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September 26, 2020 at 00:57 #60760Clark
I’ve thought up a “Track and Trace” algorithm. It would inform each user of estimated risk without informing any authority. It could run in parallel with Big Brother schemes without interfering with them. It works like this.
Each user who wishes to participate installs a free and open-source application on their “smartphone” (I too dislike that term) or other portable device.
The application generates a random number long enough that the chances of any two being the same is vanishingly small; we shall call this number a Device Unique Identifier DUID. It transmits this number on short range communications whenever other similar communications are detected.
Each application also scans short range communications, recording each DUID it encounters, and the integral of signal strength over the time of the encounter.
Any user of the system who suspects themself to be infected informs their application of this. The application then posts their DUID to a public online noticeboard, with the status “suspected”.
Any user of the system who tests positive informs their application of this. The application then posts their DUID to a public online noticeboard, with the status “positive”.
Any user of the system who tests negative informs their application of this. The device then deletes their DUID from the public noticeboard.
Since there is no database connecting DUID to personal identity, posting DUIDs to the public noticeboard poses minimal immediate privacy risk. The application can generate a new DUID occasionally to break any association between DUID and personal identity that may have been generated by third-party surveillance. Each public noticeboard would be relevant to a particular geographical area of a size chosen to keep the data manageable.
Each device application periodically scans the relevant public noticeboards comparing those DUIDs with its internal list of recorded encounters, calculating an assessment of infection risk and informing the user, automatically producing an alert if some threshold is exceeded. Since this is all voluntary the user would then presumably get tested, and inform their application of the result.
Improvements and refinements could be added, eg. shops and transport have wifi that could also be assigned identifiers and posted to the noticeboards, so that portable applications could assess the risk in spaces they had visited.September 26, 2020 at 01:23 #60764Clark
Data is kept manageable within each portable application by deleting any recorded DUID and its associated encounter integral ten days after the encounter, unless that DUID is found on a public noticeboard within that time.
This algorithm makes least demand upon the device when the proportion of suspected and positive DUIDs is small. But when they’re large, track and trace is pointless anyway and lockdown is called for.September 26, 2020 at 20:23 #60802N_
Six months into fascism in Britain: in the words of the state TV and radio service, the London police have “shut down” a protest demonstration held today in Trafalgar Square, and they “used batons to control the crowd”. As a result of the baton use, some protestors were left with “visible injuries”. In other words they crushed the gathering and they beat the sh*t out of the protestors…people peacefully protesting against blanket fascist house arrest and a South African-type “banning” order applying not only to known anti-fascists but to the entire population, or at least to everyone who doesn’t shoot grouse – an order that the fascists have helpfully branded with the number “6”.
Making it absolutely clear that the Labour party supports fascism, London mayor Sadiq Khan blamed the protestors for acting against the “safety of our city” and injuring “hard-working police officers”.
The fascist regime’s position is essentially “no more protests, no more opposition”.
What should happen now is a swell of anti-fascist demonstration, a general strike…but it’s not going to.September 26, 2020 at 22:30 #60805Clark
The protestors are doing exactly what the corporate media, particularly the Right-wing “news” media has encouraged them to do. At 03:30, hear them laughing at their own risk assessment:
Note that virtually no one wears a mask. Note the rejection of science by the speakers.
I strongly oppose this government. Governmental leadership in this crisis has been non existent with ministers and advisors acting hypocritically. Restrictions have been late and unscientific. Monetary support has been targeted primarily at the largest corporations and administered by the banks rather than giving support to the people.
But the government being bad doesn’t make the protest good. These ill-educated people have been disinformed about science throughout recent decades by the appalling “science coverage” relentlessly promoted by the corporate media, leaving them vulnerable to the antiscience promoted through anonymised websites such as the so-called Swiss Propaganda Research.
This is very sad.September 27, 2020 at 13:08 #60828Clark
N_, there were zero political points being made at this protest, absolutely nothing about economic policy. I don’t know how conflict broke out, but the protest did not appear to be committed to non-violence, eg. the video I linked shows a “Gestapo police” placard, and another shows protestors engaging violently with police.
