back to article The Omicron dilemma: Google goes first on delaying office work

Googlers can continue working from home and will no longer be required to return to campuses on 10 January 2022 as previously expected. The decision marks another delay in getting more employees back to their desks. For Big Tech companies, setting a firm return date during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmare. All …

  1. andy 103
    WTF?

    Safely reopen?

    He said Google would wait until the New Year to figure out when campuses in the US can safely reopen for a mandatory return.

    Sorry, how does that work? This virus is here to stay. It will mutate, and there will be variants.

    The current plan of "lockdown or impose restrictions whenever there's a variant or spike" isn't really a plan. See also: a vaccine per variant.

    The world really needs some clarity on this, and yes, some people dying is actually an option. When we went into the first lockdown there was a dramatic reduction in the number of road accidents - due to the fact people weren't rushing on congested motorways to get to work. There were improvements to the environment for the same reason. These two things alone have effectively "saved" some people's lives.

    People show horrific footage of others dying of Covid and struggling to breathe. Why haven't we been showing footage of people trapped under a lorry on the M6 for decades then? That doesn't sound like a pleasant alternative to Covid in my view.

    How long are we going to go on with this nonsense of any death from this virus must be prevented? Why this virus specifically, and why not all other things which cause people to die?

    It's absolute bullshit. Nobody is leading the way with this, and there is no "safe reopen(ing)" of anything, ever.

    1. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

      Re: Safely reopen?

      Until the virus settles down into a stable variant, we won't have any stability. We won't know if the next variant will require stricter measures or not. The number of people trapped under lorries is pretty stable, luckily not many of them are trapped for decades.

      1. andy 103
        FAIL

        Re: Safely reopen?

        "The number of people trapped under lorries is pretty stable"

        To put this into perspective that's just ONE example of how people die. In the UK in 2019 (before Covid was prevalent) there were approx 1800 deaths on UK roads.

        The number of deaths "due to Covid" by which we can only realistically count those with no underlying health conditions** in the first lockdown was around 4400.

        Now, bear in mind road traffic accidents are just ONE way in which people can die...

        ... the figures are already a complete joke. It's like suggesting nobody should drive on roads because some people might die. In this case the number of "some people" is significant (1800 / 4400) from ONE type of possible way of dying which is "preventable" (if you stop everyone else driving).

        Of course stopping everyone from driving isn't a solution. In the same way locking down, waiting for a vaccine per variant, or permanently work from home until it's "safe" isn't a solution either.

        ** because they would have died anyway, in much the same way anybody could die "in future" due to a road traffic accident.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Safely reopen?

          The number of deaths "due to Covid" by which we can only realistically count those with no underlying health conditions** in the first lockdown was around 4400

          Try telling that to friends and families of the 170k-ish dead in the UK, on indeed those still suffering from "long COVID".

          Yes, many were elderly and had health conditions but avoiding dying before it is absolutely necessary is kind of a human goal.

          1. andy 103
            Facepalm

            Re: Safely reopen?

            @Paul Crawford you've completely missed the point with this -

            Try telling that to friends and families of the 170k-ish dead in the UK, on indeed those still suffering from "long COVID".

            The example I used of people who died in road traffic accidents also results in friends/families suffering. It's also "preventable" if you go to some extreme such as banning everyone from driving. There are so many "preventable" ways in which people die. To broaden your mind have a look at how many people in the entire world don't have access to clean running water, and the deaths that causes.

            avoiding dying before it is absolutely necessary is kind of a human goal.

            The point here being - why are we being so restrictive of what people can/can't do when it comes to this cause of death specifically?

            The number of 170k and indeed the global figures aren't really as significant as they sound when you look beyond your own back yard and have a think about how other people in the world die, or what from. Furthermore these people have done for many many years with no restrictions or real intervention. 1800 people died on UK roads in 2019 but we didn't ban people from driving because the overall impact would be extremely significant and to that extent we're accepting of 1800 people dying from that. See also the approx 25,000 who were seriously injured on roads during that period. We're fine with that. No real restrictions, just keep driving folks. Why's it ok there but not with Covid?

            1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

              Re: Safely reopen?

              > The point here being - why are we being so restrictive of what people can/can't do when it comes to this cause of death specifically

              Because you're so used to the restrictions associated with other causes of death you no longer recognise them as restrictions.

              To take your example of being caught under a lorry. The reason that such deaths are so low in number is because: lorries must have regular safety checks (MoTs); lorries must drive on roads (rather than wherever and whenever they like); lorries must be constructed with guard rails to prevent people and vehicles being dragged under; lorry drivers must pass an extra driving test; lorry drivers must pass regular driver assessment tests; lorry drivers over 50 (iirc) must have an annual medical; lorry drivers can only work limited hours to ensure thy aren't tired; etc. I'm sure there are many more that I've missed.

