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What would you have done?

A guest post from Sandy Wallace

No-one from a nation that has never endured occupation should ever presume to sit in judgement on how vigorously those who have been occupied should have resisted occupation. I now realise that I too would have at best acquiesced to the occupation. Had I been in power, with my salary and pension dependent on my decision, I might have collaborated.

When Rishi Sunak announced his first great rescue package including the guarantee of 80% salary to anyone furloughed due to CoViD19, I took to my bed for six hours. I had only just got up after 8 hours sleep. When I returned to my computer I faced a wall of approval, from writers and commentators I considered to be to my right politically. He had just privatised the British state, without recourse to Parliament and he was the hero of the hour. I looked to see who would argue against the trashing of the economy for a generation. Douglas Carswell seemed to be my De Gaulle, but in truth he did little more than murmur doubts. There were many more Petains. At my minor level, I examined my position. As a Councillor elected as a Conservative who had resigned from the party at the height of May’s Brexit betrayal, leaving a pro-Remain and pro-Big Government Scottish Conservative Party, whose ruling Council administration group preferred if at all possible to give all power to our minority LibDem partners, I had been close to presenting a rival council budget proposal, a shadow quasi Conservative budget full of cuts to front line services to permit investment in capital projects. I had dropped my plans as CoViD now made my grandstanding seem self-indulgent rather than politically provocative. I sighed with relief at my near miss. I had misjudged the mood. Nobody cared about the principles of living within your means, of planning for the future. All that mattered was getting through the day.

Then my own daily travails interrupted. My two day a week sojourn at B&Q would be paid at 80% while I sat at home and got on with my hobby degree. As a school run taxi driver, I had asked to take three months off to focus on that degree. Now I would be paid 80% of what I would have earned based on what I earned last year. My degree funding was not only secure, the nod and wink indicated that even if I submitted no work I would still get nodded through to second year. My pay as a Councillor is unaffected. My wife, a senior nurse, and younger daughter, a junior nurse, were looking at unlimited overtime and public adulation. My elder daughter, a student, was now assured passage into third year. It dawned on me that with no travel costs and no eating out the future looked rosy. I took up camp with my elder daughter in her flat in a lovely village with pleasant country walks and a well-stocked Co_op.

I looked again at the decisions of the Johnson government. Should they have followed my instincts? No lockdown. Shield the elderly and the vulnerable, like my elder daughters immuno-deficient boyfriend, but let all normal life continue. Let the virus rip. Let the football league play out its conclusion and more to the point let out beloved Dundee Stars Elite Ice Hockey Club break our hearts and miss the playoffs. Such a government would probably have fallen within days, battered by the broadcast media, backbench rebellion and a nation that preferred to be kept safe from the unknown that they feared. Had they survived the month, then the elderly who by choice refused to be shielded would have pitched up in their thousands at A&E, to be faced with experienced nurses like my wife who triaged them on the doorstep and sent many of them home to die, to preserve the ICU beds for those who could be saved. Instead of admitting them so that they could die with every bit as much certainty. Had he survived the first month, Johnson would have fallen regardless and nation would be traumatised by the memory of grandparents sent home to die

Had I been in his shoes, I too would have sued for peace. My nation demanded it of me. I would have convinced myself it was the right thing and when the chest pain and cough arrived, I would have felt relief that I had made the correct call. I would have looked at the Malice of Piers Morgan and convinced myself that I was still moderate. I would have dismissed the feeble objections of lunatic libertarians.

When it’s over we can shave the heads of a few easy victims and vilify a few who enjoyed it too much. But I collaborated too.

70 comments to What would you have done?

  • Itellyounothing

    A worthy and honest reflection.

    I still fear instead of 80% salary for no work, in a few months it will be 100% hours with 50% of 2019 disposable income to pay for this.

    How did the Swedes do so much better than we?

    Is it because the press love their government and want it in power?

    Would a 1997 Tony Blair have the necessary freedom to act beyond press limitations?

  • Mr Ecks

    I saw the whole thing as shite from day one and have largely ignored it–apart from the 8 foot thing and that was solely not to set off any bedwetter freak outs. Main prob has been nowhere much to go because everybody is at home watching their jobs and businesses die in front of their –closed–eyes.

    I have told as many as poss that it is a damp squib–but the Glass Toilet is where many get their thoughts from so likely little success. The adverts are a foul mess of agit-prop esp the one with the voice of Marxist jailbird Ricky Myarse.

    But I am not a collaborator. I have been on every media I can saying it was ruinous crap almost from Day One.

    BTW–did those mass deaths several commentators on here warned off ever actually show up?

    When the deceitful “from” and “with” trickery is filtered out it will be seen as the bad winter flu it is.

  • Stonyground

    It still surprises me that the old media still have so much influence. The newspapers especially seem to be totally discredited as a source of information about pretty much anything.

    Living out in the country I have had zero contact with the current wave of over zealous policing. I like to think that I would offer some push back if confronted with a police officer who was clearly out of order in some way. But being honest with myself I’m not sure that I would. In any case, that kind of resistance would only be of use if everyone did it.

  • bobby b

    One out-of-country question: Do the known numbers support her parade of horribles?

  • Mr Ed

    Stonyground

    It still surprises me that the old media still have so much influence. The newspapers especially seem to be totally discredited as a source of information about pretty much anything.

    I think that the problem is that the political class live in a media bubble and only see the world through the prism of the media “How does this look in the media?” if you like, rather than anything else. The voters and their views simply don’t count to the politicians, and why should they? They can forget about them for 4.5 years until the next General Election.

    And of the voters, I suspect that many people (more than enough for the politicians’ purposes) believe ‘the Government’ and assume it has lots of knowledge and wise, disinterested advisers, and that it acts in good faith, even if they don’t trust the politicians as individuals.

    Someone kindly name me a politician you would be happy to lend your car to. For me, only Nigel Farage or Douglas Carswell.

  • John B

    It will be OK until the money runs out just as Socialist Britain was OK, everyone with a job, everyone living at somebody else’s expense, post-1945 until the money ran out.

    National Socialism is back in vogue, in practice if not name, around Europe as borders close, economies are socialised, business remains in private hands but, along with the workforce, directed by the State to serve the interests of the State. Don’t forget, ‘lockdown’ was to ‘protect’ the State institution the NHS.

  • No-one from a nation that has never endured occupation should ever presume to sit in judgement on how vigorously those who have been occupied should have resisted occupation.

    On the contrary, those whose morals are uncorrupted by temptations to excuse a past of complicity should be strongly encouraged to judge. WWII was victors’ justice – and far more just than if the complicit had been told to judge each other.

    (I understand the point the writer was trying to make in the bit I quoted, but the pedant in me could not let it pass.)

  • I think the article misses its mark because the better analogy is not at all with foreign occupation but with our UK government’s restrictions of liberty in emergencies past. Consider, for example, Churchill (Boris’ hero):

    (WWII, Vol IV, Appendix C, re some proposals for some additional petty rationing regulations): “it would be unwise to embark upon a lot of fussy restrictions in order to give, or try to give, satisfaction to the Fleet Street journalists, who are exempted from military service, have no burden of responsibility to bear, and live in the restaurants of the Strand.”

    On the one hand, the WWII danger was incredibly real, whereas there is far more room for debate about today’s. On the other hand, the British public needed five full years postwar experience of just how additionally petty the rationing regulations could become when Labour was making them, unhindered by Churchill’s common sense, before (by the skin of our teeth in the 1951 election) deciding that enough was enough. And that was not because excess only began post-war, as if Britain during WWII had no rules that were already excessive, ill-considered and/or ill-administered.