On what basis do you suggest this to have been an “anti-fascist” protest? The protestors appear merely misguided by antiscience, without any coherent political stance at all.September 28, 2020 at 00:10 #60847Clark
Protestors advancing, police retreating. Protestors chanting “choose your side”. Many shaved heads. I would leave a protest as aggressive as this:September 28, 2020 at 19:26 #60916N_
Britain has imprisoned most of the students at Manchester Metropolitan University. More universities look likely to follow. Even Adolf Hitler didn’t do anything like that.
FREE THE STUDENTS!
The schools and universities should never have reopened. The state only reopened them because
a) the banks want their debt “entitlement” for 2020-21;
b) the drug companies want the SARS strain to spread, as public relations for the “vaccine”;
c) so do the surveillance companies (e.g. Apple, Google).September 29, 2020 at 11:09 #60974N_
Public Hygiene News
The British government has made it illegal for pubs to allow dancing. They just announced the law on Sunday night. They didn’t bother passing it through parliament.
It’s moved on from having the effects of a war without an actual war.
We’ve now got some of the effects of famine without having a famine (yet).
In a famine, family relationships weaken and get duller, and people have less energy and hope. (Oh and eventually they die.)
There you go, Greens – this is the population control you always wanted.September 29, 2020 at 11:20 #60977N_
Most media sources aren’t naming the law. Here it is: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
The law now dictates that in a pub the management must ensure that
* “no person joins another group”
* there is no dancing.
Is saying in a loud voice “down with the government” allowed?
It’s kinda diffcult not to agree that there ought to be an Anti-Lockdown Party. But it would of course be banned, or in the unlikely event that it wasn’t banned it would be stuffed with loonies who like to go on about Hillary Clinton and “pizza”.
Anybody who doesn’t realise that food shortages are almost certainly coming is a complete idiot.September 29, 2020 at 19:43 #60998Clark
N_, this part of the site is called the “Discussion Forum” yet you have repeatedly avoided discussion with both myself and SA, and continued to post claims as if they had not been refuted. Are you willing to engage in discussion? If not, I think you should be prevented from posting, because disinformation that accelerates the spread of covid-19 increases death and suffering.
– “Anybody who doesn’t realise that food shortages are almost certainly coming is a complete idiot.”
I rent a cottage on Writtle Park Farm near Ingatestone in Essex. The harvest here was successfully gathered in, though the wheat yield was low due to exceptionally low rainfall throughout Spring. All the fields have now been ploughed, and today I saw seeding in progress. Farm work here has not been affected by the covid-19 restrictions and there is no obvious reason that it would be. On what basis do you predict food shortages?September 29, 2020 at 22:10 #61005SA
Yes N_ behaves as if he is above discussing with us inferiors. This rather self entitled aloofness belongs much more to elitists than to socialist Marxists. I wonder.September 29, 2020 at 22:11 #61006SA
I assumed it is a he mainly because I don’t think women ever behave like this!😀September 29, 2020 at 22:38 #61009SA
There are two aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A health aspect and an economic aspect. The health aspect should have been entirely left to the medical and allied professions to deal with and to advise the government to introduce the appropriate public health measures. The government on the other hand should have taken a back seat but led on ameliorating the economic consequences. The net result of the current situation is that the pandemic has been politicised beyond belief and some opinionated people claim to know more than scientists and doctors and HCPs. The government has even appointed a non scientist, a failed business person, to head a new biosafety organisation after dismantling Public Health England in the middle of the pandemic. The person’s main qualifications for this being that she is a great horse riding friend to the health minister and a previous PM. If this reminds you of post soviet states corruption and nepotism it will not come as a shock when you also know that the great Russian oligarchs who have settled here are also great tennis playing chums with our great absolute leader. Millions have been lavished on masks that are useless and test and trace that traces nobody and sub performs numerically chronically for testing. These awards to their cronies who have no experience in these sort of provisions go unremarked upon by our great socialist revolutionary opposition leader who congratulated himself as the architect of the failure of his party’s performance in the last elections, and revealed proudly his part in it and publicly gloats about it.
No this is not a central Asian dictatorship , it is 21st century Britain.
