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We are all Uighurs now.

The ramblings of our Prime Minister this evening, no data, no projections, no reasoning other than the projected incompetence of our nationalised health care system, no laws cited (but they are there), and have been since 10th February 2020, backed up by threats and fear-mongering, announcing restrictions on the UK in an echo of what the Chinese Communist Party is imposing on Uighurs, evidence the triumph of the Chinese Communist Party in crushing the West, without (and indeed on account of not) lifting a finger.

And yet the borders remain open, as far as we know, to flights from hotspots such as China, Italy, Spain and Iran. This has all been thought through, and Johnson is content that it be so, is he being played or a player? if we wanted loo roll shortages and economic chaos and inflation we’d have voted in Corbyn last December, a man who is in power in terms of outcomes, but is not in office.

54 comments to We are all Uighurs now.

  • APL

    Mr Ed: “evidence the triumph of the Chinese Communist Party in crushing the West,”

    Exactly. When Edward Heath made that historic trip to Peking all that time ago, who would have thought this is where it would lead?

    We all thought that China would see the manifold benefits of the capitalist system and inch by inch, step by step China would edge toward the West. Little did I know then that everything Heath touched would turn to shit.

  • Phil B

    But … but … they have their top men on the problem. Their very top men, I tell you …

    But they have not bothered to stop and think (or is that not so much a bug but a feature?) when a moments pause would reveal that the Diamond Princess is/was a microcosm of the population and in full contamination mode acts as an excellent proxy for the country.

    https://thesilicongraybeard.blogspot.com/2020/03/remember-flu-boat.html

    When the economy crashes and real, severe hardship results, they will preen themselves and declare that they SAVED THE WORLD!

    I would sooner they put headless chickens in charge. At least they would do less damage.

  • Mr Ed

    Phil B

    I would sooner they put headless chickens in charge. At least they would do less damage.

    Tricky, we could eat headless chickens (with some butchery and cooking, and we might have to), they’d have some use in the end, no so those in charge.

  • The Chinese communist leaders like what they are doing to the Uighurs – and they also like the organs they are harvesting from them.

    I am very ready to assume that Corbyn, had he been in power, would like the great increase in statism offered by this, and ensure no part of it was rolled back.

    Niall look-on-the-bright-side Kilmartin believes that Boris doesn’t actually like this. Not only is the value of that dislike debatable but I suspect it will be debated in this or another thread. But, while I too disliked (more, I suspect) this evening’s announcement, I feel the PM’s dislike is worth something.

    – Firstly, one is more ready to consider fresh evidence against continuing a policy if one dislikes the policy.

    – Secondly, we are not all now Uighurs to anything like the extent the Uighurs are! IIUC, we’re not even all Frenchmen. We can go out to shop for food and medicine once a day and we can separately go out once a day to exercise, and there is not (yet – crosses fingers) a form to fill out before doing so.

    no laws cited (but they are there)

    Not yet in Scotland. Sturgeon promises to have them all in place by the end of the week. Till then, the police will address the disobedient with harsh language – from a social distance. The statist power-loving natz left behind Westminster – who’d a’ thunk it. 🙂

    I could obviously qualify this cheery it-could-be-(even)-worse stuff by describing at length, with examples, how one-size-fits-all rules limit many a reasonable and stir-crazy-averting action even in their own terms, and how media discussion of “what science predicts” would be better with some acknowledgement that it is what a tower of reasoning and guess swaying over a smallish and uncertain base of being-added-to-as-we-speak fact predicts. But I think you don’t need me to point out that.

  • bobby b

    If it’s any consolation, there is probably one instance where it’s more likely that liberty gives way than this instance. That’s well summed up with “the tanks are coming!”

    I mean, y’all weren’t even a bit surprised here, were you? In a (barely) arguable city-buster pandemic, libertarians will always lose to authority.

    And to loudly and publicly decry this now to a cowed citizenry will only leave that citizenry thinking that libertarians are loons.

  • Gary

    Had Boris Johnson followed the examples of South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and aggressively tested and traced the instant the Coronavirus arrived in the UK, we would not be in this situation. But the arrogant Brexiter run British government thought it knew better than those silly foreigners.

    The unelelected eugenics advocate Dominic Cummings is the architect of this colossal, incompetent mess, and the puppet whose ass is filled by his hand, Boris Johnson is his fat monkey on the lung grinder.

    As with the unelected eugeniscist Dominic “if the Elderly die, too bad” Cummings, so too with Robert “Sell it Big like a Fat Pig” Burr and the deranged, the lying Orange Turd himself, who hillariously called Burr an “honourable Senator”; they knew from January, and they deliberately did nothing, motivated by narcissism, greed, malice, and arrogance.

