“Contain, delay and mitigate any outbreak”

These words from Public Health England have framed policy so far. The first phase (Contain)  saw efforts to trace, test and isolate anyone carrying the virus and the people they had met. The second phase (Delay) has seen big efforts to impede the spread of the virus by keeping people apart and keeping them from  places of work as well as from entertainment. The final phase (Mitigate) is to learn to live with the disease, limiting its spreads with sensible precautions  with enough capacity to treat patients who do get it whilst we await vaccinations.

Their initial plan played down the extent of the controls needed for the second phase we are now in.  They told us on March 3 that if we got to this stage it would mean “people distancing strategies such as school closures, encouraging greater home working, reducing the number of large social gatherings- whilst ensuring the country’s ability to run as normally as possible”.  They seemed to move on from  the bit about as near normal as possible when they came to design the detail of the lock down. It emerged it entailed closing all physical shops other than food and medicines, stopping the car and homes markets  and much else besides.  They promised  to “implement a distribution strategy for the UK’s stockpiles of key medicines and equipment” . After early issues with inadequate supplies the army was brought in to help and orders stepped up  to business. .

The idea of  delaying the virus  was to reduce “the risk of overlapping with seasonal flu and other challenges that the colder months bring”. This implies they expected to lift the controls come late Spring and early summer.

We now see some other countries deciding to relax their controls progressively  but carefully in the next few weeks. China has done so.  Austria has just set out a timetable starting next week by re opening lots of small shops. Sweden and South Korea have not gone very far in imposing controls in the first place though Sweden is now taking more powers. The issue is what is the trigger to start relaxing the controls? Is it a tailing off in the death rate? A tailing off in the recorded number of new infections? How much value can we place on the numbers for new infections when most people that get it stay at home and are not tested?

We do need greater visibility on how this crucial call will be made. Some will argue the controls must go on for longer to avoid a possible second wave. Others will point to the big economic damage delays in getting back to work creates. As there was always a three phase strategy it would at least be good to know what the trigger is for going to the third phase and putting Shut Down  UK behind us.

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226 Comments

  1. Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    A widely available vaccine is probably too far away. However, from what I have read, a widely available drug may be near. That could be the trigger.

    • Hope
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Borders, especially Airports have not been and were not closed. There was no testing or quarantine of people who arrived from virus hotspots. Thousands came in and went straight to public transport, some even videoed themselves!

      Only people tested upon arrival were illegal economic people in dinghys from France!

      4,000 prisoners released after medical officer Harries said on TV family members without symptoms not allowed to visit other family me,bets without symptoms. But Buckland thought it was okay for prisoners to be treated better than law abiding citizens!

      How many ministers or MPs have gone to second homes after lock down? I saw Osborn on TV last where it claimed he was in Somerset, does he live there now or is it a bolt Hole? I thought he was against the Turnip Taliban?

      JR, would you like to revise the false claim about containment?

    • Richard
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Hector Drummond has some clear graphs: “of the respiratory death figures from the ONS figures for England and Wales up to March 27, 2020 (end of week 13)… (the ONS’s Covid-19 deaths are neither a subset of respiratory deaths nor additional to it, but they will partly overlap.)
      What’s astonishing about this graph is that despite there being 539 deaths in the Covid-19 category for week 13, the respiratory deaths total for that week is totally normal… up to 27 March there have been 3284 less respiratory deaths in 2020 than the five-year average.”
      As he says: “Even I am astonished by these graphs. I was expecting to see something in the graphs by week 13, even if I wasn’t expecting anything scary. But there’s just nothing. And you can’t say the lockdown caused this, because the UK lockdown had only been going for four days by this time. We’ve locked down the country for a supposed mass killer that still isn’t visible in the stats… why isn’t the ONS doing graphs like these?” https://hectordrummond.com/2020/04/08/week-13-ons-graphs-still-nothing/
      With a similar story in the USA & Europe: http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2020/04/06/an-exit-strategy/#comment-1103691

      The UK has been shut down on the basis of very misleading data.

      • APL
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Richard: “What’s astonishing about this graph is that despite there being 539 deaths in the Covid-19 category for week 13, the respiratory deaths total for that week is totally normal… up to 27 March there have been 3284 less respiratory deaths in 2020 than the five-year average.”

        Yes.

        This has all been predicated on scare tactics.

        And the BBC has been complicit in the lie.

        2014/2015 was the ‘high water’ mark for respiratory deaths in January – with nearly twelve thousand in that month alone.

    • Data Please
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I think that it will be other countries that lead the way.

      Make breakthroughs with validating drugs that currently anecdotally can alleviate symptoms or kill the virus or even find more existing drugs to do the same or explore the BCG vaccine thats now being mooted.

      Similarly pave the way on testing turnround.

      I read an article yesterday :

      https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-abbott/abbott-wins-u-s-approval-for-test-that-can-detect-coronavirus-in-minutes-idUKKBN21F014

      that indicates that a USA laboratory has already gained FDA approval for a mobile device that:

      “You can get a positive result in five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes.”

      I think that its these and similar breakthroughs that will ultimately remove the Public Sector vice like grip from around this nation’s throat, because there’ll be too much evidence and case history (particularly from a rabidly litigious country like the USA) for them to attempt to withold such advances here.

      However, I think it means we’ll be way behind the curve and back of the queue for supplies etc and I think we’ll probably end up as one of the most damaged economies amongst the leaders at the start of the crisis.

      I’m no longer holding out much hope that our Public Bodies will be at the front of the charge.

      However, I think public support for an endless lockdown will soon evaporate when they see other countries getting back on their feet, with economies in far greater shape, whilst we’re still spouting mantra and little else.

      Frankly, I will no longer trust the institutions that I thought were there to protect us unless there’s serious radical reform.

  2. Iain Gill
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    the approach to changing the lockdown approach needs to be “war gamed” or “computer modelled” in lots of dimensions before we do it. it should be based on the best computer model we can do, which is iteratively updated as we learn more about the virus.
    decisions should not be made by politicians plucking straws out of the national game of kerplunk.
    the lock down is there to allow expansion of healthcare resources, work on therapies & vaccines, and for us to put lots of thought into changing lockdown moving forward.
    so the computer model should be made public domain, and peer review encouraged. we should ask some other universities to look at it in parallel without adding to the burden of the imperial college team.
    Fauci should be listened to carefully, he knows what he is talking about, and has been saying the truth regardless of his powerful boss saying strange things. Fauci last night, for instance, said that he doesnt know for sure yet, as more info will emerge, but his optimistic prediction would be that schools could reopen in the autumn BUT not back to the way they were, rather, back with testing, tracing contacts, etc in place. This is entirely what the UK should be thinking too. We need our equivalent to Fauci, our chief medical officer is not a specialist in the same way he is.
    So politicians, 1 get the model source code made public domain 2 encourage peer review of the model 3 study the model yourselves 4 push for a specialist like Fauci at the top and visible so that you can question him 5 dont just pick straws out of the national kerplunk game
    Thanks

  3. Mark B
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    We need to look at the knowns and not the unknowns. Those talking of a second wave are talking an unknown. They have no scientific knowledge and are merely fear mongering. What is known is the damage to the economy if this continues. This can be measured by the number of companies going into insolvency and the levels of people claiming unemployment benefit.

    I believe that the government needs to put out a ‘positive’ plan to reopen the economy. Construction sites, small business and the self employed (eg window cleaner) where some social distancing can easily be maintained would send a ‘positive’ message to markets that the UK is open for business and will return to full normality at a given date.

    Sir John. I cannot stress enough that now is the time for Ministers and others to put out cautious but positive messages. This will encourage both employers and investors to keep faith and lessen the damage this shutdown has caused. The media, for their own selfish ends, have been played this drama for all its worth. It is time to start to counter this negativity and brush the doom mongers aside.

  4. Iain Gill
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Oh and dont make any decisions based on what China says they are doing. They are a communist dictatorship. You have no idea what is really going on there.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      And the BBC fails to scrutinise China or its information. I doubt many know the name Xi Jinping. The BBC might add a disclaimer to Chinese figures “… that’s if they are to be believed” but nothing at all like the scrutiny undertaken in a news report followed by journalist interpretation and then expert analysis directed at Trump or Boris.

      Where is the scrutiny of Chinese information and when do the BBC go into detail about what went wrong with the World Health Organisation ?

      Up until mid January the WHO were telling us that this was not a contagious disease between humans and based on this left wingers (Nancy Pelosi) were shaking hands and hugging people in viral hot spots in New York (and others in Italy) expressing their usual fears about a ‘right wing’ backlash that is a figment of their fevered imaginations.

  5. agricola
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Not an easy one. Todays hospitalisations and death rate are a result of what may have happened to the patient ten or fifteen days previosly. We need to see a definite downward trend in the numbers to about half the level they peaked at before any confidence can be shown in a relaxation. Much is also down to the sensible behavior of the people during the coming out of it stage. Any failure in the economy and it’s ability to resume is down to the inadequacy of the financial measures put in place to avoid it or the agencies tasked with applying it. As ever the small print was more debillitating than the rhetoric.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Agricola,

      Why?

      The Govt has given no explanation of this, it has not explained any consideration of the impact of its actions (e.g supply side shocks can suppress growth and hence gains in life expectancy for decades). Even the simple case of delaying a hip.operation for a year can take more than a year of quality life away from a person. It is obviously complex and the Govt is in a tough position, but by now one would have thought that a.more complete cost-benefit analysis would have been presented. All we get is one qualitative metric – “the curve”.

