The Transmission rate and the lock down

On Monday I was at last a winner in the lottery to get to ask a question in the Commons. The occasion was the Urgent Question on the government’s approach to the lock down.

I followed up the work I have been doing and the issues I have been raising with Ministers over the scientific advice concerning the transmission of the virus and how we arrest it. The Secretary of State confirmed my argument that I have been putting for some time that to get a more accurate estimate of the transmission rate the scientists need a run of numbers of how many people in the country have the virus, based on sample tests that seek to capture the population as a whole.

He also confirmed my other point, that it is difficult constructing an accurate trend for the UK for the early weeks of the disease, because this sample testing was not then carried out. There is a danger that the numbers collected then are misleading, or that the presence of many more tests later detects more of the virus than was detected in the period of few tests.

It must also follow that as they move to more localised lock downs they will need even more accurate sampled testing to see what is going on town by town or smaller area. It appears that infection control in hospitals and care homes is also crucial, as these centres may have spread the disease more intensely than social gatherings.

There is a good case to relax the social distancing requirement from 2 metres to 1 metre as soon as possible. The evidence is very little extra protection is offered by the longer distance, though the economic impact of the reduction would be most helpful to hospitality and travel businesses.


  1. matthu
    June 10, 2020

    I would imagine that hospitality businesses would also benefit by dispensing with the requirement to wear masks.

    1. Peter
      June 10, 2020

      I suspect the government are not particularly keen on the publication of accurate numbers – that’s assuming they can be established in the first place.

      Uncertainty is useful when you want evidence to support a particular policy. Statistics can then be used for support rather than the numbers actually driving the policy.

      If you are making it up as you go along, to suit the various pressures at the time then you don’t need clarity.

      1. Narrow Shoulders
        June 10, 2020

        I read an very good post from someone today who congratulated the virus on being able to adapt to the views of the media outlet or person commenting on it.

      2. DavidJ
        June 10, 2020

        Good point Peter; I agree.

    2. glen cullen
      June 10, 2020

      The wearing of a mask was a fad promoted by the media, almost no one is now wearing a mask in my city

      People just don’t have faith in this lockdown and don’t believe the nonsense from the govt daily briefing

      1. Ian Wragg
        June 10, 2020

        Now that the protesters have been seen to break the rules with impunity I no longer accept them.
        If any plod tries to fine me I will gladly fight it in court.

    3. Richard
      June 10, 2020

      The evidence is mostly against mask-wearing by the general public. It is ineffective, may take attention away from other protective measures, and is detrimental to the wearer’s health when worn for extended periods of time.
      (See )

  2. Kevin
    June 10, 2020

    This may be off-topic, but I believe it is still relevant, as you mentioned recently that you care about the future of our country.

    I have read the Prime Minister’s statement on the events in London this past weekend. He begins by observing that the death of George Floyd took place thousands of miles away, before proceeding to reflect on matters here. As the Prime Minister made particular mention of the treatment of a black man “at the hands of the police”, a recent domestic example that sprand to my mind is the case of Oluwole Ilesanmi, who, last year, as reported by The Mail on Sunday, received a payout of £2,500 from Scotland Yard that included compensation for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, and aggravated damages for exceptional harm and humiliating and distressing treatment. Mr. Ilesanmi was described as a Christian street preacher who had his Bible wrested from him as he was handcuffed and taken away by police.

    I wonder if Scotland Yard will now go a step further, approach Mr. Ilesanmi, if he has resumed his vocation, and genuflect.

    1. matthu
      June 10, 2020

      Are there no good men or women who stand out from more than 200 years ago – or have they all been tainted by slavery?

      1. matthu
        June 10, 2020

        What I find far more disturbing is the practice of naming buildings, dams or squares after recent politicians who may not even have died yet. Perhaps there should be a law forbidding this for 50 years after they have died.

        1. Martin in Cardiff
          June 10, 2020

          Well, we have a Redwood building in Cardiff.

      2. Dennis
        June 10, 2020

        What about the institutions and companies which have become rich on slavery? There must be many of them including a load of politicians past and present.
        Can any ne make a list?

        1. Dennis
          June 10, 2020

          And landowners/property.

  3. Adult
    June 10, 2020

    I have a strong feeling that the next time we are subjected to a Virus attack, the medical experts be rounded up and put in a coma for the duration the outbreak.
    Their contribution has been to the negative.

    1. Dave Andrews
      June 10, 2020

      Perhaps the next virus will disproportionately affect young and underfed women, rather than elderly and overweight men, and the governments of this world will take little notice of it.

    2. Andy
      June 10, 2020

      Countries which followed the World Health Organisation’s advice have largely been successful in containing Covid 19. Boris Johnson ignored the advice and his government is now considered, in a poll of voters, to be the world’s worst.

    3. A.Sedgwick
      June 10, 2020

      There are too many of them regardless of Covid. Their omnipresence has been counterproductive. Only recently are we reading opinions from their peers.

      From the start this was a supply and logistics problem. A small committee with an appropriate Army expert included should have run the show. I used to think COBRA meeting reflected the striking snake, but no it refers to COmmittee Briefing Room A – very dynamic.

      Too many horses bolting from open stables is careless as exemplified by this farcical three month late quarantine.

  4. oldtimer
    June 10, 2020

    I think it was either the CSA or CMO who said, in one of the Downing St briefings, that what mattered more than the 2 metre distance was the way you were facing. Back to back or side by side facing the same way was safer than face to face. It should not be beyond the wit of even PHE to work out something more rational than the present 2m rule. But I concede that others may think it too much for the infantilised population that now inhabits these islands to cope with such a responsibility.

    1. bigneil(newercomp)
      June 10, 2020

      And include, if outside, the direction of the breeze.