  • @Gary – Complete and utter shite.

    I think I’d rather not follow the model of nationalist / Communist microstates since (as has been expressed several times throughout this crisis), one-size solutions do not fit all.

    Even at the worst-case estimates we’re talking about a rate of death for the year that is maybe three-fold the normal rate of death we’d have expected anyway. The main problem being that those additional deaths, ICU and hospitalisations will be compressed into a very narrow window, so absolutely a concern, but not to the extent of extinguishing the economic life of the nation and mortgaging the future to pay the bill.

    Lots of the oldies might be tagged as “Died of Coronavirus”, but the reality is that it was the COPD from 6 decades of smoking that was the real killer, the Coronavirus is just the straw that breaks the camels back.

    As for BoJo and his emergency measures…it’s looking like the medicine will end up being more serious than the disease.

  • Stonyground

    Why is seasonal flu seasonal? It isn’t because people spend more time indoors during the colder months is it? So keeping everyone inside might not be a good idea.

    I think that the government is in between a rock and a hard place. If the action taken is either too much or too little it is going to be wrong. I found it interesting that the only contributions from Labour that I’ve heard have been demands for the government to do more, the measures don’t go far enough etc. Labour do of course have a bigger magic money tree.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    One of the many things that bothers me on all this is that there’s no real timeline here; the lockdown is open-ended. It would, surely, be extremely useful for anyone running a business, and looking at their work ending in ashes, to know what the “flightplan”, as it were, is. To say that “we will do X or Y as long as it takes” isn’t good enough.

    Mr Ed refers to the opposition Labour Party, and what this reminds me of is that because that party is so terrible, and led by an anti-semite and pal of various lowlifes, we lack an opposition that is able to press the government on issues such as this. We are finding out what happens.

    Some severe measures might be needed, but the overwhelming solution to this pandemic will be driven by the long-term rational self interest of the public, who by staying indoors and socially distancing themselves, and continuing to work as much as possible, will defeat this thing. Unfortunately, decades of a Welfare State, of being indoctrinated about “our wonderful NHS”, have produced a public with little self reliance or fortitude.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    @Gary: “The unelelected eugenics advocate Dominic Cummings is the architect of this colossal, incompetent mess, and the puppet whose ass is filled by his hand, Boris Johnson is his fat monkey on the lung grinder.”

    It appears that EU supporters still haven’t forgiven DC for his role in winning the 2016 referendum. A narrative is being concocted that DC and others are happy that tens of thousands of old people are going to die. Funny that, because I thought it was those on the pro-EU side, who hate Cummings, who are glad that older people, who tended to be more for leaving the EU, will step off this mortal coil. And anyway DC and other advisors have, it appears, become convinced that as the vast majority are going to get this virus anyway, and that “herd immunity” is the best option, their views are directed by realism, not by “eugenics”.

    As for the Singapore and other cases, yes, I agree that much wider testing is good, including randomised testing to get a truer read on how serious this is, if only to reduce public fear and improve general behaviour and the state of the economy. Actually, deregulation and making it easier to scale up production are the way to go. Remember, these Asian states may be good at these things in some ways, but they are also often where these killer bugs come from. So let’s not place them on a pedestal just yet.

  • Itellyounothing

    Gary “Varied opinions that sound like farty noise”

    Wow, Samizdata is now so important in the fght for liberty, the stay behind rejoiner army has assigned an infiltrator.

    That is achievement. I hope “Gazza” runs out of bog roll!

    Bojo looks like he spends all his time being stirred into panic by civil servants making stuff up in a serious sounding voice rather than a man able to make cool calm decisions.
    Hopefully he will learn the lessons he needs to learn from this. Like googling the medical profession’s predicts for every past pandemic and see if they every get it right…..

  • Mr Ecks

    In 3 weeks the economic rot will be irreversible and the coro will be revealed as a damp squib flu+.

    Then all the morons laving Blojo’s arse today will discover their job/business/livelihood/home/family future is down the pan. Wait until millions –including 5 million s/e –former Tory core voters whose plight Blojob is ignoring–are trying to sign on to a useless socialistic BluLabour system that takes 16 wks from claim to dole cheque BEFORE millions of extra claims hove into view.

    And once all these people know that they have lost everything because of a hysterical reaction to a minor danger then the morons praising the Dear Leader will instead be baying for his blood. And those who are today most approving of his tinpot tyranny will be baying the loudest.

