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]

Samizdata quote of the day

No country has ever improved the health of its population by making itself poorer.

Dr John Lee.

9 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • There is an argument for ‘saving’ the economy by letting rip the effect of COVID-19, which would mostly but not entirely affect the old. This justified to an extent because the old are unproductive, or much less productive, than those of working age.

    Is this not eugenics?

    First they came for the old, …

    Keep safe and best regards

  • Mr Ecks

    CCPvirus is a damp squib flu. It isn’t going to mass kill anybody including the old. A few yes but not mass anything.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Is this not eugenics?

    No, because a proper and entirely feasible, non-insane policy to deal with COVID or indeed the flu would be to protect the vulnerable rather than an indiscriminate approach.

    The policy of much of the West has reminded me of RAF “area bombing” during WW2. We were unable to hit precise targets, so instead we flattened Germany instead.

  • Ferox

    A point I made to my cousin on the phone tonight: KungFlu has turned out to be Super-Concentrated Global Warming in a Can™ as far as the relevant policy-makers are concerned. It’s their opportunity to finally achieve all the controls and centralization they have been seeking for the last 70+ years at least, and without having to wait or to get the approval of the proles first.

    Whatever might have been prudent or warranted by the data is irrelevant now; now it’s clearly about control and extending that control into the future.

  • Mr Ed

    Is this not eugenics?

    No, it is not eugenics, as it is based on age and hence time, not genetics. And it does not exclude the possibility of taking steps to protect the elderly by simple steps, unlike steps such as sending Covid-19 patients from hospital back into their care homes, which was official NHS policy in March 2020. Almost the equivalent of catapulting dead animals over the wall of a besieged city, not a direct act of killing but doing all that you could to ensure that disease spreads, the intent in the siege being clear, the intent not so clear here and more likely to be reckless or callous disregard by our NHS for life.

    Eugenics could be putting certain staff in the ‘front line’ in dealing with Covid-19 on the basis of their race, which appears to have been floated, on the basis of greater susceptibility to Covid-19 amongst certain ethnic groups, although it might not always be genetic factors behind the susceptibility. That would be direct discrimination on the basis of race, which is always unlawful regardless of the intent or motive.

  • In the linked article at the Spectator (in Section 3 We don’t know if lockdown is working), Dr John Lee states:

    But Sweden’s model of voluntary social distancing seems equally effective, but with much lower costs.

    Concerning the different effects of government policy in Sweden and the UK, also Germany and the UK, I see there is another potential explanation of why the UK does worse with lockdown than Sweden does without; also the UK doing worse than Germany with similar lockdown policy. The evidence for this is starting to arrive, not least with the technical paper OpenSAFELY: factors associated with COVID-19-related hospital death in the linked electronic health records of 17 million adult NHS patients published a few days ago (hat-tip to Marginal Revolution). In that paper, the most relevant bits I have found are (i) in Table 2, the part on page 9; (ii) towards the bottom of the left column on page 1. Current smokers have a COVID-19 death rate that is only 88% of that of never-smokers; presumably that is reflected also in a reduced chance of (full-blown and long-winded) infectiousness. It should also be noted that ex-smokers are more at risk of death (with rate 1.25 times that of never-smokers); thus smoking is likely to have both current good effect and bad effect based on (presumably) cumulative past damage. [Aside: if you are giving up smoking, you might like to consider the relative merits of vaping and nicotine patches – in terms of poison in the dose mechanism (for the virus present in the trachea and upper lungs). Though if you already have severe respiratory disease, consulting your doctor on this would undoubtedly be best.]

