Coronavirus: Only an Anecdote 904

Today’s shocking evidence by Prof. Neil Ferguson that, had lockdown been implemented a week earlier, the death toll would have been halved, has the ring of truth, although it must remain a surmise (and I am aware of his past record).

But I want to give you an anecdotal example from my own family of the extraordinary government laxness at the start of this pandemic.

Whilst I was in London during February covering the Assange hearing, Nadira attended the Berlin Film Festival. She has produced a feature film in Iran, currently in post production, which she was there to promote. She therefore spent almost the whole time in the company of people from Iran involved in the film.

In very early March, a week or more after her return, Nadira developed a bad fever and pneumonia like symptoms. I advised her to call 111. It is important to remember that at this time Iran was well known to be a major epicentre of Covid-19. Nadira was phoned back by a Covid-handler from 111, and she explained the situation to him. He said that she just had seasonal flu and that Germany was not a risk for Covid-19. She explained that she had been the whole time with people newly flown in from Tehran. He stated that unless they were showing symptoms, there was no risk of infection. He said Nadira did not need a test or to self-isolate.

When I got back from London, Nadira took to her bed and remained there for a week, which is simply unheard of – she never gets sick. Cameron developed a nasty cough and we kept him off school for over a week.

Two things are in retrospect striking. The first is that Nadira complained bitterly, and continued to do so for some weeks, that she had completely lost all sense of taste and of smell. We had been gifted a particularly good bottle of wine and I thoughtlessly opened it, rather than wait until she could enjoy the taste too. At that time loss of taste and smell was not a reported marker of covid-19.

The second striking fact is that we now know that the real reason that the 111 service was so adamant to Nadira that no testing was required, is that there was in fact no available testing capacity for anybody who was not Prince Charles. That does not explain why Nadira was told she did not have to isolate. Nor does it explain why in early March NHS Scotland could not grasp the difference between being in Berlin, and being in Berlin with a group flown in from Tehran.

It is worth noting that Nadira flew back in to Edinburgh, very likely carrying Covid 19, precisely two days before the controversial Nike conference. Nadira is just one person, and I am prompted to tell the story (with her permission) by Ferguson’s admission that the failure to do anything about the thousands of people returning from Italy had seeded the virus substantially. That is only a part of it. The refusal to take seriously and test members of the public who believed, with sensible reason, they may have contracted the virus abroad, plainly contributed to the UK’s higher death rate (let alone the failure to bring in airport screening).

Of course, until an antibody test is made available, we have no evidence it was not indeed just the flu which Nadira and Cameron had. To complete the family story, I did not develop pneumonia but did come down with a number of acute symptoms of which the most startling was sleep. About ten days after I returned to Nadira from London, I went through a period where I just could not wake up: for about five days I was sleeping 20 hours a day in a proper, deep sleep. I also found I could not type to blog. I could not control my fingers, while after ten minutes of typing my hands became extremely painful and I literally could not move my thumbs at all. I had all kinds of worries, from arthritis to Alzheimers. It was only later I discovered this arthritis like condition can be a coronavirus symptom too. It now seems to have thankfully cleared up.

At precisely the same time my daughter, who lives with us, came down with eye infections so bad she was off work for a fortnight while they were treated by the Edinburgh Eye Clinic. There is some evidence now this too can be a symptom of Covid-19, though the same can be said for a huge variety of symptoms.

The only member of my family to have been tested was my sister-in-law, who works in the NHS. She was extremely ill and hospitalised for a considerable period. She self-isolated and avoided admission perhaps overlong, not wanting to be a burden on her own hospital. In this self-isolation period my brother continued to look after her and to share a bed, and yet he has at no stage exhibited any symptoms.

This is all only anecdotal. Only one of the family ever was tested, even though Nadira very much ought to have been and wanted to be. It interests me that only Cameron ever developed a cough – even my sister-in-law who was hospitalised for weeks never coughed, even though both she and Nadira had breathing difficulties. My daughter and I had completely different symptoms again. The only common symptom to us all was fever. My brother, who cannot have avoided catching the disease, had no symptoms at all.

Anecdotal evidence is not without value. What the story of my family does show is that government negligence caused the most serious failure in diagnostic capacity compared to better organised countries, and thus the abdication of any possibility of effective track and trace right from the start. That seems to me a sufficient illustration of why the UK death rate has been so high.

I wish to thank all of those who tuned in for the first procedural hearing in my Contempt of Court trial. I realise it was not too gripping but please do not give up and do stay with me through the procedures as they get more dangerous. Julian Assange’s case has been marked by terrible abuse of procedure. I am severely constrained in what I can say, but I may perhaps say that today was a most happy contrast to the handling of Julian. I have no doubt your presence with me helps; and it is a massive emotional support.


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904 thoughts on “Coronavirus: Only an Anecdote

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    • Mary

      A cull of the elderly. Intended? Allowed, definitely.

      The majority of deaths involving COVID-19 have been among people aged 65 years and over (40,796 out of 45,748), with 47% (19,183) of these occurring among people aged 85 years and over.

      ONS April 2020

      • Bramble

        For economic reasons, slaves were packed aboard slave ships despite the knowing the more vulnerable would die. More profit would still be made. Those who died were thrown overboard. Now this government, with the support of the people, are putting the economy first and throwing the elderly and vulnerable overboard. Nothing has changed.

  • Jack

    “As devastating and horrific as the pandemic has proven across Europe, it would have been far worse if governments hadn’t moved quickly to impose social distancing measures, shutter schools and ban large public gatherings. The Imperial College in London has now published fresh data up to May 04 showing that government intervention has saved an estimated 3.1 million lives across the continent. ”

    And then we have people that claim lockdown doesnt work/useless!

    • Penguin

      They can say what they like given the lack of control models to test their hypothesis against. Sweden has a lower death rate than Belgium so lockdown doesn’t save lives. Perfectly logical and coherent position to take from the available evidence.

      • Jack

        Did you even read the link at all?

        “. It used a novel Bayesian mechanistic model of the infection cycle to observed deaths in order to estimate the number of deaths that would have occurred without interventions. ”

        If there were no intervention by states, the death count would be much higher in Belgium and other studied states.
        Its common sense.
        Sweden is of course a good example on why lockdown is needed by the way.

        • Spencer Eagle

          Oh come on, anything coming from Imperial College should be considered nothing more reliable than a coin toss. Their handling and understanding on all aspects of ‘modelling’ has been a disgrace. Their only validity is the shortsightedness of government ministers, ever willing to use them time and time again to steer policy despite their demonstrable lack of expertise in the field and disastrous past form.

          How Convincing is Imperial College’s COVID-19 Model?

        • Stevie Boy

          Estimates and modelling is only a form of intelligent guesswork which sometimes is good and sometimes isn’t.
          You need to be aware that a lot of the data used for infections and deaths is highly suspect, so any estimates or models based on that needs to be treated with extreme caution. The actual ‘real’ science shows that a policy of protecting the vulnerable and proven (tested) infected whilst letting everyone else go about their business would have been the best approach.
          The lockdown also may have worked better if it had been short and sharp and applied to absolutely everyone and everything (public transport and government advisors) Instead we have had a pseudo lockdown that has been largely ineffective and only served to destroy the economy.