  • David Bishop

    @ Johnathan Pearce March 24, 2020at 8:01am:
    “Unfortunately, decades of a Welfare State, of being indoctrinated about “our wonderful NHS”, have produced a public with little self reliance or fortitude.”

    Your point is reinforced in this sober piece (via the GWPF):
    https://science20.org/david-zaruk/20200320/coronavirus-shows-our-reliance-precautionary-principle-has-ruined-our-ability?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    David Bishop, many thanks for the link. Bookmarked for later.

  • David Bishop

    Mr Ed’s point about the lack of data is well made and is reinforced by this piece, again via the GWPF. John Ioannidis, a statistician of some note, who has dissected other scares such as so-called climate change, has this to say on the current coronavirus alarm:
    https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/?utm

  • Nullius in Verba

    “One of the many things that bothers me on all this is that there’s no real timeline here; the lockdown is open-ended. It would, surely, be extremely useful for anyone running a business, and looking at their work ending in ashes, to know what the “flightplan”, as it were, is. To say that “we will do X or Y as long as it takes” isn’t good enough.”

    Boris said he thought we could “turn the tide” in 12 weeks – which gives you some idea.

    Basically, they’re watching the graph and seeing how it reacts to the measures. It takes about one and a half to two weeks from catching it to getting tested, and another week or two from getting tested to dying, so we can expect the rate of rise of confirmed cases to change in about two weeks time, and that for the deaths to do so a week or two after that. If the lines level off enough, they might relax the restrictions a bit and go for herd immunity, or they might keep them going until the new cases drop to nil, and then try to keep it out at the border.

    Or it’s also possible that new research will come in showing that it has already spread throughout the population, the quarantine is too late, in which case they might say there’s no longer any point.

    The trouble is, nobody knows what the measures will do to the rate of spread, the only way to find out is to try it and see, and there’s a two week lag on the response. (With the death toll presumably still ramping up at a 10-fold increase per week all the while.) So “As long as it takes” is as good as you’re going to get.

    “for anyone running a business, and looking at their work ending in ashes,”

    After the forest fire, all the new green shoots push through the ashes into the open sunlight.

    People are muttering about how we have lost all our resilience and tolerance for risk. The same goes for business and the economy. The problem with the Precautionary Principle is that it is always applied in a one-sided way. People either point to the risk of lives lost, say no such risk is acceptable, and demand action at any cost to prevent it, or they point to the risk to the economy and people’s businesses, and do exactly the same.

    Yes, a forest fire in our economy is going to be painful. I’m not saying we can just shrug it off, or the political price, any more than we can shrug off half a million deaths in the space of a few weeks. But when it’s done, there is going to be a lot of opportunity for new businesses to grow, too. If you had the ability to do it once, even under the shade of bigger and older competitors, you can still do so afterwards, with an open field to expand into. The strategy for surviving a forest fire is to invest in seeds ready to take over in the aftermath.

    By the way, thanks for “his fat monkey on the lung grinder” – even though I’m not entirely sure what a “lung grinder” is or what it would look like (one usually things of a different sort of ‘organ’), it’s a mental image that’s going to stick with me for days! 🙂

  • Mr Ecks

    “Yes, a forest fire in our economy is going to be painful. I’m not saying we can just shrug it off, or the political price, any more than we can shrug off half a million deaths in the space of a few weeks. But when it’s done, there is going to be a lot of opportunity for new businesses to grow, too. If you had the ability to do it once, even under the shade of bigger and older competitors, you can still do so afterwards, with an open field to expand into. The strategy for surviving a forest fire is to invest in seeds ready to take over in the aftermath”

    Naïve foolery NiV.

    Yes –we could rebuild. But we are now in a world of politicised evil–and legions of lying leftist scum will be badmouthing free markets to death. The political shite will join them so as to try and shift the blame.

    So you can expect far worse to come.

    Deflation and the clear out of malinvestment would be ultimately what the Doctor ordered–but it won’t be allowed.

  • I found it interesting that the only contributions from Labour that I’ve heard have been demands for the government to do more (Stonyground, March 24, 2020 at 7:15 am)

    Par for Labour’s course. From spring 1933 to spring 1939 (inclusive!) the Labour party opposed the arms estimates every year – not because they were too little but because they were too much. Churchill, who found this unhelpful to his attempts to persuade his party to prepare more, has a couple of pointed comments in his memoirs, contrasting these facts with wartime Labour’s propaganda that it was all the Tories’ fault for not preparing enough.

    In 3 weeks the economic rot will be irreversible (Mr Ecks, March 24, 2020 at 8:39 am)

    In three weeks (when the first review of all this is due), the economy will be no more dying than any but a very small proportion of British citizens. As a (surprised) participant in the English Civil War noted back in the 1640s:

    We now see there is a lot of ruin in a country.

