Monday 21 December 2020

Tiers for Fears

 The Government is scared, why now and not a week ago I don't really get. The only way to make sense of it is that the scientific advice the Government has been getting is of poor quality. The way the Government has destroyed itself to follow advice, does not look like politics leading to me. Far from it, the Government is being led by the nose by the scientific advice and is being ruined by it. 

Meanwhile, with a wrecked Christmas anyway it is right to ask why this was not planned for. It would have been a much better call to stop travel and close shops a week or two ago in the face of rising cases. 

Moreover, the suddenness of the move has spooked other Countries, now isolating themselves from the UK. At least we won't notice a no-deal Brexit now!

What a mess and what a disastrous set of guidance from SAGE in my view. Now they are advising total lockdown in the South East for a couple of months, London was in Tier 2 last week. When this mess is over, and it will be with the good news that 500,000 people already have been vaccinated, the whole approach needs to be looked at. 

As much as Keir Starmer witters on about what he would have done several weeks ago with the benefit of today's knowledge, I think any Government would have been side-swiped by the weakness of the officialdom in the Government Scientific advisory space. A good way to tell this is that a big song and dance was made about getting rid of Dominic Cummings and pals, but we are in more of a mess now than ever on the communication side with the new people just as flummoxed as the past ones!


andrew said...

London and the south east should have been tier 3 some weeks ago.

The govt bottled it and left it at 2

In context where I am we had 54.5 cases per 100k last week - tier 2, and London had 497 per 100k - also tier 2 last week.
(and wales was ~1000)
Perhaps they mis-read and need to get their eyesight tested.

All humour aside this govt has a track record of last minute knee jerk responses to events that are at best ill thought out.

Moving on to other ill-thought through knee-jerk responses.
never mind the city, what about the wine trade post brexit
The UK just happens to be a trading centre for a number of things like this and if we are not careful, will not be much longer.

Old BE said...

Politics (idiot backbench Tory MPs who think that they are negotiating with a virus) forced Boris to put a time limit on the November lockdown. If the November lockdown had continued until case numbers were down to manageable levels (i.e. test and trace working properly) we wouldn’t be where we are now.

At least we can now test Hard Brexit. For many, Christmas has come early.

Don Cox said...

There are still ten days for the Government to reach some kind of messy compromise with the EU.

The future's not real until it's over.

Don Cox

dearieme said...

Following The Science has proved disastrous. That's not too surprising: there is no The Science, there's only what a particular bunch of scientists (and charlatans, and ex-scientists) say.

And who selected that bunch? Why, our Rolls Royce civil service, no doubt. It could all have been a Remoaner plot but it's surely likelier to have been that in reality we have a British Leyland civil service.

DJK said...

Old BE: Thank goodness the usual suspects on the Conservative backbenches (Sir Graham Brady and his pals) have shut up for now in the face of overwhelming evidence that the lockdown --- yet again --- has been too light and too late.

That said, there seems to be a big dollop of luck at work here. Some countries (Germany, Czech Republic) seem to do very well, and then suddenly they don't. For a while people praised Sweden (why light touch Sweden and not light touch Brazil?) and then suddenly even the Swedes don't want the Swedish approach.

If you don't want to follow the science then what do you follow? Chicken entrails? Perhaps the gut instincts of Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro? I know, let's inject people with bleach!

At least, thanks to Boris and his scientists, the UK is leading the world with a vaccination programme. If the Oxford vaccine can be approved in the next few days then the UK might be first, or amongst the first, out of this nightmare.

Don Cox said...

The biggest problem will be the evolution of vaccine resistance in the virus.

Don Cox

david morris said...

This is not about a virus

Anonymous said...

@david morris

here we go. Go on then what is it about?
No let me guess it's a conspiracy.
Russians, Chinese, maybe brussels, the Illuminati.
Or is it 5G cellular networks.

Old BE said...

Agree, the UK hasn’t been awful in every respect. I genuinely try to be optimistic and I can’t say I would have got it right if I’d been leading the charge. What’s really clear though is that the Flu Pandemic Handbook didn’t work for corona. Countries that followed the Sars Handbook have done better in general. Busy and less developed countries like Thailand have done well, so it isn’t even a cost/tech/infrastructure issue.

One possible good thing about all these countries “shutting us off” might be we finally get a bit of Sars approach - 12 months in...

Old BE said...

