Slaves to R?

With stories circulating that some think we need a new national lock down because R may be over 1, we need to go over old ground on these inaccurate numbers. Sage updates us on R, a measure of how many people someone with CV 19 will infect, and on the growth rate in infections.

The latest SAGE Report says the R figure is now in the range 0.9 to 1.1, a 22% spread. The Report admits R “cannot be measured directly so there is always uncertainty”. They tell us different groups work R out in different ways. Some use hospital admissions and death rates data. This used to be the main way which I criticised in the past. They now concede this data may have a lag of 2-3 weeks in it. There are also the issues over how reliable the death rate figures are as some of the CV 19 ascribed deaths are people who had had the disease well before death and had other serious medical problems. Some use contact pattern surveys of people’s behaviour. This relies on people providing accurate returns, and leaves open big judgements about how it relates to the spread of the disease. The third identified system is the one that should produce more accurate results being based on the consistent and regular testing of a sample of the population. This should in particular give more accurate figures for growth or decline in the disease which would be a more useful figure than an estimated R.

SAGE blends the results from all these different methods , arguing they should draw on all of them as “there is uncertainty in all the data surveys so estimates can vary between different models”. You would have thought instead of this consensus blended approach they would identify the most accurate ways of calculating relevant figures and create consistent and accurate data to do so. They give us these ranges, and then add qualifications. They point out where the incidence is now small the data may be more unreliable.

Because they are combining results from a range of ways of computing R, all with their problems, they present it as a range.  They assert that “The most likely true values are somewhere towards the middle of these ranges”. Why? What if the sample testing result was at one of the extremes? Shouldn’t this be taken more seriously as a better indicator of growth rates and therefore of R? They also stress local areas can have flare ups which are not representative of the surrounding region or local government area.

People deciding to lock down places and areas need clear and reliable data that there is a real problem with a surge in the virus and its spread. These generalised stories based on national R estimates are not the way to settle whether the economy can recover or whether we can have some of our lost freedoms back.

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277 Comments

  1. Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    The media treat the “R” as an indisputabile fact. It’s just a statistical estimate. The sort that Neil Ferguson is keen on.

    When you look at people being tested on TV it looks like the most likely way to spread infections. They get close, put one swap in your mouth and then one up your nose. Are all the gloves & other PPE changed after each person’s tested? No

    This is on the BBC website: “Coronavirus pandemic: Children aged 12 and over should wear masks – WHO”. Of course a couple months ago they were pointless.

    The media and political class act as if they want to keep this going no matter what.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      The R number is completely bogus.
      It’s a pseudo science figure designed to scare us.
      It’s from the same playbook as the climate change statistics. Doesn’t stand up to interrogation.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        You are so right in this post the whole thing is a scam to frighten the population into accepting control by people who have no idea what they are doing and are just trying to deflect any blame for the wrecking of the economy from themselves , the so called experts they keep quoting do not have a clue what they are talking about.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          +1

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

            I rather think there’s an R associated with suicide amongst the young, anorexia, drug taking, binge drinking, woke views, which are far more dangerous to young people than covid.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      So, there is no consistency in collecting and interpreting data across the country and still less around the world.

      Furthermore, some of the tests themselves are of doubtful value.

      At least it gives governments an excuse for any action they may have taken.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Stephen Priest

      “The media and political class act as if they want to keep this going no matter what.”

      We already see signs that this manufactured crisis is being milked to the max. Any opportunity to deliver less, lower quality, and exercise authoritarian control is taken, and blamed on covid 19.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        It’ll end in November after Trump is re-elected.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      The swab stuffed up a nose is pointless, doesn’t add to the success rate of detection, and if done brutally has led to bleeding and extreme discomfort.
      The swab done reasonably will provide easily sufficient virus to be tested and detected.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Fred H, When I had Covid19 it was not present at all in my ears, nose, or throat (unlike a flu or a cold). This was apparently quite common in hospitals according to a senior hospital pharmacist (about 30% at one hospital).

        It gave rise to repeated negative results when the doctors were sure of the diagnosis. Consequently they had to test the phlegm for infection, which was quite difficult because the typical Covid19 cough is non-productive. Phlegm testing was not done at the drive-in testing stations, possibly giving rise to around a 30% under reporting of infection.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Stephen Priest

      Same here in Germany. Constant drip drip virus protection adverts, Politicians bleating on about second wave in winter, TV forums in Covid-19 overdrive, pharma companies flat out in the race for the first available vaccine, so called experts droning on about “we will all return to normal once a life saving vaccine is made available” etc….

      Greater numbers of people are just not buying it any longer and are becoming suspicious and distrustful of the Government’s intentions? Questions being asked: Where are all the deaths? Certainly not in my neighbourhood, or is this just a another flu hyped up for a particular reason?

      The talk on the street “is this a real pandemic or some Globalist plan?”

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely, hear, hear!

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        +1

  2. Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    And yet even now, after all we have witnessed, policy-makers still attend to what SAGE has to say? I am disappointed but not all that surprised.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      And yet even now, after all we have witnessed in October 1987, interested parties still attend to what the Met Office has to say? I am disappointed but not all that surprised.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        the wrong sort of supercomputer! Possibly hacked into by the Chinese?

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Who listens to the Met Office?

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Well the BBC don’t as they use MeteoGroup.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            staffed by ex-Met Officers.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

            FredH, a comment that just shows you do not know a thing about MeteoGroup. What about checking Wikipedia before commenting?

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      I imagine that SAGE comes up with the nonsense answers the govt. WANTS
      Why else use people who have got it soooo wrong in the past.
      As in needlessly slaughtering 6 million cows.
      Great wonder they didn’t cull us to save us.
      Oh…..

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

        Everhopeful: “I imagine that SAGE comes up with the nonsense answers the govt. WANTS”

        I rather think you’ve got it the wrong way around. SAGE, being drawn from British ‘intellectual’ academia. Is giving the Tory government left wing advice – There is at least one communist on the panel, and Ferguson Etc ed

        Because, our useless Prime minister, keeps the impression of the last person that sat on him. He’s been led around by the nose by communists and folk who have never done anything in the real world.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          JR: ” and Ferguson Etc ed”

          Musn’t upset the apple cart eh? Mr Redwood.

          Nothing I said, is speculation. It’s there in black and white in the Lancet report.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Yes, as they will need a Scapegoat to blame. Look at what has happened to PHE and DfID. They are gone, or are going but, no one will be sacked, just shuffled along to somewhere else. The government and politicians can just shrug their shoulders and say; “Wasn’t me guv’, I was only doing what they (above) told me.”

      See how this works ? 😉

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        I think that Covid is just one big …” Wasn’t me guv. I didn’t wreck nuffin’. It were that danged VIRUS it were!”.

        Hat Tip Mark B.

  3. Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    To put things in perspective deaths in January & February (England and Wales) each year are usually about 13,000 a week compaired to summer weeks at circa 9,000 probably worse still in cold Scotland. So just in those two months circa 36,000 extra deaths (many of which could have been saved by cheaper energy and a little more care and help for the elderly). Yet we are destroying the economy for just 10 covid deaths a day (and below average for this time of year anyway).

    Systems that encourage people to eat, drink and smoke a little less could save many more QALY lifes than the Covid measures. This at a net negative cost to the economy too and a net negative cost the people not buying the excess food, drink and tobacco etc.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      we could ban all road traffic and stop 6 deaths a day.
      We could claim Covid deaths, instead of cancer caused which is a subject of acute embarrassment in the UK, or should be.
      Who is reporting on the 450 per day – and will it be reported as the number climbs after the NHS shutdown?

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      I suspect many consider that if they cannot follow the biblical injunctions to eat, drink and be merry they are not having QALYs.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and that is the choice they should be allowed to make though perhaps they should pay for all their medical care (as indeed should everyone who can afford too in my opinion). With tax cuts to compensate.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic: “To put things in perspective deaths in January & February .. ”

          There shall be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repents, than over ninety nine righteous persons.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            My position has not changed at all.

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

            Lifelogic: “My position has not changed at all.”

            Did we ever need thousands more ventilators?

            Or should the State bring its full power to bear to coerce manufacturers to build them?

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Quality Adjusted Life Years – is that the same or similar to our Biological Age?

  4. Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Well the economy is not going to hang around waiting for those in government to argue about various figures and the accuracy of R. Those who produce the wealth in the UK need clarity not continuous indecision, rule changing, and resultant chaos. The practical effect of quarantine after overseas travel will be that it is ignored by those whose livelihood depends on their work. When the call comes through from Big Brother they will have been down the garden on subsequent investigation.

    You infered earlier that airport testing was a waste of time. I would say not if it identifies the infected, and for those that carry but don’t show on entry a second obligatory test a week later maybe would. Why stop the economic activity of those returning from holiday for a few possible cases. The areas you have failed to do anything about from day one are visitors from China, India, Pakistan, and Africa. Their routes in should have been closed on the grounds that data from such sources are finger in the wind at best.

    The only original thinking has derived from Rishi Sunak and welcome for many it was. His largesse cannot go on for ever so now that you are begining to get the means of a relatively safe return to work the country must do so.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Implied rather than inferred perhaps. It is alas not largess from Rishi Sunak even though he has married into money I do not think he is quite that wealthy. It is largess from taxpayers to taxpayers. He is picking you lefthand pocket to put it in your right hand pocket (while doubtless creaming off about 40% of government admin costs!)

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Oh ..they want people to keep coming in so they can be put into 4 star hotels whilst waiting for their houses.
      It is just us who must be corralled.
      I believe they take temps outside hospitals and clinics etc…so why on earth not airports?

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      The stupidity of the new self isolation / quarantine procedures is crazy. If one arrives from an infected area, you first have to fill out a form. You arrive in the UK (eg Heathrow) and then have to go straight home to self isolate / quarantine. But ! To do so you have to use various public transport routes with others and, those silly muzzles / face coverings, will not stop the spread. The lack of any critical thinking and just plain old common sense can only come from those who have lived in the rarefied air of upper education and little or no contact with real people with real, ordinary everyday lives.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        If you are sharing a house with others, they do not need to quarantine and can happily go to work or go to the supermarket. But if you are sharing a house with a dog, you are not allowed to take the dog for a walk outside even if you take great car to socially distance yourself and you re both wearing a muzzle.

