We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

This might work. And then?

“NHS phone app holds key to lifting UK’s coronavirus lockdown”, the Times reports.

Ministers have ordered the creation of an NHS mobile phone app the government hopes will help end the coronavirus lockdown.

The app would allow mobile phones to trace users who have come into contact with infected people, alerting them to get tested.

This would make it possible to start lifting the most stringent social-distancing measures from late next month, ministers hope.

Senior sources say NHSX, the health service’s technology arm, has been working on the app with Google and Apple at “breakneck speed”. The system will use Bluetooth technology to alert those who download the app if they have been in close proximity with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Combined with a vast expansion in testing, which ministers claim will hit 100,000 a day by the end of the month, the app is a central plank in the government’s push to lift the lockdown. “We believe this could be important in helping the country return to normality,” a Whitehall source said.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is considering how to incentivise people to install the app. Experts say the “track and trace” concept only works effectively if 60% of people adopt it.

One idea under consideration would mean people being told they could resume normal work and home life if they installed it on their phones.

As I said in the title, the worst of it is that this might be the way to control the epidemic, an outcome greatly to be desired. And then it might be the way to control us.

54 comments to This might work. And then?

  • Itellyounothing

    We need Bojo back. Posh Flu has turned into tyranny far to easily.

    The vulnerable elderly don’t have phones, they have land lines.

    Just the young usually healthy, have phones.

  • Mr Ed

    One idea under consideration would mean people being told they could resume normal work and home life if they installed it on their phones.

    Of course, it does nothing to stop the spread of the virus or to stop you from being infected, and it would only tell you if you had been in proximity to someone if it was able to trace someone who had also been traced via the app and been found to be infected at some point down the line (which isn’t the same as infectious), so at most you and then your contacts might be traced, and you may or may not be symptomatic or infected. Still, it will give them a chance to look at everywhere that you have been and who you are associating with.

    So where is the data protection risk assessment for this process, which the GDPR requires?

    It’s basically saying ‘You can only leave your home if we can trace everywhere you go, and everyone you meet, for ever‘.

    And no one in the Conservative party probably sees anything wrong with this, after all, it will protect the NHS.

    Yesterday I was walking back from shopping along an almost deserted high street, a woman got out of her car as I walked by and stopped herself in the car door, saying ‘I’m getting used to keeping 2 metres now‘. ‘Yes, scary isn’t it?‘ I replied (that she was getting used to it). She was surprised that I had said that, but agreed.

    This is the new Project Fear, and it is working like a nightmare.

  • Henry Cybulski

    South Koreans apparently started using an app like that back in February:


  • John

    Is there anyone who seriously believes that this tracking technology has not already been in use for several years in all but the most undeveloped countries?

  • Phil B

    So, let me summarise…

    How many people have been infected? Don’t know.

    Of those people that have been infected, how many have shown no symptoms? Don’t know.

    Of those that have displayed symptoms, how many have been mild or dismissed as a cold? Don’t know.

    Of those displaying symptoms that were greater than “bad cold”, how many were hospitalised? Don’t know.

    Of those hospitalised, how many had pre existing conditions, like the 108 year old that died of the infection (and, presumably, if she had not contracted the virus, would have lived another 20 or 30 years) but the infection was enough to push them over the edge? Don’t know.

    What we DO know is that the death rate is 12.7294561157% …or whatever number with the same number of decimal places you care to use.

    I call bullshit on any statistics churned out by the authorities with a similar false precision.

    However, the Chinese authorities do require that everyone has a mobile phone for payments and all the usual necessary daily activities and track and monitor the population.

    Is it a coincidence the Huawei have been given the contract to implement the next tranche of the mobile network in the UK and that the government is pushing tracing technology?

    Answers on the back of a postcard to the usual address …

  • Arkus

    An NHS IT project is our saviour? Hahahahahahaha

  • neonsnake

    Driveby post.

    It’s possible to have contact tracing without privacy loss.

    Hope everyone’s well.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Thank you, neonsnake. Everybody, click on neonsnake’s link above! That this can be done is very good news. But will it be?

  • APL

    An aside, but relevant to the topic. With regard to Italy and it’s high mortality rate due to Covid-19.

    “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus”

    “On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 percent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 percent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” Prof. Riccardi ( adivsor to Italy’s health ministry )

    Hoax much yet?

