Wednesday 27 January 2021

When will it end?

The UK media remain keen to depress us all with gory details of how 100,000 people have died of Covid. To me the number is flawed, the real number should be excess deaths and not this easily disputable number. but it makes it easier for the loony 'Boris the Butcher' headcases to argue for lockdown forever etc. 

On that note, the excellent progress in vaccination should mean that light is at the end of the tunnel, just when we are at the worst point of the pandemic yet. 

It looks like all (ish) over 80's will have been vaccinated with an initial does by the end of January or early February. This will continue to bring case number down (which have fallen even faster than they rose, not that pundits seem to want to comment on that) even further. 

The tricky decision will then be when to release lockdown. there are many knowns, the state of the economy, the lack of education, the lack of cancer and other treatments - these are not minor considerations. 

The known unknowns are also hard - how effective is a one dose approach? will the younger population still suffer and end up with many deaths and hospitalisations if restrictions are reduced a lot? How long do the vaccine's give protection for? Will a new variant arise that nix's the whole strategy?

it is quite a balance, the Government do not want another lockdown after this. As such they will push it for as long as they think they can manage given the parlous economic circumstances, to buy the most time for the vaccine programme to work. 

With that view, I think the idea schools will be back at end of February to be unlikely, but not impossible given the rapid vaccination rate and relative fall in numbers cases currently. With vaccine success, the end of March is a more likely time for Tier 3/4 in most of the Country.

If the lockdownders win, then end of April will be the worst case. Spring sees the virus struggle to transmit so easily anyway for a few months and cases will remain low whilst they carry on with a wider vaccination programme.

The worst case news is a variant develops that is vaccine resistant currently, such that it causes a 6-8 week delay in the current plan and end up with restrictions for a lot longer. I can't see Wimbledon or any sports having fans until the autumn and I am very glad I don't own a nightclub right now. 


Jan said...

What has happened to the BBC? It was bad enough when all they could witter on about was Brexit. I didn't think it could get any worse but today and yesterday are beyond belief. Yesterday's BBC1 6 o'clock news was 25 mins of Covid related with 5 mins on other news. This morning's Today programme I had to turn off. Are they trying to send us all mad?

There are other things happening in the world and even with Covid related stuff I'd quite like to know what's going on elsewhere in the world eg the deaths in Mexico which are much worse than ours.

Luckily I can get RT and Aljazeera on freeview so I can get a flavour of other things.

Meanwhile I have a cousin in Western Australia where life carries on as (the old) normal for now at any rate.

djm said...

When will it end ?

A Doctor writes

"I've no idea, I'm not into politics"

decnine said...

While emoting about the 100,000th 'Covid Death', Johnson said that now is not the time to be reviewing the Government's management of the epidemic.

Consider this; the Paschendaele offensive in 1917 had a clear objective and was scheduled to start on a date which was (historically) the beginning of a dry spell. It rained. A lot. For a long time. Did the High Command amend the plan? Of course not. Instead, they doubled down on failure and killed so many British soldiers that there were serious doubts whether the UK could find enough replacements to continue the war in 1918.

The bloody idiot in Number 10 needs to be told that continuous review of whether his administration is following the right strategy should be Agenda Item 1 EVERY BLOODY MORNING. Instead he listens only to the usual parade of failures, and blanks out anyone who dares to differ.

E-K said...

I think the vaccine roll out and the vaccine in the UK is fantastic at the moment.

For all I've said, Boris, Hancock et al should be praised for sticking by their posts and for showing true grit.

This interview with the head of Astra Zeneca shows how proud Britain should be right now.

Being a lockdown sceptic myself we cannot blow it now but surely there must come a time when when we call it a day.

Nick Drew said...

Kev, you are right.

(Me too ... )

L fairfax said...

Surely the best way to look at a pandemic is the average age of death before it started and afterwards.
How much life has been lost? Also when was the last time that this was the average age of death?
I suspect that by doing this it would not look so bad.

Bill Quango MP said...

the Paschendaele offensive in 1917.

