Monday 29 June 2020

Covid, review of the season to date

Another week of Covid-19 starts and frankly now we are on episode eighteen the real action is now starting to take place.

On the political front, the poorly scripted revolutionary rabble of BLM continue to make bizarre ground. With a huge following of what seem to be death-cultists, their franky bizarre demands are only now getting minimal attention. Such is the zeitgeist prevalent though, they are able to act with impuntiy against the weak police and inaction of the Government who are intent on letting the thing blow out.

The Government itself has largely been ignored by the writers since the "Prime Minister gets Covid" story of a couple of months ago. Not really capable of doing anything much about the virus, the Government characters come out to make little speeches about not mch, building towards what should be big economic announcement, but it is a toss up as to whether they give Rishi Sunak a big script or just ignore him. For the opposition, it is easy to give some time to the dashing and hand-wringing lawyer Sir Keir Starmer, without him having any actual impact on events.

The references to the global impact of the virus are the weakest bit of the writing and presentation. The US is portrayed as if some sort of dictatorial revultion is going on when in fact it is an election year. Lots of places around the world are mentioned as doing better or doing worse seemingly only on the basis of if they have a right of centre Government. It is a silly approach becuase the same statistics they have used show the virus being virulent basically everywhere there is high population density and has to spread into the population.

The effect on day to day lives is a better view, the little people they throw into the show every now and again add some good colour to what is a very complex story. No one really comes close to the Colonel Tom Moore character though.

Overall though the whole show feels like it is building to a point, but equally could just fizzle out into a not very compelling conclusion - the whole thing is a morass of intertwined stories and the effort to make it a morality tale ring very hollow.

How is everyone else enjoying it?


Nick Drew said...

Everyone should be dusting off their Thucydides!

DJK said...

Sir Patrick Vallance surely has to go. He sounds very convincing, and I don't doubt that he was able to lead Boris effectively. Although a few weeks ago he had an opinion piece in the Telegraph, which I thought sounded very smug in a "don't worry, we in Whitehall know best and have got this under control"-sort-of-way.

Anyway, Private Eye has an interesting article about why the lockdown came so late. In mid-March, Sir Patrick Vallance said we were four weeks behind Italy, with cases doubling every 5-6 days. Yet it was clear at the time, looking at the trajectory of the case numbers, that we were only two weeks behind with cases doubling every three days, as in Italy. It seems that Sir Patrick chose to present Neil Ferguson's modelling results as "the science", rather than actually looking at the data, which was in plain sight.

Oli said...

DJK - yes they covered the same issue on More or Less recently. It wasn't a case of getting predictions wrong (which is entirely forgivable) but a case of not looking at the actual data that was in front of them at the time - and even ignoring those who were pointing it out.

Raedwald said...

Bloody stick-up-the-arse Whitehall hubris.

Smug complacent gits with the US in 1st place in the Global Health Security Index and the UK in 2nd - a fact about which I unwisely bragged back when snow was still on the ground to my Vienna doctor mate. Now two of the worst hit nations. Both the compilers of such tripe indices in the future as well as those who give them credence (including moi) have taken a painful kick.

Well, I told Max last week over a few beers to go spend a year in London. Battlefield trauma medicine and perhaps his Brit colleagues would now be ready to take lessons from foreigners.

And yes - a flush-out of those purblind hubristic turds in Whitehall is long overdue. Sedwill failed for the same reason as I felt embarrassed - he trusted those he should have questionned because he imagined the system would not allow duffers into exalted positions. Turns out not just Ferguson but Vallence belonged nowhere near the heart of government.

Charlie said...

Vallance won't be sacked, because it will play into the "Tories throw scientists under a bus" narrative already established in the mainstream press.

Thud said...

Loving the time with my kids but hating what the rabble are up to, as for the future.....I havn't a bloody clue nor does anybody else but I did like my life before and I intend to get it back.

DJK said...

Reuters has an article about the failures of Public Health England: it's secrecy (local case numbers were treated as state secrets and witheld from local public health officials), and its insistence on doing all testing in-house. This is Prof. Chris Whitty's failure. But again, some if it is down to Neil Ferguson, in particular, the decision to abandon contact tracing which was a result of Ferguson's modelling.

Jan said...

I'm quite glad to see people out and about especially the "gatherings" of the young throwing caution to the wind for a party. We've had enough of project fear.

This morning I asked the checkout person in my local Tesco (which must see a fair proportion of the local populace) if any of the staff have been ill with it yet and she said no. So that's zero infections for staff in a sizeable busy store in nearly 4 months. The whole thing has been mightily overblown IMHO.

Meanwhile the economy and many peoples' lives have been severly hit.

andrew said...

+1 on Private Eye's commentary on COVID.
It seems that the experts chose to rely on 'experts' rather than data scientists and got the advice wrong.

+1 on the Economists comments on Johnson
Paraphrasing and trying to use your theme ... we chose BJ to get Brexit done in series 19, little did we know that series 20's theme was COVID and that we needed someone competent - even basically competent would have done.

As ratings are quite high you can see plot lines being set up for future series.

Kier Starmer is busy trying to detoxify Labour. That Long-Bailey was (is) a competitor is a bonus, but the point was to make it clear that the antsemitism problem is being properly got rid of.
All he has to do is make sure the Labour party is not a bunch of antisemitic, anti UK, sexist nutjobs for 4 seasons.
And sit back and let the Cons wobble between incompetence, bribery allegations and flat out lying by reflex.
And a chunky recession and loss of millions of jobs and civil unrest - all of which though not linked, rhyme.