    That said, the OP gets absolutely right the way in which lack of more urgent demand for reopening reflects the fact that while some are working harder and are more stressed, many are still enjoying the holiday, catching up on neglected gardening and not experiencing immediate poverty.

  • APL

    In fact, COVID-19 will go down as one of the political world’s biggest, most shamefully overblown, overhyped, overly and irrationally inflated and outright deceptively flawed responses to a health matter in American history, one that was carried largely on the lips of medical professionals who have no business running a national economy or government.

    Washington Times

  • Sandy Wallace

    I described Piers Morgan as The Milice, not the malice. Bloody autocorrect. It does not change the meaning.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “On the one hand, the WWII danger was incredibly real, whereas there is far more room for debate about today’s.”

    Yes. The UK death toll in World War II has been estimated to be around 450,000, over a period of about 5 years. 450,000/(5×365) would be 246 deaths per day, on average. So the recent peak was about three or four times the average death rate of World War II, but obviously of much shorter duration. The predictions for deaths if we hadn’t taken any precautions, but ignoring the impact of overloading the NHS on mortality, would have packed World War II into about three months. If you consider the effect of overloading the NHS might be anything from 2-fold to 10-fold, it could have been like two to ten World War II’s packed into a few months. So we decided to do something else instead.

    I agree, it’s important to have a debate about it.

  • Katy Hibbert

    The UK death toll in World War II has been estimated to be around 450,000, over a period of about 5 years.

    But was that deaths “from” WW2 or “with” WW2? If Wikipedia is right it’s “from” WW2, so would not include deaths from other causes. Coronavirus deaths as currently recorded include deaths “with” CV, and therefore many who would have died anyway, with or without it.

  • I described Piers Morgan as The Milice, not the malice (Sandy Wallace, May 4, 2020 at 3:46 pm)

    Very appropriate to your ‘occupation’ analogy, albeit a reference very few readers would get without looking it up.

    Autocorrect reminds me of an editor of an old science fiction magazine, of whom it was said that he edited bad stories into mediocre ones – and edited superb stories into mediocre ones. 🙂

  • neonsnake

    One out-of-country question: Do the known numbers support her parade of horribles?

    I don’t know if it’s possible – yet – to answer that. I can only assume and hope that in months and years to come, when we know more about it, then we will be able to answer it with more certainty. As it stands, there’s so much we don’t know, everything from transmission rates, to mortality rates, to whether “2m” is safe, not safe, or ridiculously overblown.

    The answers that everyone are coming to are inevitably tinged by personal morals/political bias/whether you like Boris or not/and every other modifier. In the UK, I think that the gamut ranges from “this is draconian” to “we should ban people from leaving their houses except if they’re wearing full hazmat suits” (Ok, I’m exaggerating for effect. I hope!) to “we acted too late and should have locked down earlier”, and of course…hindsight is…(wait for it)…2020!

    Sorry for the weak pun…

    If the number of new cases continues to drop, then some people will paint it as all overblown hysteria. However, it’s not unlikely (British understatement..) that the drop is caused by, I dunno – the current measures that partially prevent us from contracting the bloody thing.

    It’s a very tricky and delicate balance, and everyone is working with incomplete and imperfect information. I wouldn’t want to be in a position of making life-and-death situations, and am glad I’m not.

    When it’s over we can shave the heads of a few easy victims and vilify a few who enjoyed it too much. But I collaborated too.

    Call me a woke-scold and all that…but to compare people who went along with lock-down (largely for good faith reasons, possibly due to not wanting to expose immuno-compromised family members to an illness which might kill them in a reportedly really fucking horrible way) and also yes, those who went “You’re going to pay me to do nothing? Brilliant!” with actual Nazi collaborators…that’s, um, that’s a little bit overblown, shall we say.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But was that deaths “from” WW2 or “with” WW2?”

    Interesting question. Do the WWII statistics exclude people who died during bombing who would otherwise have died of a heart attack or traffic accident two days later? How can they tell?

  • Snorri Godhi

    What would I have done?
    ***With the benefit of hindsight***
    which obviously i did not have at the time, i would have:

    —-before the end of January:
    strictly limited all entry from China; and imposed a strict quarantine on all people coming in from China;

    —-before the end of February:
    * banned all major events and closed all schools, cinemas, theaters, indoor sports facilities, bars, restaurants (except for take-out) — and i might add a few with more thought;

    * required that people keep at a 2 meter/yard distance at all time when in public spaces, with exceptions for pairs of people, or couples with children — with fines imposed after a warning;

    * forbidden access to public transit or supermarkets to people without face masks — tasing people who violate this rule.

    —-
    Mr Wallace is to be complimented on his insight:

    Such a government would probably have fallen within days, battered by the broadcast media, backbench rebellion and a nation that preferred to be kept safe from the unknown that they feared.
    […]
    Had he survived the first month, Johnson would have fallen regardless and nation would be traumatised by the memory of grandparents sent home to die

    Indeed, a lockdown was politically unavoidable by late March.

    However, if Mr Wallace did not advocated the policies that i listed above before the end of February, then, with all due respect, he should hold himself jointly responsible for the lockdown.

  • Snorri Godhi

    How did the Swedes do so much better than we?

    How did the Brits become so delusionally insane?

    Sweden does not stink as badly as the UK, but it is still a shithole.

    Sweden is in the top 10 league when it comes to Xi virus deaths per million.

    Most other European countries with or without lockdown have done better than Sweden.

    All non-European countries have done better than Sweden. (Though the figures for China are questionable.)

  • Sandy Wallace

    You cannot tell yet if Sweden has better or worse figures than other nations, they willfully chose to take the hit earlier. That may yet prove to have been foolish or wise. Let’s look again in a years time

    Mr Wallace offered no views on the best policy in February, he was doing the jobs he is paid to do and qualified to do. Filling compost at the weekend, driving kids to school, writing a history essay and challenging planning officials. I had entrusted the security of the nation and the economy to the government.

  • Mr Ed

    Well it seems that someone is finally stepping forward to adumbrate legal action against the UK government by Thursday if the lockdown isn’t eased, Mr Simon Dolan.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Well it seems that someone is finally stepping forward to adumbrate legal action against the UK government by Thursday if the lockdown isn’t eased, Mr Simon Dolan.”

    Mmm. Looks a bit of a publicity stunt, to me. It’s not clear from the story what he thinks his case is.

    He says he wants the government to ease the lockdown – “This includes permitting gatherings of up to 100 people, reopening schools and reviewing the lockdown restrictions every two weeks.” So, what science are those based on, and on what legal basis does Mr Dolan get to decide government policy?

    “Lawyers seek to challenge the Government on three main points.

    Firstly, whether the lockdown is unlawful because the Government implemented regulations under the Public Health Act 1984 instead of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 or the Coronavirus Act 2020.”

    So far as I can see, the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 is designed for precisely this sort of situation, and appears to have the powers required.

    “Secondly over the legality of the continuation of lockdown regulation, and whether the tests are too narrow – failing to take account of the economic and social impacts of lockdown.”

    The only standard set by the law so far as I can see is that the Minister responsible considers it proportionate. There’s no requirement that anyone else agree with his reasoning. There’s certainly no requirement that they’ve got to publish the advice given to ministers.

