Saturday, April 4, 2020
With a voice in London once again banging the "herd immunity" drum, the time has come for Nicola Sturgeon to follow Jacinda Ardern by loudly saying "no way, not EVER"
But there are no such excuses anymore. Anyone who has been paying attention over the last few weeks knows the score. So now that the UK government's "chief pandemic modeller" is suggesting that the lockdown should be lifted and that we should go back to allowing most of the population to be infected and put at risk of severe illness and death, we really do need Nicola Sturgeon to immediately knock this one politely and firmly on the head. We need to hear her echoing the words of Jacinda Ardern by saying that 'herd immunity' will never be acceptable to her or to any other Scot, and that the "Four Nations" approach will be immediately abandoned if London start flirting with it again.
The 'chief modeller' in question is not from the Imperial College team, incidentally - he's Graham Medley, the head of another team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who also advise the government. The language he uses is deeply disturbing - he effectively implies that the old should be sacrificed for the best interests of the young, which suggests that he knows full well that a biblical death toll would be unavoidable if he gets his wish. But of course the whole notion of generational sacrifice is bogus anyway, because we've seen large numbers of young people become seriously ill and dying. The two nurses that were mourned today were both in their thirties. The carnage that Medley wants to unleash would be no respecter of youth.
He suggests that people should be infected in the least deadly way possible - as if there's some kind of 'non-deadly' way to catch a virus with a death rate estimated as being as high as 1.4%. He rubbishes the idea that mass-testing might form the basis of an alternative exit strategy, simply because his mathematical modelling suggests that the virus will start spreading again as soon as lockdown is lifted - but that takes us straight back to the idiotic error that got us into this mess in the first place. During the early weeks of this year, the government were totally ignoring the real world experience in China and South Korea and were putting all their eggs in the basket of mathematical modelling instead. That led them to make two huge false assumptions - a) that the virus was much less deadly than it actually was, and b) that it was less controllable by means of testing and tracing than it actually was. South Korea has clearly demonstrated that the number of new cases can be kept persistently low by that method. It would be crazy to condemn hundreds of thousands to death without at least attempting that ourselves.
The message to the Scottish Government must be: don't even think about ending lockdown until there is a credible exit strategy in place that does not involve sitting back and allowing the majority of the population to be infected. Testing and tracing would inevitably be central to any such strategy.
Friday, April 3, 2020
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Dounreay offered large supplies of PPE to health workers in Caithness - but the bureaucrats said "no"
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
The number of excess deaths caused in the UK by a "herd immunity" strategy would be comparable to the Hiroshima bombing
The UK is in a grim place when even Donald Trump now has a more enlightened attitude to the crisis than our own Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser. Trump on herd immunity: "well you know it’s a concept, it’s a concept - if you don’t mind death."— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) April 1, 2020
Among the dwindling band of enthusiasts for the "take it on the chin" / "herd immunity" approach, a favourite refrain is that it doesn't actually matter if an unimaginable number of people die, because (supposedly) "they would have died anyway". Incredibly, even the BBC tried that line the other week. The idea is that many of the deaths are elderly people with severe health conditions who would otherwise have had an extremely short life expectancy. Now let's be clear what we're talking about here: Imperial College estimate that without a full-on suppression strategy, around 250,000 people would die of the virus in the UK, and of those, around half to two-thirds "might" otherwise have died of another cause at some point this year - although of course that leaves open the possibility that they could have lived on for many months, and no price tag can really be put on that.
But even if those people are completely excluded, that means the real total of excess deaths would be "only" somewhere between 83,000 and 125,000. As we've seen, many of those victims would be relatively young, and a significant minority would have no underlying health conditions. We're talking about people who can reasonably expect to live a great many years or decades in the absence of a herd immunity strategy.
For comparison, the death toll from the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 is estimated to have been somewhere between 90,000 and 146,000.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
It looks like the Dr Strangelove-style "herd immunity" plan of Whitty and Vallance may need to be defeated for a second time
* * *
I criticised Robert Peston earlier in this crisis for regurgitating government propaganda on herd immunity, but he's done a splendid job tonight of exposing government propaganda on the lack of testing...
"Michael Gove said just now that the difficulty in increasing number of #COVID19 tests was due to a shortage of the relevant "chemcial reagents". Well I've just talked to the Chemical Industries Association, which represents the UK's very substantial chemicals industry. It has contacted its members, and they've said there is no shortage of the relevant reagents. So the Association has now been in touch with Michael Gove's office to find out what he means, because it is stumped. The Association also points out there was an industry chat with a business minister today, who made no attempt to find out if there was a supply problem for the vital ingredients of Covid19 testing kits. So this question of why there aren't enough tests for the virus is an even bigger mystery. Also, if it turns out there is a shortage these manufacturers are more than happy to increase their production. But they need to be asked, which has not happened. PS It was Labour MP Bill Esterson who initially spotted this gap between what Gove said and what the industry believes to be true."
So there you have it - the failure to build up testing is not unavoidable, it's a choice. That choice must now be relentlessly challenged, and reversed.
* * *
This is superb from Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and someone who I know that Nicola Sturgeon admires greatly -
"There were some countries that initially talked about herd immunity as a strategy. In New Zealand we NEVER EVER considered that as a possibility EVER. Herd immunity would have meant tens of thousands of New Zealanders dying, and I simply would not tolerate that, and I don't think any New Zealander would."
New Zealand has of course got roughly the same population as Scotland (in fact it's marginally smaller), so we'd be looking at tens of thousands of deaths as well. And yet this is the outcome that the UK government's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser are apparently still privately hankering after. And this is what the Scottish government are effectively still in lockstep with as part of the so-called "Four Nations" approach.
We've got to put a complete end to this madness once and for all.
"We never, *EVER* considered that as a possibility, *EVER*! Herd immunity would have meant tens of thousands of New Zealanders dying, and I simply would not tolerate that and I don't think any New Zealander would." - @jacindaardern pic.twitter.com/YsjBkidbXX— The Agitator (@UKDemockery) March 30, 2020
Monday, March 30, 2020
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions:
SNP 51% (+1)
Conservatives 26% (n/c)
Labour 14% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Greens 3% (n/c)
Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions:
SNP 48% (+1)
Conservatives 26% (+1)
Labour 13% (-1)
I'll have to wait a few hours to find out the list numbers for the Lib Dems and the Greens, because I don't pay the Murdoch Levy and the preview of the article cuts out at that point! But there's no doubt that the SNP would win a comfortable outright majority on results such as these.
I know from what people have said that the poll also asked about independence and the Alex Salmond trial (the latter possibly explains the weird timing of the exercise), but I can't see any information about those results yet.
I have to say I feel slightly cheated, because until I found out about the Panelbase poll a few minutes ago I was all set to write a blogpost entitled: "Hello! Is it me you're looking for?" One of our resident trolls had left a comment on the previous thread saying he couldn't wait to see how I would "spin the poll showing a 9% swing from the SNP to the Tories". It turned out there was no such poll - he was referring to a tweet by a journalist from Hello! magazine (I'm genuinely not making this up) who apparently couldn't tell the difference between a poll and a tiny subsample of 99 people.