  • Roué le Jour

    Cheers for that, it’s very neat. I do question though whether gov would accept a system that relies on people turning themselves in.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The scheme flagged by neonsnake is neat, but it requires that people cooperate. In particular, it requires that people self-quarantine even though nobody can check on them. Like all mild measures, it must be introduced early, so that, if people turn out to be uncooperative, stricter measures can be imposed.

    Way too late now for Londoners and New Yorkers, but it might work for other parts of the world.

  • Snorri Godhi

    BTW I haven’t been taking my phone with me when i go outdoors, to avoid getting it contaminated.

    Actually, i seldom took it with me even before, because i don’t know whether John (8:30 am) is correct, but he might be.

  • Alsadius

    Neonsnake: Very cool!

    APL: “Pre-morbidities” include things like lung diseases, diabetes, cancer, and so on. And deaths mostly happen among the elderly. How many 80+ year olds don’t have at least one of those? But if someone has diabetes, contracts coronavirus, and dies of pneumonia, I don’t think you can rationally blame the diabetes.

  • Stonyground

    Diabetes can compromise the immune system. This could make an illness that wouldn’t normally be fatal impossible to fight off. I’m a T2 diabetic but I rarely get cold or flu bugs generally, so I’m presuming that my immune system is OK.

  • Stonyground

    Is this mobile phone tracking scheme just a way for the government to roll back the lockdown without having to admit that it was a terrible idea? I’m not necessarily saying that it was a terrible idea, but if that turns out to be the case then this scheme would offer a way out.

  • Itellyounothing

    forcing the buffers to admit their failures would do more for freedom overall…… I accept that could mean longer in lockdown.

    They always get to excuse back off and try again otherwise….

  • Pat

    How many tests would that require? Especially if you test everyone who came within 6′ of an infected person?
    A lot more than we could produce kits for!
    Plus of course we can only identify 10% of infected cases at the moment.
    The disease is now endemic, and will decline to negligible importance once herd immunity is approached. Unpleasant as that is it can’t be stopped.
    Even if we were able to eliminate the disease in the UK it would soon reappear once an infected person enters/returns to the country. We can’t keep illegals out now, so eliminating the disease is not a possibility even in the UK.
    On the other hand some means is needed to reduce/eliminate the panic, and perhaps the app will help with that.

  • You have available widespread testing?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Speaking of taking action early, i am happy to see that Nassim thinks like me. Sort of.

    H/T Instapundit. BTW Glenn Reynolds is a libertarian and knows quite a bit about the US Constitution, and yet he approves of the early shutdown in his county.

  • neonsnake

    That this can be done is very good news. But will it be?

    After posting, it occurred to me that I should have italicised the “possible”, to note that I think it unlikely 😉

    Why waste a good opportunity for more Big Brother-esque surveillance?

    The solution I posted is one of those “of course!” things, that I never would have thought of myself (!), but is obvious when someone else points it out.

    Of course, now, the point is that if an app is introduced that DOES breach privacy concerns, well: we all know it’s a choice, not a necessity, since alternatives exist.

    A few posters have rightly pointed out that it requires voluntary isolation. All views from here on out are personal, and not backed up with evidence:

    My view is that people are *generally* taking this very seriously indeed.

    900+ deaths per day is nothing to be sniffed at, and specifically because those numbers are shorn of context (underlying conditions etc), I feel reasonably confident that the “general populace” are taking it seriously as well, because that’s all they’re seeing. A very broad-brush approach, and no science behind it, just my general feeling from talking with neighbours/friends/colleagues etc.

    (I *personally* am taking it very seriously. I have enormously immuno-compromised people in my immediate circles, as I’ve mentioned, so I am taking the view that I cannot be too careful, and if I’m wrong, then the worst that happens to *me personally* is that I feel a bit sheepish in a few months. I can live with that, and I’d rather feel sheepish than the alternative. However – please do not take that as dismissive of people that are rightly concerned over their jobs, and the economy at large, it’s a really difficult balancing act right now for everyone, and I judge not anyone right now)

    So I *think* that enough people *would* voluntarily self-isolate, if they found out they’d been in contact with a carrier. If the maths is right, and only 60% of people need to, I think it still works, and my personal bias towards privacy leads me down that route.

    I do however, understand the stance, and have empathy for the stance (while not agreeing), of people who are nervously saying that maybe they’d be prepared to give up their privacy in this unprecedented situation.

