Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The whole world, from Jacinda Ardern to Donald Trump, from Anthony Fauci to Neil Ferguson, has said no to the "herd immunity" madness - but, never fear, Iain Macwhirter (of all people) remains a devoted fan

I don't think I'm alone in having been genuinely confused by Iain Macwhirter's evolving (or perhaps 'meandering' is more accurate) position on the "herd immunity" debacle.  When I first spoke to him about it several weeks ago, there's no doubt that he at least partly misunderstood the concept.  He had listened to one of Jason Leitch's many media interviews, and had formed the false impression that only a small percentage of the population would need to be infected to generate herd immunity.  Based on that misconception, it's not hard to see why Iain found the idea so seductive - if the virus would go away for good as soon as, say, 5% or 10% of people were infected, and if it could somehow be contrived that those 5% or 10% were almost exclusively young and healthy people, then the strategy would make a great deal of sense.  The problem is, of course, that it simply doesn't work that way.  Herd immunity only comes about when the virus hits a brick wall because most of the people it attempts to infect are already immune - and that in turn requires the majority of the population to have either been vaccinated or infected.  Jason Leitch never made any secret about that - he was talking about allowing the virus to move through the entire population.  Patrick Vallance stated that at least 60% of Britons would need to be infected (and that may have been an underestimate, given that calculations of how infectious the virus is have drifted upwards since then).  

And we've already seen how the notion of limiting infections to the 'non-vulnerable' segment of the population is a pipe-dream.  It's not just that elderly and vulnerable people in care homes haven't been successfully 'shielded' - they've actually been hit by the epidemic to a disproportionate extent.  That was entirely foreseeable, given that people will always have to go in and out of care homes.  The only way to keep the virus out of a care home is to make sure there isn't much virus outside.

At some point, the penny dropped for Iain that herd immunity required an epidemic of biblical proportions, and another penny dropped that the scientific advice the UK and Scottish governments were receiving was at odds with the advice in other countries.  He said to me himself that the government found itself in a terrible quandary because its advisers were in a minority of one from an international point if view.  Surely these realisations must have given Iain pause for thought?  Nope, not a bit of it.  Today, even after all the carnage we've seen, even after the succession of U-turns from the UK administrations when the original plan proved to be completely unworkable, Iain has penned yet another column suggesting that British science will in the long run be proved right and the rest of the world will be proved wrong.

I don't know how to break the news to him, but the UK and Scottish governments' original scientific advice has already been proved wrong.  Totally, comprehensively, and catastrophically wrong.  How do we know that?  Because the advisers went on the record in February and early March about how they thought events would play out when the herd immunity plan was put into operation.  Catherine Calderwood stated that it would be business as usual at the peak of the epidemic - some people would be mildly ill, some people would be very ill, but we'd accept that and get on with our daily lives, just as we would during a bad flu season.  Jason Leitch said that even the most vulnerable people wouldn't be asked to avoid face-to-face contact completely, and indeed that their contact with family members would actually increase.  And Patrick Vallance stated that any form of lockdown in the UK was highly unlikely.  

How does all of the above tally up with where we actually are now?  Well, we're currently in nationwide lockdown, with the vulnerable told to isolate completely, and with everyone else told to stop going about their normal lives and to stay at home except when travel is absolutely essential.  Life in Britain is now practically the opposite of what it would look like if herd immunity had been viable in the way that the advisers fondly imagined.  They thought this virus was akin to a bad flu.  This is not the flu.  The number of deaths that would have to occur to achieve herd immunity prior to a vaccine becoming available would be utterly unacceptable to any reasonable person - around a quarter of a million in the UK, if the modelling is to be believed.

Iain criticises "Scottish nationalists" who think that the main problem is that Scotland has been tethered to a disastrous British policy, and points out that Nicola Sturgeon genuinely believed in the advice she was receiving, just as much as ministers in London did.  That's true.  She did.  But here's the thing: she was demonstrably wrong to believe that advice, and she should have been paying heed to the fact that the leading experts of the World Health Organization were saying something radically different.  There were, to be fair, mitigating circumstances: she was probably sitting in on briefings where the UK government's view was being presented to her baldly as "the science", and she may have only been dimly aware - perhaps totally unaware - of the different position taken by the WHO and scientific advisers in most other countries.  But that excuse no longer holds - she's seen with her own eyes that the confident predictions of the UK advisers were wrong, and like the rest of us she's now up to speed with the strategies that were adopted more successfully elsewhere in the world.  So what matters more than the mistakes she made a month ago is whether she's going to rectify those mistakes now, and there are some tentatively encouraging signs that she might.  She's started making reference in her press conferences to 'testing, tracing and isolating' as a crucial part of any lockdown exit strategy, which is exactly what the international experts have been crying out for all along.

Iain states that mass testing will only make sense when an antibody test is available.  Nope, the opposite is true - mass testing to suppress the epidemic would have to use a test that shows whether someone is currently infected, not whether they were infected at some unknown point in the past.  It's knowledge of current infections that opens the door for the all-important contact tracing.  Admittedly, people being tested would have to get their results much quicker than the UK seems to be managing at the moment - contact tracing four days after the event is not much use.  But if faster tests can't be used, contact tracing can still occur if people are diagnosed on the basis of their symptoms.