        There is an agenda here, and the purpose is not truthfully protecting the public.

  5. Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    I see Boris Johnson is on holiday again. His third of the year. Along with his extended sick leave and paternity leave we really picked a winner there.

    Still, on the plus side, his Cabinet are at least as incompetent as he is so we have plenty of people to mismanage things in his absence.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      If you think he is incompetent (as you seem to) it is surely better for you that he is on holiday.

      Hopefully he will read Douglas Murray, A Heath and James Bartholomew types and come back having worked out that we need a much smaller state, a bonfire or red tape, cheap reliable energy, tax cuts and zero green crap to recover rapidly and win then next election.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        Four years is not long for sensible policies to begin to yield results so he needs to start them now.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic: “Four years is not long for sensible policies to begin to yield results so he needs to start them now.”

          Four years is plenty of time to have weathered the COVID-19 storm, stood up to the BBC and by now all the hullabaloo would have died down, we would still have the one fifth of the economy that Johnson stupidly flushed down the crapper, and in three years time, he could have stood for reelection, no one would have remembered COVID-19.

          But no, incompetent, weak and a panic merchant.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Boris will not win another election. He must be replaced with a Conservative who lives and breathes you list.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          I doubt he could shoot a fish in a barrel at present.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

            If all the house of commons government bench were put in a barrel, and you drew one out at random, would you find a Tory?

            THAT is the question.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          Ah, yes, yet another unelected British PM.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            Silly comment.
            Showing again your complete lack of knowledge of our constitution.
            We never elect our Prime Minister.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

            No, but some have led their parties through a successful General Election, whereas others are simply imposed by the party apparatus arbitrarily between them.

            At present it appears to me that the PM is controlled by someone who isn’t even a party member, which is an interesting novelty, it must be said.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

            It is five years max in between elections.
            If a PM is changed in during a Parliament then if you don’t like the new PM or what the government did, you can vote them out in a year or two.
            Presumably the majority party changed their leader to try to improve their prospects of being re elected.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Carefully stage-managed holiday snaps.
      Our Dear Leader, windswept, woke, nu man.
      Yeah!

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        I dread to think what noises came out of that tent

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          I imagine they were in the cottage!

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      He was wearing a big woolly hat in August. Positive proof that there’s no Global Warming.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        Global warming won’t reach Scotland with the ice maiden Sturgeon dropping the temperature.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          +1 what do the usually sensible Scots see in here. Though I tend to meet the Scots I know mainly in London and England.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

            Ll

            You may ask what sort of usually sensible people voted for Boris!

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

            You need to ask his local constituency voters.
            We don’t vote for a PM

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Dear Mr. Redwood,

      I find that one of the most enjoyable aspects of summertime is getting up early on a lovely summer’s morning.

      What I find hard to understand though is why anyone, faced with so many entertaining diversions and distractions on such a glorious morning, would choose as their first task of the day to write to you spouting, well, a load of childish rubbish.

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        There are a certain number in the population who can’t come to terms with being ignored. Foot stamping, protesting, shouting tantrums is all that is left.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Have you sorted out yet why, alone among the other 165 countries in the world, the UK cannot be independent of the EU?

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        None of the countries of the European Union are existentially dependent on it.

        The European Union’s institutions are dependent upon them.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          Hooo, MiC, are you asking NickC to go through an epistemological breakdown?

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            Yet mic is wrong.
            With 28 members and 9 paying money in and the rest just taking out there are quite a few EU nations “dependent upon them”

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

            Edward2, have you read a previous post of mine pointing out the amount of money taken by or distributed by the EU for their EU-linked investments, relative to the budgets of each of the individual EU28 countries? No, you clearly have not read or understood it. Otherwise you could not write that the recipient nations were ‘dependent upon’ these grants. Which overall on average are lower than 2% level of any such budget.
            But I have now come to realise over the weeks that either you are really bad with figures (which would be strange for an exporting businessman) or are so stuck in your little fish bowl that you can only go round and round repeating the same things without ever thinking much about the actual content of what you say.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            Of the fifty US states, only thirteen were net federal contributors last time that I checked.

            The European Union is a perfectly normal association of nations by that measure therefore.

            You make similar complaints about the nations of the UK I seem to note too.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            Hef
            Yes I read it.
            It was a careful use of statistics which still doesn’t alter the larger overall figure of 28 nations 9 paying in with the rest taking money out.
            The fundamental weakness of the EU.
            With Germany Holland and France all getting fed up endlessly paying for the other members.
            Amazing you don’t even realise it hef
            Being so clever n all.
            But you carry on with your petty pathetic
            insults.
            The sign of a lost lefty argument.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

            USA is irrelevant Martin
            It’s the EU we are taking about.

            But I know you love good red herring.
            You always deflect onto another argument when you can’t think of a proper response.

  6. Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Yes, lack of trust creates a ‘we don’t believe you’ scenario which is not healthy. Crying wolf springs to mind. Also ask Sage where are the infection spikes from the Bournemouth and Brighton beach gatherings that were allegedly so dangerous?

    In any event and to the splutterers yesterday alleging loss of freedoms, apparently we are one step away from Stalins Russia, apart from a mask, distancing and hygiene, clean trains, good lunches, my local pub, easy access supermarkets, various flights booked, my sport is back playing, means my life is getting back to normal.

    Still a way to go but the dystopian view from some people says more about them than the view ‘from my balcony’.

    Cue more faux outrage.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      Nigl
      You sound a little nettled.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      The FREEDOM people like myself allure to, is the FREEDOM to choose. The government has imposed its will. A will that has not passed the proper scrutiny of parliament and the people.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

        oh! does Parliament provide proper scrutiny? I’d never have guessed.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        +1. I believe their emergency legislation is illegally enacted and can be ignored.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      So people in the UK are only allowed to believe UK scientists, picked by the Government?

      It might be better to see what Germany’s, Greece’s, New Zealand’s, Japan’s etc. would advise, eh? After all they haven’t suffered the human and economic disaster that this one has.

      They don’t generally charge. It’s why the internet was invented. For scientists to share information to the benefit of humankind.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        You seem to be coming round to the idea that there are thousands of scientists and many of them have diferent views.
        It rather puts back the science is settled idea a lot on the left have about various things.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          No, none of them have been able to perform an infinite number of experiments nor to access and to process infinite, irrefutable data.

          So there is a spread of results, and the true scientists qualify their observations accordingly.

          Politicians and politically-appointed “scientific” advisers then twist these for their own purposes.

          I have never claimed that “science is settled” on any aspect.

          What may be settled absolutely however, is the fact that a large majority of scientists concur as to a given position.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            You and the left label those who challenge the consensus as deniers when it comes to warming.
            The science is settled is a common phrase shouted at anyone with an alternative viewpoint.
            And in the pandemic there gave been many different scientific experts giving different views on what action to take and how to treat those who have caught the virus.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

            I don’t, some others might.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        Oh! That’s why the internet was invented BY AN ENGLISHMAN!

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

          Sorry to disagree but it wasn’t.

          The internet is an evolution of Arpanet funded core protocol development by US DoD but it would have natuarally incorporated ideas from elsewhere/everywhere.

          If you are referring to the world-wide-web then that was a mashup of ideas where the principle ones of markup came from IBMs SGML etc and those of hypertext from Ted Nelson et al. The overall concept has it’s roots in the ideas of Vannevar Bush – see his Memex ideas in “as we may think” from Atlantic Monthly July 1945.

          Very little scientific and technical development occurs in isolation – it is always “on the shoulders of giants”.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:08 am | Permalink

            Yes, thank you Dixie.

            Would you kindly draw a pie chart, of the reasons in the minds of those interested – and with the capability to influence its development at the time – of WHY it was developed?

            Thanks again.

            Yes, the English have an outstanding history of invention, Lynn.

            But aren’t you Irish?

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

            Do your own research but if you are interested in motivations then look at material from Vincent Cerf and especially Alan Kay who worked with a number of the topic and activity leaders including Linklider and Taylor.

            But the funding and so the project’s existence came from the US military and it continues because someone makes a profit from it.

            For someone who claims to be “educated” and “cultured” you have an inordinate preoccupation with where someone comes from yet while you declare you are Wales you deny you are Welsh, very odd behaviour.

            I celebrate inventiveness, not the country it comes from and even a cursory search will show Irish individuals have been quite prolific, as have most nationalities, though the French had a habit of chopping their heads off, still they are “cultured” so that’s OK.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            dixie

            All the ingredients for life was there, but it required the right spark to start. Technology is the same. Lots of people working in isolation with great ideas, but it usually takes one great spark to bring it all together…that is sometimes called genius.

            Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of a global hyperlinked information system became a possibility by the second half of the 1980s due to his spark of imagination.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

            @Dennis,

            – shoulders of giants.

            There were many sparks in the evolution of hypermedia – Bush, Nelson, Engelbart (NLS), Conklin, and the rest. Hypertext was an emerging topic from the mid 60’s (Nelson) and technology (eg Hypercard) from the early 80’s, I used and explored some of it at the time.

            Have a look at the October 1988 issue of Byte Magazine, Hypertext is the lead topic, the first section is “A Grand Vision”.

            Even Microsoft had elements of it in OLE (1990).

            It wasn’t “one great spark” by one person, like most such technology is was amalgamation and refinement by a lot of people.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Or Sweden’s scientists, Martin.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:09 am | Permalink

          Most of them signed a petition condemning their government’s policy, Nick.

          But yes, them too.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            Most of them, Martin? Which “them”? Evidence and date please.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

            Could you supply the names and addresses of everyone who voted Leave, so that when you make some fanciful claim as to what “we” want, I can verify it with them all?

