Flattening the curve

If you can measure it you can manage it. Government policy towards the virus is to manage down the numbers of people with the illness seeking admission to hospital, for the doubly good reason that we do not want many people seriously ill and there are limits on hospital capacity to deal with them.

They are advised by epidemiologists, people who predict the likely numbers of individuals who catch a disease in a epidemic based on past experiences of other epidemics and daily data on the course of the one they are following.  In a situation where there is no known or agreed  successful treatment for a disease and no vaccination to block its spread, their advice is to stop many  people catching it by social segregation. In the meantime medical research may find treatments and a vaccine for future protection.  It also allows rapid expansion of the capacity of the medical facilities, and wholesale transfer of trained medical personnel and wards to treating the epidemic victims.

The issue I am seeking more guidance on from the government and their epidemiological advisers is what does winning look like? When will they have flattened the curve enough?

Public Health England on behalf of the wider government publishes daily two sets of figures. One is the daily addition to the case total, and the other is the grim daily addition to the total deaths ascribed to the virus. The problem with these data sets is they are incomplete and prone to error. In default of reliable tests for significant samples of the entire population, repeated regularly,  we do not know the current infection rate or the  case total. Many people have caught a mild version of it – or  something like it – and have self isolated. Their recovery will not  be reflected in  the total because they were never tested .

The Death rate is also based on a set of judgements. Worldwide practice varies, with some doctors attributing numerous deaths of people with the virus to pre-existing or other serious conditions, whilst others are more likely to regard any patient dying with the virus as dying because of the virus. The UK is currently thinking of adding more deaths to the total by ascribing death to the virus in cases not admitted to hospital. To get a more accurate figure most deaths would need to include a virus test, and protocols would  need to  be followed over how to judge the virus contribution to mortality.

So I am asking if we have a consistent set of figures based on clear definitions with resilient data collection, which is needed to decide how much to flatten the curve and to determine how successful policy is. We all are willing the government on  because we want to cut the death rate. The next few days are crucial as we should be seeing a drop in new cases reflecting the days people are spending in isolation.

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  1. Cheshire Girl
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    I must confess I don’t understand the specifics of all of this, but I will say I think the Government is doing a very good job in the circumstances, ably assisted by the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientist, and many others. Who of us would want to take on this task?

    I just wish large sections of the Media would stop their sniping and criticism from the sidelines. Their endless negative news is causing panic and concern. They should be ashamed!

    • Mark B
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      The MSM want this story to run and run purely for selfish reasons and, those with an agenda, usually the Left and Left leaning State Nomenklatura, who want more power and control, bigger State and budgets.

      The government has allowed itself to be panicked. They have not asked questions or sought alternative advice. And they seem to me to be making all up as they go.

      • rose
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        The one country which has escaped this fate is Sweden. No hype, no panic, no sabotage of government policy. How come? It must be because it already is a left wing country with a left wing government and the media don’t want to crash it.

      • Hope
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        How does the govt intend people to get back to work without mass testing?
        What was the govt. exit strategy when they placed the nation under house arrest? Surely the govt thought about this before?
        Three weeks house arrest coming to an end then what, more of the same until when?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Yes, they rightly panicked, because their original plan to let the epidemic run wild was shown to be as unnecessary as it would be disastrous, by the fact of China and S.Korea’s managing to suppress their native epidemics – I think that the Government expected those countries to fail and for millions to die there.

        In so doing, however, they have ended up with death tolls a tiny fraction of that which Johnson “levelled with us” to expect here, and all credit to them.

        It was not our media, or local comment, which caused the panic, but global facts.

        • NickC
          Posted April 2, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          Martin, Could you supply the scientific proof which backs up your claim that the herd immunity policy has already been “shown to be as unnecessary as it would be disastrous”? Rather than just a shrill conjecture on your and the MSM’s part, that is?

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        True, deeply disappointed with the government spokespeople – rabbits in headlights. BB (Big Boris) needs to get off his mild symptom sickbed too!


        • Zorro
          Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          Pacifically indeed!

    • Stephen Priest
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      The media’s selection of statistics from other countries “getting it right” is shameful. Obviously implying the government is getting it wrong.

      The media’s hyping up of every news stories is really bad. For example the dyeing Derbyshire “pond” black is something that happens often because it is in a disused quarry and is toxic. Search “The Toxic Blue Lagoon of Buxton” on You Tube.

    • jerry
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      @CG; If you think the govt is doing a good job that is simply because you have not bothered to educate yourself more about this virus and the need to test, test, test and then do even more testing.

      What ever the official li… sorry, line is on testing, the chemicals to do the tests are available in the UK without problems, according to the companies who make them, what is more they can apparently ramp-up production significantly should they be asked to do so. So why so little testing?