I digress. The government should have had the imagination to deal with a novel pandemic in a novel way, but failed, reverting to the tried and tested graft that is otherwise known as neoliberal capitalism where disasters are opportunities for the rich to make more money. The new normal is nothing of the sort it is not “we are all in it together “ it is survival of the richest who get even richer. A novel way of looking after the population would have created some sort of mass employment for everyone instead of squandering money on failed projects and sleaze and bankers.
But then that looks dangerously like socialism.October 1, 2020 at 07:29 #61111Clark
Anti masks and covid-19 restrictions associated with the far right:
N_ is still posting elsewhere, so presumably therefore is avoiding discussion here.October 3, 2020 at 16:41 #61375Steph
Clark, here is an article which may perhaps be of interest to you! I thought it most enlightening.October 3, 2020 at 21:44 #61387Clark
Steph, thank you. It indeed seems an excellent article; very interesting information about clustering and super-spreading, and some excellent ideas for testing – testing wastewater to easily and cheaply test whole communities for a cluster, how to best deploy limited numbers of tests, and tracing contacts backwards to find clusters.
It also answers N_:
– “Is saying in a loud voice “down with the government” allowed?”
No, and especially not indoors. But spray chalking it onto walls and pavements is highly recommended 😀October 3, 2020 at 22:40 #61392Clark
My favourite snippet from that article:
– “Sweden […] simply doesn’t deserve this oversize place in our debates assessing different strategies.”
Sweden has been used throughout merely as anti-lockdown propaganda. It was never as successful as was pretended, nor as liberal.
Lockdown is a blunt instrument, but it’s at least ten times better than no instrument at all. The advantages of lockdown are to gain time to learn the sorts of things in that article, and to create the conditions in which they can be applied and effective.October 4, 2020 at 06:15 #61401SA
The article is useful as Clark says in pointing out that backward tracing is probably more important than forward tracing. But R0 is not fixed in time and is merely a crude mathematical tool used for guidance and should never be handed to politicians. The superspreaders and the different rates of transmission in different situations may skew the data but nevertheless there are still lots of basic facts that need to be worked out with this virus. Spread amongst politicians seems high anecdotally because it goes with the job, they have to interact with many people. Superspreaders therefore are in a large part, not biologically determined to be so but are just social butterflies more likely to spread disease than someone who is a recluse.
As to why our governments are not succeeding, it is simply because there is no will to carry out two basic actions. A robust test and trace system is still not in place, because it has been politicised and instead of being handed over to MHPs became a capitalist opportunity to throw money at their cronies. Ideally it also involves local networks, something the Tories went into a lot of trouble to demolish over the last 10 years. Local councils are mainly now impoverished and inadequate in effecting large scale coordinating emergency measures. The second point never seriously discussed is the issue of ‘self isolation’ which is a completely different concept from medical isolation. Self isolation is necessarily a voluntary process. And it is so deliberately because it takes away all responsibility from the government and blames individuals. If you self isolate you have to do so in your own family space, and the majority of family spaces do not have the luxury of two bathrooms and toilets, let alone sometimes enough bedrooms or space to have effective isolation. Secondly self isolation means also self care and self catering in supplies and also in earning. The cycle breaks down because many are unable to survive if they rigorously self isolate. This creates a social unrest and feeling of resentment against all government measures including now the wearing of masks, adopted as a form of defiance through non-observation. True medical isolation removes much of this by infected individuals being cared for until they are non-infectious. This is the secret of the success of many ‘authoritarian’ countries, especially when there is still strong social and medical universal support as a payoff. Nobody now talks of China, despite their success. The secret of China and others is the combination of an authoritarian regime, a fairly compliant, accepting and obedient population with a modicum of respect for elders, and as a payoff, a major state backing for looking after the health and well being of the population as a whole.October 4, 2020 at 06:29 #61403SA
Some erstwhile ‘socialists’ are now in the forefront of’Covid-defiance’ to carry out the supposed socialist agenda of protecting people against the power of the state. Basically this relies on the belief that government have deliberately overinflated the risk of a virus that only ‘kills the elderly with multiple co morbidities who will die anyway’ In order to produce a ruinous situation in which the nefarious aims of control over the population and rule by decree which will benefit the rich. Because there may be some truth in some part of this narrative, does not make this Covid-defiance any more socialist and places those erstwhile socialists firmly on the same side as the the budding Fascist movements using Covid-defiance as a populist nationalistic tool.October 4, 2020 at 14:48 #61414Clark
Warning – the current infection density in the UK appears to be similar to that on March 23 or 24.