          • Jack

            Nothing suspect by the countless studies proving lockdowns work, we could go back 100 years and see the same studies on the Spanish Flu. Again its common sense first and foremost.

      • Clark

        Belgium is currently at 17 deaths per day, Sweden 35 deaths per day. Belgium is on 117 new cases per day versus Sweden’s 853 new cases per day! – all figures 7 day rolling averages for June 9. Belgium’s new case rate is falling and has been since mid April; Sweden’s is rising, and in fact has never fallen.

        Belgium’s figures were anomalously high anyway; probably due to high population density and lots of travel to and from Brussels. If you instead compare like with like, and compare Sweden against Norway, Finland and Denmark, Sweden’s figures are appalling.

        • OnlyHalfALooney

          The anomaly is mainly due to the way deaths are counted in Belgium. The country’s authorities include all deaths “suspected to be due to coronavirus” (i.e. unconfirmed cases with coronavirus symptoms mostly among the elderly).

          The following Dutch article explains this. You can use Google Translate or DeepL to translate it.

          Another way of putting it: the Belgian figures are closer to the “excess deaths” estimates. While the Dutch figures are only half the “excess deaths” figures, because the official Dutch figures only include confirmed cases.

          But this draws attention to poor and superficial media reporting which does not take into account that each country has its own way of calculating coronavirus figures.

          Also note that every country has hotspot regions. For example, in Italy, Lombardy was affected very badly, particularly the Bergamo area. But Rome and Southern Italy much less so. (I am still very curious why the worst hit areas are often not the big cities.)

    • Glyn+Paterson

      Interestingly Ferguson himself said “Nevertheless, it is interesting that adopting a policy which is short of a full lockdown – they have closed secondary schools and universities and there is a significant amount of social distancing, but it’s not a full lockdown – they have got quite a long way to the same effect. That is something we are looking at very closely.

  • Frazer

    Know what is happening via published media ie news feeds etc. Chin up old boy. Hope your taste buds have recuperated as I have a nice bottle of the 73 we can drink when all of this crap is over.

      • Frazer

        Yes mate..we will all miss year we hope and yout contribution will be appreciated..especially if i can get tv in my caravan lol

        • nevermind

          good to hear that you two are planning next years summer event, and are in good spirits, literally and prospectively poised to lift a glass or two. Hope to be there with you somehow,

  • ET

    Glad you are over the first hearing and that you and family survived what sounds like covid-19. I think there were major errors of judgement in handling the coronavirus pandemic in UK and elsewhere.

    Not introducing social distancing advice and/or measures earlier and continuing with the “Feck it, sure it’ll be grand” policy. Along side this, allowing large gatherings such as Cheltenham, Liverpool match etc to go ahead. However, it would seem that transmission outdoors is considerably less than that which occurs indoors and in confined spaces. Public transport for instance.

    Another mistake was not testing and isolating long term care home patients before sending them back to their institutions along with the rush to clear beds. It appears that almost 50% of deaths in UK and Ireland (despite Ireland’s earlier measures) have been in care homes. I anticipate negligence litigation there. My own mother is in a care home in Ireland though fortunately, so far, they have had no coronavirus infections in that home. Over a third of Irish care homes did have it.

    Thirdly, the lack of organised testing and test kits. As you pointed out it seems they did everything NOT to test people. How could they say Nadia just had seasonal flu when the symptom profile could be so similar to covid-19? Ireland did much better with testing and getting hold of test kits.

    • Clark

      “Another mistake was not testing and isolating long term care home patients before sending them back to their institutions along with the rush to clear beds”

      My guess is that this was a result of the early instructions that the government sent out, when the policy was mass death and “herd immunity”, before the ICL team put their numbers on SAGE’s table.

      Also attributable to this policy are the emergency mass mortuaries and the Nightingale hospitals:

      • Penguin

        There was no policy of mass death and people were moved from hospital back to their homes because they would be safer at home than in a building full of thousands of people suffering from Covid19. Unfortunately care homes are all potential disaster zones any time there is a contagious disease around. Ordinary Influenza or Norovirus wipes out thousands in homes every year but people don’t blame the government for it.

          • Herbie

            “UK records around 64,000 excess deaths during pandemic,”

            I thought those excess deaths were down to the many effects of Lockdown, financial, social and so on, including lack of access to NHS services.

            And of course all those deaths in Care homes.

          • Clark

            Herbie, no, the deaths rose to a peak and then fell again, during lockdown. The death rate wouldn’t have fallen during the lockdown if lockdown had been their cause.

          • Nick

            Lockdown has contributed to the excess death toll. Not even close to the main contributor of excess deaths…but there appears to be several thousand excess deaths not due to covid19.

          • Jack


            That is true, alot of deaths could be related to lockdown itself but the majority is of course due the virus itself.

          • Stevie Boy

            Died with CV-19 or died of CV-19 ? How does anyone know ? No testing, no autopsies, lots of guesswork.
            In the US some gunshot deaths have been attributed to CV-19, in Canada, bodies are bagged up and burned within 24Hrs of death with death certificates based on guesses and issued by non medical staff ! The same is happening to some extent in the UK, the fact is we have an environment of knee jerk reactions, gross incompetence and bad science.
            If it makes you feel better then believe what you’re told … others can see what is really going on.

          • Jack

            Some 420.000 have died now, if there was no pandemic the vast majority of these people would have been alive today so of course they died because of the virus.

          • Clark

            Stevie Boy – “Died with CV-19 or died of CV-19 ? How does anyone know ? No testing, no autopsies, lots of guesswork.”

            Directly contradicts:

            “… others can see what is really going on.”

            “If it makes you feel better then believe what you’re told”

            Do I spy the smug superiority of a conspiracy theorist ? Yeah, I’m just a sheeple, Mr Clever Clogs. Actually, covid-19 has characteristic symptoms, and sadly, medical staff have become very familiar with them.

        • Clark

          “Ordinary Influenza or Norovirus wipes out thousands in homes every year”

          but it doesn’t “wipe out”, ie. kill tens of thousands in a single month.

  • Mist001

    Are you sure it’s down to government negligence?

    As I read your post, it seemed apparent to me that since the preferred policy of Government was herd immunity, why would they even bother to test anyone or issue advice on the matter, especially in the very early stages of the outbreak? As happened in your wifes’ experience, they would just casually dismiss the matter and let people get on with it and that’s what I think happened here.

    It fits government policy at that time.

      • Mightydrunken

        “But then isn’t a policy of herd immunity the epitome of negligence?”

        Yes. Herd immunity without a vaccine just means people catching the virus which is presumably what you DON’T want.

      • Los

        No, not if it’s intentional and premeditated, in which case it is tantamount to Manslaughter (or worse).

    • Ros+Thorpe

      That’s very much my experience after I fell ill with Covid. The medically unqualified government propaganda agents working At 111 told me to go back to work and I simply could not have Covid 19

      • porkpie

        “The medically unqualified government propaganda agents working At 111 ”

        Not really their fault, though is it?

  • Alwi

    Apparently if it is considered that Covid19 is a blood or circulatory disease rather than primarily respiratory, e.g. viral pneumonia, it explains why the symptoms can be extraordinarily diverse.

    • MBC

      She doesn’t mention the most important thing, which was that all airports and ports were closed on 12 March to tourists except for flights returning with Norwegians.

