Thursday, May 14, 2020

Prematurely relaxing restrictions on so-called "low-risk" groups is an exceptionally high-risk thing to do - unless you can somehow totally segregate the generations, which you can't.


  1. Hmmm, I wonder how Sweden is getting on with their Grand Plan these days...?

    And many parts of the US are about to launch their No-Plan. And duly head up that notorious creek with a flimsy paddle.

    As for the English, back to work? They may have their faults, but I really wish they would reconsider before it's too late. Soon even the BBC won't be able to massage the awful truth. "Keep calm and carry on (dying, that is).

    We have to face the facts as they unfold. We are surely going to (have to) be in this for the long run.

    1. I heard in Westminster yesterday, the English Education Secretary trying to compare their approach to reopening schools with that of Denmark. Which is a useful example of showing that you can't compare like for like between countries. Denmark has had 10k cases and 500 deaths (roughly), what is appropriate for them therefore isn't automatically appropriate for England, or even Scotland with higher cases and death rates.

      Which brings me to Sweden. From a layman's perspective, what I think Sweden have been doing is taking social distancing and other measures from the get go to artificially reduce the natural R number of the virus from 3 or 4 to something around 1. So what appears to be laissez-faire is actually just more proactive.

      The UK approach has been different and let the virus run rampant and then tried to get things under control after the fact. This is a useful blog in understanding how viruses can move through populations unheeded

    2. The blog assumes no mitigation, containment or distancing measures would be put in place, that was never the plan.

    3. I take the point that comparisons between different countries can be tricky, but one can, I think, reasonably compare the different Scandinavian countries, and in that case Sweden sticks out like a sore thumb from all the others, with a death rate that at one point was nearly 10x that of any of the others. And it still remains stubbornly higher.

      All for the sake of an unproven hypothesis that "everyone is going to get it sooner or later with the same eventual number of casualties, so best to let it rip in order to minimise the economic damage". Not even "herd immunity", and without any assurance of validity, not least when they have clearly failed to protect their most vulnerable. In retrospect they might be proven dead wrong, but by then it will be too late for the dead.

      The US seems to have had a total failure of self-discipline, and is now in effect going for the same strategy. If one can call anything they are doing a "strategy". Scientific advice is being increasingly marginalised and people are going to increasingly become unwitting victims of a deliberate intent to put money before people. In the end they are sadly likely to suffer far more damage to both.

  2. The World Health Organisation has warned that coronavirus “may never go away” as its experts predicted that a global mental health crisis caused by the pandemic was looming.

    The global health body on Wednesday cautioned against trying to predict how long coronavirus would keep circulating, and called for a “massive effort” to overcome it.

    “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” said Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief.

    A report by the WHO’s mental health department to the UN warned of another looming crisis: “The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil – they all cause or could cause psychological distress,” said the department’s director, Devora Kestel. She said the world could expect to see an upsurge in the severity of mental illness, including amongst children, young people and healthcare workers.

  3. Sweden announced it would hire up to 10,000 more care workers to address shortcomings in elderly care exposed by the pandemic. About half of the Sweden’s 3,460 coronavirus-related deaths have been among nursing home residents, and another quarter among those receiving care at home.

  4. Earlier, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the programme that it was “pretty clear now” that community testing should not have been abandoned on 12 March. “I think it’s very important not to finger point at the individuals, and I think the government is getting excellent scientific advice,” he said.

    “But actually, to ask why it is that Sage, the government’s scientific advisory committee, didn’t model the South Korean test, track and trace approach that we are now adopting right at the beginning?

    “The government was given two very extreme options, the sort of extreme lockdown we’re just coming out of, or kind of mitigated herd immunity. And that middle way, the South Korean route, wasn’t modelled.”

  5. The government wants to roll out a new “game-changer” antibody test to frontline workers first, according to health minister Edward Argar.

    It emerged last night that an antibody test, which can determine whether someone has had Covid-19, has been approved by Public Health England. The blood test, developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, will be able to help determine how much of the population has been infected, raising the prospect those who have had the disease may be immune.

    1. So now we'll know which 5% of the population *might* (or might not) be immune, and can safely (or unsafely) go back to work.


    2. I think it was developed in Edinburgh, on behalf of Roche.

  6. Prof John Newton, national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, told the Daily Telegraph that experts at PHE’s Porton Down labs had evaluated the test and confirmed the 100% accuracy.

    “This is a very positive development, because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection,” he said.

    This in turn may indicate some immunity to future infection, although the extent to which the presence of antibodies indicates immunity remains unclear.

  7. It could be four to five years before the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, a senior global health official has said.

    Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organisation’s chief scientist, told the FT’s Global Boardroom digital conference: “I would say in a four to five-year timeframe, we could be looking at controlling this.”

    Influential factors include whether the virus matures, the containment measures put in place and the development of a vaccine, she told the conference.

  8. The Welsh Government has unveiled its new strategy to drastically boost testing capacity and trace the spread of coronavirus as lockdown measures are gradually eased.