  6. SM
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    I am totally in favour of a measured but prompt return to normal, no matter where in the globe.

    It’s all very well saying how precious individuals’ lives are, but now there are reports that medical care is being diverted from those with other dire maladies, prioritising covid19 patients, so doctors are being constantly required to justify their ethical position while carrying out their professional duties. If you are in excruciating pain because of an arthritic hip, would you be happy to have your elective but curative surgery cancelled because a covid19 infected patient with only 50% recovery chance got priority over your ITU bed/facilities needs?

    Given the financial support (what an inadequate word!) every country is trying to give to its economy, nations are going to need people going back to work as soon as possible – no point in keeping people alive and then letting them starve or freeze to death because there’s no way of earning a living and the economic burden of the state has caused collapse.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Also the signals it sends to China and Russia about our mettle are utterly awful.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      The medical profession are bound by an ethical code.

      They can’t just make it up as they go along.

  7. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    The first phase was to leave the airports open to allow the jet set to distribute the disease all over the country. Hardly “Contain”.
    The delay phase we are in isn’t so much to limit the disease, but to permit the NHS to acquire the disease in its corridors, so the staff either catch the disease and hopefully recover, or maintain hygiene so they don’t infect more patients.
    Once the disease has run its course through the NHS, the isolation rules can be relaxed, with the NHS able to cope with the infections spreading through the community.
    If the NHS falls over, that looks bad for the Government. Remember, this isn’t about the science, it’s about the ballot box.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Remember, this isn’t about the science, it’s about the ballot box.

      Quite – the polling science says that over run hospitals bring down the government faster than a tanked economy that they can blame on the virus support

      • Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Nobody has really experienced a tanked economy. The Govt got away with murder in 2008 when they managed to blame the bankers. And they cushioned the issue with massive intervention.
        This one is ‘too big to catch’ but at least we don’t have to fund our share of the collapsed EU – having left.
        (I hope I am right about that JR – in spite of being one transition’)

  8. DOMINIC
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    The public sector is using this issue to embed itself, to protect itself from reform and to encourage an uncritical environment to immunise itself from critical analysis. From the NHS right through to the BBC. The political aspects of this event are of concern to those who believe that the political State and its components are a threat and have been for many years.

    We are being exposed to public ethos propaganda by a political public sector that acts like a political organisation and people mustn’t be deceived by it

  9. Jeff12
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Once the restrictions are lifted we then have to deal with supply shortages, massive unemplyment, bankruptcies, hyperinflation and all the other fallout from the extreme panic.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Not to forget those who turned this drama into said crisis.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Dr Hillary and Good Morning Britain are going on and on yet again about the “wonderful NHS”. If it is so wonderful to have a state run, top down, virtual monopoly NHS then why on earth was it’s pandemic planning so absolutely pathetic? Criminally negligent in my opinion. Why is it so lacking in ICU capacity, ventilators, testing capacity, PPE, ECMO ….. compared to most (rather more sensibly run) health care systems around the world in comparably rich countries? Why is it apparently very sick people’s duty to “protect the NHS” by staying at home and not bothering them? Just stay in the nursing home or at home and die please seems to be the main message.

    The way to improve health care (and get more money into it) in the UK is more freedom and choice for patients and for the NHS to charge the patients (the ones who can afford to pay or can insure). More of the socialist monopoly NHS rationing system is not the answer at all.

    Having said this there are clearly many excellent and hard working clinical staff within the NHS, but they too are failed by the NHS structures, funding and management systems.

    Emotion over brain every time with the NHS alas. No politicians has the courage to do anything to change it. Boris it seems has fallen for the NHS “the Envy of the World” religion too it seems. Let us hope he has the courage to ditch this, HS2 and his climate alarmist, green crap lunacy too one he recovers. Plus reform the dire propaganda organisation the BBC.

    • Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      The NHS did not value its staff sufficiently to spend .002% of its income to provide proper protective gear for them.
      A proper insurance scheme (where the bidders are not allowed to cherrypick but have to accept the sick) works wonderfully. In addition the insurance company makes sure that the standards are up to scratch, and that only those insured i.e. the British, are treated. See Germany!

  11. oldtimer
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Good questions. It will be difficult to get good answers if, as today’s papers suggest, there is a power vacuum at the top of government as long as the PM remains in intensive care.

    Yesterday’s briefing was ambiguous. Answers to some of the journalists’ question implied that the review expected after the coming weekend would be deferred. This would be a mistake and betrayal of trust.

    No one mentioned the state of play of the Welcome Foundation/Portion Down survey, based on its advanced antibody testing, into the spread of the disease. Last week Mr Hancock said the results of the first survey would be available early this week and would be shared with the public. Failure to follow up this commitment would also be a mistake and betrayal of trust.

    Fear and ignorance of the Corona virus needs to be replaced with confidence and knowledge to inform future decisions on public policy. The shutdown is immensely damaging to NHS patients suffering other conditions, to the wider national well being not to mention to people’s ability to earn a living. The government will need decisive leadership to make the switch from phase 2 to phase 3.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Fear and ignorance of the Corona virus needs to be replaced with confidence and knowledge . . .

      I wholeheartedly agree.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    The success rates of ventilators in London is disappointing. This 6 minute video might explain why.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9GYTc53r2o

    • Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Boris might be lucky to have escaped the ventilator. So did my brother-in-law in hospital for 4 days first week of Feb with Coronavirus.

    • APL
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Anon: “The success rates of ventilators in London is disappointing.”

      If you are on a ventilator it’s because you are in a bad way already. In the optimum circumstance, survival rate is about 50%. Covid-19 probably not much better than 10%

  13. Libertarian
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Oh look Marty Andy Newmania Maggs etc

    The president of the European Research Council — the EU’s top scientist — has resigned after failing to persuade Brussels to set up a large-scale scientific programme to fight Covid-19.

    Professor Mauro Ferrari, who started a four-year term as leader of Europe’s flagship scientific institution on January 1, submitted his resignation to EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday afternoon.

    I have been extremely disappointed by the European response to Covid-19,” he said in a statement to the Financial Times. “I arrived at the ERC a fervent supporter of the EU [but] the Covid-19 crisis completely changed my views, though the ideals of international collaboration I continue to support with enthusiasm.

    • Andy
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Health is a national competence. This means the EU is not responsible for dealing with it. This is why you have got different strategies in different countries – some more successful than others.

      Which all renders the arguments of Brexiteers even more irrelevant. You complain that the EU is too controlling. And then you complain that it doesn’t control enough. Anyway, it is not your business. You left.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Yet it didn’t even have a strategy or a pre determined policy or procedure to guide member states.
        It just failed.

        • bill brown
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:12 am | Permalink

          Edward2

          Yes, Andy seems to push boundaries too far. But your all encompassing know it all with , lots of factual mistakes is pretty boring

          • Edward2
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

            bill,
            Hilariously your post is exactly what you accuse me of .

            No facts or analysis to back up your assertion of my “factual mistakes”

      • Fred H
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        we left, but you are still in it?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I sympathise with him.

      However, he wanted the European Union to act beyond its authority of the Treaties as I understand it.

      What would you have said then?

      It’s clear that society is going to have to reorganise itself radically, both at the national and international level, including the European Union. This is an illustration as to why.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        Another weak attempt by you Martin, to try to say the EU is a benign granddad sort of organisation just because it went to the bathroom whilst the biggest crisis to hit Europe in decades happened.

        • bill brown
          Posted April 10, 2020 at 2:29 am | Permalink

          Edward 2
          All EU members will eventually have to join the EURO, which is not actually the case, just on fact where you are wrong of several

          • Edward2
            Posted April 10, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            What are you going on about bill?
            I never mentioned the euro.

  14. jerry
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    You make it sound like PHE is a totally autonomous entity, it is not, being an executive agency of the DfH and thus under the over all control of the Govt and their policies (just as the CMO is). If there has been any failings the buck stops at 10 Downing Street, and ultimately the party of Govt.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      jerry, I disagree with you, the heads of the executive agency need to stand up and be counted for their inaction.

      The problem with big organisations is that buck-passing goes on unremarked, why are the heads on £200,000 per year if they have no responsibility for anything? If the buck stopped with me and I was a minister I’d get rid of the entire agency and say ok I’ll take the reward and do it myself.

      • jerry
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        @a-tracy; But such a Executive Agency is not free to do as they please, they are constrained by both the policies and budgets set by the govt of the day. But you are correct about big organisations passing the buck, and they don’t come any bigger than the govt of the day who had three to plan for the predicted Coronavirus pandemic, even if we ignore the disregarded 2016 stress-test for a once in a 100 years severe Flu pandemic.

        Ignoring both the PHE & DfH, come mid March 2020 the Govt were not ready with HMT, DfE nor DEFRA policies to cope with such a pandemic either.

        Perhaps I’m being to unkind to the Govt, that it was impossible to plan for such a known-unknown, but then why are some so intent on trying to blame PHE?!

        You ask; “why are the heads [of PHE] on £200,000 per year if they have no responsibility for anything”

        To be public fall guys perhaps, with all the damage to their professional reputations that follows, taking the blame for the inactions of central govt – which, after all, is why such agencies are set up [1], its called ‘deignability’, I seem to recall the preventable damage caused by the recent floods was not blamed on govt policies but inaction of the Environment Agency…

        [1] nothing these executive agencies do could not be done directly from within a Govt Ministry, Department or LGA, as it used to be

  15. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    If the lockdown continues much beyond this coming weekend there will be trouble.
    Businesses and people are going under whilst the public sector continues its pointless march.
    This is real apartheid and the general public is restless. Destroy the private sector and the public sector is no more.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      I was onto the wife of a police friend of mine “We’re alright. We have a police pension.”