Everyone knows that the virus is Fake and that a global co-ordinated effort to kill off the economy is part of a big secret plan called The Great Reset. Where the Berlin Wall failed, fake-corona will succeed in keeping us all down.

All the evidence you need is that countries like Brazil, who have called this so-called crisis out have had no sickness or deaths due to “coronavirus”.

CityUnslicker said...

Dearime - finally, after only 14 years, we agree on something. I would have a pint to celebrate were the pubs not shut.

Don Cox said...

"All the evidence you need is that countries like Brazil, who have called this so-called crisis out have had no sickness or deaths due to “coronavirus”."

Where did you get that idea ? The most casual search will give the figures. For instance:

Brazil: COVID-19 cases and deaths 2020
Published by Ana María Ríos, Dec 11, 2020
The COVID-19 disease was detected in Brazil on February 26, 2020, making it the first Latin American country to report a case of the novel coronavirus. Since then, the number of infections has risen drastically, reaching nearly 6.8 million cases by December 11. Meanwhile, the first death due to this disease in Brazil was reported on March 18, 2020. Almost nine months later, the number of fatal cases surpassed 179.7 thousand.
Don Cox

PushingTheBoundaries said...
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PushingTheBoundaries said...

Can't help feeling that we do need a Great Reset... But in the Civil Service.

Time after time, every single problem seems to be ill thought out, badly implemented and muddled through. There's no time to assess afterwards as it's into the next crisis ad infinitum.

Anonymous said...

Lockdowns wont eliminate a virus, just delays its spread. The longer it takes to spread, the more it will mutate. The more it mutates, the less chance of a vaccine being effective.

Bill Quango MP said...

CU is right.

Still HMG are bottling it. Every medical person in a hospital will tell you that a large part of the problem is they don’t have enough staff. The Corona is taking their people out. And there are thousands isolating all the time. There is a chronic shortage of agency workers to fill the gaps. The people being taken off “ non essential, elective surgery,” are not much use to the intensive care people. They haven’t the training. Haven’t the knowledge. Are used to 9-5, weekends off, and long lunches on big salaries.

The people off with Covid are the Grunts. The foot soldier nurses and orderlies. The sergeant major Matrons.

This isn’t about not enough funding. It’s simply an obvious fact that hospitals are the most likely place where you will find Corona. Fresh people coming in every day , each with some kind of sickness or they wouldn’t be there. Hundreds of people working in the same space. On shifts. With sick people. And a huge pool of temps, moving from one infected hospital to the next.
The case that hospitals need
Rote ting is only half made.

January is absolutely shite for retail and hospitality. As an experienced retailer, I can tell you that the opportunity to furlough all staff in the wet month, would be a bonus. Once the sales are out the way, business falls to such low levels it is barely worth opening.
Pubs, not as bad, but similar. Everyone parties out in December, and stays in for jan. manufacturing has compulsory holiday time for many of its workers. Finance too. Running the December break, I o a lockdown, until feb, 01, is the best time, having the least impact.

Calling the national lockdown now, for Jan 01, would have been better, than pretending you won’t. January is the time for the government strategists to get ahead of events for a change.

I suspect they will continue to deny a second, tier four or five or six lockdown is coming, deny it, right up to the point they can’t deny it any longer. And the laughable, politically damaging, inevitable u-turn is done.

Sir Kneebend has been gifted hard drives full of material for his election campaign. His response today is unimportant. No one cares what mr nobody says. But they will remember what the government said, and did.

Thud said...

The Govt boasted they are vaccinating 12 hours a day, so the virus takes half a day off too? Get the Oxford vaccine out tomorrow and let the RAMC dictate the pace, we are at war to all intent and purpose.

Anonymous said...

if the civil service were so smart, why not put in a 6 week break for kids in dec/ january and 2 weeks in the summer.
sure teachers would be a bit irked, but the school year gets taught and they all get paid. its not like anyone has booked anywhere nice for the summer....
was always going to get worse at this time of year. viral spread is always worse when its damp and no sunshine. look at india numbers since the moonsoon ended in october vs europe.

Anonymous said...

I think it was just a clash of two legitimate points of view. I am going to credit Johnson with some basic humanity, so I think he genuinely wanted to allow the country to have a normal-ish xmas and tried to time the Nov lockdown to allow it to happen. Allowing x-mas travel was bound to spread the virus, so someone came up with a terrifying presentation to shock and awe ministers into cancelling xmas (and I don't think they were wrong to do so). But it feels like we have government by who can do the best powerpoint presentation that morning.