      1. Dennis
        June 10, 2020

        If I meet anyone indoors or outside I always stand on my head which make about 1.7m from respective eyes/noses/mouths.

  5. Mark B
    June 10, 2020

    Good morning.

    For a moment there when you said you’d won the lottery I thought it was the National one 🙂 But I suppose for an MP in these times the odds of winning a probably similar.

    It’s all too late ! All you will be doing is measuring a declining trend. And what is the point of that ? Everything just seems all too little and too late. What is it with this so called government ? Others here have stated that it is not acting normally. Could this be the result of BREXIT ?? Could it be that the UK Government, freed from its wet nurse (EU) has forgotten how to govern ?

    Forget about the small silly stuff like social distancing, and just get the country back to work. Well, for at least those who will have a job.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 10, 2020

      Well he certainly deserves to win the National Lottery but I doubt he is daft enought to buy tickets.

      I have never bought a ticket myself but have won. This by winning a ticket at a golf driving range (by drawing a red golf ball in my batch) and then this winning £10.

    2. Sir Joe Soap
      June 10, 2020

      Too late because too inexperienced.

      Most of these are wet behind the ears. Hancock, Jenrick, Sharma, Wateley, Raab, Williamson.

      Replace with D Davis, our Host, Howard, Lilley, I D Smith, Lamont. Even Patten talking sense this morning about Rhodes Scholarships.

      1. Lynn Atkinson
        June 10, 2020

        Cecil John Rhodes extended the vote to non whites when he was the Governor of the Cape. This was reversed by those of Continental European decent.
        ‘The Cape Qualified Franchise first appeared in 1853, when the Cape Colony received representative government and elected its first parliament. This was done without regard to race, and a non-racial voters roll became part of the Cape’s 1853 Constitution.‘ Wiki

  6. Lifelogic
    June 10, 2020

    The chance to the virus spreading is clearly related not just to distance but to time spent together, wind and/or airconditioning systems, are the people breathing heavily, exercising singing, sneezing, touching the same surfaces and objects, touching each other, facing either other and countless other variables. The one metre two metres discussion is rather silly.

    There is however now a lot of good news about:-

    1. It certainly seems that people who have had it do seem to have aquired immunity in general.
    2. The virus does seem to have evolved to become less deadly
    3. Some countries hospitals have managed to keep deaths down to a very low percentage of those infected. In Singapore only 0.06% of tested positive people have died. Had the NHS and the UK healthcare system been this efficient we would have had under 200 deaths! On German death/tested positve rates we would have had only about 10,000 deaths. Time to get back to work.

    Alas the system actually actively pushed the infection into ill equiped and hugely vulnerable care homes. Nearly half the people who have died did not even get any hospital treatment or were even kicked out of hospital with the infection.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 10, 2020

      Time to get the NHS to learn from other health care systems and to address the appalling failures of our state monopoly healthcare system and the pathetic pandemic advance planning we had and much else.

      More good news the number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 29 May 2020 was 9,824 (only 1,653 deaths higher than the five-year average for this week). We are well past the weeks where excess deaths were as high as 11,500. Time to get back to work now as otherwise far more death with result from not doing so than doing so.

      Still more good news looking at how the death rate go up so much in winter we can clearly extend many thousands of lives with cheap, reliable non green crap energy and better heating and insulation systems for our elderly. If we want to do so. So ditch the energy lunacy and war and plant food please.

      1. DavidJ
        June 10, 2020

        Excellent comment. The NHS, in my recent experience, is a model of shambolic organisation although surgical procedures can be excellent once one manages to negotiate the incompetence and the unfit for purpose systems.

      2. Lynn Atkinson
        June 10, 2020

        The NHS can’t learn.

    2. zorro
      June 10, 2020

      If the virus had been allowed to spread more quickly amongst the fitter population, it would have weakened quicker. All the lockdown has done is to extend its lifespan and to isolate the elderly and infirm and make them more liable to be unable to fight off the virus!


  7. Cheshire Girl
    June 10, 2020

    Despite the efforts of the Demonstrators all over the country, to increase the spread of the virus, I was thrilled to hear that the Zoos will be able to open on Monday.

    A little bit of good news in the misery of the past few days..

    1. Mike Wilson
      June 10, 2020

      I’d be thrilled to hear zoos were closing permanently and the animals, imprisoned without trial, carefully returned to the wild. Endangered species should be cared for in the wild.

      1. Robert McDonald
        June 10, 2020

        Far more difficult to care for animals in the wild, they tend to get eaten by their predators, including hungry / greedy humans, or they get ravaged by disease and vets are not camped by every tree. More nice sound bites that are thoughtless. The Zoos I see tend to try to mirror wild animals wild conditions fairly well, and the ZOO keepers tend for them caringly.

        1. Mike Wilson
          June 10, 2020

          Species extinctions, by the million, have always taken place on this planet. We’ll be off, too, one day. In the meantime whose bright idea was it to appoint ourselves as the guardians of every current species. Especially when we breed at such a rate and remove habitats.

      2. turboterrier
        June 10, 2020

        Mike Wilson

        To be returned to be slaughtered by poachers and face extinction of the breed. Like all the monuments being ripped up to be removed in the hope they rewrite history.

        1. Mike Wilson
          June 10, 2020

          Look, tearing down a statue does not rewrite history. It means we don’t think much of slave traders. We can still read about them.

          And if we (you) were series about animal welfare, instead of spending money on zoos we’d spend on enough rangers to shoot the poachers.

      3. glen cullen
        June 10, 2020

        Fully agree, we are so enlighten that we take our children to see caged animals….we buy a panda bear and sent it half way around the world to increase attendance figures at a zoo…..close them all down

      4. Anonymous
        June 10, 2020

        They won’t be returned to the wild. They’ll be fed to each other and then the apex predators will be put down when their mates have run out.

