The timing of these severe measures

The health policy says close more things down and stop people getting about unless it is essential to the NHS, basic utilities  and  the food supply that they do so. Keep them closed until the disease is tamed enough.  The economic policy says close less down, re-open as quickly as possible, try to limit the economic damage.

Judging when to lift the new restrictions becomes the crucial decision. Do it too soon and the disease presumably leaps up again. Leave it too long and big swathes of the UK private sector will be excessively debt ridden or bankrupt.

So it would be good to have a bit more explanation from the epidemiologists how accurate their models are and when they judge it might be safe to reverse these measures. Learning from overseas countries ahead of us on the upwards curve of this disease is a good idea, but we need to understand the different bases of their figures and the big imperfections in them.

Some countries concentrate on testing after death. This can give a high death rate, as many people who  get the disease and recover are never tested and counted, whilst many people who may die of something else can have death attributed to the virus they were carrying. There may also be false positives in the tests.

Some countries concentrate on testing those who declare symptoms, who mainly go on to recover. This may well produce a lower death rate, though the figures may still be way out as many people with symptoms or with the mild  version of the disease may never report or seek a test. Some countries test key workers and patients at risk, yet another different set of figures.

It  would be good to see test results based on a proper sample of the population to know how many already have it, compared to full testing on all those who have died from symptoms like the virus.  It is still a medical judgement if the virus killed them. It will also be better when the new test to find those who have recovered from it and now have antibodies against it is available.

In the meantime government faces a difficult dilemma. Which of the many reports of various death rates and rates of new infection does it  believe or does it think we are most likely to follow? At what point would it be safe to reverse these measures?  When will we have in place sufficient tests to make the numbers more reliable than many of  those from around the world using selective testing? People’s lives depend on these numbers . Millions of people’s livelihoods also depend on them, so they better be available soon and they better be reasonably accurate. The only justification for the economic  misery is that the measures save lives. Giving businesses a better idea of how long it may take would also assist their plans and their financings.

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  1. Ian Wilson
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    I think you are asking most pertinent questions here. It appears, though as before I must state this is outside my field of expertise, that South Korea is containing the virus reasonably well without a full lockdown but using widespread testing and tracing of contacts.

    The scientific advisers may well be right but decades of being fed rubbish stories over climate by so-called ‘experts’ makes me more questioning.

    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    There’s a fundamental problem with this approach. It is based on the premise that we believe what we are being told and we therefore have faith in those imparting this information to the public.

    We live in a damaged country with a damaged political culture. The political players (those with power to influence public policy) cannot be trusted. We saw that following the Brexit vote and other important events that our modern political class have chosen to park for political convenience

    Therefore, I personally don’t trust this government and what it chooses to tell me. I haven’ trusted any government since Thatcher was downed.

    I believe this government and its predecessors adhere to a set of values that I find abhorrent and offensive. The rejection of morality and civility. Zero respect for liberty. Zero respect for freedom of expression. Embrace of politicisation. An expansion of State power at the cost of the individual. Indoctrination through education. The toleration of extremist politics as per Marxism and feminism.

    In essence, what experts and PM Johnson says are of zero significance. I shall adhere to the law for that is what I am expected to do. I shall help those who need my help. And I shall treat with total contempt the output from all political parties that have embraced a form of politics that is built upon values that most find morally offensive

    • Bob
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink


    • Ian@Barkham
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink


  3. everyone knows
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Status of COVID-19
    As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK.

    The 4 nations public health HCID group made an interim recommendation in January 2020 to classify COVID-19 as an HCID. This was based on consideration of the UK HCID criteria about the virus and the disease with information available during the early stages of the outbreak. Now that more is known about COVID-19, the public health bodies in the UK have reviewed the most up to date information about COVID-19 against the UK HCID criteria. They have determined that several features have now changed; in particular, more information is available about mortality rates (low overall), and there is now greater clinical awareness and a specific and sensitive laboratory test, the availability of which continues to increase.

    • Stred
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      This indicates the competence of the officials chosen to lead the health authorities and moreover the whole civil service. They have changed their stance as the epidemic progressed and failed at each stage. They failed to act and plan in advance and they are catching up when they have other input from professionals in universities and private practice.

      Even these professors vary in competence. The BBC had one on this morning who told a person who asked whether we should wash items bought supermarkets that they should not because the products were hygienically transported and the staff used rubber gloves. Not in the supermarkets that I use! Apart from which, there are customers and staff coughing and sneezing without using a tissue and handling goods and putting them back.

      Wash everything and your hands when you have got back and don’t touch your mouth, eyes and ears would have been a competent answer.

  4. SM
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Thank you for explaining so clearly the problems faced by any government in this situation. Over-reacting immediately to such a widespread threat simply isn’t an option, and as so many of us are discovering, attempting to close down C21st society isn’t feasible.

    In S Africa, we are facing lockdown as from midnight on Thursday, but already large swathes of working people have had to be excused, since their jobs are vital. A very big problem lies with all those millions who were anyway unemployed or are in non-vital jobs (and this is so for much of the rest of the continent) – there is little sophisticated understanding, and a huge potential for senseless and violent backlash against prohibitions and hardship.

    At some stage, society is going to have accept that far too many of us will experience tragic loss, just as in pandemics and wars in the past.

  5. Mark B
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    There are, I believe, other considerations. The virus is a crossover from animals to humans and we do not have any natural defences against it. The main victims seem to be the old and the very ill, ie people who are economically inactive. That is not to suggest that their lives are worth less but, to punish those that are less at risk with losing their jobs, homes, business and families does seem harsh. It is a terrible balance and I do not envy those who have to make what are literally life and death decisions.

    We have a historical precident in the form of Spanish Flu. That was far more lethal than that which we are faced with today but, it gives us an insight to what might happen. It also gives us the ability to learn from their mistakes.

    I do not believe that shutting the entire country down because of threats made by President Macron to shut us off. I would have hoped our government would have responded by closing the Chunnel. This would have sent a powerful message that we will not be bullied. Now the embattled President can carp that he too runs the UK and we dance to his tune.

    We need to get this over quickly. Those most at risk must stay indoors and we must avoid them.

    And finally. Many thanks to others who pointed out and provided links to the air transport mapper showing, to my horror bur surprise, an Air Italia coming from Rome. We gave you MP’s the power to re-govern this country and you still sit on your backsides waiting for others to tell you what to do.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      as a strategy this simply will not work. I’ve read the relevant papers over the last week or two. a complete and utter non starter.

      to do that would lead to far too many deaths for anyone to accept.

  6. Peter Wood
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,
    I don’t regard Steve Baker as an emotionally fragile chap, but to see his discomfort yesterday in the House must give concern, not for him but for the 300 odd pages of rushed, emergency legislation to keep us all in check. 300 pages! What can be in it to restrain the British public in this time of social concern requiring 300 pages, with no sunset clause?

    This looks like a socialist power grab for undeclared reasons, and is an assault on the British way of life. Boris, -‘ D-‘ Must do better!

    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      If anyone thinks that this legislation had not been in planning for a long time (300 pages) I have a bridge to sell. This is following a script ….


      • jerry
        Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        @zorro; It’s been in planning since at least 2004, when the Civil Contingency Act went through parliament, although that was an up date for the Civil Defence Act of 1948.

        “This is following a script ….”

        I would jolly well hope so! That’s the point of Civil Contingency and Defence planning…

    • jerry
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      @Peter Woods; Looks far more like a power grab by the hard right to me, any Socialist power grab would have seen immediate introduction of a national basic income for all and support for self employed contractors and those on zero hours contracts.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      The absence of a sunset clause is an outrage.

    • Andy
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      The measures are designed to try to keep you, your family and your friends alive.

      And the sad truth – which you may not have realised yet – is that by the end of all this some of them will almost certainly be dead.

      • Fred H
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        I might be Methuselah, but I know I might be wrong. How about you?

        • Andy
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          I’m not wrong. I’ve seen what this virus has done in China. I’ve seen what it has done in Italy. I have seen what it is doing in Spain. And France. And here.

          I am the last contributor to this site who wants Boris Johnson to have any power at all – let alone the Draconian ones he has now. But some times needs must – and I don’t want thousands dying pointlessly. Do you?

          And we know that is what will happen. Because it is what this virus does. And Brexit will not stop it having the same impact here and is has elsewhere.

          • Mark
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:15 am | Permalink

            You should be in quarantine with all that travelling.

            You are relying at best on statistics of dubious quality, and probably with very little understanding of how to interpret them or use them in epidemiological models.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            You appear to be relying on what some ignorant loudmouth in any backstreet pub might say, on the other hand.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        You exclude old people from your sympathy though Andy. You should point that out. You’ve told us at interminable length you’re not bothered about them.

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        Andy’s beloved EU is about to disintegrate.

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          I need a functioning economy and a job to keep my family alive.

          Andy thinks I believe in unicorns as much as I believe that he believes in the Magic Money Tree.

          Thankfully he is not rich enough or clever enough to avoid the deprivation that is coming.

          He was wrong about the EU and he is wrong about this.

          • Anonymous
            Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            In three months 20,000 people have died across the developed world over three months (hundreds of millions) so hopefully I WON’T know anyone who dies.

            Andy has no sense of proportion.

            Magic Money Tree thinking.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          Really? The euro has risen from about 83p to 95p in the last few weeks – around 92p now.

    • RichardM
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Its not socialism, its central planning and necessary intervention.
      Its a shame we have a blustering PM with no authority and hes inherited an NHS in a dire state after 10 years of Tory rule.
      By that logic WW1 and WW2 governments were socialist.

  7. jerry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    “Leave it too long and big swathes of the UK private sector will be excessively debt ridden or bankrupt.”

    Well that is a totally avoidable situation, not by ignoring the pandemic as some wo0udl like but by govt and the financial sectors supporting, not foreclosing, allowing companies to basically go into hibernation. Comes down to how much debt the govt wants to take on, we are still a long way from the debt the nation coped with post WW2.

    “whilst many people who may die of something else can have death attributed to the virus they were carrying.”

    I’m not sure it’s possible to disconnect the two, someone who has underlying severe illness, who has perhaps had to have their original medication changed due to being infected with Covid-19, because they have contracted the virus might well die from their pre existing condition but the death was still caused by the virus.

    “The only justification for the economic misery is that the measures save lives.”

    There is a very fine line for any govt is judging how many deaths the national psyche can accept and how thats balanced with an economic damage. I fear the POTUS might come to realise this in the coming weeks/months, unless he changes his tack.

    • jerry
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Lots of talk last night and this morning about Parliament being shut down, so that’s why the HMT were stonewalling the self employed yesterday, they know the Chancellor will not have to face difficult questions when as many suspect/fear he will carry on hanging us out to dry.

      This Tory govt needs to remember, voters have long memories, especially when so many “did the right thing” to help the economy, beaming striver’s, not shirkers…

  8. ken
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink
    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      This is a really useful site for world population stats and COVID 19 stats….


      • Richard
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Nicely presented, but very misleading. Eg
        – Prof Walter Ricciardi: „only 12% of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus“, whereas in public reports „all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus“
        – “The director of the German National Health Institute (RKI) confirmed that they count all test-positive deaths, irrespective of the actual cause of death, as „coronavirus deaths“. The average age of the deceased is 82 years, most with serious preconditions. As in most other countries, excess mortality due Covid19 is likely to be near zero in Germany.” (from link below)

        • zorro
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          As a source of general statistics it is impressive, but we will see how curious the Covid 19 death stats will look in due course. The Italian Health Ministry stats showed that 99% of Covid 19 patients died from one of their up to three underlying causes as happens every year from general respiratory viruses!


