back to article 'Following the science' rhetoric led to delay to UK COVID-19 lockdown, face mask rules

The UK government's insistence that it was simply "following the science" during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic was a big factor in the costly delay to the nation's first lockdown and postponed the introduction of face masks rules, according to an independent report. The Institute for Government, a thinktank, said …

  1. GioCiampa

    The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

    Fixed that for you...

    ...meanwhile "following the science" was just an excuse to blame others for their own shortcomings when they blatantly did anything but!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

      Weren't there scientists calling for the first lockdown to start weeks before politicians decided to put it in place?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

        @AC

        "Weren't there scientists calling for the first lockdown to start weeks before politicians decided to put it in place?"

        Probably. But then there were others calling for no lockdown. I recall hearing the arguments against lockdown being around human behaviour and not tolerating it for too long. Basically what has come to pass for being locked down to long.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

          The confusing messaging and a different set of rules for the chosen few had nothing to do with it, then?

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

            @AC

            And why would the 'chosen' feel its ok to break the rules. They are totally in the wrong for not living by their own rules (something that would cause a few changes I expect). It certainly makes the virus seem less of a threat, which is also the outcome after all this time (thankfully).

        2. Gordon 11

          Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

          Basically what has come to pass for being locked down to long.

          I think you mean, "for being locked down longer than they would like".

          An even longer lockdown was actually needed.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

            @Gordon 11

            "I think you mean, "for being locked down longer than they would like"."

            You could say it that way. Also known as we are dealing with a system of humans and must realise that any plan will have to account for the fact that people are humans. This is where the Soviet Union failed by waiting for 'the new man'. Its the spherical chicken joke applied to real life.

            Simply if your plan is to apply to humans and doesnt account for them being humans then your plan sucks. Spitting image (the new one) was ripping into Domonic Cummings this way suggesting he was alien and had no idea of people (e.g. they should sacrifice for the good of the hive).

            Its not just the UK having trouble forcing people not to act like people-

            https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/dec/20/angela-merkel-pleads-coronavirus-cooperation-after/

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

              A very rare instance of where we're in agreement! There is more than a whiff of ivory towers in much of the advice, with fans of lockdown placing more faith in their models than in people.

              The data increasingly undermines the lockdown strategy with infection rates rarely falling off for long and ignoring or glossing over the other costs: social and medical. In Germany they've admitted that there is no evidence for some of the measures but feel obliged to persist anyway and even call for more when they do not appear to have the desired effect.

              The insistence of communicating infection rates ignores much of the evidence of the last few years of populism: many people have had too much of experts.

              1. codejunky Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                @Charlie Clark

                "A very rare instance of where we're in agreement!"

                I am sure there are many, even if we dont often find them. We both come from a position of wanting the best for people even if we have differing views on how to get there sometimes.

                Hope you have a great christmas and lockdown doesnt cause you too many troubles.

                1. Symon
                  Paris Hilton

                  Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                  Get a room.

        3. David Austin

          Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

          Biological science vs Physiological science; I'm willing to bet both teams argued their (Correct in isolation) cases strongly, and the politicians ended up in decision paralysis, defaulting to the one that didn't restrict peoples freedom and the economy until they had no choice.

          Which ties back into the main point of this report: science should be an input (And almost certainly the biggest input), but you need to tie it to other areas to form a cohesive, decisive policy.

          1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

            (Correct in isolation)

            and there you have it. One or two patients with a contagious disease, bung em in isolation and job done. Doesn't scale well for an entire country, or worse still, the world.

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

              It does if you dont let the one or two patients wander around, or others let in at 120 planes an hour.

              1. genghis_uk Silver badge

                Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                Absolutely this - we are an island and we could have done what other islands did (Taiwan, Australia, Greece (rather, Greek Islands)) and shut our borders early. This would have contained the virus and allowed track and trace to work.

                My thoughts about dealing with this are already on record (and still just as unpopular) but we can all agree that we got here because we never isolated ourselves. What was the point of a lockdown if our borders were still open?

                Self-isolation without enforced quarantine for those coming back into the country was sheer stupidity. Back in September, 80% of the cases in the North were linked to a Spanish strain of the virus - an enforced quarantine would potentially have prevented the large spike that created the tier system and ultimately, the second lockdown.

          2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

            Yes, not considering the science in the round leads to Sydney De'Ath seeing that life causes suffering, therefore to eliminate suffering you must eliminate life.

        4. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

          ... being locked down to long

          Is that why we were locked down then? So we could long? Long for what?

          The end of lockdowns I guess.

      2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

        Yes the WHO's head was publicly begging for early lockdown in combination with massive testing and isolating the positives. Stressing that you need them both too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

          For the UK timelines:

          - My wife and I (working for separate London-based companies) were told to work from home from the 9th of March and had had work meetings cancelled if they involved international travel from the middle of February. i.e. there was some awareness at this point.

          - 12th March NHS advise COVID testing to be restricted due to capacity being exceeded.

          - Matt Hancock claims his statement "to avoid social contact and stay home" was the start of lock down.on the 16th of March. This claim is difficult to support due to Cheltenham proceeding along with other sporting events.

          - the WHO director general advised physical distancing along with "isolate, test, treat and trace" on the 18th of March. I believe this is the statement you are referring to.

          - Boris Johnsons told people "they “must” stay at home and said that "we will immediately" close some businesses" is considered the "formal" start of lockdown 1 on the 23rd of March.

          - the WHO formally advised lock downs on the 16th of April

          1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

            Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

            I no longer have my copy, but earlier in the year than March New Scientist published an interview with the WHO head. He was stressing that Wuhan had succeeded in reducing infections by doing both.

            As I say, that's off the top of my head because I can't look it up.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

            The Who, What, When is Here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/interactive-timeline#event-20

          3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

            Sadly HMG has been literally following the science, not realising that science is all about predicting with better than random chance what is likely to happen in the future, to give us a chance to prevent, rather than react to events. Scientists have made statistical models and have made mistakes, but the politicians' understanding of science, scientists and models has been shown to be virtually non-existent, and the PM's ability for resolute decision making puts me in mind of P G Wodehouse's description of Lord Emsworth's spine as 'having all the rigidity of a wet sock'.**

            One of the problems was that Prime Minister Johnson strongly advised people not to go out, not to socialise in pubs clubs or cafes before there was a financial support package for affected businesses, or a formal legal lockdown. I recall publicans asking what they were supposed to do, shut and pay their staff and rental fees / leases with no income, or buy in food, beer snacks etc. and not get any customers?

            After the debacle of the Dido Harding's 'world beating' 'Test and Trace' system (what has happened to that and her?), the dithering, procrastination and sudden changes of direction, on say, free school meals*, the current volte face is hardly surprising (although I do wish I'd had my hair cut last week, so null points to me for common sense).

            *Marcus Rashford's first letter was one of the most dignified, clear and moving letters I have ever read. Boris Johnson's capitulation was mealy-mouthed and ungracious, congratulating Rashford only on his campaign, not accepting that he was right at all. That, I'm afraid, gives the measure of the man.

            **'Leave it to Psmith'

            1. tip pc Silver badge

              Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

              Would love to hear what the dissenters would have done differently.

              This thing started relatively fast with lots of conflicting information and difficult to discern data. They followed scientific advice and now we are hearing they shouldn’t have.

              Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

              Lockdown deniers where claiming Sweden had the right idea, now they are being battered likely from this mutated strain.

              1. sabroni Silver badge

                Re: They followed scientific advice and now we are hearing they shouldn’t have.

                No. They followed a political belief that the state should be dismantled so they outsourced test and trace to a national startup instead of scaling out the existing, local based, infrastructure.

                That's why test and trace is 22 billion spaffed up the wall. Now they've changed the way they calculate the figures and are claiming that means the service has improved!

                Their fear of "the state" has cost hundreds of lives. They're playing politics with our future.

                1. Nick Ryan Silver badge
                  Flame

                  Re: They followed scientific advice and now we are hearing they shouldn’t have.

                  It's not so much "fear of the state" it's that absolutely everything should be privatised, that the only value in other people is the amount of money that they generate. Entirely forgetting that money and value has to come from somewhere, that perpetual economic growth is impossible but that this fact can be hidden neatly by rising prices, as in there is more money in terms of numbers even though everything costs more. It's the more money that matters. Which isn't a problem because it can just be created out of thin air, aka, Quantitive Easing.

                  The Tory party mentality is pretty much: If other people are "too lazy or workshy" to not be able to afford food, lodgings, healthcare or education then this as a result of their lazy workshy life choices. Democracy, oops, unrestrained capitalism is about the survival of the fittest. In this case those with the most money and the most friends with the most money.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: They followed scientific advice and now we are hearing they shouldn’t have.

                  "They followed a political belief that the state should be dismantled so they outsourced test and trace to a national startup instead of scaling out the existing, local based, infrastructure."

                  Ummm - the NHS was given ~8 weeks to expand capacity and was not able to deliver on the targets they set. Introducing the private sector in mid-April delivered and exceeded the targets set within 4 weeks.

                  And if we compare the results in the UK with Germany who co-operated on developing testing plans, Germany realised it would need private labs to meet testing targets from day 1 while the NHS choose an alternative option of in-house testing. In Germany and the UK (and many other western countries) testing capabilities in the private sector far exceeded those in the public sector due to biotech companies.

                  If you consider that to be caused by dismantling the state so be it. but the majority (>80%) of the testing capabilities were outside the health sector in both the UK and Germany.

                  (Note that there were other issues that compounded the NHS testing issues (choosing to develop tests

                  in-house which led to delays in rolling out testing and supply issues with reagents that were compounded by the development delays during the early stages of the European/US outbreaks) but as they were overcome in time but still didn't allow the NHS to perform at targeted levels of testing these delays can be ignored for the larger argument)

                  For the trace side of things there were no doubt a number of issues and very fair criticism of the private companies success rates versus public sector, however the public sector methods could not scale quickly to meet the required demand without suffering the same issues the private sector had (inexperienced staff who had no experience handling health issues in local areas) or the facilities to house said staff.

                  While £22bn seems a significant sum, the major issue is the lack of transparency at the moment to see if the money has been spent appropriately. If the transparency issues are related to reporting during the virus and we can see the details within 6-12 months, then we (government/opposition/public) can make an accurate assessment.

              2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                If you actually follow the discussion in Sweden you'll find it refreshingly honest and self-critical. The constitution forbids many of the measure in place elsewhere so the strategy has consistenly been about trying to get the consensus necessary for the long term.

                Current infection rates are comparable with other European countries with more restrictive policies with mortality rates lower, though far higher than its direct Scandinavian neighbours.

                I'm not saying they got it right but there are lessons, both positive and negative, to be learned.

                1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                  Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                  30th in the world in infection and they've not reported in 4 days though it was climbing exponentially? I hate to see what the positive lessons are here, cant see a single on myself.

                  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                    Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                    Infection rates on their own are a poor indicator. Infections have been increasing but not exponentially. Really, the only reliable basis for comparison is excess mortality where Sweden has one of the highest rates in Europe, partly down to a disastrous situation in care homes in the spring.

                    They only report figures Tuesday to Friday and have press conferences on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It means there is space in the news for other pressing issues. Responsibility is delegated to the board of health which has so far relied on recommendations rather than rules. This keeps politicians from trying to score points and works fairly well in Sweden but YMMV.

                    Because they didn't close the schools they were able to provide data about the spread (or lack) of infection amongst children, which helped inform policy in other countries. The same applies for restaurants, etc. which they kept open though with restricted service. So, for much of the year people have been able to live fairly normal lives – though there have been restirctions – rather than the start-stop in many other countries. There has been excess mortality and the current situation is more than controversial but outcomes are still comparable to those in other countries which have used far more draconian measures.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                  "If you actually follow the discussion in Sweden you'll find it refreshingly honest and self-critical."

                  While there was merit in the Swedish approach (i.e. it is the classical pandemic response used repeatedly over the last 100+ years), it was only viable if they were able to minimise mortality while seeing significant development of herd immunity which was going to prove to be more important than vaccination in controlling the virus int he longer term.

                  While vaccination hasn't been fully proved for COVID-19 yet (i.e. vaccination has to be implemented at scale and not rendered less effective by changes in the virus), the speed of which a vaccine has become available makes the Swedish approach increasing difficult to defend.

                  How it is viewed in 12 months maybe significantly less favourable.

                  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                    Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                    I'm not sure if the same approach has been used for years. Many of the most recent flu pandemics have provoked little or no response with mortality rates slightly lower than the current ones seemingly accepted without much discussion.

                    The development of vaccines has indeed been astonishing. As for the approach: this shouldn't be an either or debate, but about finding out what works best in which situation and is most sustainable over time.

              3. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                "Would love to hear what the dissenters would have done differently." What Taiwan, Vietnam etc etc did

                Taiwan 2.5% growth in GDP this year. That is saving your economy AND people.

              4. Triggerfish

                Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

                I feel there may have been two different approaches to taking advice or at least re-acting to the viruses. Here in Vietnam for example they went lets take the advice and react like it is very scary, realise we have no facilities to really deal with it, go hard and ease lockdown if it isn't that bad, a lot of the world seems to have gone, well we have a good health infrastructure, we can ease into lockdown and rely on our systems being robust and hope to keep the country open and take it from there.

            2. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

              what has happened to that and her?

              It's still shit; she got promoted. The Johnson government in a nutshell, really.

      3. GioCiampa

        Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

        "Weren't there scientists calling for the first lockdown to start weeks before politicians decided to put it in place?"

        Exactly my point!

      4. Timto

        Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

        Some were, some weren't

        The problem with the news media in this country is that they don't give a damn about science.

        If 100 scientists say one thing, they'll find the 1 scientist who says another and lead with a headline like "Top scientists says oppositee of government"

        People should really just ignore the media and their lies

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

          "If 100 scientists say one thing, they'll find the 1 scientist who says another and lead with a headline like "Top scientists says opposite of government""

          The formation of independent SAGE in response to the governments SAGE is a good example of this - the two groups have rarely agreed on a course of action, with independent SAGE always arguing for a more cautious approach that is never taken and thus the consequences of their decisions are never experienced.

          That's not saying they are universally right or wrong - I suspect independent SAGE's advice may have lead to widespread public disobedience and it being tempered to match the government SAGE's advice but it's easy to speculate when your advice/decisions have no consequences.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Masks WERE/ARE science

      Too true. Masks ARE established science, the doctor wears masks for a scientific reason, MASKS ARE NOT DECORATIVE, doctors don't wear them as a fashion statement FFS. The decision to not wear masks was LOGISTICAL. They thought if they encourage people to wear them, mask stocks will be depleted for the front line workers and nurses that really need them the most.

      Science is not logistics! They can piss off with this claim.

      The same decision was made in the US too, again for the same reason.