      • Blue Dotterel

        This may have assisted Turkey as well, since it immediately closed its entry points to, first, China, then Iran and Italy as soon as it became clear they were in crisis. They also closed schools and public places early March, enacted social distancing, wearing masks and testing, producing their own masks, tests and even ventilators.

        Currently the economy has reopened, but with certain precautions remaining in place: social distancing, wearing masks, and also, public intercity and intracity transport carrying half the number of passengers.
        Maybe not perfect, but so far better than the EU and US.

  • S

    My colleague has a very similar story. Stuck in bed for a week in mid-Feb with a terrible throat and no sense of taste or smell. He rang 111 to be told definitely not covid because he hadn’t actually been to Wuhan. No need to isolate. He did isolate, thankfully, but that was because he could. Those in jobs different to his, or on zero hours contracts, would have no choice.

    Anecdotes are just anecdotes but if everyone has an anecdote like this, it suggests there was something very wrong with our handling of the problem back then.

  • Tony M

    Cheltenham Festival/Gold Cup was a hotspot from which the horsey-set travelled back home to far flung parts of the nations, bringing something nasty back with them which they then spread in their local communities. That and it’s worth noting that testing is anything but conclusive, and an antibody test too won’t be conclusive of anything much either as it won’t, it can’t, be specific for one of a multitude of possible Coronavirus variations. ‘It’ is anything anyone wants it to be, and as anecdotally as Craig’s article is, I know countless people who’re adamant they had it, or something very like it, ‘the worst flu they’ve ever had in their lives’, late November, early December 2019. It wouldn’t surprise me if the lunatic fringe brainwashed protesters seed a second wave, protest seems a luxury the genuinely needy, distressed or oppressed have neither the time, the energy nor any inclination for. Real injustice and harm takes a back seat to the hypothetical putative sort based on the shakiest of grounds.

    • Clark

      “testing is anything but conclusive, and an antibody test too won’t be conclusive of anything much either as it won’t, it can’t, be specific for one of a multitude of possible Coronavirus variations”

      Untrue. Please stop spreading hostile disinformation.

      • nevermind

        my antibody test had three results, one for ensuring the test works, and two others testing for two antibodies that could be present. At present there are 9 morphed versions of covid 19, according to university research, so testing for only two antibodies might not be a catch all test.

  • Ros+Thorpe

    I’ve had a similar experience although I had full blown Covid 19, cough, fever, chest pains, sleeping 20 hours, aches and pains and many more that persist 3 months later. I called 111 on March 10th and was told you DEFINITELY DO NOT have Covid 19 and will not be tested. I asked well shall I just go back to work then. YES you can go back to work.

  • MrK

    Nobody should put any faith whatsoever in theoretical physicist prof. Neil Ferguson’s statements or models.

    (THE AUSTRALIAN) Coronavirus: UK modelling that forced lockdown ‘messy as angel hair pasta’

    David Richards, co-founder of tech firm WANdisco, told the UK’s Telegraph: “It’s a buggy mess that looks more like a bowl of angel hair pasta than a finely tuned piece of programming.

    “In our commercial reality, we would fire anyone for developing code like this and any business that relied on it to produce software for sale would likely go bust.”

    Scientists from the University of Edinburgh reported problems with the Imperial model, saying they got different results when they used different machines, and even in some cases, when they used the same machines to run the model.

    “There appears to be a bug in either the creation or re-use of the network file. If we attempt two completely identical runs, only varying in that the second should use the network file produced by the first, the results are quite different,” Edinburgh scientists reported.

    The results of the government response, however, is even more frightening. For while 34,000, mainly elderly people with comorbidities have died, there have been more than 12,000 excess non-coronavirus deaths from people too scared to go to hospital and dramatic spikes in suicides and mental health cases.


    (OFF-GUARDIAN) REPORT: Over 95% of UK “Covid19” deaths had “pre-existing condition”
    Latest statistics show vast majority of fatalities had at least one other disease

    How covid19 is no different from any other flu.


    Why Ferguson and Imperial College’s ‘through the roof’ sustained exponential growth of this epidemic was always nonsense:

    “His observation is a simple one: that in outbreak after outbreak of this disease, a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions. After around a two week exponential growth of cases (and, subsequently, deaths) some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down. The curve quickly becomes “sub-exponential”.”

    “This may seem like a technical distinction, but its implications are profound. The ‘unmitigated’ scenarios modelled by (among others) Imperial College, and which tilted governments across the world into drastic action, relied on a presumption of continued exponential growth — that with a consistent R number of significantly above 1 and a consistent death rate, very quickly the majority of the population would be infected and huge numbers of deaths would be recorded. But Professor Levitt’s point is that that hasn’t actually happened anywhere, even in countries that have been relatively lax in their responses.”

    • Clark

      There are loads of different models besides the ICL one. They all make substantially similar predictions, and the predictions match measured growth rates.

      You’re being played, MrK, by the right-wing press that wants the people out working and buying no matter how many get ill.

      • MrK

        Actually you’re being played by the oligarchs who want everyone to stay afraid of a flu which according to their own data ended 7 weeks ago.

        In fact… new flu cases this week were lower now than they’ve been in 10 years. A blow by blow recording of the number of people who call in to their GP with a flu-like illness, on a week by week basis.

        In fact, it is hard to see how COVID19/Sars-Cov-2 even survived the end of flu season.

        These lying oligarchs are using the lockdown to strangulate the SME sector and the middle class, their ultimate target. They hated FDR with a passion.

        • Clark

          “These lying oligarchs are using the lockdown to strangulate the SME sector and the middle class, their ultimate target. They hated FDR with a passion.”

          Ah, conspiracy theory. And all the virologists, geneticists, epidemiologists, coroners, doctors, nurses and statisticians all over the world are just lying, because Big Boss says to.

          “…afraid of a flu”

          It’s not a flu (sigh), it’s a SARS.

          “which according to their own data ended 7 weeks ago.”

          Wrong again; the reduction was caused by the social restrictions. Under 7% of the UK population has been infected so far, so covid-19 could still get 100/7 = ~14 times worse.

      • Bayard

        Just because the ICL model produced the same result as others, it doesn’t mean that the code was any good. AFAICS, it produced so many different results from the same inputs, that they could just pick the ones the others were using. “But please, always to call it research”.

    • Mightydrunken

      Unless a boatload of software engineers were involved in the planning of the code, most programs look like a “buggy mess that looks more like a bowl of angel hair pasta”. Scientists are pretty notorious for this as they do it themselves and then slowly add to the initial mess as their understanding of the problem develops.
      It looks like the code had some bad bugs and was even nondeterministic but the errors in the code are less than the errors due to our lack of knowledge of the disease and its progression.

    • Clark

      “Over 95% of UK “Covid19” deaths had “pre-existing condition”
      – Latest statistics show vast majority of fatalities had at least one other disease”

      Oh well, the sick bastards are better off dead then, I suppose.

      • Bramble

        I’ve had an underlying condition since birth (a faulty heart valve). Doubtless I should have been exposed on a mountain top for the good of the economy, not allowed to live to 70 (so far).

      • MrK

        “Oh well, the sick bastards are better off dead then, I suppose.”

        It means that exactly the same people who died of COVID19 die of the seasonal flu every single year, and without fanfare.