Could be a good example. Was certainly a bloody, wasteful, attritional battle that caused immense casualties to both sides. Even today who actually won is disputed.

Why did the generals persist? Were they simply uncaring fools who did not consider the life of a Tommy of any value? Or did they simply have a similar pack of bad option cards as any government does today.

The British were trying to convince the Americans to join the allies. Before the Russians collapsed and the French mutinies broke the Entente.

It was a bad battle. On, as you rightly suggest, on unusually sodden ground. With the aim of nothing much more than making the Huns fight and counter attack. (U boat port objectives aside.)

What was the alternative? The British Army was in Flanders. It could not decamp to the south of France and fight there. The French weren’t going to do anything. The Russians even less. The salvation lay in the USA. Who were not all that keen to join a losing side. No offensive meant stalemate. Allowing the Central Powers to reinforce their success in the east and finish off the Russians.

The point about tunnel vision is well made. The plan for the offensive was overly ambitious and too large. It failed quite early on. Yet, the battle raged until both sides were exhausted and both defeated.

The tragedy is, It went on far too long. But who could know how long was too long? The Germans might have been on the verge of collapse. Might have been withdrawing troops from the eastern front. Who knew?

Hindsight shows the battle to be a mostly unnecessary, mostly pointless slaughter that cost the allies the veteran troops they would sorely miss in the Kaisers Offensive the following year, and prevented the deployment of reserves to the front.
A bolder politician could have sacked Haig. But just imagine if they had. What effect would that have had?

The few months earlier battle of Arras. Where the British airforce really did lose huge numbers of expensively trained new pilots in a matter of weeks is another example. But Trenchard didn’t send his pilots to be killed because he felt like it. He knew the planes were obsolete. The pilots raw. The advantages of weather and terrain and capability with the enemy.

But what was the alternative? Inform the infantry, sorry. Can’t get any photos of the lines for you today. It’s too dangerous for our people. We could lose a dozen on that mission. You send a few battalions in. You’ll soon discover where their artillery is.

Hard choices.
That’s what this is.
The aftermath will decide if those made were correct.

E-K said...

On the chin, Nick. I take it on the chin.

DJK said...

No easy answers here. The vaccine rollout is splendid. OTOH, 100,000 dead, plus the worst economic hit in the G7 is not a record to be proud of. Still, let's leave that to the public enquiry.

And if anybody thinks that covid is just something you can (generally) recover from, please read "Covid and me: 10 days on life support", which is free to read in the FT.

Don Cox said...

Don't listen to Today on Radio 4, switch over to Radio 3 and listen to the Breakfast program. Much more cheerful.

Don Cox

Timbo614 said...

The vaccine program certainly seems to be galloping along. I have been booked in for Sunday. I am 4th in line (classed as vulnerable) and didn't expect to be called until mid February.

So agreed well done to all.

YDG said...

RE: BQ @ 4:18pm

I realise the WW1 history is a bit off the original topic but I can't let this pass. British WW1 generals were, with very few exceptions, abysmal. They don't deserve to have their blundering excused.

"What was the alternative? The British Army was in Flanders. It could not decamp to the south of France and fight there."

This was 1917. They already knew from the Battle of the Somme a year earlier precisely what was going to happen and, sure enough, it did, maybe even worse than expectations. And it's not like the Somme itself had come as a surprise, given what had already happened in 1915. So yes, they were uncaring fools who placed no value of the lives of their own men. Worse, they were stupid. Far too stupid to devise a plan that had even a theoretical chance of success. Compare their stupid, lazy blundering with the record of German generals like Von Manstein, or Heinrici in WW2 and their incompetence starts to look wilful. Then look ahead to 1918 when the British Army absorbed a major German offensive and then launched a series of offensives of its own. Why couldn't that have been done in 1917? They'd had tanks from September of 1916. Passchendaele was followed by the Battle of Cambrai where a tank force opened a major beach in the German lines - the German's certainly thought so and hastily organised a major counter-offensive to recover the situation - but they really needn't have othered because Haig blundered away the opportunity.