      In Thailand they masked up as soon as the Chinese said they were having difficulty containing it, in January. Right now, another outbreak they've found in Burmese migrant workers camps at shrimp farms in Samut Sakhon. One province is locked down, they're testing 40,000 people in and around that province, and although Bangkok had few cases and is not locked down..... it's like it is. They've closed communal areas, masks are compulsory, the strict enforcement of mask wearing in public is back. Malls are back to strong enforcement of the mask rules.

      No whiney Fox News liars here, people wear masks, it will be taken down to zero cases again. People don't die, because Murdochs media empire doesn't spew lies into their heads. Lies that kill them.

      The problem with the decision to not make masks compulsory, is it let Murdochs media empire, especially Fox News, undermined mask wearing, citing the change in policy as if it was uncertainty.

      Then they undermined the lockdown, so it opened two weeks too soon (remember "the cure is worse than the disease" resulting in Trump's "Liberate MICHIGAN/MINNESOTA/VIRGINIA..."),

      Now they're trying to undermine the vaccine rollout. They think will score gains politically if they can undermine Biden's handling of the pandemic. Never mind the deaths, never mind the potential mutations that would undermine the vaccine, Declans boys spewing their lies to kill people for political gains.

      At some point you have to count up all the deaths and see how many Murdoch's empire has caused and hold them accountable for those deaths. Not just fines, prison time. They killed your mum and your dad, so hold them accountable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

        There is hell of a difference between proper surgical grade masks worn by professions who know to to use them, and the crappy half arsed badly fitting face coverings worn by the public, who spend their entire time putting their hands to their faces to adjust them, and then touching other surfaces. The more situations mask wearing has been made compulsory, the faster this disease has spread.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          *The more situations mask wearing has been made compulsory, the faster this disease has spread"

          In fact I saw an interesting chart mapping covid cases vs time in different European countries. The shapes of the curves were all the same even though different countries implemented obligatory mask wearing at different times.

          Mask wearing for medical professions or vulnerable people makes sense. Forcing everyone to use masks in public is useless

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

              I think the evidence points the other way.

              Masks at best don't cause greater spread. At best.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

                "Masks at best don't cause greater spread. At best."

                If we look at US states, those with mask wearing policies for EVERYBODY have done significantly better than the states that required only employees to wear masks (i.e. retail staff - customers didn't have to wear them) who in turn did better than those states with no mask policies.

                Overview of states

                Detailed study of mask wearing policies

                At WORST, wearing a mask will reduce your chances of getting the virus versus not wearing a mask.

        2. very angry man

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          The more situations mask wearing has been made compulsory, the faster this disease has spread.

          I call Bullshit!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

            Actually no but you need to look past media and do some research to realise masks have there own issues.

            Take a look at https://swprs.org/face-masks-evidence/ - this crew is trying to provide factual studies exploring a number of aspects.

            1. DryBones

              Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

              https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/swiss-policy-research/

              Overall, we rate Swiss Policy Research (SPR) a Moderate Conspiracy website based on the promotion of unproven claims. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to the use of poor sources and complete lack of transparency. (M. Huitsing 5/21/2020) Updated (8/26/2020)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          Stop your toxic idiot bullshit. Surgical masks are very effective: cheaper or improvised ones are less so. That means that surgical masks reduce both the probability of infection and the severity of the infection if you get infected more than than cheaper ones do. But cheaper ones still reduce both of these things, and reducing them far enough is all we need to do.

          What you are doing is exactly equivalent to what the global warming denialists are doing: endlessly casting doubt on science in order to kill people to support whatever cretin death cult has eaten your brain. Stop it: stop killing people.

          1. juice Silver badge

            Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

            > That means that surgical masks reduce both the probability of infection and the severity of the infection if you get infected more than than cheaper ones do. But cheaper ones still reduce both of these things, and reducing them far enough is all we need to do.

            This.

            It's also worth bearing in mind that there are two further aspects to masks, above and beyond their porosity.

            First is psychological: wearing them helps to remind people that they should be following "best practices" in terms of touching things and interacting with others.

            Secondly is physical: they stop people from touching their mouths and nose (both fairly moist areas where the virus has a better chance of latching on)

            Obviously, none of these three things make for a perfect solution, but when taken together - and/or combined with various other measures, they do make a statistically significant difference.

            I mean, take the USA as a counter-example. Currently, they're lacking any centralised C19 measures and their death rates are continuing to climb drastically.

            In fact, to put it in the crudest possible beer-mat-scribble way: USA death rates are climbing drastically whereas UK death rates have remained fairly static. And as of this week, the US death rate is about 120% of the UK death rate, once relative population sizes have been accounted for.

            Not only that, but South Dakota has given us the chance to compare counties which have implemented differing levels of preventative measures. And the county which has implemented a facemask rule (among other things, to be fair) has a measurably lower infection rate than other counties within the same state which haven't done the same.

            https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/55216518

            The UK response to Coronavirus has been far from perfect - and far from the best in Europe, never mind the world. But even so, I think it's still safe to say that it's still measurably better than just doing nothing.

        4. Triggerfish

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          The understanding was mask helped prevent spreading by stopping droplets from your breath, and also have a possibility of you getting less of a viral load becuase they are not 100% effective.

          I live in a country that masked up and started hand washing right away. The coronavirus effectively doesn't exist here at the moment. So I cant help think you are talking rubbish.

        5. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          There is a hell of a difference between a cheap ill-fitting mask that people keep adjusting, and no mask whatsoever. The first one protects people around you, and even protects you a little bit. The latter allows the virus to spread.

      2. Fading
        Coat

        Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

        The Official UK advice:

        "The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others."

        "may in certain circumstances." let that sink in. And from Sweden's public health body:

        "We do not currently recommend face masks in public settings since the scientific evidence around the effectiveness of face masks in combatting the spread of infection is unclear. However, there may be situations where face masks can be useful despite the uncertain state of knowledge about the effects."

        Hardly "Established Science" is it?

        Cloth masks are for reducing the droplet infection vector - unfortunately even the CDC now admits Covid-19 also has an airborne transmission vector.

        (now where's my lab-coat)

        1. Timto

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          Since masks were made mandatory, just a few days later I was in a queue in a shop with someone literally breathing down my neck.

          Mandatory masks completely destroyed the 2m rule compliance.

          Risk Compensation it's called. When seat belts are mandatory, the number of car crashes goes up.

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: When seat belts are mandatory, the number of car crashes goes up.

            Seat belts aren't designed to stop cars crashing.

            Fuck cars, what happens to the number of human fatalaties when seat belts are mandatory?

            1. DiViDeD Silver badge

              Re: When seat belts are mandatory, the number of car crashes goes up.

              Seat belts aren't designed to stop cars crashing.

              I don't think that's what the OP was saying. When people feel safer, they take more risks. ABS has led to drivers driving faster and braking later because they are relying on the ABS/EBDF to sort it out for them. Adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking mean that people are more at ease texting or playing with their phones.

            2. gnasher729 Silver badge

              Re: When seat belts are mandatory, the number of car crashes goes up.

              “ Fuck cars, what happens to the number of human fatalaties when seat belts are mandatory?”

              In the USA, they did a test on the 50th anniversary of car crash testing. They took a late 60s US muscle car, and a tiny French car and crashed them. From 10 meters distance, the old car looked just fine, the little French car was unrecognisable as a car. From close up, the passenger cell on the 60s car was squeezed together, driver and passenger had not the slightest chance. The modern French car had an intact passenger cell surrounded by a mess of crumpled up steel and plastic, the crash test dummies inside were just fine.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: When seat belts are mandatory, the number of car crashes goes up.

                5th Gear (IIRC) in the UK did the same test, an offset head-to-head pitting a second-hand Volvo estate - as bought by middle-class parents because it is 'built like a tank' - against a slightly newer Renault Modus. Somewhat ironically, given Volvo's track record of leadership in safety features, the Modus was a very clear winner.

                As for seatbelts, they do make a difference to mortality and life-changing injuries, even if the car has other safety features too. Airbags in the US, for example, tend to be bigger and therefore more violent because of lack of universal seatbelt regulations. US airbags trigger more opportunistically then those from countries with mandatory seatbelt wearing, and can themselves cause injury (burns, hearing damage) but they still save lives over having no airbags at all.

                Similarly facemasks. 'Consumer' facemasks do not protect greatly against breathing droplets or aerosols in, but they do have a small effect. They protect somewhat more against projection, certainly to the front. They will have some effect on virus spread but back in March and April there were not enough facecoverings of any type to go around, and priorities had to be set. It's just a shame the Great British Panic-Buying Public couldn't be trusted to act sensibly when told the truth. Flour & bogroll anyone?

                M.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          I don't know where your lab coat is, but if you are any kind of science person you should be deeply, deeply ashamed of yourself. You say:

          Cloth masks are for reducing the droplet infection vector - unfortunately even the CDC now admits Covid-19 also has an airborne transmission vector.

          This is false. Please stop spreading misinformation. There are two transmission paths for CV19: by touching things, and by droplets of water in the air. The big droplets are often called 'ballistic' because they follow ballistic trajectories and the small ones are aerosols. The boundary is of course fuzzy. What people call 'airborne transmission' is aerosol transmission – you don't get naked virus particles sitting in the air. Something like a face shield or visor is a good protection against ballistic droplets, but is useless against aerosols. Cloth masks are dramatically effective against aerosol transmission: see for instance the aerosol transmission FAQ, from which this quote comes:

          Studies have found that homemade masks made out of tea cloth or cotton t-shirt material offer about 50% protection. Unpublished studies by Linsey Marr at Virginia Tech, John Volckens at Colorado State University, and Carl Wang at Missouri Science and Technology indicate that single layers of common fabrics have low filtration efficiencies for 0.3-μm aerosols but block about 50% of 2-μm aerosols and 80% or more of 5-μm and larger aerosols. If you use two layers or more of fabric, the overall efficiency can drastically increase to 90% or higher across all aerosol sizes larger than 0.5 μm. Virus is found in aerosols of all sizes, but those larger than 1 μm are probably most important for transmission.

          So please, either read the fucking literature, or shut up. Spouting uninformed bullshit is killing people: stop it.

          1. Fading

            Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

            https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-sars-cov-2.html

            "COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission"

            1. Fading

              Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

              Oh and the latest from the Lancet:

              "Facemasks and shields offer protection from larger droplets but their effectiveness against airborne transmission is less certain. Advice on spending time indoors should also focus on improved ventilation and avoiding crowded spaces."

              https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30514-2/fulltext

            2. gnasher729 Silver badge

              Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

              Idiots take this and change it to “face masks are useless”.

      3. Jason Hindle Silver badge

        Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

        "Too true. Masks ARE established science"

        Masks are just used as things that get in the way of other things. In this case, we are hoping they get in the way of an airborne virus. Masks are porous. Otherwise the wearer would have a worse problem than the virus itself. The more porous a mask is, the less COVID it blocks. To mitigate this, a mask made using multiple layers can be used, providing a better aggregate probability of effectiveness. Masks do not in themselves guarantee to stop the spread of the disease. Rather, different masks provide different degrees of protection, typically expressed as probabilities. Numerically illiterate people seriously lose their shit over this, as evidenced by some of the comments above.

        See: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9/fulltext

        "These data also suggest that wearing face masks protects people (both health-care workers and the general public) against infection by these coronaviruses, and that eye protection could confer additional benefit. However, none of these interventions afforded complete protection from infection, and their optimum role might need risk assessment and several contextual considerations."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

          Exactly this. There is this idiot 'one-bit mind' thing that seems to completely derail a lot of people. The argument goes that is something is not completely effective or if it is much less effective than a version of itself which is not available in practice (like an N95 mask) then it is completely ineffective: there is no middle ground at all. And this is just toxic and stupid and I don't understand it. In the real world rather than this fantasy different things are more or less effective and the aim is do do enough thing which are effective enough and affordable enough to push the reproduction rate down below 1 for long enough that the thing goes away. And even rather simple masks are moderately effective and they are also stupidly cheap and inconvenience people very little.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Masks WERE/ARE science

            Way I see it, it's not 100% effective alone, neither is handwashing. But you defeat the virus by a thousand cuts. If the idea is to keep hospitals operating under capacity and slowing spread, than even 10% more effective a stopping spread makes a difference. Lots of little things add up to giving you a more contollable situation. So yeah just going well screw masks let's not wear them at all (especially when really come in it's a mask it's not like you're being asked to chop your leg off), is just silly.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      John figured you didn't need leadership if you had y'know scientists

      Proving that how science works is another subject that bu***hit "Boris" doesn't know about.

      The Johnson probably reckons this will be his Dunkirque moment, forgetting Dunkirque was a military defeat.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: The Institute for Government, a bunch of non-scientists

      Sorry, living in Germany, the science said, use masks, social distancing and lock down.

      I would say that the UK Government ignored scientific advice for too long.

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

    So they were wrong to following the scienctific advice at the start (masks)

    Then they were wrong for not following the science in the middle (eat out).

    Looks like they can't win.

    1. richardcox13

      Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

      Please go back and re-read.

      At the start: looking for scientific certainty (which doesn't exist) and not include others in policy process.

      In the middle not asking for scientific advice at all.

      Ie. the government looks for scientific advice when it wants someone to blame when having to make unpopular choices. But when they make popular choices they don't check if it is a good idea.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

        To be honest, it's simpler even than that.

        This sentence almost captures it

        > At times the prime minister and ministers waited until the scientific evidence was overwhelming rather than using it alongside other inputs to make their own judgements.

        Although they pointed the finger at scientific evidence, that's not actually the thing the government waited for.

        LMFT

        > At times the prime minister and ministers waited until circumstances overwhelmed them and took the decision out of their hands rather than using it alongside other inputs to make their own judgements.

        In almost _every_ instance it's been the same modus operandi - complete failure to show leadership and make a decision. That dithering leads to things become an emergency, with only the one choice left.

        We had it with starting the first lockdown, mandating masks, the dithering over the "circuit break" lockdown which meant we needed a longer one, using the tier system to avoid the inevitable next lockdown.

        It's not reliance on scientific evidence that screwed the govt (well, all of us really), it's the fact that this government can't make a decision, and just waits until it's staring down the barrel of a gun and then says "we're going to have to take a bullet".

        But then, people voted for someone because he promised he was going to deliver the patently undeliverable, so quelle fucking surprise

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: [the government] waits until it's staring down the barrel of a gun and then...

          Well, it worked for the Foundation [1].

          =

          [1] But then they did have the Second Foundation manoeuvring helpfully in the background. Probably a bit more handy than the Putinerati/ EU/ Pooh Bear/ Bugbear-of-choice we've currently got.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Looks like they can't win.

      You've clearly not been watching, the bourgiousie are doing very nicely out of this little drama.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    A think tank

    Another name for a group of partisan experts whose sole job is to fabricate a viable-looking excuse for you own incompetence.

    1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: A think tank

      The expert part is optional.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A think tank

        Indeed seems to be a thing to create "think-thanks" amogst the rich and (politically) connected.