      The curves our host refers to are the ones the govt wants us to think about, and not just because they are the headline grabbing ones. But those two curves are relatively unimportant to the question as to when the lock-down will ease or indeed end, what we need to know is the percentage of people who have had the virus without needing medical intervention, the herd immunity the govt originally talked about – if the only people to have caught the virus are those who have gone public about their self-isolation, those hospitalised and those who have tragically died then the country is in for a very long lock-down indeed!…

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 3:55 am | Permalink


        Your first paragraph is very condescending. I think you are probably watching too much BBC and Channel 4 news!

        • jerry
          Posted April 2, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          @CG; Whilst you are watching the govts press briefing without a critical eye. Heck even the usually right wing press have been critical!

      • NickC
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, Amazing – you’ve only just woken up to the necessity of testing. Bit late, aren’t you? Typical BBC and MSM believer. On 25 March I stated: “Therefore testing – both for symptoms, and for antibodies – is vital. Short of a vaccine, testing is the key.” Whereas at the time you were slagging off PotUS Trump, and making statements like: “Looks far more like a power grab by the hard right to me …” in reply to Peter Wood noting Steve Baker’s disquiet at the draconian lockdown law.

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

          @NickC; Not at all, but unlike the hard right I did not and do not see testing as a way of not locking-down but as a way of knowing when the lock-down can end. I see little point in knowing who has the virus, what we need to know is who has anti bodies to the virus.

          As usual some always try and look at things from the wrong end, what ensures maximum profits rather than the maximum lives saved – it was just the same in the early to mid 1900s when the trade unions and the more enlighten capitalists realised that general health, safety and welfare of employees were as important at getting the product out of the door.

          You need to be more careful of your attributions, we can all cite out of context, perhaps I should start miss quoting you…

    • David Webb
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Fully agree, CG. The media mindset is utterly tiresome. ‘The NHS is perfect in all respects, and any shortcomings are the personal fault of Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock. Everybody must be given more money – but nobody should have to pay for it. Too many people are at work endangering lives, so more lockdown is needed. Critical items are in short supply endangering lives, so we need to ease the lockdown.’

      There’s more common sense in each of Sir John’s articles than has been conveyed by the main BBC, ITV and Sky broadcast reporters between them since the outbreak started.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        The government needs to grow a pair and stop deifying certain organisations!


    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      CG, John’s comment is premised on the fatalistic assumption that the epidemic cannot be ended.

      I challenge that. It reportedly has been in China, and very nearly so in S. Korea.

      Unlike these countries, the UK Government have ignored WHO advice to carry out mass testing, contact tracing, and isolation of the infected and possibly infected, which WHO says are key to suppression.

      “Flattening the curve” means spreading out the fatalities over a long time, but there would still be perhaps tens or even hundreds of thousands of them.

      Contrast that with the three thousand or so reported in China, or the few hundred in S. Korea.

      Make what you will of all this.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        “ignored WHO advice to carry out mass testing,”

        Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder about WHO advice, at first they told people in overcrowded London on overcrowded transport not to bother with masks and gloves when they were available. S Korea ignored this advice and all of their public were masked and gloved up from the start.

        Then the instruction to carry out mass testing – did it come with advice on which tests to use and where to buy them from and what lab capabilities were required and do the UK have enough test labs? Anyone can make announcements wouldn’t it be fantastic IF…. well someone on the ground actually has to source them or make them. How do the Germans have enough chemicals and kits to test 70,000 Germans per day but the UK only have enough to test 10,000, were the kits manufactured in Germany? Are the chemical companies in Germany? Do Germany have lots more labs than us?

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        I think three possibilities for China (i) ctd lies, (ii) some community resistance from spread of earlier strains before mutations or ID, (iii) it will be back.

        I think for S. Korea (i) perhaps earlier strains, (ii) initial infections in limited locations and young, non-smoking females – more traceable and lower mortality, (iii) young have abandoned old for some years, on the downside this is one reason why S. Korea has had a problem of increasing elderly suicides on the other it means vulnerable populations are separated, (iv) much healthier e.g. 1/3 of England is obese only 4% of S. Korea (v) we do not know if mortality counting is the same, (vi) very different climate, (vii) community may still be at risk – it may be back.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        I think you are correct on flattening the curve, this is the reality with no cure, no vaccination and a large number of vulnerable people (age, previous health conditions, smoking, obesity). I think Govt has not made this sufficiently clear; it has not stated what the expected mortality is if NHS capacity were to remain ahead of admissions and what it expects mortality to be if NHS capacity is breached.