        And actually, I spend a lot of time tracking developments of the Liverpool Care Pathway, which I supsect had more than a little hand in the large number of ‘COVID19/Sars-Cov-2’ deaths.

        There was nothing special about Sars-Cov-2. It was no different than the 2 other flus that made the rounds this year.

        What gets me is that the people who are so concerned that the shutdown of society and hospitals didn’t start early enough, have absolutely 0 compassion with the people who are now dying of cancer, heart or kidney disease because their operations were cancelled, so the entire hospital could be dedicated to non-existent wave of COVID19 cases that never came.

        Notice there were 3 peaks this year, the last being COVID19/Sars-Cov-2. Exponential growth lasted 3 weeks, when COVID19/Sars-Cov-2 peaked, now 11 weeks ago. Flu season itself ended 7 weeks ago, when new influenza like illnesses were fewer than the national baseline, the way it has ended every year for the last 10 years.

        • nevermind

          How many of those who died over 65 had last years annual winter flu vaccine, Mister K? Any information on the efficacy of these vaccines, I understand from a chemist friend that there were four different vaccines given out.

        • Clark

          “people who are so concerned that the shutdown of society and hospitals didn’t start early enough, have absolutely 0 compassion with the people who are now dying of cancer, heart or kidney disease because their operations were cancelled”

          This vicious insult is entirely without basis (why are conspiracy theorists so often horrible?). Had restrictions been applied early enough it would have been unnecessary to clear hospitals. Those arrangements were made presumably because the original government “herd immunity” policy was to let covid-19 rip through the population, overwhelming the hospitals and turning them into lethal centres of infection. But ICL’s figures presented at SAGE changed government policy to a belated lockdown, so we got a

          “wave of COVID19 cases that never came”

          well, not exactly; critical care was at 78% and general acute care at around 59% nationally, and higher than that in worst affected areas:

          …but let’s compare the covid-19 mortality spike with the seasonal flu spikes anyway:

          Goodness me, it was off through the roof before lockdown attenuated it! A sharp spike, indeed; no natural curved top to that one. Well I’ll be damned, this virus behaved just the same in England as it did in Wuhan, the Diamond Princess, South Korea, Italy, Spain, France… Really, you’d think it would have the decency to show a bit of restraint in ol’ Blighty, wouldn’t you?

    • Clark

      “After around a two week exponential growth of cases […] some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down”

      Yes, social distancing is instinctive. Animal populations have been suffering epidemics throughout their tens of millions of years of evolution, so they instinctively socially distance from each other during epidemics.

      Only conscious human thinking minds are dumb enough to suspect that this is might be a bad thing, a trick by the government.

      • Deepgreenpuddock

        I am sceptical of your assertion:

        “Yes, social distancing is instinctive. Animal populations have been suffering epidemics throughout their tens of millions of years of evolution, so they instinctively socially distance from each other during epidemics”.

        I think any social distancing during an epidemic is a cognitive thing, not an instinct. An instinct is a behaviour laid down, or ‘hard wired’ into the brain and possibly other parts of the body, and almost certainly relates to genetic determinants that have become fixed, after an extremely long period of evolution,involving selective survival, and these cannot be altered in the short term.

        Admittedly human(and animal) behaviour has evolved into some optimised survival strategy( i.e we are here so it must work-so far) and it is reasonable to suggest that human behaviour has evolved in the context of surviving a range of infections passed on from the environment.
        It is more likely that ‘ecological’ determinants(such as nomadism as opposed to settled communities) are more important in survival than conscious(cognitive) social distancing. We’d then also have to think about group survival and individual survival. It is tricky to judge this kind of matter. It seems likely that human populations have lived with and adapted to a range of infections and these became lethal in periods of distress such as drought or starvation due to adverse hunting or food collection conditions.

        • Deepgreenpuddock

          I should have added that infective agents mutate spontaneously( through replication errors or due to environmental influences such as a burst of powerful UV radiation. The altered/mutated infective agent may acquire greater or lesser lethality and a population may die out or proliferate more successfully.

          • Clark

            Fair enough, ‘instinctive’ was probably the wrong word. But it’s human behaviour that slows the spread rather than changes to the virus, or we wouldn’t see the same pattern in countries where covid-19 took off later.

        • Tony M

          I’ve long and continue to socially-distance myself from persons with visible mobile-phones, can’t do much about the stealth carriers however. As much for the former’s objectionable anti-social self-absorption as well as for the known deleterious effects on human (and no doubt animal) health of electromagnetic emissions and for anti-surveillance/privacy reasons. Even if the virus threat and fears diminish, I think social-distancing worth maintaining until the harms from such exposures are officially recognised and the risk-filled experiment of bathing our essentially bio-electric bodies in such external electromagnetic smog is discontinued. The future is wired, not wireless.

          • Clark

            Yeah, “natural” = good, “technological” = bad. Obviously; that’s why life expectancy just keeps rising… And I’m not sure where anthills, bird nests, squirrel drays, beaver dams, wasp nests and molehills fit into this neat classification…

            Look, I’m not convinced of safety testing of the new high frequencies, ~80 gigahertz, ‘cos disclosure is inadequate, and all this new bandwidth is unnecessary anyway. But you’re straining at gnats; the ~30 gigahertz stuff (Wi-Fi, GSM) has been around for decades now, and we don’t have new epidemics correlating to the conurbations. Probably the worst effects of 5G will be the open-cast mining and waste disposal in poor countries, but never mind about that because it won’t affect us in the rich cities.

    • S

      If you want an unbiased and thorough view on this kind of thing I recommend reading Andrew Gelman’s blog. Please don’t just parrot sources like these.

      My position on this coding issue is: yes, he could have coded it a bit better, and that should probably have happened at the point he switched from academic epidemiologist to government advisor (and it looks like it did, to a small extent). But this is mainly missing the point, and a more interesting criticism would be of the model itself and how changes to it affect the predictions. Also, this is only one model of many that is feeding into the outputs from Imperial College.

    • Paul

      I’m with you on this. It is extraordinary that Neil Ferguson still is regarded by some to have any credibility at all after his past absurdly alarmist forecasts for previous swine flu and avian flu outbreaks. He is clearly just a publicity seeking charlatan who no-one in their right mind should take any notice of.

      • S

        These are odd articles to cite, Paul, because they were written before the peak and are basically all about the over-hype. That was a valid theory at the time, but it has now been proven wrong to all but a few conspiracy theorists.

        • Gav

          Ope, ‘conspiracy theorists’ alert. Is there an equivalent to Godwin’s Law for the inevitability of someone/something using that line when questioning of official orthodoxy is at play?

          • glenn_uk

            Seems to me the only “inevitability” is for someone to pop up – and it’s invariably from the same group of people – to say whatever the subject at hand (climate change, pandemics, vaccines, flat-Earth musings or whatever) are all the product of some mighty plot being perpetrated against stupid “sheeple”.

            The same individuals will invariably go on to say we’re all dupes, being played, perhaps agents of the “deep state” or some-such ourselves for going along with it, refer to dubious, interminable youtube videos, and promote their Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory using a variety of risible conspiracy sites.

          • Clark

            Gav, if you can’t recognise conspiracy theory when you see it, you’ve probably been infected by it. If it looks to you like “questioning of official orthodoxy”, the infection is probably acute.

