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Things that make you go “Mmmm…”

Whilst I would hardly describe Sweden as a bastion of civil liberty, when one looks at the place in 2020, the justification for a great many things in a great many other nations starts to look increasingly hard to credit.

48 comments to Things that make you go “Mmmm…”

  • Jacob

    They had a high death rate at the beginning and therefore a high total deaths number so far. Not sure the current low rate will hold. Too early to tell.
    And they had some limitations too – they were not totally open.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Sweden has about the same population as London. (10m vs 9m.) Sweden has reported 5739 deaths, London 6130 deaths.

    Life is not carrying on as normal in Sweden. Many people are staying at home and many have stopped travelling. This has had severe effects on Swedes as well as on the Swedish economy. Many businesses are folding. Unemployment is expected to rise dramatically. The Government has taken several measures to mitigate the economic effects and to stabilise the economy.

    Sweden shares the same aim as all other countries: to protect the life and health of its population. Fundamentally, Sweden’s measures only differ from other countries in two regards: we are not shutting down schools for younger children or childcare facilities and we have no regulation that forces citizens to remain in their homes.

    https://www.healtheuropa.eu/swedens-response-to-covid-19-life-is-not-carrying-on-as-normal/101515/

    I think people get the wrong idea about Sweden. The media does love to dramatise the story, and anything goes if it gives them an excuse to criticise Boris’s government. Sweden cannot restrict freedom of movement legally because of its constitution. But the population have voluntarily responded with a 3-fold reduction in social contacts, they had a lower R0 to start with, they acted earlier in the epidemic, before it really got going, and have, for their population size, had a comparable number of deaths. The primary difference seems to be that when the warnings came out the Swedes responded without having to be forced, where the Brits carried on regardless until it was nearly too late and more drastic measures had to be taken. But overall, the contrast is not so dramatic.

    The thing that makes me go ‘Mmmm’ is all the ‘Rorschach inkblot’ statistics going on in this crisis. People see what their subconscious tells them they ought to expect.

  • For your convenience of comparison, here is my quick summary of yesterday’s (midday, 30th July) official figures for the ChiComCold in Scotland (population under five and a half million).

    Illness:

    – 17 new infections reported in last 24 hrs

    – 260 people are in hospital with covid

    – 2 are in intensive care

    Deaths:

    – no confirmed deaths from covid virus for two week.

    – 14 deaths where ‘covid was mentioned’ in last two weeks.

    Totals:

    – Total cases for Scotland this year: 18,597

    – Total covid-was-‘mentioned’ deaths: 4201

    – Total covid-confirmed deaths: 2491 (28 of whom were under 45 years old, none under 15 years old)

    4896 people who were advised to shield have since died from all causes (i.e. including but far from limited to the dread virus). The current death rate has for several weeks been lower than normal for this time of year.

    (My understanding is that ‘covid-was-mentioned’ deaths include people who recovered from covid and were then e.g. stabbed to death, but also others where covid may have weakened their system and so contributed to an earlier death with other cause – and hey, the guy stabbed to death maybe could not run or defend himself as well, thanks to his bout of virus, so maybe it ‘contributed’. There have been attempts to reform the figures and my understanding may be out-of-date or incorrect.)

  • But the [Swedish] population have voluntarily responded with a 3-fold reduction in social contacts (Nullius in Verba, July 31, 2020 at 12:28 am)

    I would have written ‘And’, not ‘But’ at the start of that sentence. Surely this is just as a libertarian would expect and approve. The government – and the private sector – advises and informs; the citizens individually choose what to do, and show normal courtesy towards what those they encounter have chosen to do.

    Pandemics like the black death do raise issues of debate for libertarians. Pandemics that are within an order of magnitude of a bad flu year do not. Early on, I could understand fear of the NHS being overwhelmed by triage state causing genuinely avoidable deaths. The time is long past for us to notice all the ‘scientists’ whose predictions were wrong – and note all those too arrogant to notice.

  • APL

    Niall Kilmartin: “My understanding is that ‘covid-was-mentioned’ deaths include people who recovered from covid and were then e.g. stabbed to death, ”

    Yes, this is Scotland. Where the authorities use COVID to disguise endemic ‘knife crime’ 🙂

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Surely this is just as a libertarian would expect and approve.”

    Absolutely! The issue for me in this matter is not in the behaviour of governments, but the behaviour of populations.

    “Pandemics that are within an order of magnitude of a bad flu year do not.”

    Like the Spanish flu of 1918-1920? That one killed 228,000 in the UK alone, and over 50 million worldwide. Influenza can be pretty bad, too.

    Covid-19 is probably about 20-50 times more lethal than flu, so within two orders of magnitude, but the real issue with it is that we’ve not experienced it before, so there’s no herd immunity to stop it spreading quickly. Most flu outbreaks are of strains that a lot of us have already survived, so they’re limited in scope.

    “Early on, I could understand fear of the NHS being overwhelmed by triage state causing genuinely avoidable deaths. The time is long past for us to notice all the ‘scientists’ whose predictions were wrong – and note all those too arrogant to notice.”

    It depends on what you mean. All the scientists’ predictions have come with warnings about large uncertainties and lack of data. They’ve not been perfect, but not been too bad, either. But the public are used to assuming that the experts know everything, and many struggle with understanding uncertainty and ‘things we don’t know’. Science is different to religion and politics – it doesn’t have all the answers.

    But mostly when people say this, they’re talking about those specific predictions of what would happen if we didn’t reduce interaction dramatically. There’s a subset of the public who apparently can’t understand conditionals. “IF we do X, then Y will happen.” So we don’t do X, and Y doesn’t happen. Was the prediction wrong? Grandma told me if you put your hand in the fire, you will get burned. I didn’t put my hand in the fire, didn’t get burned, so Grandma’s prediction was wrong!

    It’s hard to understand what’s going wrong in such a mentality. Did they get some garbled version of the prediction? Did they see some scrambled, single-syllable paraphrase in a newspaper, and lose concentration just past the headline? Have they only been told at third hand ‘what the experts predicted’ by some stranger on the internet with a loose grasp on sanity and a conspiracy theory to support? (If you don’t trust ‘experts’, why trust these guys?) Can they really not process conditionals? Did they just forget the conditional bit, or not understand why we were making predictions about situations we didn’t expect to happen? That we were specifically intending to prevent? Or is it simply that they don’t want to believe?

    I don’t know. I admit to being curious, but probably not enough to want to drag through this whole argument yet again.

  • Ben david

    Nullius:
    Covid-19 is probably about 20-50 times more lethal than flu
    ………..
    Data please?

    Once a decade or so, a bad flu strain emerges and flu deaths spike *among the vulnerable*.

    When one corrects for population growth, I have seen no evidence that covid is significantly different from those years. And we’ve seen no Influenza-like crossover to young healthy populations.

    I *have* seen ample evidence that we are well into the phase of bureaucratic and political rent-taking. Propped up by nonsense “expert” studies that claim lasting cognitive (sample size: 43) and cardiac (sample size: 83) impairment. Gotta keep them subsidies flowing…

  • Nemesis

    N in V
    Johnathon Sumption would echo your sentiments regarding voluntary response to the virus

    https://youtu.be/-syjnHYST-4

  • Herd immunity is when all the most susceptible people are dead.

  • Herd immunity is when all the most susceptible people are dead.

    Nope, that is not what it means.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Data please?”

    🙂 Happy to see someone ask!

    The infection mortality rate (IFR) for influenza per 100,000 is estimated in this figure from this paper (figure 3). They give values for Western nations below 3 per 100,000, and peak IFRs in the worst countries up to 15 per 100,000, or about 0.015%. Error bars will push the top of the plausible range higher, maybe 20-30 out of 100,000.

    I’d not put too much weight on one study, but every other estimate I can remember seeing puts it well below 0.1%. Accurate estimates are difficult to obtain, because most people who catch flu never report it, many hospitals don’t test for it, and there are likely even cases where symptoms are mild or non-existent.

    The IFR for Covid-19 appears to be around 1%. For example, in the UK the ONS serology survey finds about 6% of the population have antibodies to Covid-19. They also report that excess deaths over this period have been about 60,000, although only around 40,000 were identified as Covid-19 cases. 6% of 66m is about 4 million, and 40,000 is 1% of that. The calculation for New York gave a similar figure, and I’ve been told the numbers in Italy told the same story, too.

    “Propped up by nonsense “expert” studies that claim lasting cognitive (sample size: 43) and cardiac (sample size: 83) impairment.”

    As I understand it, such consequences are not unusual when people are put on respirators for weeks. That’s not necessarily anything specific to Covid-19. It’s just sustained lack of oxygen to the brain and other organs.

    However, I did see some reports from emergency workers in New York talking about the surge in heart attacks associated with Covid-19. They never made it to hospital with breathing difficulties or pneumonia – they died at home from heart failure. Always hard to determine cause of death in such circumstances, though.