    (I thought that this, incidentally, was a very good post, Natalie. I’ve been endeavouring to do just that, where feasible, along with not pursuing refunds for sunk costs for small businesses, and various other “mutual aid”-type initiatives)

    Anyway, take care everyone, and be safe.

  • Fred Z

    neonsnake: Hospital databases will live forever, and will get hacked as well, the software won’t be deleted from the phones which will keep collecting contact info.

    When the police want to know everyone you’ve been in contact with they’ll plant their own phone on you, or just follow you around for a while with their own phone harvesting info, then grab your phone and the hospital database, run the whole mess through a big computer and start connecting dots.

    Hilarity will ensue.

  • John B

    99%+ of the population will suffer no worse than mild or ‘bad cold’ type symptoms, so why is it imperative to stop spread of infection enough to introduce totalitarian measures and collapse the economy?

    Ah yes ‘the vulnerable’. The vulnerable are people over 70, most over 80 and in poor health. Why not focus measures on those and let everyone else get on with the rest of their lives?

    It has been stated ‘lockdown’ is intended to slow rate of infection, not its degree, it will not ‘save’ lives, just people will die over a longer period, but the same number will die.

    The aim is to protect the sacred NHS. And the people believe protecting the NHS is more important than protecting the liberty that 1,27 million British service personnel paid for with their lives in two World Wars.

    What is wrong with people?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “99%+ of the population will suffer no worse than mild or ‘bad cold’ type symptoms, so why is it imperative to stop spread of infection enough to introduce totalitarian measures and collapse the economy?”

    Because about 10-15% (including the young and healthy) experience severe symptoms requiring hospital treatment. If they get medical treatment, only about 1% die (mainly the old and already ill). If the hospitals are full and people can’t get medical treatment, then it is very probably that lots more will die, including more of the young.

    Stay within the limits of the health service and shield the elderly, and far less than 1% will die. Overload the health service, and anything up to 10% of people could die. Including the young.

    That’s why.

  • APL


    ” “Pre-morbidities” include things like lung diseases, diabetes, cancer, and so on. And deaths mostly happen among the elderly. How many 80+ year olds don’t have at least one of those? But if someone has diabetes, contracts coronavirus, and dies of pneumonia, I don’t think you can rationally blame the diabetes.”

    Yes, that ( co morbidities ) have been discussed ad-nauseam.

    But we have been labouring under the misapprehension that the Italians has an unusually high incidence of covid-19 mortality, now it turns out that 88% of the deaths attributed to covid-19 were actually caused by something else.

    That’s a pretty significant revision. Which puts covid-19 back into the ‘this is just a seasonal flu’ catagory. That’s the catagory that doesn’t justify shutting down the economy nor quarantine of the whole population.

  • Snorri Godhi


    now it turns out that 88% of the deaths attributed to covid-19 were actually caused by something else.

    No: now it turns out that the NIH claims that 88% of the deaths attributed to covid-19 were actually caused by something else.

    You should not trust the NIH. Here is why: the excess deaths in Bergamo province in March 2020 over March 2019 is 500%, and less than half of the excess deaths were “officially” due to the Chinese virus from Wuhan, China.
    (H/T Steve Sailer and the Wobbly Guy in another Samizdata thread.)

    That means — or at least, that strongly suggests — that the real number of victims is over 200% of the official number, not 12% as the NIH claims.

    There was a lot of demand for numbers of excess deaths on Samizdata, only a week or two ago. Well, now figures for excess deaths are becoming available. Let’s ponder them.

  • Is this mobile phone tracking scheme just a way for the government to roll back the lockdown without having to admit that it was a terrible idea? (Stonyground, April 12, 2020 at 11:18 am)

    Fortunately, they can do that anyway (I agree the last thing we need to deal with, but a sensible thing to be aware we might have had to deal with, is government advisors’ egos.) The lockdown was always billed as a temporary measure to flatten the curve. At any time, they can pick one of the many models and say ‘look, the curve has been flattened (enough)’ and/or ‘we can (must for the economy) call it off (and can call it on again later)’. Whenever and however Boris ramps it down, the usual suspects will claim Boris is being reckless while Boris will assure all he is balancing the needs of the NHS and the economy in a considered manner.

    That said, improved ability to trace people recently near the infected could offer both reassurance to the nervous in calling it off and also real medical benefit to some real people.