        Personal Propoganda Engines.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A think tank

      "Another name for a group of partisan experts"

      Experts in hindsight.

    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: A think tank

      A think tank is something you park on your adversary's lawn.

  4. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
    FAIL

    Science?

    Nobody 'follows the science.' You follow your values, possibly informed by the science. (Just possibly.)

    With the Tory party's top down view of the economy it's nearly the most important thing to keep the businesses open. Hence Bozo's reluctance to lock down early, and lifting the last lockdown when the R number was barely below 1. Not to mention the sheer insanity of sponsoring spreader events. Oh and a curfew on pubs rather than continued closure, as if the virus only comes out at night.

    Bozo has to have a really big number of expected deaths forced into his field of view before he will do anything to protect actual people. This despite having experienced the misery of it himself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Science?

      Well, the "ready baked" Brexit will be "done" in a few weeks and he'll be able to move on to other pastures...

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Science?

      @Greybearded old scrote

      "With the Tory party's top down view of the economy it's nearly the most important thing to keep the businesses open."

      Wouldnt that be bottom up. Top down would be dictating from above and imposing lockdown shutting down peoples lives and trying to control them.

      "Bozo has to have a really big number of expected deaths forced into his field of view before he will do anything to protect actual people."

      Without the big number of deaths he has cancelled xmas and made a mass of unemployed. Not sticking up for him (I am more supportive of the original approach) but the gov is doing the nanny state bit to the excess.

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: Science?

        Not so much. I'm talking about the money, which they think belongs at the top. Despite four decades of 'trickle down' claims having proven to be an exaggeration.

        I think they should have handed all that invented cash directly to individuals. If everyone has dinner money then new businesses will arise to coax it away from them.

        Many firms are going to fail, sad to say. Whole industries will no longer be viable at all. Let them fall, but catch the people. That is bottom up thinking.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Science?

          @Greybearded old scrote

          "Not so much. I'm talking about the money, which they think belongs at the top. "

          Ah ok. Fair enough. I think all politicians think that way, and see the gov as the top.

          "Despite four decades of 'trickle down' claims having proven to be an exaggeration."

          Trickle down has been very successful. I know thats not a popular opinion but has given us all great benefits from top to bottom.

          "I think they should have handed all that invented cash directly to individuals. If everyone has dinner money then new businesses will arise to coax it away from them."

          Unfortunately at the moment that wont help as its a production problem (covid keeping us indoors), but I was happy that Osborne increased the threshold for starting to pay income tax.

          "Many firms are going to fail, sad to say. Whole industries will no longer be viable at all. Let them fall, but catch the people. That is bottom up thinking."

          In this situation it doesnt work unfortunately. All this money is gonna be taxed back later and the sums are beyond what the rich can pay on their own. Middle earners are gonna be hit hard. But those at the bottom (people) seem to be flouting these harsh rules because it no longer suits them. Instead of trying to catch everyone with imposition it might be better to let people organise themselves more. Let them have personal responsibility and help those who need it.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Trickledown economics

            @ code junky "Trickle down has been very successful. I know thats not a popular opinion but has given us all great benefits from top to bottom."

            Apologies, but could you provide an example, please, of the successes of 'trickle down' economics?

            1. Norman Nescio

              Re: Trickledown economics

              Just to reinforce the point:

              Bloomberg: Trickle-Down Economics Fails a Sophisticated Statistical Test

              Linked paper: LSE: The Economic Consequences of Major Tax Cuts for the Rich: David Hope, Julian Limberg

              "Abstract: This paper uses data from 18 OECD countries over the last five decades to estimate the causal effect of major tax cuts for the rich on income inequality, economic growth, and un-employment...We find that major reforms reducing taxes on the rich lead to higher income inequality as measured by the top 1% share of pre-tax national income."

              tl;dr - 'Trickle Down Economics' doesn't work. Reducing taxes for rich people increases income inequality.

              NN

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge
              2. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Trickledown economics

                @Norman Nescio

                Just reading that abstract but that doesnt seem to say what you (and Bloomberg) think-

                "We find that major reforms reducing taxes on the rich lead to higher income inequality as measured by the top 1% share of pre-tax national income"

                That could very well be true and I would believe it but really doesnt seem to relate to trickle down. If wealth is created fast enough (and we are going through a time of the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in human history) then those wealth creators can gain massive wealth. But if that is also translating to improving the lot of the rest (which it does) then 'the rising tide lifts all boats'.

                "tl;dr - 'Trickle Down Economics' doesn't work. Reducing taxes for rich people increases income inequality."

                Both can be true and still trickle down economics work. In fact if the rich didnt increase wealth then trickle down surely couldnt work to improve everyones lives

                1. cbars

                  Re: Trickledown economics

                  "In fact if the rich didnt increase wealth then trickle down surely couldnt work to improve everyones lives"

                  By "work", you mean fiscal and quality of life improvements for the non-rich (however that's defined)?

                  If the rich maintained their level of wealth, and the non-rich increased theirs, or their quality of life, the income inequality would be either maintained or reduced. Despite the fact its clearly bollocks, actually it could very well work without increasing inequality, and indeed it doesnt make sense to me how it could work while increasing inequality... so, the rich dont need more money, this is just a lie told to give non-rich people hope, because religion isn't working very well anymore and people are starting to get upset.

                  You are either a troll, or a child-minded imbecile, to believe that making the wealthy wealthier is in anyones interest but their own.

                  The only way it could possibly, ever work, would be to require the tax break be applied to investments which are later found to be successful - that is, not buying a house for your children which is not sold, actually creating a business that generates jobs and profit

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: Trickledown economics

                    @cbars

                    "By "work", you mean fiscal and quality of life improvements for the non-rich (however that's defined)?"

                    Yes. As is demonstrated with people getting richer in general not just at the top. The quality of life being much improved from top to bottom.

                    "If the rich maintained their level of wealth, and the non-rich increased theirs, or their quality of life, the income inequality would be either maintained or reduced"

                    By that definition it would have to be reduced. That is the redistribution assuming a fixed level of value which must be redistributed to make everyone even. This has been demonstrated false.

                    "it doesnt make sense to me how it could work while increasing inequality"

                    Ok, I will try to explain it and I hope I do it well. The rich get richer by making things people want, better, cheaper, more desirable. Silk stockings were a luxury good only for the rich. Queen Victoria (I believe) was given a pair as a present. The Queen/royals are still rich and yet we can all afford silk stockings. As with mobile phones, attainable only by the rich. Or air travel. Cars. All kinds of wonders only affordable to the rich. Yet the investment to make these mass market has brought all of this and more to the masses. Inequality through success and improvement.

                    "the rich dont need more money"

                    Why? I am going to assume you are in the developed world on an average salary. You are the rich. I am sure many in the poorer parts of the world have no idea why you need so much. And yet they get the fruits of our developed world innovation. Which comes from our being rich.

                    "You are either a troll, or a child-minded imbecile"

                    Thats not a nice thing to say when your the one who doesnt understand.

                    "The only way it could possibly, ever work, would be to require the tax break be applied to investments which are later found to be successful"

                    Why? You want the tax break for the rich to take the risk. If its only a tax break on success then thats government giving greater profits to those who succeed retrospectively. The tax break stimulates more investment.

                    1. sabroni Silver badge
                      Facepalm

                      Re: The rich get richer by making things people want

                      If you genuinely believe that's how things work you've never spent a minute on planet Earth.

                      If you're UK based, I suggest a subscription to Private Eye. Plenty in there to show how the rich get richer.

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: The rich get richer by making things people want

                        @sabroni

                        "If you genuinely believe that's how things work you've never spent a minute on planet Earth."

                        Every example I have given has been of planet earth in fact referencing not just rich countries but also to the poor.

                        "If you're UK based, I suggest a subscription to Private Eye. Plenty in there to show how the rich get richer."

                        I am happy to agree the rich get richer. That does not in any way shape or form oppose that the benefits trickle down. As I keep explaining

                    2. cbars

                      Re: Trickledown economics

                      "By that definition it would have to be reduced"

                      No. The word maintained was there to account an increase in quality of life without a change in income differential.

                      The "developed" world didnt get this way by making cool stuff. We nicked a shitload and enslaved a lot of people, as has happened all over history and I'm not making any claim as to whether that's relevant anymore, but its relevant if you think we just invented our way to wealth....

                      Yes. Thats what I'm saying. You only deserve a tax break if you're proportionally benefitting society over and above what the government could do with the money- if you cant, then give the money to government and let them spend it. If you lose, yes, you get taxed, but you're "rich", and that is the deal (in my fantasy argument).

                      Yes, well, clearly I don't know anything about you and I'm sure you're not an imbecile, I'm just calling it based on your ludicrous arguments, don't take it to heart

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: Trickledown economics

                        @cbars

                        "No. The word maintained was there to account an increase in quality of life without a change in income differential."

                        Ah sorry for misunderstanding. How would the rich keep their income level? With inflation they would either lose money or have to keep level with inflation which is an odd measurement itself. And what if they lose money? How will they be compensated back to level?

                        "The "developed" world didnt get this way by making cool stuff"

                        The industrial revolution, increasing trade and freer markets made the developed world. Most recently look at China and Venezuela to see how countries can change their fortunes.

                        "We nicked a shitload and enslaved a lot of people, as has happened all over history and I'm not making any claim as to whether that's relevant anymore, but its relevant if you think we just invented our way to wealth...."

                        In that case ISIS must have been stunningly rich. Africa a total powerhouse (they did the enslaving the west bought their slaves from) and as slavery is a practice from around the world that would suggest the rest of the world should also be far richer. The USSR used slave labour yet failed to grow economically. Slavery makes a rich country doesnt stand up to history.

                        "You only deserve a tax break if you're proportionally benefitting society over and above what the government could do with the money"

                        In that case the entire private sector (person to business) needs a huge tax break. Since the gov reduces economic activity through tax and the private sector generates the productivity that makes the economy as successful as it is we should be well rewarded. Examples of government run economies have always been awful so that is easy to see.

                        "if you cant, then give the money to government and let them spend it"

                        I have already explained that we do anyway but lets assume any spending apart from necessity must go to gov. I hope you like bowls of gruel and working hard under the lash. And forget having a computer or the time to be posting about money.

                        "If you lose, yes, you get taxed, but you're "rich", and that is the deal (in my fantasy argument)"

                        Ok so what is the definition of rich? This is a tough one because originally tax was literally only imposed on the rich. So how do we define rich so as not to have it creep down to the masses?

                        "Yes, well, clearly I don't know anything about you and I'm sure you're not an imbecile, I'm just calling it based on your ludicrous arguments, don't take it to heart"

                        Np. I hope I am explaining my position well, all I can do is try.

            2. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Trickledown economics

              @Eclectic Man

              "Apologies, but could you provide an example, please, of the successes of 'trickle down' economics?"

              Fair question. The mobile phone is a far reaching one. It starts as a massive battery to a handset that most people couldnt afford the call plan never mind the unit itself. The only people who can pay for it are the rich. Now it is so dirt cheap the poor in Africa can afford smart phones which they use for digital transfers instead of cash transactions because its safer. You can go to a petrol station and buy one for £20!

              1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                Re: Trickledown economics

                That's not an example of trickle-down economics. Trickle-down economics is where wealthy people are given a tax break or refund which prompts them as individuals to spend a lot of money, eg buying a second superyacht that costs more than the value of the refund. The thinking goes that this keeps companies afloat and workers employed to build and operate the yacht, so that the government sees a greater economic benefit than if they'd spent the value of the tax break directly themselves, on bailing out businesses or paying workers to retrain. This is what has been shown not to work, because the money tends to get spent on assets and then effectively locked away in a vault until the asset is cashed in at a profit or no longer provides sufficient return. In other words, it just shuffles existing stuff around rather than stimulating the creation of anything new. Hence the tax break does little but increase inequality.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: Trickledown economics

                  @Rich 11

                  "That's not an example of trickle-down economics"

                  Yes it is. The rich spend lots of money on stuff well out of reach of the normal person in their country and it is now so affordable the poor in poor countries can afford it.

                  "This is what has been shown not to work"

                  Thats the bit I have not seen. If we remove examples of trickle down economics then yes it can be shown not to work. But I have never seen how it doesnt work. How many cars does the average household have? Anyone with an internet connection can do online trading and investing with a small enough amount of money to be afforded by most. Air travel became a service to the masses.

                  Compare that with UK water supply, rail, power, telecoms under gov control. Under invested and vastly improved once handed to the private sector.

                  "because the money tends to get spent on assets and then effectively locked away in a vault until the asset is cashed in at a profit"

                  That doesnt make sense. So the rich keep hold of the money by spending it (to get the asset). So where did that money go? To the previous holder of the asset. Who used it to fund their lifestyle. Paying many down the chain. And to sell at a profit means the asset became worth more that someone else was willing to trade money for it.

                  "it just shuffles existing stuff around rather than stimulating the creation of anything new"

                  Which you say is in assets (agreed) which also aligns with the trickle down benefits I have repeated. That investment goes into money producing assets, which produce something desirable to others, which provides the return.

                  How much money did the poor lose on VR technology? On things like google glasses? But when it works well you can be sure it will be cheap enough for them to have access to.

                  "Hence the tax break does little but increase inequality."

                  I am happy to agree it increases inequality. The most equal places on earth being where everyone is equally poor. But while some earning great amounts is dragging everyone else up thats good. Inequality is normal. What we desire is better for all.

                  1. sabroni Silver badge

                    Re: Trickledown economics

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_economics

                    When you communicate with other people you need to agree on shared meanings for things otherwise the conversation is meaningless. You said "trickle down economics" but you meant "economies of scale". They are not the same thing.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Trickledown economics

                      @sabroni

                      "refers to the economic proposition that taxes on businesses and the wealthy in society should be reduced as a means to stimulate business investment in the short term and benefit society at large in the long term."

                      That is what I mean with trickle down and I dont see how it deviates. The rich invest in various ideas and businesses (which they do) and we get the benefits of that.

                      What else do the rich do with it? Stick it in a vault? Even if they put it all into banks it is invested and benefits the economy.

                      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                        Re: Trickledown economics

                        OK, so a few thoughts on the above discussion.

                        There is a distinction between whether 'trickle-down economics' works in theory, and whether when rich people get tax cuts, 'trickle-down economics' actually takes place. Many rich people seem keen to hide away their wealth in tax havens. I seem to recall that David Cameron was annoyed when it came out that he had inherited about £2million from his father, tax-free as it was held in a Caribbean tax haven. (Despite his revelations about the comedian Jimmy Carr's tax affairs, which revelation and tax affairs both seemed to me to be a bit naughty. Especially if anyone was in a position to close tax loopholes it must surely be the PM.)