              When the first motor vehicle induced accidents started to happen in the UK in the 1860's (by which I mean things like horses being spooked by noisy cars and causing injuries, not the cars directly) the Government responded by introducing legislation that all motor cars had to be led by a man carrying a red flag as a warning. This was soon shown to be impractical and the rule was dropped, in favour of other restrictions on motorists.

              And so with Covid - eventually legislation will settle down on an appropriate mix of prevention and legislation, but it's too soon to know what that will be just now.

              1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

                Re: Safely reopen?

                --The reason that such deaths are so low in number is because: lorries must have regular safety checks (MoTs)--

                But the NHS have decided to delay regular health checks because of covid. I have my last diabetic review over two years ago so I'm way overdue for an MOT.

              2. MMalik

                Re: Safely reopen?

                > you're so used to the restrictions associated with other causes of death you no longer recognise them as restrictions

                Precisely. I think we've all seen examples of how modern anti-vaxxer arguments look when applied to laws and rules requiring headlight and seat-belt use.

            2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

              Re: Safely reopen?

              I do not understand why people are downvoting you.

              Using the "logic" that seems prevalent in these days we would never have had a war (no bad thing), never explored the world, never have gone out in boats fishing etc.

              Then we move onto the "protect the NHS", and surgeries reception staff now going to be asking nine questions before they even think of allowing you to see a doctor.

              A friend I go dog walking with told me this morning that his sister has been diagnosed with cancer. Should relly have been spotted a few months ago but "covid"

          2. scrubber

            Re: Safely reopen?

            Fine, use QALY (Quality Adjusted Life Years) as almost all public health and public safety initiatives did before covid.

            A disease that disproportionately affects the elderly and those with comorbidities will not come out as a major public priority unless you happen to be in government and think that a large headline number of deaths is impolitic, regardless of the actual value of those lives.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              QALY

              This.

              Most of the damage dealt by covid was due to our fear-fuelled overreaction to it. A bit like the self-destructive immune response of a patient with Sepsis.

              We have saved the care-home residents, who have a few extra years to live. Yay! But at what cost? We have crashed the economy, and at the same time nearly doubled our already-crippling national debt. (Which might have been fine when the interest rates are low, but those are set to rise). And with lower economic output we have multiplied the debt in GDP terms even without the extra borrowing!

              So by extending the lives of the elderly and sick, we have doomed the young to a grim future. But those young people don't generally vote tory anyway, so who cares about them, right?

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: QALY

                Sadly not entirely true because care homes became early hotspots. Either because of poor policy, like clearing hospital beds back to care homes, or because they're where the most vulnerable are clustered. But 'protecting hospitals' has also had other consequences due to appointments and operations being cancelled. Case in point being delays in diagnosis and treatment for cancers.

                By prioritising Covid, non-Covid deaths will have increased. Then again, some measures may have reduced mortality. Last winter didn't seem to have many flu deaths. Could that be down to masking and distancing, or because those deaths were coded as Covid instead? But that's just part of policy. Die for any reason within 28 days of a positive test and you're a Covid death. Or just having Covid mentioned on a death certificate, even without a test or autopsy.

                And of course 'breakthrough' infections amongst the fully vaccinated. If we also have more effective treatments, perhaps it's time to focus on that. Some would disagree, like the drug dealers looking forward to 3 month cycles that align nicely with quarterly profits an bonuses.

              2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                Re: QALY

                What a load of absolute bollocks!

                Children and adolescents bringing the virus home to kill their parents or grand parents won't thank you for your advice. Actually, most young people have no problem at all with the safeguards in place. It's old, lazy entitled and narcissistic farts that have problems following simple rules.

                1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: QALY

                  Thank you for the doom and gloom.

                  As for me, if I had not already established natural immunity by having recovered from the virus in early January of 2020 (2 weeks after a co-worker returned from China and had to go home sick half way through the day) I might consider DELIBERATELY "catching" the Omicron variant because it has been heavily reported that along with its much more infectious nature, it has ALSO evolved into a less deadly version of itself. And as such, it is likely that recovery from THIS version would at least partially inoculate you for the OTHER variants... just like a vaccine based on the first version of the Wuhan Flu (upon which the existing vaccines were based) should at least PARTIALLY protect you from serious infection from the variants.