I have based this on the death figures rather than the infection figures, because the increase in testing is leading to a much greater proportion of infections being detected than in March.
The better news is that numbers now are rising only about half as fast as then.
The bad news is that in March, we were just coming into the good weather whereas now, we have six months of being indoors ahead of us.October 5, 2020 at 22:41 #61458Steph
Glad you found that article of interest!
‘Lockdown is a blunt instrument, but it’s at least ten times better than no instrument at all.’
I don’t really think that is actually measurable, is it?! As always Clark, you are still not plugging the considerable risks associated with lockdown into the equation, only the gains from lockdown.October 6, 2020 at 00:36 #61460SA
The basic problem is what is lockdown. Where done properly it has been effective. There are few cases in China. Of course lockdown is extreme and others have managed better with less severe measures. But one common element in those who succeed is testing and tracing and proper medical isolation and support, not asking people to self isolate and infect their families. The problem in Britain’s is that the public face of lockdown is overemphasised for political reasons.
There is also the false dichotomy that there is a tension between the economy and public health. You cannot run an economy with many sick and self-isolating workers, you are just postponing problems.
Also there has not really been a long term clear strategy that this government has come up with. They even contradict their own advice. A long term strategy with clarity rather than on-the-hoof daily briefings preferably led by scientists and medics and not politicians.October 6, 2020 at 01:02 #61462SA
And another point which is rightly brought up in COVID-19 denial websites. Everyone now talks about the number of cases whereas they should be talking about number of positive tests and probably also number of hospitalised cases and deaths related to COVID-19 as Clark has mentioned. Asymptomatic individuals who test positive for SARS Cov2 do not have COVID-19.October 6, 2020 at 03:11 #61467Clark
Steph, I am appalled with the dross that the UK government has served up; I’m furious about it. We have had all summer to restructure; they have come up with nothing, and as a consequence we’re going to need lockdown again.
The correct way to counter covid-19 is to compartmentalise into communities, and to provide proper quarantine facilities, not voluntary self-isolation which pushes responsibility onto individuals. Quarantine is of course mandatory, but it also requires the authorities to care for people until they’re no longer infectious, not tell them to look after themselves as best they can and try not to infect their housemates. And as SA points out, October 4 at 06:15 above, central government has spent decades progressively trashing all local capability and robbing local government of the necessary legal powers.
Lockdown is the last defence before hospital overload, with consequent death and suffering on a scale unimaginable from our privileged, pampered normality. Anything between half a million and two million deaths over the course of maybe two months. True, most of these would be elderly people, but with so many ill less than a tenth could be hospitalised, so they would die struggling for breath, suffocated by fluid in their lungs, each of them over the course of a week or two. That is no way for people to end their lives, with no medical support, no drugs for the pain and anxiety, and an acute lack of care provision; this must not be permitted to happen. Think I’m exaggerating? In the first UK wave, around 50,000 people died but only one in twenty of the population were infected (as found by antibody tests), so had the entire population been exposed that works out at around a million.
But as I said, lockdown is the last resort. The very fact that we need it is due to gross negligence.
Back in February, when the WHO sent out the warning, the borders should have been all but closed, with entry permitted only with strict quarantine. Local outbreaks should have been suppressed with local lockdowns. There simply weren’t enough test facilities to deal with it any more gently. The point of such measures is to buy time in which to (1) greatly increase test facilities and (2) compartmentalise society.