    • Richard
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Lots of evidence now that Covid-19 is “less dangerous than the flu“ and lockdown measures „will kill more people than the virus“:
      – “the WHO reports that Covid-19 is in fact spreading slower, not faster, than influenza by a factor of about 50%. Moreover, pre-symptomatic transmission appears to be much lower with Covid-19 than with influenza.”

      See also:

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Has the PM see these figures? So flu like illness about average, deaths year on year reduced

      So why are we in lockdown

  9. Tabulazero
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    The UK had a 10 day warning ahead of what was happening on the continent which it wasted while Dominic Cummings dithered whether it was a good idea or not to keep the economy open “even if it means a few pensioners die”.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      there are so many armchair experts.

      I’ve noticed a correlation between strong opinions on how to deal with the virus & how badly the govt are doing and general opposition to Boris / Brexit / Trump. The correlation is less than 1.0 but well over 0.5.

      • Andy
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        There is a clear correlation. People who back Trump and Brexit and who deny man made climate change largely don’t want the lockdown. This is not surprising. These are the people who believe fake news, reject expertise and who have an uneasy relationship with facts. Of course they don’t think Coronavirus is dangerous.

        These people are also more likely to be older – and, consequently, more likely to die from Coronavirus. Which, at the very least, is ironic.

        • Richard1
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

          The point is we see the likes of you with strident opinions on the virus but no special knowledge at all. as on other topics, so no big surprise there I suppose.

          The govt are listening to the experts – though as in other fields the experts disagree – and making the best decisions they can. On the sidelines we have strident righteousness from a few leftists who in reality are just consumed with hospitality to Trump, Boris etc. Fortunately no ones taking any notice.

        • Mark
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:20 am | Permalink

          You reject the expertise of Prof Gupta at Oxford University, who has produced a very different set of conclusions from her team’s modelling compared with those emanating from Imperial. There is no monopoly of experts. Only of imperfect data to resolve who is closer to being right.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            Gupta highlighted a possibility, which needs eliminating or confirming, but accepts that the probability of its correctness is unknown.

          • Mark
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

            Whereas those relying on the Imperial model have taken it as Gospel. Their back tracking suggests that they are recognising that their model was not correct, as more data starts to replace the assumptions they used.

        • DaveK
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:27 am | Permalink

          You forgot to mention they are also correct, whereas you are always wrong. Check the figures from the websites mentioned.

  10. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    It would help to know what businesses are closed down, specifically – For example people still have to travel for food, and a lot for work – Will rescue services like the AA be closed down? Will all garages be open?

    What about other things that we need, to maintain our health – Pharmacies? Health food shops, physical and online?

    A complete list would be useful.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      This is causing problems Bryan, delivery companies need well serviced vans, garages closed Monday where do you get services done?
      Long journeys to do deliveries for essential services all hotels and b&bs shut where can they sleep?

  11. oldwulf
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Yes …. if someone died “after testing positive for coronavirus” it is not necessarily saying that they were killed by coronavirus. The media could make this clearer as well as explaining the mysterious “underlying conditions.”

    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, I am very suspicious of the reporting around ’cause of death’. It is clear that a lot of these people had a raised risk of premature death anyway. I am also suspicious of the provisions in this outrageous Bill which allow death to be certified and mental health diagnosed far more easily. It is a worrying assault on human rights.

      We will only know in a few months when I suspect that the number of death worldwide will not be much different and this legislation will be in place and being enforced!

      Please also be very wary of any postings on social media as there is an incredible amount of disinformation being shared allegedly by individuals, although I am not convinced that they are really civilians.


  12. Jim
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Some serious chin stroking will take place in 3 weeks time.

    If the EU infection and death rates start rolling off fairly well then that will encourage keeping going with the present policies, however ruinous. However, getting back to normal will depend on how the rest of the world reacts. I feel that will not be quick.

    If the numbers are still going up or constant then we have a problem. Do we chuck more money at the problem or sacrifice people. We may not have much choice in 3 weeks time. The nature of the game may have changed. Social unrest may loom.

    Then there is the USA. They are at a very early stage, they have a chaotic health system and a chaotic government. If their infection and death rates are still going up then the prospects of the Western world getting back to normal look poor. Good news Eastwards though.

    In former pre-internet times government planners may well have chosen to sacrifice people rather than the economy. Shutting down the internet or the media is no longer possible. This may have an influence on post CV19, governments can no longer get away with doing things on the cheap. Running the health service ‘hot’ may have looked a triumph of management – until a nasty surprise came along.

    I reckon the best we can hope for is a tailing off in about three months time. Getting back to ‘normal’ about another 6 months to a year. But a lot depends on the USA.

  13. Alan Jutson
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Correct John, we can only truly compare one country to another if the criteria and base line for testing is the same, as would need to be the testing equipment, and other criteria.

    I have no idea if when we are testing, (and at the moment that seems quite rare), we are doing it as all other countries have done thus far.

    South Korea seem to be leading the way with this, (not sure if we should trust China’s figures) but they also are monitoring to a degree peoples movements, and imposing strict rules for compliance.

    Actions by some of our population show that many cannot be trusted to do as requested given recent media reports.

    I see New Zealand have gone into lockdown early, unfortunately for us we are ahead of them in the virus cycle, so the only lesson we can learn from them would be for us to action next time.

    The one sensible thing NZ have done, is to screen all incoming flights and impose restrictions of movement on all passengers, even those with no symptoms.

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    As you say:- The only justification for the economic misery is that the measures save lives.

    Indeed these lives will be saved by getting the NHS capacity up in the extra time available and hopefully finding some better ways of treating the seriously sick to minimise the mortality rate and finally eventually some vaccines and anti-virals. You should relax the controls slowly when the NHS get thought the peak and has free capacity again. Particularly the controls on the young who have a good change of surviving the infection anyway.

    Having an antibody test to find out the % of people who have had it will help.

    Unfortunately is seems the NHS will indeed be overwhelmed in a few days time due to the government (and their experts) foolishly talking these actions too late. This and the fact that the NHS was clearly very ill prepared and is very poorly organised. We had a pandemic plan and a store of equipment but this was clearly not remotely up to the task.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      It is of course easy to be wise after the event, but the people charged with planning for such a pandemic and who organised the stock of equipment should surely have done rather better job. We have after all had similar events and warnings.

      The economic damage is largely being suffered do to the lack of NHS capacity.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Yes, SARS and MERS should have triggered that.

        Incidentally, the latter shows that these threats do not have to come from China, along with Zika virus, Ebola etc.

      • Mark
        Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:28 am | Permalink

        I suspect the answer is that previous threatened epidemics turned out not to be big deals globally. We have to go back a long way for anything that even threatened to be as severe as this might be – and it is still unclear just how serious it will turn out to be. There are huge differences in epidemiological model predictions that are looking at supposedly the same data, but interpreting it differently, and making different black box assumptions where they have no data. There is also the possibility of treatments radically altering the severity of the disease and the call on hospital resources.

        It will only be possible to make assessments once we are through the process.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

          They would have been absolutely catastrophic if the relevant countries had not taken prompt and effective action.

          Thank goodness they did not start here or in the US.

  15. Roy Grainger
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The primary measure of interest is not death rate, it is the number of people in hospital and we know that 100% accurately. We also know hospital capacity – that is the capacity constraint. The death rate is relatively low but the hospitalisation rate is quite high estimated 12%. The restrictions won’t be lifted until that number starts trending down. If you read all the SAGE background data which has been published it seems they expect that to happen – very approximately – within 3-4 weeks of lockdown. They seem to think other restrictions will be able to start lifting within 12 weeks – the lockdown period for the high-risk groups. They also anticipate lockdown will need to be periodically re-applied in the future if cases increase again. Asking for more accurate estimates in the absence of mass testing (being rolled out now) is as futile as asking the Treasury to predict the economic impact (or anything else).

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:36 am | Permalink

      I note that Imperial seem to have toned down their projections today.

      Peak demand on ICU is expected in 2.5-3 weeks, and will then decline
      Imperial estimates post-lockdown fatalities to reach 20,000, though “it could be substantially lower than that”

      With new infections and deaths seemingly on the downward path now in Italy, perhaps they have revised their modelling and data inputs somewhat. The model remains a black box – thousands of lines of undocumented C code according to a tweet by Neil Ferguson of Imperial who wrote it 13 years ago to model a flu epidemic.

  16. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The motto of the Royal Society is Nullius In Verba – “take no one’s word for it”.

    There are many brilliant minds working assiduously to establish the very facts that John seeks, in this country and across the world.

    As a passenger on an airliner one has to trust the pilot.

    Now is the time for the Government to trust our scientists as the correct people to provide such essential knowledge, and to be the judges of the reliability of information coming from others around the world.

  17. Kevin
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    “The economic policy says…”

    Will the economic policy put itself under the same critical spotlight that the epidemiologists are now under? Just one example, could we be suffering from an inefficient allocation of talent right now? Do we have potential home-grown computer professionals, such as capacity planners, who could be helping to meet the increased demand for their services, but instead became property developers or taxi drivers? If so, can we now ask how our current economic policy may have contributed to such a situation?

  18. oldtimer
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    The late Professor Feynman famously declared to his students in a lecture that the laws of science were guesses. (There is a 1 minute YouTube video of his statement on line). Predictions of the spread of this novel virus involve more guesswork than usual and than the scientists can be comfortable with. Sometimes these guesses are described as assumptions, perhaps because this does not sound so alarming as the word “guess”. The PM, the buck stops with him, has a very difficult judgment to make. But such judgements are what PMs, CEOs and others in positions requiring them to make fundamental decisions are elected/paid/appointed to make. It seems to me that what matters is the experience gained on the ground here in the UK. At least here in the UK government has a better chance to analyse the basis of the data when reaching its conclusions. That is why the mass roll out of the new antibody based test kits is so important. Otherwise it seems the most reliable laboratory has been the cruise ship that was kept offshore near Japan.

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      Once there is a large enough prevalence in the population (which there may already be according to the Oxford University team led by Prof Gupta), then political poll sized sampling of the population with high quality tests on antibody immunity will tell us whether her team’s model is closer to right or whether the alarmism of Imperial should continue to dominate policy. If Gupta is right, we are already not so far off herd immunity. Continued action on this will allow the all clear (at least for those not at high risk of serious complications) to be sounded sooner.

      Mass rollout of antibody/immunity testing allows those who are safe to return to work normally, and potentially provides them with a certificate that might allow international travel (think vaccination certificates in the days when we were all inoculated for smallpox).

      High quality tests are only just beginning to appear. The ones the Chinese used produced lots of false positives according to one study I’ve seen. That’s OK if you use it as an excuse to quarantine them, but if you assume they have had the disease and they haven’t, and you let them out after quarantine they are just as liable to get and transmit the disease as anyone who tested negative.

  19. Ed M
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Great article.

    Not a criticism as i trust government doing best to get balance right between Health and Economy but i think government really needs to focus on how to SOCIAL DISTANCE effectively, as this means far less of the economy would have to shut down.

    So for example, introduce and train people to use special coronavirus apps, warning people where there have been cases of coronavirus, whether they’re stepping too close to someone at work, cleaning their hands frequently, as well as getting more people in supermarkets and in work place in general dedicated to controlling social distancing with reasonable fines if people casually transgress etc — this isn’t just what i think but what the Chinese are doing really well.

    Chinese both containing the virus whilst allowing the economy to run to the best of its ability under such circumstances.

    So key word: SOCIAL DISTANCING. We’ve got to focus on this more instead of focusing so much on either 1) Social Isolation or the other extreme 2) People just grouping casually together

    (Obviously the old, sick and vulnerable must be kept in strict isolation for as long as it takes – for their sake and for that of the NHS).

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      For as long as it takes to what?