            If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t need to worry what answers you might come up with. Meta conspiracy theory for me every time please…

  • Clark

    “had lockdown been implemented a week earlier, the death toll would have been halved, has the ring of truth, although it must remain a surmise”

    Not a surmise, the numbers are clear. The sooner restrictions are applied, the lower the infections and consequent deaths:

    It also permits restrictions to be lifted sooner; just five weeks of appropriate restrictions can virtually wipe out covid-19, saving lives and the economy. Look at all the countries that have got it down to single figures:

      • Bramble

        Sod our governments. What gets me are the fellow citizens who rage at the damage done to the economy (and their own personal ability to go to pubs and race courses etc) because of efforts to keep the pandemic under control. The numbers of people in favour of throwing the vulnerable overboard are truly horrifying. Me first, everyone else isn’t even human, that’s their creed.

        • Clark


          But spare a thought; the selfish have been indoctrinated with selfishness since the mid 1980s. Personally my home has been a television-free zone for decades, and my only use for “news”papers is lighting the stove. I simply will not tolerate that shit in my house.

    • James

      Clark – OK – so what *are* the appropriate restrictions?

      Take Poland, for example. The death rate is low and there have only been under 1200 deaths in total so far. The lock-down has been strict, but as far as I can see, Covid 19 is *not* virtually wiped out in Poland at all. It is still present. The numbers are *not* declining. It seems to have reached a steady equilibrium.

      The death rate seems pretty constant (approximately 15 per day) and doesn’t seem to be going either up or down. The `new infections’ may seem to be taking an alarming turn upwards, but that is due to their policy of testing many more people than they used to (particularly in the mines in Silesia). So the number of detected cases is increasing, but I don’t see evidence that the number of actual cases is increasing.

      It has reached equilibrium, despite a very severe lock-down, which has been going on for way longer than 5 weeks.

      So what should they be doing that they are not doing?

      As far as the UK goes – when I look at the charts, I see a steady decline. So although they got it wrong initially (so that they had a very bad initial condition), they then slapped on a severe lock-down and they have had a steady decline ever since. But no matter how seriously they lock things down, I simply don’t expect it to go down to zero. I expect the UK to reach an equilibrium which is non-zero.

      Also, I do worry that the cost of the lock-down, particularly on the young people and the children in terms of their education and social development, may not be worth it. Perhaps the cost of keeping old and decrepit people like myself alive, in terms of the damage done to the young and healthy, is simply too high. Civil liberties is also another thing to worry about.

      • Clark

        Take a look here:

        Also see their categorisations of countries by how well they’re stamping out this pathogen, linked from the home page:

        Also add this idea, to slow down propagation at work (and it would spread available employment around more fairly):

        I don’t like the term “lockdown”. It means different things when applied to different countries, and it has unpleasant overtones which discourage people. Closing public gatherings and telling people to stay at home will not work on their own because a vital element is missing – quarantine. The infectious need to observe quarantine until they are non-infectious, or the virus will just spread at home. Providing proper facilities for supported quarantine is vital.

        Proper quarantine was hindered in the UK through lack of tests. “Lockdown” measures held back proliferation in the mean time, but proper quarantine has never been instigated.

        The UK government’s response has been a massive, unforgivable abdication of leadership. I don’t mean power or authority, I mean true leadership – explaining what we had to do, and why we had to do it; explaining what making a short-term sacrifice was in our long-term interest. The objective should have been clearly and prominently displayed – the daily new cases figures, an ongoing procession of them, with the latest figure most prominent and added daily, accompanied by a strong, clear message; “by means of our self discipline, we must reduce this number to zero”.

        Clear analogies are needed, such as eradicating infestation or vermin – just getting the numbers lower is not enough because as soon as you drop your guard it’ll just multiply again. On the other hand, you only need to stamp it out once, and the quicker the better.

      • Clark

        “Perhaps the cost of keeping old and decrepit people like myself alive, in terms of the damage done to the young and healthy, is simply too high. Civil liberties is also another thing to worry about.”

        Please don’t think like that. You are one of the vulnerable and as entitled to protection from pathogens as anyone else. One of my best friends is in his 40s. He had a lung infection three years ago and now probably has a 20% chance of surviving covid-19 should he get it. His wife works in the NHS and has to commute by increasingly crowded trains. A friend’s daughter is 16 and immunocompromised. We suppress this damn virus for the good of all. I’m sick of the presumably pro-corporate propaganda, that only the old and already ill are vulnerable; covid-19 also damages the healthy who survive it. It does organ damage and neurological damage – does Boris Johnson seem the whole ticket since his bout?

        And we always need to fight for civil liberties; we lost so many under both Thatcher and Blair’s lot, and the recent spate of Tories have done not a jot to restore them. Social restrictions in epidemics are as old as, indeed older than humanity itself.

        • James

          Clark, my day job is teaching at a university. We were sent home on 10th March and told to teach remotely. I did get the hang of using Zoom, but it really isn’t the same. I did improve my Zoom technique throughout – and the students did download the Zoom-app onto their smart-phones so that they could participate in the tutorials – but it really was a very poor substitute for the real thing. Of course, nice for me – I could do the whole thing from my own home – but it was absolutely not the same as proper face-to-face classroom teaching. Now the exams are coming, so we’ll soon find out just how ineffective this form of teaching actually was.

          They’re all young and healthy – and we certainly didn’t send them home for their benefit! We certainly weren’t doing them any favours. The whole thing was done for our benefit and not for theirs.

          At least they got an education (albeit after a fashion). Those of school age got very little.

          • Clark

            The objective is to stop it spreading, so restrictions have to apply to all. Most people recover, some die, but either way each infection of a person is over in a matter of weeks, so by denying it opportunities to spread we force it virtually into extinction. Dozens of countries have achieved this, but the UK still has thousands of new infections each day.

            The alternative supplies it with hosts, and each host gives it chances to mutate; it’s more likely to mutate towards being less aggressive, but there’s nothing preventing mutations from making it even worse. And at least some of those infected and recovered are left with long term damage; we don’t yet know how bad or widespread this is.

    • Nick

      You can’t “end” coronavirus through lockdown
      You can control it…that’s all.
      There will be no immunity and quite frankly looking at the history of inoculation against this type of virus….we can forget any safe injection being available soon. They have been trying for years to perfect what they still can’t do in terms of this use of genetic material.
      You seem to think that it can get 14 times worse. Viruses don’t work like that in reality. They can hit more resilient immune systems and burn out,or become changed into something more lethal. We applaud south Korea for dealing well with the virus but their population is still at risk. So in all seriousness where do we go? Perpetual lockdown because there will be no effective jab that is safe to use or eventually just come out and hope the virus burns out like other pandemics did after 2 seasons. Not much of a choice really. What it won’t do is disappear on it’s own.
      Depressing doesn’t even come close.

      • Clark

        Dozens of countries have got it down to two digit numbers, one digit, or even a case every few days. Under those conditions, “lockdown” isn’t needed; it can be replaced with contact tracing and quarantine. “Lockdown” is a hammer, a blunt instrument to stamp it down to manageable numbers.

        Take heart. We beat smallpox, we were beating measles. Polio was nearly eradicated, and will be in due course. We can beat covid-19; in fact its short infection duration is a major advantage to us. Our main obstacle is conspiracy theory, which set us back with both measles and polio; call out conspiracy theory for what it is every time you see it.