    The peer-to-peer scheme that neonsnake linked to above is one of a number of ways that a contact tracing app can make your movements not so very much more traceable or analysable in bulk than they already are from merely having your mobile phone on.

    I think we must assume that, for better and for worse, Britons who test positive for the CCP virus are apt to have their movements in the prior few days scrutinised. That right of silence enjoyed by those accused of murder and suchlike may not be explicitly withdrawn but I very much doubt NHS staff will be required to inform an infected person before asking them (and their phone) where they have been recently.

    For the rest of us, however – and for those with the virus, as regards all but the prior few days before diagnosis – I offer the opinion that any app that retains its last few days’ locations in a ring-buffer-style manner on the mobile phone (i.e. as against broadcasting them hourly to a central DB) is not obviously adding so very greatly to the surveillable state we already ‘enjoy’.

    (Commenters are very much invited to point out what risks I am missing if they can. And of course, we’ll see what technical choices the prescribed app makes.)

  • APL

    And now this a treatment that leads to a 0.5% mortality rate in elderly and vulnerable patients if administered as early as possible.

    Hydroxychloroquine being the class of drugs that are already avaliable to treat Lupis among other conditions.

  • How fortunate that my Android smartphone screen decided to break yesterday and I’ve had to regress to my Nokia N100 from 2011 which runs Nokia’s proprietary System 30 Operating System and doesn’t support Apps in any meaningful sense, just contact lists, SMS and telephone functionality.

    Matt Hancock can take his spyphone apps and shove them where the sun don’t shine.

  • thefat tomato

    there are only three ways out long term, herd immunity, vaccines or PREP.
    undoubtedly the imbeciles in goverment have already spent more on this contact tracing app than medical vaccine or PREP research which would take us out of this problem.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not carry one of these mobile telephones.

    Are they going to but a “chip” under my skin – but I might cut it out.

    Perhaps it will be placed in the brain – and that made general policy, in case other people do not have such mobile telephones or leave them home.

    “Do not feat Paul – BoJo will save liberty!”

    I might once have entertained that notion myself. But no one saved ME – and I served faithfully for some 40 years.

    Why should they be expected to treat anyone else with the just regard they did not show me?

    Oh yes I take betrayal personally, I am not a saint, but it is also information – information as to their general character.

    Anyone who thinks the present government is going to roll back the state is, I suspect, going to be deeply disappointed. They will, of course, roll back the current madness (they do not want the economy to totally collapse), but the state will continue to grow in both size and scope (in spending and regulations) – just as it was growing BEFORE the virus.

    Still let us hope I am mistaken.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the Times generally – Yuk.

  • Gary

    What is needed is mass testing.

    Test, test, test.

    Mass Testing and targeted lockdowns are the only way out of this.

    But the government is afraid of mass testing as it is likely to reveal the monumental scale of the British government’s vast incompetence and stupidity. They had TWO MONTHS to procure the necessary PPE ffs. There is also a prideful refusal to acknowledge that countries like South Korea have much better know-how and policies than the UK, due to the English Exceptionalism common in this “Government of the Ponces”.

    The Tories centralizing of power into the hands of Whitehall twits who have no experience of the real world is now coming home to roost. Power needs to be devolved to a federal system so Whitehall and Westminster’s utter incompetence can be quarantined into London.

    The British government’s stupid, brainless policies have clearly failed miserably, led by a lazy Prime Minister who is clearly out of his depth and whose own stupidity almost got him killed due to his own arrogance. The government’s sloth-like response, it’s disgusting, criminal failure to provide NHS staff with PPE and testing. Even more vile has been the government’s silencing of doctors and nurses, and Hat Mancock’s disgusting, offensive remarks about healthcare staff. “Don’t use PPE’s they are a precious resource”. Jesus Christ. Resign, you useless sack of crap.

    New Zealand is likely to exit lockdown in a fortnight. South Korea didn’t even need to go into lockdown. That’s because New Zealand and South Korea have competent, capable governments with smart leaders. Due to the UK’s farcically slow response and the total absence of preparation, it’s lockdown is likely to last for months, likely well into July or August.

    All because of astounding government ineptitude.

  • Mr Ecks

    Well said Mr Galt.

    Nor do we have time to fart about.