    “The final challenge will evaluate if the restrictions contravene the European Convention of Human Rights, which cover the right to liberty, family life, education and property.”

    The ECHR specifically makes exceptions for a variety of overriding situations, including the control of infectious diseases. e.g. Article 5:

    “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law: […]

    (e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;”

    When the detail comes out, it will be interesting to see if they contain any more detailed legal arguments with any actual merit. But for the moment, it just looks like a way to guarantee what would otherwise be just some random businessman moaning about the lock-down will be splashed across the headline news every day for a couple of weeks.

    The difference is that Gina Miller had 48% of the voters, a majority of Parliament including the Speaker, and the Remainer London legal Establishment solidly on her side. This guy has less than 10% support, in a cause that a lot of the public are passionately, violently against.

    Well, there’s no doubt we live in Interesting Times.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Some group in Israel IS claiming to have made a major leap forward in neutralizing Covid-19!! Let’s watch the conspiracy theories multiply like exponentially!!!!!

  • APL

    NiV cites the ECHR, and accidently refutes the lawful-ness of the quarantine.

    “(e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;”

    The scope of the clause is clearly being stretched. The context strongly implies that the people that will be lawfully detained are those of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts and people capable or intending to spread infectious disease. i.e, classes of sick people.

    If you aren’t infected you aren’t ‘spreading the disease’. We have frequently in the past quarantined sick people. What you are advocating (and what is being implemented, without precedent) is that healthy people should be confined because there are some ill people in society.

  • APL

    Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray :”Some group in Israel IS claiming to have made a major leap forward in neutralizing Covid-19!! ”

    Yes the political pharmaceutical complex attempts to use the hysteria over this virulent strain of influenza, to make a billion taking advantage of the vulnerable and ‘gormless’ to pump them full of a cocktail of drugs that would normally have to go through an 18month testing regimen, in four months.

    Compare that time frame to the research on that other publicity stunt, AIDS, that paid the plush pensions of many ‘research’ executives for the last forty years. Result, no vaccine.

    Yea, I won’t be in the queue for that one thanks.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    In the story, it mentioned Ness Ziona, a city in Israel, and claimed that the Israeli Army was the sponsor. Yes, it could just be a claim, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was true. Let’s keep an open mind.

  • bobby b

    APL
    May 5, 2020 at 6:45 am

    “If you aren’t infected you aren’t ‘spreading the disease’.”

    Sure you are. You’re increasing the number of people at risk of being infected and moving about while perhaps being unknowingly already infected, which is more important than it sounds because of the exponential spread of the virus. You doing this could easily lead to hundreds more cases. This certainly satisfies the words of the statute : “(e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases.”

    There’s no intent-to-spread element in that sentence. They’re simply preventing you from providing another starting point to the virus pyramid-scheme propogation.

    (Note that I’m not saying “great law!” It isn’t. I’m just applying the words.)

  • APL (May 5, 2020 at 6:45 am), anyone listening to the vile rhetoric of hate speech law supporters and/or the implications of those laws, might think that evil intent was relevant. But in actual practice, especially the practice of those who talk about the alleged evil such laws were brought in to defeat, it is well-established that “intent can be irrelevant” – and the very people who most talk as if even criticising such laws shows an evil character are the ones who most act on the maxim that “intent can be irrelevant”.

    So I suggest that, whatever you might claim about the implication of the ECHR being to confine only those who intend to act self-centeredly by unreasonably ignoring the risk of infecting others, I think NiV will need no strange twist of logic to demonstrate that “intent can be irrelevant” – or indeed that the idea of unintentionally infecting someone with a fatal disease is much saner, much less deserving of ridicule, than the idea of unintentionally infecting someone’s mind with a fatal attitude.

    My wife is alive today because many centuries ago her direct ancestress got a message to her betrothed who then, riding like the wind, reached her castle (this is Scotland – it was a small thing more like a tower house) as the last exit was being walled up by the crowd to seal in the black-death-infected occupants, of which she was not yet one. She got out of a window onto his horse, his sword made locals think twice about enforcing the law against quarantine violaters, and then they went and lived alone in a forest for a legal period (a year and a day is what the records assert – seems longer than needed but laws then as now were sometimes overcautious) before returning to society. Ignoring intent when it comes to quarantine is not new. (Nor is ignoring the law in highland Scotland – usually for reasons less romantic.)

  • Paul Marks

    Treat the sick and let the healthy work.

    This is what was done during the Asian Flu of 1958-9.

    This was also done during the Honk Kong Flu of 1968-9.

    And it was even done in the 1919 pandemic.

    “But Paul there was Mass Death in all these cases”.

    Yes -and there has been Mass Death this time as well.

    The “lockdowns” have NOT prevented the spread of the virus – what they have done is smash the world economy, which will lead to many more deaths.

  • Paul Marks

    The government was not forced to do these dreadful things by Public Opinion – it manufactures this “Public Opinion”. And I do mean the real government (not the elected ministers who are just the star on top of the Christmas Tree) – the establishment bureaucracy, “experts”, and the “Woke” Big Business Corporations that are joined-at-the-hip with the government. See all the political pro “lockdowns” adverts – “Ofcom” has no problem with all these political campaign adverts from commercial companies (any more than it has with all the “Diversity” political campaigning by the “Woke” Corporations for years now). Professor Chomsky was half correct – consent is “manufactured”, but the consent is for the policies of the LEFT.

    “I did not want to destroy the economy – Pubic Opinion MADE me destroy the economy, I would have been driven from Office had I not destroyed the economy”.

    Pull the other one – it has got bells on. As the establishment CREATED this “Public Opinion”.

    The only worse bit of this mixture of comedy and tragedy – is “we have SAVED LIVES” – the ultimate lie in this blood soaked farce.

    Lives have NOT been saved – on the contrary this establishment policy will cost many lives.

    And, by the way, there seems to be oddly little interest in effectively treating the sick.

    Why?

    Why are all suggestions, from medical doctors, for more effective treatment of the sick rejected either with silence – or with sneering.

    If the objective really was to “SAVE LIVES” all treatments suggested by medical doctors would be tried.

    But they are NOT tried – at least not in Britain, or in many of the big (government influenced) hospitals in the United States.

  • APL

    bobby b: “Sure you are. You’re increasing the number of people at risk of being infected and moving about while perhaps being unknowingly already infected

    Nope.If you are not infected, you are no risk to anyone, and therefor there is no legal justification for restricting the right of association an healthy person.

    We have good cause to think, that 80% of the population may have already seroconverted. They too, are no risk to anyone. Restricting those people’s free movement and freedom of association, is also a violation of human rights.

    NiV: “I think NiV will need no strange twist of logic to demonstrate that “intent can be irrelevant ..”

    And he/she already has made that case. Which I whole heartedly oppose.

  • APL

    NiV: “I think NiV will need no strange twist of logic to demonstrate that “intent can be irrelevant ..”

    Niall Kilmartin:** “I think NiV will need no strange twist of logic to demonstrate that “intent can be irrelevant ..”

    And he/she already has made that case. Which I whole heartedly oppose.

    **apologies for the incorrect attribution.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “If the objective really was to “SAVE LIVES” all treatments suggested by medical doctors would be tried. But they are NOT tried – at least not in Britain”

    So far as I know, they ARE being tried. There are medical trials going on in both Britain and the USA right now.

    Is your complaint that they’re not routinely using treatments that haven’t been shown to work? You do understand that if you give people a drug that doesn’t actually work, the side-effects could make the illness worse and end up killing even more people?