        My local zoo is so poor already that they wait for local animals to wander in and then build cages around them when they’re sleeping. Pigeons, seagulls, rats, hedgehogs..

      5. rose
        June 10, 2020

        Returning them to the wild would have been good in the past, but not now: it would almost certainly result in their extinction. Zoos now serve to preserve wild life as much as to teach about it. It is a sad truth, as the zoo is no habitat for a wild animal.

        1. L Jones
          June 10, 2020

          Very well said, Rose. Zoos serve a valuable purpose, and the fact that the public can go and see this animals is a valuable way of teaching children the importance of the animals’ place on the planet. Much more immediate and impressive than a wildlife programme.
          Why do people think that zoos are nothing more than gawping places and that the animals are badly treated? Animals live their lives to eat and breed and if they are not cruelly treated, then life (for most of them) is good.
          ”Return them to the wild” – a good idea – really?

          1. Mike Wilson
            June 10, 2020

            What, I wonder, is the ‘importance of the animals’ place on this planet’? You kill them to eat, farm them in the most appalling conditions, hunt them (with many dying a lingering death), trap them, fish them, wear their coats and perform the most grotesque and inhumane experiments on them. Then you go to a zoo and look at a caged panda and buy a cuddly toy. The mind boggles.

      6. Stred
        June 10, 2020

        Cummings’s wife wrote an interesting article in the Spectator recently. The animals in zoos like to watch the humans and are missing them, except for the penguins, who have a whale of a time anyway.

    2. Fedupsoutherner
      June 10, 2020

      Chester zoo in particular as they do real conservation work.

    3. William Long
      June 10, 2020

      Presumably the zoos are being opened to provide cages for some of the demonstrators?

    4. Everhopeful
      June 10, 2020

      Me too..relief…thought govt would have all animals put down.

  8. hospitality
    June 10, 2020

    I submit that we can forget about the hospitality and travel business for this year- and probably next- because between the virus and the brexit fallout we are looking at a double whammy of sorts- ‘a future for ourselves and by ourselves alone’- and for years to come- so think instead we should instead be planning best we can for that and whatever- also am disappointed and feel let down because despite all the promises made I still don’t see any new deals out there on the horizon either?

    1. Mike Wilson
      June 10, 2020

      Why the focus on deals? We should focus on being self sufficient in food and energy and make as much of what we buy as possible. Let’s trade with each other and keep things simple.

      1. Ian Wragg
        June 10, 2020

        We don’t need a deal.

      2. Valerie Guy
        June 10, 2020

        Great idea Mike. Yes, let’s junk every bit of learning about trade that economists since Adam Smith have accumulated over the last 250 years. Let’s just do what your gut instincts tell you, the experts can go hang. Brexit in a nutshell!

        1. czerwonadupa
          June 10, 2020

          Mine & many others gut instincts is certainly not to trust Barnier who comes with an outstretched begging bowl

        2. mancunius
          June 10, 2020

          Adam Smith counselled that free trade deals should not be made with countries and politicians (such as the EU) who do not grasp the concept of ‘free’, and deliberately use trade as a form of attempted political and economic coercion. Smith warned strongly against protectionism, and the EU’s egregious demands are the worst form of protectionism imaginable – amounting to economic warfare.
          His message is clear and simple: We should buy whatever we want from those who sell it cheapest. The EU cartell is not on that list by a long chalk.

        3. Mike Wilson
          June 10, 2020

          Perhaps you could explain the wonderful benefits, to this country, of global trade.

          And of being partly reliant on energy from abroad.

          The huge benefits of our massive balance of trade deficit.

          I wait with baited breath for your response. Although I don’t expect to get one.

          1. Edward2
            June 11, 2020

            Simple example for you Mike
            Look at East Germany versus West Germany.
            One a closed economy that did what you want.
            Hardly any trade with the rest of the world.
            Tried to self sufficient.
            The other an open economy that traded with the rest of the world.
            Poverty and little freedom for the East
            Wealth and freedom for the West.
            Global trade brings improved standards of living to people.
            A market for their goods and services.
            Especially in poorer countries.

    2. Lynn Atkinson
      June 10, 2020

      Long before the EU or even Common Market, my husband worked in Germany and has a German pension as a result.
      Why do you think Brexit means we can’t holiday in the EU?

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        June 11, 2020

        Your brexit doesn’t necessarily – it remains to be seen.

        However, the failure to deal properly with covid 19, as most of the European Union are now doing very much does.

  9. Ian @Barkham
    June 10, 2020

    We have not science but rough guess work at best as every situation is different

    On social distancing, it is shown that transmission is 50% greater at 1mtr than it is at 2mtrs. However time at close proximity is a big factor as is whether we are in side or out side. For the most part having a drink inside a pub at 1mtr and close to someone for more than 6mins. increases transmission by 500% compared to outside at 2mtrs.

    Then again the risk is yours, it is those that are asymptomatic that pose the greater danger.

    Until we have had the whole population having had an antibody test we will never know

    1. Dunc.
      June 10, 2020

      The problem with this argument is that you dont really know what the transition rate at 2 meters is.
      For instance , if it was 2% at 2 meter then it would be 3% at 1 meter, or a 97% chance of not catching it.
      Not bad odds.

      1. Ian @Barkham
        June 10, 2020

        Does anyone know? We have not yet been offered proper science. But time and whether you are inside or outside logically have to be factored in. As does the humidity level. Someone sneezing is said to project droplets for 37feet – great if you are in a small office.

        The again I said it is your risk, you get to choose whether to be exposed or even pass it around. Thinking of others can be a small price.

    2. Roy Grainger
      June 10, 2020

      Even with the whole population tested for antibodies we still won’t know because it seems many people have immunity, or at least resistance, via other means (T Cells).