    The WTO estimates NiV’ s maximum 13% trade contraction (from a thread or two ago) as the Minimum. The maximum being 32 %. And that is based on what they see now not more months of these antics.

    That does not take decades of ever-growing debt into account. Funny money has run its course and more will bring massive inflation. Interest rates only need to reach 5-6-7 % and most of the West’s tax take will have to go to pay the interest on what has already been borrowed.

    The potential for a world wrecking mess far exceeds any BS virus. And nobody is coming to rescue us .

  • Mr Ecks

    “The British government’s stupid, brainless policies have clearly failed miserably”

    There Gaza you are right .

    Not because they have done too LITTLE –but because they have done far too MUCH.

    Still waiting to hear how you get your Seat of Sanctimony despite being a member of a murdering death cult who have killed 150 million people so far.

  • Runcie Balspune

    “It’s possible to have contact tracing without privacy loss.”

    The flaw is Bob trusting his app is not loading up his gibberish (like Alice’s was) and then matched to others without his knowledge.

  • Chester Draws

    Stay within the limits of the health service and shield the elderly, and far less than 1% will die. Overload the health service, and anything up to 10% of people could die. Including the young.

    Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks. The health services of several places have been overwhelmed (Wuhan, Bergamo, NY, various cruise ships) and the death rates don’t come within a mile of 10% in those. It’s a scary story, but the facts don’t back it up.

    The badly affected places will have 1% max, and the less affected places far less than that (my money is on 0.2% nationally).

    Nassim Taleb meanwhile is making a fool of himself. You can’t slam into emergency mode every time a potential bad thing is seen coming: we’d have had lock downs for MERS, SARS, Avian, Mad Cow etc and our economies would be disaster zones — leaving us even less prepared for the actual big one, because we’d be much poorer and we’d be sick of all the crying wolf.

    Yes, with hindsight we can see this one is worse than those others, but there were plenty of people who warned those other diseases would be very deadly at the time. Fortunately, those times our governments didn’t panic.

    I am reminded of those people who have successfully predicted 18 of the last 2 economic downturns. If you shout “we need to hunker down” every time there is a threat you will be right sometimes, but wrong far more often.

  • Runcie Balspune

    “They had TWO MONTHS to procure the necessary PPE ffs.”

    Where would they have bought them from, out of interest?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The health services of several places have been overwhelmed”

    Only locally – in all those cases they were able to transfer patients to hospitals elsewhere.

  • bobby b

    From Perry’s article:

    “When I discussed this with a family member, the immediate reaction was that she’d refuse to run an anonymous app that might suddenly say “someone you’ve been near in the past four days has reported symptoms, so you must now self-isolate for 14 days.” A call from a public health officer is one thing, but not knowing who it was would just creep her out.”

    Nursing homes and care facilities in the US are currently receiving daily reports from a company that set up a phone tracing system at the beginning of this episode. This system suffers from this exact problem.

    There exists a registry of all care facilities in the country. In this registry, every facility that has had a registered exposure – i.e., a confirmed case of C-19 – is starred.

    Individual contract caregivers – therapists, docs, technicians, counselors – travel between facilities daily, treating and dealing with their own list of patients. This is how they make their living.

    Every such caregiver is required to know the exposure status of each facility they enter. Every facility requires that each individual caregiver sign an attestation that they have not entered a listed-exposure facility within the last fourteen days.

    When a caregiver enters a facility, their phone identity is registered via phone tracking. At that point, the tracking database is checked to see if that same phone has entered a facility that has a registered exposure within the past fourteen days.

    Each care facility receives a daily report that tells them, for example, “three individual caregivers entered your facility on April 10th that also registered as having entered an exposed facility within the previous fourteen days.”

    I’ve seen these reports. They’re scaring the hell out of the facility admins, because there’s nothing they can do about them.

    Due to privacy concerns, they can learn about the failure of the system, but they cannot be told which individuals have lied in their attestations and who may be carrying exposure into clean facilities.

    What to do?

  • Snorri Godhi

    I had noticed the paragraph that bobby quoted.
    Reading it, I told myself: in the last couple of weeks, i have not been close to anybody for more than a few seconds (thanks to supermarkets having installed perspex shields in front of the cashiers, or self-service checkouts). Were i to receive a notification that i have been close to somebody infected, but nobody knows except me, would i self-isolate for 2 weeks? Should I?

  • neonsnake

    Very informative

    Thanks for that, Perry.