    • Penguin

      Being run by the genocidal mongos living next door will do that to a body. Funny how in Italy there were bodies piled up in corridors and hospitals stowed out with terminal patients yet that never happened here but you claim we had a worse death rate. Does not compute. Try harder next time or you’ll lose your SIU merit badges.

      • S

        We avoided those scenes from hospitals by sending people back to care homes. Italy does not have so many care homes to send people to.

    • Mist001

      It’s obvious that Scotland has had a catastrophic response to the virus. Sturgeons own words were that Scotland has been in lockstep with the UK government concerning the virus.

      We see how badly the UK government has handled it and that means, going by Sturgeons own words, that Scotland has handled it badly too since they were in lockstep.

      • Laguerre

        Sturgeon hasn’t been in lockstep with Westminster, indeed decisions have often gone differently.

          • Herbie

            The impression I took is that Sturgeon tried to look like she was always a bit more hawkish than Westminster on the Lockdown thing.

            Dunno how that worked out in practice.

            So far as I can see Wales had the most stringent lockdown, with legal ban on exercise more than once a day.

            The RoI had a legal ban on travelling more than 1.2, latterly 2.5 kms from home. I think Scotland had something like that, perhaps Wales as well. Dunno if this was legally enforceable in those places.

            I’d say England and NI had more relaxed lockdowns, in terms of legislation passed and rhetoric uttered.

            Anyway, they’ll all have been taking notes on the most effective ways of locking-down a population. And that applies across the world.

            The data from this will be immense.

          • Laguerre

            “Why did she say so publicly, then? Are you saying Sturgeon is a liar?”

            That’s a terribly simplistic response. There’s lots of reasons why Sturgeon might have said that, notably to keep herself in with Westminster. Follow what people do, not what they say.

  • James

    Well, well – hindsight is a great thing.
    The lock-down has come at great expense to basic civil liberties. I’m not sure I want to live in a society where I am required to possess a smart phone, with a GPS unit, so that my every movement can be traced. This sounds more than a little bit Orwellian.

    Nicola Sturgeon jumped on it as an excuse to stop trial-by-jury.

    If the lock-down had been started a week earlier, what would have happened with the Alex Salmond trial? For the second week of the trial, would they have dispensed with the jury, closed the public gallery – and then appointed three corrupt judges who are `shirt and arse’ (to quote an Italian phrase) with Nicola Sturgeon to decide the outcome?

    I do appreciate that the lock-down saves lives – and for this much thanks. I do strongly worry about the assault on civil liberties.

    • Ros+Thorpe

      So do I. It was very easy to pass these laws. Will they ever be revoked? I doubt it. This is the ideal opportunity to track people and enforce limitations on freedom. Hope it doesn’t end like I fear.

    • Clark

      Civil liberties weren’t gifted to us by the powerful; our predecessors faught for them, and we shall fight for them again if needs be.

  • andrew wilson

    I am not in the UK at the moment, My last visit was late in February. On both directions, I saw thousands of people and had to queue with them, no chance to avoid close contact.

    I saw the warnings about travel from Italy and IIRC a couple of other areas.

    About a week after returning home I was struck with diarrhoea, a huge dose of fatigue and an incessant dry cough that lasted for several weeks. It took about 2 weeks for the fatigue to pass. I did not think much of it at the time but as I learned more I came to the conclusion that I had quite likely picked up Covid-19. During this period I was pretty much isolated although in my locale we were not under a full lockdown.

    Given the lightness of the symptoms, I am not unhappy to have had this – I will take an antibody test before I travel again, for my own peace of mind.

    Yes, again, anecdotal, but there are lots of anecdotes.

    I am sure that we will find very many more people with antibodies than are expected – the Russian case seems instructive in this regard.

    I am happy that you all seem to have gotten off fairly lightly and I can understand your disappointment at the reception you and your family received. It wasn’t just the UK that was grossly unprepared for what happened.

  • Willie

    I am no epidemiologist but it seems to me that the U.K. government were more than happy for the virus to spread.

    And why do I say this. Well, going back to middle February 2020 the HM Government and the NHS were running full page newspaper adverts and radio adverts to say that they were well prepared for the Coronavirus and that the best thing people could do was sneeze in tissue, dispose of tissue, and wash hands regularly.

    Not quite the precautions taken only a few weeks later when there was a panic to put the country in lockdown!

    So why the sweet talking into every thing is fine – when the world knew it wasn’t. Was it to
    Spread for the herd. Get it spread far and wide and too bad if a few old yins die.

    Certainly seems that it was. Dulce et decorum est in pro patria mori.

    • Penguin

      That’s Socialists for you. “For the many not the few,” as labour’s election campaign had it. Any rational government would have isolated the vulnerable and told everyone under 50 to get on with their lives as normal. Just wash your hands more and don’t sneeze over people. We wouldn’t have 5 Million unemployed and more people being dead due to lockdown and economic misery than the pathetic so-called virus.

      • Clark

        “Any rational government would have isolated the vulnerable and told everyone under 50 to get on with their lives as normal”

        Not possible. The vulnerable need care, especially the old. If the entire working population had been infected there would have been no uninfected carers for the vulnerable. Nevertheless, that was the fantasy this idiot government initially attempted to implement.

        “more people being dead due to lockdown”

        This defies the fact that the death rate rose, but then fell again during lockdown.

        • Blue Dotterel

          In Istanbul, volunteers in local communities assisted the elderly by purchasing and delivering groceries and medicines to their door. Those over 65 were quarantined early, and forbidden to go out. There was one hour for exercise, I believe. Only recently the elderly have been allowed to go out between the hours of 10:00-20:00 daily. It appears as if the elderly were taken care of, although most deaths (~90%) attributable to Covid-19 were suffered by them. There have reportedly been about 4,700 deaths in Turkey.

          The economy was not totally shut down. Construction workers continued on the job, allegedly with some precautions, restaurants were open for take out only, and markets, corner stores, pharmacies remained open (all with masks, face shields, social distancing). Other businesses that could operate online with delivery were open, as well as schools. Public transportation was restricted or shut down during weekdays, and everything was closed on weekends. Intercity transportation was banned, including private vehicles. Intercity transport from Istanbul was restarted June 10. The economy is now open.

        • Nick

          Hyperbole surely?
          Whole workforce infected?
          When did that happen?
          People in vulnerable category going into their self imposed lockdown of course would have kept them safe. My parents did theirs without being told to do so..common sense. I do the shopping for them. And the problem in care homes has been the policy of keeping the elderly locked down with the group that is the demographic it is killing.
          Better delivery services locally would have helped. But to say that older people staying in wouldn’t help is not true at all.

          • glenn_uk

            Nick, you’re ignoring the fact that a lot of vulnerable people cannot simply manage entirely by themselves even if they do get food dumped on their doorstep.

            Another point you don’t appear to appreciate is a lot of people do not live in their own houses entirely by themselves. Younger people share accommodation with older people.

            This virus is still spreading around primarily because enough people are stupid and selfish enough to spread it. You are making arguments in favour of this behaviour.

          • Clark

            Nick – “Whole workforce infected? When did that happen?”