      As usual we are failing to learn from other countries, ignoring experience around Europe about the low risks of opening schools and the low risk of 1m social distancing. One area of a clear misplaced sense of British exceptionalism is in the abilities of the scientists advising the government during the pandemic.

      1m social distancing should be brought in for restaurants. Anyone who thinks it is risky doesn’t have to use them.

    3. glen cullen
      June 10, 2020

      WHO have reported that asymptomatic carries are very rare and suggest that they don’t pass on the virus as believed

      Asymptomatic virus carries was promoted by governments via the media to control the public of unknown risks….and we fell for it

    4. Mockbeggar
      June 10, 2020

      Forgive me but ‘the risk’ as you say is not just yours. It is the risk that you will pass it on and the risk to the NHS staff who will have look after you or those you may infect.

      1. Ian @Barkham
        June 10, 2020

        Brevity, precludes 100% explanation. If you follow the original advice the risk is less than getting on the ‘tube’ to join a riot. So the risk is yours to take. But yes you are right those that are reckless are the ones spreading the virus.

        If the Government, WHO and the science is to believed after a 14day lock down there would no longer be a virus circulating. So either they are wrong on people just don’t care either way.

    5. DennisA
      June 10, 2020

      “it is those that are asymptomatic that pose the greater danger.”

      Or not, as the case may be. WHO is breaking ranks on this over the past few days.

      The mass protests around the country have effectively made anti-social distancing irrelevant. If I want to go to a pub, if and when they re-open, I will say I am attending a protest meeting and everything will be fine.

      Previous mass incursions into the countryside on bank holidays, Dominic Cummings to Barnard Castle, etc, have shown no spikes in cases or mortality even though there has been plenty of time to do so.

      To end the lockdown now without further ado, would be to lose face and de-legitimise the whole lockdown, so we must be fed dribs and drabs to keep us quiet.

  10. agricola
    June 10, 2020

    Yesterday in the news was an example of a care home which has not experienced any incident of Corona virus among its patients or staff. The common sense regime that had been implemented at this home was described. Conclusion, we have a routine that needs to be applied at every care home, so do it with less talk and more action.

    We have rules for the majority of the population that seem to have worked re social distancing. Fine, the majority of the population are sensible, understand the issues and get on with it. However Black Life Matters, with which I concur, but would add, All Life Matters. contains an element of anarchy that would add all their collective shoulder chips. Their vehicle, the unfortunate George Floyd, was a long way from the sanctified individual he is being turned into, check it out. In doing this they act contrary to social distancing rules, greatly risk cross infections and indulge their criminality in various ways. Our supine, PC, police force allow this to happen and give every indication that they sympathise with it. Their leadership should be hauled into Downing Street and be given the bollocking of a lifetime, sideways promotion to where they can do no harm, and replacement by officers who can recognise crime when it confronts them. Never mind Brexit or future pandemics, the inaction of our police force leave me in a state of despair for the future of the UK, which has become a society that is being allowed to rot from within.

    Back to the general. I think we should reinstate the concept of isolation hospitals, even if it means keeping them in mothballs, to deal with future pandemics. This would allow the general hospitals to continue with their normal work and not make cancer and heart patients the long term victims of a pandemic. When such a crisis arises in the future they would only need to go into fully sanitised mode. Give it some thought.

  11. Nigl
    June 10, 2020

    Frankly so what? Apart from the worrying fact that it has taken you so long to get confirmation if what has been blindingly obvious for weeks re the testing shambles. Surely the question is ‘and can you now confirm the system is fit for purpose and 100% accurate’?

    ‘Why are you insisting on 2 metres when it hasn’t been observed from day 1? My local shop hasn’t the space for two metre separation, passing people in supermarkets, public transport etc‘

    ‘Why can’t a dentist have its toilets available, when Tesco’s do, Sainsbury’s don’t, one garden centre does, another one doesn’t’?

    Why are masks effective from the 15th June but not tye 14th.

    What an utter shambles.

    Off topic i note your virtue signalling nakedly political attack on Huweii will cost us the world leadership in 5g and billions with the knock on for our pensions and wider economy.

    It will make no difference. Biting off your nose to spite your face. Just what we need when your dreadful management of this virus has already made this country virtually destitute.

    1. dixie
      June 11, 2020

      What world leadership in 5g?

      Buying lots of Mercedes does not make a place world leader in vehicle technology or manufacturing, just a place that buys stuff.

  12. Sharon Jagger
    June 10, 2020

    There was no spike after VE Day celebrations and if there’s no spike after the riots in London and Bristol, that will indicate that it may well be almost gone from the community. And when we consider supermarket workers and children and staff who have been working throughout in school…there’s been no new outbreaks. And apart from queuing to go into supermarkets, when you look around, people have been keeping to arms length but no way 2 metres.

    Let’s hope, apart from the hospitals and care homes, that this virus has run out of steam.

  13. M Hopkins
    June 10, 2020

    Dr Zoe Harcombe PhD has conducted a comprehensive review into all the evidence for social distancing from the first instruction to now, including that published in the Lancet. The result? “There is simply no evidence that a one or two meter rule among members of the public has ever been tested, let alone conclusive evidence to support it having been found.”

    Scrap social distancing now – it is based on lies not science. Get our children back to school immediately and get the country back to work as normal. No more excuses, no more lies.

    1. cornishstu
      June 10, 2020

      I liken it to the five a day rule a figure created by committee, little bearing on scientific fact. As people have said already, there are so many variables, I believe face masks to contain would be more beneficial with no direct contact rather than distancing with adherence to good hygiene. But then there were not enough for the front line never mind the general public, If they can prevent medical staff spreading infections they can prevent the rest of us from doing the same.

  14. Alan Jutson
    June 10, 2020

    The general public have been using their common sense by avoiding hospitals if they possibly can, realising they were a super spreader.