        If NHS capacity not breached then X will inevitably die this cannot be prevented, but if capacity is breached at the bottleneck then this increases to kX (with k > 1). Flattening the curve and increasing capacity saves (k-1)X lives. We don’t know background prevalence so we don’t know X, the Govt and advisers have not been sufficiently clear on what they expect (from some of the comments you might deduce 20 thousand or so but it is not clear). We don’t know k but presumably it could easily reach 2 as half the people on ventilators survive, perhaps it would go to 8 if other constraints passed (based on number of deaths and number of hospitalised to date).

        Its the (k-1)X that Govt must be comparing to the long run effects of shutting the economy.

      • graham1946
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        Still believing in cuddly China then? Billions of people and only 3000 (reported, that’s a clue) deaths from a virus that started with them. 12 million in the place it started. Of course. We know how this thing spreads (see EU particularly).

      • NickC
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Martin, You have an uncanny habit of trusting authoritarians too much. And the more authoritarian, the more you trust them.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Agree on the media. In the inevitable public inquiry after it is over their conduct should be included in the inquiry. Just to mention a recent example, the Daily Mail splashing a headline saying that ventilators are already being rationed in the NHS, thus implying they don’t have enough and spreading panic, whereas the true situation is that currently the NHS has enough and they are being allocated according to clinical need. This situation may change of course, but why lie about it now ?.

      Another example, the Daily Mail referring to “the discredited herd immunity theory”. That’s like saying “the discredited theory of gravity” – herd immunity is just a scientific fact and is the only thing stopping a measles epidemic for example. I think the problem is that all these journalists are arts graduates with no knowledge at all of science or mathematics – you only have to listen to their questions at the press conference to realise that.

      • anon
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:48 am | Permalink

        We need clinicians to be free from management pressure to record accurately their judgement for the clinical need.

        If rationing takes place after that being recorded then it needs to very clearly recorded.

        All the judgements of “clinical need” in every case where the patient dies, will need to be investigated so these deaths can be attributed to the imho likely criminally negligent lack of preparation.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      “the Government is doing a very good job in the circumstances”

      Well not really – the pandemic pre-planning was clearly appalling, they ignored the lessons and buried the results of the 2016 pandemic exercise (with 200 organisation involved) and failed to plan for anyway of making needed medical equipment quickly and locally if needed. They have insufficient PPE, ventilators, other medical equipment and testing facilities. Resulting in many (20%) of the NHS being unable to work.

      Only a few day back Sadiq Kahn was telling everyone how safe the tube was as they were using “hospital grade cleaners”! Even now the tubes are still hugely over crowed with people inches apart and infecting each other. They locked down too late and may well now be deluged and unable to cope.

      The UK has had the advantage of 2+ months notice too.

    • James Bertram
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      CG – I don’t think the government understand the specifics either. The central point they are missing, governments worldwide, is that trashing the global economy will damage health services for many years to come, and force people into extreme poverty. That kills. It kills far more people than these lockdowns will ever save.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        fully agree

      • rose
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think they missed the central point but the power of the poisonous MSM is overwhelming. The original strategy, to keep the old and susceptible segregated from the rest, and allow the rest to carry on, was sabotaged. The MSM panicked people into witholding their children from school, into an orgy of shopping, and into crashing the economy. It was a vile fait accompli.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Government has done a rubbish job. They allowed the airports to stay open and people to come in from anywhere distributing the plague all over the country.
      They aren’t doing a good job now, allowing the Underground to continue with carriages stuffed with people unable to maintain safe distancing.

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

        Agreed. Though underground reduction in service is all Mayor Khant

      • rose
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        At some point we will have to face this virus now that it has escaped from China. We cannot cut ourselves off from the rest of mankind for ever. We are still waiting for an AIDS vaccine, thirty years later, so it is not a good idea to cower in our houses till the vaccine comes. If we hide away for six months, what then? We come out and catch it just in time for the winter ‘flu season, by which time it might have strengthened in virulence.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        Underground is now effectively empty, and hardly anyone one on the buses today.


      • Ken Moore
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        Flights from China and Iran are still coming into Heathrow…yet the Police are chasing lone dog walkers in the Peak district!

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Total agreement!

    • Hope
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      The govt failed in its primary duty to keep us safe. It failed in terrorism through open borders it has now failed again with this virus for the same reason. The utter nonsense the virus would still enter if we prevented people from entering the country or at least quarantined them is beyond belief. It would have helped either of the two govt strategies it pursued to slow the spread of the virus. It was stupid or dishonest for the govt to make its claim. You do not need medical qualifications to know this.

      Civil contingencies Act has been in existence since 2003/4. Exercises will be held to test plans. The govt/authorities held exercises.

      The govt failed to learn from its exercis in 2016, it failed in January to buy and requisition relevant equipment when it was clear what was going on in China. It had two strategies quarantine and test from ships, allow masses to enter for herd immunity then changed back to isolation. We have more people entering the country from hotspot countries than being tested! This continues today, JR previous view was wrong/false on this point.