            It didn’t, but it would have done on Westminster’s boneheaded initial “mitigation and herd immunity plan”. Covid-19 spreads fast, that’s why it overwhelms healthcare systems unless social restrictions are applied.

            Care homes need staff. Yes, the discharge back to care homes without segregation was murderous, all the abdication of implementing proper quarantine was potentially murderous. But on Westminster’s initial “plan” none of these would have made any difference; infection density would have rocketed, half the population would have been infected at peak, and it would have been like Wuhan all over England.

            We were about three weeks from that disaster when lockdown was implemented.

      • CasualObserver

        ‘Pathetic Virus’ Its probable that a complete picture of Covid19 and how it works wont be available for a few years yet. And as CM points out, the effects do seem to be diverse, so its entirely likely that even those lucky folk under 50 who have had it and recovered may yet find reminders of their infection in the years to come ?

        Such a proposition could of course be total bollocks, I’d give it the same odds of being so as your summation 🙂


    I remember the appalling posters from 1979 that read ‘Voting Labour can damage your wealth’ or something like it.

    Now we can counter with ‘Voting Tory has seriously damaged your health’.

  • 6033624

    There were thousands living. working or simply holidaying abroad and, like every other country, this one made the decision that the risk of ‘bringing them home’ was less than the outcry if we should fail to do so. I can understand this, it’s the wrong thing to do but in times of crisis people really do want to go ‘home’

    But as for the ‘testing’ scenario, we must remember that it wasn’t just that you displayed symptoms but rather that you were serious enough for a hospital admission that was the criteria for getting tested (unless you’re Prince Charles of course) In this country, and many others I suspect, decisions were made, quite possibly at local levels, that those in care homes would NOT be admitted and would get palliative care only in situ.

    The case recently where a patient discovered she had been marked as DNR without her consent is, I’m sure, not an isolated one. Indeed it may be the difference between the NHS having kept admissions below capacity in this country versus the way the Italian health service was overwhelmed. And yes, I do believe that this could well have been local decision making. It is an illness of management in this country to cover up where there are obvious problems, shortages and shortfalls by taking measure like this. In fact, to do the opposite leads to accusations of ‘going native’ from your peers. A high number of over 70s may have been lost entirely due to poor management..

    • Blue Dotterel

      Currently, “Turkey will start antibody tests in the country’s 81 provinces on June 15, said Professor Seçil Özkan at the Health Ministry’s Science Board.
      “Health crews will visit nearly 153,000 households to collect blood samples from one person from each family,” she said.
      The antibody tests will help see the immunity level among the public and provide useful information in the fight against the coronavirus, Özkan added.”

      Turkey also had a contact tracing program
      Back on ” April 28 around 5,800 teams of two or three medics had identified 468,390 people who have been in contact with coronavirus patients. He said around 99% of those had been reached and were regularly monitored by health officials.
      …The system grew out of a method Turkey had been using for decades to contain previous outbreaks of measles and flu
      …Turkey, with a population of 83 million is now (end of April) doing 30,000-40,000 tests a day, according to data from the Health Ministry.

      This seems to have been what was/is lacking in the UK and USA.

  • John Goss

    I’m pleased today went better than expected for you and hope that it continues in a positive mode until the disturbing issue is over for you.

    Sorry to hear about health issues of you and your family but happy to learn that you all got through it. I won’t say any more because I’m not allowed to comment, especially on Coronavirus issues for which I hold particularly strong non-mainstream views.

    • Penguin

      Say it! If everyone else in the world is wrong and you are right then you don’t stop being right just because you are outnumbered.

      • Clark

        But you do stop being right by being in direct contradiction to facts. And you seem particularly good at that, Penguin!

      • John Goss

        Thank you, but I understood that. In other words it appeared to me that I could and can post my thoughts in a marginalised area that nobody reads but not comment on the main blog posts as other comment-makers do. To me that is pretty much the same as being, if not banned, at least severely prohibited.

  • Aaron_a

    Fortunately some of us have long enough memories to remember when you were cheerfully telling your readers that it would all turn out to be nothing worth worrying about.

    • Giyane


      It might not have been such a big deal if the government had been a government and not a bunch of oversized school kids trying to roll the schoolbus and scoop the hedge fund profits for bankrupting us.

      The effort of turning this super tanker of Tory greed from playing the casino economy to helping elderly patients has been a slow running nightmare to watch. Like that tourist ship that ran aground in Italy because the captain was romancing with his new girlfriend.

      It’s very good news that the Murray family have survived the virus, but Craig’s predictions did not take into account the utter Tory cynical laissez faire, nor the complete disregard of scientific warnings about coronavirus. Indeed, if he had predicted the complete criminality of the Cummings – Boris government , you would have been the first to label him as prejudiced.

      We are now steaming past icebergs with Tory MSM gloating about the EU’s imminent collapse AS IF the EU’s difficulties will not affect us. Does it give you confidence that Bojobums is grinning all over his fat face that he has culled another set of spongers in the form of care home residents.

    • craig Post author

      I didn’t ever say it was nothing worth worrying about. I suggested it might be similar to the Hong Kong flu epidemic of 1968/9 which was hardly a picnic itself. This seems to be significantly worse, but not incomparably so.

  • Ingwe

    Nicola Sturgeon currently on Newsnight with Kirsty Wark-every even vaguely difficult question put to her is deflected by a standard response “I’m concentrating only on Corona virus”.
    Will you lay out a path to independence? “I’m concentrating on Corona virus”.
    Part of the fall out of the Salmond trial is that there was a conspiracy. What were your feelings when he was aqcquited of all charges? “To be honest, I was just concentrating on the Corona virus”.
    Kirsty Wark-“Thank you”.
    This was the gist not actual quotes. Appalling.

  • bevin

    As usual a post on this subject evokes responses to the effect that the entire crisis has been carefully engineered, even planned, in order to, among other things, deprive us of civil liberties and impoverish us.
    One wonders what leads to these bizarre and irrational ideas.
    What they have in common is a refusal to attribute causation to the socio-economic system itself. Rather than blame capitalism for the widespread reluctance of governments to impose quarantine and costly test, trace and treat procedures to contain the epidemic, these people either deny that there is an epidemic at all, (something very easy to do, statistically, in a society in which trust of the authorities is very low, particularly among social critics) or, when that denial is unsustainable, as it tends to become when bodies are piling up in plain sight, to seek out an explanation of governmental callousness that does not involve any critique of the actual socio-economic system. Orthe neo-liberal ideology behind it.
    This has become a default ideology for the large numbers of those who, while sensing that all is not well with the world, refuse to trace the problem to capitalism itself.
    Hence the need to come up with ever more extravagant alternatives to class analyses. Capitalism, the argument goes, cannot be the problem but George Soros or Bill Gates might be. The interests of a ruling class do not differ, it is insisted, from those of society as a whole. But evil forces within the State- from spooks to mad scientists- might very well be behind the massive fraud purporting to be a pandemic.
    The employer, who wants to get work started again and the employee who just wants to get his job back, are thwarted by a government which is not only not democratic but is not responsive to an oligarchy controlling the means of production either.
    My guess is that this is part of the price we pay for the atrocious propaganda of the Cold War era and the long ideological battle that preceded it-and developed into fascism- aimed at saving capitalism from the reforms that were and are evidently needed by the great majority of the population and in the interests of future generations.
    It is no accident that climate change denial and Covid Pandemic denial are often to be found together. Or that the most fervent deniers of both were also to be found opposed to the Corbyn project last year.
    It is a marriage made in Cold War hell between the followers of Ayn Rand and the faux Trotskyists who could not see the difference between Moscow and Washington and cannot now see anything anomalous in their alliance with Al Qaeda and Israel against the Syrian government. Or their alliance with Trump, Bolsonaro and Johnson against those who believe that the old principle of defending the vulnerable at any cost-once known as “Women and Children first”- should be abandoned in order to preserve the process of Capital Accumulation and economic growth unrestricted by social interference.
    As to those civil liberties, nothing has proved easier than to deprive the people of them as soon as the technological means of doing so became available. The idea that the state has invented an epidemic in order to inaugurate a surveillance regime, which has been increasing in its intensity for decades, is laughable. Almost as funny as the idea-also put forward- that the ruling class in the United States waited to raid the Treasury until it had a genuine excuse for doing so.