    It does appear to infect other organs of the body. The ACE2 receptors it uses to gain entry to the cell are part of the system controlling blood pressure and blood/fluid circulation, and appear in other organs besides the lungs. The later stages of death by Covid-19 are reported to involve collapse of several other major organ systems – kidneys, intestines, and blood pressure. I don’t know the details, but I don’t find it at all surprising that there’s permanent damage in severe cases even after survival.

  • SteveD

    The CDC estimate of the IMR in the US is about 0.4% which they raised from their earlier estimate of 0.26%. Several antibody studies across the US gave estimates between 0.2 and 0.5% (there was only one at about 0.9%). However, the IMR probably varies with environmental conditions, viral load etc. The CDC also has data on excess deaths, the most prominent causes being cardiac-related and malignancies. At least some of these are due to lack of treatment (although some could be Covid19 related as well). The third most prominent cause of excess deaths according to the CDS is respiratory diseases.

  • Eric

    I notice coronavirus deaths are going down pretty much everywhere, but why is this? Is it that doctors are getting a better handle on how to treat it?

  • Nullius in Verba

    Maybe not everywhere? The US, for example, seems to be having some issues.

  • Robbo

    Yes. Key restrictions have been no gatherings over 50 people – so no concerts, football matches etc, no bar service or crowding in pubs and clubs, and upper secondary schooling (16+) went online. People adjusted voluntarily – most offices went to largely ‘working from home’, and a lot of businesses have been very hard hit, especially in retail, leisure and travel. Bbut there is a huge moral difference between suffering economically because your customers stop going to your cafe, or because your tenant bar owner can’t pay the rent because his customers have sthopped visiting his bar, and suffering because the government forbids you to work. I think Sweden should be proud of resisting the enormous pressure to shut business down by government power.
    BTW it is over, or at least reduced to the level of other types of respiratory disease. ICUs are not overwhelmed, military field hospitals are not required, the crisis is over, even if some cases are still ocurring.

  • Chester Draws

    Herd immunity is when all the most susceptible people are dead.

    Which is why so many children die each year of measles, rubella etc before they are old enough to be immunised? Except that they don’t, because we have herd immunity via vaccinations.

    At least we did until the population got slack and started to not vaccinate.

    Soon we are going to be in a situation where people are terrified of CV19 while simultaneously refusing to take vaccines for equally deadly diseases. Measles is far more deadly to the young than CV19.

  • TomJ

    I do wonder how one can accurately calculate an infection fatality rate for a virus that does not produce symptoms in a significant proportion of the people it infects.

  • Itellyounothing

    Ask Dr David Kelly…..

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I do wonder how one can accurately calculate an infection fatality rate for a virus that does not produce symptoms in a significant proportion of the people it infects.”

    You test for antibodies to the virus, which the body produces fighting off the infection, and keeps producing for some time afterwards. Randomly sample the whole population to figure out what proportion of people have had it, multiply by the population size to get the number infected, and divide the number who die because of Covid-19 by the number infected.

    Statistics are most accurate where the numbers of infections are highest. So take New York City. Antibody tests find about 23% of people in New York (in the most recent survey) have been infected. The population of New York is about 8.4m, so there would be 1.9m infections. The number of excess deaths was around 24k, of which around 14k were lab-confirmed to have Covid-19, 5k were probable Covid-19 deaths based on reported symptoms, and 5k were not identified as related to Covid-19, and might be to do with indirect effects like overloaded hospitals, not getting treatment, stress, poverty, etc.

    If we take the 14k figure of confirmed deaths, 14k/1.9m = 0.7%, if we add on the probable Covid-19 deaths, 19k/1.9m = 1%. If we use all excess deaths, 24k/1.9m = 1.3%. Numbers are all subject to hefty error bars, and of course survival rates depend on how good your hospitals are locally, on the age and health profile of the population where you are, and no doubt many other matters. The numbers are uncertain – real-world statistics usually are.

  • neonsnake

    I don’t know the details, but I don’t find it at all surprising that there’s permanent damage in severe cases even after survival.

    *incoming anecdotal data alert!!! Grab a large handful of salt!!!*

    I’ve a couple of friends/colleagues/acquaintances who have had Covid, estimated to have “caught” in March/April, but have NOT had to be hospitalised (mild symptoms, got over it at home, in one case believed at the time it was just a cold).

    I believe that they have since been tested positive for anti-bodies (I’m nowhere near 100% positive, these aren’t people I’m super-close to) and are still struggling today. Shortness of breath, brain fogginess, fatigue, rashes, loss of taste and smell, all of that. For all the world, it sounds like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or M.E.) to me.

    Anecdotal as hell; however – there appears to be this growing consensus that regardless of hospitalisation (and I can easily imagine that being on a respirator is not something you get over in a few days with some cough sweets and a couple of hot toddies), there are long-term effects that are currently only just beginning to be understood.

    This is being fairly widely reported; although no-one appears to be totally sure, the evidence is mounting swiftly – this is not just a bad flu.

    It’s not just the 1% IFR which is important (although that’s horrific in it’s own right), it’s all of the downstream stuff which is just coming to light.

    Our “Confirmed Deaths per million” is the third highest in the world, behind San Marino and Belgium (play around with this), if I’m reading it right.

    *shrugs* It’s difficult to understand people who view basic precautions like wearing a mask or staying socially distanced as being the first steps towards the gulag and take them seriously, and yet; those people are serious and we have the 3rd highest death count per million in the world. And because of them, we’re going to be stuck in this interminable “semi-lockdown”, with all the concurrent negative effects on the economy, job market, people’s health (physical and mental) for…well, months more, I’d guess.

  • Nullius in Verba

    neonsnake,

    Interesting. Thanks.

    I’ve had a quick look, and there does seem to be a fair amount of talk about it, and researchers taking it seriously. I’d heard about the lung scarring before – that was reported fairly early on. And we’ve seen mention here of people coming off ventilators with damage before. But I hadn’t realised it was that common.

    This one was one of the better articles I found on the subject.
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/brain-fog-heart-damage-covid-19-s-lingering-problems-alarm-scientists

  • APL

    neosnake: “It’s difficult to understand people who view basic precautions like wearing a mask or staying socially distanced as being the first steps towards the gulag ..”

    It’s equally difficult to understand people who believe wearing a porus rag over their nose and mouth with no seal, leaving the mucous membranes of the eyes exposed, as being of any utility whatsoever.

    But also that in the UK at least, the ‘lockdown’ was to ‘save the NHS’. Let’s not think that the NHS is supposed to save the sick population, and its just thrown 25,000 of ’em under the nearest convenient truck to demonstrate the fact. Yet we’re all supposed to get out on the street and clap NHS employees for, you know, doing their damned jobs.

    But if you come out of this SNAFU with any faith in the State, it’s my opinion that (1) you are deluding yourself. (2) you’re probably not a Libertarian.

    And if you ignore, the ‘New Normal‘ mantra as anything other than some sort of societal re-engineering. Then you are just a little bit of a Statist.

    Regarding the ‘lockdown’, it was always admitted that the lockdown would not stop people from dying. It was just to ‘flatten the curve‘ of the death graph. That is extend the period during which people would die as a result of the measures being taken to combat COVID-19.

    So even if the weak willed insist on thinking they are doing society a service by wearing a mask, they are doubly deluded because the ‘experts’ have told us up front, the number dying will not be substantially reduced as a result of the measures taken to ‘save the NHS’.

    And another point. There is speculation that there is no lasting immunity to COVID-19 and that seems to be to be entirely plausible. Nature doesn’t waste time doing shit she doesn’t have to do. So if you expect a seasonal flue ( or if you insist, some here to fore unknown malady, that we’ve never encountered before ) that may kill a fraction of the population – but not a significant fraction of the population below 60 years. Then nature would not confer lasting immunity because – it’s not worth it. It’s gone in three months.

    However, we’ve now suppressed the condition, and some people are going to catch it later in the year if they didn’t get it before or during lockdown. Some people might get it twice because its still around ( as a result of the lockdown ) instead of burning itself out the first time around. Maybe we’ll all have to get it twice because it’s still present in the population, and as a result of the measures taken to flatten the curve – extent the period we all exposed to COVID-19 infection – it’s going to come back and get you the second time.

    But yea, I’ve got a lot of faith in the government.

  • neonsnake

    Interesting. Thanks.

    Anecdotal. Defo don’t take my word for it.

  • neonsnake

    But if you come out of this SNAFU with any faith in the State, it’s my opinion that (1) you are deluding yourself. (2) you’re probably not a Libertarian.

    Well now!

    The state has not had my, uh, faith. By no means. They’ve obviously fucked it up from mid-March onwards.

    However – and there’s no “probably” about this – anyone who isn’t prepared to wear a mask and/or socially distance, in light of an actual plague, isn’t a libertarian. Potentially sociopathic, sure. Psychopathic, maybe.