      The failure of the govts principle of mass immigration is true and the same here. It keeps importing far more people than public services and housing can cope with.

      Today we read pregnant women in prison will be released! How could they be safer in the wider community to catch the virus! It would be safer in prison to keep them isolated from everyone in their cell where they belong. Hospitals currently only allowing mothers and babies on maternity wards. No husbands allowed. These prisoners treated better than normal crime abiding people!

      Pity the police were not so overbearing on knife crime and eco loons! This socialist Tory govt has a lot to answer for. How lng before they ask Corbyn what to do, like Mayhab with the EU, or Johnson following Corbyn’s budget!

      The govt response totally rudderless and useless jumping to press criticisms.

    • Andy
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      It is not the job of the media to be cheerleaders for the government. Johnson and Cummings clearly have you for that. It is the job of the media to hold leaders to account – particularly as Parliament has now basically been closed.

      The reality is that the UK response to this has been a staggering failure. More people will die because Johnson failed to act quickly enough. More jobs will go. And because testing has been such a failed fiasco it will all go on for longer.

      The only one who has shown any degree of sense is Rishi Sunak – and even he was too slow and has done too little.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 4:09 am | Permalink


        Obviously, I am wrong. Ive always thought that it was the job of the Media to report the facts, not to be judge and jury.

        Personally, I’m fed up with being lectured by these smug self important people, in their comfortable studios, who are delighted to spread fear and anxiety, under the guise of ‘holding the Government to account’. Im willing to bet, they wouldn’t be so keen to do that if we had a Labour government.

      • NickC
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Andy, You spent much of your time on here cheering on the prospect of elderly Brexit voters dying off so you could remain subservient to the authoritarian EU empire. So when was your conversion to keeping the elderly alive?

    • John E
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Good to see an April Fool’s post in these difficult times.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Thanks John, I needed that.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        John E.

        If you are implying that my post was an April Fools joke – it wasn’t. I wouldn’t joke about such a thing, and I deplore your remark. You may disagree with my comments, but your remark was uncalled for!

    • formula57
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Well said Cheshire Girl, even if the early advice of the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientist was badly flawed – as Sweden is expected to demonstrate, alas.

    • Hope
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Public Health England appears to be causing more problems than it is worth. Another layer of useless bureaucracy where people paid a fortune but fail to have a can do attitude.

      When will the structure of NHS be reformed with the likes of Stevenson the chief operations officer sacked? They were clueless in front of Hunt when questioned. We read PHE refused test equipment and one firm selling £18 million of tests abroad with £1 million to U.K.! FFS get a grip.

    • outsider
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Sniping is always bad Cheshire Girl

      : the currency of gossips and the irresponsible partisan. But questioning plays an important role. Acting as a conduit for health professionals and others, media questioning has undoubtedly speeded up some official action, for instance on protection supplies for the NHS.
      Those with access, like Sir John , and the media, are rightly questioning and prodding the Government over testing. They should also be asking what treatment the NHS is currently giving to patients at the crucial stage when home isolation and cold treatments are not enough but before the last resort of being put on a ventilator.
      (Sorry for my misplaced comment)

    • Helen Smith
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink


  2. Mark B
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    A well timed and interesting article today.

    If you can measure it you can manage it.

    Exactly !

    We simply do not know how many people have already been infected. Where the ‘hotspots’ are, so that we can safely and easily quarantine them, and so on. There are simply too many unknowns and the government’s reaction has, in my opinion, been to over react with laws and advice which may have no effect whatsoever.

    . . . people who predict . . .

    Like Mystic Meg ? Enough said 😉

    . . . what does winning look like?

    A pyrrhic victory ! One that has been achieved as so much cost to be not worth it. Also one in which those who have caused more harm than good come away with their reputations intact. Think about that last one ? 😉

    Many thanks Sir John for casting a ray of light into the darkness of thought and reason.

    • Original Chris
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, Mark B.
      As I have commented before, what on earth is the point of trashing the economy in order to take pressure of the NHS, only to find that when you have taken these draconian measures, destroying the economy, there is no money left in the government coffers to support the thing that you were protecting i.e. the NHS? Oh, of course, there is always taxation, and taxation and more taxation.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Indeed, even the death figures to do not seem to be being reported reliably in the UK daily with some being delayed and some home deaths only being reported yesterday. Testing in the UK seems to be very low and rationed, even for NHS workers. Supplies of PPE still very problematic. This despite the fact that we were assured by Hancock how very well prepared the NHS was.

