Making the decision to relax some controls

Everyone agrees it is a big call. Most agree it has to be made by the Cabinet, preferably with the PM present and guiding.

Some say it should be left to the scientists. They have given us some criteria to do with death rates, cases in hospital rates, and capacity of the NHS. They think we should not lift any controls until these figures show a decent decline in deaths as well as in new serious cases, and plenty of surplus NHS capacity. They also often add they wish to see a capacity to test on a large scale, to resume the original policy of test and trace as the controls are relaxed.

If we leave it to the current scientists closely advising the government it appears we will be locked down in whole or part for a long time. They do not wish to take risks with the virus and do not  have to weigh the dangers of not lifting on everything else. The easiest call for a scientist with the sole preoccupation of reducing the virus spread is to keep as many people at home as possible for as long as possible, pending development of a vaccination.

Most think it should be a decision made by the government with a heavy emphasis on the scientific advice. The Cabinet also has to weigh up the enormous economic damage being done by the current dislocation of around half the economy.  It should be made with suitable critical examination of the science and the figures.

The Cabinet should insist on the death figures in hospitals being attributed to the correct days. There does seem to have been some attempt to improve  the figures, as they are often reported with deaths from varying days reported together on a particular day. They also need to be checked for double counting, given the different points at which deaths seem to be reported.  A death should not be both reported near the time of occurrence at hospital and again when it is registered.

If deaths outside hospital are going to be considered it does need to be taken into account that many death certificates were made out by doctors who did  not have a test result for Covid 19 and who may not have been  much engaged with the patient in their final weeks. There seems to have been a growing awareness of the need to put possible Covid 19 onto death certificates as the pandemic mounted.

The Cabinet also needs to review the models which aim to predict the path of virus cases on varying assumptions. It will find that there is professional disagreement amongst epidemiologists, and quite a wide range of forecasts of outcomes.

There are some who think the Cabinet needs to put more weight than so far on the impact the current policy is having on everyone else. They argue that we have to recognise there is no vaccine nor cure for the time being, but mercifully there are many groups  who are unlikely to get a serious  version of the disease. They favour getting on with relaxing controls.

I have never thought there is a hard choice, health or the economy. Government has to promote the better health of the greatest number, and the economic wellbeing of the many at the same time. The decision should revolve around the conditions to be imposed on people and businesses to allow them to resume more of their normal life, whilst taking precautions  to continue to limit the spread of the disease.

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  1. Fred H
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    We need some gentle hints soon at how relaxation might be allowed, else the public will increasingly just ignore the often daft censorship on life. Dystopia will be rejected and it won’t be pretty.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Yes, let’s send the fire brigade away, once the fire is say, three-quarters extinguished, shall we?

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Not the point. Once R is able to stay below 1 the disease is on the decrease.

        We don’t know from the figures given where the disease is above or below 1.

        The difference between the figure for areas where people come into contact with others on a full time basis in shops, hospitals, buses, care homes etc is likely to be far higher than for those working alone or in small regular numbers way out in the countryside.

        We need to hand the analysis of where new infections are coming from – by location and occupation-to make a valid judgement about next steps.
        We’re seeing relatively “old” infections from some weeks ago on tv, but not the new ones – WHERE are they coming from?
        Without that information the public will come to their own empirical judgement and make their own guesses, just as some of us did a couple of weeks pre-lockdown.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

          I agree, we are still seeing 4 to 5 thousand infections per day. Possibly due to increased testing, but who is catching this disease and how?

          Until that is known we are just encouraging a second wave by opening up. We then need to be able to test and isolate to keep the infection rate below 1.

          Having done what we have done to date we might as well come out of lockdown for good when we do come out rather than apprehensively waiting for round 2

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

          But R0 is dependent absolutely on the measures taken to control it, such as the lockdown.

          Predicting the effects of lifting aspects of it will not be easy nor an exact science, but will inevitably cause its value to rise.

          Doing so before the epidemic is very heavily suppressed will therefore cost lives.

          • gyges
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            Hi @Martin in Cardiff – “But R0 is dependent […]” not only the lock down but also, herd immunity. The more people who get it (who aren’t going to die) the better.

            The models show that there will always be a second and third wave (etc) but of lesser and lesser severity.

        • Hope
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          The graphs do not give an accurate picture on a daily basis since this started. Deaths with Chinese virus not from it, home deaths and care homes not included and are totally different from Govt figures. Rate of infection? Really, based on what population number? Death certificte rules changed this adds to confusion of people who died with or from it.

          International comparison graph a joke, China figures still included. Hands up who believes their figures? But our experts repeatedly claim to check these figures! Have they checked Prof Fergasons figures yet to very his modelling for accuracy?

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        or rather why not ask the fire brigade when some of the crew can go while the rest can just attend to damp it down.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          The analogy breaks down.

          Once it becomes feasible, a massive campaign of testing, tracing, and quarantine is necessary to achieve extinguishment.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            love your silly analogies….keeps us laughing after Andy’s dire warnings.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            You’re laughing, while eight hundred people a day are dying in our hospitals from CV, and a similar number outside them, perhaps?

            That would now be about four times Italy’s rate.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            Fred is only laughing at you.
            Get off your high horse

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          And feasibility is only achieved by a great reduction in case numbers brought about by lockdown.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        The fire brigade are dealing with a shed fire on the allotment – a rather aloof gentleman of the Record Busting Marrow Society had kept some unknown chemicals in there and not told anyone. He’d gone home without telling anyone that the fire had started. They could have used the portable fire extinguisher from the tea shed.

        The smoke can be noxious to some and affects a minority of the group of men over sixty five, there’s a risk that the smoke might kill someone in the town who is younger but this is tiny.

        We could isolate the vulnerable groups but instead the Mayor (under some pressure from the local news hack) decided to lock down the whole town – the fire brigade tell us that they can damp down the smoke but that they’ll now need a special extinguishing fluid which does not yet exist and won’t be here for 18 months, maybe never.

        And *maybe never* is how long the fire brigade is going to be at the allotment and we’ll be locked down. By which time all the revenue to pay for the fire brigade, the doctors and the nurses will have dried up.

        So the Mayor intends to print loads and loads of funny money to pay their wages with – of course, the local town has nothing left to sell and the neighbouring town refuses to accept it as legal tender.

        This is a socialist’s wet dream.

        Does anyone else get the impression that the are enjoying it and don’t want it to end ?

        One university professor even admitted yesterday that she didn’t want Oxford to find the cure.

      • MG
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        Would it be that your personal finances are pretty secure for you Martin ?

        Unlike some other members of the population ?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Gentle hints and face saving roll out not enough! Like Brexit the people need to make the decision. Govt has proven itself incapable.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink


  2. Mark B
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    This whole drama, made into a crisis by the media, is driven by FEAR !

    Fear that tens of thousands of people will die. Fear that the economy will crash. And now fear of being blamed for the aforementioned and more. The government and the nation is gripped in FEAR !

    I argued in this blog / diary that the best thing the government could do after it failed to act quickly and decisively, was to calm things down and not turn this into a crisis. Keep calm and carry on should have been the message.

    It pursued a policy that was undefined. It was as if both government and ‘experts were all making it all up as they went. First it was to protect the NHS and to buy time. Now the goal posts have been moved and and we have five poorly defined targets to achieve before we can get back to where we were at the start of all this. The aforementioned are desperately looking for a way out of them mess they have made.

    This has been an absolute textbook example of a blood shambles.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      The only sensible justification for the lock down is to delay new infections, so that the NHS can cope with Covid plus the normal demand. They clearly are unable to cope currently (despite the false claims of ministers to the contrary). About 20,000 people have died of Covid without even getting into hospital after all. Plus much or even most normal activity and operations have been cancelled.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        How have 20,000 people died without getting to hospital? There has been capacity so they should have gone.

        As only 5% put on ventilators survive it is likely that there would still have been 19,000 deaths out of that 20,000.

        Reply What evidence for your alleged death rate? I doubt it is that bad a number.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          Sir John

          If you are asking about the survival rate on ventilators @ 5% I am quoting a figure given by a consultant interviewed on 5live last Sunday, he said 5 – 14% survival rate. He also said no one in the North West area put on a ventilator had recovered.

          If you are asking about @LL’s 20,000 I do not know from where he plucked the figure but I suspect it cam from the FT’s analysis.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            Just look at excess death over the last few weeks they are almost certainly all Covid related or Covid accelerated. I and the FT chap have just added us the excess deaths over normal and allowed for the extra weeks not reported yet. We are now over 46,000 roughly half in hospital and half outside.

            Survival after full ventilation clearly depends on how bad people are before the doctors decided to fully ventilate them. But I have seen figures mainly of around 30% survivals from other countries. They should publish the NHS figures. How many get full ventilation and how many survive it. Also how many died without getting full ventilation as a last resort?

      • Hope
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        On 23/01/2020 China stopped internal flights from Chinese virus hotspots like Hubei, Wuhan but allowed international flights to continue with the WHO arguing against countries protests to carry on trading and travelling!

        It is claimed 190,000 people from China virus hotspots entered our country between January and March! Further supported by people in March from EU virus Chinese hotspots. 130 countries introduced border controls, UK still refuses even though the experts admit they do not know enough about the disease!

        You cannot have nation house arrest and open borders to infect and kill our citizens, both strategies are in stark contrast with each other.

        It was known/suspected from the outset after analysing 72,000 people the Chinese virus had worse affects for elderly and those with underlying health issues. UK govt should have targeted those grumps for isolation and the rest carry on.

        Govt, through PHE, must have known or ought to have known it was not prepared and was utterly useless. That came across from the four PHE chiefs questioned by Hunt. Ministers and PHE can keep patting themselves on the back but the consequences will be here for a long time.

        This current Tory govt. now has a lot of form for hiding or keeping reports secret from the public, Like grooming gang report, Cygnet etc.

        Herd thinking from Tory govt is clear, it follows not leads. Flip flops to avoid making decisions that will be scrutinised. We saw spectacular bad decisions like HS2, Huawei and 11thMarch budget- Chinese virus in full swing.

        Our experts claimed low to moderate risk to country despite all the facts! They are still advising!

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        “Without even getting to hospital”

        Either way you look at it – it did not overwhelm the NHS .. which was the whole justification for crashing the economy.

        Catastrophically miscalculated.