    I see cruise ship companies have now been sending out surveys to many past customers asking a series of questions about health and prevention measures on board, and promoting/suggesting much better and higher quality medical standard filtered air conditioning systems. I would suggest offices, aircraft, shops, cinemas, theatres also look to do the same.

  15. The PrangWizard
    June 10, 2020

    1 metre is effectively back to normal, but if it helps stop the hugging habit – good.

    The government and most MPs, including those who think they are above the fray and claim a moral high ground, have lost control of this and given up on the keeping the rule of law, a pathetic bunch of moral cowards.

    1. Mike Wilson
      June 10, 2020

      I like hugging.

  16. Bryan Harris
    June 10, 2020

    I fear that we are getting locked down into too much fine detail to justify actions that don’t always improve the situation.
    A greater overall knowledge of what has happened during lockdown would help to focus attention where it is needed. For example statistics on the following:
    Number of collapsed business; number of people over and under 65 who were affected / died.
    ……because this isn’t just about saving lives – it will reach the point of saving our society if another lockdown or other draconian measures are employed.
    The latest news on tests is that they are not entirely accurate, meaning that some want to impose vaccinations on us all, despite the fact that they have not been tested and may cause worse damage… There have been reports on how RNA vaccinations can change our DNA – Again, this is a nightmare scenario which cannot be allowed to happen.
    The media and random statistics just scare the public and many officials – We need to focus just on those things that will make life better for all concerned, and end the ruination of all that we know.

    Too many who wrongly blame man for climate change now want to keep us locked down, simply because it fits in with their misshapen ideology – That would indeed be tyranny.

  17. Richard1
    June 10, 2020

    The govt need to find a way of climbing out of their tree on the quarantine rule it is a nonsense.

    Why have we caved into the teaching unions? I know the govt needs to choose its battles, but it is contemptible the way these leftists are playing politics with children’s futures.

  18. Stred
    June 10, 2020

    If the NHS doesn’t get its hospitals cleaned up and also prevent the spread of the virus by frequent testing of staff, then the delay in treating other diseases will lead to the death of many more. A second rise of infection by Covid should be less than before because of better testing and tracing and, if they have any sense, patience should be treated in a separate hospital.

    1. Stred
      June 10, 2020

      Patients. Smart alteration.

  19. M Brandreth- Jones
    June 10, 2020

    I am now after my last day in work on the 19th march being offered testing. I developed symptoms which suggested Covid-2019.It may have been more useful if as an NHS worker community front line in constant face to face contact with European , African and Asian migrants if i had a swab test at the time.
    I am now going back to the practice with many more restrictions on monday and am offered an antibody test. This will give me an idea whether i possess any immunity to covid 19 , but I look at immunity for many people and some , however many times we inject a protective antigen do not develop the respective antibodies.We need to think about future outbreaks and this information will be useful.

  20. Fedupsoutherner
    June 10, 2020

    We may have gone about things in what we wee told was the right way but it was all too late. We had enough countries with experience to look to and follow. The successful ones locked down to foreign travellers but we didn’t. From what I understand it was the scientists that told the government not to. Even now people can still fly in and flout the quarantine rules. Scientists made a big cock up.

  21. Cynic
    June 10, 2020

    What is the Government’s strategy now? Are we to be kept in lockdown until all traces of the virus are eradicated?
    The last time a Conservative government trashed the economy they were out of power for some 13 years!

  22. davews
    June 10, 2020

    Face masks are to be mandatory on public transport from next week. When I took the train yesterday I was the only one on the train wearing one (but the train was virtually empty). I cannot see them being able to enforce this rule when it comes in, and in any case a measure far too late. It also worries me immensely that re-inhaling exhaled CO2 and bugs is a medical disaster waiting to happen, wearing of masks by non medical personel is a very bad idea.
    And yes, we have to scrap that 2m rule.

  23. davews
    June 10, 2020

    Off topic. I am astonished that your government and especially the Mayor of London seems to be totally supporting the disruptive action of BLM protesters in recent days even supporting the removal of statues that some don’t feel appropriate. The actions of the police in the USA and the unfortunate killing of a petty criminal is unfortunate but it is their problem not ours. I have never felt more sickened by recent events especially when racism is not an issue in our country but being blown out of all proportion by a small group of leftist thugs. To see photos of you all kneeling on College Green is the ultimate insult.

  24. acorn
    June 10, 2020

    Reported Deaths per 100k population.
    Belgium 84.1
    United_Kingdom 61.1
    Spain 58.1
    Italy 56.2
    Sweden 46.1
    France 43.6
    Netherlands 34.9
    Ireland 34.7
    Luxembourg 18.1
    Portugal 14.4
    Germany 10.5
    Denmark 10.2

    Confirmed cases in the last 14 days as % of pop
    Brazil 0.149
    Sweden 0.113
    United_States_of_America 0.090
    Russia 0.084
    Portugal 0.041
    United_Kingdom 0.039
    Canada 0.028
    Belgium 0.016
    France 0.015
    Netherlands 0.013
    Spain 0.012
    Denmark 0.009
    Luxembourg 0.008
    Germany 0.007
    Finland 0.007
    Austria 0.004
    Norway 0.004
    Cyprus 0.003
    Greece 0.002

  25. jerry
    June 10, 2020

    I agree with the need to know what the R# rate is by sectors and environment, general society, hospitals, care homes etc. I have suspected for s long time that the latter two are keeping the first otherwise high but the govt for political reasons do not want to acknowledge the failings at the DHSC by separating out the figures.