The point of compartmentalising is to establish zones; Green, Amber and Red. A zone is graded Green when it has had no community transmission for two weeks. Amber is no community transmission for two weeks, but new cases have been detected through contact tracing, OR travel is possible with a Red zone. Green zones don’t need restrictions, and people can travel between them. The whole of New Zealand achieved Green status throughout our entire summer, which is New Zealand’s winter! The concept is explained here:
We must not treat covid-19 like the flu, because we don’t even know its long term effects yet. We have less than a year’s experience with this virus. Have you heard of ADE, Antibody Dependent Enhancement? It is possible that getting infected for a second time could be far worse than the first time, for a proportion of those infected or even for all. Or getting infected again but with a certain variant could be far worse. ADE could mean that vaccines actually increase people’s risk on becoming infected, because vaccines work by stimulating antibody production. All this is just not known yet, but the covid-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 is a positive-sense betacoronavirus, and these can display ADE:
Covid-19 is nothing like flu. True, both are contracted through the respiratory system, but as well as lungs, covid-19 can attack blood, internal organs, nerves and brain. Stat News:
And what if it turns out that covid-19 does not impart immunity, or immunity wears off after a year or two? Should we just let this virus roll on, wave after wave, killing say 2% of the population each time? Should we have not bothered wiping out smallpox?
The problem isn’t lockdown, it’s TINA, “There Is No Alternative”, the incessant mantra of neoliberalism we’ve all had drummed into us for forty years. What if the world had been wedded to TINA in 1939 like it is now? The UK was completely transformed to fight Nazism. Rationing was imposed or people would have starved. Conscription was imposed or the Nazis would have gone unresisted. Bomb shelters were dug into every garden or the Blitz would have killed far more, and manufacturing was converted into war production. This wasn’t done to trash the British way of life, it was done to save it from the Nazis. Think my comparison is exaggerated? Remember that the 1918 to 1920 Spanish flu killed more people than did WWI, and its second wave was seven or eight times more deadly than its first.
The government has abdicated its responsibility in the social contract, and lockdown is the result. The objective should be to restrict the least number of people as effectively as possible, which requires providing them with care. But through neglect the government defaults to restricting the greatest number of people almost as ineffectively as possible, thereby trashing both the population and the economy – for ultimately, the two are the same.October 6, 2020 at 11:46 #61470Steph
So you appear to be advocating state-enforced isolation now?!! You seem to have rather scant regard for human rights Clarke. In a perfect world perhaps this would all make sense. Nobody would manipulate situations to their own advantage, everyone would show the utmost respect to their fellow human beings and all would end their days in a peaceful slumber.
All of life is a trade-off isn’t it, this risk verses that risk. In this instance the price of protecting ourselves is way, way too high in my opinion. You mention smallpox which is an excellent example. Nobody extracted the kind of costs, emotional and economic, that we are paying now in order to eradicate smallpox did they?October 6, 2020 at 14:35 #61473Clark
Provisions for quarantine in emergencies are enshrined in international law. Human rights include the right to be protected from unnecessary dangers by others; do you oppose speed limits, driving tests etc?
Steph, I don’t like to mix political argument with scientific / rational argument. It particularly upsets me when people play down a danger to promote a political position. Yes, governments are doing shitty things. That does not mean I’ll condone waterboarding a million old folk to death; it means I’ll vote and act to improve government.October 6, 2020 at 15:56 #61474SA
In any organised society there are tradeoffs. Personal freedom does not mean freedom to subject others to danger as Clark states.
In public health matters and in other matters of life or death such as war personal freedoms are bound to suffer. In the case of a pandemic the authorities to deal with these should be measured and directed only to the purpose of diminishing the risks of contagion. That is a small price to pay. Your assertions that everyone should consider others and we all live happily ever after are utopian as we have clearly seen in the defiance some are showing in respecting rules that will help all.
That we have an extreme right wing government making rules that increase police powers is unfortunate and should be fought separately from relatively benign powers to limit freedom for health reasons.October 6, 2020 at 19:18 #61476Clark
– “In this instance the price of protecting ourselves is way, way too high in my opinion.”
We don’t even know what the risks are yet. Our first winter of living with covid-19 is fast approaching. The Southern Hemisphere winter that’s just past tells us little, because only 10% of the global population live there, and covid-19 arrived later there; the dense clusters of high population are all in the Northern Hemisphere. We can’t asses the price until we know the risk, but we do know that it will be realised in death and suffering.