        And I expect that we (the whole world) are going to be forced into herd immunity anyway. It is quite possible that there will never be a vaccine.

        There has been NO risk assessment whatsoever.

        Lives lost COVID-19 vs Lives lost Economic Depression

        • Anonymous
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          If herd immunity doesn’t work then why are they taking a serious look at plasma transfusions ? (There are reports that it is trialling quite successfully)

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            The term is misused.

            What is really meant is “survivor immunity”.

            I would have thought that the problems with that were self-evident.

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink


            In the absence of a vaccine this is the only way a virus peters out. (There may never be a vaccine, we have to accept this possibility.)

            Most will survive.

            And even more will survive if we are selective about whom we lock-down until the virus has passed.

            Mine is not the inhumane option.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

            we all ‘might ‘ be thought immune until we catch it.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

            Are you completely insulated, from what is happening around the world, in countries which actually have sane governments, and which are not comprised of utter moral degenerates?

            This country’s previously lunatic course is absolutely not the only one available.

    • BOF
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Indeed, Mark B

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Correct – those five targets are not quanitifiable…when I read them they reminded me of the Labour Party 5 brexit test!!!!

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Gordon Brown’s 5 tests for joining the Euro.
        These 5 point tests are never met.

        • glen cullen
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

          I stand corrected, I meant Keir Starmer (Labour) six tests for Brexit and the UK/EU deal

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    The best indicator of Covid deaths is the excess death rate above normal (plus a few more as other death rates will have declined a bit due to cancellation of operations and fewer car crashes and accidents). There does not seem to be any other reason for these excess deaths after all. Not that many people are being driven to murdering members of their family or are dying of boredom as yet by the lockdown.

    So it is about 40,000 so far. Going up at about 1,200 a day or so. As to relaxing controls we need to get the NHS up to speed. We may have empty beds in buildings but it clearly is not coping with normal demands and those of Covid. Nearly half of deaths are not even getting to hospital, did these 20,000 people all elect to have no intervention? Most got no palliative care either. Get the NHS up to speed and slowly release the lock down in sensible ways.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:37 am | Permalink

      CV19, by its nature, is taking those that would have gone to either flu or some other illness. It is the figures over the coming years that will be of interest, but will go unreported. It just isn’t news 😉

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        True but then all fatal diseases merely bring deaths forwards. It is a blessing it is not, at least in general, killing the children and younger people. It is also true that we can expect death rates later to be significantly lower. This as so many deaths of the elderly have been brought forwards by Covid19.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        Like Johnson, you mean?

        • Fred H
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink


        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

          It did not ‘take’ Mr Johnson, to your disappointment. Hell you don’t even know what a pandemic is, I would stop revealing your ignorance and nastiness with such monotonous regularity. Try to get a grip.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            Lynn . . . . a new term for being a miserable moaner …..’doing a Martin’.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

            No, I am very glad that he has recovered.

            Less of your unpleasant smearing, please.

      • anon
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        CV-19 in some countries like France, where elderly in care homes were treated early (circa 3000) 96% survived, the initial phase of the outbreak.

        Maybe even early oxygen aid would have helped with suitable palliatives as needed. I suppose this was not planned for either.

        I still suspect some of the older, great and good are managing to get early attention, oxygen and possible non official interventions which count.

        If Boris was in a care home he likely would not have got to hospital and then lived.

    • JimW
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      The excess deaths in March/April should be compared with the mid winter excess deaths from flu. You are comparing apples and pears when just looking at a period not normally associated with seasonal excess deaths.
      Use the Euro Momo stats, they have been compiled for years by trained statisticians. The 2017 flu excess deaths across Europe were the same amplitude, duration and shape as the covid -19 associated peak. England has the most recorded excess deaths for the current peak of excess deaths, but I suspect that has more to do with the recording of deaths on certificates and potential double counting than anything else.
      Anyway the trend in the excess deaths across all countries in Europe is sharply downwards.
      Time to end the draconian lockdown which anyone inspecting the Swedish excess deaths curve ( you have to look very hard to see it) would draw the conclusion that the UK was unduly influenced by dubious computer modelling by Imperial.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        good post, I agree with your assessment JimW

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    It would be nice to know some true figures from the NHS – how many people are on full mechanical ventilation, how many survive this, how many on oxygen, cpac and other treatments, how many were refused hospital treatments and why, what are the renal failure and equipment issues and what seems to be best practice. What is the true medical staff shortage position. Surely these are not state secrets are they? What is being done to ever come these limitations.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      It’s been reported that the ventilators are not the solution. They apparently have a large failure rate.
      There is much more traffic on the roads now. I think people are sick of the phoney lockdown.
      6 more boats of doctors, scientists and engineers rescued by the border force yesterday.
      The lockdown is a joke

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        5 years for brexit – joke
        Open english channel – joke
        Economic lockdown – joke

        Disappointed with the leadership of this government

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

          NHS will be saved and everyone will die.

          British people must take action because the Govt can’t take decisions:

          Get back to work and life
          Refuse to fund the BBC
          Reject illegal immigrants – don’t give them a living and refuse to support ‘Charities’ that do
          Refuse to buy from the EU

          • glen cullen
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

            oh you are so wrong this govt can make decisions – HS2 (maybe china). 5g (china) and nuclear power (maybe french maybe china)

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        ah but do they get given the website to apply for a timed test?

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        “The lockdown is a joke” ?? The only ones laughing are the ones that have been picked up by Border farce. They will have already phoned back home to tell the wives to get the kids ready for the one-way trip.

        • glen cullen
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

          76 on friday
          35 on saturday

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      They have no idea.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      It seems to be the case that there is a difference in severity between contact C19 and inhaled C19 and the quantity of exposure.

      I expect we (the world) will have to take herd immunity in the end. Plasma infusion is showing that passed-on immunity is not far fetched.

      Perhaps we should speed up herd immunity. Give kids and young people mildly infected stamps to lick – a bit like the ones we were given which were infused with Acid. (Oooops !)

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink


        1) Those with strong T-cell immune systems and/or those with low viral load may recover without need for B-cells to produce (m)any antibodies. It may be that only older or those with weaker immune systems or those having higher viral load produce antibodies that offer some immunity but others do not. A weakened infection in the young may not be sufficient to produce antibodies.
        2) Plasma/serum based treatments need large donations from those who have recovered with/via significant antibody response – scaling up may not be possible.
        3) The Porton Down (and other) longitudinal results on antibodies will improve the picture (whenever the Govt cares to share these or indeed the cross-sectional data with the public).

        • Anonymous
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Surely there are trillions of COVID-19 per victim to be put on lick stamps.

      • anon
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        Different mutations may have different characteristics, some more lethal than others.

        According to one expert non-natural additions may be rejected in nature by natural selection unless this is managed through intermediate species.

        Still it gives hope the virus may just mutuate away to something less harmful after a number of iterations.

        If this is correct them the first original virus is the one not to get ever.

        Check the direct flight paths for yourself.

  5. oldtimer
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    At the moment we live under a mushroom management regime (kept in the dark and covered with manure). Dodgy data rules. It should be an elementary exercise for cabinet office published data on deaths to be organised by actual day of death, by a rolling 7 day average, by age group, per 100,000 (or million) head of population and by cause of death. Instead we are treated to Micky Mouse presentations at the daily briefings calculated to obfuscate this very relevant data about the impact of covid-19. If it were revealed it will likely confirm that the impact is principally on the old, especially those with other poor health conditions and, apparently, the obese. It is unlikely to justify the current, immensely damaging lockdown on economic activity and the wider health, wealth and well being of the nation.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      What about figures on WHERE they are happening?

      “South East”, “Scotland” doesn’t really cut it.. The former includes outer London boroughs as well as rural idylls – the latter everywhere from the Gorbals to the Highlands – which could have dramatically different infection scenarios.

      Also WHO is becoming infected now we have been isolated for 5 weeks?

      • Stred
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        People in a home where a worker such as a nurse comes home infected. Those using crowded trains, buses and underground. The third person infected within a locked down family. People who don’t take the right precautions when out shopping and exercising. Patients who have to go to hospital, such as the old boy who went to hospital with a broken ankle caught Covid and was sent to s nursing home or s colleague of my Mrs who had a long heart operation and caught Covid in the convalescent ward, other residents of the nursing home where Covid patients were sent or staff caught it and were not tested……

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          I agree we should know from the latest reduced entrants Stred? How many are shop workers? How many taxi drivers? Couldn’t they just as easily be people coming back into the Country that we are repatriating? The 5000 that came in from Pakistan, those travelling here on ferries from Ireland unchecked.

          Just how many are people going into hospital with other emergencies that are catching it on the wards from other patients or carers?

        • Sir Joe Soap
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          So not the 95% of us who have been sitting at home like lemons for 5 weeks?

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      I agree fully with your assessment of covid-19 and the pathetic government daily briefing (they will prove to be, in future management case-studies, examples in how not to do presentations)

    • Man of Kent
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Absolutely, the presentation of numbers is designed to obfuscate .

      In the chart showing deaths by country the totals suffered by European countries are shown and also the USA .But not deaths per million .
      The result is a curve showing the USA in a very poor light .
      However add the deaths of Spain ,Italy ,France ,Germany ,Netherlands and ourselves together and we have a total of 100,000

      The USA has a roughly similar population but only 52,000 deaths .

      So Europe has twice the death rate of the USA. So in spite of the media hate figure of the President he has been able to galvanise the country into action and is looking for ways to get back to normal .

      It is good to have some optimism unlike the stasis that afflicts us .

      • Stred
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        The graphs of death by million of population is available on the Sky news website. The worldometer site gives the following top ten of deaths /m.,omitting small countries.
        Belgium 576
        Spain 482
        Italy 430
        France 341
        UK 287
        Netherlands 250
        Sweden 213
        Ireland 205
        Switzerland 184
        USA 158
        Others like Denmark have much lower
        Portugal 84
        Denmark 70
        Austria 59
        Norway 37
        Hungary 27
        Poland 13
        Japan and China 3
        Finland 32

        Now what did these countries do that the UK, Sweden and the other high scorers didn’t?

        • Man of Kent
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Stred , I also look at these sites to try and get a handle on what is going on elsewhere.

          It’s such a pity that our Government cannot or will not present facts to illuminate rather than obfuscate the issues .