    Sorry but I disagree with your last paragraph, and your arguments are somewhat less than convincing, economics should play no part when considering public safety from a deadly virus that transmits via aerosol body fluids. A 2m separation might well be unnecessary in one situation but in another, say out doors in the wind or where people have a tenancy to ‘project’ their voices (such in busy pubs or clubs…), 4m might be to small, thus 2m as a guideline is a good science backed compromise.

  26. Sakara Gold
    June 10, 2020

    “There is a good case to relax the social distancing requirement from 2 metres to 1 metre as soon as possible”

    I don’t know where you get this from, but it’s incorrect. At one meter distance (close enough to feel someone’s breath on the back of your neck) 50% more infections occur. Some laboratory studies have shown in a confined place the size of a hotel room it is actually 70% after 5 minutes.

    There are powerful lobbying forces at play here. Countries such as Israel that re-opened restaurants and bars too early last month have had to re-impose their lockdowns as the number of cases spiked.

    Under the current circumstances in the UK there must be considerable doubt if re-imposing the lockdown would be possible.

  27. James Bertram
    June 10, 2020

    ‘…There is a good case to relax the social distancing requirement from 2 metres to 1 metre as soon as possible. The evidence is very little extra protection is offered by the longer distance,…’

    The evidence is that social distancing is a complete nonsense.
    Why is there no correlation between death rates in different countries and their various government interventions adopted? Why is Sweden coping just as well as most other countries (Sweden’s death rates largely caused by allowing the infection into care homes; not by failing to lock down it’s citizens)?
    And for just whom might social distancing be effective – those with not long to live, and co-morbidities in hospital and care homes? Or for rampant hormonal teenagers? (Under 15 and you are 4 times more likely to be hit by lightening than die of the virus) – don’t snog your granny!
    Where has the sensible advice gone to just stay at home whilst you have a cold? To cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough (remember, germs and sneezes spread diseases)? To keep healthy in yourself? And whilst infectious not visit granny, go to the office, or visit someone undergoing chemotherapy? Why do we need to do any more than this? What evidence do we have that this virus is any worse than the flu?
    Sir John – Did you get to listen to James Delingpole talking to Dr John Lee retired pathologist on YouTube the other day? It will give you a completely different understanding of viruses and how they spread.
    The social distancing rules do not work; they are just a pretence by Government that they are doing something useful and effective to stop the virus – they are not – it’s like Canute and the Sea.
    The entire panic episode is deeply embarrassing. Perhaps the worst political blunder ever.

  28. ChrisS
    June 10, 2020

    There is a very strong case for more relaxed lockdown measures in areas where the virus is least prevalent. This would need to be accompanied by a 1oo mile travel limit for social purposes to protect those areas from harm and to ensure that people are not tempted to stay overnight.

    One of the many inconsistencies in the government’s approach has been to tell people they can travel an unlimited distance for social reasons but that they cannot stay overnight.

    The well-publicised issues at Durdle Door in my own county of Dorset could have avoided had there been a distance limit imposed for supposed day-trippers, many of whom were camping in fields or sleeping in cars.

  29. Grist
    June 10, 2020

    Ian@Barkham appears to be one of those who attempts to display knowledge he does not actually possess. Look up the inverse square law Ian and have another think.

  30. Mike Stallard
    June 10, 2020

    Singapore – 1.5 m.

  31. Everhopeful
    June 10, 2020

    The WHO advised 1 metre right at the beginning of all this. So who, in their wisdom, multiplied by 2??

    Govt not tiniest bit concerned by removal of our history? Not worried the mob might next turn on the living? Totally relaxed?

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      June 10, 2020

      What is not being reported are the large numbers of white people being murdered and butchered in the most vile fashion in South Africa now. It doesn’t bare thinking about.

    2. Mark B
      June 10, 2020

      The WHO recommended 1m. But our Civil Serpants decided to do their usual thing and Gold Plate it. “We”, they said, “Will have a 2m rule” And so it came to pass.

    3. DaveK
      June 10, 2020

      Have a read of the article “The reason for the two-metre rule” on the Conservative Woman site. Which quotes ‘We knew it [the required social distance] was one metre but we doubled it to two because we did not think the British population would understand what one metre was and we could not trust them to observe it, so we doubled it to be on the safe side.’

      This is the explanation provided by Professor Robert Dingwall. It is also mentioned on the Daily Telegraph’s political podcast.

  32. Arthur Wrightiss
    June 10, 2020

    Perhaps the recent large demonstrations in London will turn out to be a good test of the spread of the virus. In about a weeks time there may be a sudden increase in infections shown on the daily briefing graphs. This will be because of the total lack of social distancing. If there is no increase, then it could be the perfect excuse to drop all restrictions and get the country back to work and try to reduce the economic disaster.

  33. Caterpillar
    June 10, 2020

    Although it it is right to recognise Reff as the overall variable to reduce the question has remained how. CV19 seems to have low dispersion coefficient (k has even started to reach the newspapers alongside R), indicating that most who are infected do not pass it on to anyone (there would be no epidemic), but a small number pass it on to many. Associations have been made with people interacting in cold (virus survives longer) loud places (like meat packing plants), indoor aerobic sessions where people breath heavily and shout (zumba spreads more than pilates), close proximity to elderly to be heard and of course indoor singing such as choirs and perhaps karaoke. The low dispersion coefficient is also consistent with why some countries took a smaller hit (fewer initial clusters) than others who took a larger hit (more initial clusters).

    There are ironies of course, such as at 2 metres in a queue people increase their volume to interact with others for a longer period, but seriously – distanced church OK-singing not, pubs OK-background music and rowdiness not, quiet classrooms (with forward facing desks) OK-loud interaction not, maybe lose the headphones so ears don’t expect higher volumes, no background music in hairdressers (and no chitchat conversation), open the gyms for low rep weights etc.

    Covering when coughing/sneezing, washing hands and cleaning surfaces obviously remain valid.