                        There does seem to be a distinction between 'trickle-down' economics and 'economies of scale'. The smartphone example given above omits to cover the stories I have seen on the TV news about poor families not having the IT equipment at home needed for remote learning by their children due to school closures. We do have considerable poverty in the UK, Unicef has just released about £700,000 for relief in the UK, which Jacob Rees-Mogg described as disgraceful. (https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/unicef-commits-700-000-to-feeding-uk-children-amid-criticism.html)

                        The real problem with trickle-down economics, I believe, is that it gives extraordinary power to he wealthy to influence what should be national decisions. It also means that the wealthy can be really careful about to whom and how they 'dispose' of their wealth, thereby maintaining their grip on wealth and power. Bill Gates may well be lauded for his charitable work, but he gets to choose where his money is spent, which may not be the most effective or efficient means of alleviating poverty or curing disease. In their book 'The Spirit Level' Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett make a good case for equality as everyone's level of health seems to rise the more equal a society is. Yup, even the (relatively) wealthy live longer the more equal a society is. (ISBN 978-0-241-95429-4)

                        So, sorry, I am still to be convinced by the theory of 'trickle-down' economics.

                        1. codejunky Silver badge

                          Re: Trickledown economics

                          @Eclectic Man

                          "Many rich people seem keen to hide away their wealth in tax havens"

                          That is true. And the economies there benefit from the inflow of money as high tax countries lose that money. It doesnt disappear it goes into the economy where it is placed.

                          "The smartphone example given above omits to cover the stories I have seen on the TV news about poor families not having the IT equipment at home needed for remote learning by their children due to school closures"

                          The latest one of those I read was a woman of numerous kids going to Spain but cant afford a laptop for the kids school work. First world problems. No longer limited to the common pencil or the fancier if more expensive pen. If you want to look at the poorer end of the scale look at the price of food and selection which is stunning when looked at historically. Or luxury goods like chocolate can be afforded by most kids.

                          "We do have considerable poverty in the UK"

                          We have to get the term right here- relative poverty. Which is probably why Mogg decided to mention the charity spending to feed UK children. Although it should please those who want charity to begin at home (they somewhat have a point).

                          "I believe, is that it gives extraordinary power to he wealthy to influence what should be national decisions"

                          I can see why that would bother you. And of course the rich will try to influence those with power, which to me is why power needs to be less concentrated.

                          "can be really careful about to whom and how they 'dispose' of their wealth, thereby maintaining their grip on wealth and power"

                          Good. You work, you earn, is it yours? Do you think you should be allowed to look after your children and provide for them? If the answer is yes then damn right you cultivate your wealth to pass on to family. Some people believe in spending everything they have until they die, others believe in saving and passing it on. Either way it is theirs to dispose of as they wish.

                          "Bill Gates may well be lauded for his charitable work, but he gets to choose where his money is spent"

                          Who else should? How would we benefit from someone else dictating where his money is spent?

                          "which may not be the most effective or efficient means of alleviating poverty or curing disease"

                          True. This is again the rich investing their money on what might be a goose chase. And if its the successful answer then people benefit. Ordinary people, poor people, actually poor people get to benefit from this rich guy and his investment.

                          "make a good case for equality as everyone's level of health seems to rise the more equal a society is."

                          I am sure there is a strong caveat there as those with the most equality are the absolutely poor countries where people are all starving to death in glorious equality. Venezuelan became much more equal recently.

                          I will have a look for the book however. Sounds interesting and hopefully I will get something out of it (thanks for providing the ISBN).

                          "So, sorry, I am still to be convinced by the theory of 'trickle-down' economics."

                          I get that. No worries. You make good points I just dont see them in conflict with my opinion of trickle down. It has been a good discussion.

                          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                            Re: Trickledown economics

                            @ Codejunky

                            Thanks for the reply. I hope you had a nice Christmas.

                            A few comments:

                            "You work, you earn, is it yours?" That is a difficult question. Many people work at jobs where they see little to no actual value to what they do. Many other people reckon they are wonderful and get paid vast sums of money (often in the 'financial services' 'industry'), but do they genuinely earn it? There is a clear difference between what you earn (the actual value of your work) and what you get paid (the money you received in compensation for you work). As long as you earn more than you are paid your employer and society may be able to survive, but if you are paid more than you earn, they are in trouble.

                            You say "Venezuelan became much more equal recently." So what you mean seems to be that as lots of people suddenly became a lot poorer, and the wealth of the richest was maintained that is a 'more equal society'? According to https://wid.world/country/venezuela/ yes, the wealth of the top 10% in Venezuela did drop below 50% recently, and the wealth of the bottom 50% did rise to 12.7% of Venezuela's total wealth, but do you really consider that to be an improvement in equality? The top 1% still have over 20% of the wealth there. Wealth equality is usually taken to be the lowest standard deviation of the wealth distribution, rather than most people being in the modal class.

                            Your idea of more equal society, and please forgive the fact that this seems like a very aggressive thing to post, but it is an extreme example: would you consider a society with only a few 'Masters' and millions of slaves to be more or less equal than what we have now?

                            I grew up benefitting from White, Western, Middle-Class, Male privilege. The country I live in has had political stability for over 200 years. I got to see treasures from literally all over the world for free in museums and art galleries. (Well ok not entirely for free, I had to travel there, but you get the idea.) I got free education, free healthcare when I was sick, and, being white and middle-class, also got an at least superficially honest police force. I did not earn any of those advantages over other people. So your question about whether what I got paid for my work was mine and I earned it, is a moot point. Some would disagree that I deserved it, although according to current law it is mine.

                            And ""Bill Gates may well be lauded for his charitable work, but he gets to choose where his money is spent"

                            Who else should? How would we benefit from someone else dictating where his money is spent?"

                            I don't know, but maybe we should consider the question. How do I decide which of Crisis at Christmas, Medecins sans Frontiere, The Trussell Trust, The Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for the Sudan or Yemen, Oxfam, Save the Children, Sheleter, Great Ormand Street Children's Hospital, the Welcome Trust, Cancer Research, Amnesty International, Voluntary Service Overseas, The Terence Higgins Trust, the Anti Slavery League etc. etc. etc. should get 'my' money?

                            Having said all that, I wish you a happy New Year.

                            1. codejunky Silver badge

                              Re: Trickledown economics

                              @Eclectic Man

                              "Thanks for the reply. I hope you had a nice Christmas."

                              It was pretty good. It does help that I prefer to lock my doors and have a nice day in generally without people descending on me. Hope yours was good too.

                              "As long as you earn more than you are paid your employer and society may be able to survive, but if you are paid more than you earn, they are in trouble."

                              Absolutely. You must bring in more money than you cost or you are not worth keeping (in general). In times of recession reducing the losses is what gives them value.

                              "but do you really consider that to be an improvement in equality?"

                              Yes. The richest are reducing in income and the poorest rising. In China most people were very equal as they were peasant farmers. I dont consider equally starving to death better than the poor being easily above actual poverty levels (as in the UK).

                              "would you consider a society with only a few 'Masters' and millions of slaves to be more or less equal than what we have now?"

                              That sounds like it would be more equal. The kind of equality from those failed socialist models where only the 'elite' had the benefits and the rest struggled along. Yes there would be a difference in income/wealth between the master and the slave but the place itself would be poor. Now we have so much we take it for granted even if we are relatively poor.

                              "I grew up benefitting from White, Western, Middle-Class, Male privilege"

                              Also known as bollocks. Sorry but while being born to a family with means is a benefit the rest sounds a lot like the snowflake whining without meaning.

                              "The country I live in has had political stability for over 200 years.

                              Which certainly helps a lot.

                              "I got free education, free healthcare when I was sick"

                              No you didnt. You got a paid for education and paid for healthcare system from an economically successful country where people have worked for that economic success. They built on it. They put the hard work in for their own benefit and so benefited the economy. We all build on that success and should not take it for granted.

                              "So your question about whether what I got paid for my work was mine and I earned it, is a moot point."

                              Nope. Dont put yourself down and dont let idiots of that kind of thinking take you with them. You work. You turned up to school and made the effort beyond that. You work to earn to build on the previous success and continue with it.

                              You could drop out, become some waste of space benefit fraud, or some criminal causing damage to your community. You could be a negative contribution to the country. But instead you work, you earn, you better your life for the future of more lives. And that success is used to provide support to places that have not worked out. Who still stick with policies of poverty.

                              Please dont put yourself down for what you achieve.

                              "How do I decide which of Crisis at Christmas, "..."should get 'my' money?"

                              The perfect question. How do you decide? With your money. Your hard work that you wish to contribute to what you consider a worthy cause. And that is for you to decide. Do you think some scum who takes your money as their job is going to consider who is worthy? Or are they just doing a job and what you believe can go out of the window? I would prefer you to choose what to do with your money, not some thief who didnt earn it.

                              "Having said all that, I wish you a happy New Year."

                              Happy new year to you too

                  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

                    Re: Trickledown economics

                    You really do have this all wrong. Please try reading a bit more about the subject. I know from your previous comments that you're about the same age as I am, and were therefore very likely exposed to the idea of Reaganomics and George H W Bush's rejection of it as voodoo economics just as much as I was (or more, given that I'm in the UK). The consistently high numbers of downvotes you're getting should tell you that your understanding of the matter is incorrect as a matter of fact, not of opinion.

                    I'm only going to respond to one particular point, because it's so blatantly short-sighted.

                    So the rich keep hold of the money by spending it (to get the asset). So where did that money go? To the previous holder of the asset. Who used it to fund their lifestyle. Paying many down the chain.

                    Where does the money go? Generally to purchase other assets, for the same reason that the original buyer bought assets rather than funded their lifestyle. Unless the economy is in an asset crash (housing market, tulip bubble, currency slump), in which case they'll buy gold or just move money offshore and sit it out.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Trickledown economics

                      @Rich 11

                      "rejection of it as voodoo economics"

                      A politician rejecting another politicians idea isnt something I take stock in without reason. I have yet to have suitable explanation as to why its voodoo when it seems to work.

                      "(or more, given that I'm in the UK)"

                      I am also in the UK.

                      "The consistently high numbers of downvotes you're getting should tell you that your understanding of the matter is incorrect as a matter of fact, not of opinion."

                      Not at all. I used to get massive downvotes when I was labelled eurosceptic for opposing the Euro in the UK. And I was also right. I work on reason not votes. If my opinion is wrong (and it can be) then I would need to see where it is wrong to change it.

                      "Where does the money go? Generally to purchase other assets, for the same reason that the original buyer bought assets rather than funded their lifestyle"

                      Ok, can you help me work through this example. So A has an asset and B buys that asset. So B has the asset and A has the money. So where does the money go after that? If the asset is an investment for example that funds business which employs people and produces products people want with increased efficiency. Of course assets also lose value sometimes (turning into a liability in some cases) which disproportionately affects the rich.

                      "Unless the economy is in an asset crash (housing market, tulip bubble, currency slump), in which case they'll buy gold or just move money offshore and sit it out."

                      So in an asset crash their wealth loses value steep and hard. If they sell they realise an actual loss and instead of just a paper loss in investments, with gold/currency/housing it becomes a liability costing them for maintenance/storage. So they sell that and buy gold as per your example. So that money didnt vanish or disappear, it in in circulation all the way down.

                      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                        Re: Trickledown economics

                        You can work on reason all you like, but if your underlying assumptions are wrong you're not going to be able to reach a valid conclusion. You've already demonstrated that you had the wrong idea of what constitutes trickle-down economics and you've already been given a link to the recent paper which assessed that it doesn't work as its proponents have claimed for the last forty years. It was always a contentious claim too, so the paper doesn't come as a surprise.

                        It's up to you what you do with that information.

                        1. codejunky Silver badge

                          Re: Trickledown economics

                          @Rich 11

                          "You can work on reason all you like, but if your underlying assumptions are wrong you're not going to be able to reach a valid conclusion"

                          No worries. Are you able to explain where the assumptions are wrong?

                          "been given a link to the recent paper which assessed that it doesn't work as its proponents have claimed for the last forty years"

                          So you mean the one about inequality which I explained isnt in conflict with trickle down?

                  3. jmch Silver badge

                    Re: Trickledown economics

                    Cars, mobiles etc don't become affordable because

                    rich individuals bought the first few thousand. They did so because of mass production, improvements in technology etc. All of which can arise from tax incentives to companies, not to individuals.

                    If tax rates are high, as in the 70s and 80s, lowering them for all, including rich individuals made some sense {ie in Reagans time). Now, not so much.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Trickledown economics

                      @jmch

                      "Cars, mobiles etc don't become affordable because rich individuals bought the first few thousand."

                      Of course it is. Mass production brings the price down but why mass produce something you cant even sell to those with money to spend? And of course the glorious upgrades are tried out at the expensive end before the masses. Look at automated driving systems currently.

                      "All of which can arise from tax incentives to companies, not to individuals."

                      We can do that too! Good idea. Its all people who pay the bill anyway.

                      "If tax rates are high, as in the 70s and 80s, lowering them for all, including rich individuals made some sense {ie in Reagans time). Now, not so much."

                      Why? I am of the opinion some can probably fall and some can probably rise and there is no science to tell us the exact numbers but we know the laffer curve is real and have to adjust according to that. I wouldnt be surprised if they need regular adjustment to be optimal. But the benefits of the money in the economy vs is the governments pocket are pretty well known.

              2. Dr_N Silver badge

                Re: Trickledown economics

                codejunky> "Fair question. The mobile phone is a far reaching one. It starts as a massive battery to a handset that most people couldnt afford the call plan never mind the unit itself. The only people who can pay for it are the rich. Now it is so dirt cheap the poor in Africa can afford smart phones which they use for digital transfers instead of cash transactions because its safer. You can go to a petrol station and buy one for £20!"

                Oh dear. Big fail on understanding how tech adoption and economies of scale work. With added condescension towards "the poor in Africa". Bravo sir.

                I guess we do need experts. Putting amateurs and journalists in charge of a country has turned out to be very detrimental to the health of said country.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: Trickledown economics

                  @Dr_N

                  "Oh dear. Big fail on understanding how tech adoption and economies of scale work. With added condescension towards "the poor in Africa". Bravo sir."

                  Condescension? Is this your racist views seeping in again like the Turks you wont shut up about. What is the big fail? You fail to explain where I am mistaken.

                  "I guess we do need experts. Putting amateurs and journalists in charge of a country has turned out to be very detrimental to the health of said country."

                  We can agree on that.

                  1. Dr_N Silver badge
                    Trollface

                    Re: Trickledown economics

                    codejunky> Is this your racist views seeping in again like the Turks you wont shut up about.

                    Oh dear. Wong tree. Again.

                    Why did you have to bring the continent of Africa into the mix when a sink estate in any major UK town or city would have served as an example. Hmmmm...?

                    Tech adoption is not part of trickledown economics. I would have thought someone who won't shut up about such theories would know that. You forgot your citation BTW: https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/05/07/the-20-smartphone-proves-that-trickle-down-economics-works/ Those peasants, eh? Never had it sooo good.