          Makes me think of what it must have been like to live in Eastern Europe in the Cold War era , or China now when outside news sources are scoured to try and discern the truth .
          Over the top ? Maybe but surely our presentations could be more direct and professional and only held when there is something of real impact to report .

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          That is absolutely the correct question.

          However, many posters here are simply not interested, it would appear.

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            I’m very interested but how is the counting done ?

            Are we using the same metrics ?

        • Sir Joe Soap
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          Borders all closed I believe.
          Lockdown and testing mainly faster and higher I believe.

        • anon
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

          I wonder if the above were adjusted for population per square km and population density over 70. I wonder then if the results converged.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Newsnight last night had figures from Durham (leaked) that showed that just shy of 50% of Covid death were in care homes. This if simply elsewhere would roughly agree with the excess death rate and circa 40,000 deaths so far.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      This if copied elsewhere…..

    • rose
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Many continental countries will have the same proportion – including Sweden without a curfew where they say 50% of their Wuhan virus deaths are in nursing homes.

      Our deaths in nursing homes need to be examined. How many had the virus ascribed as the cause when there was no test available, and how many tests were unreliable? How many deaths were attributable to another condition? Wuhan respiratory syndrome is a notifiable disease in our country so has to be included on the death certificate wherever possible.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        Our nursing/care homes need to be examined period. If one good thing comes out of this, we need to ensure these are better run. Why not segment this little corner off to try to reach a best in class standard, then reset the NHS to follow that patter?

      • Stred
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Only a third of the deaths in nursing homes and homes were certified as caused by Covid from week 11 of the year to week 15. The increased death rate is far higher than the normal before the epidemic. The GPs will be not be able to certify until tests and examination are possible. The figures suggest that the death count by Covid should be higher not less. One doubter of the extent of the Covid deaths has suggested that the fear and lock down of the poor residents has caused them to die, despite the nursing care. It’s amazing what people will think if they are stuck at home.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Drs signing the death certs have not seen the patient! How do they know they are Covid deaths? The obfuscation and inability to count are specifically to hide the fact that Covid is less infectious than flu with a lower death rate. The Jewish scientists (whom I trust above all others) say it burns out in 70 days whatever you do. We could have continued working!
      Are you ready for an one off 10% wealth tax?
      I’m thinking that NHS funding should be halved to pay for this – after all half their hospitals are empty!

  7. SM
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    John – thank you for your usual lucid description of the state we are in – not just the UK but virtually the whole world.

    Whatever quick decisions have been made by governments will have been right in some ways and wrong in others. It’s so easy to criticise from the sidelines without knowing or understanding many of the complications (including messy data) beneath the surface, and surely it is time everyone faced up to the fact that there are NO EASY SOLUTIONS.

    For what it’s worth, I have been heavily criticised as inhumane for believing that in this time of crisis the needs of the vulnerable elderly (of which I’m one) come a very long way second to those of younger generations. Perhaps it’s time to stop the emotive statements about every death being a tragedy – many are a merciful release from physical/mental suffering, emotional loss and loneliness.

    I believe there needs to be a careful and considered route back to normality, and it needs to be instigated very soon.

  8. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    It is a balancing act and myself, as many others, do not fully understand money matters.. in the wider sense .. but are more familiar with wellness, yet the confidence of Sunak when he promised to help with millions led us to believe that we were solid enough to take the fall.

    The lock down is sensible , but we all know that fear of losing money : our stability: can be traumatic .We are seeing that the essential services are the ones which distribute food, look after us when we are ill and maintain that ‘ in the bank stability’. Technology is fun and helpful in all matters but strip down what we need and all changes. We are being forced to look at what is civil and what is not and how people react both sensibly and stupidly in these circumstances. The animal instincts come out and survival of the fittest shows themselves in the ability to think .. and thankfully life logic.. group think mainly collects together to increase safety. I went to B&Q yesterday . It was opened after lock down with restrictions which were implemented well. What is worrying are those who go too far and exploit situations. The slippery slope is always in front of us.

  9. Nigl
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    You have been very vocal on past failures of the BOE. It is now time for you to comment on the previous performances of scientists advising HMG as the Sunday Times did, in fact shredding them.

    Why are the names of the Sage committee kept secret and no minutes published, nor any scrutiny?

    It is emerging that a pandemic was top of HMGs risk register. What were they doing about it and why were they in such a mess at the start? Why is simple reporting of deaths so difficult to achieve accurately.

    Why did it take merely weeks to set up a purchasing portal for the NHS when they have had many years to do it themselves?

    What is the truth about masks? Is HMG dissembling to save supplies to the NHS?

    Why is the testing system such a mess, didn’t someone think that a website would be instantly overloaded. Is there an efficient quick test?

    Has HMGs policy re the elderly in Care Homes caused more (unnecessary?) deaths? Your Minister gives me zero confidence.

    Why isn’t someone telling me where my local hotspots and safe places are to give me choice? Why are garden centres, refuse disposal, DIY places etc closed when I can go to my corner shop which hardly has two metres of space, so zero opportunity to isolate. Why can’t I sit alone in a park or on a beach, I am more at risk in aforementioned shop?

    The upshot of these is that I have now little or no trust in what your government has/is doing. More of the same really!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      What is the truth about masks? Is HMG dissembling to save supplies to the NHS?


      Has HMGs policy re the elderly in Care Homes caused more (unnecessary?) deaths

      Yes. I know directly of one case where an elderly stroke patient was discharged from hospital to a recovery home (without testing) then on to home with extended family then back to hospital finally tested at that points the. died a day later. This man was almost certainly infected in hospital, and could well have infected up to 20+ others before they even first tested him.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        same sequence as many who had MRSA.

      • M Brandreth- Jones
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Masks were taken out of regular use in hospitals many years ago with the message that they were ineffective !

        The theory is that pathogens will escape from our airways into the air around and approx 90 % of a virus’s will filter through . This was shown on a simulation, however expiration requires more exertion physically than inspiration and even though expiration is automatic , the effort which it causes creates the expired air to be propelled with force at the mask. When this is reversed ,the vacuum in a persons lungs enters with minimal effort so the reverse pressure is not as apparent and therefore there is not the same drawing in of harmful matter.

        If masks and visors were not effective then they wouldn’t be used to protect in places where there is a high risk of cross infection. It seems that there are one set of rules and research for one part of society yet the same rules are illogically not applied and in fact ridiculed in other parts .. surely spending money is the main factor here.

    • BeebTax
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      I particularly agree with your comments about the continued closure of garden centres, waste disposal sites etc, when corner shops are open. It’s obvious there’s probably less risk at the former venues. And the censure of anyone sitting alone with lots of space around them. People aren’t fools and are frustrated by restrictions that are illogical and unnecessary.

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        One person sat alone is then approached and told off by two police, who have travelled together in the same vehicle, not 2metres apart. Are the police incapable of transmitting it/catching it? Brian Rix wouldn’t have even wrote it. He’d have been too embarrassed.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Have you checked with Martin first? Why should people be able to stroll for bits of local shopping, buy and plant things, get garden waste off to the tip that recycles. Its killing the nation.

        • glen cullen
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          Quite shocking…. maybe the govt could introduce a special court for transgressors

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Then you have a pub in Brum with a bit of creativity, selling a pint of Guinness with the takeaways. Closed down by plod. It make you cry.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Councils close the tip at the first opportunity. It’s as if they have a policy to encourage fly-tipping.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        and yet we still pay the full council tax for a reduced service

        • Fred H
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

          we get service? I must have missed that.

          • glen cullen
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

            Well the bill itself is quite comprehensive and councillors don’t work for free

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Prosecuting people for fly tipping gets them money. At the moment with less vehicles on the road their income from Parking Fines has collapsed.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink


        Agreed, and then when they open there will be a very large number of people attending, trying to get rid of all of the garden and DIY waste of the last 5 weeks.

        What were they thinking ?

        What did they really think people would do ?

        Would not surprise me if it will be restricted hours opening, when they do eventually open, instead of longer hours, which should be necessary to spread the load.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      didn’t someone think that a website would be instantly overloaded

      It would be heartening if the minister concerned, who’s supposed to be a technology freak, didn’t try to defend the site being overwhelmed as a triumph.

    • Stred
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Why can’t people who have left their house to stay with others in isolation on the advice of the deputy chief medical officer travel to the empty house to check it, collect the post and anything vital that they need. Travelling by car alone does not risk infecting anybody. In our case it would be for just over an hour on uncrowded roads. As it is the house will be uninsured soon and the overflowing post will alert burglars. The car batteries will be run down and damaged, costing hundreds. But others can get on a train and almost certain infection risk and work in a hospital or care home. How stupid is that?

      • outsider
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Exactly Stred. Personally I am stuck 100 miles from my doctor and the house was burgled before the final March 23 lockdown. I would guess that, as with any blanket measure, there are millions who do not fit the assumed stereotype.

  10. Steven
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    The last people it should be left to is the gang of pseudo scientists whose every prediction has been completely wrong just as they are on climate change. Their ineptitude has wrecked the economy and impoverished billions worldwide. The figures they continue to spout are based on highly dubious death rates and are, even if correct, no worse than many years flu figures. This is a panic virus and panic has proved, once again, the biggest threat. Open the country for business or this disaster will become a catastrophe.

    • BeebTax
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Quite. We’ve had enough of “experts” who do not have to consider anything beyond their specialism, and whose reputation in that field grows the more zealous they are.

      If you throw in the asymptomatic cases then the death rate per 100,000 will not be hugely significant compared to flu, road traffic accidents, cancers etc. If you throw in the economic hit, and the effect that has on people’s health and on health spending, then the continued lockdown will kill more than it will save.

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        True on the “experts”. Some told us Y2K would crash every computer and planes would fall from the sky. Others said only 13000 a year would come when the doors were opened to the UK – and 13000+ a MONTH came. Others built the Space Shuttle that disintegrated. etc etc.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Their – the global medical and scientific community’s of which the UK’s are a part – have been absolutely spot-on with predictions of rates of increase in numbers of deaths and the effectiveness of different measures such as trace, track, isolate, and social distancing.

      By paying close attention to them, countries such as New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Greece, and Japan have achieved pretty heroic successes.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        Its gone tits-up in Japan – – keep up Martin.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

          In a relative sense things have worsened.

          However, they are still worlds better than here.