      Unless this virus is eradicated, those people are being condemned to a lifetime of reclusion.

      Many people grow to be elderly too – which is better than the alternative.

      • Ed M
        Posted March 26, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        I agree, we must give best healthcare we can and find a vaccination as soon as we can.

        But I am also thinking of the economy and how the Chinese are doing a great job at containing the virus whilst allowing the economy to carry on as best as possible under the circumstances – and great lessons to be learned here.

        That’s all. All the best.

  20. Ian Wragg
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I think Trump has the right idea. The cure is worse than the disease. He is starting to get things back to normal so as not to trash the economy.
    There will be much worse outcomes if people have no jobs or money.
    This is not China.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I suppose that one percent of the poor can die at home, and their families can bury them in the woods, desert, or wherever.

      That’s about two and a half million.

  21. Sakara Gold
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    This is a measured and well considered post. There is of course a balance to be struck betweem protecting the economy and protecting the public from the Chinese plague virus. The stockmarket has suffered a severe 40% drawdown, the capital markets have suffered a massive shock requiring the printing of stupendous sums as sovereign debt is dumped in a classic search for liquidity and there is no physical gold bullion available via the LBMA.

    The government/military have done well to organise a new “up to” 4000 bed hospital at the ExCel centre, I gather others are proposed at the NEC in Birmingham, a huge tented temporary one on Wimbledon Common and even Earls Court has been scoped. Also encouraging are reports that the gov has ordered millions of antibody tests, to be delivered “in the coming weeks” and various companies (unfortunately not British) are testing potential vaccines.

    It looks like the Brits are starting the muddle through this. Let us all hope that the virus does not mutate as it passes through our population, into a more lethal form.

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:56 am | Permalink

      If the more lethal form display symptoms sooner, paradoxically it may result in fewer deaths. Ebola has a high fatality rate (about 50%), but is so debilitating so quickly that it doesn’t get the chance to infect many people other than immediate carers.

  22. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I think we can take as real that patients presenting with symptoms are now increasing exponentially. It is also evident that many of those presenting with symptoms require hospitalisation, ICU treatment and a proportion die.

    Our medical system will soon be as overwhelmed as those in France, Italy, Spain, USA, Germany and China so there is not consequent criticism of our own health service it is not possible to prepare for this.

    Government has two possible approaches. Let this virus rip through the population and do what is does and let people die in hospital corridors or be sent home to die untreated. Or close down life as we know it.

    It would be a brave man who let the virus rip through society without being seen to do something so I am I feel your concerns above about the length and severity of the close down are irrelevant. Shutdown for a month or two and then see what it looks like the other side, turn the printing presses on in the meantime and beyond.

    We are in a new reality and the old metrics are no longer relevant.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      I do caution that we are in danger of becoming a much more authoritarian, left wing society on the other side. The irony is that Jeremy Corbyn will be stepping down soon

    • DaveK
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      How can we “take it as real” when the PHE figures do not show this? Todays figures show 9529 cases in total. 600 outcomes 465 deceased, 135 recovered/discharged. 8929 currently infected, 8766 mild condition, 163 serious/critical. Most will remember the scary news that we had matched Italy with 233 victims, but how many have kept plotting the graph to now see that 4 days later we are lagging behind by 362? Hopefully this trend will continue and yet more models will be proven as good as throwing bones.

  23. Stred
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    The UK could have chosen to follow the Chinese type of suppression but it was too draconian. It could have tried the Korean type but it didn’t have enough testing and hospital facilities or knowhow. It could have chosen the Russian way but putting all arrivals into quarnantine was too Putin. It chose the EU method which the Chief Medical and Scientific Officers explained. This was to try to detect cases and suggest that they self isolate, the to mitigate, whatever that was, and then, after the figures were computed using the latest information from Italy and China, to go for voluntary suppression, then compulsory after the usual minority ignored it.

    We will now follow Italy, Spain, France and other European countries into three months of exponential increase in cases mitigated by the vulnerable being isolated and the lucky families with no member having been exposed and the unlucky ones with the disease but recovering or not too badly affected and the very unlucky having serious symptoms and dying at home. The hospitals will be unable to treat anyone other than some patients with a chance of surviving with treatment because they never had enough facilities. This will happen very soon.

    There is no point in asking our fantastic NHS experts to produce more forecasts. It’s already been done by Imperial. If the lockdown works we will have 20k deaths and if it doesn’t 500k over the next 3 months. At the end we will not have herd immunity because both the figures times the number for estimated persons who have had the disease and noy died with not be 75% of 66 million and there will still be insufficient retro testing. In this case, the vulnerable will still have to stsy in isolation and the young and healthy will have to get on with their jobs, if there are still employers, and the hospitals will be better able to be fantastic and save those with Bat virus and the other serious conditions.


  24. turboterrier
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Sorry sent with wrong address.

    Sir John

    All the time we have the minority in the population walking into hospital entrances past the hand gel dispensers and ignoring them, still head to head waiting to get into the supermarkets and organising street bbqs no matter what the PM and his team are trying to do whether you agree with it or not ultimately the fate of our country is outwith of his control. No one wants a police state but until the whole of the population get behind him and his team the country is on a good hiding for nothing. Security guards on the entrances clad in protective kit enforcing the use of hand gell into hospitals, supermarkets and other nominated outlets. £30 fines for breach of the crowd gathering rules should be an automatic £300 x 10 for every subsequent breach then maybe people especially those with some medium of control in their families might instill some logic. The situation we find ourselves in has gone way past the “it will be fine mentality”

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink


      Made exactly the same point over the last few days, other than fines, so agree totally with the proposals.

      Cruise ships have been using this procedure on Cruise ships for the last few years to try and keep Norovirus in check, given that it is usually brought on board by passengers.

  25. Dave
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    The BBC reported “There were around 50,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017-18 – the highest since the winter of 1975-76, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.”
    Why have we closed our economy for, so far, an alleged 422 deaths from corona virus?
    Who are the people behind this mad rush to destroy our society for something that is far from being as bad as a normal year?
    Why have we allowed the fear mongers to lock us in our houses in a manner that would have been fought against tooth and nail by previous, less cowardly, generations?

    • concerned
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      I agree completely Dave, JR knows it, no one will step up but this time there really is no turning back (Rev 13:18).

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Because the government is led by the media and headlines

      • APL
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        glen cullen: “Because the government is led by the media and headlines”

        Front square in the vanguard of the hysteria, The BBC.

    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      All those with a Common Purpose are acting together.


    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      422 death so far, but it is increasing at about 30% each day – so perhaps 100,000 deaths in three weeks should this rate continue. Hopefully it will now slow very rapidly.

      To reduce winter death we need cheaper home heating and to cull the governments idiotic expensive energy policy.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        the govt could today remove the carbon tax off peoples energy bills

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        The lesson from Italy is a latency period of about two and a half weeks.

        This virus seems to kill people after wearing them down for some time.

        Numbers will grow as you describe for a while at least yet.

  26. turboterrier
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Really bad day today.The joys of not using your own PC!!!!

    Sir John

    All the time we have the minority in the population walking into hospital entrances past the hand gel dispensers and ignoring them, still head to head waiting to get into the supermarkets and organising street bbqs no matter what the PM and his team are trying to do whether you agree with it or not ultimately the fate of our country is outwith of his control. No one wants a police state but until the whole of the population get behind him and his team the country is on a good hiding for nothing. Security guards on the entrances clad in protective kit enforcing the use of hand gell into hospitals, supermarkets and other nominated outlets. £30 fines for breach of the crowd gathering rules should be an automatic £300 x 10 for every subsequent breach then maybe people especially those with some medium of control in their families might instill some logic. The situation we find ourselves in has gone way past the “it will be fine mentality”

    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      It’s almost as if the media are preparing the ground for the implementation. Be wary of what you read which allegedly supports the implementation of these extreme measures.


  27. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, University of Oxford, said the media was guilty of “over interpretation of a single day’s numbers of deaths”.
    Health expert criticises ‘not useful’ comparison between UK and Italy death rates.

    Well we have many days of statistics. It seems to be that we are very much on the Italian trajectory – but about 14/15 days behind them. This would suggest a total of 6,800 deaths by then. With perhaps as many as 100,000 people needing hospital care or various degrees. Let us up the NHS can cope. Plus deaths in Italian are still increasing significantly about 750 just yesterday despite their more serious actions.

    I hope the professor is right. It seems to be that that late government action has largely baked this trajectory in.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Well as far as I can tell from what I have seen from the Imperial College people at the heart of the government’s computer model:
      1 It is a repurposed simulation based on bespoke “C” code, that was originally done for academic reasons for other diseases.
      2 It has been “repurposed” for this, as the closest computer model anyone had to this virus, but was not designed from the start for something so critical.
      3 It was originally written by one (or two?) guy, who essentially kept most of how it worked in his head, and there was limited commenting or documentation. Although since this crisis others have been brought in to try and document it etc and make it easier for others to contribute, and make it more robust.
      4 Sounds like it was done at the highest level and does not include a lot of real-world subtleties, from sofa surfers, to critical workers, to “travellers” etc, which could have dramatic effects either way.
      5 It is not done using AI tech, or anything higher tech than stats analysis in mainly bespoke code.
      6 Dom and his faith in whiz bang tech being brought back down to earth with realities.
      7 Probably lots of other uni computer science/biology depts could have done just as well, but Imperial College picked as they happened to be on Dom’s radar. Don’t buy this idea that they are massive experts, although they have clearly now been bolstered by others now that it is a crisis.
      8 Nothing they have done changes the fact it’s a new disease and nobody really knows what the input parameters to the model should be, or how the disease works in waves etc, it’s a lot of best guesses built on other best guesses. But still the best we have apparently.
      Given all this I would regard everything it produces as nothing more than “current best guess” it could be miles out. And all government policy is based on this model.
      But that’s the real world.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        I guess at least Dom spotted that we need a computer model, that can be refined as we learn more about the desease, which is more than most people in politics and the civil service would have done.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      The response to the appeal for NHS helper volunteers has been fantastic, with over 400,000 answering.

      These are the country’s very finest.

      That should be an immense help.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        state response of centralised healthcare is wrong, because there will be too much cross contamination.

        patients who just need oxygen could have been put in remote halls looked after by GP’s etc. not bringing them into hospital unless absolutely essential, putting them all in hospital will just cause more spread of virus.

        same as the massive one room hospital at the Excel centre is a stupid idea. presumably from the plans for mass casualties returning from a war somewhere, for a highly contagious virus with possibly different strains it is a stupid idea.

        US army approach of using hotels and putting patients in individual rooms is far far better, and will reduce cross contamination significantly.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          What “remote halls” does the NHS possess?

          In what way is one coronavirus patient going to be “cross-contaminated” with it by another?

          • Iain Gill
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

            Test is not 100 percent accurate. Some will be normal pneumonia, who will end up being cross contaminated with CV unnecessarily. CV may have more than one strain, nobody knows, in which case in a big hall recover from one strain chances of catching another strain are massive. As for halls, just commandeer whatever is needed. But converted hotels should be first choice to keep patients apart.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

            And where are the clinical staff to tend all these separate rooms?

          • Iain Gill
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

            those who dont need intubation can be looked after by generic medics, other specialties or GP’s, at a location per GP surgery or similar

            if they get bad enough to need intubation sure move them to hosptial, but even there seperate rooms would be far better for cross contamination reasons

          • a-tracy
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

            Martin – Clinical staff, we are hearing thousands of clinic staff have volunteered to return, trainee nurses from 1st year training to 3rd year training could be used in everything from lower grade caring to higher grade help.

            Clinics could be moved and put in hotels near hospitals in highest need.