    Libertarian? Really? Lol. No. About as far as you can get from Libertarian.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Anecdotal. Defo don’t take my word for it.”

    I don’t take anybody’s word for it!

    Nevertheless, it pointed me in the direction of looking for more data about it. A major point for me in debating is to learn stuff, see different viewpoints.

  • APL

    neosnake: “However – and there’s no “probably” about this – anyone who isn’t prepared to wear a mask and/or socially distance, in light of an actual plague, isn’t a libertarian.”

    Plague? Utter nonsense.

    More than 91% of those in the England who had COVID-19 on their death certificate were over 60. I dare say that is reflected in all other countries around the world.

    Plague!?? This must be the most selective plague in human history.

    In truth, COVID-19 is an illness of old age. Just like heart disease, or a variety of other respiratory conditions.

    Note: Plague? What ever COVID-19 is, it isn’t plague.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Note: Plague? What ever COVID-19 is, it isn’t plague.”

    Neither is plague, not any more. Dictionaries define ‘plague’ as “A plague is a very infectious disease that spreads quickly and kills large numbers of people” and can be applied to diseases other than Yersinia Pestis. Bubonic plague infects an average of 7 people per year in the USA and (with treatment) kills about 10% of those, so 0.7 deaths per year on average. That’s rather less than seasonal flu, and therefore by local logic we can declare Bubonic Plague a harmless and trivial disease. Covid-19 has so far killed over 140,000 people this year in the States – which is rather more than 0.7.

    Plague (if you catch it) is about 10 times more lethal than Covid-19, so we’re genuinely an order of magnitude away. It’s rather closer to Bubonic Plague than it is to flu.

  • APL

    NiV: “Bubonic plague infects an average of 7 people per year in the USA and (with treatment) kills about 10% of those, so 0.7 deaths per year on average. That’s rather less than seasonal flu, and therefore by local logic we can declare Bubonic Plague a harmless and trivial disease.”

    It is a harmless and trivial disease. Because it can be identified, its causes and symptoms are well known, and our medical technology is at such a level that it can be treated and, if diagnosed sufficiently early, no one need die from Bubonic plague in a first world country. Oh! unless that person is very old or already infirm through a pre-existing illness. Now, where might I have heard that before?

    It was apparent, from the start that COVID-19 was selective in those it killed. Despite the best efforts of the BBC when reporting on it in Italy, it was obvious ( and I remarked on it at the time in these ‘ere fora ) COVID-19 was selectively killing the old and the infirm. EVERY DISEASE HAS THE CAPACITY TO KILL THE OLD AND INFIRM.

    You NiV, are a very intelligent and numerate individual. Which is why I despise the role you’ve chosen to play on this forum and no doubt everywhere else you’ve commented about COVID.

    You are a panic merchant.

    We could have had a good handle on COVID-19 in March, except you, people of like mind and the BBC, went ‘full on’ to spread panic. Your post, People ” are going to drown in their own fluids ” was typical of the scare tactic you used to misinform and lie to any vulnerable and gullible individual unlucky enough to read your posts.

    I’m sorry for your victims, but I despise your actions ( as far as I’m aware of them through your posts ).

  • Itellyounothing

    Stalin, Mao and Hitler killed tens of millions in the 20th Century. Compared to Corona virus, tyrant is objectively more dangerous.

    The ridiculous panic induced from corona virus will kill 200,000 due to the NHS refusing to treat cancer HIV etc, by the UK Government’s own estimate.

    The UK public is now over estimating the threat by a factor of 100. https://order-order.com/2020/07/28/brits-believe-coronavirus-death-is-100-times-larger-than-it-really-is/

    The tools of tyranny are again
    killing more than the virus right now with no evidence mitigation is working or not. If you believe models, the model of lockdown induced deaths is as credible as corona deaths.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It was apparent, from the start that COVID-19 was selective in those it killed. Despite the best efforts of the BBC when reporting on it in Italy, it was obvious ( and I remarked on it at the time in these ‘ere fora ) COVID-19 was selectively killing the old and the infirm. EVERY DISEASE HAS THE CAPACITY TO KILL THE OLD AND INFIRM.”

    But that doesn’t make it morally OK to let them die.

    “You NiV, are a very intelligent and numerate individual. Which is why I despise the role you’ve chosen to play on this forum and no doubt everywhere else you’ve commented about COVID. You are a panic merchant.”

    No. I’m a “both sides of the argument” merchant.

    Every issue like this is always a trade-off between competing benefits, costs, and risks. There is no cost-free option open to us. On the one hand, lockdowns have a high cost in liberty and the economy, and as has been said, health. On the other hand, the virus so far seems to be killing about 1% of the people infected, and if it is allowed to proceed to herd immunity will therefore kill about half a million in the UK and two million in the US. If allowed to proceed unchecked, its rate of spread is such that it would overwhelm the health services, and death rates could go two to five times higher. And there’s the possibility of long-term damage, even to the young, that we were just discussing. That’s going to have impacts on people’s liberty and the economy too.

    I don’t dismiss *either* side of the trade-off. The massive economic damage will be survivable, but it will be significant. It’s like adding another year or two onto everybody’s mortgage. A lot of businesses are going to go under. A lot of people are going to be struggling financially for years as a result. But neither do I dismiss the impact of the epidemic as trivial and insignificant, or the result of a pan-government conspiracy to permanently seize totalitarian power. If left unchecked, millions would die slow and unpleasant deaths, and millions more could have permanently damaged health as a result. We have to consider *both* sides of the balance. And we have to have as clear and accurate view of the costs and risks as we can get, in the face of scientific uncertainty, to make the best decision. That means not fooling ourselves, pretending one whole side of the balance sheet is illusory.

    If it is your view that condemning half a million old folks to slowly drown in their own sputum is a price worth paying, I’ve got no argument with you. That’s life. Everybody dies, and most of those deaths are horrible. Paying to prevent it has a price in lives too. I’m not one of those who thinks that life must be preserved and extended at all costs. It is, as I say, a trade-off, and depends on our personal values. But I *will* argue with people who say we would not have to pay that price, and deal in falsehoods to try to shift society’s decision in their favour by distorting the information people have.

    That goes for both sides. I wasn’t impressed with the obsessive and over-strict policing of the lockdown, although I understood the political reasons for it. I’m not impressed that people are over-estimating the epidemic severity, although I think a lot of that is plain innumeracy. I’m not impressed at the teachers’ unions playing up and blocking the restarting of schools. While the peak in March was more dangerous than most people seemed to think, the situation now is probably safer than they seem to think. And I think people are being over-cautious on some things that don’t matter so much and are relaxing far too much on others that do. They’re not being particularly smart about the precautions they take. But I don’t think there’s any conspiracy to scare the populace – most of it is down to plain ignorance and innumeracy, and the media seem more interested in drumming up fear and alarm as a way to attack the government’s handling of the crisis (they always argue on the opposite side of any issue to the government’s latest move), and of course because drama sells newspapers.

    The people listen to all sides of the argument, and make their own decision about who to believe and what claims are credible. Politicians pay close attention to public opinion in the decisions they make. Society has collectively decided they would rather save the old folk, and the price is worth paying. About 10% disagree. That’s democracy.

    Thanks for the compliments! For what it’s worth, while there are many issues on which I profoundly disagree with you, and I despise some of the positions you take, I don’t generally feel any contempt for you personally. It’s usually a good debate, when you’re around!

  • Paul Marks

    No honest person can continue to argue that the “lockdowns” were a good idea.

    As for the United Kingdom – one report (covered on the front page of the Daily Telegraph) has suggested that more than 200 hundred thousand people will die because of delayed medial treatment due to the insane panic spread by the British government supported by such people as Nullius.

    To be fair, the original idea was explained as “shut down for a couple of weeks to flatten-the-curve and see what is happening”.

    I was too stupid to understand that this was a Trojan Horse for an entirely different policy – and at the end of the two weeks I expected things to reopen (when there was still a chance that the economy would not have been utterly smashed).

    When I expressed bafflement that things were not reopening in April I was told I was mentally ill (or rather comment people here said I should seek help for my mental health – which amounts to the same thing).

    Still water under the bridge now. The important thing is that we now know who are enemies are. And Nullius (with his endless lies about how the lockdowns saved lives) is most clearly an enemy.

    It was NOT clear back in March – back then it was possible that people were arguing in good faith when they came out with language about “trade offs” and so on. But it is clear, very clear, now.

    I just wish I had not made such a fool of myself by listening to these deceivers back in March.

  • Paul Marks

    Rather more importantly than Paul Marks being deceived – the President of the United States was also deceived.

    Whilst he did not personally order any lockdowns himself (and therefore is not personally guilty of the vast numbers of deaths they have caused – by suicides, by drug overdoses, by riots and worst-of-all by panic prevention of medical treatment for other illnesses) he WENT ALONG WITH THE LOCKDOWNS.