      That’s what she thinks !

      • Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Tell her the story of the golden goose eggs and that the goose must have corn!

    • Martin R
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      The key to a return to work and an end to wrecking the economy is to allow patients to receive the hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin therapy used in S Korea and the Far East, and now becoming available across the pond. HCQ has been available for many decades to treat malaria and arthritis and its side effects are well understood. One doctor in LA said for example that his “very, very ill” patients had recovered in 8 to 12 hours following treatment with HCQ. But the general experience seems to be recovery within about five days. I could post a number of links to provide the evidence but I have learned that is the quickest way to get your comment disappeared. We in this country are simply not allowed to know about HCQ. And I can guess why.

  16. Fred H
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Sir John – -‘The first phase (Contain) saw efforts to trace, test and isolate anyone carrying the virus and the people they had met.’ Really? Where was evidence? Testing virtually didn’t happen.
    ‘The second phase (Delay) has seen big efforts to impede the spread of the virus by keeping people apart and keeping them from places of work as well as from entertainment.’ This phase was itself delayed.
    Mitigate – learning to live with it – seems to centre on only going shopping once a week. In the meantime the economy has nose dived, and problems of spreading continue with hundreds of flights, hardly any testing and confusion over whether an Exit is possible in the weeks or even months ahead.

  17. DOMINIC
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    China is a brutal, authoritarian State. I don’t even trust the British State never mind a oppressive and manipulative one that is the Chinese government. China and the CCP have consistently lied and now our host references them as though it’s a fact. We are doomed when when of our most esteemed Parliamentarians believes such nonsense

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree, nothing positive should be indicated about China’s leadership, particularly the current. But even China is getting on and producing, this is no world in which to be locked down.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        I wouldn’t for one moment want to live in China, but you can’t say that they are incompetent in all matters at all – far from it.

        They have an advanced space program, for instance, and have achieved outstanding civil engineering projects.

        I see no reason to suggest that their reports as to their handling of the epidemic are worthless, although some aspects remain open to question – as do some of this country’s.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          Still very confident that their state controlled media is telling the whole truth.
          We shall see in the near future.

  18. matthu
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    The government is able to manipulate the numbers to quite a large extent.

    For example, they can either extend or defer testing among the population at large. They can interpret the death of anyone with even the mildest CoViD-19 symptoms as being CoViD-19-related. The can decide whether or not to include deaths in care homes, making a presumption about what proportion would have been CoViD-19-related. And so on.

    In the end, the incidence of CoViD-19 deaths may not be very different than a flu pandemic with populations left feeling they have all been part of some vast social experiment. Let’s hope they find a way out of this experiment at the earliest possible opportunity.

  19. Sakara Gold
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Today we read from multiple news sources that the Chinese communist regime has announced that restrictions on travel in Wuhan in Hubei province and elsewhere have been lifted, after the regime announced that for the first time a day with no deaths. We should recall that the CCP changed the goalposts on reporting the number of cases six times in January.

    It was Xi Jinping’s decision to allow Chinese people to travel back home after their enforced long, extended Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January that visited the Chinese plague virus upon the world. Coincidentally at that time the WHO advised that restrictions on travel were uncecessary and “racist” and so Chinese living and working in Europe, the Middle East and the east coast of the USA returned bringing the virus with them.

    Asian countries such as Taiwan, HK, Singapore and S Korea knew better, banned travellers from China and now – as hundreds of thousands of cases and tens of thousands of deaths have occured in Europe – they have their epidemics well under control.

    A second wave of infections emanating from China as they lift travel restrictions in an attempt to “prove” they have “beaten” the virus will be denied, the Chinese propaganda machine will go into overdrive, dissident voices will be “disappeared” and the CCP will claim “success”

    As the second wave of infections that China is about to unleash on the world results in millions of deaths, at what point will China’s action be viewed as an act of war?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      It is apparently the US’s action – inaction rather – which will cause deaths running into the millions, and in the US alone.

      No one is compelled to accept flights from China if they have concerns either.

  20. Know-Dice
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “Contain” – really, there was no effort to contain this virus and the “Delay” phase didn’t kick in until much later, many would say too late.

    It will be interesting to see what Germany has actually done, testing on it own is not the solution, it’s what you do with those test results that seems to have made the difference.

    Interesting comments on BCG vaccinations yesterday, lets see where that takes us.

    And when this all subsides, there will be and are calls for an independent public enquiry – I don’t think a “public enquiry” in this country has ever been useful, mostly it causes delay and authorities never fully implement the enquiry recommendations, so will it be worth the cost and effort?

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      And yesterday 63 more lottery winners were ferried across the channel by the border taxi service.
      Not a peep from Pritti Patel or any other minister.
      We really are mugs being locked down whilst the rest of the world marches in.
      How many of them are Merkels boys and girls.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        How can we have confidence in the lockdown when 63 illegal migrants yesterday and 57 today crossed the channel in boats? What’s the point in having Royal Navy and Border Force vessels?

      • bill brown
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        Ian,

        Theya re all registered in Germany , so if they are Merkel’s boys or girls they will be sent back. I do understand when some people just ask you how much you do actually know?

        • Edward2
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          bill,
          Give us facts to prove your claim that “they will all be sent back”
          My research shows a report of 6% of all asylum seekers
          crossing the channel being returned. in the year to October 2019
          Source Sky News.

          • hefner
            Posted April 11, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

            Dear Edward2, Could you be more specific about ‘your research’, please. Otherwise you are as much an empty vat as the people you criticise. How can you be so sure that Sky News is a reference that can be trusted?

    • John C.
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      It will be interesting to see whether they will be able to maintain the idea that the NHS is the envy of the world when all the numbers are reckoned, especially when we compare with a fairly similar nation in size, Germany.

  21. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    In answer to your basic question. Crudely, no one could know, this highly contagious virus has neve been this way before.

    What is called science, is at best ‘best guesses’ based on vaguely similar previous experiences. All we know is there is no profound logic other we have no cure and contact causes spread.

    The transparency being shown is a bit of a charade. Infections may be correct, but deaths, are people just dying with Corvid in their system or are the dying ‘because’ of Corvid. The difference between the 2 definitions is massive. If those charged with guiding us through don’t have a grip on that, there is in reality no point in them pontificating on any of it

  22. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    China had lockdown in Wuhan for 2.5 months and now their people are being tracked with threat of enforced lockdown if they go near anyone with a temperature.

    I cannot see how, having followed the strategy of scare, petrify and worry, to protect hospitals from becoming overflowing with patients being treated in corridors, movement can be relaxed before the end of April.

    To end our incarceration we need to be able to test en mass and then trace and isolate contacts. We are told we will do 100,000 tests per day at the end of April. That still doesn’t solve the problem of public transport providing a petri dish to incubate spread so maybe the easing will be for local workers only.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Just as an aside we need a celebrity or politician to be found doing something very stupid in their private lives to give the 24 news cycles something else to talk about.

      With no sport or no other news there is far too much pontificating by the media. I like Fergus Walsh of the Beeb but to give him access to ICUs when families aren’t allowed to visit dying loved ones seems wrong. But the news cycle needs content.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Yes my husband and I remarked on that too, a waste of decent ppe.

  23. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    China was able to lift its controls only because they have – except for isolated cases, for which they are now extremely alert – eradicated the disease.

    The UK will be nowhere near this happy position for some weeks, and only then if people scrupulously adhere to the social distancing rules.

    These are not as stringent as the Chinese ones either.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      It’s amazing how it never reached Beijing only a short distance away but has got to every other corner of the world except of course North Korea.

      • Percy Flage
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Ian, 655 miles/1055 km, between Wuhan and Beijing, just a bit short of the distance between London and John O’Groats.

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Apparently it even got to the Falklands.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      And tractor production in Chona is way up this year too.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      as you would say ‘yeah yeah yeah’. China this, China that.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Well, Fred, I mentioned it because John did, and on the same premise – that is, that the claims to have the disease under control there are apparently substantially correct.

        Yes, it has an authoritarian government, but it is not a closed society, and thousands of westerners there have been caught up in this too.

        Their independent reports broadly agree with WHO’s observations about the country.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

          Thec WHO is accepting of all China tells them.
          Surely you know this?

        • Fred H
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

          oh! well that settles it, if WHO says so!

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

            So from where do you get your better information, Fred?

            There are epistemological problems – I get that fully.

            Some try harder than others to overcome them, clearly.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Obviously communism is the answer.

      Pity it caused people to eat bats in the first place.

    • John C.
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      I detect you favour communist China, perhaps because it can lie at will.

    • dixie
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Why do you believe the CCP has eradicated the disease?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:50 am | Permalink

        Why indeed it seems very unlikely indeed.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        I am prepared to entertain the real possibility, that they have reduced it to levels where high vigilance, along with rigorous tracing and isolation of sporadic cases, and of suspected ones, can enable life to return to something like normal.

        That is what the videos posted by many westerners there also show.

        It is likely that some aspects are misrepresented too, either by accident or by design.

  24. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Actually it was always a four phase strategy, not three. That was explained in early press conferences. But anyway.