            There have been military medical staff drafted in, i hope trained doctors in other professions like Liam Fox can make themselves useful to the NHS after all the money invested in his medical training.

  28. Irene
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Where has the hand of Cummings been in all of this? You must know. We deserve to know. He is after all one of the so-called advisers.

    The greatest sadness of all is that you have failed to do what you now want us to do:
    Protect the NHS. You can’t blame mathematical modelling for that neglect of duty.

    Piss poor planning promotes piss poor performance, piss poor performance promotes pain.

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

      Oh get a grip Irene.

      Cummings is one man. There is a team running the show, at least Boris is using his key MPs to take BBC interviews instead of trying to handle everything himself!

      The NHS are mainly culpable for neglect of their staff, their purchasing Managers have known about this crisis for months, why didn’t they order in the necessary PPE early, don’t they have any Management responsibility for this in your thoughts? Staff who have been off for two weeks will be returning soon with more immunity. 3rd year student nurses are being deployed and final year medics, younger year groups could be utilised and paid to take over basic care needs and help out in care homes.

      It seems no MP can criticise them and I understand that but we should. We pay our National Insurance, we can’t pick and choose which hospital we use we have to take what is given.

      • Mark
        Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:06 am | Permalink

        How are you going to get PPE produced in China to the UK, when it takes 45 days by ship and they closed down exports in January, and every other country is trying to vye for the same warehouse stock that has to get to the port first? I warned about this supply chain fragility in the first post here where the virus topic came up when I saw that shipping ex China had virtually halted.

        • a-tracy
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          3M and other manufacturers in the UK had stock, they had to CE certify it before use in the NHS this could have happened quicker, Amazon had a lot of stock. This should perhaps be a wake up for the UK exporting all our essential manufactured goods.

          I thought only Wuhan was closed down in China are you sure Freight planes and ships halted from China from January that is not my understanding Mark.

        • a-tracy
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          Mark tonight on C4 news I heard that in two days in the U.K. millions of boxes of ppe have been delivered, so we did have them in the U.K. NHS Providers and Trust Managers just didn’t move on this quickly enough, not the government!

          I used to run a small business that delivered 2500 deliveries per day, believe me this lack of ppe wasn’t a transport problem! If this procurement was private sector I don’t this would have happened if the ppe was ordered, specifically in London where numbers took off soonest.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      How can you plan for a sudden extra 100,000 patients?
      You would need dozens of empty hospitals with staff sat doing nothing on stand by plus equipment left spare for decades on a just in case basis.
      Did you predict this epidemic?

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        extra 100,000 patients ???

        Today the total number in UK is 8,143 active cases

        • Edward2
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          Predicted cases.

          And those who are complaining about the lack of NHS capacity need to accept no health service on earth can plan for even tens of thousands of seriously ill people in such a short time.

      • acorn
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        Ed2. We do exactly that with thousands of atomic warheads. Viral epidemics are much more frequent than atomic wars!

        According to the OECD, the UK government since 2010, has reduced the share of GDP it spends on health (cofog7), down from 7.6% to 7.2%; somewhat less than France; Germany and the Scandinavians. (See PESA 2019 Table 4.4)

        BTW, leave voters who are convinced there has been no such thing as “austerity” since 2010, should have a look at Table 4.3 in the above. You will see that in “real terms” not nominal/cash terms, the government spent £810.2 billion in 2018/19 compared to £819.0 billion in 2010/11.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

          Wow 7.6% to 7.2%
          From a much bigger GDP.
          And “Real terms”
          The. usual fudging of statistics from you acorn
          Governments have to raise and spend cash.

    • Len Peel
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Exactly. The Tory policy above all is cut taxes and reduce the role of the State. Doesnt look so smart now eh?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        What tax cuts?
        State spending goes up every year.

        • acorn
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          Ed2, you really must educate yourself as to the difference between nominal / cash spending and real – inflation adjusted – spending.

          Prior to the 2010 election, the UK government spending was responsible for 44.7% of UK GDP. At the end of fiscal 2018/19, that had dropped to 37.9% of GDP.

          The biggest hit was on Local Government funding, always an easy target for Westminster. Just look how Local government resources have flat-lined since 2010

          • Edward2
            Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

            Pompous in your reply as usual acorn

            You switch from cash at first then to percentages and then to percentages related to gdp as it suits your political views.
            I’m well aware of how you manipulate statistics to give the results you want.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      I too think the governemnt have acted far too late and the NHS will now be rather overwhelmed as was all rather predictable. I do hope I am wrong and the actions voluntarily taken by people two weeks back will start to slow the increase. I would like to know if this was bad advice from the government experts or resistance from the government? The increase in death rate yesterday was not good let us hope today it is rather better.

      The NHS clearly needed a bit more time to get ready and for the demand to be slowed down and kept to managable levels.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        What is the best extimates from the government experts of when the peak of this infection will be reached – the point at which the maximum number of people will need hospital care?

    • hefner
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      A comment possibly worth reading by Nassim N. Taleb (The Black Swan) and coworker on the Guardian website about modelling complexity and decision making.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      No-one save a few Corbyn fans could care less what role Cummings has had. What role has Seamus Milne had in Labour’s feeble response ? No-one cares about that either.

      • Carlo
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        The Conservative party has put its faith in Johnson, who has put his faith in Cummings. A winning strategy? I think not. Every death, every business failure belongs to the Conservative party

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I suspect the Cummings effect is overplayed as he is there to advise on the political effects of policy rather than detailed policy.

      So it is likely that the role he played is:
      Scientific advisers – herd immunity possibly £50K deaths then over.
      Government – OK let’s see how that plays out
      Two weeks
      Cummings – see these overrun hospitals in Italy and Spain, if that happens here you are toast however strong the economy
      Government – feeble lockdown attempt last week
      Government – bigger lockdown attempt this week.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        That’s absolutely plausible, I think.

    • Shirley M
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      It isn’t just corona patients. The more we flood the hospitals with corona patients the harder it is for hospitals to cater for cancer sufferers and the like.

      The people who ignore calls for preventing the spread are the reason we have such draconian limits placed upon us. Appeals didn’t work. Maybe legislation will get through their thick skulls.

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        The spike in cancer deaths next year (and every other deaths through treatable illnesses) will reach a level far FAR higher than CV.

        Then the suicides and mental devastation caused by these decisions.

        The NHS has basically stated “It’s OK to die from anything so long as it’s not CV.”

        Then there are the deaths to come from years (possibly decades) of economy depression and poverty.

        This because world leaders are scared to become the leader of the worst CV death state …. this despite the fact that there have only been 20,000 deaths in the developed world out of hundreds of millions of people.

        I could have understood this course had it been airborne ebola.

        Has this been hijacked to enforce Thunbergism on the developed world ?

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          This is truly shocking.

          Only 3% of people put on invasive ventilation in Wuhan survived.

          This lock down is to preserve NHS ventilators.

          We are sacrificing the whole of UK economy for NHS ventilators that will probably only save a fraction of the people put on them.

          • APL
            Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

            “Only 3% of people put on invasive ventilation in Wuhan survived.”

            In the normal course of events, if your put on artificial ventilation, your chances of surviving are about 50%

  29. Richard1
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile it looks like the useless mayor of London mr Khan has made a terrible and entirely foreseeable mistake by drastically reducing the tube service. I don’t suppose he saved a penny, the staff are almost certainly still on full pay. He won’t have made things any more safe for the staff. But he has forced all those using the tube, including in particular NHS workers going into hospitals, to cram together on the tube. This folly must be responsible for thousands of infections.

    Can ministers overrule this inadequate mayor? At the very least the media need to hold him to account for this foolish decision.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Good I see the Govt are to over-rule Khan. But the dreadful Khan is trying now to make political points by claiming to have supported this or opposed that in the cobra meeting. The only way such a body can function is if it works like the cabinet. Those who attend give their opinions, the govt has to make a decision and others need to support it. Or get out and let someone else do it.

      One of the bad things for me about this crisis is having to wait another year to cast a vote against Siddiq Khan.

    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      You need to ask yourself if he acted foolishly or if he acted as intended.


  30. Andy
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Which is we it is unhelpful to have a prime minister here – and a president in America – who both have such a loose relationship with the truth.

    Johnson’s 12 week claim is nonsense. We know the schools are likely to be closed until September – this means most parents can’t work anyway. So that’s a 5-6 month hit.

    Trump says he wants it over by Easter. While the governor of New York is pointing out that he needs 30,000 ventilators and the federal government has sent just 300 – the president is still pretending it is not happening. The China Virus as Mr Trump calls it will kill tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of Americans. Republican held states are the least well prepared. Many Americans have no healthcare. They have a president unfit for the challenge.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      All Americans have healthcare. Many have their own insurance. others have access through Medicare or Medicaid. Certainly there are differences in quality but is false to say that there are many Americans with no access to healthcare.

      It is perfectly reasonable for trump to point out this came from China – and we would not have the global disaster we do if the Chinese regime had drawn the attention of the world to this horror 2 months or so before they did. This is necessary to do now there is a barrage of propaganda and disinformation as to the origin coming from China, parroted unfortunately by leftist media here and in the US.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        So you care more about passing the blame than about saving perhaps millions of lives, apparently.

        For the moment, I don’t care who set my house on fire just now.

        But I do very much want a proper fire tender to arrive, and not a clown car, with elliptical wheels, and red-nosed jokers running about with buckets of feathers.

        • Richard1
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

          No that isn’t what I wrote. Read it again

    • Ginty
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      At its first major hurdle the EU is struggling to stay together and will not survive.

      We are about to see it disintegrate.

      Brexiters have been proven right to want to leave it. Andy is proven wrong to want to stay in it.

  31. Fred H
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Test frontline NHS staff for COVID-19 as a priority. ( on

    Keep the NHS staff working to help or save YOU.

    support petition on

    1.2m signed so far.

    • Spreader of butter
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      I would prefer they stay in their homes.

      1.2m going to a centre where people go who have the virus and then distribute themselves in all the vulnerable neighbourhoods is stupid, and for their families and for the shops where they buy food and for the people who buy that food to take it back to their families.
      This “isolationism” sounds good but…

      • Fred H
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        you have no idea. Samples are taken at site, controlled, couriered to test labs. Testers are already accredited labs, wear full biohazard suits(if thats the right description). If private labs, results back to GPs who managed to be included in testing, as soon as 2 hours. We need more not criticism, or find no Drs available to work when you want advice, help, treatment.
        I wish I could say more, but it is in confidence. The one I know about is done free, owner is bearing costs, staff give their time beyond payroll…
        If only we had more like that.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      This should never even be a thing Fred, front line NHS doctors and nurses, care workers, supermarket workers keeping people from starving, anyone with lots of public contact duties should be the first tested after those in intensive care.

  32. Norman
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    This all brings back memories of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic: the same robust government action, the same conflict between the seasoned experience of the State Veterinary Service and ICL’s statistical extrapolations, the same resultant ‘overkill’, the same understandable public dismay (expressed in a thousand different ways), the same conspiracy theories, the same winners-and-losers – until the genie was finally put back in the bottle nearly a year later.
    In the 1967 FMD outbreak, there was a parish where every dairy farm went down except one. Under the long-established sovereign rules, that farmer retained his herd. In 2001, we continued that policy, until it was laid aside in favour of statistical modelling, which I believe was also EU-driven. Consequently, healthy livestock on many contiguous farms were slaughtered, to get ahead of disease. Rational, yes, but at enormous cost, and trampling-under-foot of providential sovereign rights, which the old law-of-the-land acknowledged and tacitly honoured.