                    The lies about Turkey will never be forgotten. No matter how much you wish people to unremember what you helped spread.

                    Merry Christmas. (I hope the BandAid song playing on the radio doesn't ruin your Christmas Spirit.)

                    And enjoy your new-year brexit rainbows!

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Trickledown economics

                      @Dr_N

                      "Why did you have to bring the continent of Africa into the mix when a sink estate in any major UK town or city would have served as an example. Hmmmm...?"

                      For very good reasons. I was pointing out that in places with absolute poverty still existing in the country have access to these items of the rich countries (trickle down). Africa jumps to mind due to my friends from Nigeria who set up a charity to provide optometrist services to communities who are truly poor in absolute terms.

                      "Tech adoption is not part of trickledown economics. I would have thought someone who won't shut up about such theories would know that"

                      So the trickle down of wealth is not trickle down economics? When your day to day costs less and you have access to what was only available to the rich and access to money making instruments formally only available to those with wealth, you dont think thats trickle down?

                      "You forgot your citation BTW:"

                      You are an odd duck. Posting an article supporting trickle down economics. Or are you infatuated with Tim (please be then you can leave me alone).

                      "The lies about Turkey will never be forgotten."

                      I am sure you wont forget your lies about Turkey. That racism you seem to possess that you try to project onto other people. That is why I hope you are not gonna start doing the same about Africa.

                      "Merry Christmas. (I hope the BandAid song playing on the radio doesn't ruin your Christmas Spirit.)"

                      Merry Christmas to you too, I hope you have a good one (I dont listen to radio so not a problem).

    3. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: Science?

      > Nobody 'follows the science.' You follow your values, possibly informed by the science. (Just possibly.)

      This a hundred times!

      All science can do is inform us.

      What we actually do is a horrendous balancing act of completing needs.

      Scientists may well be much better informed, but they are probably as partisan as the rest of us.

      I don't think I would like to be the decision maker in this crisis.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Angel

        All science can do is inform us, or Hume's Law.

        People seem to have forgotten that it's a method of finding facts by testing hypotheses, not making decisions. People seem to have forgotten about Hume's Is-Ought Problem or the naturalistic fallacy.

        If the politicians ever say, "We should be guided by the philosophers", I'll fall off my chair.

  5. codejunky Silver badge

    Here we go

    "Boris Johnson's government relied too much on scientific advice"

    So those who bang their chops about how we must listen to experts need to jump in here and wail and cry against not following the experts. I look forward to seeing that....

    "to fill large gap in government strategy and decision-making that was not its role to fill."

    That would be where PHE screwed the pooch by caring about sugar and fat intake but not being ready or competent when its reason to be came about. Instead we had low testing capability because they kept it all in house. The answer of course being to allow private labs to also do testing, but then people gnash their teeth against the private sector health. Will this change the opinion of that group?

    "At times the prime minister and ministers waited until the scientific evidence was overwhelming rather than using it alongside other inputs to make their own judgements"

    So they should act half cocked instead of getting the facts to work with? And if they had that would be to blame for the situation.

    "which wrongly suggested that science could simply be 'followed'"

    Now aint that a smack in the face of those demanding expert advice only.

    "and appears to have been a big factor behind the costly delay to the first lockdown"

    By following the scientific and economic advice and using sound judgement to not put loads of people out of work and crash the economy because of a virus which is already a pandemic. Hell as soon as the figures came out for the economy people blamed the gov for the sharpest fall in Europe (which is because public sector output/wages was correctly calculated here). But all we need is a vaccine and we can open it all up again! Except now we have a vaccine and its too rushed, please dont make us go back to work.

    "such as the delayed mandating of the use of face masks"

    The calculated risk that the NHS was under-supplied and people would buy them up and not use them correctly anyway. Instead demanding they must have a CE mark or something thereby sending loads of them back to Turkey (if I remember right) while sending them PPE.

    "According to Oxford Uni's World in Data, the UK is sixth in the world in terms of total COVID-19 cases"

    Cases dont matter. Hospitalisation and death matter.

    "More worryingly, it is currently number two in "new cases per million"."

    Where originally the plan was herd immunity. Then that was considered stupid. Now a vaccine to help form herd immunity.

    "The government's communication of the risk around key activities has also often been confusing"

    Probably been listening to experts then. In the US their lead Covid bloke advised shutting down all sorts of gatherings but refused to speak against protests. So which experts should they listen to or do they follow their own judgement?

    "On the plus side, the UK's science advice structures are well regarded"

    At least there is something positive?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. JDPower Bronze badge

      Re: Here we go

      Wow, talk about cherry picking and twisting an article to fit an agenda!

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Here we go

        @JDPower

        "Wow, talk about cherry picking and twisting an article to fit an agenda!"

        You seem to miss any form of rebuttal but we should just take your word on that? Or are you saying the many people who demand we listen to experts or blame the gov whatever they do, do that?

        1. JDPower Bronze badge

          Re: Here we go

          No point "rebutting" someone with such a clear bias as they would never listen to another viewpoint anyway.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Here we go

            @JDPower

            "No point "rebutting" someone with such a clear bias as they would never listen to another viewpoint anyway."

            So cant? Other people read the thread so if you have anything of value to add it isnt about changing my mind (which you could if you can present facts) but others. If it was just about changing the other persons mind I wouldnt bother correcting people so much about brexit. But others read a persons comment and may even think its correct.

    3. Dr_N Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Here we go

      codejunky> something thereby sending loads of them back to Turkey (if I remember right)

      I bet that resonated with many in the UK?

      Is Matt Hancock's local pub landlord in PHE? I can see how being a cabinet minister's local landlord could give one expertise in epidemiology, virology and medical testing.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Here we go

        @Dr_N

        "I can see how being a cabinet minister's local landlord could give one expertise in epidemiology, virology and medical testing."

        Sometimes it is about who you know. Although how they know anything about supplying medical gear I have no idea. Definitely a good argument against government running things if they are doing jobs for the boys (especially on critical items).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Here we go

          "Sometimes it is about who you know."

          In an emergency turning to someone you know to get a job done can be a good thing - it saves time. It helps, however, if you're at least competent enough to gauge the merits of those you know before making a choice. In this case, however, that seems to have been missing so the "someone you know" turned out to include the likes of Dido Harding.

    4. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Here we go

      To take just one of your points, Codejunky:

      "Cases dont matter. Hospitalisation and death matter."

      Cases DO matter. Those suffering 'long-covid', including Michael Rosen, the children's author, suffer long term breathing problems, and can have other symptoms and side effects of being on a ventilator. One person who spent a long time in an induced coma being ventilated has had several fingers amputated, and will lose both thumbs due to circulation problems. Many survivors of Covid-19 suffer debilitating long term effects.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Here we go

        @Eclectic Man

        "Cases DO matter. Those suffering 'long-covid'"

        You quoted me but wrote a reply that contradicts your first statement. Cases do not matter hospitalisation and death do. As you yourself point out by talking about people with 'long covid' who were on a ventilator.

        "One person who spent a long time in an induced coma being ventilated has had several fingers amputated, and will lose both thumbs due to circulation problems. Many survivors of Covid-19 suffer debilitating long term effects."

        I think we can both agree they would have been hospitalised.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Here we go

          Cases do matter. Many people with apparently low level infections also suffer long Covid, even thorgh they were not hospitalised.

          "But strangely, it seems that people with mild cases of the disease are more likely to have a variety of strange symptoms that come and go over a more extended period. "

          from: https://covid.joinzoe.com/post/covid-long-term

          and: "But while severe Covid-19 may mean a long road to recovery, it seems even mild cases can, for some, involve many weeks of recuperation."

          from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/01/lingering-and-painful-long-and-unclear-road-to-coronavirus-recovery-long-lasting-symptoms

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Here we go

            @Eclectic Man

            "Cases do matter. Many people with apparently low level infections also suffer long Covid, even thorgh they were not hospitalised."

            Ok, that is different to the example you gave which is why I responded to that. So if its not severe enough to require any medical care then its like anything else we dont bother the health service with?

            So if we already manage with this situation (illness not enough to seek medical help) then they are not worth counting. For those that end up in hospital/dying that is what we need to be concerned about.

            Which brings me back to my original point that there needs to be balanced consideration between shutting down the economy and locking everyone away for their own good and leaving everyone to get on with their lives regardless of risk and people with ordinary medical issues being cared for.

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: Here we go

              @ Codejunky

              "So if we already manage with this situation (illness not enough to seek medical help) then they are not worth counting."

              The NHS does not have enough resources to treat all ailments. The people suffering 'long Covid' do seek medical help, but this is difficult with an NHS already overstretched. Ask someone with arthritis or asthma if chronic long term illness is important. They may well seek medical help, but may not actually be hospitalised, which was, I believe, your measure. Covid-19 can affect many organs without producing the urgent need for hospitalisation the acute respiratory failure does. It also reduces substantially a person's working potential and quality of life.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Here we go

                @Eclectic Man

                "The NHS does not have enough resources to treat all ailments. The people suffering 'long Covid' do seek medical help, but this is difficult with an NHS already overstretched"

                The NHS never has enough resources to treat all ailments. Medical help and need to be hospitalised are very different and have vastly different demands on hospitals. Requiring hospitalisation requires beds + paraphernalia + services and any specialised equipment to monitor/sustain the person etc.

                For overstretched, the army found the NHS sending equipment to the wrong places causing over and under supply issues. Testing facilities were created and staffed and then massively underutilised because the NHS couldnt even manage to get the tests to the facility. The NHS was running at about 30% capacity in this 'crisis' and people with other ailments being overlooked. This is just bad organisation and lack of preparation. This should scare you-

                https://www.hsj.co.uk/finance-and-efficiency/leaks-reveal-two-thirds-of-private-hospital-capacity-went-unused-by-nhs/7029000.article

                "Ask someone with arthritis or asthma if chronic long term illness is important."

                Absolutely. Yet everything is shut down for a virus which we have locked down for and yet still cant contain. Yet the economy which pays for the health service has been taken out back and beaten almost to death.

                "They may well seek medical help, but may not actually be hospitalised, which was, I believe, your measure."

                And yet capacity wasnt reached. Instead people are waiting longer because the NHS couldnt run a pissup in a brewery. Also due to a relative going into hospital without covid but put in covid wards the protections and procedures of the front line are so wildly incompetent and scary that they probably caused a fair number of infections.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Here we go

      "Where originally the plan was herd immunity. Then that was considered stupid. Now a vaccine to help form herd immunity."

      The side effects and potential deaths caused by a vaccine are miniscule compared to the side effects and deaths caused by the virus. Which version of herd immunity are you advocating?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Here we go

        @John Brown (no body)

        "The side effects and potential deaths caused by a vaccine are miniscule compared to the side effects and deaths caused by the virus. Which version of herd immunity are you advocating?"

        Very true! And this is where there is a range of experts from medical covid specific to medical as normal and economic etc.

        So the covid expert might wish the country to N.Korea itself and lock the place down with extreme prejudice for example. The medical expert might point out that excessive measures taken would stop normal healthcare and cause death. The economist could point out the extreme damage to peoples lives and the massive hole to pay for all the support required by shutting down the economy.

        At the beginning there was incomplete information showing an extremely deadly virus, highly contagious and a real threat. As more data came to light it wasnt so deadly even if it is more than a bad flu season. The vulnerable were identified (mostly those at risk from bad flu) and the risk to everyone else fell drastically.

        So we had a virus with no vaccine which shut the economy down for most of the year and planned into next year which has killed many through suicide and lack of regular healthcare to save people from this virus. It has caused massive economic damage which is actual damage to peoples lives and livelihoods for what could be considerable time in the future to protect us from this virus.

        And now a vaccine exists people dont want it because it was made quickly.

        I mention the flu a few times in there for good reason. Apparently the medical profession is shocked that there are fewer flu deaths than would normally be. Even though this more deadly virus pops off that group.

        So how many deaths are acceptable to you to kill people and cause massive damage to peoples lives and livelihoods? That is the question for every government.

        1. Spanners Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Here we go

          And now a vaccine exists people don't want it because it was made quickly.

          As an NHS worker (who has had Covid-19 twice), I do want the vaccine. It was made quickly because "they" threw a sh*ton of money at it and moved everything out of the way and then ran the tests.

          When I am told it is ready for me, I will drop everything and join the queue. I am more worried about the side effects of NOT taking the vaccine - increased chances of catching covid, transmitting it, dying etc.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Here we go

            @Spanners

            Good for you. I agree. Doesnt stop people being nervous about it and I know a few people who have said they wont be having it any time soon. Amusingly on another thread someone is trying to defend the EU not approving the virus as a good thing as caution against it (while also saying he is in line to get the vaccine and will make the choice himself after talking to 4 different specialists). I can agree with you and his caution and also see the point of those who are certain they want to wait.

            Personal choice, freedom and responsibility.

          2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Here we go

            @ Spanners

            All the best, I hope you recover quickly and fully and get the vaccine soon.

        2. JDPower Bronze badge

          Re: Here we go

          Nice little weasel word there - "apparently" the medical profession is shocked? Really? The majority of people are wearing masks, social distancing, washing and sanitising hands multiple times a day and higher than usual uptake of the flu vaccine. There is absolutely zero shock that flu rates are down. Again your bias is running away with you and forgetting facts and rationality.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Here we go

            @JDPower

            "Nice little weasel word there - "apparently" the medical profession is shocked?"

            Well they seemed to be surprised when they said it.

            "There is absolutely zero shock that flu rates are down."

            Thats what I would have expected too.

            "Again your bias is running away with you and forgetting facts and rationality."

            I thought you gave up responding to me because you couldnt think of anything valid to say? At least thats where we left off before.

        3. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Here we go

          Apparently the medical profession is shocked that there are fewer flu deaths than would normally be.

          No, they're not shocked. This is an obvious and expected result of social distancing, mask-wearing and quarantine (self-isolation or lockdown). It's hardly a surprise that generic measures put in place to limit the spread of one infectious respiratory disease would also help restrict the spread of other infectious respiratory diseases. Greater awareness has also helped increase the take-up of the annual flu vaccine.

        4. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Here we go

          *Correction. It may actually have been gov not medical profession. I may be misremembering. Apologies

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Here we go

            No worries. I'm more than happy to believe the worst about any politician!

        5. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Here we go

          "So we had a virus with no vaccine which shut the economy down for most of the year and planned into next year which has killed many through suicide and lack of regular healthcare to save people from this virus. It has caused massive economic damage which is actual damage to peoples lives and livelihoods for what could be considerable time in the future to protect us from this virus."

          This^^. Avoiding deaths from one novel cause was prioritised over all else, largely because of an international league mentality, where it was thought there could be a winner. Quality of life for many has been completely ignored by the NHS, and there is significant impact on quantity of life for a lot of people with otherwise treatable conditions. People are committing suicide at heartbreaking levels, and others are just giving up on living because of loneliness. Deaths from (not "with") Covid-19 are not a special case to be prioritised - the whole picture should be considered. The Swedes might be doing things differently, but they have at least not patronised the older part of the population or the vulnerable - that have allowed choice. I bet the happiness index there is better than comparable countries.