    If the UK economy can be brought irreturnably to death’s door in just three weeks then everything people understandably say about how effete we are compared to the heroic Britons of past generations should start being said about how today’s economy compares to the heroic British economy of the past too.

    We knew this was coming. IIRC, the very first broadcast of Boris flanked by the two advisers implied a start date around April 6th. They’ve done it two weeks earlier.

    – Because they unwisely listened to the media panicking instead of ignoring them? Possibly.

    – Because statistically-competent reading of rapidly-changing data moved the date? I don’t know it is not just that, uncommingled with anything else.

    The whole approach may of course be fundamentally flawed even in its own terms, and, as is common to government initiatives in general, is anyway open to some one-size-fits-all criticisms of its implementation – but not, it seems to me, as many as its continental rivals. In France, I guess it’s

    “Mais, officier, je n’ai pas une printeur.”

    “Dur merde, citoyen.”

  • Ed Turnbull

    The government can only get away with this monstrously authoritarian shite because we now live in society that’s largely forgotten a harsh truth: we are mortal. No amount of lockdowns, or other intemperate measures, are going to cancel your eventual appointment with the guy with the scythe. Yes, every death is a personal tragedy for someone but it’s going to happen at some point. Which I know all too well from personal experience.

    As others have pointed out above the ‘treatment’ for the current situation is likely to be more injurious to the nation than allowing herd immunity to develop naturally, whilst keeping the most vulnerable in relative isolation. Unless, of course, there’s something about the seriousness of the Wu Flu the government aren’t telling us.

    At a time like this I’m reminded of the words of Ben Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  • Jon

    OK – I think everyone needs to calm down and take a breath (if you still can).

    Niall is right – Boris dislikes these measures as much as anyone. My friends (reasonable liberal (in the english sense) metropolitan remainer types) were calling for Boris to lock things down much more quickly, and implement massive randomised testing (in spite of the requirements to do this repeatedly, and the very high false positive, and false negative rate of the tests). And a pony. He resisted as long as he felt he could, but no elected politician could face the country having consigned hundreds of thousands of grannies to an early grave and say ‘well at least we kept Greggs open for a couple more weeks’ – they would be toast – 80 seat majority or not.

    If you want libertarianism to be taken seriously, and I have to confess, at times, I have my doubts given the way in which some of its evangelists talk, you have to have a recipe for what you would have wanted instead in these circumstances. So what is it? Cowering on the internet, spreading conspiracy theories about how Boris secretly wants to shut every shop in the land? Be serious.

    Libertarians need to figure out how our proposed framework(s) (I know – there’s loads of flavours) would work in an environment where people who look well, with whom you may interact freely, may give you a disease that could kill you or cause long term lung damage with no intent. You may never see this person again and you may not even know who they are so how on earth are you going to effect civil litigation (which seems like the normal remedy for things round here once we’ve disestablished the state).

    Because if we don’t figure it out, we’ll be like adherents of those doomsday cults that proclaim the end of the world, and then wake up the next day and have to go back to their jobs at Starbucks looking like dumbasses for the rest of their adult lives.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But we are now in a world of politicised evil–and legions of lying leftist scum will be badmouthing free markets to death.”

    We always have been. Protectionists from both left and right have attacked free markets since the idea was invented, which historically was comparatively recently. We had centuries before that with nobody to speak up for it. And the left is certainly not a new invention. Life is a war.

    Unusually, for once, we currently have a PM who *does* believe in free markets (to a greater degree than is usual amongst Tories, at least), who has a commanding majority, and near the maximum term of five years in which to act. The defeatism seems premature.

  • Pat

    We don’t need Boris to panic. But we do need him to take account of the panicked people, of which there are many.
    Give it a week or two, and my bet is that fear of the virus will diminish and anger at the restrictions will rise.
    Boris needs to change tack just as the wind changes.

  • Mr Ecks

    Three weeks will give a substantial kick in the balls to the UK economy.

    In a world where the problem was JUST UK based we could pull back.

    The entire world is in on this silly caper and adrift in a mountain of pre-existing debt and malinvestment.

    It won’t take much to bring the House of Cards down–and being less macho than our forbears won’t make a lot of difference to the Crash.

    If the Lord is with us maybe 3 weeks is a point we can return from–but much longer you can forget it.

  • APL

    NiV: “Or it’s also possible that new research will come in showing that it has already spread throughout the population, the quarantine is too late, in which case they might say there’s no longer any point.”