    The 'test, trace and protect' strategy, which aims to help "lead Wales out of the pandemic", sets out how Wales will enhance its public health surveillance and response to Covid-19 outbreaks in communities.

    The plan includes:

    Increasing testing of critical workers to enable them to return to work;
    A new system of home testing for the public if they have coronavirus symptoms;
    A new app to track symptoms in the general population and contact others who have symptoms or have tested positive.
    It says that a 1,000-strong workforce will be needed, mostly from local authorities and health boards, to carry out effective contact tracing.

    The aim is to have these measures in place by Sunday, May 31.

    The report says: "Our 'test, trace, protect' strategy is to enhance health surveillance in the community, undertake effective and extensive contact tracing, and support people to self-isolate where required to do so.

    "Our actions will be informed by international experience and we will maintain strong engagement with the public throughout.

    "The current restrictions ask a lot of people. They impact on all of us, affecting our family lives, our jobs, our wellbeing. The next stage is to begin to relax restrictions, finding a way for people in Wales to live and work alongside the virus, whilst containing its spread.

    "As lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, each and every one of us will need to take steps to protect ourselves, our families and our communities if we are to successfully limit the spread of the disease."

    The report says the strategy is likely to be in place until a vaccine is developed, which may be "at least 12 months away".

  9. A family from Liverpool who had travelled to their second home on Anglesey have returned to Merseyside after being warned over concerns for their safety.

    The family left the house in Llandegfan earlier this week after a visit from police.

    Local councillor Carwyn Jones said he had alerted police because he was worried about the atmosphere locally.

    “Tensions were running quite high," he said.

    "Thankfully the police came immediately.”

    He said he hoped people concerned about people visiting second homes would not take the law into their own hands.

    North Wales Police said: ”We attended an address in Llandegfan and on speaking to the family about concerns raised, they returned to Liverpool.”

  10. Transport for London says there were 10% more Tube journeys made between 5am and 6am this morning than the same period last week, although demand has fallen compared with yesterday, PA Media reports.

    And data published by location technology firm TomTom shows that the level of road congestion in London at 8am on Thursday was 19%, up from 16% a week earlier. Other cities to experience an increase in traffic over the same period include Belfast (from 12% to 15%), Birmingham (from 9% to 11%), Cardiff (from 8% to 11%), Edinburgh (from 12% to 15%) and Manchester (from 10% to 13%).

    The figures represent the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flow conditions.

  11. Is someone trying to swamp the blog with cut and paste jobs?

  12. If Spain has 27,300 deaths for 5% infected, then, at a crude estimate, you are looking at 546,000 dead if the disease was allowed to spread freely through the population to give 'herd immunity'. Death rate would be 1.2%.

  13. Really does seem it's only the brits that can't cope with different policies in different areas of the state. I just don't see how they can cope with brexit if they can't handle such things.

    Japan lifts emergency in most areas but not in Tokyo, Osaka

  14. Big Eater From PerthMay 14, 2020 at 2:07 PM

    On one thing the cunning plan cultists are correct. I totally agree that, as things stand, the SNP cannot be relied upon to initiate #ScottishUDI. THAT is what we have to change.

    I'm just waiting for Kelly to form a Cunning Plan Party which will lead us out of all our troubles. Unfortunately he has a bloated and unrealistic view of his own capabilities. And this is coupled with a strong predilection for censorious behaviour.

    Mr Blogger, you're no Abraham Lincoln!

    1. Yes, I think we have a problem.

      Muscleguy says:
      14 May, 2020 at 1:49 pm
      And of course all the SNP voters and members who throw their List votes away in defiance of mathematical reality. cf scotgoespop for an SNP tribal defiance of mathematics.
      In pointless debate with him the best he could do was claim despite the polling they were not guaranteed a plurality of constituencies. Can’t be bothered asking him now even with them at 54%.
      I predict a vast majority of SNP votes on the list.

  15. James, you have to take a look at Wings over Scotlands latest insanity poll where he poses hypothetical questions that he thunk up himself that could never actually happen then provides the definitive answers to his thunk up questions to prove the SNP are bad

    It wouldn't be so bad but the clowns are swallowing it as if it's a real thing, right out of the Farage and George Galloway playbook

    1. Is better that we do not thunk up things ourselves.
      This leads to breakdown of law and order and disrespect for Party Of The Institutional Revolution.

    2. Nonsensical polling with nonsensical interpretation.

      Q: 'Would you vote for independence if the Scottish government completely resigns, leaving the country leaderless, the moment indy is signed off and Scotland stands alone?'

      Unsurprisingly has people a bit cautious about voting for independence, notably from those who support it most because if you didn't support it, you couldn't suddenly be more cautious about supporting independence.

  16. Yes, I agree, James.

    The media are trying to portray it as if the young yins live in a vacuum and 'they'll not die so they should be back at school' as if the problem isn't really that they can still spread illness around plenty fine (and anyway some young folk have died and one's too many).