            Thanks, Nicky.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

            Can you provide all the names and addresses of remain voters so that when you and your pals say “we” and make fanciful claims as to what “we” want I can verify it

            Thanks Marty

  7. Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    PS
    Give your friend Andy all the data on the nuances of R. He can come up with anything you might want to prove with a few spurious figures and percentages.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      So Andy is wrong and you are correct? Somewhat arrogant if I may say so.

      Ps I don’t agree with him on much but he has as much right to be listened to without being derided, as you.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        No, we don’t know. What we actually know is the precise opposite!

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Oh I don’t know.
        I’d say that the two of you were eerily similar.
        Peas in a pod!

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        We do listen to Andy and he is derided most of the time because he is one of the few individuals who makes the Govt. seem competent in comparison.
        If you think I’m condescending, consider that you have a Woke duty to listen to me without deriding me. I am after all foreign (Irish), a female, short, old and have an ingrowing toenail, so disabled. Intersectionally I have you beat (there you are, I’m illiterate too, and therefore deprived).

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Nig1, Andy forfeited any “right” to be listened to (it’s not a right) by his repeated, inaccurate, obnoxious, bigotry towards elderly people, even gloating about their deaths.

  8. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I listened to “The Reunion” on the ERM fiasco (BBC iplayer) it was quite amusing listening to John Major and all the many other fools involved in this predictable and predicted disaster that destroyed so many businesses, lives and homes so completely pointlessly. “If it is not hurting it is not working” the idiots liked to say at the time.

    Ken Clark was asked if the ERM was a political and economic mistake? “With hindsight” he replied “yes”. Hindsight was not required at all mate just people with inteligence, ability and sense and not suffering from state sector group think lunacy of the time. Many pointed out the stupidity of the ERM and EURO at the time. We need people like this now to kill the current Climate Alarmism religion too and the ever larger state agenda.

    I suppose we needed “hindsight” to see that pushing people with covid out of hospitals into care homes was not too clever, that cladding tall building in flamable insulation and sending people back to their flats long after the fire was clearly out of control was a serious mistake, or pushing electric cars onto the public before they are practical and cost effective also needed “hindsight”.

    No mate hindsight was not needed at all. You just need bright and honest people who understand reality, physics, engineering and logic and do not suffer from moronic group think. Alas given that 9o odd % or of MPs voted for the climate change act and support net zero carbon we are a very long way off sanity in government.

    It was also obvious that the OFQUAL and the Dept. of Education exam grading system was idiotic and would be a disaster too. It is still hugely unfair with some pupis pushed down by teachers (due to pressure put on them to match past years (effectively applying the algorithm) at that school in that subject and many others (at less honest schools) getting one or two grades higher than they deserved as the algorith for them was lifted.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Excellent debunking of the ‘wisdom’ of hindsight.
      Nonetheless, it remains seriously perplexing that there appear to be so few elected MPs who have the good sense and courage to stand and be counted when fashionable but foolish measures are to be decided.
      Jelly spines reappeared after the sidelining of Margaret Thatcher.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Brilliant.
      Could I suggest this comment is printed on a large poster and put on the wall of the Cabinet Room in Downing Street.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Doubtless they will be saying with hindsight it was idiotic to spend £100 billion (and the rest) on a train to take people to Birmingham very slightly faster than now (but without many convenient stops). No “hindsight” is not needed for this either!

      Nor is hindsight needed to see that taxing people (even more & doubtless wasting half of it) then to give them vouchers they can only spend on insulation (and only with some companies) or cheap dinners on Mon-Wed is totally idiotic too.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      With hindsight is sending Clarke to the Lords a mistake? Or would a blind man have seen that coming?

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:21 am | Permalink

        Indeed the Boris Lords list was shameless and stuffed with lefty remainers and even some blatant traitors to the country in my opinion.

        Why Philip Hammond (a dire failed ex-chancellor), why the wrong on almost everything Ken Clark, why Philip May (I suppose he has suffered a lot), Claire Fox (occasionally sensible but hardly deserving of a seat). A few of the less daft ex-labour PMs I suppose – but the only sound person I could find on the list (sensible on economics, the BBC, politics. the EU and most other things) was Charles Moore.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      It didn’t take hindsight to know that invoking Article 50 made the UK a supplicant to the EU, giving it the upper hand in negotiations. We should have given 12 months diplomatic notice and just left – out by July 2017 – as I and many others said years before the Referendum.

  9. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    The survey method is also unreliable as Carl Heneghan explains because of the large impact of false positives when prevalence is low and because few of those with positive PCR tests are actually ill and infectious.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      false positives aren’t the worry – but false negatives certainly are!

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        But Prof Heneghan’s point is that the PCR test isn’t a reliable guide to infectiousness:

        https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/infectious-positive-pcr-test-result-covid-19/

        So the real and the false negatives may well both be non-infectious, and your worry may be undeserved.

        It all comes back to whether policies are justified by evidence. The onus is on ministers advocating the policies to show they are necessary. They don’t do that, and so we get the horrific over-reaction the country still continues to suffer from, economically and psychologically.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          then why bother with a track and trace?

          • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            If you have a positive and you trace contacts and test them, if they all come up negative it is likely that the positive is a false one.

            If some contacts of a positive test also show up positive it is likely that there is an infection chain that should be interrupted. Of course, the severity of cases and risk for contacts also needs to be taken into account.

            These local facts matter locally, but say nothing about a wider epidemic. Spotting trends in the wider population is hard when the general prevalence is low, because the tests are never 100% accurate. If there is 1 person infected in a city of a million where you run 10,000 tests a day it will take 100 days to guarantee that you find them by testing (by which time they will have recovered or died – they are more likely to turn up at the hospital). Finding a needle in a haystack is difficult. Yet each day with 0.5% false positives you expect to get 50 or so positive test results.

            If someone presents with symptoms and the test is positive, it is highly likely to be right, and it is worth finding and testing contacts – but not locking down whole cities.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        False positives may give an impression that the virus has a lower mortality than it in fact does.

        That is perhaps the explanation for Singapore’s extremely outlying figures.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

          So therefore fslse negatives may give an impression that the virus has a higher mortality than it in fact does.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:11 am | Permalink

            Yes – what else?

            So does failure to identify less serious cases.

            The excess death figures tell us that something pretty serious is happening, whatever.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

            Do they?
            Predictions are for only a small increase for the whole of 2020 in comparison to other years.
            And how many excess deaths are from the NHS shutting down routine care treatment and operations?

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

            Martin, Covid19 is a serious disease, with serious consequences for vulnerable people. But not significantly more so than a very bad flu season. Even as recently as 2018 there were c50k “excess” deaths in E&W.

  10. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Well said, Sir John!
    You are one of the very few people who dares to question the statistics. Oh yes,they look so convincing and it is so easy to say that we have one of the highest death rates in the world, or that the second wave is now emerging when nobody really knows.
    “O let us never, never doubt, what nobody is sure about…”

    57.8% of people agree with this.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      + 2 in this household.

  11. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Surely the hospital admissions and deaths are the most reliable method, and those are now at rock bottom levels. The PRC test is unreliable with an unknown false positive figure and in any case only tests for the presence of the virus and not whether someone has become ill with CV19. Lockdowns in Oldham and elsewhere seem to be based on very low infection rates, already declining, and lower than in some other areas – there is no basis for these local lockdowns. The R figure is a theoretical figure, it cannot be actually measured.

  12. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Look…they are changing the rules/interpretations as they go along.
    For goodness sake!
    There are elements that WANT another imprisonment.
    They want to bring us even further to our knees.
    Can’t anyone in govt. see that?
    What the Hell does it matter if a few people get ill. ( Use the Nightingale…God how cross she would be with Boris!!)
    ( Did the virus ever really spread like “ wildfire”? If it had the whole of govt. would have succumbed..what with all the hot air and spittle in Parliament).
    I see the BC tv company …no longer called British…is using Covid as an excuse to destroy Last Night of the Proms!!! Rule Britannia!

  13. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    More testing = more disease found = less harmful than we were told

  14. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    It absolutely amazes me how little the medical/scientific community seems to know about Covid at this late stage.
    I think the “R” number is really nothing more than representative of the noise they make when they farsically feign profound knowledge and understanding on being quizzed by the journalists: something like the “Arrrrh, Jim lad!” in a fifties film about pirates.
    So many experts, so little useful information. Now they just sound as futile as the economists and financial analysts in the post-2008 slump.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes..but to become an expert one must get experience.
      For example, if a doctor met just one case of Martian Measles he wouldn’t have a clue what to do!

  15. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    “People deciding to lock down places and areas need clear and reliable data that there is a real problem with a surge in the virus and its spread. These generalised stories based on national R estimates are not the way to settle whether the economy can recover or whether we can have some of our lost freedoms back.”

    These estimates do certainly seem unreliable. And to shut down an area or even contemplate shutting down the entire country is frankly, irresponsible and dangerous. The country needs to return to normal.

    I was just thinking of people I know who have had the virus… I know of, five and I personally know one of those. None of these, apart from the family member ( 22 year old male) live near my area. Are there really that many people who have had the virus?

    I think it’s time for this obsession with shutting down areas to stop. Apart from anything else it creates alarm. Reminders on hand washing and not being in too close a proximity to crowds should, surely be sufficient now! Alerting others if you get symptoms…basic common sense. It’s more important now to get a sense of reality and work to recover the economic health of the country.

  16. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Shocking figures from NHS England.

    Ask people how many died of Covid in England. Now tell them the real figures.

    6 covid deaths in the whole of August. 5 over the age of 80. 1 over the age of 70. Remember these are people who were tested with covid in the past 28 days, not because of covid. The UK Gov has stopped publishing the figures.

    These deaths were prior to mask wearing. What is really going on here?

    Source: NHS England.

    https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/08/COVID-19-daily-announced-deaths-22-August-2020.xlsx

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      +1
      There is absolutely no justification for the Government to continue with its ludicrous Covid restrictions.
      Give us our country back, stop meddling, and keep out of our lives.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      We are being denied data to question their judgements. It is across the board. Just the same of course with the regular doses of climate hysteria, where old records are removed from consideration., and the dodgyness of reporting that yet again heat island Heathrow has provided a new record. Next they’ll be using Gran’s oven.