                  Remember "Cow Pox"? It is probably the first documented vaccine, which protected people from getting smallpox. A brilliant British physician discoverd this in the late 1700's and by the early 1800's it was being used to eliminate smallpox. Something to consider. The practice of weakening "the cause of the disease" and exposing people to it (there's a name I cannot recall) had already been established but was not widely practiced. This was done with Cow Pox, and then "test" patients exposed to weakened smallpox (and did not catch it), similar to modern day clinical trials and double-blind tests. It really was cutting edge stuff at the time. And it saved lives, DELIBERATELY giving people a weaker version of a disease that caused the immune system to recognize the deadlier one.

                  But yeah, doom and gloom scares people into letting go of their freedoms and voting for people that manipulate them. Can't have any TRUTH or REAL cures, now can we?

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: QALY

                "Rates are rising. We should let the geezers go now. Too expensive."

        2. Def Silver badge

          Re: Safely reopen?

          If I get in my car and drive, fuck up, and end up in an accident that is my fault, I've affected the people with whom I had the accident. I do not affect anyone I happen to drive past on the way to the accident. If I survive, I would know what I had done and would (probably) feel remorse about the whole thing. I might even drive more carefully in the future to ensure I didn't make the same mistake again.

          If I have an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic viral infection and go shopping, for example, I potentially affect everyone I come in close contact with, and anyone who brushes past or touches a surface I touched or breathed on. I might not even realise I was sick, but my actions could ultimately kill people. Sure, you can be an asshole about the whole thing and dismiss those deaths as inevitable but then why should I give a shit about anything I do that might result in people dying. They're all going to die one day anyway, right?

          If governments actually wanted to stop this virus they could. Close all borders, require mandatory quarantine and testing for anyone wishing to enter the country, implement mandatory countrywide testing and isolate infected individuals or affected regions, provide real financial aid for those who need it. We'd be done in a few months tops. Just like Wuhan was.

          1. andy 103
            WTF?

            Re: Safely reopen?

            @Def

            Close all borders ...

            How exactly do you think this would help?! Yes, if you did do that (and all the other things you said) you may well reduce the number of cases significantly. The real problem - YOU CAN'T DO THIS FOREVER.

            In the same way if you banned all drivers from driving for 1 month, you can bet that month would have the lowest number of road accidents! See previous point about you can't do that forever.

            Given that Covid effectively started with one person passing it to one other person (2 people at that point) and then spread globally, as a result of normal human behavior, good luck if you think you can stop that happening again even after some kind of long global lockdown. Hint: this is why it didn't go away after previous lockdowns! Fucking idiot.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Safely reopen?

              @andy 103

              "The real problem - YOU CAN'T DO THIS FOREVER."

              This is the problem faced by countries who locked down excessively and thought they had done well. Only to find they are reliant on vaccine to build up immunity but instead of the single variation to protect from there are now many mutations.

              While Europe imposed its lockdowns and restricted the infection only to find they now dont have much immunity as another wave sweeps through.

              There are a couple of theories why the UK isnt being hit as badly (the AZ vaccine and late lockdown causing infections) but I am interested to see which is true or if we will take a delayed hit.

              1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                Re: Safely reopen?

                "This is the problem faced by countries who locked down excessively and thought they had done well. Only to find they are reliant on vaccine to build up immunity but instead of the single variation to protect from there are now many mutations."

                Well, now there ARE vaccines. There weren't any before. So I'd venture to say they did the right thing. Their death figures show this. And they have enjoyed considerable freedom from restrictions at times when we were in lockdown. They just handled it by killing flareups off quickly, instead of dragging their feet like we do here in UK.

                Indecisiveness due to piss-poor education of our politicians is to blame. Latin spouting morons can't grasp science -they always inject large proportions of magical, wishful thinking into everything.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: Safely reopen?

                  @anonymous boring coward

                  "Well, now there ARE vaccines"

                  Which have very limited time-frame for protection. As proved by boosters with a shortening time between to receive it. Longer lasting protection coming from actually catching covid, which to make the vaccines worth anything means people need to then catch the virus proper hoping the vaccine provides protection against the severity.

                  "There weren't any before. So I'd venture to say they did the right thing."

                  Except now they have the problem of opening up where they will be hit hard not only by earlier versions but also the mutations which the vaccine is not necessarily primed or directed against. Mutation not being only from the base version but mutation upon mutation.

                  "They just handled it by killing flareups off quickly, instead of dragging their feet like we do here in UK."

                  That dragging of feet resulting in people being infected is one of the theories as to why the UK isnt being hit as hard as the continent. People building immunity during the summer instead of storing up the problem until winter.

                  "Indecisiveness due to piss-poor education of our politicians is to blame"

                  That we can agree on although probably for different ideas of what they should have done.

                  1. Def Silver badge

                    Re: Safely reopen?