And also possible destinations for the story arc.

A major attraction of the UK / the city to outsiders is we have built up many (hundreds of) years of trust in institutions and rules and behavior.

Capitalism is built on the belief that if I agree to do something, I will, and as a counterparty, you have agreed to pay and you will.
Things work better that way.
When Johnson lies by reflex and excuses his mates from the rules that should apply to all, trust and belief in this is eaten away.
When someone is able to exploit access to govt that has the effect of reducing their tax bill by $40m what would have gone to a local govt that is not con, faith in rules is eaten away.
When 11m is spent on an applicaton that all knew would never work before work on it started, faith that taxes are being spent wisely is eaten away.

This is the road from capitalism towards autocracy.

dearieme said...

Here's an interesting post that argues that the success of the Aussie government happened because it ignored the advice of its medical men.

As for BLM: I'm cut off by "shielding" but my intuition is that they are widely loathed. Not that that matters: Brexit seems to be the only topic on which vox pop has mattered for decades. And we still don't know if we are going to get proper Brexit.

DJK said...

The Australian experience doesn't surprise me. Our own SAGE dithered (and still dither) far too long, waiting for solid evidence. They dithered over lockdown, quarantine of incomers, masks, sense of smell as a symptom, I could go on... In other countries, self-confident leaders without an alphabet soup of scientific committees, acted on instinct, and in many cases, produced a far better outcome than we have in Britain.

Elby the Beserk said...

DJK said...
It seems that Sir Patrick chose to present Neil Ferguson's modelling results as "the science", rather than actually looking at the data, which was in plain sight.

11:15 am

Data? Who bothers with data when you have models which can tell you whatever you want them to tell you. Data - so very very passé, my dear...

"The data doesn't matter. We're not basing our recommendations on the data. We're basing them on the climate models" - Prof. Chris Folland, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. As far back as 1992 -

Elby the Beserk said...

Blogger andrew said...

When 11m is spent on an applicaton that all knew would never work before work on it started, faith that taxes are being spent wisely is eaten away.


If you are referring to Labour's catastrophic NHS IT scheme, the figure is closer to "12 BILLION. Not to mention PFI. Labour basically put us up for billions of pounds which need never have been handed over. Sooner pols are mad responsible for sacking the treasure the better. A spell on the streets would do Gordon Brown no end of good.

andrew said...

You are right and this is why I would make a bad teacher.

I expect nothing other than disasters like this from Labour and so am not sad or disappointed - and there are so many disasters to point at.

OTOH if the cons cock up, I get upset.

Don Cox said...

" faith that taxes are being spent wisely is eaten away."

Normally, taxes are spent on luxurious living for those in power, and on unnecessary wars.

However, now that the government can create money until inflation becomes too high, there is no more need for taxes. It was different in the days when money was rare stones and gold and silver discs.

Don Cox

E-K said...

There are things I'm missing desperately. Cosy English pubs being the main, busy trains the other.

Cafe's, comedy nights, gigs, the holiday with my kids (which could well have been the last opportunity all together) and their graduations.

But to just stroll into a pub with my dog and order a pint and a packet of crisps...

E-K said...

Prime Ministers are elected to lead the country in crisis - not to be led by advisers.

This Covid 19 crisis isn't over. Until the vaccine arrives we will not be able to total the scores.

If a vaccine never arrives and the disease remains a seasonal feature then all countries are going to have to pay the butcher's bill or life will forever be like it is now.

I think that the whole West has made a big mistake.

Being *free* comes at a cost that we've long forgotten - you sometimes have to be prepared to die in order to keep it.

We've hitched our skirts, run away and shown the Chinese the screw plugs on our heels.

(We should have identified the vulnerables and isolated them selectively)

This was in the EU in MARCH 2019 !

(Awaiting peer review but I'm sure it will come.)

Elby the Beserk said...


Forget about a vaccine. Covid-19 is Sars 2. More than 80% the same virus. And there is still no vaccine for that, nor any guarantee that the virus won't have mutated making any vaccine useless. As happened here, with the annual 'flu vaccine three or four years back. Me? I wouldn't touch a 'flu jab with a bargepole, frankly, and will rely on natural immunity over 68 years (had the real 'flu once) good diet, with zinc and vitamin D - and as I spend as much time out of doors I get a lot of that anyway.

Worth watching - Delingpole interviewing an Irish immunologist, who has also been involved in the making of vaccines. She's clear the scientists FUBARed horribly most everything. I'm inclined to agree.

And a good article here at Civitas on how the Whitehall blob needs purging.

"McConalogue and Knox put the blame for this poor response on what they call ‘The Blob’ – the scientific clique entrenched within a managerialist Whitehall culture which the politicians chose not to confront or question. They show how the advisory groups to the government appear to have been granted ‘a representational monopoly’ with the advice coming from scientific committees being rarely challenged either by government or by those outside the inner circle of advisers."

And yes, we miss our lovely local and the people and staff there; I also miss my Sunday wind of the church clock. And my kids and grandkids in Bristle. Otherwise, it's been delightful here. No traffic. Everyone keeping an eye out for everyone, delivering meals, shopping etc for the elderly, and walking our dogs slightly distanced.

E-K said...


Not all bad, I agree.

Nessimmersion said...

Evidence that the whole thing was anything other than a chimera is remarkably thin on the ground.