  33. Peter Richmond
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Getting data normalised against population is essential. At the moment we can expect the case n umbers to increase as we ramp up testing rates. Simply publishing those numbers alone helps no one it merely induced hysteria and over reaction. It will be certainly interesting once it’s all over to see the overall death rate. Will it be any different to flu? I wonder.

    • steve
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      Peter Richmond

      “Will it be any different to flu? I wonder.”

      Interesting point.

      That said, this is a strange one because transmission is like flue, but fatality mechanism is more akin to diphtheria. i.e influenza kills by lung fluid build up, covid 19 kills by respiratory blockage.

  34. BJC
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I can see why there’s a huge question mark over the modelling, Sir John. The fount of knowledge, Wikki, states epidemiology, “Is a cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare.” Well, it seems the “cornerstone of public health” doesn’t even have an agreed basic standard from which to work and suggests there’s a high degree of amateurish guesswork across the profession…..or competing interests.

    Meanwhile, the Mayor of London/TfL’s answer to their stated objective of “a safe and reliable service for London’s critical workers” is to slash services, with overcrowding effectively presenting the virus with a target. Perhaps they should consider rearranging their finite resources to provide additional services at peak times.

    There’s also a pressing need for a targeted approach to antibody testing to return essential worker self-isolators to work to bring support services back into effective operation and give a positive message to those who were left to hold the fort.

  35. agricola
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    My first observation is that industry, the self employed and any individual cut off from an income would not be debt riddled if government replaced loans with grants. What I would like you to do if you can is to tabulate exactly what government has offered each sector by way of mitigation of the effects of coronavirus, the timescale of it’s introduction, and the route of access for claimants. We could then readily assess it’s effect and it’s omissions.

    For any measurements of the progress of this disease to be meaningful they must use the same criteria. If you are comparing internationally they can be no more than an educated guess because criteria differ. Remember what happened when most of the space shuttle was imperial but was matched with one crucial part that was metric. My advice would be to act on the side of caution because two bites at the cherry could be catastrophic, and you would likely lose the support of the population. Remember it is not the same population in London that faced the blitz, fifty percent of it was not even born in the UK. You cannot make assumptions on the way it would respond.

    • agricola
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      As for some unaccountable reason you did not like my contribution of 08.54 this morning here is a challenging thought for you to get your head round. Traffic in London and no doubt other cities has markedly reduced with the consequence of considerably reduced air pollution. Forget about the spurious CO2 question, it is the effect it will have on peoples capacity to breathe and the ultimately reduced lung and heart ailments that could ensue. Assuming the lockdown lasts till September, this gives more than enough time to assess air quality.

      If the results are good, why not get our best scientific and engineering brains directed to form a plan to continue this bonus from Covid 19. Lets have an assessment of the cost of continued lung and heart disease against the cost of a free swap of an electric vehicle for an existing diesel or petrol vehicle. Lets have an honest assessment of the cost of neutralising the pollution levels of the petrol and diesel engine and therefore continuing with them or alternatively converting them all to burning hydrogen if it can be produced in sufficient quantity and at the right price from the use of so called green electricity. A challenge for all those not involved in the battle with Covid 19. Any conclusive result could help return our producing industries and employment to positive levels again.

      We also need to reassess the creation of a cargo only London area airport in any area where it’s polluting and noise qualities have minimum effect on the population, the outer Thames Estuary for instance . This would probably negate the need to expand LHR.

      I will leave the continued life of HS2 as a battle between the virtue seekers and the bean counters.

      Reply The particulates in the air mainly come from tyres and brakes which we will still get with electric vehicles.

      • agricola
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply
        If you are correct then it should not be too difficult to use the cooling airflow over disc brakes to be conducted through filters to collect these particulates. With tyres we need to know what chemical particulate in them causes medical problems and then put science and engineering to work to replace them with less dangerous chemistry. I’m convinced that some of the content of exhaust fumes is distinctly unhealthy. Those that commit suicide in enclosed spaces would seem to confirm this. I am equally convinced that much more could be done to make the diesel and petrol engine even less noxious than it is at present. Burning hydrogen would be even better. A lot of research and work needs to be done before we leap to the present electric car which is less than adequate. Not to mention the inadequacy of charging facilities and electric supply itself. If we do the prize goes to the NHS with a reduced range of problems.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        You’re intentionally muddying the water, I think John.

        Yes, some particles come from the sources that you mention – I do not accept that they are “most” however.

        Moreover they do not carry the various harmful chemicals that the carbon particles in diesel exhaust do, whatever other problems they might cause.

  36. Christine
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    We need to understand how countries like Japan have kept their numbers so low. It is a very overcrowded country with an aged population similar to Italy. They haven’t shut down their industry or closed shops and restaurants.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      We’ll see whether their desire to hold the Olympics was prioritised over public health.

    • BOF
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Exactly. We are being done over as usual

    • Peter Wood
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Don’t put too much store in published numbers; they are, in many countries, political data. China has many more infections, according to social media, but who knows. Most Asian countries charge a fee for the Covid19 test; well who wants to pay for that when you earn $10- per day. Africa is going to be the BIG problem…

    • Nessimmersion
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Maybe because they have a functional health care system not an NHS!

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink


      Perhaps they are simply prepared to do as the State asks/tells them, no questions asked.

      Remember suicide pilots in the war, thousands volunteered.

      Remember many committed suicide rather than surrender.

      We on the other hand many of our population want to argue the point, no matter how clear the message.

      • agricola
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        Too true Alan. My experience of the Japanese is that they are very much a can do society and now clear of WW2 a very compassionate one. I will never forget the speed with which they overcame the Kobe earthquake.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      You can find out quite easily.

      The Japanese government and authorities have been open about their approach.

      Basically, they followed WHO advice assiduously, and immediately.

      The US and UK did not. Italy were taken by surprise and late to the game, like others.

      The first two do not have that excuse, however.

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      Their culture tends to assume social distancing. Aside from the Tokyo metro of course.

      • Christine
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Plus the people in Asian countries already wore face masks. I expect this greatly reduced the risk of infection. The countries that have introduced the wearing of face masks have also reduced their infection rates.

  37. Richard
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    “twelve medical experts whose opinions on the Coronavirus outbreak contradict the official narratives of the MSM”

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      I read the qoutes in the link….shame those 12 medical experts will not get air time at BBC or Sky

      • RichardM
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        They dont deserve any airtime anywhere comparing a virus with no known vaccine yet to influenza.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      The whole effort and massive cost is to keep the wobbling NHS on it’s feet. The British population should have the right to opt out of the NHS, forfeit all healthcare from it and not have to pay into it.
      Those of us who choose should be able to go about our daily lives and those who want to isolate and benefit from State Healthcare are free, of course, to do so.
      Incidentally, same goes for the BBC who have been instrumental in whipping these snowflakes up into a frenzy. One healthy young woman died of suicide today.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        8,143 active cases in UK
        1,257 hospitals in UK

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          But the part-time women who run and staff the NHS are in a frenzy! They thought that ‘breaking through the glass ceiling’ meant a nice office and big salary and never imagined it would entail dealing with the ‘unforeseen ’.
          About time we reverted to hiring the best person for the job and dug a grave for `feminism’!
          PS I am a woman.

          • glen cullen
            Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

            Wish I could find the number of active cases actually in hospital….I wish to understand to scope of the problem

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      So the death rate isn’t really different from influenza

  38. Everhopeful
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Light is dawning.
    JR…a wise man among fools and charlatans.
    Question all…accept nothing on trust.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink


    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I think that the penny has dropped….


      • zorro
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        I just wonder if the genuine people in government realise that they are being set up.


  39. Caterpillar
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    The serious problem is that the argument being made is that there is a health policy and that there is an economic policy – this narrative needs to be stopped as more people are falling into it. Total lives and quality of life over different time horizons need to be given for each scenario.

    People need to remember at least what the effect of mismanagement of the Venezuelan economy. This increased child (under 5) mortality by 50%, putting any gains the country had made back by 15 years. If that is not extreme enough then looking to the closed, controlled economy of North Korea shows a life expectancy 10 years lower than the UK, and I think North Korea has a population density about half of England. Even in Europe, mortality or at best improvements in mortality, have been shown to pro-cyclical. Moreover, spreading the rhetoric of shutting down an economy around the world gives a background context for other countries to do the same; some of these countries cannot / do not support those who have a hand to mouth existence. Our ‘good’ example kills people in other countries.

    Some people will read the above and think I am being extreme in mentioning Venezuela and North Korea, but these scenarios need to be seen as worse case economic scenarios to hold up against the worst case Covid19 death scenarios. And they may not even be the worst cases.

    So, we have not been told the decision that the Govt is making in terms of its Covid19 scenarios vs. the effects of a major recession / full destruction of the economy. What is the bet. We can guess at the smallest win. We hear the estimate about 1000 people with Covid19 for every death (so 0.1%) and lockdown pushing R down to 1.5. This gives about 20,000 deaths in line with the CMO’s good result (0.001*65m*(1-1/1.5) – presuming lockdown is maintained. A reasonable worst case without the economic switch off (but with washing, self-isolation, and cocooning) may be about 80,000 (0.002*65m*(1-1/2.5)). Of course we hear of the worst worst case of 1% mortality and R=6 so about 500,000 deaths.

    The UK is expected to have about 630,000 deaths this year without Covid19. So somewhere between 10% to 80% deaths (unadjusted for comorbidities) is being seen as worse than the effect on the economy that could easily reach Venezuelan levels if switched off for more than a few weeks and run to North Korea if continued for two years.

    The Govt urgently needs to be honest and clear on the gamble being made. I fear that it has slipped into a cognitive bias by seeing the figures only associated with Covid19.

    (Politically we have already elevated the Chinese Communist Party by falling for its means and methods – total openness now might give a little future comeback on this.)

  40. Anthony Pollock
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Well put John. However, who is putting the saved lived from the virus against the costs to livelihoods from the economic shut down. Which are higher unemployment, lost business opportunities, the overhang in the future of the loss of GDP and tax revenues and the permanent loss of those businesses which will never recover. We have heard much from the media about the health issues but silence on the economic damage. I fear that the cost of the economic damage will be higher than the health costs both in money and in lives.

  41. Peter Richmond
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    There was just now on radio 4 an interesting interview with David Speigelhalter from Cambridge. It is conceivable when this is all over that it might not be that different to flu – Mortality rates seem to be in line with what we might expect normally. But limiting the rate of growth is the point so as to not overwhelm the NHS in the next month or two is key at moment for this virus which spreads more easily it seems than the usual flu. Hence the social distancing measures. We shall hopefully see effects in a few weeks. I wonder just how popular high density housing will be after all this is over… Urban planners might rethink their ideas.

  42. NickC
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    When a building is on fire, many people choose to jump rather than be burnt to death. Looking at the coronavirus from a national standpoint that is what we are doing. Neither closing the economy nor jumping from a burning building are sensible options. Except that the alternative of doing nothing is worse.

    Therefore testing – both for symptoms, and for antibodies – is vital. Short of a vaccine, testing is the key. There are so many people who work in the essential sectors (sewage, water, food, gas, electricity, etc) that the coronavirus will still spread through millions of people anyway. Testing is the only tool we have. Decisions must be taken with facts.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      It, but will indeed spread sooner or later, all we can all do it try to ensure the demand is such that the NHS can cope and not too many die as a result of NHS lack of capacity. That and hopefully find some treatments that improve outcomes.

    • concerned
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Vaccines do not always work, I would like the choice to opt out please.

      • RichardM
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Posting anti-vaccine propoganda is likely to become a criminal offence.

      • zorro
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink



      • Fred H
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        if you didn’t get the standard childhood vaccinations you are lucky to live this far, and are in for a terrible time when you catch one of them. Covid-19 might seem trivial by comparison.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        You probably will have that choice.