    I can’t honestly see how it hasn’t. There have been students travelling back and forth between every UK University town all of last year, all over the Christmas period, and right into the New year.

    I’d be interested to hear explanation why that hasn’t contributed to the spread into the UK population by now?

  • Clovis Sangrail

    Having spoken to some and read many others, I think/believe that many experts (statisticians/epidemiologists) accept that this is a “spike” problem. Most of those who die from CoViD-19 would have died shortly anyway.

    BUT…more healthworkers will get it and those who don’t will be overloaded by the spike and won’t be able to look after other patients. So, we may have a significant “died because of, not from” CoViD-19 issue.

    Just saying and not entirely convinced but…

  • Snorri Godhi

    Inspired by the previous post about the huge difference between German and Italian death rates, i made some very rough, back-of-the-spreadsheet estimates.

    The fraction of confirmed cases in the worst affected provinces of Italy is roughly 3000 per million inhabitants. (2944 or more per million, to be precise.)

    Assuming that the ratio deaths/confirmed cases is 0.09 (case fatality rate (CFR) for confirmed cases is 9% for Italy as a whole to date), the number of dead in those provinces is 270 per million people to date. Assuming further that everybody in those provinces has already been infected, we have a best-case scenario of a real CFR of 0.027. That would be an order of magnitude smaller than Germany’s apparent CFR to date, and is therefore likely to be an under-estimate.

    Even that low CFR of 0.027, however, still means about 18225 deaths in the UK. (If everybody is infected, but some people here are saying that we are all going to be infected, eventually.)

    The article quoted in yesterday’s post also claims that possibly as many as 23M UK residents might already have been infected. Assuming the low CFR of 0.027, that would translate into 6210 deaths. Since less than 400 people have died to date, i feel confident in asserting that 23M already infected is a BS estimate.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As for my opinion (fwiw) of Boris’s thought processes: he did not want to take action sooner, not because he is a freedom-lover (although he is … when compared to Corbyn) but because it would have hurt the economy.

    Earlier action, however, might have been limited to travel bans; closing schools, universities, gyms, and swimming pools; demanding that distances be kept in restaurants, pubs, and cinemas; roadblocks around London; and recommending (but not requiring) that people leave home only when necessary. The economy would have suffered, but not as much as with the new measures.

    This is also an implicit answer to Jon: the sensible libertarian policy is to act asap. It is too late for that, now.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “i made some very rough, back-of-the-spreadsheet estimates.”

    Did you take into account the time gaps between infection, testing/confirmation, and death? There will be a whole bunch of people who have it, but don’t yet know, and another bunch who are in hospital and going to die, but are not dead yet. Did you consider what happens to the death rate when the hospitals run out of critical care beds?

    Consider the following back-of-a-spreadsheet example:

    Week 1 – 1 person has it and doesn’t know.
    Week 2 – 10 people have it and don’t know, 1 person has a cough.
    Week 3 – 100 people have it and don’t know, 10 people have a cough, 1 person gets better.
    Week 4 – 1000 people have it and don’t know, 100 people have a cough, 9 people get better, 1 person in hospital.
    Week 5 – 10,000 people have it and don’t know, 1000 people have a cough, 90 people get better, 10 people in hospital.
    Week 6 – 100,000 people have it and don’t know, 10,000 people have a cough, 900 people get better, 10 people in hospital.
    Week 7 – 1,000,000 people have it and don’t know, 100,000 people have a cough, 9000 people get better, 99 people in hospital, 1 person dies.
    Week 8 – 10,000,000 people have it and don’t know, 1,000,000 people have a cough, 90,000 people get better, 990 people in hospital, 10 people die.
    Week 9 – 100,000,000 people have it and don’t know, 10,000,000 people have a cough, 900,000 people get better, 9900 people in hospital, 100 people die.

    At this point, the number who have gone to hospital and been tested is 9900 i.e. in the thousands. The number who have died is 100, i.e. in the hundreds. This seems to be where we are now.

    What happens over the next few weeks, assuming we act now to stop it spreading further? Hypothetically?

  • Nullius in Verba

    Achh! Messed that up between weeks 5 and 6. But you get the idea, hopefully.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I actually assumed that EVERYBODY has got it already (in the Italian provinces most affected).

  • APL

    FT has an article (behind it’s paywall), that suggests up to half of the UK population may have been infected by Covid-19.

  • Paul Marks

    I did not watch the speech of the Prime Minister.

    But I understand that the Prime Minister and other Members of Parliament, such as Mr Steve Baker, have called the British public to “protect our NHS” “protect our Health Service” – and that all measures announced are for this noble cause.