    “The issue is what is the trigger to start relaxing the controls? Is it a tailing off in the death rate? A tailing off in the recorded number of new infections? How much value can we place on the numbers for new infections when most people that get it stay at home and are not tested?”

    Not sure why you keep asking this, it has been clearly explained. The lockdown is to keep admissions to ICU and needing ventilators below the NHS capacity. Both of these numbers can be measured with 100% accuracy. So hospital admissions need to be seen to be trending down (or strictly, the gap between capacity and admissions needs to be trending up given capacity is being raised).

    • Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Hospital admissions only need to trend down when they are at capacity. the Brompton hospital has 4 patients! They are putting patients in the Nightingale hospitals for photo opportunities, they have not yet been required.

  25. Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Mitigate should have been part of each phase surely
    This should have involved means to bolster the immune system of us all.
    It should also have meant being open to different treatments.

    The establishment has failed so far in mitigation. We should be asking why?
    It probably comes down to the attitude of those that rule on what services/drugs/treatments can be used. For far too long the NHS has been the worshipper of every possible drug treatment, ignoring alternatives that cost less. There are unethical reasons for this, for we badly need an NHS that encompasses all medical knowledge.
    For CV they even ignore an existing drug that has been effective elsewhere..!

  26. Mairanne
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I’ve been to 5 funerals in 6 weeks none died of the virus, funeral directors are very slow I’ve never known any cremation to be more than 25 minutes in normal times now they 45 mins and we are not hurried at all if it’s on MSM IN A NEWSPAPER I DONT BELIEVE A WORD OF IT ANYMORE whatever they tell us its the opposite you can bet. the power cuts will be next to stop us talking on here and on the phones

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      And to make our fridges and freezers melt.
      I would not rule that out!

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      …and in other news the UK covid19 numbers recovered is still at 135

      Question every number

  27. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    I would suggest when deaths are down by very significant levels, and when we have a much larger stable capacity for hospital treatment, with medical staff getting the correct PPE equipment.
    In other words when we have a buffer of all the above in stock.

    Given we are not yet geared up for mass testing, and the antibody test appears as yet to be unreliable, Quite honestly we do not have a clue as to the real numbers of people who have it or who has had it.

    The first phase of release of controls would I suggest be those who can guarantee distancing between workers, and workers and customers.
    Those working outside would appear to have the best chance of returning first, although having said that two construction type workers (hi vis tabards) are presently sitting on a wall opposite my house, and have been chatting away to each other for more than 10 mins now, within touching distance of each other.

    Clearly they do not understand common sense rules, like so many others.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Would be sensible that those who are in the higher risk group, continue to self isolate for many weeks to come after the lock down is finally released, and until deaths from the virus are down to zero.

      The game changer would be a proven rapid and accurate testing facility/procedure and a proven vaccine.

  28. Bible Prophecy
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Listen, everyone, we got to get to 2028 and by then you will see the meek will start being put in positions of power and the current political class will be no more.

  29. Data Please
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I humbly suggest Sir John that the flaw in your argument is that there’s desire to enter Phase 3, unless a braver hand regains control of the tiller.

    How can we have any confidence in the numbers being reported.

    Anyone on here who can verify them.

    We’re being given figures by those controlling us (BTW: I’m not sure that’s the Govt)

    The PHE graphs are poorly annotated and you have to dig into a way too complicated PDF file, via an obscure link (“About the Data”) in the corner of the page, to try and determine what they describe.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-track-coronavirus-cases

    Desktop Version:
    https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/f94c3c90da5b4e9f9a0b19484dd4bb14

    They can easily be mis-interpreted as representing all cases (not even a simple ToolTip to pop up what Cases means), when from what I can determine they represent “positive test result” cases.

    Hence from what I can fathom, they don’t include those that have had the disease, but with no or mild symptoms so are not reported.

    This can lead to a dangerously skewed impression of a far higher (alarming) death rate to the naive viewer, than I think is the actuality, though spookily have no data to confirm.

    Similarly, the “Recovered Patients” indicator was finally removed because it remained static for days on end and gave such a woeful figure that it implied barely anyone survives.

    To anyone that has been admitted to hospital for a serious condition, PHE’s excuse of being unable to collate essentially discharge data, beggars belief.

    Private Sector Managers would be quickly regarded as Unfit for Purpose (if not shown the door) for the same woeful practices.

    I also think the Scottish numbers are a running farce, resulting in blips against trend, that can be used by alarmists to scream “We’ve Lost Control Captain”.

    Whether that is due to incompetence or political manipulation I’ve no idea at present.

    Due to Mission Creep and until I see otherwise, I think the policy so far is the following:

    – use an existential threat to get a willing, unquestioning population to accept oppression
    – make them destitute and dependent
    – remove education and skill training
    – produce a weak, dependent population that’s easy to manipulate
    – use internal passports based on ideological not immunity testing to control movement
    – return society back to a feudal system

    My guess is there’s steps and consequences I’ve missed and they may not necessarily be in the right order.

    I think what I’ve described is regime change by consent, there are a number of examples in the 20th Century, by societies that weren’t stupid, just scared. My guess others previously.

    From what I can remember, none of them ended well (for the majority at least).

    So everyone bang your saucepans, clap your hands or Jazz Hands (could that be a new salute) and welcome in a Brave New World.

    Maybe I’m just being a cynical, Old Flatulent.

  30. Richard1
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Again we have reports in the press of uselessness and obstructiveness of the quango public health England (PHE) which it is alleged (inter alia, by one of the Country’s most distinguished cancer specialists) is preventing the distribution of positive blood samples to private labs. If we are to find a way through this crisis we need all the resources and ingenuity of the private sector. This has been very clearly recognised, already with good results, in the US by President Trump. In the U.K. it seems the entire public health bureaucracy is wedded to statism and suspicion and hostility to the private sector.

    The immediate solution is for ministers to issue direct orders so as to force cooperation. The near term solution is to replace the people responsible, but the medium term solution after this is to get rid of these quangos. The main reason Germany is conducting so many more tests is they have many private independent labs – and I guess no equivalent to PHE.

  31. Peophet
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Rejoice everyone! the political class has destroyed themselves! They will all have to find proper jobs soon.

  32. Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    The scary thing here in the Fens is the number of people on the web asking for the police to crack down on gatherings – especially of “foreigners”. There seems to be an anger that they are not playing the game with the rest of the population. Another source of irritation is, of course, teenage boys…
    The Police have been polite and, to date, seem to have stuck with the law made in parliament, not the utterances of ministers. But I hope they can hold the line against the pressure of a lot of shouty people.

    • Cremer
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Yep, there it is Mike, “blame the foreigners”. Brexit spirit lives on

      • John C.
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        Thank goodness.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          It’s quite remarkable, how some people continue to be more stressed by imaginary problems, such as their country’s being a European Union member, than by the very real ones to which every one of us is now subject.

          I have a little reel of plastic tape, to cover that tiny ring of gold stars on your number plate – fifty quid and it’s yours, John.

  33. James Freeman
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    You should relax controls as soon as is practical for most areas of economic activity. Providing the risks of spreading Coronavirus are low or can be mitigated by sensible precautions. For example open up all retailers to a click (or phone) and collect type arrangements. Whilst people working from home would continue to do so, but allowed to go to the office to pick up equipment. In many other areas controls could be tightened, for example by issuing and wearing face masks.

  34. Sharon Jagger
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    There’s an article in The Telegraph today, that shows the PHE are still refusing to work with private laboratories. Requests for samples are still being ignored.

    In a crisis, generally, everyone rallies round ( as the private sector are doing) Why then, are PHE being so ‘precious’? Do they not want to get on top of this crisis?

    Unless they get their act together by accepting offers of help, this crisis will continue for far longer than necessary and more lives will be lost. And a lifting of the lockdown can’t even begin to be implimented.

    They’re arguing about what colour bucket to use to put out the fire while the house burns down.

    ALL help is needed!!!!

  35. Lifelogic
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Why has the government not yet relaxed the rules to allow people to access their pensions funds by borrowing from them to assist them and their businesses?

    It seem the government has hugely underestimated the demand for the 80% furlough scheme? What on earth did they expect? After tax and ni on the extra 20% and the cost of getting to and from work and lunches most are clearly better of not bothering to work for 37 hours for perhaps an extra £15. Which treasury dopes got this so wrong. It was obvious to anyone sensible and in touch with real business realities.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Or should have been obvious, but then people at the Treasury are not in touch with reality in general.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I expect multi-nationals, with flexibility on where they can operate their workers, will furlough UK staff in favour of overseas staff who will continue to work.
      Let the UK suffer the cost.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:49 am | Permalink

        Indeed.

  36. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    And ANOTHER 63 are ferried into Dover. Instant financial burden on the rest of us – and probably a danger as well. But at least they were instantly tested for the virus – nice to know THEY get priority on tests.

    • John C.
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Well, you can’t win on that one, because you would complain if they weren’t tested.
      Of course, it shouldn’t be a problem, because they should be immediately returned.

  37. BJC
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I doubt “they” have a clue how to get the country back to work, Sir John. “They” suggested there was a point at which the virus would be likely to die out, but without relevant data the government will be working in the dark and can’t formulate a viable policy. Perhaps consider giving the problem to SMEs with a vested interest in this country, not avaricious multi-nationals or groupthink-tank theorists. The SME business environment should be easier to control, especially as many work in “silos”. When the plans can be implemented is anyone’s guess, however, the plan itself might add clarity to the situation.