However, I agree we’re paying far too much in the UK, but that is because the government tried to pay nothing at all, so we ended up with “lockdown”. But even that wasn’t done properly; it was weeks late which made it last months longer than should have been necessary, there was minimal local food distribution which would have further reduced cross-infection, money was lavished on big corporations while people were left to struggle, key workers were not placed on the “four days work, ten days off” protective temporal isolation routine, social support bubbles were not implemented until far too late, and there was zero leadership; it was an utter shambles. And unforgivably, here we are again, over half a year later, and none of these provisions have been made.October 6, 2020 at 19:19 #61477Clark
Steph: “You seem to have rather scant regard for human rights Clarke”
Really, Steph? I have assisted Craig Murray for over a decade. For several years I moderated this site single handedly. If you look at the penultimate paragraph in this article:
– “Given these restrictions, I was very conscious I may need to queue from 5am tomorrow, to get one of the 4 public places, if I drop off the family list. So I went this morning at 6am to the Old Bailey to check out the queue and work out the system. The first six people in the queue were all people who, entirely off their own bat, without my knowledge and with no coordination between them, had arrived while London slept just to reserve a place for me. I was swept up by their goodness, their trust in me and by their sheer humanitarian concern about Julian and the whole miscarriage of justice. I chatted cheerily with them for a while, then came back to write this, but just got round the corner when I burst into floods of tears, overwhelmed by all this kindness.”
Me and a friend of mine were two of those six people. We had spent the preceding week camping without permission in Brockwell Park, so that we could participate each day in Extinction Rebellion’s London actions, doing our best to protect human rights in the future that young people will have to face. Since you made this personal with your slur about me, what have you been doing to help, Steph?October 11, 2020 at 17:59 #61545SA
A confusing trend has now taken hold of reporting the epidemic. All the announcements and reports now talk about cases of Covid 19. This is inaccurate and misleading and has been used by conspiracy theory websites and Covid-deniers as a way to underplay the seriousness of the pandemic. What should be reported daily is the number of individuals who have a positive test for SARS cov2 as many of those, who are asymptomatic or who have very mild symptoms, do not have Covid-19, the disease. This is an extremely important distinction as, with an increased number of tests rolled out into the community, there will be a larger number tested and a fewer number who are ill. It would also be useful to report the daily number of hospital admissions that are Covid-19 related and also the number of deaths related to the disease and these will be more helpful in strategic planning.October 17, 2020 at 22:05 #61608N_
In the past few days I have been to several places where I have been encouraged to register my visit using “the NHS app”.  These have included cafes and an art exhibition. In some establishments the encouragement consisted of a person just inside the door asking “Do you have the NHS app?” In the others there were notices up on the perspex screens, or on cafe tables, carrying a big QR code. Whenever I was asked if I had the “app”, I replied “no”, and the alternative was then to give or write my name and phone number.  I gave false ones. When there were only the notices, nobody asked for any information at all. Everyone else whom I heard being asked whether they had the “app” also said “no”, and I didn’t see a single person scan the QR code from a notice.
In one shop a woman sprayed my hands with sanitiser.  I checked the bottle and it said 70% alcohol, but I do not believe the alcohol content was anywhere near so high because there was no alcoholic smell. I have some homemade sanitiser made from ~100% isopropanol mixed with ordinary hand cleaner bought in a supermarket to give a liquid that is 80% alcohol and the smell is immediately noticeable. I wonder how many shops and other places are refilling the bottles with any old cr*p that says “good for your hands” on it.
This is classic “nudge” stuff (to use a term that has now possibly become dated).
1) Calling something “NHS” to trick people into accepting it is how Leave won the Brexit referendum.
2) What happens if a person says they are not on the phone?
3) I resisted offering the woman advice on how she could strengthen her immune system.October 17, 2020 at 22:47 #61609N_
“What should be reported daily is the number of individuals who have a positive test for SARS cov2 as many of those, who are asymptomatic or who have very mild symptoms, do not have Covid-19, the disease.”
But how many of those who ARE reported as having died “with” Covid-19 (the mainstream media often writing “from” instead of “with”), or who are reported only as ill with it, HAVE tested positive for SARS-CoV2? The best-known Covid-19 symptoms are flu symptoms. (I realise flu-type viruses are not coronaviruses. Indeed they are not even in the same phylum. Just talking about the symptoms here.) There is no test for Covid-19. Those with a bad case of flu and who are “lucky” enough to be allowed into a hospital are at risk of catching pneumonia from inside the aforementioned sacred building, giving them lung problems which also arise when illness caused by a SARS-CoV2 infection takes a turn for the worse. They shouldn’t be diagnosed as having Covid-19 until they’ve been tested for SARS-CoV2.