    The game is, of course, to "unlock the economy" by getting the weans back to school so they can force their parents back to work (because some would need to continue home schooling etc otherwise) but some chancers, see Oakeshott Isabel and Burley, Kay, are pretending it's because they care so much about education!

  17. Based on todays ONS results of the survey of those infected with Covid-19 between 27th Apr and 10th May showing 148,000 infected in England. One of the most interesting results was that there is broadly no age discrimination at all.

    What these results show is that those aged 2-19 were the group with the highest rate of infection.

    If those in this age group can spread the virus at the same level of other age groups then re-opening schools doesn't look to be that good an idea if y=the goal is to restrict the spread of the virus.

  18. Skier I have been missing your body count tally. Have you given up?
    How many English that lived in Scotland have died from the virus. You are the main man with the figures!

    1. Your hatred of the English, their national identity, EVEL parliament and independence knows no bounds.

      All you want to do is force British rule on them.

  19. A new study published this week in the International Journal of Clinical Practice suggests that more than one in four people in the UK are likely to have been infected already by the coronavirus.

    The study, by researchers from the University of Manchester, Salford Royal and Res Consortium, is the first to use case data from 144 local authorities on the number of people infected in their areas. From this data, the researchers calculated the R-value - the number of people infected by one person with Covid-19 – within each area.

    The data shows, they say, that more than 25% of people in the UK could already have had the virus by the second half of April – higher than previously thought.

    The researchers said the UK’s R value, which was over three at the start of the outbreak in the middle of March, was now “well below 1”. This tallies with data published by Public Health England, showing that the overall UK R-value is 0.7 with variation from 0.4 in London to 0.8 in Yorkshire and the north-east of England.

    Dr Adrian Heald from the University of Manchester, one of the researchers, said:

    Covid-19 is a highly infectious condition and very dangerous for a small group of people. However, a much larger group seem to have low or no symptoms and have been unreported.

    This study tries to provide an estimate of the number of historic infections – and gives us all a glimmer of hope that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. Said researchers look a bit stupid now given widespread testing shows it to be 1 in 400.

      One in 400 people in England has coronavirus, tests suggest

    2. Your confusing two issues, the 1 in 400 covers a time period of about a month significantly after the peak and doesn't include previous cases.

    3. I tell a lie it was two weeks.

      One in 400 people in England is infected with coronavirus, a survey of 11,000 people in households suggests.

      They were asked to carry out swab tests over the two weeks up to 10 May.

      This indicates about 148,000 people in England could be currently infected - 0.27% of the population.

    4. Scottish Skier that figure is those that currently have the virus and not those that may have had it and already recovered.

      There has also been a report on that figure this week which estimates that across the UK 4% have been infected and up to 10% in London.

      I cannot find the link now for where I read that as a google search for "serology testing" is now totally dominated by the news of the antibody tests approved today by Public Health England.

      One thing of note is that if the 4% across the UK is accurate then on the number of deaths so far attributed to Covid-19 then it would put the Infection Fatality Rate of the virus for the UK at 1.2%

      I'll look again for the link and post later if I find it.

    5. Also, the report I am referring too is due to is actual test results and not an academic study so is far likely to be more reliable as an estimate of the current picture regards the numbers infected to date in the UK.

    6. Fair enough, it did seem rather low given Spain has concluded 5% from widespread antibody testing.

      Spanish antibody study points to 5% of population affected by coronavirus

      But 25%? That's every second household with a current or previous case.

      Bit of an embarrassing overestimate.

      And what's this political think tank the good Dr Adrian Heald works for?

      Doesn't seem to have much experience with infections epidemics anyway.

  20. I hear a one-armed black lesbian has just been strung up off a jubilee lamppost in Wootton Bassett for not supporting our troops, sorry, clapping patriotically enough. It's not as bad as it sounds, she was a Moslem.
    Street Party! Waggle Your Union Jack! Stay Alert!

    1. Another early start on the turps for Covidia, then.

    2. Covidia gives a new meaning to gross moral turpitude.

  21. nternational observers are keeping a keen eye on Sweden, after it declined to shut down portions of its economy to try to contain the spread of coronavirus. Data analysis by Swedish newspaper SVT Nyheter appears to show that the country has had a similar epidemic curve to others that instituted strict lockdowns, although its death toll and infection rates have been far higher than neighbours in Scandinavia which closed down their economies quickly.

    1. Too right:

      Norway = 232 dead
      Sweden = 3529 dead

      Pretty clear which state did the better job!

  22. It was Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Officer to the UK government who said at Mondays press conference briefing that the ONS estimated around 130,000 currently had the virus and he then added that the total number of infected with the virus was 10% in London and 4% across the UK.

    He added that this information was a couple of weeks old and out of date.

    I can't find a better link just now but you can watch hime say it here:

    1. This ties in with the Spain figures and around a 1% death rate, i.e. an order of magnitude worse than seasonal flu.

      Very, very far from 'herd immunity' too.

    2. Exactly, seasonal flu my arse.