    School closures will be a thread running through any return to work, of course. It would be interesting to understand how many staff/children still attending school during lockdown have been affected by the virus….they were potentially higher risk. A few of these individual schools without a recent record of the virus could be candidates for a staggered return to normality, with agreed precautionary measures, e.g. 50/5o attendance. Be prepared for huge resistance until the “perfect environment” can be achieved, though!

    Meanwhile, we have Easter to contend with and a potential psychological barrier if CV19 numbers begin to drop, as PHE have claimed. Perhaps there should be an enhanced message from government to enjoy the sunshine within the rules, but keep moving. We can still get a good tan when walking, although it’s rather more difficult to set up a barbecue…..mission accomplished!

  38. glen cullen
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    That would require a rational quantifiable reason in making the first trigger decision i.e manufacturing line closed this month due to % lower £sales. The line will reopen when triggered by % increase £sales

    However the governments decision to close schools and then to pass & implement new regulations was first triggered by fear of (1) the media (2) what other countries where doing and (3) not following the full PHE advise

    So forget the economy, higher unemployment, SMEs going bust or comparisons with seasonal flu the only thing that will trigger the reversal of the lockdown is by alleviating the fears

    The media must support the lifting of the lockdown. Other countries have shown some success of lifting lockdown and PHE advise the lifting of lockdown is now possible

  39. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Well ideally we need confidence in the figures, and some analysis of the reliable data.

    What % in each demographic and each region have had it?
    Ditto for those who actually have it?
    Ditto for those who get badly sick versus those who don’t.

    We have none of the first, some of the second and some of the third.

    Otherwise we are trading off risk of further infection versus economic risk.

  40. This WAS preplanned
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I have information from someone who runs teacher distance learning courses and has just been awarded the contract for their entire nation of France (that they knew this coup was coming) and it was “for us” (the public sector).

  41. stred
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    The delay in closing schools, based on PHE advice that it would not make much difference, has not helped my neighbours. The youngest child had no symptoms when she came home and the parents had not been out to work. Now the older child is having a bad fever and congestion and the father is also ill. If this sort of infection within households is leading to many untested cases then this will not be helping to delay the strain on the NHS.

    Today on the ITV morning programme Mayor Khan claimed that he had followed PHE advice that transport drivers needed no protective equipment. Bus drivers, who are obviously in contact with large numbers of passengers who were themselves exposed to infection, were not even given masks and gloves. Nine drivers have now died and TFL has put up plastic screens.

    At least supermarkets got their act together earlier and supplied screens , gloves and masks. Apparently PHE told everyone else that masks didn’t work in case everyone bought one and there were none left for the NHS. Personally, I guessed that we would need one to go shopping and bought some in February. As all of the supermarkets have no deliveries for the for weeks on end, click and collect is the same and the small shops are also finding that they have too many deliveries, it looks like we will have to break the rule for the older and vulnerable to stay at home and go shopping wearing masks and goggles. The Chiief Medical Officer apparently has plans to deliver supplies through the NHS but hasn’tgot around to writing to everyone who has to stay in yet, including all those like my neighbours who have t0 self isolate. I don’t expect a letter as my GP doesn’t know about my knackered lungs and they are not even starting on the older people advised to stay at home again and again. SJR. Could you perhaps suggest to the government, who say it is now too early even to think about lifting the clampdown, that they tell the supermarkets to use private vans to deliver the non-frozen goods. Perhaps use ice cream vans to deliver the frozen. And take on more staff do put the orders together. There are plenty of trademen with vans sitting around with no earnings.But then PHE seem to like to avoid private help and do everything themselves.

  42. clive lester
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    The Government will be damned if they do, and damned if they don’t with regards to making the decision to allow people their freedom back and right to work , that’s providing they have a job to go back to.
    The Government will rely on the advice given of course to make the decision , but I fear we will follow what happens in Europe first .
    In my view to delay in a sensible return to normality much past the Easter break could have a lasting economic back lash that will last for years , along with the nations health and mental well being trashed .
    Time to lead a little more than follow .

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      I think the Govt can avoid damnation if it gives a transparent and complete description of the decision, its parameters and how the evaluation was done. It needs to show full consideration not just narrow focus, so far it seems to talk only in direct effects of the virus and in terms protecting the NHS. It needs to be broader and rational.

  43. zorro
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    My main concern here is the potential political /economic stasis from this crisis. Clearly, we wish the PM well and I have no doubt he will recover, but there must be clear direction and accountability of decision making. There are some very important decisions to be made and tp prevaricate will cause heavy economic and financial damage. We have to live with this disease like many others and cannot succumb our whole lives to it. The trend has been clear since before the lockdown and with the government deciding to downgrade it from an HCID on 19/03.

    We must actively prepare to re-open the economy, and the press conference yesterday did not engender confidence with one of the advisors wittering about needing more data. There is plenty of data, they need to analyse, draw conclusions and make recommendations like analysts should do. The ground for stabilisation occurred before the lockdown was put in place which puts into grave doubt many of Ferguson’s unverifiable conclusions and suppositions.

    We need to stop the emotional infantilisation of society and get a grip. As Napoleon stated….. ‘Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious than to be able to decide.’ That proposition will be sorely tested in the next few days and weeks. Are our politicians up to it though?

    zorro

  44. a-tracy
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Contain: “The first phase (Contain) saw efforts to trace, test and isolate anyone carrying the virus and the people they had met.”

    It is clear that John Crace in the Guardian doesn’t like Raab, today he blames your government for failing in the Contain stage “The Germans had taken the coronavirus more seriously at a much earlier stage than other countries and had planned accordingly. The UK was paying the price for its government having been too slow to act.”

    Was this testing and contain decision Hancock and Johnson’s choice to make or PHE executives?
    When PHE and our Government heard of this virus and realised it was being brought back in big numbers from people’s half-term holidays in Italy and Austria at the end of February what stocks of testing kits had they already stored up ready to use after being aware of the virus spreading out of China since January?
    I’m intrigued about the testing kits, who makes them in the UK, what stock did they have already made, how many ingredients does a testing kit need and how fast can they be produced within in the UK? How dependent are we on test kits being imported?

  45. Caterpillar
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    We do need much “greater visibility”, particularly as there has been no convincing explanation of the choice to enter lockdown in the first place. Unfortunately all we are hearing is a group biased escalation of commitment, Mr Argar repeating the mantra of seeing evidence of being through the peak of the curve (i.e. cumulatively through the inflection). There has been zero justification as to why that corresponds to the decision point. Whilst I understand that Lifelogic will be pulling his/her hair out at Mr Argar’s Modern History background, and I appreciate that it takes a year or two to up one’s OR, decision science, ops, science, econometrics skills etc., I do wonder whether if the Govt for one moment stopped and took 10 minutes to remind itself of DCFs/NPV that it may then ask what the equivalent tools would be in lives/QALYs. Hopefully this might help the Govt escape its bias, or at least appreciate why some might be questioning the arbitrariness of the decisions it is making.

    (Also where are the antibody survey results?)

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Aside:- I think some of the POTUS’s questions of the WHO w.r.t. China are valid and the U.K. Govt needs to take a close at this as well (if it isn’t already).

  46. Bob Dixon
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I suspect that ones DNA will be part of the key to how severely we are affected by this virus.

  47. Newmania
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    We are already out of step by having a less draconian and looser and later lock down. The possibility exists for a UK only catastrophe due to our dithering so you arguments for increasing the tolerance of contagion are extreme. How many more deaths do you think we should be prepared to accept ?
    The argument for inflicting yet more economic agony on the country next year is now one almost no-one wishes to to represent. The task of the government is to get the UK up to speed on testing ( failed thus far) cancel Brexit at least for next year and give us all a chance to save our jobs.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Newmania, where are you getting your statistics from? How do you know how many children are in hospital with cv19 caused through being at school for longer than you’d have liked? How many of them had connections with people returning from holiday? How do you know how people in hospital caught it? We were told by the newspapers that a couple of doctors returning from ski holidays were the first diagnosed in Edinburgh. How do you know most of the spread wasn’t from connection with people coming back into the U.K. from holidays in Italy, Spain, Austria, Iran and other half term break destinations as well as all the docking cruise ships?

      I’ve tried to discover how many people locally have been in our local hospital and have recovered, died or are still in hospital with cv19 and while the numbers are low here how they caught the virus but the information isn’t easy to find. Do you know where this data is?

  48. Hope
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    JR, Wuhan China opens airport!, and other EU countries wind down lock down. Will UK put in place border controls to ban them from entering the country while we are under house arrest and in lockdown?

    • Jiminyjim
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Wuhan Airport has been open for many weeks for flights in and out, as anyone who watches global flight movements will be able to tell you. As someone who has known China for exactly 41 years, we really do need to be incredibly careful of ANY information coming out of that country. Martin in C, do you know nothing about China at all? Please stop quoting nonsense coming from Beijing as if it was fact!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        Our host did that.

        For the purposes of this blog I responded on the same basis.

  49. John E
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    It is likely that other countries in Europe will be restarting before we do. We could for once in our insular lives look at and be guided by their progresses and any setbacks.

    • John C.
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      So your advice is, don’t make a decision based on your situation, but just follow what another country (you can only choose one-can’t so well mix and match) decides to do. Interesting.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes, we could also copy what they do about healthcare, education, occupational pensions, and public transport.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        What like Greece Cyprus Portugal Spain Romainia and Italy?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          No, Germany, France, and Scandinavia.

        • Fred H
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

          he forgot to mention employment….but pensions for no occupation is pretty generous!