My criticism of the science advisors is that they took so long to come up with a convincing argument to cancel xmas. Problems with how fast they get data perhaps? Or a clunky model that they struggle to update to run scenarios with?

The governments problem is that they're trying to be too nimble, it wrong footed me as an individual and must do the same to businesses.

E-K said...
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E-K said...

Boris, the classics graduate is a caricature of Britain as much as Frau Merkel, the Dr of Chemistry is of Germany. (I wish we had a Thatcher right now.)

We are a fat, indisciplined, slovenly, unkempt, gregarious, boorish, last-minute, often ignorant, just-in-time people.

There is a reason why the nation took Boris to its heart and gave him his thumping majority.

There is nothing 'granular' in what we do. (Alluding to Old BE's comment the other day.)

We are un-lockdown-able and our health system was creaking before this started. We can never be like orderly and grown up Germany (for whom the whole EU was designed to contain - and her pristine health system paid for via our contributions to her NATO protection), obedient South Korea (near to China and well rehearsed with viruses) nor smug and comfortably remote New Zealand (who still managed to produce a mass murderer in a mosque despite having a fraction of our London population)

When the pandemic started we were hopelessly wrong footed by the global shortage in test kits and PPE. Partly our fault for having been such a whore to globalism.

Look at what has just happened to the Tier 4 restrictions on London.

The minute we start trying to be professional the people give two fingers and spread the virus far and wide. The Germans would have said "OK, jah !" and complied. Our idiots packed on to trains and motorways rather defeating the whole point of it all.

This is why I say. Focused lockdown was never going to be the best, but it was the best we were going to be able to do.

Britain, with her obesity epidemic, ageing population and idiot mentality (which is why my old blog was called E-K in the Chavtastic UK) was always going to be badly hit.

And we hear that Focused Shielding is "impossible" (it is at least partly possible - this was only ever about damage limitation) but total lockdown is impossible for the UK too as we have seen last week.

We can still do focused shielding but probably a lot less in this area with the new London arrivals.

Boris understands his people better than SAGE. It is quite obvious that he has given his health for this nation torn between two opposing forces.

And of the mutant strain and our new found status as a pariah nation. How efficient the blockades - I only wish they had been so efficient from the very outset and directed more to the origin.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit rough to blame the "science"

Advisors advise, leaders lead, and governments govern. And that tells you where the blame sits. Even if you outsource governing, you're still the government, so still in ownership of responsibility.

If you bring in a single, unified, set of advisors in, you're a bloody fool. You want dissenting voices, and you want them to provide evidence as to their view and from that you determine how to act.

Doesn't mean you'll get it right. Nobody has got this right, outside of China, and I'm not seeing a clamour to follow their system of governance. Even Sweden is now in deep trouble, hence why a lot of the Barrington Bunch are sipping a freshly brewed mug of shutting the fuck up.

There are some really obvious screw-ups:

a) Students going back, criss-crossing the nation, and now the reverse happening which all but guarantees everyone goes into Tier 4 or worse.

b) Lack of decentralisation - track and trace worked better locally, but that seems to have gone over the governments head to some extent.

c) Dido Harding.

And yet support for the government is holding up pretty well. People are pissed off, and deeply resentful, but aren't necessarily blaming the government for all of it.

If Labour do try and weaponise the response when we're out the other side, I'm not convinced it'll sell as well as some may think.

Old BE said...

My comment was mocking the kind of nonsense we see online!

Old BE said...

The government has already basically admitted that London/SE are going to be in “Tier 4” until the vaccine rollout is done...

Old BE said...

The “Sweden” model as with the idea of allowing a slow and steady spread was always based on the premise that once we’d had corona we would be immune. A totally false premise because at the start we simply didn’t know a) whether immunity would arise or b) how bad the actual disease is. Turns out that it’s quite bad and we don’t get long-term immunity from catching it.

Is there almost a consensus around the government making a real mess around this but also not doing much worse than most other countries in the West?

E-K said...

The Coronavirus Update Live site shows today Sweden deaths 789/million to our 994/million.

And they haven't wrecked their economy and nation's mental health and have got considerably better figures than ours - over 200 lives saved per million.

They are showing that they can be reactive too and not set one ideology.

I haven't looked but I bet their above average death stats are a lot better too.