Iain makes a 'truthy' observation that epidemiologists know that 80% of the population are bound to be infected sooner or later, and nothing can stop that happening because there is no vaccine.  Nope, that's not what they say at all.  Projections of an 80% infection rate (in reality you'll see anything from 50% to 80%) are based on the assumption that governments don't intervene and that the public don't change their behaviour spontaneously.  The famous Imperial College paper went out of its way to point out that both of those assumptions were thoroughly implausible.  A new study for the French government estimates that, due to the lockdown, only around 1% to 6% of the French population have been infected so far.  If that's right, anything between another 9 and 59 waves of the epidemic, of equal severity to the one we've just seen, would be required to produce herd immunity.  If all that governments do is slow that process down sufficiently to prevent total collapse of the health care system, it would take many years and a vaccine would almost certainly be available long before herd immunity was achieved.  That being the case, ie. if everyone knows a vaccine will be the exit strategy in the real world, it's ethically indefensible to allow hundreds of thousands of people to die in pursuit of an unattainable objective.  No wonder that the French government seem to have concluded that a full-on suppression strategy, involving mass testing, contact tracing, ongoing social distancing and face-masks, is now the only game in town.  That will be the new normal until the vaccine is ready.

Iain sneers at people who criticise Nicola Sturgeon for "listening to the wrong kind of scientists", or for suggesting that the scientists she did listen to are guilty of "British exceptionalism".  But come on now.  It's not really good enough to say "any scientists will do".  If there's a dispute between the scientists employed by the government of one small country, and the world-leading scientists of the relevant international body, I'd suggest you'd need to have an outstanding reason to ignore the gold standard science of the international body.  What's Iain's reason?  Ah, here it is -

"Britain has some of the best epidemiologists in the world."

And that's it.  Perish the thought that "British exceptionalism" might have played any part in this disaster.


  1. I think most of the genuine epidemiologists in the UK or those that actually know anything about an epidemic, such as the head of the Wellcome Foundation, say the same as the WHO. I have not looked at what Vallance or Calderwood are actually qualified in, but I did look up Jason Leitch. He is a Prof of Dentistry and Oral Surgery and I could not find anything in his publications or CV that suggested any special knowledge about virus or epidemics.

    1. I had heard that he has a Masters in Public Health, but I can only imagine that this degree didn't cover the sort of expertise necessary to cope with an emergency of this nature, but has rather given him an over-inflated impression of his own competence which is proving somewhat disastrous.

    2. Exactly - Britain has some very good epidemiologists (I don't know about the best in the world) but the whole point is that neither UKGov nor SG (and they were just listening to whatever UKGov presented to them) initially listened to the epidemiologists. It was modellers and behavioural scientists who were advising. There wasn't a single epidemiologist in the UK who was in agreement with the UKGov's advisers. And they were quite loud about it as well. UKGov still today doesn't want to say who exactly the advisers are and what exactly the advice was, so it could be peer-reviewed. This lockdown is going to last much longer than it needs to because UKGov followed with some wacky advice. I hope Sturgeon's learnt her lesson.

    3. Patrick Vallance was a specialist in pharmacology and cell biology before becoming head of drug discovery at Glaxo Smith Kline. So not much to do with epidemics either.

    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. James Kelly - you have been the Gold standard in your coverage of the pandemic.

    Macwhirter - what a diddy of a carpetbagger.

  3. Jason Leitch is simply a well-paid civil servant with a degree in Dentistry, a years qualification in Health care, a CBE and an honorary professorship. I suspect he is the type that likes a bit of vain glory rather than truly mucking in. Same traits as a career politician except he does not have to elected. Keeps good networking for quality positions and blags mostly. Therefore, he will find it in his own interests to toe the UK Science Advice. His boss's boss is Lesley Evans. Calderwood was an Obstetrician Gynaecologist. These top civil servant jobs appear to be well paid pre-retirement positions. Again, Calderwood's boss's boss is Lesley Evans. SAGE is the UK Gov supplied Science. This link shows the Advice provided to Scottish Government ministers, i.e Nicola Sturgeon and Health Ministers. . Conclusions??

  4. To the anonymous troll who pops up after every single post, spitting fury and using deeply offensive language like "the killer sniffle": please note that you really are wasting your time, because your comments will not be left up. However, on this occasion I'll address a few of your bogus points, because they probably do need to be knocked firmly on the head.

    1) You say that other human coronaviruses only produce symptoms of the common cold. That's true, and your point is...? Those viruses have been circulating in humans for a very long time, and have evolved to produce only mild illness. The new virus may eventually do the same - but not in anything like the near future. It's been around for only a few months, we have no immunity to it, and for now it's many, many orders of magnitude more deadly than the flu, let alone the common cold.

    2) You say that there might never be a vaccine, because there still isn't one for the closely related coronavirus that caused SARS. The reason for that is simple - the containment methods you dismiss as futile were highly successful in the case of SARS, and resources were therefore diverted away from vaccine research. But in a sense you're giving the game away by even mentioning SARS, which had a mortality rate of 10%. If it hadn't been contained, would you have called it "the killer sniffle", and advocated sitting back and allowing one-tenth of the population of the UK to die? Is no amount of carnage ever too much for you?

    3) You say that the flu vaccine is not fully effective. So what? The vaccine for this virus doesn't need to be fully effective either. A similar success rate would stifle outbreaks and mean that people who do become infected would suffer less severe illness. But luckily, coronaviruses are less complex than the flu and a vaccine is likely to work much better anyway.

    4) You say that the flu causes a high death rate among elderly and vulnerable people. That's profoundly misleading and you damn well know it. Seasonal flu doesn't cause anything like the mortality rate we're currently seeing.