    The first UK death was just 26 days ago, yesterday we had a total of 1789. A day on day rise average of 36.6 % (1789^(1/26)) over these 26 days. This suggest we are still just about 16 days behind Italy. Let us hope the decline in the daily increase (that we saw in the past few days. other than yesterday for the above special reasons) continues due to the belated shutdown. If it does not the NHS will really struggle to cope and avoidable deaths will surely occur.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

      The pandemic planning that was done was clearly totally inadequate. To fail to have sufficient PPE gears, ventilators or other obvious medical equipment (or just a plan to manufacture or assemble these fairly quickly) is appalling. We have had over two months notice after all.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Were this rate (of a 1.366 daily increase) to continue for seven more days we would have about 16,000 deaths in total within a week and perhaps well over 100,000 people needing hospital care.

      Let us hope the belated UK lockdown is finally starting to have an effect and this rate comes down. In Italy deaths are about 106,000 to date and it is still going up at 4 % a day. Despite the lock down three to four weeks back.

      • Mark
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:29 am | Permalink

        Don’t exaggerate (especially by a factor of about 10!). Identified cases are 110,574 and deaths 13,155. Both daily new cases and deaths appear to be on a declining trend. Italy seems to be on the way to controlling the epidemic for now.

    Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    While over at the CW, one article that describes the sinister exploitation of this issue for political and financial gain by State players attracts over 1000 comments.

    This issue is being abused for political ends and by both government and other State, taxpayer financed entities who see it as a perfect opportunity to extend their reach, their power, their budgets and their influence. That is unacceptable

    It is unfortunate that many Parliamentary politicians refuse to tell it as it is. We all suffer greatly as a result

  5. oldtimer
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    These are very good questions to which we apparently lack good answers. It appears that at the moment the calculations rely on guesses (sometimes called assumptions) to predict the spread of the disease. Let us hope they make better guesses than those used to justify the slaughter of millions of healthy animals at the time of the BSE scare.

    In this context the shortage of test kits is alarming. The NHS naturally wants to test its own staff so that more can safely return to work. Regarding the antibody test, currently under evaluation, it is unclear who will decide how, where and for what purposes it will be deployed. This is a legitimate question for you to ask. For example will it be deployed to further academic research into the disease or to speed the process of assessment on how soon the country can return to “normality” whatever that will mean? Ministers say they are guided by the science. But in these circumstances the purpose of the science must first be directed by Ministers.

    • Mark
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      If the anitbody test is reliable enough, there are three purposes for using it.

      1. A random sample of the population to assess how many are now immune as a result of having the disease perhaps in a mild or asymptomatic form: this need not use a lot of tests to be useful, just as a political poll can give a good handle on voting intentions from a sample of just 1-2,000 people. That will be able to resolve many of the epidemiological disputes that are based on guesswork, and in turn help to decide how soon we can contemplate reducing the impact of lockdown on the economy. As with political polling, re-sampling at intervals will give a better handle on trends and remaining risk relative to levels needed for herd immunity to kick in.

      2. Testing key workers, so that those who are immune can be identified as being safe to work normally and to care for the vulnerable, provided they maintain good hygiene, and those who are still at risk can be allocated to less exposed roles.

      3. Wider testing to help get us back to work, and also to provide health certification allowing travel.

  6. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    600,000 people die on average every year. 50 000 each .onth or 1,600 per day. 140,000 are classes as avoidable.
    We need to know the total daily figures to know if there is any upswing.
    Of course the CMO will say lockdown is working because of all the damage its doing.
    He was wrong about BSE and foot and mouth so what’s the betting he’s wrong again.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      50-1 ON! I’ll open a book…

  7. NeverCrushedBrexit
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Please can we also publish recovery rates. Other countries are able to do that, why not the UK?

    It would be good for morale, to see recovery numbers, not just new cases and death rates!

    • forthurst
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      According to PHE, on their Total UK COVID-19 Cases Update website, 139 people have recovered out of 25,150 cases.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Current covid19 UK recovery is 135 (as at 22nd March)

      Hasn’t been updated since 22nd March, I wonder why?

      I know Prince Charles has recovered since then

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink


      They cannot publish recovery rates because they do not have a clue how many have been infected and then recovered

      The NHS recons it could be over 1,000,000 people have been infected in the UK according to recent reports.

      I think that is just an educated guess as well, so without a comprehensive testing regime we will never know.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        People have been infected with this since last October at least…


        • APL
          Posted April 2, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          “People have been infected with this since last October at least…”

          Yes, I am convinced that it’s been in the UK much longer than Neil Ferguson’s model assumes, thus more people already have immunity than he allows for.

          But then, his model just grabbed figures out of thin air.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        Alan, I agree with you they don’t know how many of those people self-isolating at home untested actually had CV19 or not, however, PHE DO KNOW how many were tested as positive and have recovered and are not now in a hospital or free to roam on their daily hour out of the house.

