Tuesday 14 April 2020

Ending lockdown - brand strategy needed

I really hope the Government can do a better job of Lockdown undoing than they did of doing it in the first place.

If we remember those heady weeks of er... last month, we can recall the Government seemed taken aback by the speed of the epidemic spread, as was every Government in Europe and North America.

Now though we have more time to consider how we get out of this box, as there are a few things that need sorting first:

1) As per yesterday, antibody tests and copious full body PPE for the NHS key workers.
2) Low enough community tranmission that the whole pandemic won't just start up again immidiately.
3) Enough extra NHS capacity to cope for a year with a few thousand people on ventilators at any one time.

Only really point 3 has been achieved, so we will be here another couple of weeks. But the lockdown must be released to save the economy but also in a flexible way that allows it to be re-imposed if needs must. The way to do this it to have a simple colour coded system.

This system can be used on motoroway signs, train stations, TV/Radio ads etc to let the population know where we are at any time. I would propose something like the below:

Chilli - Full lockdown as now, no going out, to be saved for when deaths are over 400 a day

Lemon - Travel to work, with masks, if needed, schools open, restaurants and cafes for takeaways, football behind closed doors etc.

Apple - social distancing stil in place, wearing masks when travelling, leisure open but with social distancing measures ( e.g less covers in restaurants, limited people in pubs, 50% capacity in sports stadiums)

It will only be with a vaccine in place of herd immunity that we will release from Apple status - so maybe not until spring 2021. In the meantime we need something that gives the populace a guide as to how they can live under this Covid-19 threat, but to do so responsibly and effectively whilst balancing risk and work.

If you like this idea, feel free to promote it, I am keen the Government make a better fist of explaining this clearly than they did in March when we entered the lockdown.


DJK said...

I'd add that as well as lots of testing, we need a contact tracing app with follow-up contact tracing teams so that a new community health system can play whack-a-mole and stamp out local outbreaks as they occur. (To which you can add the level of compulsion you choose.)

Something like this, together with quarantine of overseas visitors, is what other countries are using to manage the outbreak. Why not learn from international best practice?

Thud said...

I'm still of the belief a vaccine will be in place by November, some research is moving ahead at amazing speed and I can imagine a less liberal govt than ours cutting corners and starting compulsory vaccinations. If it works who would not be brave enough to follow?

E-K said...

A vaccine normally takes 10 to 15 years to develop. For good reason.

This disease will prove to be fatal to less than 1%.

For this we are prepared to risk the health of 99% ?

DJK said...

I would add that debates about PPE, ending lockdown, post-lockdown control measures, etc. all seem very insular. It appears that the scientific advice to the cabinet is being filtered through the SAGE expert group, who seem fixated by the work of one small team at Imperial College.

C19 is a worldwide problem and there are a variety of policy responses happening at large scale, and at small scale through the work of disparate individuals. What is needed is a new group of open-minded people (Dominic Cummings' misfits) who can look at what is happening in other countries (even non-English speaking ones!) and formulate a mix of policy options.

The world isn't going back to normal any time soon and a broad range of policies will be needed to allow us to get a functioning economy ticking along until a vaccine is ready.

Thud said...

EK, normally is the word! most of those developing vaccines had already done years of prep on mers and sars so they hit the ground running and are already using their new variations on test subjects and are moving ahead at unprecedented speed, its almost a pharma manhattan project. The 1% has to be balanced against the almost 100% fear this has caused justified or not.

YDG said...

"1) As per yesterday, antibody tests and copious full body PPE for the NHS key workers."

I think this brings us directly back to the general uselessness of the NHS bureaucracy.

Guido today is reporting that the very slow ramp up in testing is in part caused by PHE refusing private sector assistance coupled with PHE's preference for a slow, centralised, bureaucratic system. I'm not sure how you fix that short of just declaring PHE unfit for purpose and side-lining it.

I suspect PPE shortages arise from a similar problem. Regular sources are no longer enough. Alternatives are becoming available, as UK companies switch to making PPE, but the NHS bureacracy is too inflexible - or just lazy - to make that work.

Matthew Parris on Sky last night brought up an interesting point. What is the chain of command from Matt Hancock down though the NHS trusts? Can Hancock sack an incompetent trust chief executive? Do chief executives take orders from Hancock? If not, what on earth is the mechanism for making these wasters
do better?

Sebastian Weetabix said...