    1. Many of the corona deaths are being double counted, you need to retrospectively compare death rates across different years to get an accurate figure for covid deaths. Flu mortality rates are calculated as the additional deaths due to the flu, not those that die with the flu but primarily due to a comorbidity. These are circa 7000 per annum in the UK.

      The daily UK death rate is around 1400-1600 on average. Preliminary estimates of additional deaths during the covid peak are around 6000 per month, but many of these are avoidable deaths because people are not seeking interventions early enough for other potentially fatal but treatable conditions due to fears of covid infection in hospitals.

      Flu vaccine effectiveness has been as low as 15% in recent years, so any vaccine would need to be much more effective than that. The Swine flu program though was very effective.

  5. I recently retired from a fairly senior job in veterinary disease surveillance and control. I have participated in numerous animal disease control and eradication programmes and I can assure you that nothing like this "herd immunity" nonsense would ever be contemplated by a veterinary disease control team. It's self-contradictory in more than one way.

    The proposal is that the best way to protect a population from a killer virus is to allow - indeed originally to encourage - most people to become infected. You'd think the idiocy of this would be sufficiently self-evident for anyone capable of tying their own shoelaces to work out, but apparently not. What is really happening is that the natural end-point of an uncontrolled epidemic, after all the sickness and death have happened, has been relabelled "herd immunity" (a term stolen from vaccine science) and hailed as a great idea. It's no different from how a plague year would be approached in mediaeval times. Try not to get it, hope you survive if you do get it, and in the end it will go away.

    The other internal contradiction is between the necessity to infect around 80% of the population or more (60% is way too low) and the natural desire of every sane person not to catch it. As James notes, people change their behaviour in the face of such a threat, and while a vaccination programme naturally aims to immunise as many people as possible, you can hardly shout "roll up, roll up, catch the coronavirus here, it's your civic duty." You simply can't get herd immunity this way, or indeed from any natural infection. I caught measles as a child, despite its having been present in the population for generations. It took a vaccine to drive it out.

    As was pointed out again on last night's "Covid Report", and James notes above, the present horrendous situation with many thousands of deaths UK-wide, hospitals at breaking point and staff looking PTSD in the face, has occurred with only a small fractino of the population being infected. That the Westminster government (at least) still seems intent on letting this happen again and again in pursuit of the unattainable "herd immunity" beggars belief.

    1. However, to my main point. I spent a lot of time in the final years of my career reporting out PCR results for a wide variety of livestock diseases and advising vets in practice on disease control. We had, and still have at the labs near Edinburgh, huge capacity for PCR testing, and another private lab almost next door has similar. To a large extent this was to service the campaign to eradicate a cattle disease called BVD from Scotland - an RNA virus like coronavirus. Thie operation is nearly complete and we were ramping up testing from England. To the best of my knowledge these PCR machines are just sitting there, as are others in universities and research institutes. The sheer capacity of the veterinary laboratory estate, set up to control animal disease, is considerable. These machines should have been re-purposed for coronavirus testing right from the start.

      This did happen in the Faroes, where right at the start the director of their main veterinary laboratory took the initiative to tell their government this was what was needed, and set it up himself. On the back of that the Faroes have almost eradicated the virus.

      It has become clear that at the very beginning of this the government's modellers were told that the UK simply didn't have the capacity to do the necessary number of tests, and so they shouldn't even model that possibility. They appear merely to have looked at the existing facilities and decided they were inadequate, without even inquiring as to what other facilities might be comandeered in an emergency. Never mind the possiblity of buying additional new equipment.

      If is becoming clear that this disease is controllable. South Korea, Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, Iceland, Norway, even a province in India, are showing the way. Not only that, it appears, and it is my professional opinion, that the virus is actually eradicable in developed first-world countries, leaving only incoming travellers to be dealt with. Of course it won't go away altogether without a vaccine, but much can be done to minimise deaths in the mean time.

      To continue to delay recruiting community contact-tracing teams, train them in sample collection, and get every possible PCR machine in the country up and running on coronavirus testing - round the clock if possble - is getting close to murder.

    2. I spent some time last night trying to explain this to Iain, indeed begging him to listen. When he eventually replied it was with a degree of sneering disdain. I am so so tired of trying to explain what was the meat and drink of my job to opinionated people who probably hadn't even heard the term "herd immunity" till last month, and have absolutely no comprehension of the various lab tests involved in diagnosis and control of disease, how they are used and the technology of how they are done. I taught this at degree level for a number of years.

      I feel like Cassandra. It is stressing the hell out of me, seeing the catastrophe unfolding, constantly phoning my elderly and vulnerable relatives to check on their supply chains and quarantine management, and knowing that nothing is being done to prevent the whole thing happening all over again when the lockdown is relaxed. Knowing that what has already happened was largely avoidable, but that even so it's not too late to prevent the second wave. And nobody seems to be listening either to me or to the much more eminent experts in the human field who are trying to get the same message across.

    3. Hey Rolfe, tie my kangaroo down sport.

    4. Hi Rolfe I hear you. Thus has been an awful example of a total missed opportunity. We are going to suffer more and for longer than we ever needed to because the gvts decided to ignore WHO advice and still do. It's quite unbelievable. I just don't understand it. If I'd been a political leader I'd have followed it to the letter....for the simple reason I'd have covers my back against criticism if it had gone wrong. I still don't understand why they ignore WHO. Nobody will explain it to me or even offer any kind of reason.