I heard that the number of people reported in Britain as dying from flu has fallen dramatically, but haven’t found time to check.
It sounds like it’s “lie a minute” time at the Office for National Statistics. Their suicide stats come with the disclaimer that “The lower number of registered deaths in the second quarter of 2020 likely reflects delays to inquests caused by the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the coroner’s service in England and Wales.” They also say “All deaths caused by suicide in England are investigated by coroners. Given the length of time it takes to hold an inquest (around five months), we do not currently know the total number of suicides that occurred during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
What a cop-out! Is there no way this oh-so data-sussed government can get an indication of whether or not more people topped themselves under lockdown and more people are topping themselves under the present regime of restrictions than would otherwise have been the case? If this kind of information is not considered FUNDAMENTAL to a consideration of the merits and drawbacks of different “grades” of lockdown, and of other policies related to the pandemic, then the government and its “health experts” are UTTERLY TAKING THE P*SS. Suicide and the level of mental health generally are public health issues as much as any viruses or bacteria are. Seriously, there’s no reporting system for likely suicides, only one for “definite” suicides as recorded by coroners? Five times as many people may be killing themselves and the authorities wouldn’t know anything about it, because coroners haven’t been doing much work recently? I don’t believe that for one moment.October 18, 2020 at 10:51 #61615SA
Data obsession in the time of a pandemic can damage your health. The most important information that is needed is: number of daily admissions to hospital related to Covid-19, and number of daily deaths due to covid-19. Anything else, died with rather than of, suicide rates, and so on are not easy to get. Thus for example today’s data shows hospital admissions due to Covid-19 was 5,608 which was up by 1729 from last week. Daily deaths were 150, up from 69 last week. (Source dreaded Guardian website but this bit not behind a registration wall). The other figure that is important is the excess mortality rate which is found here. The overall mortality is raised but looking at the weekly mortality we can see that the main effect for all age groups above 14 years are almost confined to weeks 10-20 of this year. Of course at present we do not know the effect of the second wave on mortality.
Talking of which, there appears to be evidence that the CFR is lower this time round. Even those admitted to intensive care seem to be surviving better. I heard an intensive care Dr today on Sky explaining why this may be happening, the hospitals are better at dealing with patients (I paraphrase), at triage and streamlining, at ensuring adequate and appropriate staffing and at dealing with covid-19 and its complications, She quoted that patients admitted to ITU now have, I think, 80% chance of surviving, compared to figures nearer to 50% in April-May. Some advances include, the use of dexamethasone, the actual procedures adopted in ITU, and the reduced use of ventilation in favour of CPAAP which is less invasive and probably gentler.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Yes but that is in about 3-6 months according to one expert from SAGE. There are two promising new lines: treatment with monoclonal antibodies, something which Trump had, with miraculous results, and the other is the possibility of the development of a vaccine.
I do take your point about the App. If it was a genuine NHS App, I would not hesitate to download it but a Dido App! No thanks. Not only do I object to that for obvious reasons but there has been a total failure to show that this has had any effect. Now the UKG is threatening positive people with the police, whereas normally a friendly visit from the local public health official would do the job.October 18, 2020 at 22:47 #61619N_
Two aspects of the apparent conflict between authorities in Manchester and the cental British government deserve mention:
1. Not only are criminal gangs extremely powerful in Manchester, but they make much of their profit in areas of business that don’t fare well during lockdown: illegal drugs, the hospitality sector, and property deals. On the other hand, of course they will be making a big slice of the action wherever the authorities are handing out coronavirus money, but I doubt that that kind of income stream has even come close to compensating for their lockdown losses given that a) illegal drugs are such a big part of the economy, and b) they make money from all sorts of state “development” and “enterprise” stuff even when there is no lockdown.