On a side note, I recommend a perusal of the good Dr North’s EU Referendum blog. He should just change the name to “why everyone is a moron except me”

DJK said...

YDG: Very interesting about the uselessness of the command and control approach of PHE. Guido notes that Cummings is back at work today. Perhaps he can stir things up a bit.

Nessimmersion said...

First easy hit:
Shut down PHE and associated mini PH's, roll 4.5 billion previously wasted on wokerati campaigns back into NHS budget.

E-K said...

I'd sooner take my chances with COVID-19, Thud.

E-K said...

In answer to the original post.

Lots of jobs and shops could be re-opened now knowing that social distancing can be managed and that the population is compliant.

It is now becoming mainstream news that obesity (BMI 30+) is the next most serious COVID-19 condition to being over 65. Worse than smoking, worse than cancer.

I believe that the Govt couldn't bring themselves to accept this until late in the day being too politically correct to discuss it, hence the panicked lockdown. They've looked at the state of our nation and gone "Oh F*** !"

hovis said...

define "works" for an untested vaccine - why would it have to work when
(i) vaccines are not tested against inert placebo (ever - it is considered "unethical")
(ii) they are not considered pharmaceutical drugs and so are not tested to the same standard.
(iii) manufacturers are liability free so have no real incentive to determine safety beyond the rules set out by regulators who have been captured for many years.

I would not be surprised at compulsion, however the glib way so many would happily override the concept of informed consent for a bogie man of a disease that isn't even in the government's own HCID list (even then that is no good argument) is particularly stomach churning.

Btw why is the criminal Gates getting so much air time?

Nessimmersion said...

Two options available until vaccine available /proven.
1. Mitigating treatment - Hydroxychloroquine & zinc being extensively used and used as a prophylactic in some US states, UK opinion is not proven we'll let people die rather than use it as a personal choice bwfore IC is needed.
2. Preventative behaviour - despite assertuons above, smoking / nitric oxide is known to be a preventative, even Rod Liddle is on about it http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/.
So PHE is trying to unperson those findings.
The actions of the authorities in both cases do not give the impression of a real concern to minimise casualties, more one of agenda pursuit and keeping on message.

Thud said...

hovis...works when one of the vaccine makers that have made the world a safer place the last 50 years say it works...I like my modern medicine.

Don Cox said...

Vaccines are tested against those people who were not vaccinated. There is no need to inject an inert placebo.

If the proportion of vaccinated people who become infected is less than the proportion of unvaccinated people who become infected, then the vaccine works, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the disease. The aim is to protect enough people that there is herd immunity.

Don Cox

E-K said...

Long term side effects. That's why it takes 10-15 years normally. Most of that time is testing. That's the way of modern science.

Presumably these private Pharma will have their risks against litigation underwritten by government.

Perhaps it would be better to offer it to older people who have less time on earth for side effects to emerge and let the rest of us take our chances with COVID-19.

Anything to get out of lock-down but injecting healthy young bodies (that are at little risk) with something rushed through so quickly seems highly unethical to me.

Just how much are we going to ask of the younger generation ? We've already wrecked their economy.

(I may just about be a Boomer btw. I'm certainly in the mid age range of mortality in London.)

APL said...

" football behind closed doors "

That seems like a mistake.

Open air in the sun is likely to be more healthful than running around in couped up in an enclosed space.

APL said...

"It will only be with a vaccine in place of herd immunity that we will release from Apple status"

Ah, a Bill Gates shill**.

Assuming this just came from Wuhan, then we just need herd immunity. Take the hit - most old people are at the end of their life. Sacrificing the economy for a group of people who are going to die by the end of the year - Neil Ferguson's words not mine. Is insane.

If it came from the biological 'research' centre then all bets are off.

** There is no chance of a vaccine. AIDS has had more money thrown at an AIDS vaccine during the last 40years and we're no closed to a vaccine than we were 40 years ago.

Bill Gates, vaccination passport.

You can stuff that right up your arse.

CityUnslicker said...

few of my comments appear when I am using my phone.

Thanks for all yours, I note no one has a clue about an exit strategy and how it will work here - which appears to mirror the government. Pharma co's think RNA is going to be secret vaccine so perhaps changes the AIDS comparison.

We need to start ending the lockdown in May.

E-K said...

The exit strategy ?

What we're seeing, CU is the government(most western governments) trying to sidle their way out of a truly gargantuan mistake that they know they've made.