  6. GWC. Why are you not doing this? Is it not what you've trained all your life for?

    Eastern Europeans to be flown in to pick fruit and veg

    1. ALL I can say is that it is a pity that the Scottish Nat sis are not in charge of the pandemic. Soo many people would be alive.

    2. Covidia finally concedes that its Tory overlords are wholly inadequate to the task.

    3. Of course you Nat sis plonkers are the ones with all the answers.

    4. Covidia has no answers beyond those it's spoon fed by the Daily Heil. It is an obedient colonial servile.

  7. Fantastic post James, great comments - particularly from Rolfe. I'm going to share this on the FB groups I'm in. We need to keep beating this drum.


  8. Social Distancing could have an advantage. We could get rid of 50% of MSPs and the country will still function. The people in the EU outside Britain are struggling and surviving without the EU Bloodsuckers.

    1. We were enjoying Covidia's social distancing.

      Then it came back.

    2. Rosie Hamilton-WoodApril 16, 2020 at 8:02 AM

      What a shame for you. Get well soon, poor soul.

    3. Rosie do it doggy fashion and stay safe.

    4. Poor Covidia. As bitter and vicious as it is stupid.

    5. The nazi's are at it again, they're fucking at it, they're gassing. Don't get gassed by the goosesteppers, rise up against the nazi's now.

  9. Days since first 10 deaths = 25
    Total deaths resulting from equal number of starting infections (e.g. 1000) for both geographical areas at D = 0:
    10 -> 779 Scotland
    10 -> 5863 rUK (= 7.5x worse)

    Scotland's been following Switzerland quite closely, but is now showing a slightly lower infection rate (graph 1):

    1. In possibly a first time ever we got lucky because we were tied to England. They locked down in a flat panic because of the rate of infection in England, mainly London. Of course most of the infection had come into England, mainly the London airports. At that point Scotland was at least a week behind on the curve, possibly more. So that move got Scotland locked down at an earlier point on the curve which we know is a major, probably THE major move that cuts deaths.

    2. Very much so.

      We likely picked up a lot of infections from the wave of campervaners and holiday castle owners from England prior to lockdown. Wales too. So we actually suffered something no other EU countries suffered; a surge in infected international arrivals from hotspot countries trying to escape that. France didn't get a wave of fleeing Italians of Spanish, but we got a wave from England.

      It's a wonder our numbers are as low as they are.

  10. UK total deaths today is 13828 (including 1 unconfirmed), a rise of 870.

    England 12396 (includes 1 still to be confirmed)
    Scotland 779
    Wales 495
    NI 158

    The DHSC never seem to put out the correct tally. They appear to have missed Scotland and NI figures in their present tally (and the 1 unconfirmed). The difference is 99. Maybe they are adding Scotland and NI figures to the next day's total, but Wales to todays total?

    For England, you can check the NHS England stats directly.

    And for Scotland

    And for Wales (who from today are no longer recording what the daily increase is, just the total - for some reason)!/vizhome/RapidCOVID-19virology-Public/Headlinesummary

    And for NI

  11. Hmm. The BBC have removed the graph showing deaths since first 10 deaths comparing Scotland with England. It used to be here:

    I wonder why they did that? It showed how the virus has been controlled far better in Scotland.

    Here is the original graph link:

    1. Scotland and England's death tolls are incomparable anyway as England's doesn't include deaths in care homes and community. That's why you can't compare UK's death toll with the French or German ones either. UK is most likely already the most affected state in Europe.

    2. Yes. Data from the EU suggests between 42% and 57% of all covid-19 death are happening in care homes, which will not be being reported in the totals for England and Wales.

      UK could easily be the worst in Europe, but we won't know because the UK gov really won't want everyone to see how catastrophically bad they were at handling this.

  12. Mein Gott you Nat sis are a morbid lot comparing deaths in different areas. You must be friends of Savile and visit mortuaries. When this all ends and austerity kicks in we need to start at the top and dispose of unnecessary politicians.

    1. You might not care about the thousands Boris killed in England, but we do.

    2. Who are we? Is it the people?

    3. Certainly isn't Covidia. It's in for a big shock when its Tory overlords inevitably throw it under the Boris Bus.

    4. Those of us discussing how brexiter Boris and co have killed thousands of English people by putting £'s before lives and locking down too late.

      You seem to not care at all about the huge death toll England GWC.

    5. It's the nazis doing the killing, they did it in 45 and they're doing it again.

  13. The difference between Scotland and England explained.

    The Huge Cost of Waiting to Contain the Pandemic

    As the numbers show, the timing of social distancing can have an enormous impact on death tolls.

    Scotland locked down at 10 dead, which is e.g. 1000 infections walking around about 3+ weeks before. England locked down at 335 dead, which is 33,500 infections out for a stroll on the streets 3+ weeks earlier.

    If England had locked down 8 days earlier at 10 deaths, it would have similar numbers of dead to Scotland. The virus does not spread based on population size; only based on how close the next victim gets. If you stop it earlier, you get a shit load less deaths. Your population size is irrelevant.

    And Scotland locked down about as early as possible; as soon as it had the power and could see it was now infected (deaths = 10). Any earlier would have made little difference, as seen when compared with Ireland, which is on an identical trend, albeit running around 4 days behind. The earlier beginning to closures there didn't really help. It's a law of diminishing returns.

    Of course there is an argument Scotland should have done the WHO 'test and trace approach'. However, for that to work, it would have needed to close the border with England and have people from that hotspot quarantine / be tested on entry. If not, you have international infection risk you can't monitor.