          And the authorities have responded promptly and effectively.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

          And I suspect that you are pleased.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    The BBC/Guardian is getting very excited about Cummings observing the discussions of the Sage committee. Surely it is very sensible that he does so just to gain a better understanding of the scientific discussions taking place? What is the issue?

    Sir David King (the Extinction Rebellion fan?) and absurd climate alarmist talking his usual drivel on this topic on Newsnight last night.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–Agree drivel from Sir David. Does he really think these eminent scientists are going to bend the knee and modify their opinions based on Cummings’ being there? Would be silly for Sage to come up with purely scientific and theoretical advice in a vacuum without feedback on what it might or might not be feasible to do.

    • jerry
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      @LL; The MSM is wondering why Cummings, neither a civil servant nor elected politico, was doing in such a meeting, after all he can read the SAGE MoM afterwards can he not?

      We have no way of knowing who is “getting very excited” here, was Mr Cummings merely sitting in a corner as quite as a mute or was he an active participant, it will likely take either another leak, a Royal Commission or another 20+ years until the cabinet papers are archived (assuming they are not sealed…) to find out.

      Had Mr Corbyn won the GE, had say a prominent left-wing trade unionist and supporter of Corbyn been present I bet the right wing press would be printing the same sort of headlines, and you I suspect would be hanging on their every word…

      Reply Glad Mr Cummings is listening to Sage and asking them questions. How else can their advice be used in policy?

      • rose
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        This is typical of the confused thinking of opposition and media. On the one hand they say we should have what they call “transparency”, in this case meaning we should all know the membership and deliberations of SAGE. At the same time they are insisting the PM, for whom the advice is intended, should not know.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        It seems very sensible indeed to me that Cummings and ministers should understand as far as possible the arguments the scientists are making (where they agree and where they disagree).

      • jerry
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        @JR reply; The question is about entitlement to attend the meetings, if there is no problem why didn’t No10. just say so, rather than spinning some defensive sounding line about him merely being there to sit in a corner and listen.

        As for SAGE advice, surely the meeting in question was to set independent formal advice, not answer non-expert quasi-political questions about that advice. The MoM and the formal written SAGE advice can be read afterwards -and questions can be asked of that advice. Otherwise SAGE becomes an extension of Cabinet, not a expert-group of independence scientists giving independent advice to the Govt.

        There are procedural questions that need to be answered, and my questions are about legitimacy of a SpAd (or indeed a trade unionist) attending, not any named individual, yes I would have been asking the same of a Corbyn govt.

        • rose
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          Would you also object to the PM attending?

          • jerry
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

            @rose; As a active participant, no the PM should not attend, it makes a mockery of SAGE being independent and draws science into politics – and we have all seen what happened when science gets politicised, such as with Climate Change, with many a scientist who disagrees with the prevailing political aim being ousted or sidelined.

            The PM should take their expert advice, consider the political ramifications, then make his decision – if he or Cabinet requires clarification etc. then SAGE should be invited to explain their advice.

            The same principle as to why the Police in the UK are not investigators, prosecutors and judge/jury….

    • rose
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Sir David King reminds one more and more of Lord Kerslake.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      How does sir David king manage to get on the airwaves at all? He was responsible for an absurd remark in 2004 which suggested that by the end of this century Antarctica would be the only inhabitable continent due to global warming. (He protested successfully that this isn’t what he said, though if you read the quote the public would be forgiven for thinking that it was). He was also the principal cheerleader for the disastrous EU-Labour policy of promoting diesel, which it is reported has led to tens of thousands of premature deaths in the U.K.

      Sir David King should retire gracefully, let us hear no more from him.

      • rose
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        He ran the AUT so is deemed to be the BBC’s sort of person.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Peter Hitchens – whatever else he says – argues that democracy is in crisis, once the electorate cease to try to inform themselves, and rather than voting for parties which they consider will materially improve their lives, instead vote for those whom they believe will hurt those whom they hate.

      That seems to be the position with many Tory/Leave voters, who are apparently only interested in the levels of indignation or chagrin expressed in the pages of the Guardian, and who evidently couldn’t care less about the disasters afflicting millions of people throughout the country.

      On that there is plenty of evidence here that he may well be right.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        You and Peter Hitchins are trying to guess the reasons the whole electorate voted the way they did.
        It is a virtually impossible task.
        But like you Hitchens hates the Conservatives and you are both trying to blame the Government for the virus occurring and continue to think that only people who vote and think like yourselves are right and clever.
        That’s one reason Labour lost the election which you still cannot accept.

        You mention there is plenty of evidence.
        But don’t give any.

  12. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Slowly slowly…
    Some people think that – BINGO! – we will spring back to normal. Isn’t a gradual approach much better? Already round here, people are getting used to the lock-down and beginning to take sensible exercise, to know how to work the food chain and to observe social distancing. I personally do not know anyone who is either starving or in financial difficulties.
    We are learning to live with it. Most of us anyway.
    PS We do not want to die, thank you! So we protect ourselves as best we can.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      You may not have personally witnessed anyone who is in financial difficulties

      However in the rest of the UK, 9 Apr 2020 – Unemployment has increased to at least 2.5 million, or 7.5 percent of the workforce

      Increasing every day

    • Andy
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      That obviously depends on who you know. If you and your friends all own your own homes mortgage free, if you are retired and living on your guaranteed pension income then of course you are not in financial difficulties. You don’t work.

      If you do work, or have a business, and you have been told not to work or carry out business by the government then you face financial ruin – through no fault of your own.

      The wealth of young people is being sacrificed for the health of old people. Covid is unlikely to kill me. I am not in one of the at risk groups. By my family’s finances are being decimated as we have been ordered to protect the health of the elderly. Most of us are doing this willing but it will not be business as usual afterwards. You all now have to start paying your share. Which most of you haven’t done for years.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        We are in lockdown to save the NHS
        Have you not been out clapping?

      • outsider
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Dear Andy, I take your point . But your argument would apply equally (apart from the blame) to the pay, pensions and wealth of protected government staff. Is there any case for cutting their income and pension rights or would that just be sour grapes?

        • Andy
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          I have no qualms with cutting MPs salaries. Indeed any MP who has a second income equal to or greater than their MPs salary should lose the lot. I would introduce performance related pay for ministers. At that moment that would save us a tidy sum. Highly paid senior civil servants should take wage cuts too. But should Doris, a secretary earning average salary at the Department for Transport take a pay cut? No. No she shouldn’t.

          • outsider
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

            Fair enough Andy. The keener issue is whether it is OK for Doris, who is about to be compulsorily retired, to get a guaranteed pension currently at least 50 per cent higher than her private sector equivalent . I say good luck to Doris even though I must help pay her (not really funded) retirement income from my private sector pension. Pension envy is a negative sum game , though I might be tempted if I was a 40 year old whose business was being squeezed to death.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            You’d like to go back to MPs being wealthy, and only elected by a small handful of ‘friends’ in his (yes only HIS not ever her) area?
            Very democratic Andy.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        as MARTIN once said
        ‘yeah yeah yeah’.

        Sadly rather apt.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      But Mike the people that are working and placing themselves in danger every day are now beginning to say hold on a minute how long is this going on now! We’re only 20% better off pay wise than those sat at home in their gardens going for a couple of hours ‘exercise’ each day, decorating their homes whilst being paid by the State, we don’t want or get applause but don’t expect this imbalance to go on much longer!

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        The other thing is overtime is down and people furloughed on salaries from last year with overtime in it aren’t even going to be 20% worse off!
        You’re all taking too much for granted.

    • outsider
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Exactly Mike. As we move back in the direction of normality, some trust should be placed in people’s acquired common sense. The regime at present is: “you cannot do anything unless specifically permitted”. In the next phase the approach ought to be: “you can do anything you consider sensible unless specifically prohibited”.

  13. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Considering that it is statistics that are driving many decision made about this CV, it is incredible that they are gathered, manipulated and presented in a totally amateurish manner.
    The decisions cannot be left to the scientific community, nor the likes of Bill Gates etc ed
    What should work in this case is to determine what works for the vast majority of people, but we must have options that are not extreme, IE: a) let people become infected with limited lockdown; or b) ruin the economy and people’s future with a total lockdown.
    It doesn’t help that government ministers are relatively new, and clearly have to rely on a still unreformated civil service and an establishment medical team, when they badly need to be able to think outside the box…!

    • ukretired123
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Many excellent points and it’s difficult to identify the weakest link.
      Nevertheless just when the Civil Service is presented with the golden opportunity to save the nation they have failed spectacularly as they were relying on EU directives and have been fighting a rear-guard action since 2016.

      • Andy
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        It is perfectly simple to identify the weakest link: the Tory Brexit government.

        South Korea successfully stopped Covid 19. It carried out vast amounts of tests and contact tracing.

        New Zealand has successfully stopped Covid 19. Like us it is an island nation. It quarantined new arrivals and locked the country down for a month early before Covid could spread.

        Germany has had significant success. It implemented a huge testing programme and had a short lockdown.

        None of these countries avoided deaths or economic harm but they all hugely limited it. Greece has done well. So has Australia. Israel.

        And we have done very very badly. We had time to prepare. We didn’t. We could have locked down early. We didn’t. We allowed huge events like football matches and Cheltenham to go ahead weeks after they should have been stopped. Schools were shut nearly a month too late.

        The buck for this rests with Johnson and Cummings. Cabinet ministers were not appointed for their skills or experience but for their devotion to Brexit. They have been found desperately wanting. Some of us are not surprised about this.

        • Richard1
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          This is highly selective and misleading. The U.K. is performing ‘better’ at the moment than most comparable EU countries in terms of deaths per million. It is quite obvious that the virus will spread much quicker in a city of 10m people like London (or New York) than it will in a country like Germany with a much more dispersed population. The only general point which can be made is Asian countries near to China were much better prepared as they have been preparing for a Coronavirus not for flu as western countries inc the U.K. have been doing.

          There would have been no support for a lock down a month earlier, and had it been imposed it probably wouldn’t have been able to be sustained so would have resulted in worse outcomes.

          Blame for the Wuhan virus global disaster lies squarely with the Chinese communist party. We the majority can all see this. Now it’s Time for you leftists to acknowledge it also and stop trying to blame it all on Boris / Trump / the Tories / Brexit etc.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Blame the Government advisors.
          You keep telling us to believe experts.
          They followed the experts advice.

        • Anonymous
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

          Andy banging on about New Zealand again.