    So there is an argument to be made that smoking – or more specifically nicotine intake – is (somewhat significantly) protective against infection by the coronavirus. It is more common to ignore this in comparing the lockdown policies of otherwise similar nation states in similar geographical zones (eg UK and Sweden, northern hemisphere temperate zone, population density with London somewhat disadvantaging the UK). Improving on this by using knowledge of potential nicotine protection, we have:
    – Sweden smoking proportions: male 17.5%; female 17.6%
    – Germany smoking proportions: male 30.7%; female 27.7%
    – UK smoking proportions: male 17.3%; female 15.9%

    Going further there is this stuff called snus (a bag of moist smokeless tobacco product, sucked on in the front of the mouth), of which the Swedes are inordinately fond. So for that (and any German and UK smokeless equivalence) we find in Table 2 and Figure 1:
    – Sweden smokeless intake population proportions: male 24.0%; female 7.0%
    – Germany smokeless intake population proportions: male 3.4%; female 3.4%
    – UK smokeless intake population proportions: male 1.6%; female 0.5%

    Combining all this, including the boys and the girls, and ignoring overlap of smoking/smokeless behaviour (which has support elsewhere) gives:
    – Sweden tobacco nicotine takers: 33.1%
    – Germany tobacco nicotine takers: 32.6%
    – UK tobacco nicotine takers: 17.7%
    [Aside: Note that Norway too has a high level of smokeless tobacco consumption.]

    So, by rather simple but probably OK modelling, the Swedish ‘herd protection level’ is around 1.87 times that of the UK (and not the smoking only ratio of 1.06), and the Rt/R0 ratio is scaled down by a factor of around 0.81 times. This is just from the nicotine intake, and a very useful counterweight to the UK’s more stringent lockdown policy – whatever that might contribute. The equivalent figures for Germany compared to the UK are the possibly nicotine ‘herd protection level’ being 1.84 times greater for Germany and the Rt/R0 ratio being better for Germany by a scaling factor of 0.82

    It would be useful to have more analysis on the extent to which the nicotine effect is present. Is it the full effect assumed above, or has it some partial effect in between – with the rest covered by other causes including compulsory or optional protective measures?

    What does strikes me however is that it would be extremely imprudent for the UK to consider the relative effectiveness of various lockdown policies (especially based on relative success in Sweden and Germany) without taking into account the influence (initial condition herd immunity and partial prophylaxis) of smoking/smokeless nicotine consumption.

    Keep safe and best regards

  • This is a bookmark for a long technical comment on COVID-19 policy. Currently in moderation, so do please come back.

    Keep safe and best regards

  • David Michael Lansdell

    Disease is all around us and has been since the advent of time, we have made huge steps forward in medicine, but natural selection survival of the fittest is always in play. If as some here have hinted at that we are being corralled and controlled like livestock, and the covid hysteria is being used to keep us under control now and into the future for political power. Well if that is the case its a self defeating prophecy, there will always be enough people who will resist and bring down the would be controllers. Once this pantomime is over there needs to be a start on that; beginning with the eco-maniacs; green zealots, lack lustre politicians and the hoards of talking heads and overblown so called experts. The system exists because we the people exist, the control and sovereignty is vested in us “Joe Public”, we need to remind the establishment of that fact, all day every day; day on day……..

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Nigel Segewick the “lockdown” has not protected the old – far from it, the virus has cut the old down the care homes, in droves.

    And before you bring up Sweden – the “soft euthanasia” policy is Sweden has nothing to do with lack of a “lockdown”, it is about denying real TREATMENT to the old (often even denying oxygen)

    There is no evidence that non “lockdown” States in the United States have higher death rates than “lockdown” States – if anything the evidence is THE OTHER WAY ROUND even taking account of the more rural nature of non “Lockdown” States.

    “Keep Safe” – please no more of this Baby Talk Sir.

    “Best Regards” – you are no friend of liberty Sir and, therefore, you are no friend of ours. Please do not give out your insincere “best regards”.

    My Worse Regards to you Sr.

    After almost two months of “lockdown” I am in no mood to humour people like you. So you keep your “Keep Safe” and “Best Regards” to yourself Sir.

    I am very well aware that your language is a calculated effort to provoke (what is called “trolling”) – congratulations Sir, you succeeded.