    Has any Member of Parliament, or person in authority in the United Kingdom, expressed an interest in actually curing this disease?

    Just asking. Especially as some people are saying it is possible to catch the disease MORE THAN ONCE.

    By the way – why have far more people died in the United Kingdom, proportionally in relation to the size of the population, than have died in the United States?

    Well over 300 people have died in the United Kingdom – well over 3000 people have died in Italy.

  • Paul Marks

    APL – if half the population have the virus already (due to the failure of the authorities – in leaving the borders of the nation open for months) this would explain why the powers-that-be are not bothering to test people for the virus.

    If we all already have the virus there is no point in testing us. And why let us know – we might get irritable if we found out.

    If we do not find out till we are very ill (or dead) then we will be less difficult to control.

    It does seem a bit cynical to me – but you (and the Financial Times) may be correct.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Has any Member of Parliament, or person in authority in the United Kingdom, expressed an interest in actually curing this disease? Just asking.”

    Of course. But as of yet, no cure has been demonstrated to work.

    “Especially as some people are saying it is possible to catch the disease MORE THAN ONCE.”

    There’s very little evidence as yet on the question, but apparently they have already done animal tests, and they seem to indicate that at least in the short term no you can’t catch it again. But it was an extremely small sample size, and not on humans. We don’t know.

    I’ve not heard of anyone definitively being reported to have caught it twice, and I’m sure that would be big news if it happened. It seems unlikely.

    “By the way – why have far more people died in the United Kingdom, proportionally in relation to the size of the population, than have died in the United States?”

    Apparently because the virus is spreading considerably faster here. It seems to be increasing 10-fold each week here, and in about two weeks in the US. I don’t know why, but there are all sorts of obvious possibilities. America is a much less densely populated country, for a start.

    However, during the early exponential stage of an epidemic’s expansion, the size of the unexposed population has little effect. One person infects ten people infects one hundred – that’s the same for both. Until the number infected is comparable with the population size, population doesn’t have much effect. There could have been an issue with a larger country having more people coming in to start the infection, but Trump shut the borders early.

  • APL

    Here is the Metro without a paywall.

    “The study claims the disease reached the UK by mid-January ‘at the latest’ ..” So probably before then.

    Paul Marks: “If we all already have the virus there is no point in testing us “. Maybe as high a proportion as 50% may already have had the virus. But if we want to get a better idea of the actual situation, I’d say it’s worth sampling to find out.

    I don’t think there is a cure, it’s a virus infection. HIV/AIDS has had billions spent on research for a cure. Forty years later? Nothing.

    Paul Marks: “By the way – why have far more people died in the United Kingdom, ”

    I don’t know- but what NiV said. Additionally, there seems to be a link with certain pre-existing conditions. Although if the link is to the condition or the medication prescribed for the condition is unclear at the moment.

    When my contracted life partner was in hospital, they discontinued the statins regime the GP had prescribed for the duration.

    Probably because Statins are useless anyway and may interfere with any meds they administered.

  • Snorri Godhi

    By the way – why have far more people died in the United Kingdom, proportionally in relation to the size of the population, than have died in the United States?

    Paul, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

    Apparently because the virus is spreading considerably faster here. It seems to be increasing 10-fold each week here, and in about two weeks in the US.

    Think again!
    Doubling time has been estimated* to be less than 2 days in NY State.
    About half of the cases in the US is in NY State.

    NB: the estimate also depends on the number of tests. If the number of tests has seen a very big increase, then the estimated doubling time will be larger than the real doubling time.

    FWIW it seems that the doubling time has not changed much for 3 days (March 20 to 23).

  • Snorri Godhi

    BTW if you want an estimate of the **maximum** number of people already infected, look at the percentage of people tested who have tested positive.

    Wikipedia helps again: 90436 tests as of yesterday. 8077 positive. Unless testers have deliberately avoided people with symptoms, then AT MOST 1 in 11 UK residents is infected. People who claim more than 10 million already infected are just lunatics.

  • Duncan S

    Snorri

    In the UK, testers HAVE deliberately avoided people with symptoms. Official advice was to self-isolate at home. “We’ll only test you if you have to end up in hospital.”

    If we take the case of MP Nadine Dorries, who did test positive (and had access to a test because she’s an MP), she recovered at home after a couple of weeks.

    How many of those self-isolating actually had it, recovered, and are now well. We just don’t know.

  • APL

    Snorri Godhi: “People who claim more than 10 million already infected are just lunatics.”