    The President was told the lockdowns were for a “couple of weeks” to “flatten the curve” – and very stupidly he believed the lies he was told. For the despicable Dr Fauci (and others) were spinning him a yarn about “by Easter” or (at worst) “after Easter” – the real intention of the Collectivists was to utterly smash the United States. In order to ensure the defeat of the President in November – but that is only part of the WORLD agenda.

    Whether one calls it “Agenda 2021 – Agenda 2030”, the “Great Reset” or just “sustainable development” it is now clear that the virus (even if was not deliberately created – which it may have been) was used as an EXCUSE for the “lockdowns” around the Western world.

    The “lockdowns” were a deliberate policy to do as much damage as possible – as Dr Fauci himself said recently, New York acted “correctly”.

    New York has the highest death rate in the world and its economy is smashed and Dr Fauci knows all that – so he can only have meant that the INTENTION was to do this damage, that it was NOT a mistake, it was premeditated.

    If there is to be a “reset” for the world the existing society must be destroyed.

    This is why Dr Fauci (and other like him) denounced a small Trump event – but did not condemn at all hundreds of thousands of people out in the streets in Marxist “Black Lives Matter” orgies of destruction.

    The “lockdowns” never had anything to do with public health – the BLM events (or rather the failure to denounce them) showed that with terrible clarity.

    The purpose (the deliberate, premeditated purpose) of the lockdowns was to do as much HARM as possible – to lead to the maximum amount of economic damage and the maximum number of DEATHS (from all causes).

    This was the agenda behind the “advice” of the “experts”.

    In defence of those people who were deceived – what is clear now, was NOT clear in March.

    But that is only a partial defence.

    We were very foolish – and very large numbers of people have paid with their lives for our absurdly trusting nature.

    And this may only be a tiny proportion of the number of people who will die if the evil of the “reset” (or “sustainable development”) succeeds.

  • neonsnake

    I don’t take anybody’s word for it!

    Left you an open goal there, didn’t I? LOL

    I just read the article you linked to. I’d not read it before, but I’d seen most or all of the concepts in my previous readings. I’ve some reservations – eg. I mentioned brain-fog earlier; a LOT of people have been reporting brain-fogginess since the start of lockdown (and I don’t believe that all of those people have had COVID).

    I’ve certainly had it myself from time to time – AFAIK, it’s down to a lack of ability to plan ahead, since a lot of decisions you’d normally be able to make are out of your hands, and “circumstances” can change at a moment’s notice – for example, lightning lockdowns like we’ve seen this week, or planning to re-open your beauty salon (hit me hard, that one. I’m desperately in need of an eyebrow threading 😆 ) and having to cancel your appointments with 24 hours notice.

    As for shortness of breath – just a guess, but for every person that’s got themselves into shape with Joe Wicks PE lessons, I’d bet there’s five more that have devolved into cracking open a bottle of wine with lunch…on weekdays. Or if you’d normally smoke half a dozen cigarettes during a work-day, because you don’t want to constantly be getting up and disappearing from your desk under the watchful gaze of your peers, you’re now smoking a dozen, because who’s going to give you “a look” every time? Your dog? She loves it, she gets to go outside every time…

    Or for the nominally clean-living, just simple snacking combined with a (relative) lack of simple movement, let alone active exercise. I’d love to access Fitbit’s data servers and see what the “step-count” difference is pre- and post-March, you know what I mean?

    So, I’m not totally surprised if more people are experiencing shortness of breath.

    …and so on, and so forth.

    And yet, enough people are talking about it, and having symptoms beyond what I’d be prepared to hand-wave with a “yeah, but”. I know what Chronic Fatigue looks like, vs “I’m a bit knackered, bored and listless and can’t think straight – might be because I cracked open a bottle of white with lunch yesterday and just carried on – haven’t been exercising, feeling a bit down” – and a lot of the symptoms being reported are on the Chronic Fatigue side, not the “I feel a bit crap today” side. There’s enough in it to make me pay attention.

    It’s equally difficult to understand people who believe wearing a porus rag over their nose and mouth with no seal, leaving the mucous membranes of the eyes exposed, as being of any utility whatsoever.

    The messaging around masks from all the various parties (WHO, governments, scientists) has been varied, inconsistent, and messy since day one. I get that, I’m not denying nor arguing that.

    I was very uncertain of the utility of mask-wearing, back in March, and was casting about for various opinions. Over time, I’ve upgraded from a buff, to a triple-layer cloth mask, and am considering upgrading to an N95. The only reason I haven’t yet, is that I’m very careful about social distancing, so I’m unsure of the necessity. But I’ve been wearing one since, I guess, early April, if I’ve gone into a shop. This has nothing to do with government guidelines, and is entirely voluntary on my part.

    I don’t remember exactly when, but at some point, it became pretty clear that mask doesn’t protect the wearer to an enormous degree. It offers “some” protection, but not much. Sure, if someone comes up to me and coughs on my eyeballs, I’m screwed.

    But the evidence, over time, turned out to be that “my mask protects you, your mask protects me.” Intuitively, that makes sense. If I have a cough or a sneeze, and I’m wearing a mask, it prevents a percentage of that reaching you. That’s a good thing. I don’t really want to kill people if I’m asymptomatic and have popped out to get some butter.

    So I’ll wear a mask, because it protects other people. And that message has been commonly known for, I guess, a couple of months now? Almost no-one is saying that a mask 100% protects the wearer. Most of the studies say that it has a small (10%-20%?) effectiveness on the wearer, but an enormous effect on the people that the wearer comes into contact with. And that really pisses me off about the anti-maskers.

    People are being asked to do something, which is mildly uncomfortable, for a very small amount of time (30 minutes in a shop, an hour on the train, whatever) to save other peoples’ lives.

    And the response has been “LOL, no! I’m not undergoing mild discomfort to save someone else’s life! ROFL, fuck ’em!”

    EVERY DISEASE HAS THE CAPACITY TO KILL THE OLD AND INFIRM.

    Yes, they do. This is why, every year, we all go out and get the flu jab. So that we don’t unwittingly kill the old and infirm – and be clear, they’re are plenty of “infirm” that are not old, and deserve the chance to live for many more decades, if other people are considerate enough. The “INFIRM” are not a group that we willingly throw under the bus whenever things get tough. They’re a group that we rally behind and do our best to protect.

    And it’s more than that!

    If we, as a country, had followed the science, then this weird interminable “sort of” lockdown would be over by now. We’d be able to open back up, we wouldn’t be staring into a rising number of cases, which will translate into a rising number of deaths and further lockdowns and restrictions. The economy wouldn’t be so screwed. We wouldn’t be facing the incoming mental health crisis, nor the inevitable number of deaths from non-COVID related reasons because people were too scared to go hospital. We could have quashed it. The reason we’re in this situation is because of the “iT’s JuSt A fLu!!!111one!!!111” crowd.

    You NiV, are a very intelligent and numerate individual. Which is why I despise the role you’ve chosen to play on this forum and no doubt everywhere else you’ve commented about COVID.

    Bollocks.

    NiV has been a rare voice of reason here on this site (as he/she normally is*). He/she has consistently followed facts/science over the prevailing political winds. As should we all.

    *( 😉 Sometimes you get it wrong, NiV. Not often, but, as a rule, if I disagree with you, it means you’ve got it wrong 😛 😛 . Obviously!)

  • neonsnake

    When I expressed bafflement that things were not reopening in April I was told I was mentally ill (or rather comment people here said I should seek help for my mental health – which amounts to the same thing).

    I expected maybe a month of lockdown, at the time. Obviously, I was wrong.

    Paul, you were writing comments that looked, to me, like verging on suicide notes, mate. You were talking about ending your life.

    I expressed some concern for you, as did Niall Kilmartin. I don’t recall anyone else doing so, but I wasn’t spending lots of time here at the time.

    I did not mean to imply mental illness, Paul; I didn’t mean to, I guess, “accuse” you of being mentally ill, as such. If I did so, then I wholeheartedly apologise. That’s on me.

    I purely wanted to express some sympathy or empathy during a time which appeared to me, to be very difficult for you.

    I would confidently say the same for Niall. I do not for a minute believe that Niall, in expressing sympathy and empathy for you, was seeking in any way to diminish you in terms of your mental health. I think that Niall is a hugely empathic bloke, and had your interests at heart, and that you should read and internalise what he said at the time. I think you should re-read anything he said, and take it as a “you’re a valued member of the Samizdata community”

    (that includes me. I’d love to put everything that we disagree with to one side, and have a conversation about Stoicism, by the way. I really would, in the same way that Niall and I can put stuff to one side and chat about our shared love for Heinlein, or something)

    We’ve both lost our jobs, Paul. I don’t see a world in which either of us can get a job easily in the next few months. It’s going to be hard yards for a while yet, I think.