                    Which have very limited time-frame for protection. As proved by boosters with a shortening time between to receive it. Longer lasting protection coming from actually catching covid, which to make the vaccines worth anything means people need to then catch the virus proper hoping the vaccine provides protection against the severity.

                    Actually, recent research suggests vaccine immunity is far better at preventing future hospitalisation than having had a previous infection. And being vaccinated after recovering appears to give even greater benefits than just one or the other.

                    Of course, the problem with relying on natural immunity is the fact that you have to catch COVID in the first place. Do you want to find out you have an undiagnosed condition the hard way?

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Safely reopen?

                      @Def

                      "Actually, recent research suggests vaccine immunity is far better at preventing future hospitalisation than having had a previous infection."

                      Except having the infection seems to provide longer lasting immunity (apparently something the AZ vaccine is better at).

                      "And being vaccinated after recovering appears to give even greater benefits than just one or the other."

                      Thats good although the initial unvaccinated infection being the riskiest part of that strategy and a problem for places that lock themselves out of the world for protection.

                      "Of course, the problem with relying on natural immunity is the fact that you have to catch COVID in the first place."

                      Which as has been the knowledge from the start, its gonna happen. Covid cannot be stopped, cannot be defeated, cannot be removed. It is gonna burn its way through the population vaccinated or not, locked down or not, it is a global pandemic that will not be going away.

                      "Do you want to find out you have an undiagnosed condition the hard way?"

                      Scarily this is the trade off of the heavy lockdowns that people are dying from undiagnosed conditions because of the hysteria over covid. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out after an autopsy of the situation is conducted as people are dying of undiagnosed conditions, through difficulty getting diagnosed.

                      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                        Re: Safely reopen?

                        "Except having the infection seems to provide longer lasting immunity (apparently something the AZ vaccine is better at)."

                        Would you rather risk death, or Long Covid, than get a jab every 6 months or so? It's only a theory anyway, and the actual medical advice is to get the vaccine even if you have had Covid.

                        1. codejunky Silver badge

                          Re: Safely reopen?

                          @anonymous boring coward

                          "Would you rather risk death, or Long Covid, than get a jab every 6 months or so?"

                          You seem to be suggesting there is no risk of death or long covid from getting jabbed. Except even after being jabbed you will still catch covid, possibly die (but less chance) and possibly still get long covid. The fact remaining that we will still get covid, its a pandemic and you cant really avoid it.

                          "It's only a theory anyway, and the actual medical advice is to get the vaccine even if you have had Covid."

                          There are a lot of unknowns with very good reason. Looking back on this we will hopefully see which was the most deadly, the virus or the reaction.

            2. Def Silver badge

              Re: Safely reopen?

              Previous lockdowns didn't work because 1) there were still cases in country when they were lifted, and 2) borders were still completely open allowing newly infected people to bring the virus back in.

              If you want to stop a virus from being transmitted you only have to stop people from spreading it. Which can be done by identifying carriers (through systematic, widespread testing) and then isolate those infected. And before you even start doing that you have to have strict border controls in place to prevent new infections.

              It's not rocket science.

              If governments had had an iota of competence two years ago to nip this in the bud there wouldn't even have been a pandemic. As soon as the first cases in the EU were identified the entire continent should have been closed. All cases traced and isolated. Two months, we would have been done. But instead we've had two years of this bullshit with still no end in sight.

              1. andy 103
                Pint

                Re: Safely reopen?

                @Def

                "As soon as the first cases in the EU were identified the entire continent should have been closed. All cases traced and isolated. Two months, we would have been done."

                This is the most Wetherspoons-like solution to a problem I've read in a while.

                Enjoy your 13th pint of Abbot ale, Frank Gallagher. Maybe you should be PM as well then we can simplify everything to a level where everything will be fine forever.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Safely reopen?

                "It's not rocket science."

                No it isn't. It's not as easy as that.

                Undoubtedly fast mass international and intercontinental travel have enables diseases to spread fast than they have in the past. And undoubtedly many diseases in the past burned out completely by killing off the isolated population in which they emerged in sufficient numbers to stop propagation. But the reality is that you'll always be chasing. You don't catch all contacts with testing because putting together the tests let alone the number of test kits in time. On the whole the medical technology came on stream pretty well as fast as it could. But epidemiology, for instance, needs to get data from how the actual disease works - prior to that they only have general-purpose models based on different pathogens. Treatments need to be developed and tested. Test kits need to be developed and tested.

              3. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

                Re: Safely reopen?

                --But instead we've had two years of this bullshit with still no end in sight.--

                Because the media (main stream and social) keep banging on about how we should be scared and people keep believing them rather than turning their brains back on.