    Charming 🙂

    I’m interested in the UK. So, I’d like to understand why we are taking end of January as the origin of the introduction of the virus into the UK. Other, than that was when the BBC went ballistic.

    China locked down fifteen cities on the 28th, but they must have known they had a problem in December at the latest.

    Why is it so unreasonable to note, that we have had free flow of potentially infected but asymptomatic young people travelling back and forth between China and our main University towns and cities. That, it seems to me, is a clear vector to introduce the virus. Why did it suddenly arrive in the UK at the end of January?

  • Snorri Godhi writes:

    Wikipedia helps again: 90436 tests as of yesterday. 8077 positive. Unless testers have deliberately avoided people with symptoms, then AT MOST 1 in 11 UK residents is infected.

    I struggle with accepting this. Of the negative testing 90,434 minus 8,077 (so 82,357), a non-trivial number of those not infected when they were tested (which IIRC goes back at least to 31 January) might well be positive for the virus now – and known or not known to be now positive. The now-not-then positives include medical staff treating the infected who have serious symptoms (some of whom might have been tested more than once). It is possible, by counting separately and updating the negative count as well as the positive count in the light of retests, to do better than counting tests administered minus tests positive. As time goes on, these two approaches will diverge more and more. It is also the case that positives for still infectious differs from recovered and no longer infectious; so some of the 8,077 do drop out of some of our concerns.

    Snorri Godhi also writes:

    People who claim more than 10 million already infected are just lunatics.

    That 10 million is around 15% of the population, which is barely more than half as much again of Snorri Godhi’s upper range of 9%. Bearing in mind the infection count currently is believed to be at least doubling every week. Thus I think “lunatic” is not the best word here.

    However, one must note that the 90,436 tested are not by any means a random sample of the total population.

    Personally I place no reliance on our knowledge of the proportion infected. And even less reliance (??) on arguments based on proportion comparisons between countries – they all have different prior conditions for testing.

    I do have more faith (!) in the counting of the dead from Cv – though even that introduces some lesser statistical concerns.

    Pray that there is a serious waning from around May (northern temperate and subtropical zones) and also there is discovery of an effective antiviral well before November (northern temperate and subtropical zones again).

    Keep safe

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Unless testers have deliberately avoided people with symptoms, then AT MOST 1 in 11 UK residents is infected.”

    People keep on forgetting to take time delays into account. A lot of those tests were done weeks or months ago – they didn’t have it then, that doesn’t mean they don’t have it now. It takes about a week for symptoms to show. And if the number of infections is increasing 10-fold a week, then that means 90% of the people who have it got it in the final week and are showing no symptoms. Tests more than a few days old tell you virtually nothing about the situation as it is now.

    And as Duncan says, they’re not testing everyone. They don’t test people with no symptoms, unless they have good reason to think they’ve been exposed and are at particular risk of passing it on. They don’t test people with just a cough and fever, who can stop at home. It’s a highly biased sample that gives a hugely distorted impression.

    Probably the best way to estimate the number infected is by looking at the number of deaths. If, as the WHO say, the mortality rate overall is 2%, then the number who die is 1/50th of the number who were infected several weeks ago when those people were infected. If the number of deaths is multiplying 10-fold per week, then the number of infections several weeks ago would have been multiplying 10-fold per week too. If it takes about 4 weeks from infection to death, then the number of infections now is about 50 times 10,000 times the number dying now, and the number who are going to be dying in 4 weeks from now will be about 10,000 times the number dying now, already in the pipeline, assuming the rate of spread and the mortality rate are constant.

    Which of course, they might not be. People started to take minor precautions a few weeks ago, that might have slowed it down a bit. Once the virus starts running into more and more people who either already have it or have had it and recovered, that’s going to slow it down. And we’re quite uncertain about the mortality rate, which depends on the age and health profile of those infected, the quality of treatment they get, and whether the hospitals have run out of respirators and ICU beds yet. The lower the mortality rate, the more likely it is that everyone is already infected, (although 90% don’t know it yet). The higher the mortality rate, the lower the number currently infected, and the more likely it is that the quarantine measures will do some good.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m interested in the UK. So, I’d like to understand why we are taking end of January as the origin of the introduction of the virus into the UK.”

    Because deaths started ramping up about 3 weeks ago, and it’s about 4 weeks from infection to death, I would guess. It may have been around before, but it only ‘got loose’ about 8-9 weeks ago.

    (I should note, the plot is a few days old, and not up to date.)

  • APL

    NiV: “Probably the best way to estimate the number infected is by looking at the number of deaths.”

    Next question. Those deaths, that are lumped into the category ‘Covid-19′, how many were because the patient was morbidly obese or diabetic, or had a preexisting pulmonary or cardio-vascular condition and the virus toppled him or her over the edge?