    “Nope.If you are not infected, you are no risk to anyone, and therefor there is no legal justification for restricting the right of association an healthy person.”

    If you are 100% certain you are not infected, then you are no risk to anyone. If you are only 80% certain, then you are a 20% risk. The concept of ‘risk’ includes your uncertainty.

    I would agree that if people can be 100% certain they don’t have it, then under the Harm Principle there can be no justification for stopping them going out and making contact with other people. They’re only hurting themselves, which they’re entitled to do. Of course, the moment they make contact with anyone else, they can no longer be certain.

    In my comment above, I wasn’t defending the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 or the ECHR – simply noting what they said, and that on the face of it Mr Dolan doesn’t appear to have a case.

    But I’d note that not even the Harm Principle makes ‘intent’ the issue. You can legitimately have restrictions to prevent unintended harm to others. And there’s a legal standard of “reckless disregard” for the safety of others, too.

    “We have good cause to think, that 80% of the population may have already seroconverted.”

    Even in hotspots like New York it’s only 20%. Most other places it’s estimated to be around 1-5%. (And while it seems very likely, we don’t actually know for sure that people can’t catch it again. Or spread it without themselves showing symptoms.)

    If we were all at 80%, people would have already stopped dying.

  • APL

    NiV: “They’re only hurting themselves, which they’re entitled to do.”

    Off Topic but it amuses me.

    You are of course not entitled to hurt yourself in English Law, a precedent set, I think when a group of sadomasochists got together and thought a great way to pass the time would be to drive sharp implements through their genitalia.

    In principle, I don’t disagree and probably the court was wrong in this case.

    I can’t be bothered to look for a link, it may have been a case during the 90’s before the internet really took off.

  • Snorri Godhi

    You cannot tell yet if Sweden has better or worse figures than other nations, they willfully chose to take the hit earlier. That may yet prove to have been foolish or wise. Let’s look again in a years time

    That is what i used to say until a couple of weeks ago, but here in Estonia the number of infected people is declining, and the deaths per million (PFR: population fatality rate) are at 1/7th of the Swedish PFR.
    If people keep dying at the rate of the last couple of months (and they aren’t), it will take about 14 months to reach the Swedish PFR TODAY.
    By that time, treatments and perhaps a vaccine should be available.

    And of course the Swedish death count will also increase. By the time Sweden reaches herd immunity, the Swedish PFR could be as high as in Bergamo province, i.e. more than 20 times the Swedish PFR today.

    You might say that more people will die in Estonia when the lockdown is lifted, but the lockdown cannot be lifted in Estonia because there isn’t any. There are some of the measures that i listed in my previous comment.

    But i agree, we should all be ready to reassess our armchair speculations a year from now.

    Mr Wallace offered no views on the best policy in February, he was doing the jobs he is paid to do and qualified to do. […] I had entrusted the security of the nation and the economy to the government.

    Quite right! But since you wrote that you ‘collaborated’, i speculated that maybe you could have done more.

  • APL

    Snorri Godhi: “treatments and perhaps a vaccine should be available.”

    Treatments are available now.

    Snorri Godhi: “You might say that more people will die in Estonia when the lockdown is lifted,”

    I don’t know about Estonia, but the hysteria in the UK was all about ‘flattening’ the curve, given that the area under the curve will still be the same, it was nothing to do with lessening the death toll.

    ‘Flattening the curve’ and avoiding ‘overloading the NHS’ when in fact what has actually happened, is normal case load has been dropped, and many staff and NHS facilities have been idle, coming nowhere near capacity. But we’re still going to see the same number of deaths as a result of COVID-19.

  • APL (May 5, 2020 at 2:34 pm), I’m in more agreement with your last paragraph than with your first.

    There was never anything innately absurd about the theory of flattening the curve to the maximum the available health care could handle. Arguing against any given degree of lockdown should not deny that in the abstract, or in the concrete case of the black death or similar, the theory has its application. The same number of cases will lead to more deaths if they arrive so fast that some get triaged than if they arrive over time and each gets full care. It’s an empirical, data-driven question how far it applies in a given case.

    However that very theory says we should avoid underusing the available health care – we should avoid growing herd immunity slower than we could. Given the potential for a two week lag in effects, I can quite see why the authorities might fear a ‘nearly every bed occupied’ scenario, but the very theory that justifies lockdown justifies saying we should not lockdown so hard as to underuse available (and now seriously increased) capacity. Significant unused heath care should be telling the health analysts to lighten up on lockdown, quite apart from considering the economic issues, weeding regulations that are unreasonable even in their own terms, etc.

  • Snorri Godhi

    APL, Niall: you are missing the point.
    What the Boris gov. did late in March, and why, is a minor detail.
    The main story is what the Boris gov. did NOT do late in February or, at the latest, early in March.

    After that IN-action, huge economic damage AND huge loss of life was unavoidable. But it looks like Boris acted soon enough to avoid a loss of life comparable to Bergamo province, which would have meant about 400K deaths in the UK.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Incidentally, it is not true that Sweden “did nothing”. True, the Swedish government issued only very minor restrictions. But the Swedish people were scared enough so that movie theaters lost 99% of the audience, and half of Swedes now work at home. THAT is why Sweden is doing better than the UK. (Not by much.)

    Now i ask you, would the Swedes have been scared into this if twits like DeBlasio had told them to go and enjoy a night on the town, like he told New Yorkers?

    From the Fount of All Knowledge:

    Government officials including Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven, as well as the Public Health Agency of Sweden have encouraged each individual to take responsibility for their own health and the health of others.

    Has Boris Johnson encouraged Brits to take responsibility for their own health and the health of others? Doesn’t look like it from where i am looking.

    And still, almost all countries in the world have PFRs less than half that of Sweden. And most US States, too. And many of these Countries/States have achieved this w/o lockdowns, only with EARLY distancing measures stricter than Sweden’s.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Incidentally, if you think that sometimes my tone becomes scathing, you are probably right.

    But not by comparison to Nassim Taleb.

    Though in this specific case, i submit that ‘dangerous imbecile’ is a fair assessment, possibly even an understatement:
    The imbecile compared jobs lost to lives lost, instead of comparing jobs lost to lives SAVED. (Which of course he cannot possibly estimate at the moment.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “However that very theory says we should avoid underusing the available health care – we should avoid growing herd immunity slower than we could.”

    An excellent point, well worth discussing!

    If the plan is to go for herd immunity, as it was originally before the lockdown, then this is true. You want to track the maximum capacity of the health service – with a little headroom to deal with uncertainties and lags – and keep R0 = 1 at that level to get through the pandemic as rapidly as possible. The scenarios in the Imperial paper did indeed discuss turning the lockdown on and off to bounce along just under the capacity level. However, I think since then some of the implications of that policy have had a chance to sink in, and they’ve changed their mind.

    For one thing, they’ve realised that even doing this fast-as-we-can-without-overwhelming-the-NHS approach, it’s still going to take a long time. If you could get herd immunity in 3 months and go back to normal, it’s an enormous saving compared to maintaining the lockdown until a vaccine comes along. But given that the last month has only infected about 5% of the population, at a cost of 30,000 dead, we’re going to have to do that 10-15 times to get to the 50-75% we need for herd immunity, which at that rate could take 10-15 months. Probably a bit less, since capacity would still be increasing, and you would be able to let up gradually as partial herd immunity started to kick in, but it’s still not going to be all that far short of waiting for the vaccine, which could (being very optimistic) start to come on stream around the autumn this year. Moreover, it would likely result in 10-15 times the number of deaths – about 300,000 – which is basically what was originally predicted with shielding of the vulnerable.