                1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                  Re: Safely reopen?

                  "Because the media (main stream and social) keep banging on about how we should be scared and people keep believing them rather than turning their brains back on."

                  I'll tell you what really scares me. It's the 60+ semi-senile gammon type that can't be bothered with putting on a mask, but must creep up on you like he wanted a snog, only to talk to you. Can't take a hint. Totally self centred, and convinced he's brilliant in every way, and knows better than any expert how things work.

                  Many of you posting here, it seems.

            3. staringatclouds

              Re: Safely reopen?

              andu 103 : "In the same way if you banned all drivers from driving for 1 month, you can bet that month would have the lowest number of road accidents! See previous point about you can't do that forever."

              The problem with that analogy is

              Covid will die out in the population if it's not given a chance to spread for about a month

              Whereas drivers won't become safer drivers, and therefore less likely to have accidents, after a month off

              And the reason Covid didn't die out with previous lockdowns is they weren't coordinated globally, sometimes they weren't coordinated nationally, and there were always selfish tossers who didn't think the rules apply to them, so there was always a new virus load spreading somewhere

              Bring on the downvotes

        3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Safely reopen?

          "approx 1800 deaths on UK roads."

          "The number of deaths "due to Covid" by which we can only realistically count those with no underlying health conditions** in the first lockdown was around 4400."

          So it's (at least) twice as deadly. Probably more as you've discounted all the "with covid" deaths. BUT that's WITH all the restrictions we endure(d). Without those restrictions it would probably have been massively higher.

        4. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Safely reopen?

          @andy 103

          .. "no underlying health conditions" - would have died anyway

          So you don't care about those with other health issues?

          .. which could be all sorts of things

          I have asthma (ironically from doing lots of "healthy" swimming as a kid / teen to a high level (county standard), back then chlorination levels in pools were higher than now & a healthy sport ended up causing lung damage - even with the lower chlorine levels these days you will find a lot of world class swimmers have asthma / lung damage to some extent - when you are really pushing yourself then you inhale a lot of air (with its tiny amount of acid from the chlorine treatment) - far higher volumes than a casual swimmer & with heavy breathing in damage to "deeper" areas of the lungs as opposed to less damage on a shallow inhale) so by your logic I don't matter, marvellous*

          * Though as I am still far more active than the average person (today has been a low exercise day due to icy roads stopping me in the morning as too unsafe but still did 20k on the bike at lunch when ice had melted) probably in a far better physical state of health than many people with no official co-morbidity, but still don't particularly want to take the risk with a disease that has a nasty respiratory component.

        5. MMalik

          Re: Safely reopen?

          Actually, working from home is indeed a solution (to various other issues as well as the pandemic). Given that it's been successfully tested under adverse conditions (i.e. it was started in a rush with little time for planning and initial implementation) and worked well for nearly two years, there's no reason it should't be continued indefinitely. (Middle-management angst at not having their egos boosted by the physical presence of inferiors does not count as a "reason".)

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Safely reopen?

        "Until the virus settles down into a stable variant, we won't have any stability"

        Never going to happen. Just like 'normal' influenza, there's going to be at least 1 new strain per year for the foreseeable future, and any vaccine developed will be using an educated guess as a moving target, that more likely than not is going to be rather ineffective.

        There's no returning to pre-2019 status. Ever.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Safely reopen?

          We have a great many viruses that don't pose great problems, that are "stable". Why?

          Did the more dangerous ones that emerged in the past die out because, in a time when they emerged fast long distance mass travel didn't exist so they burned through too much of the community where they emerged?

          Or did they mutate to a state where they could live with new hosts? Remember, for instance, that in their natural hosts they are "stable" whatever that might mean.

          I think that a major problem now is that we propagate viruses faster than they can evolve to adapt to us as a host. Note that - we propagate them, we don't simply allow them to propagate.

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Safely reopen?

          Not true. All we need is a variant with mutations that allow it to spread better, but also cause less severe disease. It is too soon to know for sure, but early indications give reason for hope that omicron may be that variant. If we have something that isn't as bad so it isn't overwhelming hospitals and causing a lot of deaths, then it becomes just anther strain of flu for all practical purposes.

          If omicron spreads better than delta, and all indications so far are that it does, it will outcompete delta and replace it just like delta outcompeted alpha and alpha outcompeted the original strain. Any further mutations to omicron to create a new strain that causes worse disease would have to be accompanied by mutations to make it even more virulent or that new strain won't be able to outcompete omicron.