    Then, apparently, under the new ’emergency regulations’ just introduced, when a death is attributed to Covid-19 it is only necessary to get a ‘phoned in certificate’ from a doctor.

    Harold Shipman much?

  • APL

    NiV: “Because deaths started ramping up about 3 weeks ago”

    So, just at the time the BBC went ballistic and we started to get hysterical coverage in the media.

    Potentially, prior to that, deaths were attributed to seasonal ailments in the older demographic.

  • APL

    This site seems to be the dogs bollocks in terms of information available on the death rate in England and Wales.

    I’m not terribly numerate, what I take away from the data set, is that people in England and Wales seen to die at an alarming rate all the time.

    Scotland of course, may be devolved in these matters.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nigel, Nullius: good point about the tests having been spread out in time.

    But fortunately Wikipedia also has number of new confirmed cases and number of tests for every day up to yesterday.

    The ratios of positives to tests do seem to show an increase over time, in spite of the increased (though highly variable) number of tests.
    A peak of 30% positives was reached on the 20th, but that was because very few tests were done on that day. Averaging from the 20th to yesterday, the percentage of positives is 19%. If that percentage reflects the entire population of the UK, then there are currently at least 13M active cases, in which case herd immunity should soon be on the way … but so would piles of corpses and a shortage of ventilators.

    Unless the doubling time is much shorter in the younger age cohort? after all, Italians probably visit their grandparents more often than Brits do. The thing to do would be to look at the age profile of the people who have been tested, but i don’t know where to find that.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “If that percentage reflects the entire population of the UK, then there are already over 13M cases, in which case herd immunity would soon be on the way … but so would piles of corpses and a shortage of ventilators.”

    Yup. That’s what I’m thinking may be the case. I’m also starting to wonder now if the curving down of the confirmed cases is actually the herd immunity starting to kick in, rather than an artefact of the testing regime. During the early part it did run parallel, but then started curving about 3 weeks ago, when the deaths started ramping up. I’m not convinced, though. Although the number of infected might have been starting to run into herd immunity around then, the number of confirmations ought to have been about two weeks behind that. On the other hand, all my numbers are approximate, and the time intervals are all fuzzy distributions. It could alternatively be when people started being a bit more careful, or for some other reason.

  • APL

    Deaths from all respiratory diseases (England & Wales – 2020)

    03rd January 2020 – 2,141
    10th January 2020 – 2,477
    17th January 2020 – 2,188
    24th January 2020 – 1,894
    31st January 2020 – 1,746
    07th February ’20 – 1,572
    14th February ’20 – 1,602
    21st February ’20 – 1,598
    28th February ’20 – 1,519
    06th March 2020 – 1,564
    Data not available yet.

    That isn’t the story I’d take away if, I were watching the BBC.

  • APL

    Deaths from all respiratory diseases (England & Wales, Jan – March 2019)
    04th Jan. 2019 – 1,736
    11th Jan. 2019 – 2,214
    18th Jan. 2019 – 1,972
    25th Jan. 2019 – 1,942
    01st Feb. 2019 – 1,931
    08th Feb. 2019 – 1,918
    15th Feb. 2019 – 1,931
    22nd Feb. 2019 – 1,890
    01st Mar. 2019 – 1,786
    08th Mar. 2019 – 1,657

    – There does appear to be an increased mortality over last year, but I’m not seeing an exponential trend.

  • I don’t understand what APL is trying to tell us here.

    Deaths from COVID-19, as reported here, are:
    every week up to and including W/E 28 Feb: zero; W/E 6 March: 3.

    [Aside of much lesser importance, the ONS figure of all respiratory deaths in W/E 6 March 2020 was 1,546 rather than 1,564.]

    Best regards

  • Duncan S

    Maybe we should get Professor Sir John Curtice to provide a prediction of numbers based on current exit polls.

    Poor taste joking aside, the various predictions that seem to be bouncing around the web appear to me as valid as any opinion poll: depends on who’s doing the asking and what answer they want to generate.

  • Correction to my comment March 25, 2020 at 2:48 pm. Deaths from COVID-19 W/E 6 March 2020: 2.

  • APL

    Status of COVID-19
    As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK.

  • djc

    APL
    “There does appear to be an increased mortality over last year, but I’m not seeing an exponential trend.”

    Last year was a low year for seasonal ‘flu:
    2014/15 28k
    2015/16 12k
    2016/17 18k
    2017/18 20k
    2018/19 2k (to week 15)

    Data from p51 here

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