        • bill brown
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:08 am | Permalink

          Edward 2
          Like DK, Swe, Fin, Ger, Holland, Austria Lux, Bel and so on

          • Edward2
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

            Leaves about 20 out of 28 not to copy then bill.

          • hefner
            Posted April 10, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

            Edward2,
            What about you often quoting all the non-EU countries with which the UK will certainly/possibly/perhaps sign trade agreements: Burundi, CAR, DRCongo, Eritrea, Niger (185th to 181st of the GDP per capita PPP countries) or Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Kiribati, Yemen, Mali (171st to 167th) … Moldova, Bolivia, El Salvador, Laos, Cape Verde (124th to 120th) or …

            I would think that out of the +/-165 non-EU countries, for the UK there might only be 20 to 30 worth some kind of a trade agreement.

            My point being that if you want to play stupid, I can do that too.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        Gesture politics by the metro mayor of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority giving free public transport to all NHS staff
        Including Senior Consultant Doctors on £100k+ but excluding out-sourced agency cleaners
        Including all NHS staff on guaranteed salaries but excluding care staff

        Gesture politics using tax-payers money…..remember some are more equal

      • steve
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        MiC

        I may be wrong but isn’t our country / UK the only one with an NHS ?

        I thought no other country had such a thing.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

          I have some sympathies with LifeLogic’s criticisms of it.

          Though we probably disagree on what to do about them.

      • Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

        and 50% youth unemployment and a collapsing currency 😂😂 thanks, I really needed a laugh!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          Don’t mention it, Lynn.

          The pound’s best against the euro was in 2004, when it cost about 52p, as I recall.

          A euro will cost you around 90p now.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

            That’s more to do with the improvement in the dollar.

  50. formula57
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The appropriateness of all future steps relies upon understanding Covid-19 yet at present much is not known.

    A present study (reported in yesterday’s South China Morning Post) led by Professor Huang Jinghe of Fudan University shows about 30 per cent. of patients fail to develop a level of antibodies sufficient to provide protection, indicating that a vaccine may not work in such patients and so having major implications for hopes of herd immunity.

    Professor Jinghe queries whether #COVID19 will become something like seasonal flu, or chronic disease like hepatitis B, or just vanish like Sars. He notes that up until now we still lack imagination to tell.

    The Public Health England approach might have relied too much upon the “like seasonal flu” hope.

  51. Chris B
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I imagine the experts will wish to satisfy two criteria.
    First that current cases admitted to hospital do not exceed capacity within the next 2 to 3 weeks. This will need to see a dropping off of daily admissions and an increase in daily recoveries and deaths. We are hampered by the apparent lack of published information on recoveries.
    Second they will wish to see that the the epidemic does not accelerate after controls are lifted. This will mean that each new person infected must not infect more than one further new person. This can only happen if there are reduced restrictions, a voluntary change in behaviour, many people are infected so that there are fewer left to get infected, there are climatic effects that reduce the propogation of the disease. We are hampered by not knowing the number of people infected, this includes those that do not report the disease and those that do not show symptoms. The decision to tell people not to report to 111 unless they had severe symptons seemed stupid to me as we lost a vital source of information. Maybe this could be partly recovered with a widespread survey.
    The second criteria is the difficult part of the equation as the time lag between relaxing restrictions and seeing their effect is around 2 to 3 weeks, and the accuracy of predictions by the experts is very poor. I imagine that they will wish to take a trial and error approach with 2 to 3 week steps, and will look at other countries that have relaxed earlier.
    My hope is that they have completely underestimated the number of infected people, and the climatic effects, and that these start to kick in fairly soon, and become self evident in other countries.
    I share your wish to relax restrictions as soon as possible.

  52. Chris B
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I imagine the experts will wish to satisfy two criteria.
    First that cases admitted to hospital do not exceed capacity within the next 2 to 3 weeks. This will need to see a dropping off of daily admissions and an increase in daily recoveries and deaths. We are hampered by the apparent lack of published information on recoveries.
    Second they will wish to see that the epidemic does not accelerate after controls are lifted. This means that each new person infected must not infect more than one further person. This can only happen if there are reduced restrictions, a voluntary change in behaviour, many people are infected so that there are fewer left to get infected, there are climatic effects that reduce the propagation of the disease. We are hampered by not knowing the number of people infected, which includes those that do not report the disease and those that do not show symptoms. The decision to tell people not to report to 111 unless they had severe symptoms seemed stupid to me as we lost a vital source of information. Maybe this could be partly recovered with a widespread survey.
    The second criteria is the difficult part of the equation as the time lag between relaxing restrictions and seeing their effect is around 2 to 3 weeks, and the accuracy of predictions by the experts is very poor. I imagine that they will wish to take a trial and error approach with 2 to 3 week steps, and will look at other countries that have relaxed earlier.
    My hope is that they have completely underestimated the number of infected people, and the climatic effects, and that these start to kick in fairly soon, and become self evident elsewhere.
    I share your wish to relax restrictions as soon as possible.

    • Chris B
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Apologies this was sent twice, please delete.

  53. Pat
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Well it can’t be a fall in deaths from respiratory diseases compared to average, because they were already below the five year average at the start of the lockdown. It’ll be interesting when the figures come out for the death rate since the lockdown, presumably theyll be well down given that the lockdown will have slowed he spread of all infectious diseases.

  54. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    “The final phase (Mitigate) is to learn to live with the disease, limiting its spreads with sensible precautions with enough capacity to treat patients who do get it whilst we await vaccinations”

    No, no, no.

    The final phase is the eradication, or near-eradication of this menace.

    That is, to reduce the numbers of new cases to a very few, and to isolate all contacts of these, until it is completely suppressed.

    S. Korea is doing that. China has reportedly done it, Germany and Norway are on the way with that intent, and so are other modern countries.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      is there a date when countries become ‘modern’ by your description?
      You could argue S.Korea is due to separation in 1948. Germany by merging East Germany with West Germany? China not so clear – 1912 or 1949? did enough change then to make a really old ‘country ‘ become ‘modern’? Norway separating from Sweden in 1905 – does that make it modern?
      I suspect what you really mean is a description that suits your leaning – democratic, communist, dictatorship, socialist, collective etc – what term would you like to use?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it’s nice to have interests in a broad range of topics besides the one under discussion, Fred.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        Progressive is the usual label Fred.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      We should be congratulated. Our free-at-the-point-of-use NHS was so successful at keeping people alive with comorbities and into old age that it was bound to become overwhelmed.

      Even Jesus broke down when he offered comprehensive healthcare.

      So please. Stop doing us down. Stop sniding at your own country.

      The Chinese got on top of Covid 19 (eventually) because they are brutal totalitarians.

    • rose
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      It is going up again in Japan and Singapore. In Turkey it is rising. How can we hope to eradicate it like smallpox? It is out there now, escaped from China and in the world. Smallpox was eradicated with a vaccine and it took some time.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        Fortunately the virus is deactivated, if outside a host for more than a few days.

        So if you prevent its transmission, until all possible cases are no longer infective, then you have in principle eradicated it in that space, assuming that you don’t let any infected people enter.

        That is what countries are doing.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

          Then one ill person travels in a dingy across the English Channel an lands at Dover and it all kicks off again.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

            A very high level of vigilance and continued testing and tracing is required, yes.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

            I have found an article which quotes the government agency responsible and it says none of the channel crossers are tested.
            They are just interviewed and observed for symptoms.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t claim that the UK was being diligent, just that some countries were, Ed.

            Yes, you are probably right, just as people arriving normally at airports are not checked either.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

            You have moved onto a different subject now.
            Which is typical of the way you argue.

            The point us accepted I hope at last that those arriving in dingies and in the back of lorries are not tested.

    • Mark
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      Good luck with that. It took over a century after Dr Edward Jenner came up with his smallpox vaccine before smallpox was eliminated, and something like 500 million deaths. Without a vaccine you will have no chance. Meanwhile I read that attempts to eliminate polio have been suspended for fear that distributing the vaccine will spread coronavirus. The threat is that not only will progress towards elimination in the remaining Afghan/Pakistani areas where it is prevalent be halted, but that it could spread again to other places where it has been eliminated.

    • steve
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      MiC

      “China has reportedly done it”

      Problem with that is you have to mistrust what the CCP says.

      They often tell porkies.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

        Do the thousands of westerners who live there, and who report back on life also lie ceaselessly?

        Like my daughter did for a year recently?

        • Fred H
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          ah. now we get to it. You have a daughter who told you about the idylic life in China. So we do have an expert in our midst.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

          There are some reports from just those people sneaking out past the surveillance of the internet by the dictatorship.

  55. Pat
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Further thought, since the lockdown was justified on the basis of preventing NHS overload, remove it once the number of free beds in the NHS increases, or if you prefer when the number of admissions for respiratory diseases starts to drop. Since we are nearing the end of the flu season that should be pretty soon, even if Covid itself is not seasonal.

  56. Tom Rogers
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    The shutdown was completely unnecessary and is a scandal. It has been brought about by the same type of people who issued alarmist propaganda in an effort to stop Brexit. Something will have to be done about these people. This can’t be allowed to happen again. There should be radical reform of the police, the courts, local government, the civil service and the media.

    You are suggesting the lockdown should now be ended. The difficulty in unravelling things at this point is twofold:

    (i). The need to save face – Lots of very important people, including experts, have made themselves look silly. These people, by their nature, won’t suffer a loss of face.