  8. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    “What does winning look like?”

    Easy. Winning is keeping hospital admissions of people with the virus below the capacity of the NHS to provide beds and ventilators for them. Both of these can be measured easily with 100% accuracy. What’s the problem ?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink


      It is apparently *not” to stop them dying, but just to have them do so at a rate with which the authorities can manage comfortably, and over a longer period than otherwise.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Exactly and getting this capacity up so we can get back to work as soon as possible.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        The government’s business continuity plans have been shown to be woeful.


  9. BCL
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    Very off topic, I know, but could you advise if Brexit talks are contiuing? Are we still aiming for 31st December or has the epidemic made a delay likely?

    I hear nothing about this in the press.

    • acorn
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      BCL, they met last Monday. It appears the EU batted the balls into the UK court. The next meeting is a progress summit in June when the money is on the UK going for a one year extension due to the virus.

      July 1st is the (first) deadline for fishing access and financial services framework deals. The EU is saying no fish deal and the whole thing stops and times out till the EU Parliament’s November 26th Plenary Session, the last date to make the final decision on any deal.

      A WTO/No-Deal cliff edge drop on 01/01/21 can still be mitigated by the nineteen EU Contingency Action Plans IF reciprocated by the UK; but, there will still be a cliff edge drop of some magnitude whatever the deal.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Well, the flower arranging classes in the village hall at Great Missenden have been cancelled, so I doubt it rather, BCL.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        Another heckle.

  10. Nig l
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    There are serious question marks about the advice given re the use of masks, if I sneeze or cough with one on, it reduces/eliminates the spray and lack of preparation in terms of testing kits and an initial slowness to respond.

    Why isn’t every front line NHS worker automatically issued with face protection on induction as part of their uniform. We hope it will not be used but as we have seen, had they owned one of these, again they would have been better prepared.

    Ok an unforeseen event on this scale, albeit apparently not, if we believe the ST, were lessons learned from that exercise plus previous virus outbreaks.

    Apparently not? I cannot escape the feeling that whilst HMGs response, eventually, has been fine, once again we are suffering more than we should due to a lack of planning and leadership. The buck stops with senior ministers and civil servants.

    When it is over I want an Independent inquiry. Both politicians and NHS leaders should not be allowed to crow about how well they did, when facts tell otherwise.

    And if your strategy is not effective, be prepared for civil disobedience. You are relying on our trust and good nature albeit as as usual, some police have jumped on the chance to put their size 12s on our neck. We will not put up with it for ever.

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Government had a choice between keeping the economy afloat or having an overwhelmed hospital system. Any hospital system would have been overwhelmed by this as we are seeing globally.

    Short term it has chosen to trash the economy in the hope it will recover swiftly once the lockdown is over. That is the (no win) gamble it has taken.

    My concern is the second wave and the third wave each time we emerge from lockdown will prevent recovery plus many fewer businesses to drive the economy as many can’t survive even this short close down.

  12. Ken from glos
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I would suggest viewing a programme on catch up from the bbc on the so called Spanish flu epidemic o 1918 that killed 100 million . You may then begin to understand d what we are dealing with.

    Regards ken.

  13. Stred
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    From first infection to death in serious cases takes about two and a half weeks. The present deaths will have been infected about a week before lock down. If the other members of the locked down family were infected then the serious cases will be needing hospital care within a week or two. But there will possibly be others who picked up the virus by not taking sufficient care while doing the essential visit shopping or exercising. The police may be spreading the virus by getting too close to the people they are ordering to go home. Delivered items may pass on the virus on the plastic bags.
    The reported cases may be multiplied by up twenty possibly more. If ten percent need hospital, then that number is the top of the curve that needs to be below the number of beds with treatment. This is the whole purpose of the government action – to avoid the NHS losing the battle and comparing badly with other countries like Germany, which ordered tests and equipment in time.

    • Stred
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      The number of cases in the UK is currently 25,000. The number of acute hospital beds is 141,000 plus the emergency private beds and Nightingales. If 10% need treatment then 2,500 does not look too bad at present. The number would have to be increase by 60 to exceed beds. Though the number of ventilators is likely to be no more than 8000, which will easily be exceeded if the curve continues to rise. But these only work 5-10% of severe cases. If the 2,500 cases rises to 25,000 and 10% die, then 2,500 is a long way short of the 20,000 that the chief officer thought would be a success. Fingers crossed. Perhaps the government should urgently look at ways to get back to work and let us buy plants as well as vegetables.

  14. NeverCrushedBrexit
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I noticed the US (New York) corona virus update, on TV last night, had the speaker on the LHS and the presentation bullet points on the RHS.