    If you got to the end of that ordeal (both R = 1 lockdown and maximum load), with 300,000 dead, and a cure or vaccine turns up on schedule, someone is bound to point out that if you had just got the infections down and then done the same R = 1 measures for the same time, you could have got the same outcome at virtually the same economic cost, but with 270,000 fewer deaths. That’s not going to look good, politically.

    Secondly, a number of the measures for modifying lockdown depend on highly manpower-intensive targeting of measures at new cases – testing, track-and-trace, limited localised isolation just in the hotspots. With a thousand new cases a day, that’s a pretty big job. With 10,000 new cases a day, it’s massive, and massively more disruptive. Instead of isolating perhaps 10 x 1,000 contacts a day for all the people infected, you’re tracking and isolating 10 x 10,000.

    If there are less intrusive targeted measures you can take that only work with low numbers of new cases, but which would enable you to drop more other constraints elsewhere, like allowing more shops to open, you can keep R0 = 1 for long periods with much less economic damage if you get the numbers down first.

    Slowing the infection rate gives you more time to think, more time to do research, more time to learn and get smarter about it, more time to hope for a better answer to turn up. You can still change your mind and speed up the infection rate later, returning to the herd immunity strategy if needed. But you make that decision with more information, more experience, more capacity.

    In their presentations on the question, they have emphasised the second issue, and avoided any discussion of the longer term. But I’m sure the first issue will be near the front of the politicians’ minds.

  • Paul Marks

    Nullius please check what you write before you write it.

    I know that sounds patronising, and I have no desire to be rude. But you really should reconsider SOME of what you are writing at this stage.

    Specific treatments, combining existing medicines, were suggested for early use – by various medical doctors.

    Far from getting behind this, the establishment did everything they could to sabotage it. Some Governors in the United States even made it illegal (under their demented orders) for doctors to use these treatments outside hospitals (and guess who controls the hospitals).

    I could go on, but it is pointless. You could find all this stuff out yourself (it is not hard).

    As for the “lockdown” policy – anyone can make mistake (I make many mistakes), but to PERSIST with a mistake is not good.

    The “lockdown” policy is now discredited around the world, it has caused terrible harm, and that also means many deaths (many yet to come with the economic harm it has caused).

    Although that is NOT to say that some anti lockdown countries have not also done very bad things.

    For example, serious charges have emerged that the Swedish government is actively discouraging the use of oxygen for the elderly – because, the charges allege, the Swedish government just does not care if the elderly (“stale and pale”) people die. It is not just the “usual suspects” in Sweden who are making these charges – but at least one senior medical doctor.

    Let us hope these charges are not true.

    Here the charge is incompetence and pigheadedness – in Sweden something much worse has been alleged.

    To use morphine to keep the elderly quiet and unresisting as they die, and to deny oxygen, knowing that oxygen might save them – that, if true, would be homicide.

    Mass homicide of the “pale and stale” allegedly (allegedly) encouraged by the Swedish goverment.

    Again let us hope the charges are NOT true.

  • APL

    And the moral of this COVID-19 story is that you should ‘get it’ early, then ‘get it’ again while the nations husbands are under house arrest.

    Question: Knowing he’s ‘had it’ should Neil Ferguson have resigned? Since he is immune to COVID, he could just ignore the law and plough his own furrow?

    Or was his crime, getting caught?

    It’s becoming quite a trend, government medical officers ordering us plebs, under house arrest, but doing whatever the hell they like.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nullius please check what you write before you write it.”

    You too!

    “Specific treatments, combining existing medicines, were suggested for early use – by various medical doctors. Far from getting behind this, the establishment did everything they could to sabotage it.”

    That’s NOT TRUE.

    The problem is that there are a lot of things being tried, the people testing them don’t know what they’re doing statistically, and in these circumstances you get a lot of false positives. If a hundred people try a hundred varieties of snake oil, a number of them will get positive results purely by chance. 5% of the results will be ‘significant’ at the 95% level purely by chance. So whenever you get an early observation like this, you always have to replicate the experiment and confirm the result in a proper randomised double-blind trial. Otherwise, you’re in danger of prescribing drugs that not only don’t work, but have damaging side-effects and killing more people than you save.

    So when people have proposed these medicines, the medical authorities have been VERY interested, and have immediately rushed through large scale trials to TEST the effect and see if it’s true. What they have NOT done is rushed them into service with no evidence that they’re not killing more people than they save. If it turns out they work, you can say WITH HINDSIGHT that lives have been lost by the delay. If they don’t work, then lives would have been saved.

    That’s why the rules are as they are. Treatments that have not been tested for safety and effectiveness are not allowed, except in carefully controlled trials where the ethical issues of potentially lethal experimentation on humans have been handled, because most such initial ideas and proposals will be blind alleys. But they do very much want to find the ones that DO work, and they DO take all proposals very seriously.

    They are NOT ignoring it. They are NOT rejecting them out of hand. They ARE doing large scale trials on any drug or treatment that shows promise.

    “I could go on, but it is pointless. You could find all this stuff out yourself (it is not hard).”

    I often think so. But I keep trying anyway.

    “As for the “lockdown” policy – anyone can make mistake (I make many mistakes), but to PERSIST with a mistake is not good.”

    So why do you persist?

    “The “lockdown” policy is now discredited around the world, it has caused terrible harm, and that also means many deaths (many yet to come with the economic harm it has caused).”

    It’s NOT discredited. Most governments still believe in it. Most epidemiologists still believe in it. Most of the general public still believe in it. There’s a small number (less than 10% in the UK, probably a bit more but still a minority in the USA) who don’t, and are hunting out and sharing any evidence they can find to support their beliefs.

    And there’s nothing at all wrong with them doing so. Science relies for its validity on surviving sceptical challenge, so a group of people systematically challenging its every claim is GOOD. It stops assumptions being left unexamined, reducing the chance of fatal mistakes. (And unlike the climate scientists, this lot aren’t trying to shut the opposition down.) But you shouldn’t delude yourself about how much of a minority your view is in. Yes, there are lots of people around the world who don’t agree, but there are still about ten times as many people around the world who do.

    It’s not hard to understand. The disease appears to cause serious symptoms in about 10% of cases requiring hospitalisation (including many younger people), but with hospital treatment only about 1% die, mainly the old and ill. If left unchecked, it spreads so fast that you quickly get more cases than any health service can cope with. (And so if untreated, instead of 1% you could potentially see up to 10% of the population dying.) In the UK it was initially increasing 10-fold every week. If it’s allowed to continue expanding unchecked, it’s very likely that millions would die.

    The UK death toll in World War II has been estimated to be around 450,000, over a period of about 5 years. 450,000/(5×365) would be 246 deaths per day, on average. So the recent peak was about three or four times the average death rate of World War II, but obviously of much shorter duration. The predictions for deaths if we hadn’t taken any precautions, but ignoring the impact of overloading the NHS on mortality, would have packed World War II into about three months. If you consider the effect of overloading the NHS might be anything from 2-fold to 10-fold, it could have been like two to ten World War II’s packed into a few months. So we decided to do something else instead.