  6. Howard Sway

    If you vote for a clown

    Expect a circus

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: If you vote for a clown

      Or a custard pie in the face.

  7. Danny 2 Silver badge

    28 Days Later

    Man wakes up alone in a London hospital, wanders out onto empty streets, is attacked by sickly looking locals searching for food, with the UK cut off from the rest of the world due to a virus. Yep, Danny Boyle made the movie of 2020 back in 2002.

    I have a sudden and inexplicable craving for citrus fruit.

    1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge

      Re: 28 Days Later

      Tangerines and Satsumas - The "must have, can't get" gift of 2020.

      We'll be hoarding our citrus and only using it a slice at a time. Infused in an alcohol mouth cleanser and served with a tincture of quinine (in case of fever).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 28 Days Later

      I think you'll find that 2021 is going to be more like 28 Days Later, once Brexit really bites. The French blocking freight to and from the UK is just a taste of things to come. We also have container ships already being turned away from major ports due to the chaos there, and the shipments being dumped at Belgian ports instead.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: 28 Days Later

        James,

        There was a sequel movie, 28 Weeks Later. I expect that to be the movie of 2021 :)

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: 28 Days Later

          There is s sequel series running now, "28 Brexit negotiations later". You can watch episode 28 "Just like the 27 negotiations before" right now. It is totally entertaining, close to watching paint dry.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Mushroom

    It's the toffs

    Of course saving lives their friend's investments is the top priority. For this they'll say anything remotely believable - they also have a long history of cherry picking information from true experts, and totally ignoring conclusions that don't fit their plans.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's the toffs

      Look everyone is doing this on all sides of this covid discussion. Every single one. Because all the answers are bad, all have unacceptable costs.

      So every argument ends up being a construction of whatever you prioritise as an unacceptable cost.

      How do you reconcile the wants of the many against the needs of the few? There are people who think the vulnerable should die for the greater good. "It's mostly those over 80" There are those who think the able must help the vulnerable. "How do you want to be treated when you are 80"

      If you had a referendum, I would not be surprised if the vote came for the vulnerable to be curfewed and locked up indefinitely.

      Humanity does not have the answer to deal with this - the vaccine is the closest thing that we've got, and that's a fingers crossed situation. If this thing mutates fast, and the vaccine does not secure sufficient herd immunity to stop mutation opportunuties then what? The horse has bolted - it is endemic and global - could've, should've doesn't matter except for the next virus.

      "Follow the science" is a moot phrase IMO, a political creation to go "it wasn't me, see".

      Science presents a set of facts - with say confidence intervals - how you react to it (i.e. policy) is not science. You could treat the whole world as an infectious ward, have curfews with shoot at sight orders or have personal responsiblity policies - the science remains the same, policy is always a decision, and largey always political. It arguably has to be - science has no emotion. An unemotional, computational AI would conclude that the science says to deny old people NHS beds and die as the probability of survival is low, and keep the beds for better abled patients. It would say covid is endemic and the science says they are not "worth it". So we're not following *all* the science for good reasons.

      Lockdowns are temporary and their efficacy is dropping. I don't see the compliance anymore amongst people, just businesses. Lockdowns work if you use it sparingly, with a deep clean cut, maybe two. It' s a blunt blade. Countries like the UK/US where individual rights are prioritised over social rules clearly are suffering more than countries in the East. All this Toryism and Labourism is dumb. No western nation is doing too well.

      Perhaps it is a watershed moment for the west where individual responsiblities need to be enshrined in law.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: It's the toffs

        Of the vaccine doesn't work, then we're just going to have to accept it and get on with life. People didn't isolate for the sake of smallpox or TB - they got on with the risky business of living. Cowering in corners, ignoring the need for people to socialise in person in order to be healthy, is not going to be the answer for long. I despair of the cowardly society we've become.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's the toffs

      information from true experts

      Experts in what exactly? They seem to be getting advice from experts in politics, economics. owning tabloids and being chums with them.

  9. brotherelf
    Joke

    Ministers have switched back and forth between alarm and reassurance, while failing to drive home

    Well, Margaret Ferrier and Dominic Cummings did that for them…

    (Meanwhile, in "not all people are idiots", Kramp-Karrenbauer actually camped in her MoD office in Berlin instead of driving all the way across Germany to self-isolate at home.)

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    If mask

    wearing had been mandated in March , did we have enough masks to supply the NHS AND the population?

    Was there enough manufacturing to make the masks?

    If the answers to the above questions are no, who would you suggest gets priority in being supplied with a mask?

    In any case, given the speed the UK borders have been closed by various countries.... its strange how when the Wuhan virus jumped from china to outbreak in Italy back in Feb/March, no one jumped up and shut the borders/closed travel down.....

    Oh well back to waiting for me jab

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: If mask

      It's pretty easy for anyone handy with a sewing machine to put out a perfectly respectable mask, assuming suitable guidance is published. Three layers helps a lot. This is pretty common practice in Japan, and they've had far fewer problems with covid19 than we have.

      Homemade masks could have been a good way of not busting logistics chains.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: If mask

        All the masks I have are home made by family members or friends (my contribution was sourcing a few patterns and some materials):I was going to make my own as they are easy patterns and no skilled techniques needed (I have no sewing machine so would have been hand sewn) but when people with machines found out I was planning on slow hand sewing they volunteered to make them the quick way for me.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    playing with the politics of pandemics

    To me the UK Government policy on COVID was very much, making the same mistakes all over again.

    I would say that the delays in actually taking action are the same as they were for the spanish flu i.e. the belief that the better diet and access to medical care of the affluent would restrict the infection to those that did not matter i.e. the poor.

    Once it became clear that no matter how much money you had that age and general health were more important then the older affluent got worried and demanded action from Gov.

    Yet Boris still delayed as Brexit was his only target until someone suggested that the panic could be used to put through anything wanted into law without oversight or challenge, very much the Tory's favored environment and they didnt even have to start to war to get it this time.

    Boris jumps on the panic bus with the media and grabs any cash not going to the afluent and gives it to party friends rather than directs it towards dealing with the infection. Boris' advisor get caught showing just how little the Torys believe in their own "pandemic restrictions" until the vaccine shows up promising cash for the boys.

    When the vaccine appears and the potential to cash in on the panic induced by the press and yet again money for party friends so Boris says "lets do that"

    That brings us up to date, everyone is looking at the vaccine as a magic bullet but there are already mutations in the virus that are in the same region targetted by the vaccine and so new vaccines must be produced, repeat until there are no suspectible people left to die from infection as per the plan.

    There always were things that could actually have been done to limit an infection, close borders and stop all internal movement being the top on the list. These never happened because those that are running this circus would not act against their own priorities.

    Back in the 1970's they actually came up with viable plans to deal with disasters in the UK including pandemics.

    Everyone in the UK was to be restricted to home/camps with regular checks and food being distributed via the army in HASMAT suits. A month or two of this and those that already had the infection would have passed though it, infecting only their household and either dying or surviving but not being able to pass it on to others outside of their contained area. If this had been implemented in say March then the UK would be free of infection by May and life for the majority of the UK population could have returned to normal with only continuing quarantine restrictions on contact with outsiders on a par with bringing your pet home from a foreign country.

    This would have actually protected the majority in the UK and would have cost far less than what actually happened i.e. allowing the infected to continue passing the infect on to others for, currently 4 times the period the original plan would have taken to clear the country of infection.

    I personally would say that it wasn't just incompentence and disinterest in "our" leadership but intentional prolonging of the infection to obtain polical advantage in their own agendas at the cost of UK lives

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

      >>came up with viable plans

      >> with regular checks and food being distributed via the army in HASMAT suits

      You are saying that the entire country - every single household - fresh food, medicines and supplies, provided by the army, for whatever N months it would take for whatever pandemic organism was roaming in the country?

      That's a bloody fucking miracle of logistical magic created by the army on demand.

      I seriously question this and would like references for these 1970s viable plans as you claim. PCR test plans in the 70s??

      >> continuing quarantine restrictions on contact with outsiders

      you mean a self-imposed lockdown? what;s the difference then after the hasmat camp magic to a national lockdown.

      PS - hasmat protects the wearer it doesnt stop the spread to non wearers.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

        Wikipedia - 1978 smallpox outbreak in the United Kingdom

        Guardian - ‘It was a total invasion’: the virus that came back from the dead

        Oh, and why are you talking about PCR tests in the 1970s? Nobody else is.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

          @Dan55

          This is a rubbish answer - the OP says there were viable plans from the 1970s for the national supply by the army to all households in the nation (or to national "camps"), with testing. That would need to be PCR testing for covid, not fever and pustule checks.

          The smallpox outbreak you give is so very vastly different, it is a symptomatically identifiable condition, known and understood to epidemiologists and doctors, patient-0 was diagnosed and was identified early. The symptoms are unique and do not resemble other endemic conditions (such as flu or the cold for covid)

          Hell there's even a smallpox laboratory in the hospital, because they were researching it. They needed to contact say 500 people for tracing. Let's say 1000. It is a disease that is serious or fatal - to *all*, so people take it seriously.

          Very little from that could have been applied to covid-19, by the time it was even vaguely identified to exist, it was in the population, globally. That's why it is called a pandemic.

          It is utterly naive to put that smallpox outbreak as an example of what could be done for covid. To evens start resembling it would be like Jane Parker taking the london tube in rush hour mutiple times. On the lines to heathrow and victoria station. And the infection presenting as an asymptomatic infectious carrier.

          I'd still like to see evidence of this magical NATIONAL 1970s *pandemic* plan where the army, wearing hazmat suits apparently, but not spreading any infection, would feed and test the entire nation for the N months whatever pandemic orgamism would take to clear from the population. I'd imagine in that picture the infected would be left to die (or army style open wards?).

          The plans make more sense to be about a bioweapon attack, like anthrax or something, not a pandemic response. It would be a war like reponse - to cut losses quickly for the country, and the absolute priority would be to stop the spread even at the cost of *individual* lives. I'd imagine the protocol would be to quarantine and bulk medicate, instead of individual treatment plans.

          Covid-19 is not deadly enough to the majority for a war reaction to be considered a proportional response by the population.

          So if there is a 1970s plan for a *pandemic*, I'd be curious. No nation in the entire world has implemented such a response of mass army led isolation camps. Not one.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

            Okay, if we're only doing influenza and similar airborne viruses, a cursory DDG search gives:

            https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/19/6/12-1478_article

            To be honest I don't know why you're arguing so vehemently against the idea of pandemic preparation in the 1970s existing.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

              Because it doesn't exist as a *plan* - even the article you posted, if you had bothered to read is merely about preparedness to respond, there is no plans in place for the army to feed households in hazmats suits as supposedly claimed by the poster.

              It's a lie, a fiction, and I call out fake tales posturing as "facts". Them squandering for PPE alone - US and UK included, says it all. That is a pretty basic thing in preparedness, let alone claims of magic plans of the UK army managing produce supply chains, in hazmat suits.

              I don't get why when all the evidence points to the contrary you believe some post from somebody claiming magic Plans to "save the world"(TM), that apparently wasn't invoked due to Torys. "If only it weren't for the Tories." I suupose in the US, if only it weren't for Trump, the Plans would have been deployed and the pandemic and covid all defeated by March.

              Nonsense.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

                Source for epidemic plans was UK TV documentary (late'70s early '80) source for the selling off emergency food stock piles referred to in documentary was news of '80/'90s TV and papers

                @"you are saying that the entire country - every single household - fresh food, medicines and supplies, provided by the army, for whatever N months it would take for whatever pandemic organism was roaming in the country?"

                Food has been availible in the UK thoughout this infection, the only difference would be that actual dispensing would be via the army rather than shops. Basically from documentary all food distribution would come under emergency regulation.

                @"continuing quarantine restrictions on contact with outsiders" no I mean border controls to prevent new/reinfection, such as compulsary quaratine of all incoming people. The plans took advantage of the fact that the UK is an island and keeping the infection out is hence much easier here.

                @"Because it doesn't exist as a *plan* - even the article you posted, if you had bothered to read is merely about preparedness to respond, there is no plans in place for the army to feed households in hazmats suits as supposedly claimed by the poster."

                There are many other government disaster plans availible from websearch and yet the UK ones seem to be absent. Even the references to this same political party selling off the food stockpile warehouses referred to in the documentaries seem to have disappeared. Although the PPE stockpile sell off from that start of this infection is still there.

                HAZMAT/biological weapon suits detail is irrelevant what was made clear in documentary was that they prevented transmission to either army or civilians, and were shown as woodland camouflaged versions of HAZMAT suits and as an extra detail the rifles dspecited in use by army were still the Lee Enfields used in Northen Ireland.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

                  the army cannot takeover the supply chains of shops overnight. Civilians work there - farmers, pickers, packagers, lorry drivers, supply chain managers, temperature controlled storage. The army cannot take this over without very extensive and deeply intergrated plans. Emergency regulation is just a legal framework for takeover.

                  your response is called "hearsay", even "documentary" is sounding like a stretch.

                  give a reference - this "documentary" cannot be the only evidence of such an extensive HMG Great Pandemic Plan 1970.

                  everything mentioned indicates at best these Plans are a biowarfare/weapon response, not a pandemic respons. state of emergency declaration for covid-19 will be an impossible sell - that would need covid to put all segments of the population at fatal risk as a bioweapon would. This is not a Toryism/Labourism argument at all.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

            "I'd still like to see evidence of this magical NATIONAL 1970s *pandemic* plan where the army, wearing hazmat suits apparently, but not spreading any infection, would feed and test the entire nation for the N months whatever pandemic orgamism would take to clear from the population. I'd imagine in that picture the infected would be left to die (or army style open wards?)."

            Not only that, but the army is a bit smaller these days. The army had a strength of about 373,000 in 1970 to 315,000 in 1979 so hard to say what the plan might have been since the army was reducing all through the decade. Currently, the army has 79,620 regulars; 29,980 Army Reserve, less than a 1/3rd the available in the early 1970s, and that's assuming all reservists are called up and all overseas troops are brought home. Any plan from the 70s would need a very significant revamp to be even barely workable 50 years later.

    2. Fred Dibnah

      Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

      A good post, apart from the use of 'Boris'. He's not (I assume) your mate, he's the Prime Minister.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

        Calling BoJo the Clown the "Prime Minister" would imply that anyone thinks that he is remotely up to the task of typing his own shoe laces, or could be trusted to do so. He can't and isn't. BoJo's single priority in life is himself, nothing else or anybody else matters. Start looking at him from this perspective and it becomes quite easy to see how all his (in)actions fall into place. If he does anything for anyone else, it's only in the perspective of what it brings him personally.

        Despite all of this, he's not as bad as Trump. Which really goes to show just how bad Trump is.