    That's where most infections here likely came from in Scotland. It was not 'community transmission', but international transmission from south of Gretna. Arrivals from Italy were quarantining, but not arrivals from the second most infected country in Europe which fled here en masse ahead of lockdown.

    For Scotland to make test and trace work, it will need to be able to trace arrivals from hotspot England effectively.

    1. That was probably Scots who had been living and earning in England who did a runner back tae their maws in Scotland.

    2. Cite your evidence.

    3. Why are you not out in the fields picking fruit GWC?

      They are having to fly in Romanians because you brexiters are too f'n lazy to do it.

      I knew you guys were full of shite with your 'We brits will pick it and save the day!'.

    4. Oh and England = 1% Scots, Scotland = 9% English.

      If anyone's 'coming here taking our jobs and putting strain on or NHS', it's very much the other way around.

    5. Covidia will only go to work in the fields when its beloved Tory overlords threaten its triple-locked state pension.
      It would rather see the fruit rot in the fields than do any work; idle creature.

    6. Hey Skier why are you not out in the fields. I am a retired disabled muppet. You prefer to sit at your PC all day scratching yer baws, eating buns and drinking tea.

    7. Covidia seems to think that disability and retirement will spare it from the tender mercies of its Tory overlords.
      Covidia is in for a big shock.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. I think young Nic surely knows all about the looming possibility of introducing a border between NHS areas. A live trial of one of 2014s most emotional threats. But based on practicalities - rather like farm boundaries during foot and mouth.

    1. I am very heartened by the use of the word ‘trace’ in today’s bulletin. I was less impressed that were seemingly awaiting Uk word before announcing decisions that are the same. Even little NI was able to make its own declaration ahead of the pack.

  16. There are suggestions that Fauci is a fraud.

  17. Prof. Leitch just asked now on Sky News if Scotland had any plans to close the border. He replied "no", as there was no evidence it had helped any other place in the world!
    Mmm. New Zealand?

  18. WE how have the certified covid deaths for Northern Ireland.
    Upto 10/04/20
    80 vs 36 daily figures (+44 +144%)

    For the UK as a total:
    Upto 03/04/20
    6789 vs 3605 daily figures (+3184 +47%)

    We cannot compare this figure to any other country at the moment as no other country(that I can find) has yet released its total certified covid death figures.

    Been lots of talk about deaths in care homes figures upto 03/04 for these are:
    England: 187
    Scotland: 184
    NI: 22
    Wales: 8

  19. Days since first 10 deaths in Scotland = 26

    Total deaths resulting from equal number of starting infections (e.g. 1000) for both geographical areas at D = 0:
    10 -> 837 Scotland
    10 -> 6735 rUK

    Extra deaths in rUK by day 26 for same number of initial infections due to later lockdown = 5898.

    UK compared to other countries:

    Scotland between Switzerland and Sweden based on daily figures.

  20. There’s some more national comparative graphs here:

    The blog continues as far as today but with less graphs.

    I read the piece from Berlin in Bella yesterday. faxcinating that Germany, the shining example, was very similar to Uk in that the populace seemed ahead of the government, and it was the populace and the smaller governing units that took the initial lead in closing things down. Very much like Uk.
    What they then did though was mobilise and keep mobilised the trace and isolate strategy, albeit with many hiccups on the way.

    1. He's projecting deaths in Scotland to be just over 1/3 of that UK wide per capita at the end of the virus cycle (when per capita numbers start to make some sense).

  21. UK (daily) hospital death toll up by 847 to a total of 14,576.

    Daily toll in the rUK continues to surpass the cumulative one for Scotland.

    UK was too slow on coronavirus and 40,000 could die, professor says

    LONDON (Reuters) - The British government was too slow to react on a number of fronts to the novel coronavirus outbreak that could cause the deaths of 40,000 people in the United Kingdom, a leading public health professor told lawmakers on Friday.

    I can understand why Johnson has seemingly gone into hiding.

  22. The Brexit Tories are responsible for both a shit load of deaths, and the damage to the economy.

    They could have just locked down the areas with the problem (e.g. London), and earlier, allowing the economy to keep going in areas less affected, and where contact tracing could have kept things under control.

    Prof Anthony Costello, the head of the Institute for Global Health at University College London, pointed out that Yorkshire had fewer than 10 cases identified in 300,000-400,000 people around the time that contact tracing and community testing were halted and, as such, could have avoided a complete lockdown.

    1. I note your Sinn Fein IRA mob have ignored the funeral rules for attendance. As well as delighting in killing Irish Protestants and British soldiers they are prepared to kill their own.

    2. Erm, there's 14,000 more dead in the UK than Ireland due to Boris.

    3. There's four times more dead in Scotland than Northern Ireland and 300 more in the Scotland than RoI, could of hundred less in Wales compared to Scotland too. Is that due to Nicola?

    4. Just been looking at the Wikipedia article on 'Extraterrestrial' and I've got a new name for Cordelia / GWC / Covidia -

      "For the purposes of the documentary, the team of scientists divides two hypothetical examples of realistic worlds on which extraterrestrial life could evolve: A tidally locked planet (dubbed "Aurelia") orbiting a red dwarf star and a large moon (dubbed "Blue Moon") orbiting a gas giant in a binary star system."

      Description fits.