    But honestly, people like NiV, they’re not our enemy. Our enemy, in any practical sense, are those who are pushing back the possibility of re-opening, of getting the economy up and running again. Until that happens, I despair, as do you, of finding a job.

    Our enemies are those people who are determined to extend this interminable lockdown, by refusing to contribute to end it.

  • However – and there’s no “probably” about this – anyone who isn’t prepared to wear a mask and/or socially distance, in light of an actual plague, isn’t a libertarian. Potentially sociopathic, sure. Psychopathic, maybe. (neonsnake, August 1, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Colour me unimpressed. On the one hand, I don’t go as far as Paul …

    No honest person can continue to argue that the “lockdowns” were a good idea. (Paul Marks, August 2, 2020 at 1:45 pm)

    … since, though politics and the public domain are full of dishonesty, people can also be not intending to deceive but mistaken – sometimes very deeply mistaken. (Surely we can all look back at something we believed when younger to know that!) But to call anyone a psychopath, neonsnake, for believing what the government told them to believe about masks three months ago seems extreme even before libertarianism is mentioned. And of course a libertarian may dislike being ordered by the state to do a thing they would unhesitatingly do if politely asked by a shop-owner. “If you don’t like wearing a mask in my shop, please feel free to shop elsewhere” is an impeccably libertarian sentiment.

    The reason we’re in this situation is because of the “iT’s JuSt A fLu!!!111one!!!111” crowd. (neonsnake, August 2, 2020 at 2:32 pm)

    Paul will hardly be alone in thinking that a very strange conclusion. The “it’s just a bad flu” crowd have not been setting policy, and in the UK there has been as much compliance with lockdown so far as anyone living in the real world had a right to expect. If we had followed Sweden and/or our own government’s pre-Neil-Ferguson ‘herd immunity’ policy, then whether UK people were more, less or similarly cautious as Swedes, when doing stuff their government advised but did not order, might have reflected the “it’s just flu” crowd’s propensities. As it is, lockdown became policy rather abruptly during March and has only grown since then (I can recall when it was meant to last just as long as was needed to save the NHS from triage), so its supporters, not its critics, own the downsides in its consequences.

    For myself, I regard what those who predicted mass death without lockdown predicted with lockdown. Whenever those models exceed actuality, it seems sensible to assume their models of what would have happened if they had not been listened to would have proved comparably in excess, had we not listened to them.

  • Paul Marks

    Tapped the wrong key – and a lot of work vanishes,alas that is life. I will try again. Perhaps if I break up what I say into smaller comments….

    It is important to make a distinction among the “experts” – some, I believe, gave bad advice in GOOD FAITH. They are now truly sorry for the terrible advice they gave and wish they could go back in time and advice AGAINST the “lockdowns” and so on.

    And there are those people who have not repented – and would do much the same things again (lockdowns, compulsory masks, and so on).

    Sadly I believe Nullius to be in the latter camp.

    If someone says that they repent it is a matter of judgement to decide whether they have truly repented – or whether they are just pretending to have repented.

    But in this case no such judgement call is needed. There has been no real apology for the terrible harm done, and no claim that he would not support the same totalitarian actions again.

    By the way, and what follows is NOT about the Nullius case as such, it is a GENERAL point…….

    Normally if someone has sincerely repented they do not try and avoid punishment for what they have done – they DEMAND punishment. In fact they often inflict the punishment upon themselves.

  • neonsnake

    Colour me unimpressed.

    Okay? So…what? You’re unimpressed by what, exactly?

    My derisiveness of those who call themselves “Libertarians”, and yet forget the golden rule? (they’re not forgetting, they’re deliberately ignoring, once it becomes even slightly inconvenient for them).

    You may well be “unimpressed”. I am, also, rather, shall we say, coloured somewhat “unimpressed”.

    But to call anyone a psychopath, neonsnake, for believing what the government told them to believe about masks three months ago seems extreme even before libertarianism is mentioned.

    Come again? That’s an odd statement, and I don’t understand your point. I’ve not followed the government’s “tellings” at any point so far, I’ve followed my own understandings of the science. Sometimes I’ve been in alignment, mostly I’ve been, going I guess, “further” than the government’s, uh, advice or instructions.

    For myself, I regard what those who predicted mass death without lockdown predicted with lockdown.

    Even on it’s own terms, that sentence is difficult to parse (and I’m being charitable)

    Ferguson et al’s predictions were always “if we do nothing, this is a possible scenario, given available data at this time”. We “did something”, so the predictions never came to pass. This isn’t difficult to grasp, surely?

    The “it’s just a bad flu” have not been setting policy (*cough* yes they have), but they’ve merrily been acting like it, and behold! The rate of infection has been going up for the past two weeks! Joy! Cue local lockdowns, reversal of easing and so on!

    Cue, buggered economy, and so on. The expectation is that there is no recovery until at least Feb or March 2021, and even that is uncertain.

    Be very clear on that. You understand what that means? There’s no Christmas upturn. Even back in 2008/09, there was a Christmas upturn. This time, we’re not expecting it. And if you don’t understand the importance of that, then I can’t help you.

    We are fucked. Wear your bloody mask, and stop whining.

  • Paul Marks

    Turning to things that are very hard to explain without EVIL INTENT (and I am not referring to Nullius in what follows).

    It is fairly well know that Governor Cuomo (the hero of Dr Fauci and the “mainstream media”) of New York ORDERED Care Homes to accept people with ill with Covid 19 – which led to thousands of deaths of elderly people, especially elderly people with existing health conditions.

    But this was not one evil man (if it was then the establishment, including the media establishment, would be happy to sacrifice Governor Cuomo – “it was not us, it was this one evil man who we barely know…..”) – no, not all.

    This policy was followed in many States and in many countries – so the “one evil man” theory does not hold up.

    There seems to have been (seems – NOT yet proved beyond reasonable doubt) a policy to INCREASE casualties – in order to justify radical, indeed totalitarian, measures – such as “lockdowns”. It need take only a FEW people to make very bad international policies – most people obey orders without question, so it only has to be a few people.

    Nor is this the only piece of evidence.

    For example, it has been suggested since at least March that if administered EARLY (as soon as symptoms show) and with ZINC (and with an agent to prevent other infection – such as azthromycin) hydrxychlorquine can be of use treating Covid 19 – when it is in its early stage, before it becomes general in the body (causing the immune system to go crazy – at which point many people are beyond aid).

    Right or wrong, with no alternative early treatments available one would expect governments to make every effort to make this suggested treatment generally available.

    But many governments (especially State and local bureaucracies in the United States) did the OPPOSITE.

    They did everything they could to make it HARDER to prescribe such a combination of well known (decades known) medicines.

    Why?

    Why did the bureaucracies make such great efforts to GET IN THE WAY?

    Why were there absurd studies DESIGNED to discredit the treatment – for example prescribing to people who were at the late stage of the illness (not the early stage) or without zinc, or at absurdly high dozes.

    Why, why, why?

    Why make the treatment as hard as possible for a doctor to prescribe – sometimes banning it. Sometimes suddenly creating regulations where few had existed for decades.

    And why the fake studies?

    And why the massive publicity given to the fake studies?

    Were the authorities fearful that the treatment might WORK?

    If you need very large numbers of casualties to justify “lockdowns” and other totalitarianism – the last thing you want is a treatment that will REDUCE casualties.

    Again this need be only a FEW people – most people obey orders without question, so all that would be needed is a fee key establishment types.

    As for politicians – some are independent minded (for example the Governor of South Dakota), but most are NOT.

    Most politicians obey the “experts” – it never occurs to them that the “experts” might have a totalitarian agenda – such as “sustainable development” (Agenda 21 – Agenda 2030, “Great Reset”).

    It is even possible that Governor Cuomo is quite innocent – just rubber stamping what was put in front of him.

    After all Prime Minister Boris Johnson is NOT a totalitarian conspiracy person – he just rubber stamps what the “experts” put in front of him.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But to call anyone a psychopath, neonsnake, for believing what the government told them to believe about masks three months ago seems extreme even before libertarianism is mentioned.”

    I think the issue was not about believing, but about not caring to protect the lives of other people. It’s a bit more understandable getting upset about it when it’s close friends of yours that are liable to die.

    “Paul will hardly be alone in thinking that a very strange conclusion. The “it’s just a bad flu” crowd have not been setting policy, and in the UK there has been as much compliance with lockdown so far as anyone living in the real world had a right to expect.”

    I read neonsnake as referring to the period before lockdown, when we spent a month watching the numbers climb, and they caught all that criticism for their “herd immunity” strategy. They didn’t want to close the nation’s borders for a year, given what that would do to the economy. 1% didn’t sound so bad. It was no worse than a bad flu for a lot of people. The sooner you let it happen, the sooner it will be over with and you can get back to normal. And business in a world where your people are all immune and everyone else’s borders are still closed would be sweet. I think it may be a little unfair to criticise them for not following the science – at the time, I don’t think they knew it. They hadn’t developed that level of understanding yet.