        Inducements other than compulsion should secure a 95% acceptance rate.

      • Mark
        Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:19 am | Permalink

        Do not expect to be able to take any foreign holidays. International health controls will be coming back in short order.

  43. Stred
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The government text and links to information is a real civil service chocolate teapot. The information just tells us what the existing rules are. There is no information about what to do under the lock down if we need to work, do essential repairs or replace broken down equipment.
    For example, yesterday I was repairing my roof which was damaged in the first gale and has been covered by a tarpaulin with repair impossible because of the high winds and lack of roofers. The new tiles need to be covered with new flashing and now Tradepoint is closed and I can’t get any. I will bodge it up with some tape. What is wrong with it staying open because it isn’t crowded and builders can wash there?
    My washing machine is 30 years old and may conk out. What is wrong with delivery men wearing masks and gloves and the occupants keeping clear?
    And, as everyone has stuffed their freezer full, please please don’t let the grid play green and run the country on wind at every opportunity, resulting the food having to be thrown away.

    • Stred
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Another. My friend has had delivery of his new kitchen, which needs installing as it takes up his dining room and the old kitchen is half dismantled. What is wrong with the joiner installer working in the kitchen with the doors shut and the customer staying in the rest of the house. If they need to talk, wear a mask or phone. Then the self employed joiner has an income and the customer can cook his dinner.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      In principle you are saying that every law on the statute books and court writ should be revised to adjust every aspect of life.

      That is not remotely possible. It would take decades of parliamentary time.

      It will be necessary for people and the authorities to rely on reasonableness and good sense in many situations.

      The need for reactive variation and flexibility is becoming apparent as you say though.

  44. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    We are being told to stay indoors – yet also being asked to volunteer to go and help? How many thieves are going to “volunteer” just to get into pensioners homes? As for the police fining people £30 for being outside? Pensioners walking their dogs ( probably their only companion ) are being called out for stopping and chatting with someone they’ve probably met every day for years.

    The first “mass hysteria people control” program trial is going well.

    Govt and headless chickens spring to mind.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Draconian lockdown measures are imposed and polls show they are supported, and so will be observed, by 93% of the population. Yet people think the government have had no plan – very naive.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Lockdown the country’s boarders (channel tunnel, ferries and flights) YES
        Lockdown the economy and industry NO

        • zorro
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          Planes are still flying in from Iran,Italy etc and the inflatable boats are coming in across the Channel!


          • glen cullen
            Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            so much for the lockdown….the govt doesn’t even understand its own definition

          • glen cullen
            Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

            …and 100+ illegal immigrants crossed the channel today

            Lockdown ????

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          The former not before time! Lilico actually wants to compare ‘letting the virus rip in Africa’ with Europe. Africa has the highest rates of HIV and tuberculosis on earth. They are starting a race nine tenths of the way to the grave. The control is the cruise ship.

      • zorro
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        indeed – problem/reaction/solution


  45. Wessexboy
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Quite amazing the difference between Germany and Spain/Italy. Are some countries better at counting, or less prone to hyperbole? And what about winter death rate variations? Does anybody have influenza at the moment/

    • rose
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Does anyone have hospital acquired infection at the moment? Those accounted for record numbers of deaths in the Blair years but were not much remarked on. They have come down drastically since, but are still there.

  46. Iain Gill
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    problem is that its a new disease and nobody knows how it will interact long term.

    so we are reduced to order of magnitude guesses, its going to be something like 18 months realistically to a mass produced vaccine. and then we dont know if the virus will morph each year requiring a new vaccine.

    we dont know if we will be lucky enough to stumble on an effective treatment that can save many lives.

    if we dont have vaccine, and we dont have treatment, we also dont know how the waves of virus peaks will happen after the initial peak.

    so politicians like the rest of us need to live in a world where many of the key questions remain unanswered. and get research on the answers going full speed.

  47. Pat
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    At last I see the hysteria being questioned!
    How many people have the disease at present? Nobody knows!
    How many have had it and recovered? Not a scooby!
    How many have really died from it rather than merely died with it? Guesswork!
    How many more people died than at the same time any other year? That should be easy but I haven’t seen it published.
    Hence we cannot know how transmissible it is, whether it’s increasing or not, how deadly it is.
    But we do know that the measures taken to combat it will impoverish everyone.
    Is it worth it? Anyones’s guess, but top priority should be to find out.
    At the moment many people are panicked and willing to put up with the restrictions in hope of safety. One by one they will calm down and start to think, especially as the effects of the restrictions start to hit home.
    The government better have a solid story before that happens!

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      All good questions, maybe the govt could collect this info and present it on a single govt website ?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m afraid Boris has proved himself inadequate. He has also alienated POTUS, he is doing OK on Brexit.
      Britain deserves better and we have better on the back benches.
      Boris actually paid tribute to Corbyn today!

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      We know that hospitals – and undertakers – are being utterly overwhelmed in Italy and in Spain, as they were in China.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        Its a poor reflection on me but at this monment I’m only really interested in whats happening in the UK

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Then you are very foolish, I think.

          • glen cullen
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            I will atone myself so no need to rub it in

  48. Numbing.
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    One needs death data of each month prior to the coronavirus outbreak going back two years.
    Have the present numbers of the last three months been an increase in overall deaths by other ailments in the same period in the last to years?

    Suppose the over all number of deaths are less in the present three months. Shoild we hail the coronovirus as our Saviour disguised?

  49. Roger Phillips
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Far more needs to be done to support self employed sole-traders, local authorities are not offering any assistance in community charges and why are banks and financial institutions not being forced into payment holiday where interest only accumulates on any loans for the foreseeable future?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      But according to their tax returns, many self-employed hardly earned anything, so that should be quite cheap, what?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        You show your lack of accountancy knowledge and as usual provide no facts to back up your claim.

        The self employed are allowed to offset their income against expenses incurred in gaining that income.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        That same logic can be applied to Ltd companies

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

          Yes, it can.

  50. BOF
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John, and thank you for trying to keep this in perspective.

    Excellent article in the Telegraph this morning by Phillip Johnston. I am thinking of the three P’s. Prevarication, Paranoia and Panic. Why have they not looked at how a lid has been put on the Chinese virus by South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

    I think that the legislation about to be rubber stamped is a very bad idea, born out of the three P’s above.

    • rose
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      As I understand it, the original internationally distinguished advisers were on the telephone all the time to Singapore et al. But the modelling Imperial team? I very much doubt it.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      and traits of Pyschopathy

      (As evidenced by No10s desire to control No11 and the removal of the previous chancellor.)

      • Fred H
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        trying to control ones rivals is not mental illness, its survival.

  51. MeSET
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I have written on how to save the world. It took about one hour of research last night and many hours of research in the last weeks combing through data seemingly unrelated to the point. I was looking for coincidence however bizarre since others will have poured over all the usual things and found nothing.
    To quote Mr Data quoting Sherlock Holmes. I paraphrase …”If …” well I can’t remember what he said but the seemingly unbelievable if it is the last stone turned, when all other options are closed could very well be the answer. I turned the last stone and found slugs. Holmes was wrong.
    However , I did find the accelerator of the virus. It should put the wind up people.

    Not telling until I get a patent. So stay in your homes for several years, don’t go to work until the Patent Office is open and finds my application. Watch movies.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      The world is not in danger of ending due to coronavirus.

      There might be a great deal of unpleasantness for hundreds of millions of people, but that is a different thing.

  52. William Long
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    As you say, to stand any chance of controlling Covid-19 you have to have a real handle on what it is actually doing and where. As far as I can see at the moment that know;edge is totally lacking because tests have only been available for those in need of hosptallisation. The actual number of cases must be exponentially greater. Up the lane from us a family of three have been suffering from the disease and are now I am glad to say, recovering, but they do not appear in any statistics because none of them have needed hospital. Therefor, although the death toll looks significant and unacceptable, in relation to the number of confirmed cases, it is probably much less dire by comparison, in relation to the actual cases, if anyone knew how many there were.
    Until a proper rate of testing becomes possible we will continue to be navigating in a fog.
    It irritates me to hear Mr Hunt regularly pontificating in his new role as Chairman of the Health select committee, when he was in charge over most of the period when it would have been possible to put plans into place to deal with a situation like this, which must have been on the cards at least since the SARS scare in 2003.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      The SARS epidemic goes some way to explain the flat-footed response to Covid-19 in the West compared to East Asia; they put in place plans and investment to deal with the next SARS: they were ready. For some reason our governments believed lethal coronaviruses only affected Orientals. We are nowhere near the level of intelligence, organisation and control that has enabled East Asia to reign in this pandemic. In consequence, there has to be a fear that London will suffer a massive increase in cases and with no proper controls in place, thousands included the infected will flee London and spread the disease to every corner of the country.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      The knowledge of technique is absolutely not lacking, it was put to highly effective use in China, in S. Korea, in Taiwan, in Singapore etc.

      It was ignored here for about two weeks, which has proven to be critical.

      As a result we do not have the other, situational knowledge, which would now require vastly more work to obtain than it would a fortnight earlier.

      But gather it the country must.

  53. a-tracy
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    How can we find out which Bed and Breakfasts are still open for key workers to use?

  54. ian
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    40,000 to 50,000 dead. I am flying by the seat of my pants.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Total deaths UK is 427

  55. ChrisS
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    While the High Street has effectively been closed down, large parts of the economy have been able to keep going via online trading.

    This morning I was able to place an order for a large timber delivery with Jewson to allow us to continue operating while keeping to the social distancing rules, but several of our normal trade suppliers have already closed, including Travis Perkins. How long will Jewson remain open for business, especially if the government closes all building sites ? That would put several hundred thousand more self employed tradesmen out of work and hoping for a bailout that might never amount to enough to sustain them.

    One of the largest courier companies told me this morning that they expected to be suspending trading within a couple of weeks. If the country loses the means to deliver online traded orders, we might as well all stay in bed.

    It is beginning to look like the cure might really be more damaging in the long run than the illness itself.

    • Stred
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been mending my roof after storm damage now that the wind has dropped and it’s dry. The flashing has broken and I can’t get any. Fortunately I had some old silicone to bodge it. Why can’t merchants stay open and wear masks, which they sell?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        They’ve all been cleaned out of masks round here for weeks anyway, Stred.

        If customers could be trusted to act safely then your question would be a good one.

        As we have seen, they cannot, unfortunately.

        How many builders do you see wearing dust protection when using an angle grinder etc.?

        How would you expect them to behave over this virus?

        • Stred
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          Most builders have masks and they do use them when doing dusty jobs. They are well aware of the consequences of inhaling dust. If the government made the rules clear and the police did spot checks, them some building work could continue and jobs which are vital, such as finishing kitchens and mending roofs, could continue without risk.

  56. D Note
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink
  57. villaking
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Well spoken, Sir John. The economic damage and the loss of liberty are as important as the health aspects. At this time, we need politicians like you to keep drawing attention to this. The reactions of Sadiq Khan and others with the simplistic “close everything and imprison everyone” approach is facile populism.

    • rose
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      It isn’t facile populism: it is a calculated intention to bring down the Government. That is one of many differences between the right and the left. The left will always exploit an external enemy to take power. The right will always close ranks to see off the enemy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Khan is a complete dope and a dangerous one too. But such are the dire other candidate he will doubtless get re-elected.

      One minute he is telling everyone how save and clean the Tube service was and a few days later telling everyone to get off them unless they are essential workers! Plus running so few tubes that they are still often packed.

  58. ChrisS
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Given the rapid spread of the infection, It will not be many weeks before it will be possible to assemble a team of recovered virus victims to keep a business running.

    The essential requirement will be the promised test that shows that the person has had the virus and has recovered.