          The Mayor of London has 3 million more people in his jurisdiction (1/100 of the area) than the PM of New Zealand has !

          What is Andy not getting ?

          Why does Andy not understand that New Zealand is a lot smaller than Britain and has a much smaller population than London.

          What do I have to say to Andy to get through to Andy that Briain is not comparable to New Zealand in any way.

          Is Andy not aware that France and Belgium have a much higher COVID-19 death rate than Britain ?

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink


        Yes, I still see the civil service as a problem badly needing resolution

    • Fred H
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      they are having difficulty thinking inside the box!

  14. agricola
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    As you infer , if lockdown restrictions are to change they need to be based on accurate figures. They should start where work does not involve much social contact. Government could if it wishes put in place incentives and direction to employers to encourage home working. Done with serious intent it could have a major effect on commuting volumes. Whatever cabinet decides must make common sense to the general public who to date have behaved very well. If it lacks sense and logic it will fall apart with the danger of a relapse.

    This lockdown and it’s consequences have drawn attention to the need for radical reform of the care home business. In my view it needs to become a division of the NHS and just like the NHS it’s use should be free and based solely on need. I would add hospice terminal care and air ambulances which should not be dependant on charity. I don’t wish to see them nationalised, but I want them operating to a high standard, not as an afterthought in the care system, but with strong links to the NHS.

    • rose
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Have you worked out how many nursing homes there are? And how many hospices? The whole point of the logistical difficulty the army is now wrestling with is that the extra numbers are huge – 58,000 is a number in toto which comes to mind – and you think the NHS should take on all this when it can’t cope with its own responsibilities? And yet, you say, you don’t want them nationalised?

      Who wouldn’t want all old people to get free nursing throughout their old age till death, if they need it? Who wouldn’t? And free clothes and meals as well. Just think how many more people will be fetching up here from across the world and then going home leaving Granny and Grandpapa behind.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        you missed the boat – its been happening for years.

        • rose
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

          That is why I said “more”.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      ” they need to be based on accurate figures.” Accurate figures? From the govt? The immigration figures are lies. The deportation figures are lies. Any claimed cost of a large scale project is lies. Govts do NOT do truth.

      • Reaction Harry
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        I agree. Several years ago, Tesco said that based on their loyalty card, they estimated the UK population at nearer to 80m than 60m. It appeared only once in the news. Which figure do you think more likely?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      No, not part of the NHS but a new model could be put together for the NHS to follow, on the state-backed insurance principle, much as Switzerland. You get back for the number of years you put in.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      I don’t agree with you agricola, the care home ‘free for all’ would bankrupt our children. This elderly generation have had earliest retirements, best hospital care over the years, and doctors care, you’re asking to fund yet another free service that people who will be paying but when they finally retire at around 70 will not receive anything like the retirement and treatments the current retired generation enjoyed, you can’t keep expecting this unfunded Ponzi scheme to cope, Labours self-congratulatory national insurance fund was never set up properly it was never invested like other sovereign funds, it comes mainly from current taxpayers.

      We as a family looked after our own elderly relatives after they had broken hips, strokes, broken back etc. My aunt looks after none related old people in her own village because they don’t want to go into a care home making their lunch, helping them to get to bed to help people stay independent and give them and her company. There needs to be a change of thinking and we need to really look at the reasons we have 58,000 care homes (if that figure is correct), the needs of patients between care homes and nursing homes, perhaps more mechanised care assistance with regards to toilet cleaning systems as in Japan for people without dementia.

      The computations were never calculated properly, the retirees were never expected to live so long after the age of 80, it’s a good thing that people are enjoying long lives, no one anticipated the improvements and advances in medical care and people have to take more responsibility for themselves and their own family members and the costs of providing this high level care.

  15. Sakara Gold
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    You make some valid points. However, there has been some better news over the last two days. Firstly, trials of a British vaccine have commenced – one, the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine produced by an Oxford Uni team led by Prof Sarah Gilbert, has started a Phase 1 clinical trial designed to test whether healthy people can be protected from the Chinese plague virus.

    Only once we have a safe and effective vaccine can we realistically start to plan an end to the lockdown.

    Secondly, plans seem to be well advanced to roll out an enhanced antibody testing regime. Identifying those who have been exposed to the virus and who have fortunately recovered should enable us to finally establish whether those epidemiologists enamoured of the “herd immunity” strategy are correct – or not. If this cohort does not become re-infected – which will take some time to establish – coupled with an effective vaccine we have a possible way out of lockdown.

    Jumping the gun too early – as demanded by a handfull of politically-funded idiots in the USA last weekend – is likely to result in a fearsome “second wave” and career termination for those here that advocate it.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      SK, it’s interesting, but the data from places which have a blanket insistence on face masks for the public have registered a near cessation of new cases, whether they have lockdown or not.

      This needs urgent further investigation.

  16. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    It would seem to me that social distancing is the golden key here, if you are not within a couple of metres or slightly more of anyone else, then the risk of catching it is massively reduced.

    People can remain in a sort of self imposed lockdown if they prefer, people can still refuse visitors to their house if they prefer, people can continue to wash, disinfect, or quarantine anything which enters their home if they wish. Given many of the above would be older or vulnerable people who do not work, the end of lockdown is optional.

    The complication comes when those who are vulnerable also work and need to travel on public transport, work in a crowded environment, or have multi generational families, some of who will be working, going to school, and mixing or are close to others.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Alan, the government know how many people are coming into the system each day now (its not a massive calculation now) what % of them were self-isolating at home for the past 3 weeks and what % were from each job working I.e. supermarket workers, small shop workers, people working together in offices, factories, bread factories, meat factories, delivery drivers?

    • outsider
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      As you say Alan, the biggest complications are commuting to work on public transport and living in multi-generation families.
      The answer for public transport is for compulsory wearing of basic (not hospital-grade) face masks that reduce the risk of me infecting you or you infecting me – or either of use infecting the driver. These should be available at any supermarket, pharmacy or even corner shop. If no vaccine or effective antiviral is available before 2021 at the earliest , it is a semi-permanent market.
      The mortality risk for healthy under-40s is so low that they ought to be able to go about life pretty normally, except where they need contact with the vulnerable. As and when home tests are widely available at modest cost – again a good market for at least two years – that issue would fade away.
      Mass supply of face masks and infection tests is therefore a key economic priority, not just a health issue.

  17. Everhopeful
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I do hope that the cabinet has the nouse to work out WHY these scientists are saying what they are saying.
    And how come pray the govt is not seeking a broad range of scientific advice?
    The current favourites haven’t exactly helped have they?
    Next suggestion…nailing up our doors and painting a large cross on the front!
    Never forget those poor cows!!

  18. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I lost faith a while ago in this administration’s ability to manage this crisis – and is the NHS saving many lives anyway?

    It was unprepared in the first place and then hid behind medical bureaucrats who had failed to do any forward planning themselves, many of whom are more than happy to pass the buck and play politics too. I don’t trust the figures we are given either; too much confusion about what is included, what is not.

    Your people need to regain the initiative, we must wait until late afternoon for the so called briefing which is pedestrian and boring, led by what I consider to be second rate pedestrian minded politians and dull civil servant specialists and long after we have heard from either Nicola Sturgeon and the Welsh leader much earlier as well as the media. She is doing a great job in promoting herself and Scotland and of course London loves to appease her anyway. So we hear from Scotland and Wales but England is subsumed beneath the UK’s flag and Ministers.

    It is a politicians job to lead and be seen to be leading. All this nonsense we have been forced to swallow over recent years about the essential requirement to defer to independent experts is wearing a bit thin – in all fields. It smacks of pandering and weakness.

    Thank Goodness this isn’t a real shooting war and let’s hope no country thinks now mighr be the time to create that kind of trouble.

  19. M Hopkins
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Thank you. I had to switch off the news faster than usual this morning after seeing milk and cheese being thrown away and fields of tulips going to waste. Have we gone completely insane? Reading your diary instead was far more uplifting. The term ‘blinded by science’ has certainly taken on new meaning recently. Scientists may want to lock us up indefinitely but they clearly do not understand the human spirit. We know all the figures are wildly inaccurate and we can’t believe any of them. We used to be told we were not a nanny state, so why not be honest with the exact details of who is at risk from this virus, and let the people decide how they want to live their lives. The elderly and vulnerable and those who have fallen victim to project fear can choose to stay at home, and the rest of us who are far more afraid of what this is doing to the economy and our children’s futures, and to our liberty, can carry on with life as normal. Let’s be honest and face up to the fact that the real crisis is obesity and diabetes, this is what has been destroying our NHS, and this virus has been targeting these conditions. Let’s be honest and admit that the ‘Eat Well Plate’ (devised by scientists) is in fact an Eat Badly Plate. Let’s replace project fear with a campaign to promote better health, by returning to traditional nutrition and healthcare. Let’s get back out into the sunshine and start living again. Let’s lead the world out of this crisis.

    • piglet
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear! And beautifully put.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Yes! 👏🏻

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Spot on!

    • Fred H
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      can we train Alexa to turn the tv off instantly? – I might buy one!

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      The quiet revolt (traffic up 10%) shows that the *establishment* is losing all authority.


      France and Belgium (bastions of the EU) are way ahead of us in the death rates but you wouldn’t think it from the GOTCHYA UK BBC and MSM.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        Greed is the biggest threat to the NHS. Both gluttony and the desire to exceed the allotted span of 70 years by a wide margin. WAAAY beyond.

        Nye Bevan did not expect this.

        There will never ever be enough money for a free-at-point-of-use system that satisfies both.

        • rose
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

          Bevan never expected the NHS to become permanent. It was a temporary measure to bring working class health up to the standard of the rest. It was pretty basic in what it did and once it had eradicated TB it might have been expected to wind up, but it didn’t. It wasn’t until the eighties that people could get hips, knees, and cataracts done on the NHS, by which time one could see that the NHS could quite easily gobble up the Chief Secretary’s entire departmental budget and still ask for more..

  20. jerry
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Anyone who understand the “R” number, and how it effects the NHS and economy, will understand that we need to adapt, not just lock away the vulnerable as some commentators to this site wish, nor is it correct that the majority are not vulnerable to CV19, the medical science simply does not know yet – hence why there will be a need to keep some parts of the economy shut down, and others highly restricted due to social distancing.