        1. Fred Dibnah

          Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

          Again, I like your post but you've fallen into the same trap and called Johnson by a name which (despite you presumably intending it to be negative) only reinforces the bumbling buffoon shtick that has got him where he is today. Why not just call him by his surname, like we do for every other PM and politician?

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

            I call him by his surname, especially as it's American slang for cock, which is appropriate

          2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

            One reason is having read so much Pratchett, any mention of Johnson immediately translates mentally into Bloody Stupid Johnson.

            Also, because BoJo has played on being the clown for years and is quite good at this. Considerably better than being in any position of responsibility.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

            >> only reinforces the bumbling buffoon shtick that has got him where he is today

            He is a bumbling buffoon shtick, to some extent he cultivated it, particularly as mayor.

            Your point is that his actions should be ignored, and that he should be treated the same as other self-respecting policians, despite himself?

            Until he stops behaving like a caricature, he will always be BoJo the clown to me.

            1. Fred Dibnah

              Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

              Of course he cultivated the buffoon image, the public fell for it and now allows him to get away with being incompetent far beyond any other politician, "because it's just Boris being Boris". If everyone ignored the Latin and the bumbling, and focussed on the actions and policies his government is enacting, he would be unmasked as the devious, lying charlatan he really is. Call me a grumpy old sod, but to me it's not remotely funny and/or clownish, it's tragic.

              And I'd replace 'self-respecting' politicians with 'self-serving' ;-)

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

      Many of the problems we have now can be attributed to the view that politicians are barely capable of looking beyond tomorrow or next week, yet alone months or years in advance. That is why successive governments, left or right continue to screw up so spectacularly. It is just whack-a-mole at a new level.

      Ooh, a new virus is circulating in China, let's wait and see

      Ooh, we need to do something, what shall we do, I know let's wait and see

      Ooh, we need PPE, lets order anything we can from people we know, what it is not fit for purpose, nah, you must be imagining it.

      Ooh, we need have a long-term plan to address Covid, I know let's wait and see.

      Oh dear, the ports are full of containers so nothing can come in, bugger, it is all that PPE we ordered that nobody wants, ah well, the ships can go to Rotterdam instead.

      Bugger, now those pesky French won't let any lorries through, not a problem we have a cunning plan.....

      Ooh, there appears to be a variation to the virus that transmits more easily, ah well, lets just wait and see what happens.

      Bugger, we cocked that one up, immediate lockdown of half the country in a vague hope that we can "beat the virus".

      And in between each some half-arsed guidance that most of the British public appear incapable of following.

      The list goes on....

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

        To be fair (yes, I know), a large part of the problem is the reality of life for politicians.

        Politicians have a job and bills to pay and families to support. If they are voted out of power, for whatever reason, then they no longer have a job and are no longer able to pay their bills. If they don't follow their party line, regardless of how disgusting and wrong it may be, they lose "the whip", and the chances are very high that when it comes to the next election they will be out of a job. Party politics is very damaging to democracy.

        These are strong pressures and it's no wonder that everything is very short term. There's usually no value in it for the politician for long term policies and these would have to survive any following politicial changes, therefore the policies have to be shaped by what will keep the politician in a job come election time. This frequently means lies, rabble rousing and utterly broken promises, or party manifestos as they are called. These really should be legally binding but any lies can be spouted in these and then ignored later. It's also no wonder why politicians are to be found trying to cover themselves for eventual job loss, because it will happen to most of them eventually, and doing this through their connections and friends and any other way possible. It would be a scary thing to come out of a job in politics with no especially relevant or practical skills and therefore little to no employability. Some politicians are actually quite reasonable and decent people. These tend to be "back benchers" though.

        About the only way to fix politics would be change this reality of life in politics.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

          Apart from the fact that a lot of MPs find work as "consultants", one way around this is to get rid of career politicians. Not that long ago, politicians had work experience outside university (PPE or equivalent) > lobbying/media/PR > MP.

    4. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

      Going back to the original AC post here, there is a distinct possibility that the government's response follows Tory plans further. We've already seen health data sold off to US interests. Next, we could see US healthcare companies opening up to deal with the (artificial)* backlog of diagnosis and treatment of things that should have been done during the last year - obviously staffed by people from overseas because our doctors are too busy. This fits the Tory plan because it increases private healthcare in the UK, and undermines doctors' pay. From the psychopathic Tory point of view, this is win, win, KERCHING!!

      * Artificial because e.g. oncology and surgical staff have been twiddling their thumbs for nine months now - there is no reason they couldn't have been seeing patients at a higher rate.

  12. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Meh

      @TheMeerkat

      They do. That is why, if you ever have an operation, the people doing it will be wearing masks pretty similar to many of the ones you see on the street.

  13. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Long-term view

    I cannot help but wonder... has anyone thought about "following the science" of the long-term perspective?

    There are reports that 50% of students are suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Say what you like about students, but the fact remains that they are the doctors, scientists and teachers of the future.

    Also, say what you like about mental health, but again, the fact here is that these issues lead to physical symptoms, which in turn can lead to serious physical health complications. I myself have anxiety issues and suffer from insomnia as a result - yes, these pre-date COVID, but have been exacerbated by the current situation, especially in recent times with lockdown 2 and what has happened since. Ongoing sleep deprevation increases the chances of stroke and heart attack (among other things). COVID has a mortality rate of less than 1% - how many people who could have got ill with COVID and then recovered have now had their lives shortened because of the ongoing conditions we are being forced to live under?

    And then we have the current situation with the new variant which, thanks to tardy action by the UK government (no surprise) and a stampede out of London following the resultant knee-jerk response, is probably going to land the entire country in tier 4 in the next few weeks. There are a number of reports in which that ministers have said (albeit not as a pulbic statement) that once an area is in tier 4, it stays there until half the UK population has been vaccinated.

    So far, we have vaccinated 500,000 people in two weeks. The UK population is upward of 68 million. Do the maths, and that works out at roughly two and a half years before we hit that magic 50% where tier 4 restrictions can be lifted. Two and a half years - some of us spend less time in a permanent job role. GCSE, college and A-level teaching spans are shorter. And - of course - that's if the vaccines still work effectively against the new varient.

    In hindsight, we should have locked down hard at the start - it would have been tough, but I believe that we would have weathered four to six months of full lockdown better than this continual stop-start-react-pivot that's going on now. But it's too late for that - one survey I read has stated that over 50% of people are willing to defy the current regulations for Christmas, so I'm pretty confident in saying that attempting a six-month full lockdown now will only lead to defiance and rebellion.

    Instead, I believe we need to lift all restrictions apart from social distancing and wearing masks when out and about, shielding the vulnerable (ie: if you want to go see granny, you need to isolate for two weeks in advance), and self-isolation if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Otherwise, we should be free to mix. Because if we go for the alternative, the long-term view only holds a generation with mental health issues and sub-standard education.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Long-term view

      I am no expert on these things but one does have to wonder if our response of trying to suppress Covid is actually benefitting the virus. Left to it's own devices, a virus will spread, some or those infected getting ill, some experiencing little or nothing and some dying. All the time some form of immunity begins to develop. In this case it appears not to be a great deal or prolonged initially but we don't really know. Man, then speeds up the point at which general immunity is reached at a level that is sufficient for the virus to become a background issue with the use of a vaccine. The issue with allowing the virus to spread naturally with little intervention is that it is seen as unacceptable due to the risk to life. We have cures and mitigations for so many illnesses or viruses now that there is a general assumption that we can pretty much "cure" anything, after all it is just a bug. The generations that suffered Measles, Smallpox, Polio, even 'flu are pretty much gone so the prevailing view is that we can make Covid go away "beat the virus". One does not beat a virus, it is managed until it becomes a background issue through natural immunity, vaccinated immunity or attrition.

      If, because we have neither had enough of a lockdown to actually stop the spread or the opposite and allowed to to spread naturally, has Covid evolved to overcome our inefficiencies and half-hearted attempts at suppressing it? Probably it has which is why the new variant has a higher transmission rate.

      If, as we are led to believe places like Wuhan in China and Korea have been able to control the virus infection rates is this because the state is able to bully the population into doing the draconian measures that were needed? In those countries the population is going to behave very differently from that in a democracy.

      I don't thing we will know for a long time, it ever, the true source of Covid due to the issues of dealing with China. Whilst I am not a believer in conspiracy theories, I think there is growing evidence that some sort of mistake may have been made at the labs in Wuhan that focussed on SARS viruses, permitting Covid to become established in humans. This could have been as simple as test animals not being disposed of properly or stolen, ending up in the meat market. That gives you the vector for the animal->human jump.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Long-term view

        The end goal against any virus is herd immunity. Achieving herd immunity without a vaccine essentially means allowing nearly all the population to contract the virus and then either recover or die. Achieving herd immunity with a vaccine allows you to avoid nearly all the deaths.

        The mortality rate for covid-19 when hospital care is available is generally reckoned to be about 1%. Taken against the population of the UK that gives you ~700K deaths. You can bring that down a bit as the virus will fizzle out before the entire population catches it, but that's where the 500K deaths figure came from near the beginning of the pandemic. That was enough to give even the likes of our government pause for thought.

        However, that maths only works if critical care is available. In the first wave of the epidemic in the UK's intensive care capacity* was being pushed close to breaking point. If we'd just allowed the virus to spread naturally it would have been completely overwhelmed, and without enough ventilators to go around the mortality rate would have gone a lot higher.

        Keeping the infection rate down keeps the number of people hospitalised down, which is the entire point of all the lockdown and social distancing measures. It's about keeping things under control in the short term, until the longer term measure - vaccines - are developed and deployed to significant numbers of our population.

        Please stop talking crap about letting things take their natural course; it was a stupid idea when it was proposed back in March and it's even more stupid now that some vaccines have been developed and being rolled out. Dropping the restrictions now would just snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

        500k vaccinations in two weeks is just the start - it will ramp up significantly in future. I suspect that everyone who can be vaccinated (and wants to be) will be able to get it within the next few months. In the meantime we will be seeing lower infection rates as more of the population gains immunity, and we will be able to relax restrictions accordingly.

        * I'm talking about proper intensive care wards. Nightingale hospitals don't count - they were really only set up to provide minimal nursing support, and would likely only have been viable as recovery wards - i.e. they wouldn't actually have helped with the actual bottleneck of the care pathway. They're doubly moot as they were never really staffed - you can't just conjure medical professionals from thin air.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: you can't just conjure medical professionals from thin air.

          No, but you can give your mates millions of pounds to convert a warehouse into a "nightingale hospital" that never gets used. It's great work if you can get it. And to get it all you need is to run a pub near a minister.

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: you can't just conjure medical professionals from thin air.

            Yes, you can. Our beloved dictator did this when he announced all the "new" nurses for the NHS. Many of which were retired, with little desire to return (odd that), or were already being trained, and therefore not new. Restating previous things as if they are new is a very common occurence of the current rabble.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: you can't just conjure medical professionals from thin air.

            "No, but you can give your mates millions of pounds to convert a warehouse into a "nightingale hospital" that never gets used."

            Yeah, and think of all that house insurance you paid over the years and then never used. It's called contingency planning. Imagine what would have happened if we'd really needed the Nightingale hospitals and the Gov had decided NOT to implement them in advance. Remember, the idea was that they would take all the COVID patients that needed hospitalisation and maybe oxygen feed but NOT patients needing ventilators, freeing up the general wards for "normal" patients, ie keeping COVID out of hospitals as much as possible since they populated by the vulnerable.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: you can't just conjure medical professionals from thin air.

              I appreciate the point about insurance, but if the shit had hit the fan all available nursing and medical staff would have been tied up manning regular hospital wards long before you got around to sending any overflow of patients to nightingale. It was always just an illusion of a safety net, and mainly served as a whopping great PR opportunity for senior bods in various NHS trusts and government ministries to show that they "had the matter well in hand". As a nice sideline it was a bloody good way of bunging a bunch of government cash to people who had warehouse and exhibition space lying unused - triples all round!

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Long-term view

        "Left to it's own devices, a virus will spread, some or those infected getting ill, some experiencing little or nothing and some dying. All the time some form of immunity begins to develop."

        Sweden were pretty much the only country to try that. They regret it now.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Long-term view

          No, they don't. *Some* Swedish politicians and opponents of the strategy used are starting to say they regret it. The population are not regretting anything on significant numbers as far as I can see.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Alien

      Re: Long-term view

      So, OK, you lift all restrictions. A few weeks later the NHS reaches capacity and people start dying in large numbers. A few weeks after that the people who work for the NHS who have been working flat out for almost a year, who have spent a lot of that time watching people die, slowly, while they can't do anything to stop it, but trying anyway, the people who actually have been through a year of major trauma unlike some student, or you, or me who has been a little inconvenienced for a while, start becoming seriously ill and being unable to work. The NHS falls over, and can't be put together again any time soon. People who have any serious illness now just die, often slowly and in great pain.

      Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Long-term view

        To those downvoting:

        I have not said that restrictions should be lifted or that lockdowns don't work. I have put the two main ways in which Covid can be managed. I have not said that just letting the virus to run uncontrolled was acceptable. This is contrasted with some countries that have been able, due to they way they are governed, to have a very highly controlled lockdown that appears to have been very effective.

        Here, we have been in and out of differing levels of restrictions and lockdowns without really making much progress.

        What I am suggesting is that the way the restrictions and lockdowns have been handled and the loose compliance with them is helping the virus to mutate overtime. We now have a new, much more contagious strain that may have evolved as a result of the poor handling of the situation from the start. We are neither cutting it off as the Chinese did in Wuhan or let it run as the Swedes attempted to do (and have failed) with minimal restrictions .

        Bluntly, if one's aim is to control the virus the only thing that appears to have worked is a draconian lockdown. Unfortunately for most countries that approach is not acceptable however a lockdown still only suppresses the virus. As soon as there is a reinfection then you are back to the start. As the virus cannot be eradicated that leaves immunity as the only option, in this case mostly provided by a vaccine. We should also note a vaccine does not stop the virus, merely reduces the impact on people who become infected with Covid. Currently the way forward is for a vaccine to reduce the severity of the illness so that the number of critical cases reduced to a manageable level. In the longer term there may be a true vaccine like those for Measles or Smallpox but the likelihood is that the Covid response is going to be one of subtly tweaked revaccinations as it evolves over time. Hopefully, in the end it can be combined with the flu vaccine with maybe a wider coverage in younger age groups.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Long-term view

          Yes & no, if you look at countries like Vietnam, they certainly did have advantages in being able to lockdown hard with no compromise, they closed ff a province (pretty much like closing a county or state), they closed schools near the end of Jan, if a case appeared on a street they closed off the street and quarantined it. Definetly not easy to do in more democratic countries in Europe, USA. However worth noting they also really had the logistics of it worked out, they were practicing locking down streets and the reaction, the places locked down where fed 3 sq meals a day (and it looked pretty good TBH), doctors in, takeaways, shopping could be delivered to a pick up point etc etc. It's probably a lot easier facing getting your street quarantined when you know its being handled well.