  34. ferdinand
    June 10, 2020

    From all the statistics from around the globe there has been little deviation from the identification of the elderly being at greatest risk. The influence of obesity and black africans on these numbers are identifiers for the NHS. Apart from these three susceptibilites the country could carry on as normal. Who is being fooled ? Who is being foolish ?

  35. Ex-Tory
    June 10, 2020

    I really hope any thought of local lockdowns will be abandoned.


    one business suddenly being forced to close while a competitor one street away can stay open.

    one village/town being subject to lockdown because of an outbreak at a hospital 50 miles away but within the locality, while a village/town 2 miles from the hospital but outside the boundary of the locality is unaffected.

    one locality being locked down because of the number of cases very slightly exceeds a government-determined number, whereas a bordering locality carries on normally because the number of cases is very slightly less.

    the problems of informing everyone in a locality about a new lockdown.

    etc, etc

  36. TooleyStu
    June 10, 2020

    WHO have now said that ASYMPTOMATIC TRANSMISSION of COVID-19 is very rare.
    If so.. the main reason for ‘Lock Down’ was false.
    Also, the mask (muzzle) will not stop a virus.
    They could walk out 10 abreast thru any surgical mask aperture.
    Unless a mask is NBC quality, it is next to useless.
    (I made these for UK and USA military, so good quality info)
    The RT-PCR test is 80% false positive. (so says its inventor, Kary Banks Mullis)
    Currently I do not believe we have an antibody test.
    Roche Industries I am told are the next supplier to be tested.

    Best regards,
    Tooley Stu
    (Hopefully short enough to be posted)

    1. Caterpillar
      June 10, 2020


      What is the reference (or context) for that 80% number?

      BTW – I have lost track as to what the UK is actually doing for testing, I thought RT-PCR to detect viral rna but govt slides now record tests as antigen. Can you explain?

    2. Martin in Cardiff
      June 10, 2020

      Do you realise that some countries have, for all intents and purposes, eradicated this virus, and are returning to normal life?

      Are you in the least interested in how they did this?

  37. Travel
    June 10, 2020

    About travel business some of the airlines are reporting a big increase in the bookings from Brits who want to travel abroad on holidays but reporting little or no interest from foreigners wanting to come here. Likewise when I look around I see the number of applications for foreign students to our colleges including from EU countries is way down. Then a friend who works in the hospitals sector say’s there is a big need for foreign nurses now to help out as we have not got near enough of our own. Under the circumstances I think hospitality and travel is not so important but in any case presumably some of whatever shortfall can be made up by our own holidaying at home for a change.

  38. forthurst
    June 10, 2020

    Covid-19 is being spread in clusters by superspreaders. This is now a well established fact. The Arts graduates running the government, meanwhile, are wailing “an app, an app, my kingdom for an app” as though the majority have smartphones and will download their app. Without the app of course the track and trace is proceeding by means of an army of new recruits managed centrally with minimal training given the contact details of people who are poz anywhere to phone them and ask whom they have spent 15 minutes with in the recent past.

    What is known from countries where they have used track and trace to defeat their epidemics, is that it is necessary to rapidly identify 80% of contacts who have the infection to master the disease. In Germany, the track and trace has operated on a local basis, not state or federal, using a beefed up network of operatives who were employed for tracking and tracing infectious diseases previously. The system our government has set up will not work because it is not locally based using locally based health care workers with local knowledge of the places where people will have contracted the virus from outside their own families. To achieve success, every cluster has to be identified and eliminated which will mean some people will need to be approached personally if they are not co-operative and self-isolators will need to be checked on as well.

    An interesting fact is that at the time the Arts graduates running healthcare had decided to do all the testing within the NHS, irrespective of the adverse consequences, Sir Paul Nurse had contacted them offering to do 2000 tests a day; he said it was like talking to a blancmange and he started testing NHS workers anyway on his own initiative. Then of course the NHS sent samples for testing to the USA for analysis, secretly. It’s time to get rid of the Arts graduates; they are making a mess of everything with their incompetence and control-freakery.

  39. Rhoddas
    June 10, 2020

    Why are the senior police chiefs ‘selectively’ permitting international socialism protesters almost unfettered assault on their front line police officers, criminal damage, affray and not adhering to social distancing.

    This isn’t the policing that Joe Public wants or has signed up to pay for! Time for Boris and Priti to get a grip and the charge the left wing remainiacs with misfeasance in public office.

    If you are found guilty of the offence of misfeasance in public office, you face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

    The offence involves a public official acting in contravention of their position of authority, resulting in harm, injury, financial loss or damage to a third party.

    Selective policing is just that imho.

    1. anon
      June 11, 2020

      Facilitating illegal immigration?

  40. rose
    June 10, 2020

    There have at last been reports that the Wuhan virus may have started in the Autumn, based on increased internet searches for symptoms, and on increased activity at the hospital in Wuhan, observed by satellite. This tallies with the many anecdotal accounts of people having the symptoms here, as early as October – the month the Chinese students came back to university.

    If there is anything in this, then we could have many more antibodies around than at first thought.

    1. L Jones
      June 10, 2020

      Yes, Rose. I was thinking the same. Also, the countries (Australia, NZ, etc) that ‘locked down’ early and very strictly, had fewer infections and deaths – the UK was much later and had many infections and deaths.
      Might it not follow that those countries would experience a ‘spike’ in infections when their lockdowns are lifted? Whereas the UK, having greater numbers now immune, won’t do so?

    2. Mark B
      June 10, 2020

      I believe I mentioned a conversation in had with a nurse. She said much the same thing.

    3. Martin in Cardiff
      June 10, 2020

      No, Rose, the evidence emerging from all the tests done, including randomised antibody ones, is that only about seven percent, one in fourteen of the population have had the virus.