    Extensive testing and the issuing of “Virus Free” certificates would allow the most rapid economic recovery.

  59. Sharon Jagger
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic

    Sky News are showing that British NHS workers living in Australia are keen to travel back to help in Britain, but are struggling to get flights.

    “Laura Mclaughlin – who has lived in Sydney for three years – has organised a group of more than 50 NHS staff who want to return to Britain and take part in its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

    Despite contacting the embassy, they are not getting any response- surely every pair of hands should be welcomed?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink


    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Why? We can’t muster the patients for them to tend.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        If only we knew the actual number of cases in hosiptal day by day, we could understand the pressures the NHS are under

        I must be low as the BBC nor Sky firm crews can’t yet grab a headline

  60. Prophet
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    This is the beginning of the end

    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Or is it the end of the beginning?


      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        It’s just the end! We are all laughing at the NHS, the ‘experts’, the PM – well we would be if we were not all going bankrupt because of their clowning around.

    • SM
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Dear Prophet

      I used to work in London’s West End, and remember the chap who wandered up and down Oxford Street wearing placards that stated that ‘the end of the world is nigh!’.

      But that was in 1966……

  61. forthurst
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    The important statistic is the number of new daily cases reported and the trend. In Wuhan, the epicentre of this global pandemic, according to the South China Morning Post, it was reported that there had been no new cases for three days; the command centre handling the crisis ordered the removal of internal checkpoints but routes out of the city were to remain blocked. It was further reported that the official Chinese statistics did not include asymptomatic and mild cases which have subsequently been estimated by based on testing at about 60%.

  62. rose
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Have you come across any reliable information on Turkey? MSM ignore her and the internet articles veer between glowing accounts and assertion that they are all lies.

    As well as different methods of gathering figures – e.g. the Germans don’t test post mortem for CV and we do – we can’t rule out that some populations may be more resilient than others genetically, though I know that is a forbidden subject. Taiwan’s indigenous population for example seem to fare better than incomers from China; Japanese seem to fare better than North Italians, despite being just as old, and more densely packed. Maybe the Turks have a genetic advantage not enjoyed by the Iranians. There are of course other factors behind these differences: Italian old people live in the bosom of the family and Japanese don’t. Italians do a lot of touching and Japanese don’t. Both peoples suffer from pollution.

    • hefner
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      According to JHU CSSE, 25/03 17:22
      Infected 1874
      Death 44
      No mention of recovered

      • hefner
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Above numbers were for Turkey

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

          Thank you, Hefner.

  63. we must never forget
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    42% of America is now on lockdown

    • Greece lightening!
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Some politician, maybe a Mayor in New York says today that he believes the Virus has reached its peak in New York(bell graph and curves referred to of course) and now will recede.
      The USA got the Virus before they really got it and are getting rid of it before it really started. They are fast in the USA.

  64. glen cullen
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    MPs could set an example under furlough and only receive 80% of their contracted salary

    But I’ve just realised MP are self-employed and not under the PAYE system

    Lords shouldn’t receive their attendance allowance if that place of business is closed

    We’re all equal but some are more equal

    • steve
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      glen cullen

      “MPs could set an example under furlough and only receive 80%”

      ‘UPTO’ 80%

      If there’s a catch in it for us, there should be for them as well.

    • APL
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      glen cullen: “But I’ve just realised MP are self-employed and not under the PAYE system”

      If you are on 80k pa but haven’t made provision for a short period of unemployment, you probably shouldn’t be making any sort of decision about the governance of the country.

      Reply Untrue!

  65. ian
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    300 odd pages, must have been working on it for a number of weeks.

  66. ukretired123
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Brought up in the North West of England post WWII I came to see, nay value :-

    “The Advantage in the Disadvantage”

    Which focuses the mind on what’s important – mostly simple things.
    We are time rich but will need to write out a budget and cut out non-essential things.
    Making lists of priorities and pencil out nice to haves.
    Time to reflect and de-clutter see what gems lie hidden amongst our accumulation baggage.

    I would recommend learning yoga for those in smaller flats and try out meditation. Whilst some folks joke about it the human mind is everyone’s most powerful asset (in fact we have 2 minds left & right ) unmatched by super-computers, costing billions, by its dexterity!
    We only use 1 to maybe 5 % of its capabilities.

    I was on a UNICEF project years ago looking at ICT education in the Caribbean and found they were so eager to advance their knowledge as they saw it vital to their future prosperity. By contrast British education was and still is in a backwater on STEM subjects. Knowing to use an iPad or smartphone is lazy and misses the point – what happens when it breaks or lost – panic because they are left “Digit-less”…clueless.

    This is a great opportunity for furthering STEM subjects cross-training self-employed to this vital area. After all we are totally reliant on science and computing power to crack the cure for CV19 with even IBM the latest to turn its super computers to this and a worldwide “Home-folding” initiative by Nvidia using millions of powerful graphics pcs too.

  67. Peter
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    “In the meantime government faces a difficult dilemma. Which of the many reports of various death rates and rates of new infection does it believe or does it think we are most likely to follow?“

    True. I am surprised the BBC have not chipped in yet with a ‘Reality Check’ reporter giving a definitive answer that none can argue against.

    Meanwhile, most of the country has been commanded to down tools and stay at home having been told that there will be absolute carnage if they do not do so.

  68. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I noticed the PM dodged and mumbled the answer to the question from Jeremy Hunt about testing and kits. If we had received any of those trumpeted the other day as being ordered I dare say he would have been only too pleased to say we had received x number.

    He didn’t therefore I assume threfore we have reveived none. I would also like to know when they were ordered and from whom and where.

  69. kzb
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    The 15-minute CV test would be a game changer, if it could be mass produced in the thousands per day.
    On the other hand, looking at the comments on here, I no longer have any doubt that we are cattle being milked by an elite.

  70. ukretired123
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to add there are many ways to meditate like a cat-nap (or power-nap) but I instantly gave up smoking cigarettes surprisingly!! A win-win all round.

  71. forthurst
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    As a matter of urgency the government must look at palliative measures. We were told for decades there was no evidence that smoking caused adverse medical outcomes: the stats proved otherwise. We are told that there is ‘no evidence’ that ACE Inhibitors promote serious infections and adverse outcomes. Do the stats: start now with hospitalised cases. Not everyone with hypertension is getting treatment or is on ACE Inhibitors or ARBs.

    Chloroquine: does it help? Do we have to wait for a formal trial by one team dragging on for months? As it is out of patent, GSK etc would not be interested. Start trials in every hospital fighting this epidemic; patients can use informed consent to take part. Do it.

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:32 am | Permalink

      I think it’s clear that ACE and ARB medication produce poor outcomes for virus patients. The problem is that it is hard to find substitutes, with changes in medication quite likely to kill them as a result of upset medicinal balances and inadequate control of the symptoms they were meant to address.

  72. APL
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Now this is weird.

    It’s like there is an utter disconnect between what we see on the BBC and the figures the government provides.

    ( office of National Statistics, deaths in England and Wales )

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Not sure weird. Doesn’t it, taken with previous years, just show that beginning of 2018 worse than average year, beginning of 2019 better than average year, beginning of 2020 a little better than an average year. The question remains do we know where this is going based on Covid19 forecasts vs. welfare effects of destroying economy?

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      this needs to be emailed to every MP and media out-lets

  73. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I am delighted that Prince Charles and his wife were able to get tested promptly for Covid19. Perhaps the government can now get tests and protective equipment promptly to all the doctors, nurses and medical staff as need them – to protect them, their families and indeed their patients.

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:35 am | Permalink

      As potential superspreaders it was important that they are in quarantine until they are no longer a risk.

  74. John E
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    The models will inevitably be wrong because they are based on assumptions that will be more or less lucky or wrong.
    What we desperately need are facts from tests. Something that the government seems still too slow to understand.

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:44 am | Permalink

      You can be sure they understand it. But facts from tests are hard to come by in the initial stages of the epidemic: you can’t test everyone at once, and your chances of finding those who are infected but have little or no symptoms are remote, so it is a poor way to calibrate epidemiological models.

      Worse still, most of the available tests are actually quite poor at discriminating with large numbers of false positives and false negatives clouding the statistics, and with no ability to detect those who had the disease but now carry antibodies. All these aspects of tests have to be improved. Better tests are coming, but they are not here yet in volume. It takes time to produce them. There is a lot of international competition to lay hands on tests.

  75. Chris
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Very good questions. I don’t think anybody knows the answers, so we must remain sceptical of the “experts”.
    When official data, maps etc are presented per capita rather than per country I shall start to have more confidence in their perpetrators.
    Afterwards, will anybody know if trends have been affected by governments, behavioural changes brought on by fear, massive unknown infections and immunity, or climatic and environmental effects….probably not. I have been amazed to find that this “science” appears to have moved on little since the Spanish flu in 1918. Seasonal effects in flu are still not properly understood despite being known about for centuries.
    Governments must have contingency plans to act quickly if the expert advice is far too pessimistic.

    • Start Here!
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      I find it silly that viruses should start work after having their holidays in China, Spain and Mexico and attempt to proceed to go home by first busting up their holiday resort then getting on a budget airline to Italy, the USA and elsewhere.
      Why don’t they holiday in Germany first or Namibia?

  76. John McDonald
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I am sorry to say we are past the stage of detailed analysis. This should have taken place in late December early January and action taken. Now we just have to wait 2 weeks and see if the numbers, as good as they can be, go down. The NHS has been run down(more correctly overloaded with increased population), Police force and Army reduced with resources being diverted to more Politically correct supposed needs.
    It’s clear that the Government intends to support the cost of not working whilst the emergency is in place. It can do no more. If it ( us, the government has no money) can bail out the Banks it can support my local plumber.
    Margret Thatcher encouraged the Service Economy so we don’t make much ourselves apart form some high value areas. A bit like war time Racing car companies have to turn there hand to building medical equipment.
    If most of us survive, it may well re-balance the economy, and reduce imports. The current economic model is bust as feeds on itself to keep going. An unnatural entity.
    All keep well as best you can

  77. outsider
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John,
    Sample testing is an excellent proposal but unlikely to come soon, given that many NHS staff are still untested. The best we can hope for is step by step cuts in restrictions, with priority being given to the wealth-creating ( but currently wealth-losing) sector, just as soon as the number of new cases shows signs of decelerating.
    There are very many businesses that do not involve many random people coming and going and being in close proximity, as they are for instance in theatres and urban restaurants. Manufacturing springs to mind, as well as building and construction.
    Ideally, schools should re-open for the summer term, while giving an option for parents to to keep their children away, for instance if they have contact with vulnerable people. At the least, anyone conducting a “permitted” business who cannot work from should be classified as a key worker.
    Derestriction of work and business should begin selectively at the first 3 week review if, as we must hope, the rise in cases is no longer exponential.
    Might some rural churches be allowed to open for Easter without pensioners?

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      Sample testing need only be of quite small numbers if the tests are good and there is sufficient prevalence to be found. Think about the statistics of political polling. A sample of 1,000 is enough to give a 3 percentage point error margin on the main parties. At 100,000 that falls to 0.3 percentage points. It need not detract much from testing of key workers and patients.

  78. Dunc.
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    If we destroy they economy and the national statistics show March as no different from the last 5 years for death rate, then this will be the biggest act of self destruction humanity has ever seen.
    And before you comment negatively look at the statistics.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      You’re correct….the bigger question is why the news media aren’t investigating the statistics, and why government isn’t presenting the statistics

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Well joint the EU was a pretty damn comprehensive act of self destruction too. Of course both acts taken by politicians without the consent of the people.
      Let’s hope British people have a little patience left in the tank –

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        You clearly do not remember the state that the UK was in during the Heath government of the early 1970s.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          Oh I do, I really do.
          We should of course still have the 600k, then 300k miners – now what? 10k still being paid unemployment pay for the fact no coal is left in the ground.
          And the hospital beds would be full of ex-miners dying slowly of lung cancer. All that before covid-19 hit us.