    As far as everyone else is concerned, that outcome HAS to be avoided, and so we HAVE to reduce the R0 reproduction rate. Now, there are multiple possibilities here. If the number of infections is both very small and can be quickly located, there may be ways to target isolation on the hotspots. If most people avoid contact voluntarily, then it doesn’t need to be enforced by law. If you’ve got enough PPE (we don’t) you could issue it to everyone. If you’ve got antibody tests that can confirm immunity (we don’t), that can help. The lockdown is only one method. But it’s known to be very effective, and when the epidemic is spreading rapidly 10-fold a week and the lesser measures you tried earlier are obviously not working, you don’t have time to mess around.

    When the first anouncements were made asking for social distancing, Sweden’s case rate expansion dropped from 10-fold a week to 10-fold in five weeks, a fifth of what it was, and kept dropping. They isolated themselves voluntarily. In the UK, it only dropped from 10-fold a week to 10-fold in a week-and-a-half. That’s nothing like enough. So they introduced the lockdown.

    R0 in the UK was initially about 4, meaning every infection led to 4 more. (R0 started at around 2 in Sweden, so they also had a smaller problem initially to deal with.) You have to drop the number of contacts between people more than 4-fold to get the numbers to subside, and then just 4-fold to hold it there. Such a big drop requires a major change to the way be live. That much is absolutely necessary. The lockdown did that.

    But if you’ve got an alternative proposal for reducing R0, and evidence to support its effectiveness, let’s hear it.

    But besides that, you seem to be working yourself up into an emotional vortex of pessimism and depression and doom-saying that I doubt is doing you any good. I’m sympathetic, but I don’t think the worry is warranted, and I suspect all the worrying is doing you harm. I care about that. Which is why I’m arguing with you, in the hopes that I can get through to you and put your fears to rest. It IS a serious global problem but there are effective ways we can keep the death toll down. It’s going to be a painful process for quite a few months while we work through it, but we’re rich enough as a nation that we can afford the price. And we can bounce back after, like green shoots after the forest fire. Have a little faith in your nation’s strength and resilience.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I was tempted to be the first to reply to Paul Marks, but i waited for Nullius to take a first shot.
    Nullius and yours truly have different styles. Let’s see which style is more effective with Paul Marks.

    —-WRT treatments:
    Paul is under the impression that the most stupid Governors in the US can stop use of treatments in the entire world.

    The reality is very different, as Paul could have found out on Wikipedia:

    Chloroquine has been approved by Chinese, South Korean and Italian health authorities for the experimental treatment of COVID-19
    […]
    On March 28, 2020 the FDA authorized the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

    And just today, this via Instapundit.

    —-WRT the fantasy that lockdowns “do not work”:
    Paul, how do you explain that deaths (in hospital) per day in the UK peaked between April 7 and April 10, about the time they were expected to peak if the lockdown is effective?

    And how do you explain that, in March, there have been zero excess deaths in Southern Italy, while deaths in Bergamo province were over 500% above average?

    (There is a way out of this. Let’s see if Paul finds it.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    When the first anouncements were made asking for social distancing, Sweden’s case rate expansion dropped from 10-fold a week to 10-fold in five weeks, a fifth of what it was, and kept dropping. They isolated themselves voluntarily. In the UK, it only dropped from 10-fold a week to 10-fold in a week-and-a-half.

    Was there any recommendation for social distancing in the UK, before the full lockdown?
    If there was, when was it?
    Was it non-contradictory, as in: maintain a 6-foot distance from other people, but keep using the Tube and patronizing your favorite pubs and restaurants?

    Incidentally, i suspect that it is easier to keep Brits locked up at home than it is to make them wear masks at all times in public spaces.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nullius and yours truly have different styles. Let’s see which style is more effective with Paul Marks.”

    Fingers crossed…

    “Was there any recommendation for social distancing in the UK, before the full lockdown? If there was, when was it?”

    16th March. See Rt graph here, and Boris here.

  • APL

    Snorri Godhi: “Chloroquine has been approved by Chinese, South Korean and Italian health authorities for the experimental treatment of COVID-19”

    But it seems not in the UK

    At the time of publication (23 April 2020), azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine can only be used to treat COVID-19 as part of nationally approved randomised controlled trials.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But it seems not in the UK”

    Those two quotes seem to be saying the same thing. Approved for *experimental* use only.

  • APL

    “Those two quotes seem to be saying the same thing. Approved for *experimental* use only.”

    True. But this is such an emergency, you’d think that authorities would be throwing *everything* they had to combat the condition. After all, we’re supposed to be in the business of saving lives, they’ve had 195K cases and 29K deaths. You’d think they might have
    (1) had some scope to have organised some nationally approved randomised controlled trials, by now.
    (2) have concluded that hydroxycholroquine & azithromycin are of no therapeutic use against COVID-19 at all.

    And if not (2) permitted medical professionals to use the drugs in a treatment regime.

    No, two months and 29,000 deaths and the authorities are still dithering.

    It is such an emergency that we’ve stopped the economy, put normal social activities on hold and suspended civil liberties.

    And …. 29,000 deaths in a population of 66 million or 0.00043%

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But this is such an emergency, you’d think that authorities would be throwing *everything* they had to combat the condition.”

    Indeed? Well, some people have told me that drinking cow urine cures Covid-19. Likewise touching your television screen when a televangelist summons “the wind of God”. Some recommend touching your anus with a cotton ball soaked in violet oil. Possibly the effect is multiplied if you try all of them at the same time? Want to try it?

    “Everything” covers, well, everything.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unproven_methods_against_COVID-19

    “You’d think they might have
    (1) had some scope to have organised some nationally approved randomised controlled trials, by now.
    (2) have concluded that hydroxycholroquine & azithromycin are of no therapeutic use against COVID-19 at all.”

    Trials are in progress – it takes time.

    But in the meantime, people have already been looking at the question:
    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.16.20065920v1.full.pdf

    It’s an early result, small sample size, and not randomised. I’d not take it as definitive yet. But it’s an illustration of the sort of difficult-to-interpret outcomes that might arise.

  • neonsnake

    It is such an emergency that we’ve stopped the economy, put normal social activities on hold and suspended civil liberties.

    And …. 29,000 deaths in a population of 66 million or 0.00043%

    I think the dithering comes because an overwhelming majority of people believe that the 29k would be much, much, much higher if we hadn’t done the things in the first sentence.

  • Snorri Godhi

    And …. 29,000 deaths in a population of 66 million or 0.00043%

    Not good at math, are you?
    (And even if you got the math right, Nassim Taleb would call you a dangerous imbecile.)

  • APL

    NiV: “Indeed? Well, some people have told me that drinking cow urine cures Covid-19” .. “Likewise, touching your anus with a cotton ball soaked in violet oil. Possibly the effect is multiplied if you try all of them at the same time?”

    Would any of those activities be likely to kill you faster than COVID-19? No? Then, go ahead and tickle your arse with a feather if that’s what you choose to do.

    NiV: “Trials are in progress – it takes time.”

    BUT THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!!!! PEOPLE ARE DROWNING … IN THEIR OWN FLUIDS. Oh! Odd, suddenly it’s not so urgent.

    The time between a patient presenting with Covid-19 and dying of Covid-19 is perhaps, four – five days?

    So, I’d have thought, given the obvious urgency, they could have organised one or two maybe even three trials and by now had some results. The thing about hydroxycloroquine and azithromycin, they are already available on prescription, we already know the side effects, they are not nearly so exotic as cow urine, so you could probably set up a clinical trial in the local Mothers Union and figure out if the combination is effective against COVID-19.