  17. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Your third paragraph says it all, Sir John, and I very much doubt that you can ‘blend’ these differently based and calculated results together mathematically. Consequently the range of interpretation is endless and can be used to support almost any story or theory. Then there is the final ingredient, the constant search for a headline by a whole bunch of national news editors.

    The whole ‘R’ factor charade needs to be taken with a gigantic pinch of salt!

  18. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    R is a measure of the problem not a measure of the solution. This leads to complex and unworkable measures to stop the virus.

    Think of R as water coming into your home during a flood. You will spend your time sealing and botching your home when the real problem lies back at the river that is flooding.

  19. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Surely accurate numbers of hospital admissions and deaths are all that is needed to assess the situation? The daily reported deaths are very low and I understand admissions continue to fall and hospitals are relatively empty even in hotspots. Isn’t this good news? Why bother with R – it doesn’t seem to be telling us anything useful.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Quite. Bravo.

  20. Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Why not just lockdown SAGE?
    It seems to me that much time effort and MONEY is wasted and exchanged in the process of philosophising this virus.
    Why not (since it is so serious) direct ALL resources towards finding a treatment/cure?
    I mean..good luck with that… since there is no cure even for its older brother…the common cold.
    But govt. just loves the Chuck OUR money around and at least shut in their labs the “scientists” might just LEAVE US ALONE!
    Oh…and come to think of it…NO payment or funding until a proven cure is found. I bet that would dampen their ardour.

  21. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    This is no longer about CV19, this is about preventing total State control of our every waking hour. We are all responsible and culpable for allowing ourselves to be deceived by those who told us they had the nation’s best interests at heart when their real driving force was the preservation of the party political status quo

    Freedoms removed or given back when a number moves above or below one. What a wonderfully designed system of Marxist oppression.

    Of course what comes out is based on what goes in and I suspect what goes in is flawed data with the aim of achieving a figure over one affording an instantly recognisable figure for all to understand

    A political class including John Redwood are directly responsible for the situation we now find ourselves. Since 1990 the fundamental principles of freedom underpinning our nation have been buried deep to be replaced by State control for the majority population using all forms of techniques and legislative tweaks

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

      Dominic

      Those in the State Sector see themselves as superior to all those not in the State Sector due to their education and position. It is not until we are able to make the State both compete and held to proper account will we have begin to have better services and government. The Establishment, through the CS and the MSM, are taking over.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      It is ridiculous to include John Redwood in the disgraceful sector of the professional political class petrified of our coming out of our houses and asking what the hell went on.
      Otherwise, you are right of course.

  22. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Random mass testing is the only sensible way to get sensible results.

    I thought the Government had said now it has the capacity it was going to carry out a series of 250,000 tests on the general population shortly.

    If the above is the case and they do such on a regular basis, then we should be able to get rather more sensible, meaningful, and realistic results.

    Not in favour of diy home swab testing kits, as many people will not go deep enough to the back of the throat or up the nose. We really need a trained operative to properly complete the tests on the public to be sure an accurate sample has been taken for testing, otherwise you may get many false negatives.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      You should be much more worried by the false positives that are being used to justify unnecessary lockdowns. Being ill is a good positive test to override a negative test result.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        We just want accurate results Mark,.

        We really do not want any false positives or negatives.

        Problem with false negatives is people with no symptoms carry on infecting others unknowingly.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          You can’t have a perfect test without false positives or negatives. Sensitivity and specificity are inter-related, capture all true cases and false positive rate increases.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

          The problem is less than you assume. Say Andy Asymptomatic gets a test when he comes back from holiday at the airport, and although the probability of a false negative is low (0.5%), he is one. He goes home and infects his mates Bertha, Charley and Dawn. By the time Dawn notices she has symptoms she has also passed it on to Eve and Fred, who she works with. She gets tested. Most likely she tests positive first time, but having symptoms and testing negative is a call for a re-test, done with maximum care. Her contacts – Eve, Fred and Andy all get called for testing. Andy’s or Dawn’s chance of testing negative twice when they are in fact positive is now not just 1 in 200, but 1 in 40,000 (200 squared), so it is almost certain he will be picked up as a case, and his other contacts Bertha and Charley will be tested too – and if either shows positive, so will any of their contacts. The chances of wide spread are halted by speedy tracing. Speed is what matters over perfection in immediately finding all contacts, because others will show up via later cases and back tracing if they became infected. But nailing the majority of contacts quickly reduces the chances of epidemic spread. False negatives barely count in the arithmetic of tracing and testing and quarantine. You can avoid an epidemic by finding 60% of contacts and isolating them pending testing in say 12 hours after an identified positive test: making that 61% would more than make up for 0.5% false negative tests. If you are slow and take 2 days, you need to find 90+% of contacts. At 3 days, you might as well not bother (which is where centralised app based call centre tracing failed – trace local, start with the workplace and homes would have been a superior strategy).

          When prevalence is too high to run a tracing system you have to resort to other measures, breaking the population down into small silos to break infection chains. A degree of “social distancing” may well be enough to achieve that, as the Swedish experience suggests. The important thing is to avoid undue risk to vulnerable populations (like us, the Swedes messed up over care homes to begin with).

  23. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Confidence in R is no different to the spurious level of confidence attributed to how high world temperatures will go by 2100 if nothing is done to combat climate change.

    Neither has any semblance of robustness. No scientific methodology. Simply a political judgement call voted on by all the snowflakes in the room.

  24. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    “People deciding to lock down places and areas need clear and reliable data that there is a real problem.”
    You’d expect this to be pretty easy to understand and implement — Why isn’t it?

    In all of this we should not empower those with authoritarian tendencies to control what happens — We have already seen far too many examples of excessive use of powers…. FGS – If we are to be treated like cattle, then at least make the rules transparent and easy to follow

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Nope.
      That is part of it.
      Confuse and demoralise us.
      All on purpose the better to control us.
      “All the better to eat you with my dear!”

  25. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics !”

    I recently watch a short lecture on statistics in which the lecturer warned of various ‘biases’ contained in the data. For example. If we are testing for CV19 we will find more cases. The bias to be aware of here is, “Confirmation Bias” in which the data is read in such a way to confirm a strongly held view. More testing does not mean more CV19, it means that you have found more.

    This is why it is very, very, very important to be aware of statistics and treat them as a form of hard science. The same ‘science’ (sic) that was used to justify the actions of the government and its barmy policies. Policies that are going to have serious ramifications in the years ahead. eg Election time 😉

    What we need is less science and more common sense. We need to understand that this virus, although not particularly nice, especially if you either have it or at high risk, is nowhere near as bad as Spanish Flu, the Black Death, Smallpox and the like. All of which claimed a heavy toll of human life but, somehow, mankind has survived.

    We need to put our ‘man pants’ on and carry on with life. We cannot start believing that, if just trust in the all mighty powerful government, we can cheat death. If you really want to know what death looks like, I suggest those who can go and visit the Natural History Museum in London. There you will find the fossilised remains of creatures long since passed who lived on this earth far longer than we have.

    You only get one life, so live it as best you can.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Well Mark, you saved me writing in with that phrase, which once again has been proved to be all too true.

      And I agree with your comparison to other pandemics – in S Africa, hundreds of thousands of the poverty-stricken live virtually on top of each other, in conditions not of poor hygiene but of NO hygiene, yet despite there being over a million cases of Covid, we are not seeing heaps of the dead awaiting burial. In the meantime, an economy already in the pits has been further massacred by lockdowns and corruption.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        But in SA the whole population has been brought to the same lowest common denominator. British people can no long. Leave and ‘come home’ because their assets are unsaleable. So they have to stay put now.

  26. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    The ‘R’ number. Another contrived statistic by the government and its advisers to instil fear into the population. The government have dug such a deep whole for themselves that they either cannot or don’t want to get out of it. Some good news – I hear Whitty is reported to have said no vaccine before winter of 2021. Not sure what Hancock is going to do with the 350million doses of different vaccines he has boasted about purchasing.
    It’s hard to imagine just what a mess this country is in and the clowns in charge carry on regardless with all the consequential damage to people’s lives, health in general, mental health, education, unemployment, national debt and a trashed economy. Many will never forget nor forgive.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      +1 , pithy and accurate.
      The ‘R’ number is a device which means whatever the next Boris/Hancock wheeze needs it to mean.
      To be pointedly ignored or derided.

  27. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    There are highly political reasons why the SAGE committee “blends” the figures from the three sources mentioned in your interesting blog this morning.

    For example, the data being produced by local authorities on their “test and trace” effort is far superior to that produced by the private sector effort, because they manage to trace a much higher percentage of contacts

    Each of the three sources has highly paid specialist jobsworths who’s sole function is to periodically collate the data available to them on spreadsheets, apply their prefered algorithm and produce their “R” value

    The SAGE committee is interested in all sets of data, regardless of how accurate they may feel each set is. Preferring not to get involved in office politics, they use all the data available to them to “blend” their final “R” value.

    Clearly, all the data show that the number of infected persons is on the rise in some areas as the public relaxes and interacts with each other. A short total lockdown may be necessary to bring the virus under control again before the winter flu season starts.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      The data published by the UK authorities show that the positive test rate is well under 1% and has remained constant at that level since the beginning of July, when the lockdown ended. Anyone who’s been keeping up knows that the increased ‘case’ numbers have come about as an artifact of massively increased testing during the summer.

      Sakara Gold’s suggestion of another total lockdown is absurd and would be socially and economically catastrophic. The virus _is_ under control, as the positive test rate in July and August shows.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        You are exactly right. I charted the positive test rates since the beginning of May here:

        https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/peTrQ/1/

        The coronavirus dashboard should do the same. If we started to see an uptick in positive test rates above this background level which is almost indistinguishable from false positives to say 2% ocurring over s short period there might be some grounds for wider measures. Until then, local measures are the way to go based on clearly identified outbreaks. It is after all what the much vaunted Koreans have actually done.

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:21 am | Permalink

        Trump has been excusing the woeful US response by claiming that the large number of cases – now 5 million in the US – is due to increased testing. He and you are both wrong.