          Effectively though most of the country only experienced about 3 weeks of lockdown and it was hardly noticeable.

          But countries that were democracies also did well kike New Zealand & Taiwan. I think aomw of it is because of how the goverments handled it. There was a certain trust in the goverment and thats because the goverment were being very clear with their messages and making sensible moves. Do sensible things, be properly organised, give sensible advice, give a united front, people are more likely to get on board. The whole tier system in the UK and rules is just bewildering.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Long-term view

            "The whole tier system in the UK and rules is just bewildering."

            At the start, I thought the rules were pretty clear. On the whole, the rules now are pretty clear if people bother to notice them. The problem is people choosing to NOT follow the rules for their area. There are two stories on the Beeb news today, party of 60 in Leicester and a party of 200 in Manchester. Probably many more around the country. Huge numbers of people travelling to lower tier areas just for a fucking pint in a pub. 160 find and many more warned in York. One twat drove over 200 miles to go to a pub in Cornwall. Every single one of those people are selfish unthinking bastards in my book, risking catching the damn virus and passing it on to their own families.

            Young, fit, healthy people are less likely to get a bad case, but they can. It can still kill them. The odds are better then winning the lottery jackpot, but I bet a lot of those people play the lottery!. They may have underlying conditions they are not aware of. If it doesn't kill them, there's evidence that some people, apparently other fit and healthy, suffering various long term post-COVID symptoms, some quite debilitating.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Long-term view

            Countries that have succeeded seem to have a combination of (1) being hit pretty badly by SARS, (2) have strict civilian policing policies (3) responsible/humble citizenry and/or (4) responsible media.

            UK/US did not prepare as SARS/MERS/h1n1 forced other countries to create test capacity and tracking infrastructure.

            The citizenry are less humble - quicker to conclude they know better.

            Daily fail in the UK for eg will turn in whatever direction the clickbait winds blow. Fox news for americans. With Trump and Brexit, there are too many lies and misdirections that bad faith is rampant.

            Add cronyism and there is no hope this would turn out any other way.

            These same people are in charge of Brexit.

            It is interesting to see these costs of Brexit coming out. Who saw damaged citizen trust in government as a long term cost of Brexit. Who knows what else lurks?

          3. onemark03 Bronze badge

            Re: Long-term view: New Zealand

            With only 25 reported fatalities, our govt's policy of "Go hard, go early" seems to have worked.

            Oh, yeah: plus (a) putting visiting citizens into either managed isolation for those who test negative or (b) quarantine for those who test positive and (c) not letting in any foreign nationals (with specially approved exceptions).

            FTR: all three above policies are still in force.

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Long-term view

        @tfb: "People who have any serious illness now just die, often slowly and in great pain."

        This is already happening because the NHS has basically stopped seeing people.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Long-term view

          Citation needed. The local clinic cancelling your ingrowing toenail procedure doesn't count.

  14. PhillW

    SAGE

    Would that be the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies meetings that Dominic Cummings regularly attended?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SAGE

      Yeah, as the least qualified "why is he here" person in the room. It caused some press fuss at the time, until it was buried under a landslide of other bad news.

      The proper take is to require that political flunkies be kept the hell away from scientific advisory groups, not to use it to cast aspersions on the credentials of the actual scientific advisors.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: SAGE

        I believe that the official reason for him to be there was 'as an observer' and he did not take part in the proceedings. However, my (cynical) guess is that he was forewarned of what SAGE would recommend and therefore had more time to interpret it and decide what Boris was going to do about the independent scientific advice from the virology experts, and how to 'spin' any publicity. But then I'm a cynical old fart.

  15. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    At times the prime minister and ministers waited until the scientific evidence was overwhelming rather than using it alongside other inputs to make their own judgements.
    It's the semantics here that are what is important - they waited for evidence. Evidence is post event. Predictions are before the event. The gov, who can't be trusted with anything and would rather not do anything at all if it costs them money, were waiting to see what was happening, failing to comprehend that there is always a minimum of a 2-4 week lag in actions and results, therefore by the time they started to grasp that the infection rate was going high, it was already too late to stop it.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      "failing to comprehend that there is always a minimum of a 2-4 week lag in actions and results"

      It was actually slightly worse than that. In an interview about the epidemic modelling in the UK, the scientists said they did not realise that their information on cases and deaths was up to a week out of date, so they were not working with current data. That is why they did not recognise the actual R rate early in February and that the actual double ling period was about half the doubling period estimated, indicating even more urgency in having a lockdown as soon as possible in early rather than late March.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        True, I'd forgotten that the lag from the data collection as well... so that's a 3-5 week lag in actions and observing results. Which makes the 4 week (month-ish) mockdown in November even more pointless.

  16. Zenco

    As the epidemic left China in December 2019 and turned into a pandemic, I assumed we would close our borders in early January 2020. I remember learning about this sort of thing at school in the sixties, when discussing border controls to keep rabies at bay. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard reports of people arriving at Heathrow airport from China, and just being waved through. In mid March, before the lock-down, Matt Hancock was on Radio 4, explaining that we mustn't overreact and cause inconvenience to travellers and business. We are an island nation, and should have been saved from all the unnecessary deaths and economic destruction. As for the government following the science, tell that to Professor Nutt, who was promptly sacked for telling them their drug laws were rubbish.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem is that the UK has a serious lack of any real border control. When I flew into LHR in September they just had two Border Farce bodies at the end of the Jetway. Their job was to check if all passengers had completed their self quarantine declarations. People could just wave any bit of paper at them for all the attention they were giving it. The UK just doesn't do border checks. They have no idea who's coming in/leaving.

  17. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Ah, scientists, the bane of civilization...

    > simply "following the science" [...] was a big factor in the costly delay to the nation's first lockdown and postponed the introduction of face masks rules

    "Simply following the science" also prevented medieval Europe from using antibiotics against the plague, resulting in millions of casualties!

    It's the nasty useless scientists' fault: Unlike the true scientists you see in the movies, they don't have an instant answer to every problem, and don't do miracles with almost nothing in mere hours. Lazy, incompetent bunch, all of them!

  18. Val Halla

    Following the science

    Where's the leadership in that?

    Far better to have assessed the risks and be over cautious when this started, it would have been easier.

  19. xyz Silver badge

    My take...

    This "nothing will change", "we'll muddle through" and "keep calm etc" nonsense has no place in the 21st century. We need serious people, not clowns who still seem to think that treasures from the empire still arrive at Tilbury rather than on the back of a 40 tonne truck at Dover. BSE, foot and mouth, super covid... Engerland, leading the world in how to get to hell in a handbasket. The Septic Isle.

  20. Danny 2 Silver badge

    How a string of failures by the British government helped Covid-19 to mutate

    How a string of failures by the British government helped Covid-19 to mutate

    (Apology for a link to a Guardian opinion piece, but it's the opinion of a professor of global health.)

    The failures of the government’s pandemic response are legion. An earlier lockdown by just one week in the spring could have halved the death rate, according to Nick Davies, a Sage adviser. Ministers wasted billions on outsourcing an allegedly “world-beating” test-and-trace system to private companies. It has failed to monitor rates of self-isolation and provided scant financial support to those asked to quarantine at home, relying on workers who don’t get sick pay, such as those in the gig economy, to isolate while losing wages. After Britain’s spring lockdown, infection rates fell, but the government again failed to do what was needed in time to suppress the virus.

    The government’s poor control of Covid-19 has increased the force of the infection and allowed more mutations to happen. On top of the economic costs of lockdown measures, the UK has now been effectively placed in quarantine by the international community. The prime minister’s repeated dithering, delays and seeming inability to make unpopular decisions have led Britain to have one of the worst death rates in the world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How a string of failures by the British government helped Covid-19 to mutate

      Bit premature, the variant might not be of UK origin, just detected in the UK first.

      He's a professor of public health, not an epidemiologist. That's the policy wing, not the biology wing.

      Will wait before the finger pointing regarding the mutation, even if the failures identified are appropriate.

      The shambolic UK govt is an easy target but innocent until proven proven guilty of the mutation.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: How a string of failures by the British government helped Covid-19 to mutate

        The UK does half the global genomic testing, praiseworthy, but it doesn't matter whether the variant originated here or not, it matters that it is increasingly prevalent here. The vacillating bluster from No.10 has proven incredibly deadly regardless of inevitable mutations.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: How a string of failures by the British government helped Covid-19 to mutate

      "The government’s poor control of Covid-19 has increased the force of the infection and allowed more mutations to happen."

      So, how many COVID-19 mutations are there running rampant across the USA where infection rates have never really gone down at all? Looking at their graphs, re-opening the economy in many States far too early caused not just a second wave before most other countries, but now a third wave.

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Another nonsense is how tiers and lockdown levels have been *negotiated*. You don't negotiate how much snow has fallen, or how much rain there is, it's a fact. Things like tier levels should be a simple case of adding up numbers, fn(cases,speed,facilities) or something. Not "ooo, we don't like five feet of snow, we insist that it is four feet of snow".

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor response...

    It seems to me that all the countries that turned in poor Covid responses were those who believed they were going to have to trade off between the economy and health. The more they felt that was a trade-off - and the more they were focussed on "the economy" - the worse they did. Conversely, the countries that seemed to act as if they believed "stuff the economy, let's look after the people" did better economically as well!

    It's almost like the market economy is an emergent property of society, not some mystical deity that has to be appeased at all costs.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Poor response...

      Agreed. At the moment money it seems in places like the UK and USA are filtering to just a few big cmpanies, so Amazon does well, Sainsburies does well etc. The money doesn't really get taxes paid on it, or go anywhere except to a few (yes I know wages etc but the real bulk of the money) and maybe sort of trickles down to a few people when some exec buys a suneeker. Meanwhile small businesses that contribute tax and generally spread the profits through the less than 1% crowd are dying.

      Countries that are now opened up, that money is moving to them, the hairdresser can stay open, the cafe, the corner shop. It's money more at the real society level and its moving around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor response...

      It's almost like the market economy is an emergent property of society, not some mystical deity that has to be appeased at all costs.

      Heretic!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Not following the science

    As the article says, what they were doing was rhetoric, not science. That's unsurprising because it's what our glorious clown emperor learned at school and university and what he devoutly believes is what distinguishes superior people like him and his friends and associates from lesser people like scientists and other such jolly boffin types as he probably thinks of them (the ordinary working people? he doesn't think of them really as people at all: they only exist to provide him glory, money and food). Science is something he doesn't understand, and doesn't think he needs to understand. But, of course he can make a lot of jolly plausible speeches about 'following the science', because jolly plausible speeches is the only thing he can do. And of course he's fully aware that when he's made so much noise about it that he's fooled people (he even fooled me in March & April) then when it all goes horribly wrong he can blame the science johnnies: it's always so convenient to have someone to blame, isn't it?

    'Following the science'? No, they weren't: not then, not now, not at any point in between.

  24. peterw52

    Understanding the science

    I think the whole situation demonstrates that a PPE from Oxford doesn't prepare you for government in this modern world!

    Also the rest of the world seems to be doing to us now what we should have done to them in March, pull up the drawbridge, exploit being an island!

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Understanding the science

      I believe that Johnson's degree is in Classics, not PPE. Cameron did PPE, Cummings did Ancient and Modern History.

      1. peterw52

        Re: Understanding the science

        Yes you're right a somewhat cavalier exaggeration, in fact on further research looks like law is the most common degree in the cabinet followed by history. On person with a science degree Alok Sharma with Applied Physics. Hancock did take PPE

        Mostly not useful in evaluating the relevance of mathematical models and scientific conjecture?

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Understanding the science

          Now, surely, is the time for Marcus du Sautoy, current Professor for the public Understanding of Science at Oxford University to come to the rescue and tell us all how people can be educated to understand science.

          https://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk

          But he has strangely been absent from the news interviews about politicians 'following the science', or do they not count as 'the public' any more?

          My personal belief is that neither PPE nor Public Relations (Cameron's 'job' before he became an MP) prepares a person suitably for running the country, and frankly neither do ancient or modern history on their own or together, but hey, I'm only a mathematician who likes things to actually work.

          Good luck everyone (I fear we are going to need it).

  25. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    What 'science'?

    Science may be viewed in each of two ways. First, as activity operating in general accord with descriptions by Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend. Second, as a body of consolidated knowledge arisen from practitioners of 'scientific method'.

    The former is always provisional. The latter consists of consensus 'understanding' of processes sufficient to make predictions adequately reliable for useful application of science in context of engineering, and the like. Applied science is stable but its basis remains open to challenge and revision within the activity of science rather than application. Yet consolidated knowledge despite not being the current bee's knees of supposed understanding retains utility e.g. planetary orbits are for all practical purpose calculated using Newton's Laws rather than General Relativity.

    The bearing of this on Covid-19 is existence of a large corpus of knowledge concerning communicable disease control, a subset of which pertains to viral infections. This knowledge was available from onset of the pandemic. At that stage 'cutting edge' science was irrelevant to disease control. Similarly, opinions of current practitioners of 'science' should have carried little weight compared to practitioners of disease control

    Only as the pandemic unfolded might a role for scientists emerge. This to engage with puzzles and speculation which one day could enhance understanding and control of the Covid class of viruses. The timescale of urgency necessary for applying consolidated knowledge just cannot be imposed upon practice of science. If corners are cut the resulting 'insights' have no more epistemological standing than the hypotheses driving the research. Yet hasty ersatz science is evident during this pandemic. Findings have been rushed into print without adequate scrutiny and with scant replication of studies. Supposed experts have pontificated on basis of little more than unsubstantiated opinion.

    Perhaps the most egregious example of influence from non-science purporting to be other is uncritical adoption of computer-based disease models emanating from Imperial College. These were taken on trust and disastrously influenced disease control in the UK and some places elsewhere. Technically, these models have no standing as product of 'science' because there is no history of their validation in comparable previous circumstance.

    'Science' and purported scientists has been placed on a pedestal unmerited in context of an active epidemic. Perhaps some insights have been offered but their import ought have been judged by practitioners of communicable disease control rather than committees of narrowly based 'scientists', the government Chief Scientist, and politicians indulging in wishful thinking.

    Politicians' naive faith in 'science' pulling rabbits out of hats during a putative emergency says as much about the politicians themselves as of scientists in their employ. The political class is woefully ignorant of sciences, technology, quantitative reasoning, and risk analysis. Seemingly, politicians' education, some at prestigious centres, has not passed on transferable skills necessary for interrogating 'experts'.

  26. ecofeco Silver badge

    I wish I had not read the comments

    I really wish I had not read the comments. The amount of stupidity is appalling.

    Still debating about masks? Dear god. WEAR YOUR DAMN MASKS! Or win your much deserved Darwin Award.

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