    I’d seen some of the quotes from it knocking about on teh socialz. Good to have the full article to refer to. Appreciated.

    This is, indeed, an “interesting” problem, trying to be dispassionate about it (hard).

    An anonymous alert – you’ve been in contact with “someone” – is, as noted, psychologically very different from of “the woman on the till in Co-op has tested positive for Covid-19”

    One tells me something, one gives me something more concrete. She took my card out of the machine by hand, ergo I’m more nervous now.

    I have something concrete to hang my hat on, rather than wondering if it was the bloke on the other aisle while I was stocking up on corned beef, Frey Bentos and Malbec the other day (honestly, who the fuck is buying up all the corned beef?)

    But with a lot of soul-searching, and some hesitancy, I still come to “anonymous tracing”. I’m not one of the “it’s just a flu” types. It clearly isn’t. But I think that most people *would* self isolate. We’re not a representative sample here, we’re not known for doing what Daddy government tells us to do. But most people are, and if we successfully disentangle experts from authority, I think we’d probably do the same.

    So I *think* I still come down on the side of non-privacy-invadinf solutions. But, I’m not 100% sure, by any means.

  • neonsnake

    Still waiting to hear how you get your Seat of Sanctimony despite being a member of a murdering death cult who have killed 150 million people so far.

    Gary has expressed, to the best of my knowledge, no preference for Marxist-Leninism.

    Criticism of the government’s approach is totally valid.

    Don’t be a berk about it.


  • Snorri Godhi


    I think that most people *would* self isolate.

    I hope not to sound pedantic if i say that it’s not “most people” that matter: it’s the super-spreaders that matter.
    The question is, would most super-spreaders self-isolate?
    With STDs, probably not. (At a guess.)
    But with the Chinese virus from Wuhan, China, who knows?
    I hope they would, but hope is not a sound basis for policy.

  • neonsnake (April 13, 2020 at 6:41 pm), I fully appreciate you have had graver concerns of late than reading and remembering all comments on all threads. And you might be influenced by remembering that Mr Ecks sometimes avoids understating his criticisms – if I may thus understatedly express it. 🙂

    That said, a more appropriate criticism of Mr Ecks’ (April 12, 2020 at 10:29 pm) rebuke of an earlier comment would be that it risks feeding the troll.

    Just a word to the wise. (My 0.02p-worth of word to the wise.)

  • neonsnake

    I have indeed had graver concerns, and have only been drive-bying for some time, mainly (but not only) to check that people I’m bothered about still appear to be ok.

    This thread interested me, hence my quick comments.

    I’ll let Gary answer whether he’s a statist or not. My suspicion is that he’s not (I’m not going to go trawling back through old posts); I suspect that criticism of Boris does not imply state-communism, unless we suggest that Paul Marks is, after all, a Leninist.

    I rather suspect that Gary’s criticism of current governmental approach is not an approval of state-communism.

    Gary! Over to you, my lad! Are you, after all, a tankie, and thereby I’ve embarrassed myself?

    Or just not a state-tory?

  • APL

    This BBC article illustrates the lying bastards at the BBC doing what they do best. Lying – but I repeat myself.

    “Eddie Large, Commedian dies age 78 with coronavirus”. It just reinforces my perspective that the BBC has knowingly engineered the panic and is continually stoking the flames. The organisation, the BBC, is a domestic terrorist organisation.

    You’ve got to read three quarters of the way through the article before you learn; “Large had a heart transplant in 2003, and became a spokesman for the British Heart Foundation.”

    Pre-existing conditions anyone?
    He will have been on suppressants drugs too. So catching a cold might have killed him.
    Age 78 – In the class of individuals that are subject to Covid-19 special attention.

    But the BBC headline. Eddie Large dies with corona-virus. Straight out of 1984!

  • bobby b

    April 13, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    “But I think that most people *would* self isolate.”

    In my example above, it appears that about 10%-15% of trained health-care professionals who service clients in care facilities are NOT following those rules. These are the people who should know better.

    Granted, to follow the rules means they disqualify themselves from treating paying clients. But that’s no different from the retail worker who knows he’s been exposed and still goes to work – except the personal contact between the health care provider and his clients is much greater.

    So, my faith in human selflessness is taking a hit here.

  • neonsnake

    So, my faith in human selflessness is taking a hit here.