        All respectable scientific opinion – the FDA, our SAGE committee, Dr Fauci and numerous others know that increasing testing gives more accurate results, so we know that there really are more cases.

        Suggesting otherwise is fake news promulgated for political reasons and merely demonstrates your scientific ignorance

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Sorry that is just mathematically illiterate.

          When we had few tests available and they were concentrated on confirming diagnoses of people coming to and in hospitals the rate of positive testing was up to 30-40%. As testing ramped up under Pillar 2, the positive result percentage fell, but so did the number of cases diagnosed, producing an initial secondary peak in the total Pillar 1+2 figures, which are now dominated by the false positives that come from Pillar 2.

          https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/d307t/2/

          There is no rise above the false positive background in more recent testing, which you can see if you look at the chart you claimed to be responding to.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I think the data mainly ref,ect increased levels of testing.

      https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/testing

  28. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Sir John, for this much needed reminder. One of the primary lessons of the last few months must be that as a nation we have lost the plot on presentation and interpretation of statistics. This has affected CV projections, economic forecasts, exam results, but most worrying of all, global warming, where the self-delusion is on a staggering scale

  29. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    We went to a pub last week and because we are vulnerable to covid we are careful about infection. As we entered, I was asked to sign my name and telephone number so that we could be contacted if another customer had caught the disease and actually knew that they had it. We had to use a biro which everyone else in the pub had used. There was gel available to wash hands but we didn’t see anyone using it. The waiter sprayed and cleaned the table top but didn’t clean the plastic arms of the chairs. To go to the toilet we had to go out and come back in in a one way system in case we got near to other people. The urinals had been taped over in case we stood too close and I had to pick up the seat of the WC and use the flush handle, then I could use the tap and basin to wash my hands. But then I had to touch the tap again and use the door handle to exit. In order to be certain that I had no viruses on my hands I had to use my own gel four times in order to buy half a pint for £4.50. Still, my wife enjoyed it.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      £4.50 for half a pint!

      You drink in a very expensive pub.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Yes, no joined up thinking…

      Same goes for shop workers and anyone who touches food or food packaging in the supply chain.

      Any break in the chain makes the whole process worthless…

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Yesterday I inhaled strawberry vape from 25 feet of the smoker.

      We should all be dead by now.

  30. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Why was it necessary to explain R in such an impossibly complicated way?
    I’m quite sure a significant portion of British society were left convinced that R stands for “Relativity” and is as hard to understand as Einstein’s theory or a paper by Stephen Hawking.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      R stands for ‘Rubbish’ (Eric Morecambe ‘what do you think of it so far?).

  31. Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    It is a real dilemma for the government. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Sadly, we appear all too often, to be governed by media and a group of shouty single issue fanatics.

    I think there is a general consensus that, for the large majority of people, the Covid19 virus presents little real danger but for a minority of people, it can prove fatal. The latter group were asked to shield and this was very effective.
    It strikes me that the common sense approach would be to reintroduce shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable and free everyone else.

    Knowing that viruses are so small that, other than very specialised masks, most masks and face coverings are pointless but, hey ho, thanks to the media and the shouty types, the government had to be seen to be doing something.

    The government’s biggest obstacle is that so many people no longer believe anything they say. There is a real distrust of the state by the general population and that is not healthy.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      +1 to Cliff.Wokingham.

      The massive hole in which we find ourselves as a nation is one that has been created by government, with all the confused and confusing messages it has sent forth for months now.

      Advisers advise; ministers decide. So when in hole – stop digging, and stop passing the buck. Take responsibility. There appears to be a ‘heads never roll’ atmos in Westminster – when the very heads that should roll just keep on wobbling. Ministers and mps must learn to apologise for their blunders, and make way for the next blunderer. We pay the price in more ways than one for their sins.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      “Sadly, we appear all too often, to be governed by media and a group of shouty single issue fanatics.

      I think there is a general consensus that, for the large majority of people, the Covid19 virus presents little real danger but for a minority of people, it can prove fatal.”

      Oh the irony….

      The problem with Covid-19 is that no one knows how an individual will be affected by the virus until it has done its worse, yet far to many “shouty single issue fanatics” keep telling anyone foolish enough to listen that they know who and how the virus will adversely affect.

      If you want those “at-risk” to Shield you will first need to give everyone, from the new-born to those in receipt of the Queens telegram, a full and tougher medical first, because many people live normal lives without ever knowing they carry a Covid-19 “at-risk” aliment or condition.

      “There is a real distrust of the state by the general population and that is not healthy.”</I

      Amongst the “shouty single issue fanatics” perhaps, but then many have never trusted the govt, hence their constant diatribes with regards AGW, the UN, the WHO, the WTO, the IMF, and the EU, most based on some for/against (conspiracy) theory or another that is always high on rhetoric and low on facts.

      The biggest problem is actually quite the opposite, far to many people are all to ready to believe anything their govt says, which is why it is so dangerous when the “shouty single issue fanatics” gain the ear of govt, from AGW to Brexit and beyond.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Shouty single issue fanatics ARE the Government.

        They claim that they were elected to get it done.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

          Name these people.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

            The collective persona of the Tory Party, as characterised by its election campaign. is exactly that.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            How extreme and increasingly embarrassing your posts are getting.
            A few days ago you told us euthanasia for those with Covid should be imposed as it would save the NHS cost.
            Now here you are defaming every single person in the Conservative Party.
            You presumably see yourself as a liberal conservative like your pal andy recently told us he was.
            Forgetting the election campaign you hate gave the Conservatives a huge majority, unlikely to be overturned at the next election.
            Marxist Labour slumped to their worst election result since 1935.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

            Martin, As against the “shouty single issue fanatics” who demanded that the democratic decision by 52% of us to Leave should be binned? That sort of anti-democratic fanatic?

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

            Who demanded that?

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Well we do know the effect of Covid on people Jerry.
        The data shows the vast majority are over 80 and have pre existing serious health conditions.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          @Edward2; Untrue, you need to check the death stats in the USA and Brazil.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

            In Brazil and America deaths have also been manly the old and others with serious health issues.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

            In USA only 3% were 44 or under
            32% were over 85
            27% were 75 to 84
            21% were 65 to 74
            72% of patients admitted to hospitals had at least one serious health issues.

            Nearly 50% of all USA adults are classified are being at risk to complications from CV because of heart problems diabetes hypertension cancer or obesity.

            Even in Brazil 70% were over 60
            More young people are dying in Brazil than the world average but the WHO says allowance should be made for several factors.
            A young population and poverty and crowded homes in cities and the need to work to survive.
            WHO said the large numbers of poor people, which includes young people, have major risk factors like smoking, obesity diabetes high blood pressure unhealthy diet and poor health provision.

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

            @Andy; Oops, sorry….

            @Edward2; That’s OK then, after all it’s only the old and ill who are dying…

            You also miss the point, those young people who fall ill to Covid-19 but not die will infected older generations, perhaps in the family homes, and it is these generations that die. You really have not grasped the real issue, contagion.

            As for the WHO, they also say countries should lock-down, ho-hmm.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t say that Jerry.
            Having failed in your USA and Brazil point you now are moving the argument onto a different topic.
            I have not missed the point nor failed to grasp the real issue.
            Children need to go back to school.
            They cannot remain away for years.

            WHO also says children rarely get Covid when they do it is mild.
            And they don’t pass it on to others like adults do.
            Ho hmm indeed.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Having failed in your USA and Brazil point”

            No Eddie, I simply ignored you uncredited assertions. More to the point, if you think 3% mortality, that in human terms means 3.5k+ unnecessary deaths of young mostly economically active people is acceptable, on top of those of the old and ill, well….

            “I have not missed the point nor failed to grasp the real issue.”

            You have all the time repeat the lie about only the old and ill dying.

            “[children] cannot remain away for years.”

            Why ever not, many children are home schooled from age 5 to 18, school is not an essential in building social confidants and friendships etc.

            In this internet age there is no reason why schools could not hold on-line classes, either in real-time of on demand, yes it would mean the govt, schools or SATS educational providers and the telecom companies need to step-up. If just about any house with a broadband connection can stream VOD films etc. then why not education programmes, even dial-up can access text based content.

            Or of course if formal schooling is deemed necessary then perhaps we need to move towards term-time boarding schools if science cannot tame the Covid-19 virus.

            The WHO say nothing of the sort about children spreading contagion, otherwise why would they have suggested only the other day that all children over 12 should wear face masks. Why has the SNP govt in Hollyrood (no doubt having studied the latest WHO data, as is their habit) only today mandated the wearing of face masks by all children aged 5 upwards when travelling on school transport and that all children ages 11 and over should wear masks in high risk areas within school buildings – why bother if children rarely catch, do not suffer from and can not pass on the covid-19 virus, just make the teachers and other adults wear masks!

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          But some, including hundreds of front line health workers, often struggling without PPE, were not.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

            The figure show that health staff despite bring in direct contact with positive cases all day every day, have a very low level of cases and deaths.
            Very similar to the general population.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Stop talking undiluted bilge water, the figures show a disproportionate number of health workers have become infected and many have died.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

            Give us the figures then Jerry.
            One million health workers…..and….

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Who has ‘blamed them if they don’t..?’ Let’s give that one a try?

  32. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    The death rate continues its inexorable decline. All cause mortality is below the five year average and has been for 9 weeks.It is likely at record lows, since the all cause fatality rate has been falling for decades (which tallies with people living longer)
    Hospitalization happens less and less.
    The proportion of tests producing a positive result has been steady at between 0.5% and 1% for weeks, albeit the number of cases has increased with the number of tests. This figure of course includes all the false positives, and is skewed because the test is offered to those who think they have symptoms.
    The disease has largely gone, to the point that it is killing fewer people than falls and far fewer than summer flu.
    Overall the R number has to be below 1 or the above would be impossible. Agreed there are bound to be small communities that have hitherto escaped exposure to the disease within which it is spreading and within which the R number is greater than 1, but we cannot set public policy that might benefit small minorities but harms the overwhelming majority.
    In any previous age the absence of deaths and hospitalisations would have been more than sufficient to justify saying that the disease had passed.
    There is no further need for lockdown, and it is only a matter of time before the usual suspects proclaim that lockdown is a wicked power grab being done by the evil Tories.
    BTW I gather that Spain and other European nations add the number of positive tests for the virus to the number of positive tests for antibodies, thus giving an artificially high estimate for the current prevalence of the disease.