    (ii). Sunk costs fallacy – considerable money and resources have been put into this hysterical overreaction.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Tom, see my reply to Pat above.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        Well, it didn’t pass moderation.

        But basically, the world will soon divide, into countries which have effectively suppressed the disease, and those which have let it become endemic as you advise.

        Keep an eye out for which the first are, and what policies they adopt towards the second, I would suggest.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Tom I agree with your conclusions and the fact that politicians will not lift the lockdown early in fear that it might highlight that there wasn’t really a need for the lockdown

      Right now there are small teams trying to justify why it was correct to introduce the lockdown and why it must continue….the science and doctors told us !!!!!!

      • Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        The politicians need to throw the Imperial College idiots to the wolves. If they collude in confusing and conflating the figures, they go down too. They have to claim they ‘acted in good faith’ even if we know they have been foolish (again).
        I’m afraid this lockdown goes on Boris long list of wrong calls.

  57. Stephen Glasse
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    It’s not just the economic damage but the damage to civil liberties and mental and physical health inherent in confining millions of innocent individuals to their homes. I’m lucky in that I still have to go to work but even I’m finding this lock-down stressful. Goodness knows how people in the inner cities and in tower blocks are finding it.

    • rose
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      The advantage in the inner city is that there is no traffic, no parking, no pollution, one can hear the birds and see the clear blue sky; there is no litter, no noise, and no “night time economy.”

      That said, it is indeed very worrying about people living in one room and several to a room, having lost their jobs and discouraged from going into parks.

      • rose
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        Last night’s moon, and the night before, was incredible in the new peaceful conditions. Normally one would struggle to see it through the pollution. No aeroplanes coming over at all now.

        • glen cullen
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          Now imagine looking at that same moon in a months time with no job no money with children to feed….doesn’t matter if its incredible or not you need money for food

          • rose
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

            I thought I had implied all that. Sorry if I didn’t. I have been scared stiff about this curfew and its consequences right from its inception, but there has been this silver lining and it is worth stating. There were probably similar things in the war.

        • Stred
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          It’s the pollution or particulates from wind blown continental and Saharan sources that gives the Moon its nice tint near the horizon. Same with sunsets.

  58. Stephen Robertshaw
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Once the infection numbers stop increasing and the deaths start to fall and the NHS intensive care capacity is clearly able to cope, even with a second infection bulge, the economy should start to be unlocked. We should not wait until everybody! is tested. The economy must be put back on its feet before it goes into irreversible intensive care and the future is blighted.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      And what if the Lock Down goes on for a further few months ? When it is eventually lifted, there might not be an economy to speak of.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        Aw come on.

        Worse things happen, like, oh, leaving the European Union.

        “It’s not about money” as some said.

        They were quite right, but not as they intended.

  59. Pat
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Finally, it should be pointed out that the NHS can only get money if there is some. Every day of lockdown reduced the money available to the NHS.
    However wonderful people think the NHS we cannot all be slaves to it!

  60. BillM
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    The only sure-fire way to get a return to work is by testing the relevant individuals. Why can we not learn from those who have achieved far better results than the UK?
    Why do our so-called “experts” have to be so egotistical? They MUST be told to remove the blinkers of self-importance and put the health of patients FIRST and at once! Or remove them from the medical hierarchy.
    The methods utilised throughout the Far East have been proven to be effective so it beggars belief that our country is not following their lead.
    Previous experience with the SARS virus has been so valuable in their fight against Corona that there can be no logical reason why this country should ignore their positive results. It is not just frustrating it is lethal.

    • Andy
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Why can we not learn? Because we are led by nationalists who think everything we do is right and everything foreign countries do is wrong.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Why do you think that?
        The UK establishment have been very internationalist and pro Europe for decades.

  61. The One
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I MUST add this “But we will not hold our breath”

  62. Original Chris
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    The D Tel reports:

    “Treasury jobs bail out to cost £40 billion, three times initial estimate.”

    To me this indicates that a proper cost benefit analysis was never carried out, and that the government was ignorant of the intricacies of how our economy is built up, and particularly how the small business sector and individuals operate with complex dependencies and linkages between the different parts, enabling them to operate and survive in normal times. The system is fragile at the best of times, so a blow to one part can have a devastating knock on effect.

    The government sledge hammer has dealt a blow that has inflicted irreversible damage on many of these small businesses and individuals, and it is no surprise that the bail out costs are over £40 billion. The costs will be much higher than that in reality as there are all sorts of people who cannot claim under the rules, and then of course there is the other cost to individuals in terms of health and well being, when they see their life’s work destroyed, and also to the fabric of society.

    Some areas are going to look very different with businesses closed down on a large scale, and services will be under great demand, with people not being able to access the basic services that form a normal part of our lives.

  63. Everhopeful
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Oh ..please delete all above. Bizarrely they have a separate listing for CV.
    Sorry!!

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Actually though…on closer examination.
      PHE seems to update info without actually making it clear that they are doing so.
      Presumably CV was not notifiable in 2016…had it been discovered then even?
      Very confusing.

  64. forthurst
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    China has relaxed its controls extremely carefully because it is determined to prevent further outbreaks either in Wuhan or elsewhere. Any individual seeking to leave Wuhan has to download a ‘QR Code’ to indicate that he is a resident of a compound that has had no new cases for two weeks and that they personally have not been in contact with a confirmed case either. At the railway station they have to produce their QR code and ID and have their temperature taken before being allowed to enter. Where asymptomatic cases have been discovered subsequently, their compounds have been put back into lockdown. Streets frequented by foreigners who find obeying rules difficult have been sealed off.

    The only countries which have successfully contained the coronavirus are those that have demonstrated an ability to produce a viable plan to end the epidemic and put it into action immediately, involving either a massive testing, tracing and isolating campaign without any relaxation and/or locking down infection hubs together with testing. Controls to prevent the introduction of new cases from abroad through quarantining are the norm. In South Korea individuals who are ordered to self-quarantine can be heavily fined for breaking quarantine orders.

    JR should be demanding that the government produces a plan to reduce the transmission rate of coronavirus to well below one and maintain it there because dithering around whilst peoples lives are being horribly constrained and the economy likewise until the cavalry arrives with a vaccine is not a plan and nor is a relaxation of the lock down without a strategy to prevent the epidemic consequently rebounding. Normality for people and the economy can only return when people are confident that by leaving their homes they are not playing Russian roulette.

  65. Lifelogic
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Long interview with BBC favourite Jeremy Hunt on World at One – so why on earth no questions about the pandemic planning, the 2016 planning exercise and the censoring of it. What was his roll in this as health secretary at the time? But no this is the BBC after all.

    • Andy
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Bill Gates, who knows more about global health than most, warned about the risks of a virus pandemic in 2015. He said that there was no global strategy, there was inadequate cooperation and that there was not enough money.

      And this case before the Brexiteers and Trump put a dagger into the gut of cooperation. Looks like Mr Gates was right and the isolationists have been proven desperately wrong. Again.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Trump is all for international co operation.
        Fair free trade is all that is required.

        Brexiteers want tariff free trade.
        Do the EU?

        • bill brown
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:06 am | Permalink

          Edward 2

          Trump is all for international co -operation. We have never had a US president who has done so much for not wanting international cooperation, Have yo been asleep?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

            President Trump is far better for the UK than “back of the queue” Obama.

            His change of policy towards the protectionist EU and towards the threat China poses to world trade was long overdue.

      • steve
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Andy

        Well you see this is where you are wrong.

        Actually some very qualified people were warning the US government prior to 2015. They also warned that the reliance on China for materials of prime importance (reagents etc) was a national security risk.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      The BBC slides, silently and seamlessly, into a “different mode” during national emergencies of any kind, LL.

    • rose
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      This is the long running leadership bid continuing. Don’t expect the BBC not to collude with it. It is just a short term tactic on the way to a Smarmer led GNU.

  66. Everhopeful
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Anyway.
    The whole thing is a dreadful mess.
    Few..it seems to me ( from my window) are either “social distancing” or “locking down”.
    No one knows who to trust.
    Few trust the govt.
    The Left can smell blood.
    And what on Earth will happen when we all emerge from our houses, long-haired and blinking into the glare of an economic nuclear winter?
    Surely some in govt have cold feet by now??

  67. DavidJ
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    It seems that PHE is not particularly competent and refuses assistance from others who might be better experienced, possibly because they will show up its own shortcomings.

    We deserve better especially at a cost reported as around 4bn.

  68. IanT
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Whatever they decide to do in terms of gradually lifting restriction – I suspect my wife and myself (attractively described by my sons as “The Elders”) will be probably be continuing in self-isolation for a long time to come. I don’t see any real alternative…

  69. Lorna
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Surely the solution lies with PHE and their inability to utilize testing capabilities throughout
    The country .I have a nagging suspicion they are still not cooperating with other organizations that could help to rapidly increase testing
    Hancock needs to step in now and make this happen

  70. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    We don’t know the number of cases in the UK because testing is in arrears. We don’t know the number of deaths attributable solely to Coronavirus and the number for which it is one cause of several. This is particularly true of deaths in care homes.

    So we are flying blind.

    Since deaths are a lagging indicator, we should start to relax controls when the death rate has dropped for a complete week.

    • Butties
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      But the death rate is more or less normal. There has been no spikes of any significance and what spikes there have been to date are less than in the past (eg 2017++ other years) when no lock downs were deemed necessary!

      • ed2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes, they are just counting the normal flu death rates (and adding others) to try to make a big drama out of it. Today 857 died, but in the 2nd week of Jan 2015, 1660 died (and that was without fiddling the figures), but no lockdown and no media drama. Obviously this is really about something else.