    It helped to understand and absorb the messages being put over, particularly the numbers.

    Listening to a long list of stats, at our own CV updates, is far more difficult to understand.

    Perhaps we could try the same technique in the UK.

  15. margaret
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    As with my profession I am more concerned about the health of each individual and measuring ill health does not fall into this category ,although the training medics receive today is more concerned with facts and figures . The many lectures we have to attend to re validate always include research and treatment is based on the evidence which when we take it back to the patient does not always sound plausible. A lot of evidence is gathered from people who meet certain criteria, for example a certain age , those without co- morbidities, a certain ethnicity etc. You have already cited the lack of certainty given different situations.I am not against research , however thankfully practitioners sometimes work outside current research and use their experience and expertise to help patients.Then we have medical management who do not understand the patient as a whole and boot down to ensure research is implemented to the book and this in itself occasionally goes against the patients best interest. For example patient may have had an episode of wheezy bronchitis for which we prescribe antibiotics and a broncho-dilator in the form of an inhaler. Med Man come along and say this drug should not be used without a diagnosis of asthma or COPD which is ridiculous as short term therapy can stop the progression of a chest infection into a situation where the patient is hospitalised . It is the laying down strictly of the written research that this book -learning can actually harm the patient.There are many examples apart from this.
    As for coronavirus ; since we don’t have accurate details of transmission I opt for an all round guard against it’s spread . It is difficult for the general public to understand unless they have been in a situation where every movement and contact transmits pathogens. I actually probably acquired covid – 19 sanitising all the places where patients sat with my head down toward seats. We are a practice which accepts many migrants from all over the world and more particularly Italy , Spain and all the EU countries .I have seen an image of lungs following a serious Covid 19 infection and there is not doubt that this patient died of coronavirus.

  16. Peter Wood
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    Germany seems to be weathering this particular Eurostorm better than the rest of us, why is that?

    From closing its borders, to seeking to retain its health equipment, to refusing to consider debt mutualisation and the ‘Corona-Bonds’, is Germany simply holding its powder dry? Germany already has control of the EU Politburo, and now, if it plays its cards well and doesn’t throw good money at wasteful Euro-member governments, it can wait until the pips squeak and then force the weakened Euronations to accept its dominance and control, all for pennies on the Euro. What will we do then?

    • rose
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      The big difference which the MSM conceal is that Germany isn’t running an international health service free at the point of use.

  17. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    I no longer watch the daily ‘briefing’. I’m tired of the robotic presentations, particularly from the political leaders but the medics are not a great deal different.

    The politician does the robotic grandstanding and behaves like the civil service mouthpieces they are. Big claims are made but they are usually of the ‘jam tomorrow’ variety.

    And by the way, isn’t it the job of the NHS to protect us, not the otherway round? All the praise it claims for itself when it continure to fail us is getting irksome.

  18. Mark Wagner
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    By using the Diamond Princess data, where every single person on board was tested, and the death rate is now known, Nic Lewis shows that the UK has likely massively overestimated the death rate. He has produced an excellent paper analysing the number here https://www.nicholaslewis.org/covid-19-updated-data-implies-that-uk-modelling-hugely-overestimates-the-expected-death-rates-from-infection/.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Hear hear.

    • Zorro
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      This is the petri dish simulation which they are studiously ignoring. Expect more obfuscation from the ‘scientists’ as they try and cover their backs.


    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      A comprehensive paper

    • Mark
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      The Diamond Princess hasn’t been reported as having all its cases resolved yet. The most recent figures I can see show 11 deaths and still 98 infected patients, of whom 15 are in critical condition, out of 712 cases from the 3,711 passengers and crew who were onboard. It looks as though the final outcome will be a bit worse than Nic Lewis suggests, although much less bad than might have been implied by some of the other epidemiologists’ assumptions elsewhere. Remember that the passengers are overwhelmingly elderly, supposedly at more risk, while the crew are mainly relatively young.

  19. ukretired123
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Is it true Vladimir Putin’s got the virus?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      You are as capable as searching the internet as anyone else on these threads, uk.

      • ukretired123
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Dear MICk
        Yes but …..
        Fake news propaganda comes out of totalitarian states! Hence not reliable.
        My question was after BBC showed him shaking hands with a CV19 doctor and mooted the point.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Well he gets 50% of everything – so perhaps he has half the virus?

  20. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Still no action from the government on allowing people to access their pension funds, ISA investments etc. without any penalty. Still no protection for people who cannot pay life premiums due to temporary cashflow issues. These are surely simple things the government could arrange.

    Talking to three different banks so far it seems that coronavirus government loans are a con trick the banks are simply not interested in offering they. They prefer to push people onto their expensive overdrafts, loans and credit cards and have not interest in processing these government backed loans.