I cite NZ, Sth Korea and Germany and look upon them with envy but we are not they, unfortunately. Tier 4 London resulted in a mass exodus that is shameful but confirms what we are as a people. Chavtastic ! *sarcasm*

The Lancet cites 4 reinfection cases. They are rare and Prof Neil Ferguson told us himself that he had immunity when even he couldn't obey a lockdown.

dearieme said...

Everybody just assumes that government action is a big deal in all this. Maybe, but in three or four years time it might look to have been small beer.

What has our own system done well? (i) Approving the Pfizer vaccine speedily (I hope to God that they re right but I'm not at all sure of it). (ii) Tip-top studies of the mutations in the virus's genome.

Will those much matter in the grand scheme of things? Maybe not.

As for test-and-trace I saw someone pointing out that no government has been successful with it once the virus is widespread.

dearieme said...

From Lockdown Sceptic: "Christian Drosten, Angela’s Merkel’s pandemic guru, says the mutation is almost certainly spreading in Germany already and he is sceptical about the data interpretation by Prof Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial."

Dear God, are we still employing that drongo Ferguson?

jim said...

'Events dear boy, events'.

Anyway, this is what sovereignty feels like. There is an old Aesop fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper", popular with the Frogs, that fits our situation.

TBH I reckon we can't blame the scientists too much. You need a really good data and control systems to ride an exponential curve and Dido failed to deliver - get rid.

We all now know how Millwall supporters feel.

Jan said...

There are probably many different strains of the virus in circulation. The one they're so overly worried about has been in circulation since September apparently and on the continent too. Everyone knows the virus is real but the reaction to it has been way over the top. It was never worth wrecking the economy and the lives of so many young adults and children over.

The "scientists" Boris has chosen to surround himself with are the most boring,soulless miserable bunch you could ever hope to meet and I'm sure there are plenty more scientists about who would disagree with their pronouncements. I can't listen to any more of their witterings.

Also whatever happened about the Nightingale hospitals which were built at vast expense just so we could show we were as good as China? No-one gave any thought to how they would be staffed.

david morris said...

Some borderline hysterical comments here. I'm quite surprised.

To repeat - This is not about a virus.

I'm not saying that there isn't a virus from which a number of people have actually died, or which at least has contributed to their deaths... but it surely can't be refuted that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any authentic public health threat r e m o t e l y justifying the totalitarian emergency measures we are being subjected to or the damage that is being done to society.

Whatever you believe about the so-called “pandemic,” it really is as simple as that. Even if one accepts the official “science,” you do not transform the entire planet into a totalitarian nightmare in response to a health threat of this nature.

jim said...

@DM Well, not exactly an existential crisis for humanity but something that will bother the electoral calculation quite a lot. How many dead grannies can they afford and still get elected? The cost does not show up on Tory party funding but that is what it amounts to - a massive subsidy keeping the Tories in power. Of course we also have to do the same as the French and Germans do or the travel blocks come down, but don't mention that.

Back in the late '60s we had an epidemic that killed around 85,000. Hardly heard of at the time and certainly no lockdown dramas. Today we lockdown because we can, its an Action Man thing, because the internet will give a blow by blow account of progress/failure. Back then the bureaucracy was so slow the health chiefs hardly knew until it was too late. Only the funeral directors and hospital chiefs kept score. Back then the ratio of beds/1000 population was closer to 6. Now as a result of superb and expensive efficiency savings it is closer to 1.8. Small wonder we have a bit of a flap on. So, sure the death rate is pretty small, what matters to the politicians is their unpopularity and images on election posters come 2024.

TBH I was quite sad but not surprised to see Cummimgs pushed out. He looked a useful if objectionable lump of grit in the political oyster. But he had to go when they realised that the only reason folk vote for a Tory council was if it blocked housing development. Otherwise the Tories looked much the same as Labour, no USP and that would never do.

Don Cox said...

If you bring in a single, unified, set of advisors in, you're a bloody fool. You want dissenting voices, and you want them to provide evidence as to their view and from that you determine how to act.
But how can you judge the evidence if you are totally ignorant of virology, epidemiology, and medicine ?

You can't have a government made up entirely of scientists and technocrats, with no understanding of history or human nature. But ours is at the other extreme.

Don Cox

Old BE said...