    “As it is, lockdown became policy rather abruptly during March and has only grown since then […], so its supporters, not its critics, own the downsides in its consequences.”

    They do, if those who oppose the lockdown are willing to own the consequences of an uncontrolled pandemic. I don’t think they are, though. They deny there are any consequences.

    But from where I’m sitting, the lockdown has been eased considerably in the last month. ‘Only grown’?

    “(I can recall when it was meant to last just as long as was needed to save the NHS from triage)”

    The Ferguson paper had two proposals, one for 5 months, and the other running through to November 2021. The latter switched the measures on and off, the first ‘on’ period lasted until July.

    “For myself, I regard what those who predicted mass death without lockdown predicted with lockdown. Whenever those models exceed actuality, it seems sensible to assume their models of what would have happened if they had not been listened to would have proved comparably in excess, had we not listened to them.”

    And would you do the same if it turned out Ferguson had told Parliament on March 25th that while predictions were highly uncertain, he thought they were on track for less than 20,000 deaths? That actuality exceeded the prediction? Shouldn’t we therefore double or triple the worst case predictions? No?

    What am I to make of people who won’t?

    “They did everything they could to make it HARDER to prescribe such a combination of well known (decades known) medicines. Why?”

    Because that’s the way pharmaceutical development and regulation has worked for decades. You can’t just prescribe any old Snake Oil cure you found on the internet. First you have to prove the treatment actually works. Then you have to figure out what doses work, what the safe levels are, when you have to give it, what the side effects are, what other drugs and conditions it interferes with, what to do when things go wrong, etc. Civil servants are required to follow the rules. It normally takes years to get new medicines into service. But because of the urgency, they gave special permission for doctors to prescribe it, and fast-tracked a lot of expensive trials to test it. If it works, some research group would be able to prove it, and that would be that. So far, nobody has. All the randomised trials I’ve heard of have come up negative. But there’s still hope.

    (All you have to do to prove me wrong is to give links to the double-blind randomised trials showing success. Can you?)

    However, they did get positive results for dexamethasone, a cheap generic drug, and I’ve heard there are a bunch more in the pipeline, like interferon beta. I’ve not heard that anybody is trying to stop them being prescribed. Have you?

  • APL

    NiV: “Every issue like this is always a trade-off between competing benefits, costs, and risks. There is no cost-free option open to us. On the one hand, lockdowns have a high cost in liberty and the economy, and as has been said, health. On the other hand, the virus so far seems to be killing about 1% of the people infected, and if it is allowed to proceed to herd immunity will therefore kill about half a million in the UK and two million in the US. If allowed to proceed unchecked, its rate of spread is such that it would overwhelm the health services, and death rates could go two to five times higher. And there’s the possibility of long-term damage, even to the young, that we were just discussing. That’s going to have impacts on people’s liberty and the economy too.”

    One would have thought you’d choose the least worst option. But no, let’s destroy liberty and a freely contracting society spread fear and panic to save some people of whome even Neil Ferguson said 2/3rds would be dead anyway, by year end.

    Where were you with this fastidious concern for human life, when the NHS killed as a matter of policy two to three hundred elderly individuals ( annually ) along the ‘Liverpool pathway’? To put the euphemism into relief, the ‘Liverpool pathway‘ was the practice where medical staff ” widely abused [the LCP] as a ‘tick box exercise’, with patients being casually assessed as terminal, heavily sedated, and denied water so the diagnosis became self-fulfilling. Hospitals were also provided cash incentives to achieve targets for the number of patients placed on the LCP.”

    No where! that’s where.

    But as soon as an opportunity comes along to deprive the whole population, the whole population of the country, of their basic freedoms, basic human interaction with friends and relatives, Nullius is right in there ‘Rah! Rah! Rah! Yea! Let’s do it!”.

    NiV: “On the other hand, the virus so far seems to be killing about 1% of the people infected, “

    90% of those who have died and their deaths have been related to COVID-19 were over sixty, had pre-existing medical conditions. 7,214 had diabetes ( highly correlated with obesity to that extent, dying with COVID-19 might be considered a lifestyle choice).

    NiV: “and if it is allowed to proceed to herd immunity will therefore kill about half a million in the UK and two million in the US.”

    Demonstrated false by the Swedish experience.

    NiV: “You can’t just prescribe any old Snake Oil cure you found on the internet. First you have to prove the treatment actually works.”

    That is rich. Talking of snake oil

    The Lancet study, was withdrawn, apart from the fact that one of the supposed medical authors of the study, was an ‘adult actress’, nothing precluding a porn star using all her attributes to enrich her life. That wasn’t even the problem, the problem is none of their citations would admit to providing data for the study. In short, it was a fraud. Yet the establishment Lancet published it.

  • neonsnake

    I think the issue was not about believing, but about not caring to protect the lives of other people. It’s a bit more understandable getting upset about it when it’s close friends of yours that are liable to die.

    Of course that’s part of it, but it’s also a general sense of despair that when offered a possible way of saving other people in general, an amount of people refuse to do so. We’re still seeing a lot of people pointing out all of the reasons why a mask is of little benefit to the wearer, despite the messaging being pretty clear that it’s for other people; and I believe that that messaging is several weeks old (if not 2-3 months).

    I read neonsnake as referring to the period before lockdown

    I wasn’t, I’m talking about now. There seems to be a lot of people who still think it’s “just a bad flu” – not only in the sense that they don’t believe that how contagious it is, but also in the sense that they don’t think it’s that dangerous. Sure, 1% of people die, but I’d fancy my odds, right? That’s why the studies into the “long-haulers” are important. It’s not just a binary “1% die, 99% fully recover and go about their lives”. It’s a lot more detrimental than that.

    People in general, particularly healthy able-bodied people, don’t seem to have internalised the risk. I believe that because they are well, they can’t conceive properly of being long-term unwell. Or, they remember that time they had a flu that took them a couple of weeks to fully recover from, and they focus on the “full-recovered” bit, and would be prepared to tough out a couple of rough weeks with COVID in bed/on the sofa, drinking chicken soup, because they’re convinced that they’ll fully-recover again.

    Essentially, they don’t think “it can happen” to them.

    And most of the time, that’s true and reasonable, and a sensible way to live.

    Except when it’s not, like now.

    We’ve had the brakes put on some of the easing of lockdown in the last couple of days, in light of cases going back up again. If people had stuck to the 2m distancing, kept wearing masks, and all the other measures in the toolbox, I strongly suspect (but can’t prove), that we wouldn’t need to be putting the brakes on. I further suspect that we might have been able to more safely ease out of lockdown several weeks ago – if only people weren’t treating it like nothing more than a bad flu.

    There’s talk of a second wave coming, of ordering over-50s to shield. I understand France, masks are now compulsory outside in some places.

    The Ferguson paper had two proposals, one for 5 months, and the other running through to November 2021. The latter switched the measures on and off, the first ‘on’ period lasted until July.

    I don’t recall being aware of the “5 months” – although I don’t remember exactly, I’m pretty sure I expected lock-down to last weeks rather than months. Was it intended then to be 5 months right from the start?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Where were you with this fastidious concern for human life, when the NHS killed as a matter of policy two to three hundred elderly individuals ( annually ) along the ‘Liverpool pathway’?”

    Where were the cries of “200-300 a year?! That’s less than a typical flu season!” when the Liverpool pathway was being discussed?

    Anyway, the Liverpool pathway is really an argument about unofficial euthanasia. There are people whose lives become endless suffering and misery, dragged from one life-extending operation to another, with no prospect of ever being well again, but who can be kept alive with technology. A dog would be put out of its misery. But humans are condemned to endless torment in a technologically-enabled medical hell. Nobody with any empathy can see it and remain unmoved. Society has not quite got to the point of endorsing euthanasia, there are still too many who are vociferously opposed to it under any circumstances, but people involved in caring for the dying have found ways around the ban. But as always happens in a bureaucracy, there are poor decisions and morally grey areas, and it’s easy to find cases able to stir up public outrage.

    I’m happy to debate the merits of euthanasia if you like, and I’m happy to condemn any cases of people being euthanised when they shouldn’t be. But I will again point out the inconsistency of making a fuss over the 200-300 elderly people who die on the Liverpool pathway, (or the 6/year who die from Islamic terrorism in the UK), versus the dismissal of half a million elderly people’s deaths on the simple grounds that they are elderly, and that flu kills a lot of people too.

    “I don’t recall being aware of the “5 months” – although I don’t remember exactly, I’m pretty sure I expected lock-down to last weeks rather than months. Was it intended then to be 5 months right from the start?”

    The paper wasn’t proposing policies – simply offering ‘what if’ scenarios. I believe their reason for picking 5 months was that it took about 5 months for the initial peak to die down, but when you lifted the measures, the epidemic just came back. They were using it to explain that simply locking down for 5 months didn’t make it go away – it just held it in abeyance.