    5. Erm, Northern Ireland didn't have a flood of infected cases from one of the worst affected countries in Europe (i.e. England) in the days before lockdown. Scotland and Wales were the only countries to see such a flood of international infections, with Scotland particularly hit hard.

      Also, Ireland is identical to Scotland so far. It's running 4 days behind, so very obviously will have less deaths. On a deaths vs number of days since first 10, the two track each other; Ireland has even been higher for a good bit of that within variance. In 4 days Ireland (d22) will be us (d26). On the latest numbers, it's only 8% lower:

      Day 22 since first 10:
      4095 = rUK
      575 = Scotland
      530 = Ireland

      For the same number of starting infections, numbers have ballooned in England resulting in 7x the number of deaths by day 22.

    6. Wales has a boarder with England and is on the same curve and deaths are less, Nicolas fault right.

    7. Wales has a smaller population, so got less holiday home owners and campervans from England bringing infections.

      England is where most infections in Scotland came from. People from Italy, China etc were quarantining on arrival. Brexit voting campervan owners from Essex went straight to the pub and gave folk coronavirus.

    8. Can you imagine the uproar if a shit load of Spaniards and Italians had fled their countries across the channel to England in an attempt to escape the virus?

      I'm not aware than the people of any country in Europe did this to a neighbour. Just English people to Scotland/Wales.

    9. Emgland invited the invasion from Europe. - Liverpool / Madrid. Bonkers. Football and rugby have to shoulder a big burden of guilt for refusing to understand our reality, whilst pretending to wait for Johnson’s reality.

    10. I’m not saying Scotland shines as different by much - scotland hosted a rugby match at a time when I looked on aghast (digitally) as my wider family gambolled down the road licking Frenchmen’s ears. The rugby authorities acting with criminal negligence driven by commercial fears.

    11. And the media drive the agenda too - what IS all this tripe about the bloody football season? Really, are there no adults in sport?
      My sport - cycling- looks even worse. ‘ we will hold Le Tour in August. WTF? We will make these thin junkies sweat to death in the heat of August while we spread C-19 to the sheltered corners of France.
      They are all criminally insane.
      In the Novia Scotia to come, I hope they are no more.

  23. Wales has a smaller population - population size has nothing to do with spread so we will cross that off.

    so got less holiday home owners and campervans from England bringing infections.

    Evidence please, need concrete evidence before can make that claim otherwise people you will just think you are making it up.

    People from Italy, China etc were quarantining on arrival.
    Again evidence please, from what i've read people there have been just walking off planes into the general population.

    1. Erm, Scotland has a larger number holiday homes and camp sites due to being a larger country.

      It gets 14 times as much tourism.

      Hence it got a lot more infections from England.

      This was all over the news; the flood of English across the border made nation headlines. I live on the A68 20 miles from the border and it was chock a block with them heading north.

    2. It was all over the headlines about Wales too, Snowdonia had some of the busiest days ever recorded.

      Again statistical evidence please(trafic data will do) that more 'English' visited Scotland than Wales during the period before the lock-down thus causing Scotland to have more deaths.

      If you can provide it will just assume you are just making stuff up.

    3. But it's you who is not providing any evidence. I have provided evidence that Scotland consistently gets more tourist visitors. 14 to 1 it appears. That's massive. You will have e.g. 14 holiday homes in Scotland for 1 in wales. It is just common sense therefore that it got a larger wave of people fleeing to it.

      You need provide evidence to show why this huge difference in visitors suddenly wouldn't happen. It's you proposing something contrary to logic.

    4. Nope you are claiming that the deaths in Scotland are casued by the English coming into Scotland and that more came to Scotland than Wales hence the difference in deaths the week to 10 days before lock-down. How many visitors come during the year is immaterial, need data for that period.

      You also need to prove that people coming of planes from all around the world into Scotland did not just walk into the general population potentially spreading the virus. I'm assuming you have that evidence?

    5. It's you claiming a big story in the news isn't true. The flood from England was all over the news. We even had reports that infected people from England were coming here knowingly infected (e.g. Charles).

      Most cross-border traffic of people into Scotland is from England, as unionist like to remind us.

      England is one of the most infected countries in Europe.

      There was a huge wave of English people that fled to Scotland.

      We have sufficient confirmed infected cases to explain the difference.

      You need to offer an alternative I'm afraid.

      You need to explain how a county other than the blindingly obvious one is responsible for slightly higher level of infection in Scotland than Wales.

      It's you not providing any evidence or logical argument. Come back when you have one.

    6. Bring out the English dead. I am not dead, you are now, whack over the heid.

    7. As it stands, you are trying to argue that e.g. France was infected by Finland.

      Europe outbreak started in Italy.....crossed the Alps into France....Then the Pyrenees to Spain... and the Channel to the white cliffs of Dover....

      But then it stopped, travelling no further!

      When it appeared in Scotland a few weeks later, it must have come from somewhere else right? On a plane! Brought by furriners!

      It can't have come from one of the most infected countries in Europe and the one with the highest border traffic with Scotland, even when the news reported a flood of people from there, including those documented infections, as these sought to escape the virus!


    8. An electrician once told me a story of going to a house in Dunbar in the new town by Asda and doing some work for people who had moved there two years previously. When he made mention of the harbour they looked at him blankly.
      Obvs. not an A68 tale but a reminder of how the border tentacles reach far into Scotland.