    Nicola Sturgeon is correct, we do need an “adult” conversation, the world has changed and how its economy works will need to as well, at least for the foreseeable future…

  21. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The lockdown is supposed to last until May 7th, so let us see and take note how other Countries who are ahead of us in the infection cycle curve fair, although I would guess that there is not enough time left to get any real and proper meaningful results.

    I really do believe that the people have to be given hope of a plan for moving forward, otherwise there will be a rise in the rate of non co-operation.

    Allowing all people working outside or under the age of 50, but maintaining social distancing would seem to me to be a reasonable release proposal for a 14 day period after May 7th. but only if the death figures are showing a real and sizeable reduction from the present.

    Unfortunately until a huge testing programme can be rolled out, in a series of tests at set intervals, the government will never know the true extent of infection or its direction.

    • Reaction Harry
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Actually, a small sample could give very useful information rather than just a blind guess by the “experts”. The refusal of the govt to share information leads me to believe that they know sfa and are more concerned with their political image than our wellbeing.

  22. Iain Moore
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Yesterday it was reported that 768 had died, so another big figure and on the face of it someone might take from that the lock down was a failure and not working so why bother with it, but it included 80 people who died in Wales from way back and and other delayed figures. When the number of deaths are a headline figure that that people judge the effectiveness of a health policy you would think the Government would do its damndest to get it right .

    I really struggle to understand why they are doing it and not getting the data right, is the idea to depress the country and so lose faith in the Government’s policy working? For that is what it seems to be doing.

    As for relaxing the controls, the idea of 10 nominated friends being trailed is a stupid idea , for that generates an exponentially rising population where a few friends down the line is the equivalent number equal to the population of the UK, and anyway impossible to manage. With the damage being done to our economy some relaxation has to be brought in. As supermarkets are showing how it is done, why aren’t they relaxing the controls on garden centers, here is an outside shop perfect to start the relaxation of controls. The South West of England also has to be released from the lockdown, after all there is little infection in the area, so little it often doesn’t appear on the government charts, and an area that has restricted access (A303 and M4 ) that can easily managed.

  23. BJC
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Do we know how the SAGE committee reaches its conclusions when their meetings are held in secret and not documented? No. Does evidence suggest that their data inherently flawed? Yes. Does the inclusion of Mr Cummings translate to a government that now has a greater chance of formulating an appropriate lockdown strategy in a changing environment? Yes. As the government’s appointed strategist, I’d say his presence was long overdue.

  24. glen cullen
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    This is purely a political question and when the PM lifts the lockdown he will be persuaded by the media if to go either the graduated or full route. Forget science or economics he’s decision will be based on containing the backlash from the media.

    Forget companies going bust end of April
    Forget the millions on furlough
    Forget the dramatic rise in unemployment
    Forget the families going into debt unable to pay bills
    Forget the new divide public vs private

    …..what’s important is how the media will react


      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. This PM is just another product of a political culture that elevates political considerations over what is right and just. Johnson’s another tedious, London-centric, liberal bluffer. We’ve had this crap since 1990.

      can you imagine the state of the UK today if Thatcher had acted politically in 1979 rather doing the right thing irrespective of the political consequences? She took on the authoritarian power of the unions using pure courage. Did she pander? No, she acted because she knew she had to save this nation from bankruptcy. since then every Tory PM have betrayed her achievements

      And now have to tolerate Johnson. He’s responding politically to events. His actions are determined not by what is right but what is politically manageable in terms of pandering to the NHS and other vested interests. He knows he can ignore the pain of the private sector. He’s a disgrace

      The Tories, no matter how hard they try, will never be seen as the party of the NHS. It is pathetic to watch them pump out their stupid propaganda terms like ‘Save the NHS, save lives’…that is beyond emotional blackmail. It is gutless politics. It is sinister politics

      And the BBC. Well, they’re working with the NHS and Labour to politicise and abuse this crisis for max political gain and to protect themselves from future reforms. The PPE issue has been INVENTED for political gain.

      Labour and the Tories main aim is to promote their own position at our expense. It is vile and disgusting to behold

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        We certainly lack the PMs of old with backbone, character, self-belief with the confidence of conviction

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      We are all in this together. You pay we receive is the rule

  25. Everhopeful
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    This brainwashing of children to act like performing seals on a Thursday night is disgraceful beyond anything.
    Clap for the NHS?
    Wesleyian outdoor worship!!
    The NHS is NOT a lovable thing.
    It is demonstrably not fit for purpose as in “Save it”….from PATIENTS?
    Has any other advanced economy adopted the NHS model?
    Very much doubt it.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      T’ve not understood the clapping/banging saucepans etc either. And performing seals is EXACTLY the same term I used.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink


    • glen cullen
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      It almost blasphemy to say anything bad about the NHS

      And Unions and Labour are calling today for a pay rise for the NHS….these the same senior consultants doctors on £100k+ and specialist nurse on £40k+

      Tell it to the people being made unemployed at the end of this month

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Peter Kay’s video was a nice thank you, it involved videos from everyone from NHS, care workers, street and other cleaners, to delivery drivers and shop workers.

      The NHS seems to be working on near end of life care at the moment they can’t give us the success rates even a month in arrears (what about all the other major conditions that are killing people does that person have to catch CV19 to get their operations?), how many people have they treated on ventilators that have survived after all this massive fuss the media made for new ventilators?

      They closed down all private hospitals four weeks ago how many patients have they treated?

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      That the NHS is not a lovable thing is borne out by the billions it pays out each year on medical negligence claims. An awful lot of people in this country have got it in for it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      It is indeed the envy of no one sensible let alone the world. Though clearly there are very many hard working and diligent people heroically working for it. The system is absurd, worse still it kill other more competitive alternative as it is hard to compete against “free”. A dire, incompetent, state monopoly, top down, rationing system.

      We have you taxes already so you get what you are given or not given or get lost!

  26. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    The lockdown started with a small extension, then a longer one, then an even longer one etc – exactly the same as the Brexit delays.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Now don’t you go jinx the brexit talks….its the only thing left that I’ve got to look forward too

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        done by video….is it Zoom? — could a hacker please tell us how we join in? Xi Jinping looking inscrutable in one window.
        Beats the daily Three Wise Persons who obviously drew the short straws.

        • glen cullen
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

          well that would be worth watching

  27. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that the current scientists advising the government are focused on the CV19 virus and the risks associated therefrom. Patients with other life threatening illnesses have in some cases been ignored and left to their fate. The government needs to have a much wider appreciation of the risks to the wider physical and mental health of the population and the devastating effects of destroying large sections of the economy. Recently we were told there were 5 tests which needed to be met to relax the lockdown. The 5th in the list was no risk of a second wave. This is unachievable in the foreseeable future. No scientist, at this stage, will ever say there is no such risk. Too much has been sacrificed in dealing with this pandemic and the poor way in which statistics have been presented is deplorable, particularly given all the talk of ‘the need to flatten the curve and reduce the peak’. The government must do the job for which it was elected. It must take a wider view of the health of the country and its citizens in all its guises.

  28. Christine
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    People are more likely to stay at home if they have something productive to do. Garden centres, DIY shops, building merchants, electrical stores and takeaways should be fully open with social distancing in place. If we don’t start rewarding people for their good behaviour then patience will wear thin. Why people from the same household can’t sunbath in parks is beyond me.

    If people consider the restrictions ludicrous they won’t abide by them. It’s as simple as that.

  29. Chris B
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Please don’t fall for this overemphasis on the graphs of daily deaths, that’s what the scientists want you to do.
    The important thing is how many people are infectious now, daily deaths relate to how many people were infectious 3 weeks ago. Data on 111 calls and on the Zoe symptom tracker app show new infections down to less than a quarter of the peak.
    Can I suggest asking the Swedish experts for advice, or at least follow their discussion. They seem to be the only experts worldwide that have a feel for of the dynamics of the virus in real time. I’m not saying their solution would have been appropriate for us.
    The climbdown from the lockdown will have to be staged as its trial and error, so the sooner we start the better.

  30. George Brooks.
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Sir John, I am no medic but I would like to highlight three separate incidents/articles that have occurred this week and need to be examined by our scientists and medics.

    April 20th the New York Times published and article by a Dr Levitan, an emergency specialist of 30 years experience, who spent 10 days working in the ICU of the Bellevue hospital NY and found that ventilators were most likely killing more patients than restoring them back to health.

    Thursday and Friday Sky News ran a story whereby the Warrington hospital improvised a sleep disorder machine which worked very effectively without the invention needed for a ventilator.

    Today in ‘Conservative Woman’ there is an article by a Dr Mikko Paunio from Finland examining very recent surveys in a number US hotspots from which it would appear that the virus effects a lot of people who have never had a symptom and we could be heading towards herd immunity without realising it.

    The virus appears to attack and close down the little sacks in our lungs but we don’t struggle to breathe until it is very nearly too late. In the build up, the only detection appears to be the reducing level of oxygen in the blood stream and if this is restored the damage to the little sack seems to stop and the patient recovers. A pulse/oximeter seems able to give this early warning

    All of this is point towards a possible exit from the lock down rather than extending it until there is a ‘test and trace’ system working. Also this virus may not be as deadly as we imagine or are lead to believe. These three separate incidents all tie together and point in this direction.

    I would urge that this information is studied by our medics and scientists soonest

  31. a-tracy
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I suspect we’ll come out of Lockdown when the EU tells us we can, Macron has already threatened the U.K. if we come out too early creating an economic advantage over France, people say France and Germany went in much earlier than us but they didn’t London started closing down on 17th March by the Wednesday Sturgeon told everyone the Lockdown was coming and over the next two days the London exodus was complete, the order to close was from midnight on 20th March but most schools had already started to close.

    What we should be answering now is where new cases in hospitals, especially in the regions are coming into hospital from and track and trace every new patient properly, were they working, in what job role, test their contacts and see what systems still in place has the leak.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      France feels threatened with good cause, but probably was going to be after a year or two. Now with the damn lockdown add another year.

    • rose
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      The EU has used H and S as a means of ruling the member countries politically through subverting the Single Market. They will find a way to continue with this policy, probably through disrupting the borders on H and S grounds..

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      France has a far worse death rate than we do.

  32. ChrisS
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Listening to wise economic counsel would indicate that the country cannot afford for the economy to be closed down so effectively for much longer. If the current situation is maintained until well into the Autumn, as the scientists would like, we could well find that we have little left to revive We would certainly see High Streets up and down the land littered with derelict shops.

