered to leave (the Chagos islands)but they rent that one to America and are too feart to tell them to leave

    The oil they keep referring to as Scotland's oil, Scotland never had, they said we got all the jobs, that's a lie oil workers came from around the globe to work on *Scotland's oil* that we never had

    If Scotland had been Independent like Norway, Scotland would have everything it has now and much much more

    The Northern Irish with brains must look at the Republic where the standard of living is massively higher in every respect and utterly despise the *British* and their loyalist implantation for the poverty they can see and compare

    Over 50 countries since WW 2 have rid themselves of the *British* and celebrate their Independence day every year and none of them celelbrate with a phone call to the *British* to ask to come back to the great Empire of the blood sucking vampire nation that is London, oh did I say London, well there you are if there's any English folk reading this because your money gets sucked into that particular city of vampires just like Scotlands but you lot are stuck with it because the Labour party are no different to the Tories, you just haven't cottoned on yet

    1. There are more oil jobs in London than in Scotland. So London gets all the oil revenues but also the majority of onshore jobs.

      Good old fashioned robber barons the lot of them.

  15. The UK seems to be on a very similar trajectory to Italy.

    Accumulated UK deaths (4 days after 10 deaths) are:
    Accumulated Italy deaths (6 days after 10 deaths):

    (The last data for the UK might be a mistake as NHS reported 39 deaths in England and 1 in Wales yesterday, which would make the total 18 not 177.)

    From this point the deathtoll in Italy rose as follows:

    Italy locked down Lombardy when the deathtoll hit 366, then the whole country 2 days later.

    If the UK is on a similar trajectory, today's deathtoll would be around 230 and Sunday's around 360 - the point Italy locked down Lombardy.

  16. While Scotland is testing people at 1.4x the UK rate (per capita), the UK now has more identified cases and a death rate 2.7x that of Scotland.

    This strongly suggests that infection is spreading much faster in England, and the disparity is growing.

    It may well be London that's the main problem in England, as discussed in the news.


  18. Todays UK accumulated deaths 233. Appears to be much the same progression as Italy. We're two weeks behind where they are now.


    "A lockdown at least in part reminiscent of what has happened in Italy and France is still being considered at the top of government if the situation worsens in the weeks ahead, despite Downing Street denying that it would happen."

    *If* the situation worsens. They're still in denial. London should have been locked down well before now.