    My recollection of what was said at the time is fuzzy, but I remember that having read the Ferguson paper I was well aware that it was going to be on the order of months, I remember older people were warned to prepare for 3 months shielding at least, and I don’t think it was more than a couple of weeks after lockdown that I saw the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries saying that while there might be some modification/easing sooner, it was inevitable that fairly severe measures would have to stay in place for at least six months since that’s how long it would optimistically take to develop a vaccine, and that nobody should be expecting it to be eased any time in the immediate future. The legislation initially required them to review it every three weeks (which may be where others got the idea that it was only going to be a matter of weeks), but they were not expecting the first few reviews to result in any changes.

    I think there was a short period – maybe a week or three – where they did indeed talk about “flattening the curve”, and simply keeping it below the maximum NHS capacity, but I think that somebody must have pointed out the numbers to them on how long that would take, and what the consequences would be, and they changed their minds.

    Anyway, I was aware from the start that it was going to be a long haul, and expected there to be only small changes by about 3 months, but the fact that Jenny had to explain the point repeatedly in the briefings proves that not everybody got that message. I can’t say they were wrong to think so – somebody might have said something I missed to that effect earlier on.

    “If people had stuck to the 2m distancing, kept wearing masks, and all the other measures in the toolbox, I strongly suspect (but can’t prove), that we wouldn’t need to be putting the brakes on. I further suspect that we might have been able to more safely ease out of lockdown several weeks ago – if only people weren’t treating it like nothing more than a bad flu.”

    In a sense, but I think the choice was deliberate. Like I said, there’s a trade-off between *two* sets of costs – the cost to liberty and the economy, and the cost of extra Covid deaths. The politicians have not gone 100% all out on preventing Covid deaths either. They have allowed various exceptions – essential workers, daily exercise, funerals, safety-related emergencies, etc. and they have made some allowance for a percentage of people breaking the rules. Public policy required them to get R0 below 1, meaning a 75% reduction in social contact. They didn’t require R0 to approach zero, and 100% reduction in contact. That does result in some extra deaths, as it slows the decay of the epidemic, but R0 = 1 is far less of a burden on the economy and the emotional well-being of the population. They chose to make it less strict than they might have, and tolerate more viral transmission than they might have, because they’re making a trade-off between competing costs. They’re not ignoring either.

    So the political choice was made that we didn’t have to do everything – society has a choice. You need to select enough items from the menu to get R0 below 1, but you don’t have to pick everything to get it as low as possible. We can consider the price, and whether the benefits are worth it, too. And everybody values their freedom differently. For some people, not having to wear a mask is more important, for others, opening their business again is more important. The government was previously prepared to let public opinion and peer pressure sort out which options were collectively considered more acceptable. So long as R0 stayed below 1, they didn’t really care which measures people took. But I think they’ve started getting more concerned about jobs, and are therefore prodding people now to prioritise the economy over the freedom not to wear a mask. I can’t say I approve, but I understand their point. The economy is a far more visible measure of their performance than public discontent.

    To some extent, the government don’t care if some small percentage break the rules. If R0 is below 1, their goal of keeping things under control is met. What they’re worried about is that if they tell people so, that more than the tolerable small percentage with think “Right-ho” and start breaking the rules. It’s a game of externalities, a prisoner’s dilemma.

  • neonsnake

    I remember older people were warned to prepare for 3 months shielding at least

    Ah! Yes, that makes sense.

    My recollection is this: there was one particular week during which the seriousness of the matter hit home. Weekend of 6th-8th March, I went to York, stayed in a BnB, elbow-bumped the owner amongst some nervous grins around COVID, went to lots of bars/pubs, and went to a gig on Sunday the 8th (indoors, sweaty, close, shouty, everything that’s “wrong”). By Wednesday, anyone within my company who had supplier-sponsored tickets to Cheltenham were banned from going. Thursday morning, I was asked whether I “could” work from home, if necessary. By Thursday evening, I was gathering papers, USB sticks, uploading to Google Drive and so on. By Friday, it was a done deal – we’d come in on Monday to gather any materials needed, but we were working from home from Tuesday onwards.

    Friday evening, everyone went to the pub, and hugged their mates goodbye for the next (few weeks??? Not sure what we thought, tbh) amount of time. I booked into a hotel I sometimes use for a couple nights, my other half had her elderly mother over to stay with her, and I was aware that I’d possibly been exposed.

    The hotel bar was *packed* for the next two nights, as everyone kissed goodbye to their freedom and made the most of it. I saw a couple of regulars disappear with ladies that were clearly bought and paid for *shrug*

    Here’s where I get hazy – I *think* that on Monday the 16th, we were asked to “socially distance” – and we didn’t. So, a week later, on the 23rd, we were “grounded”. Full-on lockdown. I went shopping on the 21st for all of my family, my vulnerable friends etc, and spent a good hour or so sending pictures of empty shelves (“look, there’s no chicken. What do you want instead? Toilet roll? Not really”)

    I actually missed the announcement on the 23rd, I was working. I learnt about it when my other half messaged me upset that “oh, I think we can’t see each other for a month! :(” (that might be where I got the “month” thing from).

    I can’t say I approve, but I understand their point.

    This is tricky. My personal view is that it’s entirely legitimate to bemoan being ordered to do something. But, when all of the facts are that you “should” wear a mask, and people are refusing to do so for no reason other than that the government have said so, I start to have problems.

    Paraphrasing Kropotkin, “In the case of shoes, we defer to the cobbler.”

    I sometimes morbidly wonder that if the government had said “don’t got and throw yourself off Durdle Dor, that’s bloody obviously stupid”, how many “libertarians” would would throw themselves off Durdle Dor, while screaming “Freedom!!!” at the top of their lungs.

  • APL

    NiV: “Anyway, the Liverpool pathway is really an argument about unofficial euthanasia. “

    You mean state approved murder. Murder of people no one will notice, today.

    Tomorrow? Murder of people the State disapproves of.

    NiV: “There are people whose lives become endless suffering and misery, dragged from one life-extending operation to another, “

    They, the victims, could of course say, ‘no thank you’. But for the fact that the State ‘heavily sedated’ them.

    The abuse of the Liverpool pathway wasn’t someone going into hospital to have one painful life-extending operation to another ( your rationalisation of murder). It was people who went into hospital expecting treatment, who were then incorrectly “casually assessed as terminal” and dispatched by the most degrading, painful and lingering method available, dying of thirst is a most excruciating way to die. On the NHS!!

    And here you are, putting forward an apologia for dreadful mass murder. ‘Dreadful’, I wouldn’t wish that death on my worst enemy.

    NiV: “I’m happy to debate the merits of euthanasia if you like”

    A category error. Compelled death is not euthanasia, it is murder. Except you are too intelligent to have made it in error.

    And you wonder why I suspect your motives.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It was people who went into hospital expecting treatment, who were then incorrectly “casually assessed as terminal” and dispatched by the most degrading, painful and lingering method available, dying of thirst is a most excruciating way to die.”

    Diagnosis is never perfect. So if someone has a 95% chance of dying and a 5% chance of surviving and you have to make a decision, you can either treat 95% wrongly, or you can treat 5% wrongly. But that means you’ve got 5% of your patients with a complaint to make, and people running an appeal-to-emotion campaign to ban something who only ever look at one side of the argument.

    As I said above, I’m happy to condemn any cases of people being euthanised when they shouldn’t be. I’m not defending it.

    I agree on the question of dying of dehydration – it’s far from the worst or slowest, but it’s not the best either. However, that’s the direct consequence of banning euthanasia. There are plenty of painless ways to end life, but that would be murder! Can’t have that. ‘Withdrawal of treatment’, however, gets past their anti-euthanasia rules. So you go with what you’re allowed. But if you want to join me in proposing they’re allowed to use a less unpleasant method, go for it.

    Meanwhile, I notice you’ve managed to completely slide past the issue of “Where were the cries of “200-300 a year?! That’s less than a typical flu season!” when the Liverpool pathway was being discussed?” Did it perhaps slip your mind?

    After all, the argument here is that deliberately choosing not to abide by measures to prevent the spread of an epidemic that you know kills helpless old people in a particularly horrible way, that’s murder too. Compelled death. Like a bullet fired at random into a crowd.

    How do you feel about your own rationalisations?


    Still want to play?

  • APL

    NiV: “However, that’s the direct consequence of banning euthanasia. There are plenty of painless ways to end life, but that would be murder! “

    People have been routinely murdered by the British State, and you are sidestepping it and calling it euthanasia.

    And you expect me to take you seriously when you call out for the Uyghur?

    NiV: “After all, the argument here is that deliberately choosing not to abide by measures to prevent the spread of an epidemic that you know kills helpless old people in a particularly horrible way, that’s murder too. Compelled death.”