          I read something from a doctor last week who is 100% sure that based on the number of mutations omicron has versus any other strain that's been observed, it had to have originated in someone who was sick for a long time with a weakened immune system unable to clear the disease. That person was likely isolated from the general public so it wasn't spread as it was evolving in their body until it reached the "end product" of omicron after months of mutation. That's the only explanation he could find for something appearing with so many more mutations than all other strains.

          It makes sense it would appear in a place where a higher number of people have HIV, which weakens the immune system in exactly the way that would be needed.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Safely reopen?

      The problem is people.

      They do not respond to logic and statistics as the "rational actors" that many models would like to assume. Not only is there fear of new risks versus old, but also there is the issue of employer's liability.

      1. scrubber

        Re: Safely reopen?

        Actually, people do respond rather well to their own view of risk. The problem is models which do not include people changing behaviour in the face of apparent risks or even things like school holidays. hence the apocalyptic predictions of at least 100k cases per day and half a million deaths leading to the disastrous policies of lockdowns, vaccine passports, mandatory vaccinations, and internment camps.

        Looking at the stats, case numbers were falling before lockdown measures were taken in the UK suggesting the reduction was due to people's behaviour changing and not government rules.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Safely reopen?

          "Actually, people do respond rather well to their own view of risk."

          And some have irrational views of it while others have irrational responses.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Safely reopen?

          Actually, people do respond rather well to their own view of risk

          Yeah, right... The problem is that most people have really bad notions of risk. They essentially don't understand small probabilities, or large numbers. They feel like one in a thousand should be about half of one in a hundred. They misinterpret statistics. They can't really grasp out how much a billion is. And I'm not sure where you saw that "case numbers were falling"; the case numbers have been going randomly up and down since July, and they're about as high as they've ever been.

        3. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Safely reopen?

          Even if you believe they respond well to their own assessment of risk, some people fail to or refuse to account for the risk they impose on others. Refusing to wear a mask or be vaccinated to help society stop the spread increases the risk on those around you similar to drunk driving.

          If you could only kill yourself driving drunk it wouldn't carry the same penalties or stigma, it does because sometimes drunk drivers injure or kill innocents who happen to cross their path. The same is true for covid, though someone unknowingly spreading a virus can't be so clearly linked to the person who breathed in air they exhaled, caught covid, and passed it to others, a percentage of whom will die from it. At least not unless that person is a family member, and even after testing positive themselves would probably resist accepting they were to blame and say "they could have got it anywhere".

          1. scrubber

            Re: Safely reopen?

            I look forward to you posting a link to a peer reviewed scientific paper showing the efficacy of face coverings (i.e. non-surgical masks). And a pithy response as to why the unvaccinated are now being infected less per capita than the vaccinated (ons stats).

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: Safely reopen?

              The former you can look up yourself. The latter is complete and utter fiction. Counties that voted for Trump are being infected 3x the rate of counties that voted for Biden. Trump inspired lies are killing his supporters, but he doesn't care so long as the controversy benefits him.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Safely reopen?

      This is the latest UK data:-

      https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19latestinsights/deaths

      The rate of deaths (three quarters of the way down the page, you can find "Deaths by age" to get to it immediately) is statistically pretty much zero until you get to the 25-44 age group which has a low rate of deaths, with the 44-54 age group still being relatively low. The 55-64 age group has ~50% more deaths than both of the previous age groups combined, and the 65 to 74, 75 to 84 and 85+ groups have progressively higher death tolls.

      If you look up a bit from that (or find "Pre-existing health conditions") then it appears to suggest that a reasonable policy compromise would appear to be to move to very heavily encouraging work from home for anybody over either 44 or 54 depending on where you draw the line, and also heavily encouraging WFH for anybody under that with any of the pre-existing conditions listed above that age chart, with additional financial support if required for retraining the younger vulnerable types from jobs that can't be done remotely to jobs that can.

      I suspect that the major cause of the mortality rate in younger age groups is what is being referred to as "pre-existing conditions" in the older age groups which sounds intuitively right; most of the people I know with those diseases are in the older age groups.

    4. iron Silver badge

      Re: Safely reopen?

      To take your idea to its logical conclusion... we shouldn't bother with life saving surgery or prosecuting murderers because those people could have died in a lorry crash.

    5. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Safely reopen?

      I agree, in principle. Eradication is patently unfeasible, so we ought to figure out, as rationally as possible, what balance we want to aim for.

      Ideally, we'd impose enough restrictions to ensure that hospitals don't get swamped by covid cases, including treatment of long-covid sufferers, but not much more restrictions than that.

      The problem is that nobody really knows how to get to that point and stay there. We don't have truly reliable models of how the pandemic will respond to any given policy. This is nobody's fault, it's just a really bloody hard problem. Anyone who says "just do that, and this will happen" is overstating their confidence.

