It is also an oxymoron.

]]>Huh!

]]>No. You would simply have more people needing hospital beds than there are beds. You would have many hospitals-worth of patients for every hospital you had.

The NHS has about 100,000 beds in total, most of which are already occupied, and at the start of this crisis had about 8,000 critical care beds. If 80% of the population catches it on the way to herd immunity, and 5% of them need hospital treatment to survive, that’s 2,600,000 patients. If the epidemic rises and falls in two months, and it takes two weeks on average to recover or die (i.e. you can divide by 4), you’re going to have on the order of 650,000 patients (plus the background level of sick people from everything else) chasing 100,000 beds/doctors/nurses and nobody is going to have time for tiktok!

They raised the capacity to around 20,000 critical care beds, but that’s still not going to be enough if 100,000 patients need them. That would still leave 80,000 needing critical care and not getting it. They would die, and the overall death rate would soar.

*With* hospital treatment, we know around 1% of people who catch it die. *Without* hospital treatment, we don’t know. But if 5% isn’t an unreasonable guess, then the deaths rise from 1% x 80% x 65,000,000 = 520,000 up towards 5% x 80% x 65,000,000 = 2,600,000. Instead of being mainly old people near the end of their life, a lot of younger people will die. A lot of the survivors would have permanent damage. And with the hospitals stuffed full and the doctors and nurses operating triage, a lot of other sick people with cancer and heart disease and so on wouldn’t get the level of treatment they needed.

*“Young people don’t succumb to COVID-19 to the extent of those over 60. So that was and is another scare tactic.”*

Here’s the age profile that the CDC observed. The first two intervals are twice the width of the others, but even so, you can see that younger people do get hospitalised at high rates, they’re just more likely to survive with treatment.

*“False. The public and declaired purpose was to save the NHS.”*

The slogan was “Stay at home > Protect the NHS > Save lives”. The declared purpose is to save lives. The first two parts described how.

It’s no more true to say the declared purpose was to “Protect the NHS” than it would be to say the declared purpose was to “Stay at home”. You can’t just stop reading halfway through and leave off the conclusion.

Staying at home protected the NHS from getting overloaded which saved lives. Saving lives was the goal. The slogan explains succinctly what to do, how it works, and what it achieves.

There’s an ongoing controversy where the opposition parties are claiming that the new slogan is too subtle for the dumbnuts of the general public to understand, whereas the old slogan was easy to understand. I thought that was rather insulting to the general public. But maybe even the *old* slogan was too hard for some to understand?

APL

May 19, 2020 at 10:52 pm

* NiV: “which would result in millions of people being unable to get hospital treatment”*

“How? Would the hospitals buildings disappear? Would the doctors put down their stethoscopes? Nurses go full time into tik tok video production?”

It wasn’t so much being unable to get NHS treatment as it was an artifact of the ventilator problem. It was expected that, as people became severely ill, mechanical oxygenation would be their savior. Thus, if a hospital had 100 ventilators, and 120 patients showed up *in extremis*, 100 would be saved, while 20 would surely die. The flattening was to keep those extra 20 people healthy until next week, when (presumably) ventilators would be available.

No one’s talking about ventilators now, but we seem to have forgotten to adjust our capacity-math. The fact that so many beds were left empty during this crisis makes that apparent.

]]>Keep safe and best regards

]]>APL: “The mantra was to flatten the curve and save the NHS.”

NiV: “Flattening the curve prevents the NHS being overwhelmed, “

One point of agreement, Good.

NiV: “which would result in millions of people being unable to get hospital treatment”

How? Would the hospitals buildings disappear? Would the doctors put down their stethoscopes? Nurses go full time into tik tok video production? No.

Your scare was always predicated on the total overnight collapse of the health service. Demagoguery at its most impressive, but untrue.

And Ferguson’s wild predictions, they were also false.

NiV: “and mean far more young/healthy people died”

Young people don’t succumb to COVID-19 to the extent of those over 60. So that was and is another scare tactic.

NiV: “The primary purpose was to save lives.”

False. The public and declaired purpose was to save the NHS.

NiV: ” Protecting the NHS’s ability to treat everyone who needed treatment”

False.

The NHS doesn’t have an ability to treat everyone who needs treatment even today, even when it isn’t being stressed. It is a rationing mechanism, always has been and always will be.

]]>Flattening the curve prevents the NHS being overwhelmed, which would result in millions of people being unable to get hospital treatment, which would increase the number of people who died, and mean far more young/healthy people died. The primary purpose was to save lives. Protecting the NHS’s ability to treat everyone who needed treatment was just the means to do so.

]]>Nope. The mantra was to flatten the curve and save the NHS.

Flattening the curve doesn’t lessen the number of deaths overall. Just spreads them over a longer period.

Saving the NHS, well, the whole point of the NHS was that it would save British citizens.

But that’s now been inverted and perverted. British citizens are now, – right now, being sacrificed to the NHS. It’s as if we’ve stepped into a ‘wormhole’ and find ourselves back in time staring up at an Aztec pyramid watching the heart being carved from the chest of some hapless sacrificial victim. Meanwhile the priesthood chant: ‘flatten the curve, save lives, nobody should drown in their own fluids’.

]]>Nigel Sedgwick

May 19, 2020 at 8:59 am

“@bobby b: no argument wanted, however …”

None offered, actually. I’m not arguing the merits of lockdowns or distancing, or really even disagreeing with you – just commenting on perceptions.

Initially, the availability of ventilators was seen as the limiting factor in our treatment possibilities. The “peak” was initially defined by the number of available ventilators. I think the “lower the peak” argument suffered a fatal blow when it was discovered that ventilators weren’t needed – indeed, could be contraindicated – in this virus treatment. Once that limitation was disposed of, we could have found a way to handle a much higher peak.