It’s so interesting to see small c “conservative” voices seriously suggesting that the government should effectively step back and allow an earthquake to rip through, killing tens of thousands, with no idea of the short and long-term consequences. To suggest that “ah well it’s only grannies” as if people’s older relatives may as well fuck off and die. I bet you wouldn’t tell your own family that they are disposable.

Graeme said...

"It’s so interesting to see small c “conservative” voices seriously suggesting that the government should effectively step back and allow an earthquake to rip through, killing tens of thousands"

It's like discussing the NHS. The only alternative that gets presented is the US system. Nobody has ever said "just let it rip". Everyone has talked about protecting the vulnerable. The only difference is that some people prefer not to be incarcerated while the economy gets trashed. Some people are happy to take useful precautions such as wash your hands, rather than this performative acting out of insignificant stuff such as wearing masks.... While driving alone in a car!

Sobers said...

"To suggest that “ah well it’s only grannies” as if people’s older relatives may as well fuck off and die. I bet you wouldn’t tell your own family that they are disposable."

In my personal experience the 'grannies' are the ones who are most sanguine about the whole thing. When you get to that age you know death is around the corner, so why turn your last years into a prison sentence? My feeling is its the 50-70 age group who are the ones wetting themselves over this, because they thought they were nailed on to get to 90 at least and didn't expect to have to face death tomorrow. And of course the 50-70 age group is largely the one who controls all the levers of power. And they have thrown everyone else under the bus to try and save their own backsides. This has nothing to do with Saving Granny, and everything to do with making sure middle aged and overweight types don't get culled. The 20-50 aged section of society has been impoverished, and children denied an education, and granny in her care home has been left to her own devices, and denied care on the NHS if she gets sick from anything, regardless of whether its covid related or not. All to save the 50 and 60 somethings.

Anonymous said...

Park away at the back of your mind that Boris suffers from a political (or even personal) form of MSBP (Munchausen syndrome by proxy)

Seems to explain many of the issues we find ourselves looking at. And it may be time for the Dr to be called - sometime early next year.

Old BE said...

It’s funny. People of my age are always being told that we are snowflakes by supposedly stronger, stiffer-lipped, stronger-backed salt-of-the-earth types. The same macho men, flag-waving wankers who voted to be Independent (whatever that even means) irrespective of the costs are now the ones bleating about having to wear masks. Oh no what an imposition! We can’t possibly curtail our social lives for a few months - why should we? How dare the government restrict our annual trip to Marbella - we can’t possibly do without! So much for the Blitz Spirit - the “sceptics” can’t even handle a few days sitting at home. Grow up.

Old BE said...

Also, Happy Christmas you curmudgeonly old grouches.

E-K said...

Happy Christmas to you too, not-so-old Old BE and I take your points. I also take Sobers' points too.

No-one said 'let it rip'.

Do you think it's divided along Brexit lines ?

I went to an aunt and uncles' this year when we opened up a bit and they were petrified - they looked pallid and weak, squinting and hunched over as though they'd hidden in a bunker all summer (I suspect they voted Remain.) Both have just made 70. My Mum and the old girl next door in her '90s couldn't really give a toss about their health and want us all to get on with our lives (Brexit voters.)

I'm well in that at-risk age group and have been working throughout, in my mask. I might gripe about the rules but I've stuck by them throughout.

Which is the opposite of some of those leading us who espouse the rules yet do not stick by them.

CityUnslicker said...

Very on the money comment there Sobers.

Sobers said...

"It’s funny. People of my age are always being told that we are snowflakes by supposedly stronger, stiffer-lipped, stronger-backed salt-of-the-earth types. The same macho men, flag-waving wankers who voted to be Independent (whatever that even means) irrespective of the costs are now the ones bleating about having to wear masks. Oh no what an imposition! We can’t possibly curtail our social lives for a few months - why should we? How dare the government restrict our annual trip to Marbella - we can’t possibly do without! So much for the Blitz Spirit - the “sceptics” can’t even handle a few days sitting at home. Grow up."

I don't see the disconnect between voting for 'independence' and not wanting to have restrictions imposed on you. They seem entirely logically consistent actions to me, based on a love of freedom above all other things.

There's also the case that some of us older ones realise that if the Powers That Be think they can get away with scaring half the country to death and using that as a reason to restrict everyone's freedoms, they won't just stop at nasty flu epidemics as an excuse to order the masses around.

hovis said...

I am greatly saddened by the decline in the critical faculty of many of the commenters here. What is it, some form of hypoxia?