      And if you get a policy wrong, you'll only know after a month, at which point any correction will also take a month before it undoes the damage. Given that, erring on the side of caution makes at least some sense.

      The pandemic is also really hard to manage politically, because the exponential nature of the problem is counterintuitive, hard to explain. See https://xkcd.com/2395/ .

    6. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Safely reopen?

      How are those blinkers working for your, then? Very well, it seems?

      Try reading up on how hospitals are delaying millions of procedures due to being overwhelmed by UNVACCINATED morons with Covid.

      You can't go back to normal, when normal means people dying in droves outside hospital care.

  2. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    Please can you refer to the new Facebook by its official name, TAFKAF.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      What's the A in TAFKAF?

      The Abomination Formerly Known As Facebook?

  3. big_D Silver badge

    On-again-off-again

    We were back to most people being in the office, now we are going back to moving many of them into home office again.

    IT was on a rota with 2 people in the office, the others at home, so there was someone on site to deal with immediate problems and 2 offsite, if one team came down with the virus, the other was still active. We've now gone back to 1 person in the office, the rest in home office, on a rotating basis. Weighing HGVs in and out at the gate and printing their documentation and handing it over, for example, can't be done 100% remotely, let alone the actual people on the production line.

    We are a manufacturing company, so many departments just can't go into home office, or you can't put all of them in home office. We use 1 person per office, where we can, or large offices (6 persons) with 2 persons in the office. Priority for home office is given to the vulnerable - those that can't be vaccinated, E.g. autoimmune diseases, expectant mothers etc.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: On-again-off-again

      Priority for home office is given to the vulnerable - those that can't be vaccinated, E.g. autoimmune diseases, expectant mothers etc.

      Many people in those groups* can now be vaccinated.

      * Obviously check with your doctor if you're in one of these groups rather than take medical advice from a random Commentard....

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: On-again-off-again

        "..., expectant mothers etc.

        Many people in those groups can now be vaccinated."

        The message to expectant mothers seems to be that they can and should get vaccinated. That keeps getting reinforced from mothers who put it off because they were pregnant got infected and came out of their induced coma to find they'd had a caesarean some time ago and are only now being reunited with their child. No such reports from those who didn't survive of course.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: On-again-off-again

        My ex-neighbour was recovering from cancer, she was vaccinated and didn't develop any anti-bodies.

        She went into hospital for a check-up and was infected whilst under observation, spending the next 2 months in a coma.

        There is a difference between being physically able to take the vaccination and it actually working, because of other medical conditions.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WFH is more the new norm for most services companies now

    My shop just couldn't be dealing with it, they'd already begun planning more WFH before COVID hit. COVID came out of nowhere and so we simply accelerated the company plans for more WFH and it took about 3 days to move nearly 800 to WFH. Now we've sold off office space, we now have about 25% the space we had pre-COVID and average of 90% WFH rate on a typical day.

  5. codejunky Silver badge

    The losing battle

    Working from home is not a bad thing in itself (some people like it others dont) but as a means to stop the virus is just stupid. I am amused at how correct the assessment was at the very beginning. That it will burn its way through the population, people wont stand for imposing restrictions for too long, it will keep mutating and so stay with us.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: The losing battle

      Working from home, and all other lock-down measures were never about STOPPING the virus.

      All they do is bring the infection rate down to a point where (a) you can possibly manage hospital admissions and (b) buy time to develop vaccines to reduce the number/impact of infections and/or drug treatments to mitigate the worst impact of the disease.

      They are far from ideal due to the other economic and metal health impact they have, but to ignore them and 'go Brazilian' on COVID is not really such a good option either.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: The losing battle

        @Paul Crawford

        "Working from home, and all other lock-down measures were never about STOPPING the virus."

        Agreed. Thats why its concerning when some people talk about stopping the virus (one 'expert' using the words 'defeating the virus').

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The losing battle

      "Working from home is not a bad thing in itself"

      Spoken like an entitled, privileged elitist not living back with parents, in digs or in shared accommodation.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Whether COVID ever gets under control is debatable, vaccines slow it down somewhat and more importantsly reduce the number of people then end up in ICU but are by no means the magic bullet that they were hoping for to be able to slow down transmission. We will just have to learn to live with it at some point, and that will inevitable mean people dying, although most of those will either be unvaccinated (Tuff luck if they are choosing not to take the vaccine) or have other underlying conditions.