  33. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Rather than the estimated R number, I would like more information on the nature of infections. I can find out how many infections there have been in our local area, but nothing about the areas where infection transmission is more likely, so I can avoid them.
    Perhaps the “experts” can be asked what proportion of infections are from contaminated surfaces as opposed to droplet transmission. It seems however whenever they are asked a sensible question they trip out the response “There is a lot we still don’t know about this virus”.
    We have had to implement a risk assessment in my place of work. How can we do this intelligently when we are in the dark about the relative risks?

  34. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    If the care homes are now protected, in hospital infection under control, sufficient spare capacity within the NHS and supply lines, and the infection fatality rate going down then presumably an indication of R around 1 is not going to see a sudden surge that catches anyone with their trousers down.

    On the evolution of the virus, has anyone read any research about differences in the virus in asymptomatic patients compared with symptomatic. Surely we would want to know how much is die to differences in patient and how much could be due to virus evolution?

  35. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    What appears to be happening is that a proportion of younger people are not maintaining social distancing and taking other precautions and are thus spreading the virus thyrough their social and work groups.

    The fact that both general wards and intensive care facilities are largely empty is another clear indication that the older generations are taking precautions very seriously out of self-interest and that the spread of the virus is principally happening within the population below the age of 5o.

    Cultural differences within society may also be at play with some of the hotspots being in areas with large Asian populations that live and socialise in large extended families, quite unlike the indigenous population. Given their location, it also seems likely that some of the factories with high rates of infection may well be staffed by workers of Asian extraction. We never see any statistics that show how actual infection rate vary between different ethnic groups within the population, although we do know that unfortunately the outcome of infection for many individual ethnic groups is worse than that for the white population. This must have been a concern as a lockdown was imposed just before the Muslim festival of Eid.

    If immunity can be proved to last for a decent length of time after initial infection, it may be that what is happening is in the interest of the general population. The so-called herd immunity we heard so much about early on.

    It could be that it might be better for the Government to allow the virus to spread in a limited way through the younger population rather than introduce regional lockdowns.

  36. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    The first national lockdown cost us a fifth of our economy. The next national lockdown will cost us another 20%. Three more after that, and our economy will be completely wiped out. But on the plus side, R might be below 1.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      NHS would have 5% of employees needed, the rest unemployed.
      Avoidable deaths count will spike.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        That is a realistic scenario, based on the government’s current performance. A point of view that is emerging in the international media, and in the political centres of power in Europe and the USA, is that the UK has the most dysfunctional and incompetent administrative machine in the developed world. Given that successive governments have delegated ministerial control and ministerial accountability to a ballooning unaccountable Quangocracy, that is unsurprising, and there there is not a lot they can do about it in the short term. The Quangos, stuffed full of Cultural Marxist Snowflakes, who have come up through our Marxist education system and then been further indoctrinated by Common Purpose brainwashing courses, serve only themselves and their Cultural Marxist agenda, not the people of this country. As we have seen throughout the CV-19 fiasco, their “day job” comes very low down in their order of priorities. But we can rest assured that the performance indicator for Unconscious Bias Training will be met this year!

  37. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The Report admits R “cannot be measured directly so there is always uncertainty”

    So the true R number could be much lower – or indeed much higher…

    some of the CV 19 ascribed deaths are people who had had the disease well before death and had other serious medical problems.

    So we should simply assume death was caused by the pre-existing condition, with no possibility the condition was made worse by the presence of the Covid-19 virus – which after all was the science behind the govts instruction for such known-risk patients to shield.

    But here we have the idea that many people suddenly succumb to a previously undiagnosed or slight medical condition, coincidentally whilst suffering from, or the post viral effects of, Covid-19.

    They also stress local areas can have flare ups which are not representative of the surrounding region or local government area.

    True, but with most people now free to travel around the country (never mind abroad) we need a national figure and a national response. I like many live in a low R# tourist (and retirement) area, but because of the lag in knowing the likely R# in any area, how many possibly infected people have been walking our local streets having come from an area that has a higher infection rate, thus a high national R# puts everyone on their guard.

    These generalised stories based on national R estimates are not the way to settle whether the economy can recover or whether we can have some of our lost freedoms back.

    The nub of the issue, what do we put first, peoples long term physical health or the immediate health of a few bank accounts…

    Of course we could simply adapt to what might be the new normal (if one ex SAGE member is correct), thus we protect as far as possible both health and wealth, by becoming far more localised – then the national, and indeed the international, R number is less important.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Why is the CMO trying to conflate physical & mental health with educational achievement, children do not need formal schooling to achieve educationally, nor to make friends & find their place in society, indeed many who are or have been Home Schooled are far better adjusted and adapted than those who suffered years of the ever changing whims of the DfE and their puppets at Ofqual etc.

      The CMO has blatantly entered politics with his intervention last night, and much of the MSM has joined him in blindly repeating what the govt wants heard, whilst missing the point entirely, sure a child is statistically less likely to suffer from the effect of Covid-19 but can non the less carry and pass the virus on, what of their parents, what of other members of the extended family the child might share a home with, what of those the adults then go on to infect?

      The true reason the govt wants schools back is economic, the same reason why some are now talking down the R#, so those in No11 Downing Street should make the case, not get others to do so on the side…

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        How are we going to eat ?

        This is not the Black Death and if it were I’d be the first to be taking stringent precautions.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          @Anonymous; “How are we going to eat ?”

          How did people eat between the middle of March and the end of May in the UK?!

          As well as most supermarkets and small connivance shops remaining open I understand internet shopping did very well too.

          “if it were [the Black Death] I’d be the first to be taking stringent precautions.”

          Catch bubonic plague today and there’s a ready drug cure, not the case with Covid-19…

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

            Jerry, “How did people eat”?? Because large numbers of “people” carried on working producing, importing, packing, and distributing food. It is hypocrisy to laud the lockdown and cite as evidence people who could not be part of that very lockdown.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; EXACTLY, the UK never actually fully locked-down, the economy simply carried on and adapted.

            It is no more hypocrisy to laud the lock-down and cite as evidence people who could not be part of that very lock-down than it is to laud WW2 and cite as evidence those who could not take up, or were exempt from, military conscription during WW2, such people won the war just as much as those on the front lines, indeed some were at more risk and without the efforts on the home front the front the war would have been lost.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

            Fully locking down by your definition would seem to mean complete martial law.
            Would food shops be open?
            Would banks be open?
            Would you allow power company workers to go to work?
            We locked down except for necessary and vital companies.
            Companies I know stayed open to make you PPE.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Your knees are jerking ags9int I see….

            Spain, for example, had a far more strict lock-down than the UK, I do not recall hearing either the MSM or from my friends in Spain that the country had been placed under martial law, and yes food shops and banks (well at least modern ATMs) were open, and the electricity supply remained available, as did the supply of bottled gas etc.

            “[the UK] locked down except for necessary and vital companies.
            Companies I know stayed open to make you PPE.”

            Oh right so all those companies who adapted, had their office staff work from home, were making PPE ?…

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            Cant you ever post on here without personal abuse?
            Why are you so agressive?
            No answer to the questions I posed I note just a red herring about Spain.

            Your last paragraph is just typical of you Jerry with a pedantic mis read response
            It wasnt what I said.

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; “I note just a red herring about Spain.”

            You claimed a strict lock-down would require martial law etc, I simply pointed out a real world example that did not – the only red herring was your hyperbole.

            “It wasnt what I said.”

            Yes it was, but accept it might not have been what you meant…

          • Posted August 26, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

            No I didn’t day that.
            You wanting total lockdown would mean no one going out.
            How would you feed people keep lights on make PPE for others and keep the health service operating as just a few examples.
            The total lockdown you favour like in Spain hasn’t made much of a difference compared to tjer European nations.

  38. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Cliff

    “It strikes me that the common sense approach would be to reintroduce shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable and free everyone else.”

    …..exactly !

    But then we live in a country that panders to minorities.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      minority views matter!

    • Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Seventeen million out of sixty-seven million is a minority too, and yes, a very pandered-to one.

      You’d not have it any other way though, and you are fully entitled to take that view.

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        PS.

        Actually, it is only the fanatics, a very small minority among that minority, who are getting the pandering.

        The reasonable, pragmatic millions are being ignored among the Leave vote.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          Fanatics….17 million people who just voted differently to you.
          The democratic left speak again.

          No wonder Marxist Labour got their worst result since 1935.

          Amazed how you know the opinions of all who didn’t vote.
          Have you spoken to all the babies, children, teenagers and non UK citizens?

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

            Read my post again and understand it this time Ed.

            Many Leave voters that I know are reasonable, and willing to compromise for the sake of the country.

            Those who demand a No Deal at any cost are unlikely to be any kind of a majority among the people therefore

          • Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

            No deal is a myth.
            And it is not a position of fanatics.
            You actually mean trading using WTO rules which works for over 90% of world trade.

  39. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    We want all of our freedoms back, not some of them.

    We want other health problems to be treated.

    We want public servants to start working again.

    Why is the Covid death toll low now?
    Did the government already kill the most vulnerable in the mad panic to infect care home residents?
    Is the strain of the virus now circulating less deadly?
    Have drugs such as steroids and inhaled beta interferon made the disease treatable?

  40. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    It sounds as though the power’s gone to the collective heads of the boffins at SAGE, with their scattergun approach designed to confuse and, of course, justify their existence. They’re now operating directly in the political arena, openly challenging the government when they don’t like decisions. It’s not their role and just as the government showed a united front with SAGE (despite obvious reservations), they should be prepared to do exactly the same with the government now to defuse the alarmists’ signals and get the country back to work. We simply can’t live our lives properly if we’re encouraged to fear the unknown.