Regarding Trenchard. Again, this was 1917. They had been at war for three years. It was unforgivable that half-trained pilots in out-of-date aircraft were being flung into battle. What had Trenchard been doing for three years?

Some years ago I stumbled across a web page that claimed to be a translation of advice that a senior WW2 German officer gave to his newly arrived junior officers. I wish I had kept it. Much of it was detailed instructions about positioning of machine guns, use of cover etc but one line stayed with me ...

"The soldiers under your command do not belong to you - they belong to the Fatherland. It is your responsibility to use them to complete your mission and then return them in good order so that they may serve again tomorrow."

Maybe it was fake, maybe not. Yet, nowhere in the ranks of Britain's WW1 generals could you find a single man who would even want to follow that German Officer's advice, never mind know how to do so.

So, in a desperate attempt to bring this comment back to the original topic, I don't think Passchendaele is a good reference point yet. But in two years from now, if the government are blundering away tens of thousands of lives through stupidity, laziness and arrogance, well ...

dearieme said...

To believe, without critical thought or evidence, that the reported death toll is a result purely of government action or inaction is to take a step on the Road to Serfdom.

But the government was unambiguously in charge of the vaccine contracts. By virtue of appointing a girl (can I say "girl"?) with a background in Venture Capital for the biotech industries, it conjured up a triumph. I hope she's appointed a Duchess, or at least awarded some gong so senior that no civil servant could hope to get one.

The "roll out" seems to be going well too. One result of all this vaccine biz is that the EU etc seem determined to remind us that wogs begin at Calais.

The reason that Boris Must Go is his Green stuff. And go he must.

Bill Quango MP said...

Good response YDG. And much is true.

However, and this is the important for the tenuous Covid response we are constructing, don’t mix apples and oranges.

The WW1 generals, on all sides, have a very similar legacy. None of the great powers had truly imagined industrial, protracted conflict and mechanised warfare. Despite the Maxim gun having been around for a long while.

Empire casualties of 60,000 on the Somme.
150,000 french deaths at Verdun.
1,700,000 total(est) Russia dead.

1914 was the bloodiest year for Germany. And, though can’t find uk figures, they are terrible.

“ About 465,000 German soldiers died each year of the war. German losses were worst in 1914, the first year of the war, and September 1914 was the bloodiest month of the whole war, when German units suffered losses of about 16.8 percent. In August and September 1914, according to the Sanit├Ątsbericht, 54,064 German soldiers were killed, and an astonishing 81,193 went missing.[15] In 1914, losses on the Eastern Front were actually higher than on the Western Front, though very quickly the situation was reversed, and deaths in the west were regularly higher than in the east.”

The reasons for this slaughter on all sides?

The powers that be hadn’t evolved a means of beating the technology available.
The machine gun
Barbed wire.
U boats

The aeroplane, as a viable, proper device, hadn’t even been in existence until 1909

Nessimmersion said...

Interestingly Merck has cancelled their vaccine development.
"Merck scraps COVID Vaccines; Says it’s more effective to get the virus and recover.
Shots generated an ‘inferior’ immune system response in comparison with natural infection

Vaccine manufacturer Merck has abandoned development of two coronavirus vaccines, saying that after extensive research it was concluded that the shots offered less protection than just contracting the virus itself and developing antibodies"

So will we have a separate tabulation for deaths within 28 days of a vaccination just like within 28 days of Covid, or is that different because reasons?

CityUnslicker said...

Nessi - we will get these charts, but they will be done with an agenda sadly. of course with 28 days it look terrible, best part of a month before vaccines kick into effect, nearer 3 months with a second dose that is really need.

Love all the comments here today though.

E-K said...

Problem being that those vaccinated first are often those nearest death's door already. As there are a lot more of them receiving vaccines than there are people of that age and condition contracting CV-19 randomly the figures for vaccination will look terrible.

It is not a fair comparison.

77thBrigade said...

Sorry E-k you are trying to have your cake and eat it there because you want to believe the dogma.