    It’s a crappy argument.

    1. ‘Helpless old people’, were largely in the care of the British government. Or their care was supervised by the British government.
    2. Helpless old people could and I propose, should have been quarantined and measures taken to protect them. The British government did exactly the opposite by moving COVID patients into the care homes.

    But anyway, you are ok with State sponsored murder. I’m not surprised.

    NiV: “you can either treat 95% wrongly, or you can treat 5% wrongly.”

    The wrong treatment would diagnosing a condition and prescribing the wrong care. It is not making a conscious decision to execute a patient. In the case of LCP the patient was explicitly placed into a condition [ heavily sedated ] where he/she could n0t give ‘informed consent’.

    So, you are not really arguing for saving millions who might die a natural death from COVID ( assuming the Ferguson’s figures were not some totalitarians wet dream ), because you obviously don’t care about murder. The argumentation is just a pretext for more state interference and control.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But anyway, you are ok with State sponsored murder. I’m not surprised.”

    I explictly said that I wasn’t. But you’re not listening, are you?

    “In the case of LCP the patient was explicitly placed into a condition [ heavily sedated ] where he/she could n0t give ‘informed consent’.”

    That’s not the LCP, and is contrary to the LCP’s guidelines. The LCP was an attempt to take some of the lessons in palliative care from the hospice sector and apply them in hospitals. It was not intended as a protocol or procedure. It was not intended to either lengthen or shorten life. It recommends better communication with patients and family to help everyone understand what is going on, and why decisions are being made. It’s not supposed to be a routine procedure, done lightly or by junior staff. It was a training programme to aid non-specialists in palliative care to look after the dying better.

    But you know as well as I that in any big organisation, a lot of employees are idiots. They’ve been on the training course, but they slept through the boring bits, and didn’t understand the hard bits. They misunderstood what it was supposed to be about. They’re human. They’re frequently low paid. They’re often young and inexperienced. Care of the dying involves some hard decisions, and it is comforting to the unsure to be able to off-load responsibility onto some recommended ‘procedure’. Calling it a ‘pathway’ was a mistake. People misunderstood, and some staff treated it as a tickbox way to shuffle people off their mortal coil. But it was incompetence at the bottom, not malice at the top, and it wasn’t what its designers had intended the LCP to be.

    Staff incompetence is an inevitable consequence of employing humans. I don’t defend it. I’d much prefer it not to happen. Employers should take reasonable measures to prevent it where they can. But I recognise the reality that some people are less than fully competent at their jobs, and always will be. There’s a trade-off, again – absolute perfection is infinitely expensive, and we can’t afford that.

    However, that’s a separate issue from the question of euthanasia, which is one of those difficult moral areas where there are no easy answers, where *no* available path leads to fairy tale ‘and they lived happily ever after’ endings, and where hard decisions have to be made. (That’s just as true, whether it’s the state or private individuals looking after them. It makes no difference.) Moral absolutists exploit such situations by only presenting the costs on one side of the argument, and dismiss those on the other entirely. They demand we pay infinite costs on one side to avoid the slightest risk of paying costs on the other. The result is infinitely expensive. The result, in this case, is that the campaign against any suggestion of euthanasia results in the possibility of unlimited human suffering. But the campaign doesn’t care about that – raise the subject of the other side and they just slide straight back into their one-sided argumentum ad misericordiam.

    “So, you are not really arguing for saving millions who might die a natural death from COVID ( assuming the Ferguson’s figures were not some totalitarians wet dream ), because you obviously don’t care about murder.”

    Wrong. I care about murder, but I care about torture too. End of life often puts one in the situation of choosing between them. Given a choice between murdering somebody quickly, and torturing them slowly until they die anyway, I don’t like *either* option, but believe that sometimes murder can be the lesser evil.

    But it requires the ability to see *both* sides of an argument. If you are not aware that the only other option on offer is torture, it’s easy to argue that murder can never be an acceptable solution. If you are not aware that the only alternative is old folks dying slowly unable to breathe, it’s easy to argue that our freedom to socialise should never be restricted. It relies on ignoring one whole side of the balance sheet.

    You are trying to make the argument that the LCP scandal (you say 200-300 deaths) is equivalent to the Covid situation (potentially 500,000 deaths), and apart from the ‘false equivalence’ business of implicitly giving them equal weight, I agree. You are trying to make the argument that not caring about the LCP deaths is supporting murder, and one can’t consistently support LCP on the one hand and object to people murdering others by spreading Covid – to which I’ve responded by saying I don’t support the LCP scandal deaths where people were euthanised who shouldn’t have been, but that your own equivalence goes the other way round too. “Where were the cries of “200-300 a year?! That’s less than a typical flu season!” when the Liverpool pathway was being discussed?” You clearly don’t care about murdering people when it comes to Covid, so (by your own argument) presumably it wasn’t concerns about murder that motivated your support for the campaign on the LCP scandal, was it?

    I’m not the least bit interested in your real motivations for opposing LCP. I’m not even particularly bothered about your stance on Covid-19 precautions. (R = 1 is sufficient for me, and the policy makes allowance for a small number of idiots not following the rules.) What I’m trying to get across to you is the abstract point that there are costs on *both* sides of the argument that must be traded off against each other. The optimum with the minimum total cost is a point in the middle of the U somewhere, where neither cost is zero, so paying a price is unavoidable. And when one cost suddenly rises dramatically, the optimum generally shifts to a new point where the alternative cost is higher, too. You can’t make good decisions looking at only one side of the balance sheet.

    As I said above, “I’m a “both sides of the argument” merchant.” I’m saying that the middle of the U has a lower cost than either end, but it only works if we consider both sides of the contributing costs.

    Where were the cries of “200-300 a year?! That’s less than a typical flu season!” when the Liverpool pathway was being discussed? That’s the question you keep avoiding.

  • APL

    NiV: “That’s not the LCP, and is contrary to the LCP’s guidelines.”

    Convenient for those fat cat’s in the NHS bureaucracy. Except the WIKI article claims there were cash incentives for killing people without informed consent. Otherwise known as murder.

    NiV: “What I’m trying to get across to you is the abstract point that there are costs on *both* sides of the argument that must be traded off against each other.”

    Well, doh yea!

    The point of disagreement is in the relative weighting of those costs. You claim, with in my opinion diminishing evidence, that we could have had a worst case scenario of an extremely large number of dead. I never accepted those guestimates. We have since learned that Fergusson was shoveling shit into his ‘model’ the mechanics of which were extremely dodgy anyway, so that’s another item accumulating to my side of the leger.

    You seem to claim that COVID-19 is a couple of orders of magnitude more aggressive and lethal than your run of the mill influenza virus. I don’t think that stands up to inspection either, and back in the day, I said so then too.

    In the early days of this lie-fest, you were implying that we should all be concerned about catching COVID-19 because it was an indiscriminate killer. I disagreed with that assertion too. My perspective has been vindicated there again. ( 90% of those dying of COVID have been over 60 + having other conditions that mitigated against recovery from an additional infection ). We knew that then too.

    You gobbled up Fergusson’s projection like a cat with cream, I went back and looked at the accuracy of some of his prior estimates and predictions, and concluded there was even less likelyhood that his projections were in the ball park let along in the same fucking ball game.

    Another credit to my side of the ledger and a debit to your side.

    Now you ( a supposed libertarian ) go on to advocate that the full weight of the State be brought to bear so perpetuate your increasingly dodgy dossier of incorrect assertions and fabricated projections, to justify decimating ( duo-decimating ) the GDP of the economy.

    You accuse me of having the balance of the credit/debit balance sheet distorted, then blithely go on to ignore the destruction of healthy people’s livelihoods their businesses, the injury to their friends and family, the increase in crime and disorder, the loss of quality of life, and I’ve not even factored in the NHS failing to treat previously routine conditions and the (convieniently not calculated) loss of life as a result.

    And Fergusson actually said, 2/3rds of the people the lockdown might save would have died anyway by the end of the year, and then went on to project that the cost of this year, would take decades to recover from.

    Further more, as I keep pointing out to you and you don’t want to register, ‘flattening of the curve’ doesn’t lead to less deaths overall. But was a justification for saving an institution that deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

    In March it was ‘Save the NHS’. In August, it’s wear a face mask or be arrested. This is insane.

    Your other rationalization is that ‘the people’ support the lockdown. Maybe, only because ill educated people were scared shitless by the BBC and fellows like you with your ‘we’re all going to drown in our own fluids’ and ‘the NHS won’t be able to cope so we are gonna die on the streets’. Classic demagoguery, which you ought to be ashamed of.

    The BBC, doesn’t have to chase revenue. Its revenue stream is assured. Its job was to inform not terrorize. If the public support the lockdown then it’s because of demagoguery like yours, and the wall to wall drivel the domestic terrorist organization the BBC have subjected them to.

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