    Those that don’t reopen are most likely to remain closed permanently as the pandemic has accelerated customers switching to shopping online and finding just how convenient it is. We certainly don’t need any more charity shops or estate agencies !

    With the NHS bolstered by the Nightingale hospitals, more of which could be rapidly built, if not easily staffed, there is surely scope to open up the economy. Foir Example, why on earth has the Government insisted that Garden Centres remain closed at a time when gardening is an activity that more people than ever could enjoy ?

    To preserve the lives of the most vulnerable group and keep undue pressure off the NHS, it will undoubtedly be necessary to ask those over 60 to remain in semi-isolation until a vaccine is available.

    The Government could lower the state pension age back down temporarily to encourage some over-60s in non-essential jobs to retire. That would be a very small cost that would free up jobs for many younger people who will inevitably find their own jobs have disappeared. permanently.

  33. Derek Henry
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    What’s really important when it comes to brexit.

    All this talk about the BOE now using the ways and means account.

    It was all there to see pre 1997. But again apart from MMT the mainstream were asleep at the wheel.

    They acted as if pre 1997 did not exist and most of the analysis was On the Kaldorian view point of fixed exchange rates. With the gold standard thrown in.

    It is from November 1999 and describes the accounting and function changes that occurred as a result of Maastrict and with Bank of England independence.

    Paragraph 37 , the government simply spent according to direction from Parliament and this was expressed as money injected into the economy via the Bank of England. Then the Bank of England issued gilts (though always a liability of Treasury) solely with an eye on monetary conditions

    In cases where not all of the government spending was drained – because the monetary objectives didn’t require it – then Ways and Means account simply acted as a balancing function, an IOU of the Treasury

    We have Treasury IOUs backing central bank money creation, but as explicit, overt, unequivocal money creation by government spending. And the only concern in this system is the monetary target, i.e. inflation.

    Post-1997 we have the system that we have now. The Treasury (DMO) is now responsible for cash management which means it has to clean up after itself by issuing gilts to neutralise its spending.

    Neoliberal central – I hate liberals.

    So now it has to buy back some of the gilts that the DMO sold. Again, we have net money added to the economy backed by a Treasury IOU, though this time it is a gilt rather than an entry in the Ways and Means account.

    There is NOTHING stopping us from using the ways and means account to fund Brexit. Deficit spending without issuing debt.

    The only thing stopping us are the neoliberals and the space between our ears.

  34. C Booth
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Is it time to review the furlough rules? They give many businesses a perverse incentive to stay closed when they need not, thus stalling the wider economy. Builders merchants and plant hire companies are a good example.

  35. Christine
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    We are told studies are being carried out but the Government don’t tell us the results. Looking across the world, we see apparent success with:

    Hydroxychloroquine delivered early
    Hydroxychloroquine + zinc delivered early
    Plasma therapy
    Immune boosters – Vitamin D3, vitamin C, zinc, elderberry, Quercetin
    Facemasks for everyone

    I don’t know if we have a central scientific team looking at options and then properly evaluating them but this is certainly something I’d put in place.

    Collect data, analyse data, conduct lots of clinical trials. Even offer a prize to anyone who comes up with a proven cure; like the John Harrison marine chronometer.

    The MSMs fixation with PPE, testing and gotcha questioning is getting very wearing. We want to see data and facts.

    • Richard
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      +1 Lots of good points.
      It is difficult to understand the lack of advice on boosting the immune system – a generic answer to many diseases.

    • anon
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      It seems interventions early enough maybe enough to allow the immune system time to re-organize, identify and engage directly.
      Even early oxygen support alone seems to help, the downsides of all of the above seem small to me at low doses, particularly if monitored.

      Why are we not seeing the facts indeed?

  36. Mark O' Really us
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Yes it’s deathly hard being a government knowing you are ‘out of power at the next voter opportunity, for generations including the ones lost.

  37. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The reference point for lifting lockdown measures seems to be the fatality figures for the virus. Perhaps that won’t go down much anyway, given there are a continuous stream of victims presented to the hospitals and care homes. I guess hospital infections will improve over time, as nurses and doctors get better at infection control with improved PPE availability, but the care homes are more limited in what they can do (Are they going to isolate all residents and care for them with PPE at all times?).

    Another point on the science aspect. There appears to be no information on the distribution of people who are contracting the illness. All we’re told is that all but a handful amongst the daily hundreds of fatalities had underlying health conditions – that tells me this is a hospital and care home infection. What about the supermarket staff, which have continued working and facing the public all through this? Are they going down with the virus?

    • Zorro
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      10,000 people die in care homes on average a month anyway. And if they are reported as ‘dying with COVID 19’ the numbers will never go down!


      • hefner
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        On ‘Weekly all-cause mortality surveillance week 17’
        Whatever way one might want to twist and shout (Well shake it up baby now) there clearly is a mortality this spring in excess of what was seen in previous years, whether it is Covid-19 related or not.

  38. Lorna
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Seeing the extensive plans being made in Italy for return to work I feel the U.K. also needs to be looking at public transport social distancing measures
    The Mayor of London has furloughed many staff but has spoken of none of his plans for the future which would greatly assure users of the services
    Examples are enclosed

  39. Man of Kent
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Americans who filed a tax return return in either 2018 and /or 2019 will receive a stimulus cheque or direct deposit of $1,200 very shortly .
    This is a one off stimulus payment .
    Sadly we don’t seem able to trust our own people with their own money .
    We must give it to a Quango to use as it sees fit .

    Time for a change ?

  40. BOF
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    An excellent summary of our situation Sir John.

    My view. Lift the lockdown now.

  41. zorro
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I think that once this ‘event’ is properly investigated, there will be a huge political reckoning for the government and nothing Al Johnson can do will save them. They have been negligent in not challenging the medical advice. How dare Chris Whitty act like quasi PM and put a position on how long the lockdown should last.

    How dare he! I did not elect HIM!

    This idol worship of ‘PROTECT THE NHS’ is a disgusting thing. They should be protecting us by managing their resources, not leaving so many beds empty, and not cancelling important operations, oh and not gyrating around like X-Factor wannabes. How sickening!

    More and more scientists and epidemiologists are calling out these policies which are destroying the economy, livelihoods, AND MANY MORE LIVES THAN COVID 19!

    They are desperately looking for a way out but do not deserve. A bunch of lightweight public school idiots who can’t be bothered to question or challenge ‘experts’.

    If Priti Patel comes out threatening a tighter lockdown this afternoon, it will be the start of this government’s death knell. She can’t even be bothered to control the undocumented immigrants crossing the channel. She has paid the French a ton of money to stop this and THEY ARE LAUGHING AT US!


    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      ‘PROTECT THE NHS’ is a disgusting thing – Agreed

    • everyone knows
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      More and more scientists and epidemiologists are calling out these policies which are destroying the economy, livelihoods, AND MANY MORE LIVES THAN COVID 19!


      Who is going to say the Emperor has no clothes?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      A friend currently undergoing Chemo therapy contracted CV19 (hospitals are rife as usual – they are not clean!). His wife got it too. Both fully recovered.
      Lift the lockdown and let’s start the enquiry! Closing down a number of universities, half the NHS and Lambeth Palace for starters should save a few bob.

      • percy openshaw
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

        I share your disdain for the way in which we are told to idolise our health service. It is supposedly there to protect us; we are not here in order to protect it! If it has come to this, that the public has to die in large numbers in order to sustain a model of alleged “care”, then that model is plainly, obviously and scandalously at fault. It is high time it was reformed along market lines. And if the government is too scared to used its vast majority in parliament for this worthy purpose, let it put it to the public – in a referendum! Such an exercise might well yield another surprise.

  42. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    There is a confusing definition being used as to what science is.

    Is it the lab test, as in try and try again until some definitive result is produced. That is then subjected to a peer review.

    Or is it just guess work.

    Given that no one in the world has a cure for this virus and no one in the world has a working model how to control it, the only conclusion must be someone is guessing.

    Then we get these guesses have to be kept secret, although it us as taxpayers paying for them also as taxpayers we are not allowed to know the identities of the secret cabal.

    We know this is a virus that originated from China but do we have to also accept their form control and manipulation?

    • hefner
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      It is pretty obvious that the first lab that will develop and test a working vaccine without (too many) side effects together with the pharma company that will take that research and produce the doses on a global scale is likely to make billions.

      Do you really expect all this research to be put in the open? And contrary to what you seem to think most of the pharmaceutical companies are not paid by the taxpayers but as private companies they exist with the money they collected over the years developing and selling stuff, and helped with the money from their institutional and individual investors.

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Membership of WHO Scientific Advisory Group on Epidemics is available at (Current SAGE members).
      As for that of the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, the list of the 23 attendees is available at:
      ‘Who’s who on secret scientific group advising UK government?’ by Ian Sample, 24/04/2020 18:42

  43. Diane
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Controls / tighter lockdown ( + Zorro’s comment ) The continuous flow of boats from France at this time is indeed concerning and most info is usually only found by looking into the Local News tab ( BBC ) under Dover. Tighter lockdown in the right areas is what’s called for. The returns to France as opposed to numbers landed here at the times of these incidents is often minimal if what we read is correct. Millions £/Eur to France ( six if I recall correctly, initially ) Have looked at this for the last few weeks & approx. 500 persons landed & of course needing monitoring, testing presumably, basic PPE. Total 76 arrivals recorded yesterday. Any reports we see give little information at the time of the event & little thereafter. Why so little clarity & transparency? I did read though that the UK made a formal bilateral agreement with Greece this week, seen in ‘The Greek Reporter’, to support efforts to control irregular immigration. The strategic plan, amongst other things, is reported to provide for the reallocation of unaccompanied minors from Greece to the UK & the reunification of refugee children with any relatives who are already in the UK. In addition, the Greek Coastguard will, it is reported, also stage joint search and rescue operations in the Aegean Sea with the UK’s Border Force.
    Tight(er) lockdown it seems ( seen recent Text messages ) is calling on some to stay indoors until the end of June & delegate all other necessities to others, prescriptions, shopping e.g. Advice / permission is given to open a window in the house but advised to remain indoors unless advised otherwise by a health professional. The messages are automated & the sender obviously has no idea about anything about how those message recipients are living their lives or how they have been coping & living their lives since January. They’ve already been sensible and survived up to now, not using public transport, avoiding crowded areas & shops & cafes / restaurants when they were open, being extra careful & limiting shopping trips to bare minimum & making an effort to eat healthily, taking a local daily walk for exercise and not seeing friends or relatives.