That glint of light is not an end to COVID-19 but the tiny PR exit hole you can see them trying to strategise their way through.

You can see it on Sunak's face. The sudden paradigm shift "We've f***** up !"

They've persuaded a good part of the population that lockdown is a good thing -got them cheering the NHS - so how the hell do they back out of it now ?

They know that we must step out into the light and take the hit but how to break this to the public - that the lockdown has failed ? (The whole point of it being to extend the pandemic and therefore extend the economic closure - the cure which they now know is worse than the illness as Trump said.)

I said from day one that we would have to do this - to give up on lockdown before we were ready and that it was the worst of all options. I have been called heartless for this but I was not talking lives vs money. I was talking lives vs lives.

Peter Hitchens reports that a Minister told him that he was briefed at a COBRA meeting that there would be 150,000 deaths of otherwise young and healthy people because of the fallout from lockdown (seems optimistic.)

The Excel Centre has 19 patients in it.

The doctors and nurses in my area have never known it quieter and are doing nothing but drinking tea and eating biscuits according to those I know in the NHS. Were the 150,000 worth it ?

So the exit strategy. (AKA the sidling strategy)

Well that's to see who blinks first in the Western world and accepts that this can't be beaten - it's a pity that we all followed the first example of a Southern EU state but it is a flaw of the wealthy democratic West that we cannot accept that natural disasters sometimes sweep through our nations too.

Often described as a tsunami - all you can do is clear up afterwards.

Alas we tried to play God and in doing so have handed it all to China on a plate.

The name Xi Jinping should be known to everyone but all the West does is chew its own tail off. The MSM attacks only Trump and Boris.

Sorry to keep hijacking your site.

From day one I was compelled to come here because I knew that economics was key and that unfettered globalisation would leave us fatally exposed somehow.

E-K said...


Latest is that a sneeze can travel 26 feet. I walked through exhaled tobacco smoke in the park yesterday at least 30 feet from the smoker.

Total personal isolation or nothing, it seems.

Nessimmersion said...

Oh well, at least the tobacco smoke will have slighly lessened your chances of catching Corona.https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/apr/14/coronavirus-case-and-death-counts-in-us-ridiculous/

Oli said...

I love this blog. But Kev's comments are just as good if not better than the above the line stuff. He is my hero.

hovis said...

Agreed E-K;

I would have to ask why the lockdown when not a Highly Contagious Infectious disease; Who bounced who into it?

Additionally the whole concept of lockdown looks to be misunderstood by 90% of people when they complain that there may be another "spike" and it must continue - that is because that is exactly what you get when you lock people down. Lokk at this, it even have movig graphs for you:


I find it depressing that people cannot accept that this thing is out in the wild, wherever and however it came about. "Lockdown" doesn't save lives it just moves things to a different time period whilst destroying the economy (known to increase mortaity rates) and killing others unable to get treatment for "normal" conditions. Is a Covid-19 death more worthy of preventing than any other?

Final parting shot - what was the mortality rate from good old flu back in January 2018? (Look it up and when you find out please don't try an pretend that lockdown has "saved us". Dwell however on why the economy was locked down in hysterical panic and how from there on a good crisis was not let go to waste.)

APL said...

hovis: "Who bounced who into it?"

The f*****g BBC.

That organisation has been acting as a domestic terrorist operation.

Nothing but headline dead today totals, but no actual analysis of the figure - Yes, 900 people died today, but 65,000 people have been infected, that's just over 1% or 99% survival rate, and you know, that's pretty good.

But no, not from the state broadcaster.

andrew said...

They need to keep the demand for itu just below the supply.
Expect slow relaxation of lockdown, and occasional tighening.
Events with large audiences will not be happening for some time.

More interestingly the uks massive dependancy on london and londons high dependance on a large mass transit system will hopefully be seen as a vulnerability.

Time for that northern powerhouse to get its own less mass mass trandportation system.

APL said...


Just look at that headline:-

"Eddie Large: Comedian dies aged 78 with coronavirus".

Well, Large was 78 - red flag.

but you have to read three quarters of the way through the article to learn that he had a heart transplant in 2003.

Oh! What's that?

He's on immune suppressants - That a feckin' BIG red flag.

A common cold would have killed the guy.

But according to the BBC he died with coronavirus.

What does that mean, 'died with'?

Was coronavirus the only chap allowed to visit Large.

The BBC is responsible in large part for the hysteria.