Then, we learned more about the virus’s effects, as we gained more data to play with, and a different rationale for lockdown became applicable.

But this change was never communicated. One day we woke up and the new rationale was being touted as if it had been the rationale all along. I don’t know if it was because the PTB didn’t want to appear uncertain and confused, or if it was assumed that everyone understood the change, but it left the credibility of the public health authorities somewhat in tatters.

I think this has contributed as much towards public pushback against lockdowns as has any actual knowledge of the virus.

]]>2+2=4 because we choose to assert the Peano-Jordan axioms of arithmetic, and in Peano-Jordan arithmetic 2+2=4 is a theorem. That is the case irrespective of physics. However, the reason we choose to assert the Peano-Jordan axioms is because that enables us to count beans, which is a useful thing to do. The axioms come from physics – they’re only regarded as ‘obviously true’ because they describe how our intuition about the physical world works.

As it happens, if you look closely enough it turns out physics doesn’t work that way. In quantum field theory, the number of particles is a quantum observable – it is the eigenvalue of a quantum operator (the so-called ‘number operator‘, which is the product of the creation and anihilation operators) applied to the state. An eigenstate of the number operator has an exact number of particles in it, and is called a ‘Fock state’. However, there are lots of states that are not pure Fock states, but quantum superpositions with a mixed/ambiguous/undefined number of particles. You can have a box that contains no particles (is a vaccuum) according to one observer, and is full of particles (Unruh radiation) according to another. All that is required is that one observer is accelerating relative to the other.

Likewise with adding velocities. What do you get if you add the speed of light to the speed of light? Do you get motion at twice the speed of light? What do you get if you add 90 degree rotation to 270 degree rotation? How can the answer ever be ‘no rotation at all’? What if physics was such that a 720 degree rotation of some object could be equal to no rotation at all, but a 360 degree rotation is not? Is that even conceivable? We have different sorts of numbers, following different axioms, to model these alternate bits of physics. Why integers? Why not complex numbers? Or quaternions? Or numbers modulo 3? Then 2+2=1, and madness rules.

Our intuition about counting beans is *wrong* (although a damn good approximation!) Our selection of axioms is ‘wrong’, if we’re planning to use it for bean-counting. We could have asserted axioms for QFT number operators, instead. However, the basic reason we picked Peano-Jordan axioms as an interesting system to study was precisely and solely because they are simple and a very good approximation to the ‘number of particles’ property of quantum states. We think of the Peano-Jordan axioms as ‘obviously true’ because of physics. The world *doesn’t have* to be that way, and in fact isn’t.

In a somewhat different but related way, *computation* is a physical process, and what we can compute is actually a question of physics. What we can compute is a separate question to what is mathematically true. So we have the concept of ‘computable numbers’ which are the output of some algorithm, and because the algorithms are countable, and the Real numbers are not, we discover that *almost all* our numbers are inaccessible to computation! We can’t calculate with them. There are logicians who ask questions about whether they would be computable if the laws of physics were different. What if you could carry out ‘supertasks‘? What if you had a time machine? What if you had an ‘oracle’ that could do one specific sort of impossible computation – could you use it to then perform all the others?

Given a set of axioms and rules for manipulating them, all the logical consequences of them are *implicitly* defined, all at once. However, getting to them *explicitly* is a computational process. Theorem proving is physics, and what theorems you can prove depends on the laws of physics. So for example, if there is only a finite amount of time and space in the universe, you are time and memory limited in your proofs. Mathematics has to be proven in an actual physical brain, or computer, obeying the actual laws of physics. If performing the proof requires breaking the rules of physics, then it may well be true but there’s no way to know it.

Our entire logical framework, our choice of axioms, our ability to compute and prove theorems, are all constrained by the fact that we are thinking about it all on computers made of meat that are required to obey the laws of physics, largely for the purpose of modelling the physical world. Physics determines what maths is possible to do. It has a lot to say about what axioms are considered interesting or useful. Maths and physics are inextricably intertwined.

It’s a fun topic! And I’m sure it’s less annoying to have me going on about physics here for a few comments than some other things I could be arguing about. 🙂

]]>We pick axioms to align with the laws of physics as we understand them.

Ya what? You regard mathematics as sub-ordinate to physics? So, ultimately, you’re saying, let me get this right, that 2+2=4 because two beans plus another two beans equals a very small casserole?

Fuck that! Yes, I know ZFC (and it’s better than KFC but so is bowking one’s duodenum in a Leeds 7 gutter after an interesting ‘kebab’).

Mathematics is *truth by definition*. Physics isn’t. Physics has to be proven in the shop.

I would really like to discuss (what I think) is quite a statement – logic is derived from the physical Universe? Wanna do it privately? I bet Perry can exchange our email addresses in a way that means neither of us gets a 2.5m “Love Cuddles” Sex-Panda from Wuhan Plasticionics.

]]>Generally, and somewhat responding the Niall (as I commented over on Raedwald’s blog):

If people are not dying much and not suffering much from serious long-term morbidities, the social, entertainment and tourist industries are more likely to recover – and sooner.

Is that something that anti-lockdown enthusiasts might appreciate, as a short-term or medium-term benefit. []

Remember that I am arguing here for short-term (or at least November-ish) anti-virals and NPIs. []

On those anti-virals and NPIs, it needs to be remembered that many to most of them will have undesirable (mostly) longer-term side effects. It is those that need to be traded against the short-term Covid-19 suppression benefit and the earlier and fuller lifting of lockdown. An example of this is therapeutic nicotine. []

Keep safe and best regards

]]>