    9. The harbour would have been previously made redundant due to EU policy to ensure French and German dominance.

    10. The nazi's are using 5G to attack us. Fucking Firebomb 5G phonemasts.

  24. I think Sir Arthur Guinness may have been responsible for saving lives. I have ordered online from my meagre pension. Basically you shit the virus oot yer erse.

    1. Don't worry, it won't be long before the nazi's gas ya oot. Ya daft old cunt.

  25. Mini Macron has imposed severe movement restrictions for anyone attempting to enter frogland. Two movement forms to fill in to travel on the Eurostar to Paris. Eurostar only offering cancellation vouchers for travel up until March 2021.

    1. Covidia there, refusing to let a global pandemic get in the way of its British sense of entitlement and casual racism.

  26. It can't have come from one of the most infected countries in Europe and the one with the highest border traffic with Scotland, even when the news reported a flood of people from there, including those documented infections, as these sought to escape the virus!

    Of course some cases came from England, some will of also come from France, Germany, Italy and a host of other countries who travelled into Scotland (these just walked into the general population, no quarantine you made that up).

    But your only blaming England, no mention of any other country, just England. When challenged why Scotland had more deaths than Wales you blamed England, no hesitation. No consideration to the fact that Scotland has more international flights than Scotland ergo more people travelling into Scotland from the world spreading the virus.

    1. The current number of deaths in England point to upwards of 1.1 million infections there by the 21st of March when the Campervans were flooding across, assuming a mortality rate of 1%.

      That's equivalent to 20% of Scotland's entire population infected across the open border in the huge country next door.

      By this time, air travel was dropping like a stone with arrivals from category 1-2 countries quarantining.

      No such quarantine was being followed by international arrivals from England. International arrivals that were increasing in number, as reported by the national news.

      It doesn't take a genius to work out where most infections in Scotland originated.

      Some from Italy, France..Spain... but the 'community transmission' cases where there was no link to these so were 'unexplained' are simple to explain.

      This is not rocket science, it's high School geography.

    2. What about YesCorona and the SpreadersForYes campaign, absolute disgrace.

  27. Scottish Nat sis hate the English and it is only natural to point their grubby fingers towards England and invent evidence. The Nat sis have never forgiven Henry V111, QE 1 and King Billy for getting rid of their
    former bum boy Pape masters.

    1. Right now, the English are being slaughtered by Johnson's brexiters.

      And I've not seen you condemn them like we 'nats' are.

    2. Thought you would be happy to have the English killed by anyone including the English.

    3. You're the one that doesn't seem to give the slightest shit about the thousands of deaths in England. You just tell us nats to stop being so upset about it.

    4. Why would I be upset about the English dying in their droves? Most were probably working class brexiteers.

    5. The nazi's are goona goose G Dubs, fucking cunts, fucking nazi cunts. End nazi rule now.

    6. Its the Scots being slaughtered by the nazi cunts. End nazi rule now. Firebomb 5G.

  28. It's amazing how one minute we are all 'one country, one people, one united kingdom, with no borders dividing us..'

    Then suddenly we are separate countries, very distinct from each other, so much so there's no way the virus spread significantly between home nations - particularly from the most populous to the smaller, peripheral ones - and it 'must have been the furriners what did it'.

    1. Whats really amazing is that when asked on the differences between the deaths between Scotland and Wales you straight away blamed another country England, its in your DNA blame England for everything. The fact that 200 deaths in a combined population of around 9 million is nothing, thats one population having a small cluster that the other did not; but you reverted to form and blamed the English.

      You post links about England stopping test and trace but not a peep about Scotland doing the same when it only had 60 cases in the whole of the country. Always highlighting another countries failings never your own.

      I'm not sure you actually understand how much the world has changed. Rabbiting on about nationalist and unionists like that is actually a thing any more. Do you actually think that the Scot Gov elections next year are going to be fought along those lines. You actually think that the SNP is going to be campaigning on a vote for us is a vote for Independence? No they will be fought on the lines of the SNP defending its performance in the crisis thus far and on the individual policies of the parties on how they will take Scotland through the post Covid world.

    2. You just don't seem to understand epidemics and how they spread, that's all.

      It shows an extremely low level of intellect to think that Scotland didn't get most of its infections from England, but somehow the furriners did it.

      It's nothing to do with nationalism, it's simple human geography with a bit of biology. You were the one being all nationalist in suggesting somehow England was not the main source of infection for Scotland. That was pure hardcore British exceptionalism nationalism. 'English people could never have infected Scotland! - It could spread within the UK, just not within the UK past Gretna!'. What a load of nationalist guff.

      I noted that Scotland would have been infected via various countries, including Italy, but the main, untracked, non-quarantined source would have been England for blindingly obvious, simple, primary school understanding level reasons.

      And it's not 'Englands' fault, but the UK government's, as experts the world over agree. It's not some nat opinion, but that of medical / epidemic experts, including the WHO.

      Boris and co locked down too late. Scotland and Wales have taken varying extra hits from that. N. Ireland less so because it's not a holiday destination for the English.

    3. And Scotland is testing at 40% higher than England.

      Also, test and trace needs international arrivals monitoring from highly infected countries like England. Something Scotland had no power to do and still doesn't really.

      If the Scottish government asks arrives from England to quarantine / register for testing, you'll be the first to call them racist anti-English nats even though it would be a medical necessity for effective test and trace.

      There was no mystery when the first cases of 'UK (not Scottish) community transmission' appeared in Scotland. People were being checked for visits to China, Italy, Iran....but not the fucking huge infection hotspot a couple of hours down the road where there were 1.1 million - 20% of Scotland population - walking around with the virus.