    In regarding WFH, if we are going to meet targets for reducing CO2 and combatting climate change then its a good option for those industries where it can be implemented. For a tech company like Google it reduces 'unnecessary' journeys for someone to sit at a desk answering phones and tapping away at a PC for 8 hours at day in an office when they can do the same thing from home. which has been proved by a mass unplanned roll out of WFH did reduce the amount of traffic on the roads.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "We will just have to learn to live with it at some point"

      I suppose it depends on what the "living with it" entails. If it means learning to live with the notion that you might feel a bit ill and a few hours later the last thing you see is someone putting you into a medically induced coma that might not be an acceptable lesson.

      If an alternative is that the cities we have developed over the last century and a half or so and particularly over the post WWII period are not a sustainable way of living then it might just have done us a favour.

      We should also learn the lesson that this is not the only disease to come out of nowhere, it isn't the first, it won't be the last. We need to learn the lessons of how to minimise the impact of that. How saving face by denying it exists for a few weeks is a bad idea. How disinformation about treatments is a bad idea. How resisting communal action to slow spread is a bad idea. And how jetting around the world so readily is also a bad idea.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        @Doctor Syntax

        "We should also learn the lesson that this is not the only disease to come out of nowhere"

        I hope that was satire. We know where it came from. Thats why fun is poked at the 'virus of unknown origin'. Why there was a sudden slapping of Facebook/twitter from the right and silence from the left over 'fact checking'. Also why Fauci takes so much flack.

        1. Def Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: @Doctor Syntax

          Err. no. We don't know where it came from. We know where the first human cases were, but that doesn't give us the original host.

          It took us 15 years to trace the original SARS-CoV-1 virus back to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats. Don't expect to know the origins of SARS-CoV-2 anytime soon.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: @Doctor Syntax

            @Def

            "Err. no. We don't know where it came from"

            We know the country, we know the area, we know the lab nearby which was doing experiments on creating increasingly infectious coronaviruses. We know some people had been infected with the same symptoms in China months before the outbreak, we know scientists who supplied the suppressed information about the virus were arrested, that China refused to cooperate. There is an accusation that the Chinese insisted the lab was only allowed to be mentioned if it was reported as not being the source.

            So we may not know the specific animal or lab experiment that went wrong and due to Chinese cooperation probably wont ever know. But yes we know how we got here with a world wide pandemic and its likely source.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: @Doctor Syntax

          OK, tell me when and where the next one's coming from.

          Would you prefer a different idiom such as "out of the blue"?

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: @Doctor Syntax

            @Doctor Syntax

            "Would you prefer a different idiom such as "out of the blue"?"

            Yeah, its the ambiguity of 'not knowing where it came from' where I interpreted location. Which we know the country, area and have a lab doing experiments on such as point of interest in the area.

            When another comes is a good question but there isnt a lot we can do about it if the country it begins in covers it up instead of stopping the infection at the point of origin.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the muscle memory of being in the office"

    Do they keep bumping into the walls when they forget? Or just the glass ceilings?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Hmm. Wonder if there a stats for lost profits amongst photocopier and printer renters? Or just coffee pod sales? Fancy offices seemed to have those while my home office made do with 1kg tins of instant.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        A downvote for flagrant instant coffee usage...

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Bah humbug. What's inside the pod, if not overpriced instant? Which may or may not also be CaaS and include DRM. Alternatively, instant comes from a bulk dispenser, with strength adjustable not by button, but by choice of spoon size. I did also try making my own with a vacuum drier before that broke, possibly in a cause & effect way. Which I guess also demonstrates that some production is worth outsourcing.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I suppose working in your home office is a bit like being in business in your own right in that you can make choices like that. Not in as many things but in some. If you prefer more expensive coffee then you can use some of the money you saved on commuting to buy it.

        Personally, I'll keep to tea. Coffee's far too complicated with pods, flat whites & goodness knows what else.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      The "muscle memory" is the virtual cap doffing and forelock tugging. What a nightmare if social hierarchy breaks down!

  8. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    The managerial types, who are brilliant at wasting peoples' time with endless business speech, are worried about their looming irrelevance. They push to get people back so they can waste some more of their time and feel important. Avoiding spreading the virus is not that important to them.

    1. MMalik

      The push to drive the worker bees back into the hives comes from 1)empty-suit managers who lack the mental flexibility to adjust to change and 2)businesses that are taking losses on the softening commercial real-estate market.

  9. AndrewCappo

    Astonished at the number of pro-plague polemicists demanding all re-enter the office, with no restrictions, being upvoted on this here forum.

    So much for being a tech-based board where people longed for the ability to work remote — away from Dennis and the other meddling middle managers, not to mention Harold and the beancounters.

  10. codejunky Silver badge

    Good news

    It looks like the pushback against federal overreach is showing some success-

    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/12/07/vaccine-mandates-federal-contractors-523916

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