    • Herbie


      Will you ever give over with the Capitalism crap.

      So 19C.

      There is no Capitalism, competition and so on.


      We live in a Command economy.

      The financial shenanigans over the past few months ought to have highlighted this reality to even the most casual viewer.

      • Clark

        Sort of. Capital commands the government to spend the taxpayers’ money with the biggest, most powerful corporations. Beneath that was a capitalist middle class of small and medium businesses, but since the pandemic they’re mostly bankrupt. Everyone else is on zero hours minimum wage contracts, benefits, food banks, homeless or dead.

        • Herbie

          I think we can all agree that small independent businesses are on the decline in the Retail and Services sector. Bought up/out.

          What’s happening in Manufacturing, Agri, the productive sectors.

          I see massive govt contracts going to large corporations who provide no added value to the enterprise.

          Taxpayers money to mates.

          It used to be called Crony Capitalism.

          Like some aberration kinda thing.

          But, it is, in fact, a Command economy.

        • Herbie

          “A Kleptocracy surely ?”

          There’s a taxation for management services, Protection and whatnot. Interestingly, the more useless management gets, the more they tax. This typically happens over generations.

          “Kakistocracy is a better fit”

          Otherwise known as “the crap rises to the top in a closed system”.

          This started with a Polish study of what happened during the Communist period.

          But it’s kinda like what we live with today.

          You have the right opinions, attitudes, friends, you get on and succeed.

          You don’t, you don’t.

          Otherwise you have to create your outlier kinda being.

          Anyway, I’ll leave it to David Lynch to sum it all up:

          • Giyane


            Thanks for the clip from David Lynch. The only difference between Al Qaida and Cowboys is the headgear. Apart from that the clenched teeth menace is exactly the same

    • giyane


      Conspiracy theories abound and like Tolstoy’s unhappy families, they are all unhappy in totally different ways.
      I’ve been assured by a pleasant black guy that Trump is the saviour and the Chinese are the bad guys.I suppose he must be now widening his particular theory to encompass George Floyd. True battiness is always available @ Aangirfan where GF is seen as an agent of the CIA.

      The obvious reason why conspiracy theories breed is that we know that every modern state is capable of total deception by way of war except of course Russia and China who are therefore vilified.
      There was a comedy on Radio 4 this week which had a snippet about government’s handling of coronavirus approval ratings. The highest approval rate being in Scotland, but that was possibly because the interviewers didn’t understand irony.

    • Anthony

      Trump and the Democrats’ latest multi-Trillion giveaway to the rich was justified by the pandemic. What is funny is the prevalence of Trump supporters on here who still persist in representing him as a challenge to the status quo. Not coincidentally they are the bulk of the Covid deniers, advocating for an end to lockdown in countries with the worst death rates.

      • Laguerre

        “What is funny is the prevalence of Trump supporters on here who still persist in representing him as a challenge to the status quo.”

        Really? I’ve never met one of those on here. Who are they?

          • Clark

            Anthony, you’re almost right, but most of them don’t think of themselves as Trump supporters; they just believe the same conspiracy theories as were used to get him elected.

            I suspect there are some PR companies promoting this through hundreds of obscure websites; similar to the climate change denial operation, but now more sophisticated, incorporating the experience of Cambridge Analytica / Integrity Initiative operations.

  • Moritz


    in Germany the initial testing requirements were similar and very strict as well: there had to be a China connection (recently returned from there or in contact with somebody who had a positive test). I fear that China is to be blamed for the virus, economic downturn and everything else and in order to do that there must be no evidence that the virus was around earlier and in other parts of the world; therefore, strictly no testing if you didn’t return from there.

    • David

      the [coronavirus genome] study — which showed at least 1,300 lineages of the virus were imported — suggested only 0.08% of British cases could be traced to a strain coming directly from China, where the pandemic began…..

      [using last common ancestor] of UK infections sampled, 34% traced to strains in Spain, 29% from France, 14% from Italy, then Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland – around 2% from USA….blame China, not SAGE SPI-M wrong advice, based on ‘flu not Sars modelling?

      Prof.Oliver Pybus et al, COG-UK,

      • Laguerre

        And people keep telling me the virus doesn’t mutate, and won’t lose its virulence….

  • CasualObserver

    It was pretty obvious from the end of January that the virus was potentially very serious and easily spread. So had governments moved to shut down international travel at that time, its likely Covid19 would now be all but extinct. Unfortunately as governments are nothing more than gutless ‘Managers’, what would have turned out to be a (with today’s knowledge) modest cost has now become a situation where developed economies will likely see a 5 to 10% drop in GDP. But hey, thanks to the efforts of the Federal Reserve, the top tier will have seen an increase in their worldly wealth.

    Clearly, the ‘Its just the Flu bro’ crowd would have declared the low numbers of deaths as proving that such measures were ill advised panicking, but as things stand with maybe 60 thousand deaths above average, which will probably top out at the 100k mark, the UK will have lost numbers that would populate a town the size of Basingstoke.

    Oh Well, at least the virus has been slowed giving the medical profession time to work out how to treat what was an ailment entirely new to their ranks. We may assume further improvements in treatment protocols, but there still remains the distinct possibility that the sequelae for those who have ‘Recovered’ from the virus may be inconvenient to say the very least.

  • Wally jumblatt

    NHS strategic planning not fit for purpose, civil service not fit for purpose, those entrusted with bringing in the right consultants worst of all.
    Government just as useless as ever, remember we vote for them, we know how useless MPs are.

  • stuart mctavish

    Given that the self harm and terror arising might reasonably merit an extended stint in either hospital or Guantanamo, it is perhaps unsurprising that Neil Fergusson is inclined to double down on the original scare,
    However since the statistics tend to give the lie to his statement (Scotland closed at same time as England but peaked 2 weeks later), and substantial increases in deaths not complicated by covid-19 the damned lie, it may yet be kinder to force such experts back into obscurity before their hubris is allowed to cause even more damage.

    • Spencer Eagle

      Blessed be the NHS with all its faults. People have been known to fight off air ambulance crews to wait for a normal ambulance following relatively minor car crashes in the US, lest they end up with an astronomical bill that is only partially covered by insurance.

      • glenn_uk

        People have even been known to wave away regular ambulances in the US following fairly serious injuries, because they do not have medical insurance due to its cost.

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