  41. Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    The R number and cases Sir John are now being used as the sheepdog to herd us sheep in whatever the required direction is.

    Overall death rate has been below the five year average for 8 weeks in a row now the number dying of/with Covid is insignificantly small and cases not resulting in serious illness or death are steadily taking the country toward herd immunity. Evidently this is not a desirable outcome.

    ‘Following the science’ is destroying the country both economically and socially so I can only assume that this is the required outcome.

  42. Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    The government want us to give them the benefit of the doubt and say, “Oh well, this crisis wasn’t your fault and you had to react by curtailing our freedom, savaging our medical services and destroying our economy”.

    There are two problems with this argument.

    Firstly, we have no confidence in the way they are handling the situation: telling us at the height of the pandemic that face masks were almost useless, and then as the death figures plummeted compelling us to wear them; and ruining the economy while Sweden, with no major compulsory lockdown, has had an almost identical trajectory of death rates from the pandemic to ours.

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, we have had a “Conservative” (in name) government for 5 years and in coalition for the 5 years before that. All that time we have seen more and more legislation, the creation of more and more regulatory bodies, the complexity of taxation increased to the point of absurdity and more and more government intervention in the economy. So now, when we are told that these latest infringements of our freedom are necessary, and not part of a plot to increase the power of the State, we don’t believe them.

  43. Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Dear JR
    Very good questions there, though I doubt ordinary constituents like me are the right people to ask. They should be put to these unelected SAGEs that appear to be running the country at the moment. It’s a shame there doesn’t seem to be a feedback mechanism for you to question SAGE directly. Or if there is, perhaps it should be used more often.

  44. Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    ‘People deciding to lock down places and areas need clear and reliable data that there is a real problem with a surge in the virus and its spread’.

    NO. People deciding to lock down places should find themselves quickly locked up; the keys thrown away until they come to their senses.
    Lockdowns do not work – there is ample evidence to support this view [perhaps for example, countries with the strictest lockdowns (Peru, Belgium) have had the highest death rates]. Moreover, they kill and damage far more people than they save.

    When is the government going to undertake a proper cost/benefit analysis of its insane Covid policies? Hopefully long before the next election.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Well said.

  45. Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    R is a hidden algorithm like Ofqual’s. It can in any case be over 1 and not imply a further epidemic when there is a significant level of immunity, as seems to be the case via T-cells as well as actual antibodies. It’s a highly simplified parameter of a simple epidemic model, that is like the parameter for the effect of carbon dioxide on climate in a climate model – deduced backwards in more sophisticated models, and heavily dependent on unknown parameters that have assumed values.

    It seems that there is an epidemic attribution business that hides the data from those who might offer better explanations of superspreader events in a locality. It takes us away completely from the premise of the lockdown which was to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. Yesterday I commented on how the splurge in testing in Leicester showing an apparently high level of infection wasn’t mirrored at all in hospitalised infections. However it was consistent with the higher number of false positives you might expect with such a test surge.

    Treating outbreaks with well targetted quarantine is the way to go. That means not hiding data from the public, but enhancing it. We now have very limited data on the origins of hospitalised infections. Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 data are muddled together, and information is suppressed where numbers are small. Let’s have the detail. Local health officials should tell the local press as much as they can. E,g, Three people in the same household from the village of Steeple Aston tested positive on return from a holiday in Norway, age range 20-50. None were hospitalised… There were 3 positive tests among the 3,000 conducted yesterday across the county – those are being monitored, but at this stage it is quite likely they are false positives as they were asymptomatic, and they will be retested in 5 days time… Two workers aged 50-60 from XYZ foods were hospitalised and tested positive. The rest of the workforce and their families are being tested, and being helped with isolation pending re-testing in a week: neighbours are being advised of the need to watch for symptoms.

    We can judge our personal risks for ourselves. With more information, instead of propaganda, we can also judge our community risks much better. I am sure that many readers were able to get some sense of local levels of risk from the maps I produced in the past which were based on the recent week’s Pillar 1 data related to local population. I no longer have access to such data. But with under 500 virus patients in hospital nationally, I suspect we would be looking at England’s green and pleasant land.

  46. Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I think that the sooner people disregard the advice of the “Experts” and stop living in fear and follow the Swedish model the better off we will all be, apparently we’re £2trillion in debt, the economy destroyed and for what?
    All of life is at owner’s risk, every single time that we step outside our front door, crossing the road, getting into our cars, a friend of mine reported on a visit to his parents, both in their 80’s, that they’re happy to get out-and-about and not be imprisoned in their home any longer!

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      +++

      Agreed – Experts are so greatly over-rated — call them specialists, but ‘expert’ implies they know everything there is to know on a given subject…. and that is as far from the truth as it possibly could be

  47. Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Daniel Hannan is complaining (there’s a surprise) in The Telegraph today that politicians get the blame when things go wrong.

    “But it was PHE,” he rants. “But it was Ofqual,” he moans. “But it is the Border Force,” he whines.

    No, Mr Hannan. It was a completely incompetent and dishonest Brexit government.

    When the public inquiry is done it will be the politicians going to prison.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Rubbish as usual Andy blaming everything on Brexit. If you like the EU so much you are free to go and live there for now.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        I’ll pay, I can buy you a very good house in France with a pool for £15k.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          Rubbish! You must be reading the BS sites aimed at Brits. But go to the place, check it out, add the various ‘notaire’ fees plus the fee for the British intermediary, the likely repairs to the house (and to the swimming pool) and you are likely to pay at least €100k, still cheap for a certain kind of Brits (specially those who dine at £60/person).

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        The Tories took away our right to live in the EU.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

          We lived in Europe before the EU was created.
          How could that have happened?

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

          Wrong – The majority of voters interested in the subject in 2016 voted to leave the EU.

          Now, If the euphilics had done the job properly then the vote would surely have gone the other way, so it appears you were the cause of us leaving.

          BTW It appears you voted LibDem and they called for an EU referendum in 2007, so why did you vote for them?

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          why don’t you just apply?

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        He wasn’t blaming brexit.

        He was blaming certain people in the Tory Party, and rightly so, I think.

        But perhaps you perceive brexit as a person.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

          He wasn’t blaming “certain” people but a class of person, generally everyone but him. He, you and the rest of euphilics screwed up and refuse to accept any portion of the blame.

          If the EU had delivered tangible benefits instead of the clear penalties of membership then the issue would never had gotten as far as it did in 2016. But, Brexit happened because you simply didn’t care and thought only a minority didn’t think as you did so could be ignored. But you believed wrongly.

          You and Andy certainly believe brexit is corporeal – Andy blames and threatens his (supposed) elders while you blame those you consider uneducated and uncouth. So nothing has changed really and lessons haven’t been learned.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

            Are there two versions of this blog then?

            Strange.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      He makes some excellent points as always. Hopefully Dominic Cummings will get to grips with the perma-left bureaucracy once we have the Wuhan plague behind us.

  48. Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Does Global Government rule Britannia ?

    No more Rule Britannia.. No more Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms?

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8655351/BBC-considering-dropping-Rule-Britannia-Land-Hope-Glory-Night-Proms.html

    Polly

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Boris needs to pick up the phone and tell the BBC governors that he’ll be watching the programme and trusts that an organisation wanting funding will be respectful of the culture of those paying the bills. And then order some more ships for our sea warriors!!!

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      In that case who will listen or watch?

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      We are indeed ruled at the behest of a shouty minority.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      If Britannia hadn’t ruled the waves the slave trade wouldn’t have been crushed. Hopefully someone will be allowed onto the woke left BBC to make this point.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Richard1

        Britannia was the main protagonist shipping about 6m Africans across the oceans with hundreds of thousands perishing on the journey and their descendants slaving for centuries in the colonies.

        And in case you try to paint our so-called abolition in a favourite light you ought to mention that the £25m paid in compensation (worth over 1b today) went to the slave owners to pay for their loss of trade.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

          The fact remains that the UK did spend a lot of money to free slaves and operate a naval fleet to eradicate slave transport and the UK taxpayer continued to pay for that compensation upto the end of 2014. That certainly included me, and you if you actually paid any UK taxes.

          So I would say the vast majority of taxpayers in the UK have had no direct involvement in slavery but have certainly contributed to the costs of addressing it.

          So why do you and others seek to hold us to blame?

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      The BBC but be crushed. The Proms must continue totally independent of any broadcaster!

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        They are a BBC event, organised by them, and have been for decades.

        They are named the Henry Wood Promenades purely as an honorific.

        So they cannot continue to be independent of a broadcaster because they are not now.

        You can argue for a new arrangement, but getting commercial interest in a minority interest series – the season lasts most of the summer don’t forget – might be tricky.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

          So this minority interest only happens now courtesy of wider UK public funding, the same public these “cultured” louts sneer at with their foreign flags?

          They can clearly continue independent of the BBC. The Royal Opera House has managed to present productions via Youtube, the Henry Wood concerts, which were performed before there was ever a BBC, could easily proceed the same way

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      It’s an absolute disgrace. I would love to see the crowd sing this anyway without the orchestra as a protest.

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

        The promenaders are generally a cultured lot, who wave far more European Union flags than they do Union ones these days.

        You might get a football mob to turn up to do it, but only a few hundred have ever turned up for Farage or for Yaxley-Lennon’s silly rallies.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

          Martin, Waving the flags of our colonial masters – an empire which looks the other way at corruption within itself and in its own states, such as Bulgaria – is not “cultured”.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

            The Italian investigators charged with tackling organised crime in their country describe the UK as the most corrupt country in Europe.

            I think that they might just know their stuff.

            It appears to be legal here though, so the police leave it alone.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            Maybe the Italian investigators should concentrate on the huge organised crime problem in their own country before making unsubstantiated wild claims against other nations.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

          nonsense – been there.
          A couple of years ago – standing singing Land of….spoke to a couple of ‘middle agers’ who turned out to be from Holland.
          They said it was wonderful music, brilliant musicians, uplifting attendees. We asked isn’t this a bit too patriotic for you – being EU. Not at all they said, furiously waving their Union jacks with the rest of us.