        • ed2
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          “The 828 patients who died in England were aged between 22 and 103, with all but 46 having underlying health conditions.”

          >
          did they die of it or with it?

          • Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            Do you have the running total of people who died of Covid 19 without underlying conditions please?

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        correct

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      LM,

      We do not need to continue flying blind. Last week it was announced that sample.level.antibody testing was underway with the help of Porton Down. First results were meant to be the weekend just gone. With these it ought to be possible to estimate background prevalence, but we have heard nothing. By the 13 th April decision there should be completed at least 3500 antibody tests, the data should be available.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      So many, many commenters are saying this.

      However, the UK cannot reasonably act differently from the consensus among developed countries, who seem to have decided on eradication, and not on mitigation as a policy.

      Otherwise the whole country will be quarantined by them.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        You assume no second wave after these nations you think have dealt with the crisis better than the UK, open up again after lockdown.

  71. kzb
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Rather than plotting how to sacrifice thousands for the sake of our fake “economy” you should be plotting how to eradicate this virus that your colleagues let into the country. At work I have to do Risk Assessments for trivial tasks. It is the law that every work activity has a risk assessment. A risk assessment that came out with a one in thirty probability of a fatality would be completely unacceptable. No job is that dangerous, probably including the military on active service. Yet that is the level of risk faced by a 50 year old being made to work in one of those expensive coffee shops, by being exposed to Covid-19 infection. This virus can be eradicated in just a few weeks given the will to do so, all you have to do is keep people separated and not let anyone into the country without a clear test result.

  72. boffin
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    We do indeed need ‘greater visibility’ – please add to the list “Has HMG made active provision for swift requistioning of temporarily redundant leisure-industry resources for isolation of key at-risk frontline personnel off-duty, who would otherwise have to risk virus transmission by their necessary use of public transport in urban areas?”

    Public transport has always been a top bug-spreader.

    (Just f’rinstance, the huge Marriott hotel – former County Hall – is right across the road from St. Thomas’ Hospital. It could not only provide a comfortable off-duty refuge for heroic, exhausted Tommy’s folks coming off shift, but also relieve transmission risks by providing temporay quarantine facilities both for recovery patients and for many others who would otherwise need to use public transport to and from home to keep going).

    The Realm is now awash with hotels suddenly desperate for some sort of business … and likewise there are now plenty of highly-mobile cruise ships offering huge accomodation whose owners are similarly desperate.

    (No? .. well, thought not).

    • Stred
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      This was suggested many comments weeks ago but so far the only people provided with hotels, in the news, have been those living on the street. Health workers and other essential workers are forced to use Khan’s overcrowded tube and buses. The lack of foresight is amazing. Italy also kept public transport going to the surprise of Chinese helpers.

  73. Lester Beedell
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    My friend Bryan Harris did say that he thought that a bit of censorship was creeping in, who was it who said I despise what you say but I defend to the Death your right to say it, or something along those lines
    He thought that posts that were critical of the Tory party quietly disappeared!
    I do hope that isn’t the case?

    • Lester Beedell
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      And it will be waiting moderation for evermore!
      Censorship does exist on John Redwood’s diary, Bryan Harris is right!

      • Fred H
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        of course it does, and Sir John has held back mine. You have a choice, either throw a hissy fit and don’t try to post, or accept it is his diary and will do what he thinks is right. He includes nonsense regularly from what I would term the gullable, and detail posted by ‘scientists’ as fact. From time to time he obviously feels criticism of politics, mostly what passed as Conservative, to be rather sharp and painful – thus excluded.

  74. a-tracy
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Do we have to keep the whole of the UK on lockdown based on our biggest Cities {London}? Can’t the cities be on lockdown and other areas start to get back more gradually, whilst isolating the most easily affected groups for longer, if we can shop for them it would ease up delivery of food problems.

    We need to free up supplies of PPE to all organisations working now increase UK capacity to make it, other workers will begin to run out of gel and masks when supplies run out. There are people out there making your daily bread, getting milk into stores, we need to keep them open! It’s ok NHS workers banging their own drum for everyone to “STAY IN” they won’t say that if they themselves start to starve and food shelves empty. We have to keep a balance, keep calm and not just panic react to everything.

  75. Are Courts Isolating
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    “A PHE statement said: “In occasions where some cases have already been tested positive in a care home, we do not advise testing of new cases as it will not change the public health management.” Of course not
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-52175891

  76. Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Just confirmed that my brother-in-law had Covid 19 in January/early February. He was in hospital for 4 days. He has heart problems so vulnerable. Lives in London. Lots of spreading the germ between mid Jan and late March lockdown. And that’s assuming he was among the first to get it.

  77. Fred H
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Unredacted claims ‘China Misled The World While Secretly Buying Up Medical Supplies’

    If leaked information from a whistleblower is true, or even partially true, then it puts into sharp relief how the country is behaving towards the rest of the world.

    Read the article on unredacted.co.uk.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      You dont have to believe it Martin.
      Relax.
      Just believe everything the communist dictatorship of China’s careffully controlled state press say.

  78. Everhopeful
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    We have brought this upon ourselves by making it near impossible to manufacture goods in this country.

  79. Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    It was arrogant to think you can control an epidemic.
    However you can try to stop an epidemic and beforehand you can try to keep a disease out of your country, but neither of these has been tried.
    I do not think that the government, which is wedded to open borders and mass immigration and the acceptance of self-declared refugees, considered closing the borders.
    There is no acknowledgment in the pandemic plans produced by the UK civil service since 2004 and similar to a EU plan produced in the 1990s that Britain is an island.

  80. Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    £750 million To Charities and NOTHING for Landlords!

    • steve
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Lynn

      I work but am also a Landlord. So far one Tennant in difficulty, but to be fair she’s a good Tennant and doing her bit to keep the house clean and what have you without needing to be asked, so I’ve written the rent off for the duration of the crisis.

      • Posted April 9, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        Commercial landlords. WH Smith and Burger King, Dorothea Perkins etc refusing to pay rent with Government backing.
        Either shut the economy down (no mortgage payments or interest accrual either) or do not.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 3:31 am | Permalink

      Indeed government actively encouraging tenants not to pay their rents but gives landlords no assistance at all. Many need the rents to pay their mortgages. Government is also taxing them on profits that are not even being made. Further tightening on LEA licensing and other red tape further also pushing up their costs endlessly.

  81. everyone knows
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    John is telling me he thinks my 5g vitamin D theory is wrong. Perhaps I should trust he has studied this more than me and shut up about it?

    Reply I have been careful not to express a medical view

  82. Elli Ron
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    We are all going to get the covid-19 infection, certainly over the period projected for a general vaccine to become available and distributed.
    Given this fact, the only consideration is to keep the level of people needing hospitalization to below NHS long term capacity, as shortages will be addressed in 4-5 weeks (PPE, ventilators, beds etc.)
    My guess is that once admissions reach 50% of peak, we can start relaxation of economic activity, assuming that reliable antibody tests are available and we keep the older and especially the medically weak people in lockdown, with suitable provisions supplied by post infected i.e. “clean from infection” people.
    At that stage we will be racing quite quickly towards a herd immunity, which will probably be there by September (depends on % at which herd immunity is set).
    So by September older people can start taking their chances outside, when assured of proper medical treatment if infected.

    • Stred
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      The medical establishment in the UK will not allow tests for immunity to be used if they are not 100% accurate. The Koreans use these successfully but in the UK these are not acceptable and PHE is waiting until sufficient people have had the virus and built up immunity. This will take a month. They are not willing to risk any chance of someone buying a test and it showing positive and then finding that it was the wrong virus and catching covid. For people at low risk and unable to work because of a very small risk, this is going to be damaging. But that is defensive medicine, which in the UK rules.

  83. Pat
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Sir John,

    It’s good to hear that £750,000,000 of taxpayers money has been allocated to charities during the coronavirus crisis, in addition to the taxpayers money which they already receive. Many worthwhile charities need this funding in order to continue their vital work.

    What safeguards have been put in place to prevent this money being funnelled to executive remuneration or other abuses?

    For example, it is noteworthy that 25% of the disgraced World Health Organisation funding comes from government grants and 75% from non- governmental, often charitable, sources.

    Thank you for your efforts

  84. Graham Wheatley
    Posted April 9, 2020 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    My post at 13:01 hrs yesterday has been deleted?

    There is a difference between removing material which peddle mis-(or even dis-)information and in censoring legitimate questions which deserve consideration and investigation.

    I’d be grateful if you would retrieve that post and put my questions to your colleagues Mssrs. Raab & Hancock.

    Thank you.
    GW

    • miami.mode
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      GW, I think there is a bit of a clue in your first two words – he is not an agony aunt. Write to Messrs Raab and Hancock yourself, their email addresses are on the government website, or pursue it through your own MP.

  85. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 9, 2020 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    It does seem that we are about the worst point for deaths per day (touch wood). Hopefully, we can get the children back to school on Tuesday 14th April, the day after Easter.

    Today, there was a sad case reported on TV. A nurse has had to resign her job to look after her father who is terminally ill with cancer. Is there no way that a care worker could do home visits, leaving the nurse to take back her job?

    I’m moving swiftly to the position that the partial lockdown is doing so much economic damage that we have to start lifting restrictions sooner rather than later.

  86. Polly
    Posted April 9, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    OMG…. he was at Oxford !

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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