    Mine hasn’t, not quite, in the same sense.

    Many moons ago, you noted that “we” (for a given value of we) are maybe 4% of the population. Libertarian of one stripe or another, united by our distaste for statism – a stance I probably wouldn’t have taken just a few months ago but I do now, after the past few months.

    I’ve often used Mark from Purchase Ledger or Sophie from Marketing as stand-ins for “normies”.

    Most people believe in statism, in politicians, in doing what the government tells them. Most of those people believe in it in good faith, too, be they left or right.

    So I think there are people who don’t like rules, because they’re conditioned not to trust experts. It’s really tricky to disentangle experts (as in people who actually nknow their shit) from government (given that that’s our normal route to them), so people are being contrarian. And those people are (obviously) wrong, but maybe cannot be blamed for being so.

  • Mr Ecks



  • Paul Marks

    Gary – the idea that the elected politicians in the United Kingdom are making the decisions is mistaken. And blaming them for the failures, lack of testing and so on, of government health services (at which they have thrown ever increasing amounts of money for many decades) is wrong.

    However, the elected politicians lay themselves open to your sort of attack – they claim to be making the decisions (not once have heard any of them say “I am doing what I have been told to do by the Civil Service and the Experts – I am just a puppet”).

    And the elected politicians constantly go about how wonderful the state machine is – how it has “saved their life” (how did it save his life? what medicines were used?) and so on.

    So when people see the failure around them they do not associate it with the permanent government – because they are constantly told (by almost every source – ESPECIALLY the elected politicians) that this is wonderful.

    So, naturally enough, your position, that the elected politicians are to blame, seems logical enough – logical enough by the statements of the elected politicians themselves. They refuse, even now, to admit that there just might possibly be something wrong with the permanent government machine.

    Of course there are many good people in the government machine – desperately trying to do their best. But they are trapped in an Byzantine bureaucracy – which frustrates their heroic efforts.

    But to say that (indeed to say any of the above) is HERESY – dissent is now not really allowed in this country (not without punishment), it was allowed when I was young (there was still quite a lot of freedom of speech here), but it is not really allowed now.

    And that is what has led me to my rather gloomy position that reform is impossible in the United Kingdom – for how can there be reform if we are not even allowed to DISCUSS ideas without the threat of being “expelled from the party” and so on.

    I think, with hindsight, the final change came in the years of Prime Minister Blair – or at least when Mr Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative Party and decided that he would be the “heir to Blair”, at that point even the DISCUSSION of Conservative ideas gradually came to be seen as some sort of crime by “Central Office” – as they fully signed up to the Frankfurt School (a mutant form of Marxism – rather different from the ideas of Dr Marx himself) “Diversity and Inclusion” Agenda – which sees the vast modern state as a sort of Saint George fighting the Evil Dragon of a “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic”, “Islamophobic”, “Transphobic” (and so on) British population.

    When a group of people (“Central Office” or anyone else) have convinced themselves (or been convinced – by their “education”) that the vast state bureaucracy is wonderful and that civil society (the ordinary population) are evil, and that the expression of any ideas contrary to their “Critical Theory” doctrines must be PUNISHED, how can free discussion take place?

    And without free discussion there can be no real reform – of health services, or anything else.

    The Marxists have a name for this. They say that sometimes people “internalise the ideology” of their enemies, people come to believe in ideas that are invented by their enemies – ideas that harm the people who come to believe (and ENFORCE) them. Sadly this seems to have happened – and it is the ideas of the Marxists themselves (or at least of a certain mutant school of Marxists) which have been “internalised” by the very people who are supposed to be fighting against them.

  • Paul Marks

    A similar thing happened to the Jesuits, the Society of Jesus – which historically has contained many very great scholars.

    Originally the Jesuits studied Marxist ideas in order to FIGHT AGAINST THEM.

    But the fatal mistake was made (not just by the Jesuits – but by the Church generally) of NOT studying anti Marxist ideas. Many Jesuits (and others) are highly intelligent people – they could easily understand anti Marxist works, IF THEY HAD EVER READ THEM, but their education does not lead them to read anti Marxist works (or even to know that such works exist).

    It is actually a mistake to say that “Pope Francis is a Marxist” (a false claim I have seen so many times – and perhaps even indulged myself when I have lost my temper listening to and reading the false things the gentleman says), just as it is false to say that “Central Office are Marxists” – they are NOT (not even Frankfurt School mutant Marxists).