    But no. It’s OK to shut the economy down, destroy businesses, ramp the rate of suicides, push up the rate of domestic abuse, ramp drug abuse.

    But in two months NICE hasn’t managed to get off its arse.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “So, I’d have thought, given the obvious urgency, they could have organised one or two maybe even three trials and by now had some results.”

    More than three!

    From here:

    “GlobalData cites 117 planned and ongoing clinical studies for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.”

    From here:

    Coronavirus patients in at least two NHS hospitals are being treated with an anti-malaria drug controversially touted by Donald Trump, in what is the fastest growing trial in UK medical history.

    Since late March, Hydroxychloroquine has been given to patients of London’s Barts Health NHS Trust and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E), among others.

    It is one of a number of drugs being tested in the UK’s Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (Recovery) trial – the world’s largest randomised clinical trial of potential coronavirus treatments.

    Recovery, which is being co-ordinated at Oxford University, signed up 1,000 patients from 132 different hospitals in its first 15 days and is now reported to have nearly 3,000 volunteers.

    From here:

    Methods We used data collected from routine care of all adults in 4 French hospitals with documented SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia and requiring oxygen ≥ 2 L/min to emulate a target trial aimed at assessing the effectiveness of HCQ at 600 mg/day. The composite primary endpoint was transfer to intensive care unit (ICU) within 7 days from inclusion and/or death from any cause. Analyses were adjusted for confounding factors by inverse probability of treatment weighting.

    Results This study included 181 patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia; 84 received HCQ within 48 hours of admission (HCQ group) and 97 did not (no-HCQ group). Initial severity was well balanced between the groups. In the weighted analysis, 20.2% patients in the HCQ group were transferred to the ICU or died within 7 days vs 22.1% in the no-HCQ group (16 vs 21 events, relative risk [RR] 0.91, 95% CI 0.47-1.80). In the HCQ group, 2.8% of the patients died within 7 days vs 4.6% in the no-HCQ group (3 vs 4 events, RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.13-2.89), and 27.4% and 24.1%, respectively, developed acute respiratory distress syndrome within 7 days (24 vs 23 events, RR 1.14, 95% CI 0.65-2.00). Eight patients receiving HCQ (9.5%) experienced electrocardiogram modifications requiring HCQ discontinuation.

    Interpretation These results do not support the use of HCQ in patients hospitalised for documented SARS-CoV-2-positive hypoxic pneumonia.

  • APL

    Snorri Godhi: “And even if you got the math right, Nassim Taleb would call you a dangerous imbecile.”

    I may be a dangerous imbecile, but then I’m not making reckless decisions.

    Lets look at somebody we both admire. Neil Ferguson.

    In 2001 Neil Ferguson’s model for F&M disease let to the destruction of 6 million farm animals and a £10bn cost to the British economy. Later after (literally) the smoke had cleared, other experts described his methodology as ‘severely flawed’.

    Then, in 2005 Ferguson predicted 200,000,000 deaths world wide from bird flu. The death toll actually turned out to be 282.

    Now that is what I call an error.

    I may well be an imbecile, but Ferguson is in a special imbecile class of his own.

  • Snorri Godhi

    🙂
    Actually, i have no opinion whatever of Neil Ferguson, and I could not care less about his predictions.

    Nassim Taleb’s principle (trivialized) is that if the risk is not Gaussian, then you have to forget ‘predictions’ and assume the worst. That is why people buy insurance, after all. Wimbledon paid millions every year to insure against an epidemic: this year, they got it all back with interest.

    You also have to understand that Taleb had to endure imbeciles for decades, when he was a stockbroker and nobody listened to what he had to say (except for what stocks to buy and what stocks to sell).

    But to be sure, you are not dangerous 🙂

  • APL

    Snorri Godhi: “i have no opinion whatever of Neil Ferguson, and I could not care less about his predictions.”

    Unfortunately it’s his predictions and models that have dictated the British Government’s actions.

    NiV: “More than three!”

    Whoo Hoo!

    And the results? This is an emergency after all.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Unfortunately it’s his predictions and models that have dictated the British Government’s actions.”

    Not just him. The authors listed were: Neil M Ferguson, Daniel Laydon, Gemma Nedjati-Gilani, Natsuko Imai, Kylie Ainslie, Marc Baguelin, Sangeeta Bhatia, Adhiratha Boonyasiri, Zulma Cucunubá, Gina Cuomo-Dannenburg, Amy Dighe, Ilaria Dorigatti, Han Fu, Katy Gaythorpe, Will Green, Arran Hamlet, Wes Hinsley, Lucy C Okell, Sabine van Elsland, Hayley Thompson, Robert Verity, Erik Volz, Haowei Wang, Yuanrong Wang, Patrick GT Walker, Caroline Walters, Peter Winskill, Charles Whittaker, Christl A Donnelly, Steven Riley, Azra C Ghani.

    “And the results?”

    I just said. “Trials are in progress – it takes time.” But some have provided results, as in my final link. “Interpretation These results do not support the use of HCQ in patients hospitalised for documented SARS-CoV-2-positive hypoxic pneumonia.”

  • Snorri Godhi

    APL: you still don’t get it.

    It is because Boris did not listen to Taleb **EARLY** that he ended up listening to Ferguson **TOO LATE**.

  • Nessimmersion

    Mr Wallace is partially correct in his peregrinations round rural Aberdeenshire.
    The failure of the economy to respond and the reluctance to return to work was baked in with the 80% to private workers and 100% to sate employees. Even at 80% a substantial number are better off, no socialising, transport rtc costs.
    Mr Sunak probably had little choice but to attempt to carry the uncounted millions of the state with him given the path the govt had already taken of allowing the clerisy to set the agenda.
    The only path that has been found to work is the Trumpian one of Never apologise Never explain, once you start debating – you’ve lost. Gain the moral high ground and refuse to debate the left / clerisy on their grounds.
    Attempting to set the Tories up as defenders of the NHS despite the reality of the post war years is one of those losing battles.
    Until the Tories establish that they are the proponents of a 1st world social insurance health service and labour/BBC prefer a stalinist 2nd world one that they can control, they are always going to lose as the clerisy control the media and the media are common purposed to the eyeballs.
    No doubt the majority of Tories will tell you that’s not a hill they wish to die on, what they fail to understand is their opponents in the media get to choose the field of battle and will make them die on it no matter what, until the Tories start channeling their inner Trump.

  • Nessimmersion

    While we all know correlation is not causation, it is curious that those parts of the world close to the swamp are not trialling HCQ+Az+zinc on early suspected symptoms and are purely coincidentally incurring a high death rate.
    Those other parts of the world are trialling early intervention with the above 3 before test results are.received and are seeing a large reduction in death rates, again purely coincidental.
    Just as Ferguson etc al are prepared to weight their results & crash the economy to satisfy their own agenda, we have to consider the motivation behind those reporting no success with trials.
    There is a good article on Whats Up With that on the pseudoscience behind opposition to HCQ:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/05/02/pseudo-science-behind-the-assault-on-hydroxychloroquine/

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Those other parts of the world are trialling early intervention with the above 3 before test results are.received and are seeing a large reduction in death rates, again purely coincidental.”

    Sounds interesting. Have you got links to the trial results? Were they randomised double-blind?