First it's the virus.
Then it was ventilators - which are pretty much useless for the way this condition attacks the lungs. So they've quietly dropped that.
But the remorseless headline death rate....


APL said...

andrew: "and londons high dependance on a large mass transit system will hopefully be seen as a vulnerability."

Dude! That's the way we live now.

I'll tell you what is a vulnerability, transferring your manufacturing capability to a country run by a dictatorship.

andrew said...

In terms of a strategy i expect people much cleverer tham me are modelling the impact of making various changes in restrictions and as time goes by they will become more accurate.

Once restrictions have been lifted one wonders what happens when ones employer makes you commute to work and then sit in an office that has desks 1m wide and jammed in tight rows.
Can that be called a safe working environment.
Rather undermines the business model of WeWork...

E-K said...


Hopefully it's starting already.

Thanks Oli and Hovis.

Nessimmersion - who would have thunk it. I think I'll have one of these...


andrew said...

It may be the way we live now.

We used to send children and ponies down mines and few questioned it back then.

APL said...

andrew: "More interestingly the uks massive dependancy on london and londons high dependance on a large mass transit system will hopefully be seen as a vulnerability.

Time for that northern powerhouse to get its own less mass mass trandportation system."

So it's bad that London has a mass transport system. But you want the same thing for Birmingham and Manchester.

Yea, that's joined up thinking.

andrew. "We used to send children and ponies down mines and few questioned it back then."

disproportinate comparison - children working in mines for ten to fifteen hours a day to - spending 30 - 120 minutes on a train.


CityUnslicker said...

Interesting and some thoughtful comments. I can't abide Peter Hitchens with his faux I am only questioning routine.

The truth is usualy to be found in the greay middle. No lockdown could have seen a spike to tens of thousands of deaths and an overhwhelmed health service. Too long in lockdown is a disaster for the economy and will also cause deaths (although I can't make the leap to 150,000 young people dying - nobody starves to death in the UK in modern times and suicides dont reach those levels even remotely).

So the lcokdown has to end when we arepast the peak and also when the boffins figure out it wont come back too soon.

Thud said...

EK, 10-15 years maybe, which is why they have got such a head start now, the virologists had made massive progress on sars and mers over the last 15 years and this is not too different. People who know how this all works vaccine wise are confident they have the beating of it...lockdown still needs to end pdq though.

Jan said...

re MSM reporting......they're all at it not only the BBC. The number of deaths on its own is pretty meaningless. Many people die every day of all causes so unless they can give a figure for excess deaths it only serves to create panic. They all started off saying people had died of CV and then later to dying with CV. A lot of those would have died anyway with or without CV. CV may have speeded it up a little.

The mandatory(?) mass clap-in and the heavy-handedness of the police both smack of state control which I find worrying. What it's doing to the economy and the way the state is "helping" business and individuals who are worried to death over their finances is cack-handed at best.

E-K said...


This is what I (and I believe Peter Hitchens) think but from a more refreshing source.

Sounds pretty grey-middle to me. What we are getting from Government most definitely isn't.

I ought to have added a clause to my thanks to Oli. That I disagree that my contributions are in any way as good as the 'above line' stuff. I am not as well informed as our hosts and I should mention that there are actually two of us in E-K. I do the writing, my brother has the half of the ideas. We speak daily.

E-K said...

Jan - And there is no thanks or fundraising whatsoever for those losing their businesses. My wife has been furloughed today - which is letting her down gently that she's been made redundant.

Her boss has to pay her furlough money out of his own pocket and then applies for it later. Less lucky bosses are having to go to banks for loans meaning hanging on the phone for days on end - and then being refused loans because their credit ratings are trash.

We'll see if the expected the furlough money actually turns up.

Labour estimated premature deaths @ 40,000 per loss of 1% GDP based on differences in death rates before and after the last recession.

However exaggerated that my be we are now talking about 35% loss in GDP !!!

And as for 'people don't starve in Britain' - well. We haven't had a real depression since 1930 and certainly not with 67 million people.

Anonymous said...

several ways out
1) herd immunity is reached anyway, not withstanding the lockdowns
2) a sars cov 2 specific vaccine, immediately grants herd immunity
3) a different but current vaccine is found to grant a sufficient degree of immunity, eg BCG
4) a sars cov2 specific pharmaceutical prophylactic regime is invented,
5) a current antiviral is found to be effective as a pharmaceutical prophylactic, eg current flu or HIV antivirals