    It is just that these people have never studied fully fledged REFUTATIONS of these ideas – their education has actually been saturated (to a dangerous degree) by the very ideas they are supposed to be fighting.

    This cripples them intellectually – and leaves them baffled by (and hostile to) people whose minds are not saturated with these ideas. The ideas that themselves are supposed to be fighting – rather than just “putting a human face” upon.

    For example, if they encounter someone who says that British society is not “institutionally racist” indeed that the very concept of “institutional racism” is garbled nonsense, they react with aggression. And naturally enough – after all such a “reactionary” must be evil.

    Ditto if they encounter someone who suggests that the medical testing for diseases might not be best handled by a centralised state monopoly.

    The problem goes back a long way among people who are regarded (and regarded themselves) as Conservatives.

    For example the most famous Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII – that of 1891, the foundation of modern “Social Teaching” of both the Roman Catholic Church and the various Christian Democrat Parities of the world (in many places the main ANTI Marxist parties).

    The very first paragraph of the 1891 Encyclical makes two main claims.

    These claims being that capitalism has led to the impoverishment of ordinary people, and that capitalism has led to a massive increase in moral degeneracy.

    Yet the population had NOT been impoverished – on the contrary living standards in Western countries in 1890 (when the Encyclical of 1891 was being written) were HIGHER than they had ever been before.

    As for moral degeneracy – there is no evidence that people were morally worse in 1891 than they had been in 1791 or 1691 or 1591 or 1491. The claim is just wrong.

    Now did Pope Leo XIII just wake up one morning with utterly wrong ideas in his head and then put them as the first paragraph of his most Encyclical?

    Of course not. Those false ideas were put in his head by long study – his own and the study of other people (such as Cardinal Manning).

    What were they studying?

    The were studying socialist propaganda – with the intent of FIGHTING it.

    But they did NOT study the refutations of this propaganda.

    So they ended up “internalising the ideology” of their enemies.

    Their policy positions became watered down versions of the policies of their sworn enemies. Essentially socialism by the installment plan – although they actually viewed their “Social Reform” as an ALTERNATIVE to socialism (not seeing that it would logically lead to socialism).

    Such Protestant Conservative Party Prime Ministers as Disraeli and Balfour (and such American Republican Protestant Presidents as T. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon) made the same error. Prime Minister Balfour thought that “Social Reform” (an ever bigger and more interventionist government) was the ALTERNATIVE to socialism – he did not see that if bigger government (in size and scope) makes life better than it otherwise would have been (which it DOES NOT) then, logically, even bigger government will make life even better still – till a TOTAL government (socialism) is “achieved”.

    The Fabians actually had (and have) a much better understanding of “Social Reform” than the Conservatives who supported (and support) it.

    Hence such brutal sayings as “what is a Guardian article, or comment, today – will, eventually, be the policy of the Conservative Party”.

    That is not because “Central Office” loves the Guardian or the rest of the socialist establishment – far from it.

    But they have no other intellectual framework – their education does not give them one.

    For example – they do not, in the main, even understand the concept of a price system, or that a wage is a price.

  • BigFatFlyingBloke

    The CFR for COVID-19 when medical care is available is around 1%. The high CFR in a lot of European countries is because primarily the very sick are getting tested, and if you are primarily testing the very sick then it will be higher. In Europe if you want the real number of cases then multiply the official numbers by somewhere between 10 and 20.

    In countries like Taiwan and South Korea, it’s not that the governments are magically more competent but that they have already learned this particular lesson in blood with previous pandemics such as SARS. Thus they were ready to go from day 1 with large scale testing and contact tracing.

    Another difference, and one which I think will be shown to be critical, between Western and East Asian countries is that the wearing of masks if you are sick in the latter is normalized. While wearing a mask has maybe a 50% chance of protecting you from catching the virus, it’s closer to a 100% of stopping you from infecting others. And if you drive the r0 below 1, the virus dies off.

  • APL

    ONS figures for England and Wales for the week ending 3rd April.

    They have obligingly broken out those where COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate.

    Week 14,
    16,387 (11,141) Total deaths, all ages. ( Prior week )
    2106 (1534) All respiratory conditions. ( Prior week )
    3475 (#539) COVID-19 related as the primary or a contributory CoD ( Prior week )