  • Nessimmersion

    They are detailed in the Whats Up article on the psedudoscience behind opposition
    I gather that as Steve McEntire stated:
    “there’s a very large control group of COVID19 patients not receiving this drug combination: hospitals and morgues are full of them.” https://mobile.twitter.com/ClimateAudit/status/1243709406031855616

    Link to Italian study on efficacy of taking it as a prophylactic below:
    https://www.iltempo.it/salute/2020/04/28/news/coronavirus-farmaci-efficaci-news-danni-cura-annalisa-chiusolo-artrite-terapia-idrossiclorochina-sars-cov2-1321227/

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I gather that as Steve McEntire stated:
    “there’s a very large control group of COVID19 patients not receiving this drug combination: hospitals and morgues are full of them.””

    That doesn’t work as a control, unless the decision about who was in each group is known to be random. Steve McIntyre ought to know that.

    “Link to Italian study on efficacy of taking it as a prophylactic below”

    Thanks, I’ll chase that up. But I found it a peculiar article, as the mechanism it describes for the coronavirus (affecting the ability of hemoglobin to carry oxygen) is completely at odds with everything I’ve read previously on the mechanism. A quick search found this (and plenty more saying the same things). It seems the story is based on a paper that computer-modelled some of the protein chains in the virus indicating it might bind with porphyrins, and then leapt mightily to conclusions. I’m dubious. But I’ll keep looking.

    If people already taking hydroxychloroquine for other reasons are not getting infected at the same rate, that would be interesting, but it’s not a random sample. They might also be especially careful not to get exposed because they’ve got a medical condition, or live in different areas, have a different ethnic/genetic background, be taking other drugs at the same time, be more or less likely to be in some other subgroup that the virus affects differentially (e.g. if people with the condition being treated all die young, there will be no old people and so fewer deaths), or it may be that the disease they’re taking the medicine for is protecting them rather than the medicine.

    That’s why we need randomised trials.

  • Nessimmersion

    I think Steve McIntyre was warning against the Mengelian tendency in some scientists, which given his long and illustrious history of working to overcome fraud in science is worth taking on board.
    The Italian one is more likely to be increased exposure to Civid or greater viral load then average given who is taking it prophylactically.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nullius, i hope you are still here to answer my question.
    You wrote:

    When the first anouncements were made asking for social distancing, Sweden’s case rate expansion dropped from 10-fold a week to 10-fold in five weeks, a fifth of what it was, and kept dropping. […] In the UK, it only dropped from 10-fold a week to 10-fold in a week-and-a-half.

    (My emphasis.)
    OK, so the exponential growth rate was initially the same in Sweden and the UK: a 10-fold increase per week.

    But in the next paragraph, you added:

    R0 in the UK was initially about 4, meaning every infection led to 4 more. (R0 started at around 2 in Sweden, so they also had a smaller problem initially to deal with.)

    What i don’t understand is how a different R0 in the 2 countries could possibly result in the same growth rate.

    For 2 different infectious diseases, of course R0 does not necessarily correlate with growth rate: AIDS spreads much more slowly than the Xi virus.

    But we are talking about the same disease in 2 different countries. There must be something wrong with the figures that you are giving.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “What i don’t understand is how a different R0 in the 2 countries could possibly result in the same growth rate.”

    It’s a good question, and the most straightforward answer is “I don’t know.”

    The R0 estimates come from back-calculating from the number of deaths, supposedly. The 10-fold increase was from my estimates by eye looking at the rate of rise. It’s certainly the case that the relationship between the two is not one-to-one. The time lags between being infected and infecting others, and number of days for which one is infecting others certainly make a difference. Two different countries have different demographic structures, different densities, different interconnectedness, different policies and habits. I can make up several plausible-sounding ‘just so’ stories to explain it. But I agree, it is an apparent inconsistency.

    If I come up with anything, I’ll let you know.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thank you, Nullius. Just a couple of questions:

    The R0 estimates come from back-calculating from the number of deaths, supposedly.

    Any links?

    The 10-fold increase was from my estimates by eye looking at the rate of rise.

    … of deaths or of confirmed cases?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Any links?”

    I got it from here:
    https://mrc-ide.github.io/covid19estimates/#/details/Sweden

    It’s updated daily, as the data is, and I note that the estimate seems to have increased to around 3 since I last looked at it. The algorithm appears to be very sensitive to data glitches. I think that may be where the issue is. 🙂

    “… of deaths or of confirmed cases?”

    From plotting graphs like this: https://i.imgur.com/G9arrM7.png

    The sloping lines show 10-fold per week exponential increase. The first arrow points at the sharp change in rate of confirmed cases. I can’t tell for sure what caused it, but whatever it was, it seems it was sufficient that firmer action wasn’t needed.

  • APL

    Governor of New York, Cuomo: “This was a surprise

    .

    68% of those who have died from COVID-19 in NY were ‘sheltering’ at home.
    18% were in nursing homes.

    .

    So, not only has the lockdown and social distancing been no use, it has been a contributory factor in the death of the majority of individuals who contracted COVID-19 in New York.

    .

    Moving on.

    .

    NiV posts this link to trials in he UK.

    The drug – created 75 years ago – has also been used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and its ability to calm overactive immune systems has boosted hopes it may help counter Covid-19, which can cause the body’s infection response to go into a state of dangerous overdrive, known as a cytokine storm.

    .

    Frequently, COVID-19 patients eventually die from organ failure triggered by a cytokine storm. So while hydroxychloroquine may not be the panacea that the never Trumpers claimed Trump said it was, there may be sound medical reasons for its use. If only to buy the patient some extra time.

    .

    The other medication frequently cited in ‘claimed’ successful trials of hydroxychloroquine is Zinc . Zinc is put forward as assisting the immune system to combat infection.

    .

    Speculation: Perhaps patients who contract COVID-19 have a zinc deficiency. Oh! Just a minute.

    .

    Moving on:

    .

    Nial Ferguson’s model.

    .

    Much of his code base was up to 13 years old. ( Not a problem if it was audited and peer reviewed )
    Hadn’t been maintained. Little to no documentation.
    and definitely not open to peer scrutiny.
    And, had a track record of producing wildly inaccurate estimates.

    .

    After the CRU fiasco, you’d have thought British Universities might have conducted an audit of their crappy code base.

    .

    Ferguson: “We will be paying for this year for decades to come ..”

    .

    No shit Sherlock!

    .

    Ferguson: “We don’t know what the level of ‘excess’ deaths will be, in this epidemic, by excess deaths I mean by the end of the year, what proportion of those people who died from covid-19 would have died any-how, but it might be as much as half – half to two thirds of the deaths we are seeing from covid-19 . Because it is affecting people either at the end of their lives or with poor health conditions.”

    .

    We now know shelter in place has cost lives.

    .

    I’m prejudiced, but I’m going to score this SNAFU:

    .

    Imbeciles – 0, Maths geniuses & Panic merchants – 30,615 (UK only)

    .

    Perhaps, if we’d disengaged our emotions and not run around in circles screaming ‘The Sky is falling‘, we may have had substantially lower death rate, and much, much less economic damage.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perhaps, if we’d disengaged our emotions and not run around in circles screaming ‘The Sky is falling‘, we may have had substantially lower death rate, and much, much less economic damage.

    APL: you still don’t get it.

    Countries that acted ***EARLY***, e.g. Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, South-East Asia, and most countries in Europe, “had substantially lower death rate, and much, much less economic damage” than you did.
    The same goes for almost all US States.

    Countries+States that acted ***LATE*** such as the UK, Italy, Spain, States including parts of metropolitan New York, and Louisiana, did very badly indeed.

    But let’s give due credit to British voters: things would be worse with Corbyn in charge.

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