      Get a grip. Accept that the UK has handled this fucking badly and killed a lot of people, including English, Scots, Welsh and N. Irish. Get over your hardcore, obsessive nationalism and stick to the medical facts.

    4. Here is a graphic of the virus spreading across England then up into Scotland. The epicenter is of course London and the SE, which infected the midlands, then the north of England then Scotland etc...

      It's no different to Milan / Lombardy infecting the south of Italy. Naff all to do with nationalism, but a simple fact of the UK being a single state at present.

      The flood of campervans occurred because many English folk see Scotland as belonging to their country, so felt they had the right to go and infect it freely. If Scotland was independent, it wouldn't have happened, as they'd have not wanted to try and cross an international border in such circumstances, particularly if Scotland was asking for registration, quarentine etc as part of test and trace.

      Since Scotland is a 'region' of the UK, so it was infected as one. If it was independent, things could have looked a lot differently, with control of the virus much easier, e.g. like Norway.

    5. So Scotland will be in lockdown until there is a vaccine then another year to 18 months. It cant test and trace because of English coming across the border (that why you said it stopped at only 60 infections). Therefore it cannot test and trace in the future therefore no stop to the lock down.

      I've never said the UK Gov have handled this well, you are lying about that. But nor have the Scot Gov. Your the one ignoring that fact and trying to blame someone else.

      Like i said you cant help yourself you have to blame someone else, has to be England fault.

    6. There you go talking shite again. Can you not just talk sensibly for once?

      Of course Scotland can test and trace, but it's going to be made much less effective if it can't monitor and quarantine (if needed) international arrivals from hotspots, particularly those with high volumes of traffic such as England. We will just end up with loads of 'unexplained' cases unless we have 'Did you come from England?' part of the tracing.

      Are you seriously trying to say this isn't case? It's nothing to do with blame. It's simply basic science. The most basic. Primary school level. Across the world countries are doing this as part of containment measures. If Scotland can't do the same, containment will be less effective.

      You are the one trying to make it all about independence, bringing up another indyref while thousands are dying.

      I'm just discussing how the virus spread here, and how it can be controlled both in Scotland, and UK-wide in terms of the practical realities.

      Deaths in Scotland are a fraction of that in England for the same starting number of infections because Scotland locked down far earlier. Not perfect, but we're matching e.g. Ireland and Switzerland which is nothing short of miraculous given Holyrood has such limited powers + the wave of infections we've had from our larger neighbour. As a result, for the sake of public health, we need to protect people from the higher infection rate in other countries, England included.

      'Regional' variations must be part of the UK unlock plan, both between home nations and even within them, but that will likely mean we need to have some form of border controls / movement monitoring. Home nation borders make sense for legal / NHS / policing / governance reasons.

      We can't unlock Scotland more than areas of England, only for that to cause a second wave of campervans, holiday home owners and family members of of English people living here to flood north bringing a second wave of infections. If England gets things under control, we can be more relaxed.

      I do hope you will not go all nationalistic and call that racist 'anti-English' while advocating more die. It's nothing to do with England vs Scotland, but controlling spread and protecting lives + the Scottish NHS.

      So for once stop making it about independence and attacking Scots. Right now, we nats are really angry at the UK government killing English folk through inaction, yet I see little complaint from unionists. So who is anti-English here?

  29. An unusually candid look into the future from Douglas Fraser at the bbc:

  30. It's the old nazi one two, they're locking us doon and they're gassing us oot. Rise up against the nazi's now. Don't get gassed by the goosesteppers.

  31. Let's nuemberg the fuck oot these nazi nutcases. End nazi rule now.

  32. Corona virus is fake news, it's a nazi ploy to lock us doon and gas us oot

  33. The nazis are fucking at it again, they're definitely at it. They're gassing. Don't get gassed by the goosesteppers, rise up against the nazis now.

  34. We don't need no (medical) education. End Leiden Rule.

  35. England is on an almost identical curve to Italy. It's uncanny how close the death toll figures are at various stages. Except the UK gov had warning.


    11 10 10
    12 11 11
    17 21 21
    21 35 35
    29 55 53
    41 71 67
    52 104 99
    79 144 135
    107 177 167
    148 233 220
    197 281 257
    233 335 301
    366 422 384
    463 463 412
    631 578 515
    827 759 679
    1016 1019 926
    1266 1228 1118
    1441 1408 1277
    1809 1789 1623
    2158 2352 2127
    2503 2921 2642
    2978 3605 3244
    3405 4374 3939
    4032 4943 4494
    4825 5382 4897
    5476 6236 5655
    6077 7172 6483
    6820 8063 7248
    7503 9016 8114
    8215 9937 8937
    9134 10657 9594
    10023 11344 10261
    10779 12157 11005
    11591 12958 11656
    12428 13828 12396
    13155 14653 13134
    13915 15538 13918

  36. Looks as though one group, at least, is well on the way to 'herd immunity':

    36% Covid-positive among Boston's homeless.

  37. How many tests is Scotland actually doing? That would make an interesting topic for yr blog. A friend flew back from Spain where she'd been stranded sine March, a journey that took her back to Glasgow via Gibraltar/Heathrow last week. Not a single check, test, quarantine advice or anything. She returned to work in an NHS hospital in Glasgow within 3 days of return. The border with England is not the problem as across the UK we have restrictions on travel, no movement unless it's local.Thr problem is the front door remains open to the world through Scotland's airports.