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          ” who wave far more European Union flags than they do Union ones these days.”

          Because Remain activists seeded the audience and provided thousands of EU flags for the telly visual.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            No, because not many silly UK flag-wavers go to music concerts or to other cultural events.

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

            So it’s silly to wave a Union flag but not silly to wave an EU flag.
            Odd logic.

    • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Every year the Daily Mail prints the same story.

      Of course the BBC are “considering” what music should be in LNOTP, as they do for every concert in the season, which is their production.

      And every year the teeth-grinders and fist-wavers fall for it 100%, as they do everything else.

      • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        You are here defending the BBC
        Maybe if it is a myth you might consider you don’t need to be here doing it.

  49. Posted August 23, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    To float a couple of quotes from Peter Hitchens’s blog today,

    “How many of the UK travellers arriving from Spain after the introduction of the July 25 quarantine subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, how many of them were hospitalised, how many have recovered and (if applicable) how many died?”

    and

    ” The Rail Safety and Standards Board recently concluded after experiments that the risk of infection per passenger journey is only one in 11,000.

    The German train operator Deutsche Bahn made a safety survey and found: ‘We see remarkably few infections in trains. No infections occurred in persons on board with a stay of less than ten hours. Not a single contact tracing has been identified in Germany and Austria as having been triggered by an infection on the train journey.’ “

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps another question needs asking: how many of those going into at-home-quarantine were subject to a check that they were staying in?

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        none?

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Too late.

      The rail industry has gone bust and it’s likely that there will be very few trains and those that exist will be even more expensive to ride on than they are already.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        The ONS forecast population increases will happen over the next two decades (no amount of wishful thinking will stop this, we know Patel’s current plans and the next Govt will not harden this). The strategic infrastructure is needed for this (as is a different planning vision) the Govt’s actions (particulary Hancock and Sunak) have needlessly and stupidly made everything much harder, driving the country into the ground….still roads by me are getting narrower as cycle lanes are added, not convinced that is going to help.

  50. Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Further point.
    I understand that the Chancellor had difficulty raising the loans to fund the furlough and other Covid related measures. If the availability of such loans disappears then so does the government’s ability to borrow at all.
    Lockdown would definitely lose appeal without furlough to sweeten the pill, and the cuts in public expenditure that an inability to borrow would necessitate would be highly unpopular and blamed on the government rather than Covid.
    Not only has the justification for lockdown passed, the welfare of the people and the survival of the government requires it to be lifted.
    BTW the fact that the isolation measures have only slightly reduced deaths from summer flu indicates that the lockdown didn’t do much anyway. As does the fact that the curve of deaths plotted against dates has continued not visibly affected by the imposition of lockdown or any variation in its terms in this or any other country.

  51. Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    All the players have been fed and watered by CB and Govs before your off to the races, just waiting for that NO one could have KNOWN” moment?

  52. Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    As many have commented trust in the govt has all but disappeared.
    Boris on holiday with his bobble hat challenged by an irate Scottish farmer camping on his land via 2 chairs reminiscent of 4 candles Ronnie Barker and “The good life” was an indication of how ludicrous things are. Role reversal.

  53. Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Peter Hitchens writes that nearly a month after a last-minute announcement on July 25 smashed up tens of thousands of Spanish holidays, he asked the Health Department some simple questions:

    ‘How many of the UK travellers arriving from Spain after the introduction of the July 25 quarantine subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, how many of them were hospitalised, how many have recovered and (if applicable) how many died?’

    One would have assumed that if the risk to the public was sufficiently high that tens of thousands of holidays should be ruined by the government, they would be sufficiently concerned to follow up and test those who had returned in order to verify the effectiveness (or otherwise) of their emergency action.

    Well either the government is hiding the result, or they couldn’t care one way or the other. (My guess is, they already knew the answer would never support the action they took, so they didn’t bother looking.)

    • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      They won’t have any idea at all.

      There is no systematic gathering of such data.

      • Posted August 25, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        If they were ill Martin on their return from Spain they would have been tested and the Track and Tracers would have this data gathered. We would also know how many returnees from Europe were admitted into the hospital since July 25th?

  54. Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, as usual, you are spot on, and I share your scepticism.
    The narrative of sophistry that energises so many rapidly developing trends also has an unseen side. Without denying there are problems to be sensibly and wisely addressed, this Covid hysteria is hand-in-glove with Climate Alarmism, Environmentalism, Racial & Gender ‘Equality’ and a Money ‘reset’. A certain ‘woke’ city I am well acquainted with, where a 74 yo relative of mine has been in hospital (having already recovered uneventfully from a mild dose of Covid-19), has now announced that it is to ‘decolonise’ its university teaching hospitals! In the same city, there’s a large graffiti message on an end-of-terrace wall which, Northern Ireland style, announces ‘private property is theft’.
    This bland, falsely virtuous revolution is set on dismantling and replacing the world we knew, which, for all its faults, fostered freedom, creativity and prosperity.
    I have it on good authority that this looming New World Order will be lawless, hatefully authoritarian and short-lived. Thankfully, I shall not be here to see it (Revelation 3:10).

  55. Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    You have to do something about Whitty and Valance, they are so scared of the media having a go at them they are happy to countenance shutting down everything.

    Enough now.

  56. Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Well perhaps less harmful now for several reasons:- perhaps the virus has evolved to become less dangerous, more testing surely gives more positives (so a higher denominator), the NHS has hopefully got better at treatments and perhaps younger patients too. Pehaps a bit of all four. But now just 1% of cases die when it was as high 14% in the UK at its peak.

  57. Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Given the difficulties in measuring R, government responses to local outbreaks need to be as local as possible, targeting the areas, communities and age-groups causing the spread.
    I welcome today’s news of increased penalties for those hosting, and attending, raves and house-parties. One wonders, though, why this wasn’t done sooner. Tardiness is a hallmark of this government.
    I see, also, that a rapid-testing capability is being trialled – one that works in the manner of a breathalyzer and gives a result in 10 minutes. Perhaps, Sir John, you might tweak Grant Shapps. We need a quick roll-out of rapid-testing at our airports, at a reasonable price, to get the air-travel industry back to work. I don’t think his department has done nearly enough in this regard.

  58. Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Matt Hancock wants to spend £350M on a headquarters for his National Institute for Health Protection on a green field site in Essex. Why does this organisation need to be located at one site? Looking at the Robert Koch Institute organisation chart, there are clearly many discrete functions carried out which do not need and are not located in one site in Berlin. However, the scientists in charge take reports from the admin staff and not vice-versa.

    Some of the scientific work could be carried out by the Francis Crick Institute and elsewhere. It is also time the Natural History Museum was repurposed as most of the exhibits are obsolete insofar as there has been no evolution since the animals were stuffed and they can be seen on the TV with the kindly presence of Richard Attenborough explaining all the whys and wherefores. Perhaps a much smaller public gallery could be used to display some of the palaeozoological exhibits. Is there still a motheaten bear at the top of a staircase?

    Why do some government ministers believe that problems can only be solved with the expenditure of large sums of taxpayers’ money?

    • Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      Locate it in Leicester. They would then be able to study the biggest problems at close quarters. Branch office in say Moretonhampstead as a reminder that there is a world outside densely populated cities.

  59. Posted August 23, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    SAGE needs to be binned as is promised for PHE. All such quangos are homes for overpaid incompetents who would be hard pressed to get a job elsewhere.

  60. Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Update – today deaths UK 6

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      In the interests of sound science and in order to have rigorous scrutiny of the basis of the govt’s Covid policy, the government should be compelled to publish the daily death figures for flu and pneumonia, plus the death rates per million of population, alongside the corresponding Covid figures. Even the BBC might choke on their cornflakes in their morning bulletins.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        I believe the covid deaths are so low that the politicians and the media now fear a public backlash

        • Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          I believe that for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows…

          • Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

            Sarcasm doesn’t hide the low numbers of current cases and deaths.

  61. Posted August 23, 2020 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Just seen a retweet of a family that arrived. Been handed the keys to a 5 bedroom council house, £10k of furniture etc – -contribution to this country – – £0.

    Hope you don’t expect votes at the next election.

    Look at David Vance’s for it

  62. Posted August 24, 2020 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Surely no one is catching the flu thanks to all these lockdowns and social conditioning, only we know this is not the case so it proves the entire thing a scam.

    • Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      correct

  63. Posted August 24, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I had a gut feeling from the start that Boris was making a terrible mistake but I am not a scientist and I was in a minority of 1 among friends and relatives. I do now detect that, while there is still reluctance to admit that I was right, there is a growing feeling that the Govt must commit to a full return to normality asap and that holding back for fear of a possible 2nd wave is more about justifying the original lockdown than public health – knowing what we do now about the virus.

  64. Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Forget Rrrrr….

    Is the number of covid19 patients in intensive care units going up or down?
    Is the number of healthy people dying from covid19 going up or down?
    The stats are out there and either the virus is away on its holidays or we are getting nearer to population immunity
    (It is likely that, come winter, flu, covid19 and other nastys will compete to help the seriously ill and frail on their way – such is life.

  65. Posted August 27, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    The numbers of COVID-19 cases (7 day moving average) have been:
    07/07 551
    13/08 1085
    18/08 983
    24/08 1138

    Being a simple soul, I deduce that the ‘R’ number has exceeded 1 for six weeks.

    The numbers of deaths (7 day moving averages) since the downwards revision have been:
    17/08 7
    23/08 11

    The number of deaths is a lagging indicator so this rise is not unexpected.

    We can blame these figures on areas of local concern or we can view them as a national problem. Whichever it is, the public expect the Government to reveal (as a result of its track and trace data) how and where these new cases are occurring – demographics (age profile, sex), geographical locations of transmission, types of place where transmission occurs.

    Before some clown decides schools cannot be reopened, we want to know how much transmission of the virus goes on at gigs, at religious ceremonies, in public transport carriages, in pubs and restaurants and in houses.

    Government’s job is to put its fiscal house in order, which means prioritising the economy while reducing subsidies, and to keep the public fully informed.

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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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