  44. Caterpillar
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    {Sorry for length Sir John, I hope you have time to read}

    The fundamental problem is that the ‘decision’, at least publicly, has not been framed in terms of decision science, indeed there may even be no methodology at all. Some contributors to Sir John’s site in recent weeks and Sir John’s final paragraph today suggest that there should be an overall objective such as welfare, quality life years or similar. Sadly the Govt has not framed the decision in this way, so I think we may need a framing that works from where Govt is and from where some research publications are – the Govt needs to be able to sell it to implement it. So:
    The Govt’s five tests, though slightly jumbled, can be linked to reducing R (or ability to cope with higher R), some have argued to strictly less than 1 for epidemic to die out. This means we are (wrongly) in the virus vs. economy mode of thinking, so the decision can be structured in this way. Hypothesise a graph with R along the ordinate (y) axis and an economic measure (e.g. GDP) along the abscissa (x) axis; this line likely points up to the right (at least for reasonable levels of R). Taking the R=1 target then in coming out of lockdown the aim is (i) to be as far up the line as possible but below R=1 (the intersection) and (ii) to shift the line as far down the graph as possible.
    Strategy to do this depends on (i) test available and their best stratified use (this can leverage the Govt’s and PHE’s insistence on developing U.K. industrial scale testing and their appraisal of other means of testing), (ii) social distancing approaches and (iii) the most important areas of economy (GVA or otherwise).
    On stratified testing I point those interested (and hopefully Mr Hancock) to the paper by Cleevely et al (2020) –link in a reply below – but the essence is to design the testing regime to efficiently reduce R as much as possible. This means those people who are in occupations that are unlocked and are most likely to spread the disease are tested more regularly and in a structured, not random way e.g. health workers might be tested weekly on a schedule and if they test positive they are isolated. In terms of efficient R reduction this requires identifying the groups/occupations that are most likely to spread the virus and directing more/better testing at those groups (if unlocked). When considering the R vs. economic measure framing it is about maximising the economic measure per increase in R (like project choice under constrained resources). Cleevely et al also note the role of false negatives of the test vs. time for result, and the relationship to reducing R (putting an individual in isolation). Very roughly, if an individual with CV is highly infective for about 7 days and this is identified quickly, putting them in isolation stops 7 days of infective behaviour; a test with 0% false negatives seems ideal in that everyone tested who has the virus is picked up and isolated, but if it takes two days turn around (e.g. as some tests are taking) then 2 days of isolation does not occur. So if there is a test that has more false negatives but gives an instantaneous result then it can be better in terms of R, some infected are missed but this is not as serious as the two day lag. Each type of test has both a false negative (plus a result lag) and a false positive characteristic, the first is key to reducing R the second is key to maximizing the economy – a false negative leaves an infected in the population whilst a false positive unnecessarily removes labour from the economy. [The lockdown can be framed as a simple test that if you are breathing the assumption is that you are infected, there are zero false negatives everyone is isolated R is reduced; there are many false positives the economy stops.]
    So the exit strategy needs to align frequent, high specificity, high sensitivity, low lag tests with groups of higher R0 and high economic value, and lower quality tests with lower R0 and lower economic value (e.g. a morning temperature measure when starting work has more false negatives and more false positives but is easy to roll out).
    The Civil Service has decision scientists; is the Govt using them?

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Aside: – we shouldn’t make science and economics out to be evil, just because some scientists and some economists are narrow specialists or have different values/motives, these are not functions of the discipline but of the individuals. Don’t let experts devalue expertise.

  45. Stred
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Lord Gus o Donnel ot God, the former head of the civil service appeared on the news about 6pm yesterday. He said that the government will have to carefully assess all of the pros and cons of the situation and allot numbers to them, such as the life years lost and the cost of failed business. Rather like NICE gives patients QUALIS before turning them off. At the end, he gave his guesstimate on the date of the end of lock down. It was mid June, which happens to be about the same date as the forecast of the epidemic from the start. He didn’t even suggest a way to get the economy going again without taking much risk of a flare up of infection. Expect more dithering and obfuscation.

  46. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    We are all in this together.
    Accept of course if you derive livelihood from the taxpayer

    Nursing Staff this week have shown how busy they are by having ‘Dance Offs’, between different Hospitals, in the corridors and empty wards. Fully choreographed, Videoed then edited and plastered all over the internet – to see who gets the most likes? Under pressure, not them. Social Distancing , not them.

    MsM shows 6 on duty Policemen turning up at Burger Bar. Social Distancing? All 6 would fit inside a 2 meter box/square. So the advice they hand out is not for them.
    Thursday evening, happy clappers on Westminster Bridge and surrounding area, Social Distancing – not for them. Stay at home save lives – not for them. The majority demonstrating were clearly those in secure taxpayer funded work.

    All those in safe and secure in receipt of the Taxpayer pound, then have the audacity to pass remarks when those desperate to put food on the table are seen not to be complying with our rulers decrees.

    I have no doubt there would be full compliance with all the desires and wishes handed down, if only the All In This Together was clearly demonstrated by All.

    The powers that be see what is meant for the People should not include the establishment. Guess who will be picking up and paying the bills when this is all over?

    The Conservative Party got the whole Country behind it a few months ago. Everyone was positive and could see a united way to move forward. One Nation Conservatism at its best. Now every day we get there is you and there is us, it is one rule for one sector and do as I say for everyone else.

  47. James
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John
    I agree we need to balance the health of the nation and the economy
    My business has lost 95% of its business [25 years old] [80% in the 07/08 financial
    crisis and recovered ] as have many of my 1500 regular clients generally in the legal
    profession [left out of any financial support generally ] The legal profession
    will lose many thousands of these professional firms to this crisis.
    I have no access to government support for my business.
    Whilst I understand we need to manage our way out of the crisis step by step
    We need to understand how this will be done with clarity so we can plan and
    prepare for it , and the government must stop treating us like children .And treat us
    with respect and value our intelligence.
    Majority of us have complied with the rule’s lets not let the minority spoil it for the
    Social Distancing works in supermarkets/ pharmacies so it can work in many of our businesses. [with rules ]
    It’s our kids and grand kids futures we are playing with here
    The science deals in facts whereas businesses take risks on a daily basis
    Stop telling us what we want. allow us to tell you what we want.
    Also the Banks are behaving badly once again [protecting their margins yet again ]
    Kindest regards
    Jim Willis
    Director Attfield James Ltd
    Chair of Earley /Lower Earley NAG
    Community Forum

  48. James
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    please help us out of this lock-down and save our economy from complete meltdown

  49. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    The trouble with leaving the big decision on lockdown to the scientists is that they are conservative regarding the health risks and reckless or uncaring regarding the economic risks.

    We might ponder on the policy of Sweden and its effect. The Swedes do not have a formal lockdown. They simply advise their people to maintain a social distance of two metres. For example, restaurants implement the policy by spacing their tables further apart but remain open. People mingle in public parks.

    Sweden currently has fewer cases of Coronavirus per million population than the UK and its deaths to cases ratio is roughly the same. Italy has a severe lockdown in place but has more deaths than the UK. So maybe lockdown isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    I favour a rapid unwinding of the UK lockdown as soon as Coronavirus deaths per day are less than 500 and falling, which could be within one or two weeks. Workplaces with a low population and social spacing could start immediately and sporting events could take place behind closed doors. Limited attendance in parks, on beaches and on golf courses would be OK. And Sir John’s idea of permanently increasing working from home is a good one.

  50. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    In Worthing some supermarkets are not bothering with social distancing. They are packed out with people. People are visiting friends and relatives and are fed up with the lock down. Here in shropshire it’s the same. Bunches of youths having BBBQS and lovers coming and going from each others homes. Let’s face it, compared with the rest of Europe there us no comparison. Italy and Spain have imposed a real lockdown. We are still letting people in. It’s all a bit pathetic really and typicall low key and British.

  51. Richard
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Sir John for your efforts to persuade the Government to end this mad policy.

    The data seems to indicate that it is the Lockdown itself that may be causing many of the extra deaths.

  52. L Jones
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t actually read this yet. Or any of the comments – as I’ve not been able to do so for a couple of days, so I’m catching up..
    But the word ”controls” is particularly chilling – no matter what it appertains to.

  53. a-tracy
    Posted April 30, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Can we ask the Government to explain why after six weeks of lockdown isolation children will be infectious? Has testing shown that they carry the virus in their bodies for months on end? How many children are currently being treated in hospital with this virus or illnesses originating from this virus?

    Will we have to have a complete reset and start the next year’s education for everyone from January and just finish the academic year Sept through to December with exams in early November?

    Who is still infectious in the adult population? Who is giving the people currently coming into hospitals the virus, how many people are those you are repatriating? What have they been doing for the past six weeks?

    The problem with the silly furlough decisions is that you have to stand someone down for three weeks rather than just a week at a time to spread the burden of work around the rest of the workforce, your distrust of small enterpreneurs has led to poor decisions and profiting big business instead, now you get people asking to be furloughed because they’d be better off doing nothing at home not because they are ill just because they’ve worked out with their overtime from last year boosting furlough why should they work for nothing?

    I’ve had people who have been on long term sick leave wanting to be furloughed because they’re better off on furlough pay than sick pay even though they have a letter from their GP saying they must self-isolate for 12 weeks so which is it carry on with sick leave even though their GP says now they are suddenly fit for work but can’t because they can’t leave home or furlough?

  54. a-tracy
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    This app, what happens when two cars pass within 2m but with two glass screens the app won’t know that, walking past someone’s front room with glass between on the pavement the app wouldn’t know, or behind a plastic screen say at a bank or shop, there may be no risk but the app would tell them to stay off work, what for two weeks on ssp? Then does everyone in the office that worked with them have to go off sick for two weeks? Stopped in a car next to a bus or I could be in the passenger seat waiting to get onto our estate with 50 cars driving closely past with the drivers within 2m of me at no risk or people walking past me as they cross the road whilst I’m sat in the car but an app would say I was? This monitoring every moment with your phone who you are near this is worse than a prison tag and the potential requirement then not to work is a real restriction on people’s liberty.

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    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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