  41. Stephen G Speakman
    June 10, 2020

    There is gathering evidence from respected sources such as Professor Levitt of Stanford University and renowned scientist Sucharit Bhakdi in Germany that lock down has caused much more harm than it ever provided a defense against Covid 19.
    The economic tumult of lock down is now severe and politically the rabid Marxist Left are occupying the political hinterland as MP’s continue to focus on ‘the virus’—attacking our historic statues and mass rioting are just the tip of the iceberg!
    Reduce social distancing—yes urgently.Do it in English measure too then everyone will grasp it! Three feet apart,economically sensible,we can live with that.

  42. Christen
    June 10, 2020

    The milder climate makes Devon particularly suited to self catering
    holidays in caravan parks or holiday cottages. The town used
    to be famous for its holy wells and one of such remains near the
    church. Life today is busy and may be very stressful and a holiday to a great
    destination where one can leave your worries behind can provide welcome relief.

  43. George Brooks.
    June 10, 2020

    The government is in the middle of the most difficult phase of this whole pandemic being made far worse by both the media and the opposition parties that are awash with glass-half-empty merchants and purveyors of doom and gloom. Whatever is decided it will be either too early or too late, too little or too much and the media will decide which has the longest legs and can cause the most damage.

    From a standing start at the beginning of the year our scientists and medics have done a fantastic job in uncovering the properties of thus virus but there is still a very long way to go. Equally the government have done a very good job to date and they need encouragement and enthusiasm to succeed and not a deluge of hypothetical situations dreamed up by the media disguising it as ‘news’.

    Should we be 1m or 2m apart, do we release another sector of the economy back to work and risk a spike in the virus? We don’t know and will only find out when a decision has been implemented. What we don’t need is a chorus of ‘told-you-so’ from a bunch smart-arsed journalists and opposition MPs with supposedly 20/20 hindsight.

    We need to look forward and upwards not backwards and down and we have some of the best brains in world examining this problem and they will solve it for the benefit of us all.

  44. David Brown
    June 10, 2020

    I agree with your comments my response to you is:
    We should have been prepared for track and trace months earlier, although I recognise the enzyme and laboratory capacity necessary for testing was not there.
    We hear a lot about Germany and how prepared they were, however Germany has always had a large chemicals industry and laboratory capacity.
    Lock down happened and we can speculate about timing etc for ever however we need to deal with the now. To me total lock down as served its purpose, ok there may be need for localised lockdown in future.
    We need to end the quarantine 14days as it is doing serious economic damage and is a home goal.
    The accurate results of testing will come with time no point in publishing inaccurate results.
    2m distance has caused problems with easing the lock down eg schools etc and should automatically be reduced to 1m as part of the opening of the economy.
    Get the hospitality sector open quickly (urgently) and allow owners to determine if 1m social distancing can work in their premises given the size layout etc.
    Why are multiplex cinemas still shut when a major film can be shown in several auditoriums at once which immediately allows good social distancing.

  45. James Bertram
    June 10, 2020

    This was on Conservative Woman on June the 8th – somewhat revealing:
    The reason for the two-metre rule? Stupidity
    Chris McGovern
    THERE is a soundly based mathematical rationale behind the UK’s two-metre rule for social distance during the pandemic. It is that Brits leave school too ‘thick’ in terms of mathematical comprehension to understand or visualise a distance of one metre.

    ‘We knew it [the required social distance] was one metre but we doubled it to two because we did not think the British population would understand what one metre was and we could not trust them to observe it, so we doubled it to be on the safe side.’

    This is the explanation provided by Professor Robert Dingwall, who has been advising government on epidemic preparedness since 2018 and feeds advice into our policy-determining Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). He was being interviewed for the Daily Telegraph’s political podcast. ……

  46. Dee
    June 10, 2020

    One question you should be asking John is this: ‘If the Governments steps to deal with COVID_19 are the correct steps, as the Government keep pointing out, then why are we pro rata the worst effected Country in the World?’

  47. miami.mode
    June 10, 2020

    If a temperature test is a reliable early indicator of infection, as we’ve seen many times in Asian countries, then why can we not scan children as they enter school, or indeed any individual as they enter a building, and take appropriate action if they are suffering a higher than normal temperature.

  48. rose
    June 10, 2020

    Belgium and the UK both include deaths “with” the Wuhan virus that other countries don’t. It must be a coincidence that they are top.

  49. Richard
    June 10, 2020

    According to the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, there hasn’t been a single case of a child passing on the virus to an adult.

    Children under the age of 15 are more likely to be struck by lightning than die of Covid-19 (ie one in every 3.58million) say ‘Scientists from Cambridge and Oxford Universities’.

  50. Mark
    June 10, 2020

    An update to my maps on the incidence of coronavirus cases. Firstly, for GB over the past 7 days:

    For comparison, here’s the map from 29th May

    It’s clear that nationally there is only one remaining pocket of high infection in Denbighshire, where the rate is 365 cases per million (compared with the German lockdown level of 500 per million). Scotland is now finally well on the way to clearing up some of their persistent problems in care homes, and rates continue to decline across England.

    Denbighshire now scores as the area with the highest cumulative rate of cases at 7,043 per million population – here is the cumulative cases map:

    1. hefner
      June 11, 2020


  51. Ronald Daw
    June 10, 2020

    I have read that measuring RNA in sewage is a fast and accurate way the monitor the total infections in an area. The virus is killed in the human gut but still able to be identified.

  52. Paul McGreevy
    June 14, 2020

    Hopefully eventually Sir John you will understand that a virus must run its course until immunity is reached in the community due to the proportion of people who have been infected and therefore immune becomes large enough to close down the pathways for the virus to be spread. Lockdowns and social distancing are a pointless exercise that may retard the progress of the virus temporarily but the outcome remains the same.

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