    • tik tock
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      New York 8m.623 thousand population 210 deaths ( 2 hours ago total figure)
      UK population 66m 463 deaths a few minutes ago (total figures)

      Neither figure indicates whether a potentially fatal condition prior to contracting the coronanova virus would have killed them anyway

      One condition arising now in my locality is a nasty impatience, annoyance with the government and resentment which could prove terminal to political careers of the majority of MPs cross party.

    • Stop Watch
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      Yes the death rate is not as high as MPs had hoped.
      It is looking very unhealthy for them

  79. Polly
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Further research from the US indicates that isolation of ACE/ARB medicated individuals would have been highly desirable a month ago when this issue generally became known……

    “Patients treated with ACEIs and ARBs for cardiovascular diseases should not stop taking their medicine, but should avoid crowds, mass events, ocean cruises, prolonged air travel, and all persons with respiratory illnesses during the current COVID-19 outbreak in order to reduce their risks of infection.”

    So why did governments, advisers and other influential individuals who were aware of the research ignore the apparent danger ?


  80. ukretired123
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Catch-22 multiplied exponentially? Damned if you do and damned if you dont.
    So the best outcome come what may is the focus. Easier said than done.

    Reading some of the reactions and feedback throughout the MSM the most important thing at a time of crisis is to keep level headed and balanced and focus on the goal decisively.

    An analogy is like going through turbulence in a plane or fast river with rapids approaching. Only the pilot can stand up in a boat and decide at the crunch point otherwise everyone is doomed.

  81. zorro
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Here’s something from the Telegraph….

    NHS will not be overwhelmed, says Prof Neil Ferguson (from the Telegraph Live Coronavirus update stream – 10.34am 25th March)

    Our Science Editor, Sarah Knapton, is listening in to the Health and Social Care Select Committee this morning.

    Prof Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College scientist whose team has been advising the Government on its coronavirus strategy, said the latest data suggests the NHS will not be overwhelmed.

    “Since we did that initial analysis which came out on 16th March NHS have refined estimates and that means the gap would be less. With this current strategy, we were thinking some ICUs will get close to capacity but it won’t at a national level.

    He also said he is himself recovering from Covid-19.

    He told MPs on the Science and Technology Committee he was “improving day by day”.

    He added: “I don’t think I knew what to expect, it was like rather bad flu, there was a couple of days when it was really unpleasant.”

    This is from the guy who was talking about 500,000 dead so what about the lockdown and draconian legislation?


    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      There would be those fatalities without these measures.

      You cannot have your cake and eat it.

      • zorro
        Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        It’s not a question of having your cake and eating it. It’s about who you believe….

        Do you mean like when the ‘medical experts’ stated during the swine flu epidemic that there would in the UK be up to 65,000 deaths and a MINIMUM of 3,200 when actually there were 457…. Is that what you mean?


        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

          So because Michael Fish got a weather forecast wrong in 1987, you now ignore all weather forecasts?

          The virus that is overwhelming the undertakers in Italy and in Spain is exactly the same as the one here.

          What exactly is the matter with you?

          • zorro
            Posted March 26, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

            Nothing wrong with me, how about yourself…?

            We have gone headlong into a potentially crushing economic scenario so it better be worth it. we will see with the death figures in retrospect. If they are not significantly higher than in other years on top of normal death, some people are going to be in real trouble for the main and misery caused on a massive number of people in this country. I suppose you will be happy because you always think you are right anyway…


      • Mark
        Posted March 26, 2020 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        The possibility their model was wrong, with all its assumptions doesn’t occur to you?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Backtracking bigtime. But we MUST shove his published stats down his throat – he said best case scenario in U.K. 20,000 deaths, in US 440,000!

  82. margaret
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Well my cough is staying around my throat at the moment , but just as I think it has gone, it comes back so throat gargles continue. I was wondering whether alcohol may help?
    Surely spending on different things is happening right now , but spending it is. With thought and planning I am actually eating healthier , but the flipping cough won’t go !

    • zorro
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Try whisky – I am


    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Zinc is recommended for respiratory infections I read, Margaret.

    • Normal
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      It’s normal to get a cough.

  83. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    What we do know is that countries that have a high number of critical care (ICU) beds per 100,000 of population tend to have low deaths to cases ratio. Germany has 29.2 critical care beds per 100,000 population. Austria also has in excess of 20 such beds per 100,000. Both have a low deaths to cases ratio, less than 1%. Italy has only 12.6 such beds per 100,000 and a deaths to cases ratio of 8%. The UK figure is a mere 6.6 such beds per 100,000.

    The UK position is even worse than the bare statistics suggest because 83% of the critical care beds are occupied for illnesses other than Coronavirus. We need to acquire many more fully operational critical care beds PDQ if we are to prevent an avalanche of deaths. Building many more ventilators is essential. Gtech have said that they can turn out 1,000 a day once they have converted their production lines. Formula 1 racing have said that this is something they can do. So let’s get busy and tell the NHS procurement bureaucracy that it has to get its finger out.

    The other essential component is staffing. We need more doctors and nurses in ICUs, equipped with protective clothing. Giving them a pay rise would help recruitment. We do not have time to train all of the nurses fully. Some of the recruits will learn how to operate the ventilators and little else. Delegation with control will be necessary.

    The damage to the economy of the partial lockdown is great. I estimate that the Government is incurring unfunded borrowing at the rate of £200 billion per annum (that excludes the Bank of England’s quixotic QE). Sir John’s figure is £70 billion in 4 months, roughly the same rate. He is right in thinking that we cannot afford more than 4 months. If Coronavirus is not defeated by the end of June, we must abandon the restraints and just let the disease rip.

    If we were asked to come up with a health care funding system that was guaranteed to be under resourced and therefore unable to cope with emergencies, the NHS would fit the bill perfectly – free at the point of consumption and funded by taxation, which is inevitably limited. Small wonder that it is having to commandeer the resources of the private health care system.

    I must end by saying that Donald Trump is not so stupid as people think. He is merely being ruthless in pursuit of victory in the presidential election. He won’t win New York’s electoral college votes anyway, so he’s decided to win other states. It was Gerald Ford who said, in another context, that New York can drop dead. Trump really means it.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 1:48 am | Permalink

      Still not moderated?

  84. Edwardm
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    As usual John Redwood clearly states the issues.
    Much is not known, such as why some countries have been more rapidly and worse affected so far than others – beyond what can be explained.
    When will it be safe, or become imperative to restart the economy – a crashed and destroyed economy equals poverty and is also very bad for health. We are in a real dilemma and I have confidence our government is reacting to information as it becomes available and doing what is best.

  85. tick tock
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    “The bell graph and curves” indicate the UK is well ahead of the bell graph and curves of New York. In the bell graph we are half way down the receding line of the bell graph. In short they got it later than we in the UK. Put that in ones NHS curve and smoke it!

  86. Brit
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Why is the UK faring much better with the virus than Europe and the USA and China and Iran?
    If our success continues since there has been minimal NHS input to date, it is that we British historically have ventured to all parts of the world in conquest and trade and we have caught everything that was going. Yes we did and died like flies across the globe or recovered.We may have got ourselves immunity over and above anyone on Earth
    We’ll see what happens. We may go down in our thousands. I think not.
    We ARE the British by virtue of that fact we can walk on water.Shock and Awe!

  87. mancunius
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    How can the over-70s stay at home as ordered by the government, and still survive, when the stores cannot deliver basic foodstuffs to them?
    None of the supermarkets are even taking orders, some refuse new registrations, others have no slots for the forseeable future, one has just seen its queuing system crash, imperilling a host of orders for Friday and the weekend.
    Just to get a pint of milk, a few eggs, a lettuce, everyone must risk infection by joining the scrum at the local supermarket. And younger people – mothers, fathers, workers – are also risking infection, even if the risk of death is lower in their case, it is still a risk.

    Sir John, please intervene and tell the government that urgent emergency measures are needed to provide food, or there will be galloping cross-infection and a serious peak in ICU cases.

    • Waiting Queue
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:07 am | Permalink

      We can thank the government for everything if their worst scenario is realised but thus far the problem is the government. All food distribution problems are caused by the government. All old people who shopped for themselves or their relations shopped for them are forbidden by the government.
      Now MPs are on the hols leaving the country in the chaos they have alone created.
      In three weeks at this rate MPs had best isolate themselves from their constituents and Constituency Party Committees. They will be an election liability.
      It’s okay speaking of cases. One notices all news speaks of cases because they know that if they first spoke of deaths everyone would say why I am I not at work?

    • rose
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:43 am | Permalink

      That is what half a million people have just signed up to help with. Boris’s army.

  88. a-tracy
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think NHS staff working in hospitals with known very ill covid19 patients should go to supermarkets at all, I think they should have their shopping list prioritised and picked, packed and delivered to their homes.

    If I were one of these workers I’d take up the offer of free hotel rooms near the hospital and not return home for a few weeks, if I had to return home (children etc.) I would shower get out of my clothes and wash them every day.

    Nicola sturgeon let the cat out of the bag telling Londoners the city was about to be locked down a week ago, this caused a mass exodus of wealthy Londoners (many of whom possibly carry the virus) out to the regions, then she had the Gaul to complain about people turning up at Scottish holiday homes! When she’d given wealthy city dwellers three days notice that it was going to happen.

    London tube users should have been encouraged to buy and wear masks and Khan should not have stopped so many peak hour trains forcing people like sardines including many health workers.

    Ppe is required the most in highly hit areas first so targeted deliveries should have been prioritised for the first deliveries as stocks were traced.

    The timing is off. Are numbers for each area being reduced as people recovered? How long are the people in intensive care just for covid19 taking before they go home to recover and then how long does it take then once home? Surely some of the first people to go into hospital a couple of weeks ago have gone home now?

  89. Mr B
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I lost my contract today that I had for the last 6 years with a retail company. I would rather have caught a virus. What now?

    It was my only source of income.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      I feel for you all my contracts where also cancelled last month…no new business in sight as industry is slowing closing down

  90. El Bozo
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Shall we ban cars next? People die!

  91. Will in Hampshire
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Crikey, Boris Johnson really is the luckiest politician of his generation. Not only does he get to face Jeremy Corbyn (of all people) in his first General Election; not only does he get his Churchill moment in front of the nation with this virus; he also gets to suspend Parliament early so as do away with all those pesky MPs. We are ruled by King Boris.

    I wish I’d thought to have him on my Christmas card list.

  92. Prigger
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    The biggest problem is how the NHS is going to use half a million volunteers. Doing what?
    The NHS would have a problem if they had a hundred at this stage

  93. everyone knows
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    I witnessed the strangest thing yesterday, the Police pulling over the self-employed and stopping them work. White vans, small trucks with small loads on the back, these were all small self-employed people I saw being pulled over by police cars. Why have the self-employed been targetted like this?

  94. everyone knows
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    my brothers just gone out of business, so I lost my 6 year contract yesterday my brother lost his business today. This is mad what is happening.

    • APL
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      everyone knows: “This is mad what is happening.”

      It is insane!

      More so because a Tory government is doing it.

      The government is planning on compensating people, but they only print the money they distribute, by the time we get through this it will have solved the toilet roll crisis, you’ll be able to use five pound notes. That’s how much they’ll be worth.

  95. Russell Brown
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    All my friends (the working poor) have lost their jobs,

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 26, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      the unemployments figures are going to be sky high in a week or two

  • About John Redwood

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

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