2. A narrative about regions of England versus the government is beneficial for those who want to promote regionalism with a view to reorganising the British kingdom such that not England but regions of England are put on the same level in some contexts as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Part of the prep work for devolved English regional parliaments for example would be to gear people up to voting in their elections, and there’s nothing like a bit of “conflict” (“Boris doesn’t know what life is like north of Watford”, etc.) for encouraging that. In any forcible mass vaccination, many “identity” stops will be pulled out, very probably including “being a northerner”.October 19, 2020 at 14:01 #61634N_
From the Daily Heil (sorry, but this is important, and if the Heil are printing this for their readers then a proportion of their readers must be saying this kind of thing among themselves, which means they have recognised this aspect of what’s going on, so where is the left – too busy eating foccacia and sticking painted “NHS” rainbows in their windows?):
The mass slaughter that is being perpetrated in Britain by the British government under cover of the latest SARS strain is NOT confined to residents in old people’s “care” homes.October 19, 2020 at 19:20 #61641N_
Another aspect of the “Manchester story” – related to the idea of regionalising England in order to integrate Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland will remain a special case) – may be that Dominic Cummings wants to “sort out” local government. Bismarck would obviously not be his model here, but the French “departments” (each with their own two-digit number which, until 2009 appeared on car licence plates) might be. It was actually introduced in 1790 but he can think of it as Bonapartist if he wants. Practically nobody who hasn’t got their fingers in the till thinks that the current set-up in England, with metropolitan councils and both “unitary” and “non-unitary” non-metropolitan ones, is anything other than a mess. Cummings himself hails of course from the north and doesn’t particularly like southern softies who haven’t run nightclubs or done “business in Russia”, but that doesn’t mean he’ll appreciate local business interests and the authorities they control in places like Manchester standing up to him. It will be interesting to see what happens. This may turn out to be the first large-scale use of the British army for “keeping public order” in the coronafascist epoch.
Info and thoughts on what’s happening in other places, such as Wales, would be welcome.October 22, 2020 at 22:02 #61688Clark
I think it’s extremely unlikely there will be any “forcible mass vaccination”. It isn’t even yet known whether any vaccine can impart a worthwhile period of immunity, nor indeed whether the risk of Antibody Dependent Enhancement rules out effective vaccines altogether.
The Mail story is just the usual anti-restrictions propaganda from the Right; they attack anything that impedes flow of profit to the richest. What were the health authorities meant to do? The government left the borders open too late and applied restrictions too late. In March, the health authorities were facing an impending tsunami of covid, staff shortages from both infection and increased demand, and hospitals likely to become infection hot-spots – remember that as late as mid-March, the government “plan” was to do nothing and let it rip through the population. Cancer sufferers, and chemo patients in particular, are vulnerable to infection; keep’em coming into hospital for treatment, when staff are the most likely infection vector?
Still, when the fatalities are mostly old people it has been popular to just write them off, “they’d have died soon anyway”, but apparently different logic applies to cancer treatment – when it suits the Right-wing media.October 25, 2020 at 08:33 #61717Clark
SA, October 18, 10:51, #61615:
– “the CFR is lower this time round. […] patients admitted to ITU now have, I think, 80% chance of surviving, compared to figures nearer to 50% in April-May.”
This is good news, but it makes it even more important not to overwhelm the hospitals. In April/May, the death rate would have doubled had the hospitals been overrun (100% / 50%), but now the death rate would increase by a factor of five (100% / 20%).
It has been fashionable in the anti-restriction propaganda to cite an IFR Infection Fatality Rate of around “just” 1% (“99% survive”), but this is the IFR with treatment. The “raw” IFR was – and will remain – nearer 2.8%, over 1.8 million people in the UK.
In our favour, the rate of spread has been much lower so far during this increase, making it easier not to overrun the hospitals.October 26, 2020 at 17:00 #61751SA
You spoke too soon! Our host has now published on the main thread as you know, and the conspiracy theorists are flooding in.October 26, 2020 at 18:17 #61846Dredd
Yes the conspiracy theorists are flooding in, and they’re presenting dubious testimony from alleged experts proclaiming that there’s no virus, or if there is a virus it’s harmless, and the tests for it are made up anyway, etc. Of course these commenters know diddly-squat about what they’re commenting on and haven’t checked whether their extraordinary revelations withstand any critical scrutiny: they’re just copying stuff posted on other covid-conspiracy websites – and trying to drag Mr Murray’s blog down to the same level in the process.