    They either say you the owner have other person assets and security and should use that so get lost.
    Or we can offer you this (very expensive and onerous) facility so you do not need and we will not offer you the government one. So take it or get lost.
    Or your business is not viable so do not qualify get lost.

    This is if you can even get hold of anyone or get any reply.
    Offering these loans through the existing banks clearly will not work.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Still no pressure on the bank to stop charging 39.9% or 78% in one case personal overdraft rates or daily fees!

  21. steve
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink


    “If you can measure it you can manage it.”

    JR, consider this law of physics –

    If you cannot see it, you cannot quantify it.
    If you cannot quantify it, you sure as hell can’t control it.

    Piers Morgan was on top form today in questioning Robert Jenrick MP, on a number of issues including testing.

    It transpires our rate of testing is pathetic compared to that of Germany which tests at a rate of 500,000 per week.

    The pathetic excuse given is that we do not have the necessary reagent chemicals.

    Obviously, said chemicals are normally procured from abroad. So my questions are; which country do the chemicals come from ? which country refused to supply ours ? did our country help theirs in the past ? why has our country been allowed to depend so much on others to the point where we are in practical terms absolutely piss weak on the world stage, despite being the 6th largest economy ?

    When this is over the country needs to be self reliant, and strong on the world stage. We have the best farming land on the planet, the very best brains (except in government). We have resources many other countries would love to get their hands on.

    There needs to be a purge and humiliating exposure of every individual who has run this country down over the decades, and we must never allow their kind to get anywhere near power again.

  22. a-tracy
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I know someone off work in social isolation because their partner has bad symptoms and they have what feels like symptoms started, he was seen walking past then standing in a long queue close to other people outside a supermarket with his dog. I thought there were two types of isolation, one where people’s workplace has been closed down but they don’t have symptoms, these people are asked to keep food and essential item shopping trips down preferably just once per week and potentially up to one hour exercise outside, and the second more serious type of social isolation with symptoms surely their shopping trips were to stock up for a potential two week home isolation and they mustn’t go out potentially infecting others!

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      I should have added his girlfriend was with him.

  23. ed2
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Every year they are going to pretend the seasonal flu virus will kill 500.000 unless we go on lockdown?

  24. ed2
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Please flatten the curve of deaths John and while you are at it, fix the weather.

    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    If this so called Tory government is willing to crush the private sector economy, limit our freedoms and unleash upon us propaganda, explain to me why you won’t expose Labour, their past crimes and dismantle their client state?

    It’s almost as if this Tory government is targeting those who haven’t the political power to fight back

    Why is the BBC and CH.4 still allowed to behave like leftist political animals at our expense pumping out their vile, malicious leftist propaganda?

    Labour behave like gangsters and no one is exposing them

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      What “past crimes”?

      Can you please state which criminal law you accuse people of breaking and when?

      The criminal law is not “the way that Dominic thinks things should be”, if you please.

  26. ed2
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I do not even believe in the unproven theory of viral contagion. It is a classic case of confusing cause and effect, a virus is not the cause of anything. In the last few weeks I have smeared my hands on as many public doors and handles as possible and then had a sandwhich (I feel great).

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Leave voter, I take it?

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Pasteur’s life’s work was on immunity induced with serums and vaccines.
        On his deathbed he said to Professor A. … ‘The microbe is nothing, the soil is everything.’

        I suppose he would have voted Leave too….

  27. Caterpillar
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Sir John,


  28. Nig l
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    We see this morning the testing ‘shambles’. Germany has of course done umpteen more and we now see the pressure showing up Ministers as somewhat lightweight. For a so called world class society and service, maybe BS repellent spray is called for?

    • rose
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Germany, together with Japan and the US, leads the world in producing the tests and the chemicals needed to perform them. We don’t. Germany isn’t selling any of the vital reagents at the moment and the US are short themselves. Every country in the world is queuing up for them, not just us. Furthermore, Germany is braced for an increase in cases in the near future. Try to find out the true position rather than swallowing the MSM poison.

      Another thing you might consider: Spain rushed ahead with testing, not paying full attention to quality which our people do, and it hasn’t helped them at all. No test is better than a bad test.

      What use is a test of this kind anyway, other than for academic inquiry? Before the result has come back, it is out of date. You could be infected at any time. How can a million and more health workers be tested every day? We only have 44 labs and the available tests can throw up 50% false positives. Also false negatives.

      The test we want is the one for antibodies and that is still being tested – at Bristol University.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Without Mother EU, the wheat will be well sorted from the chaff. As I hoped 😉

  29. Caterpillar
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    It is unfortunate that the Govt has been unclear on the numbers, assumptions and implications.

    (1) When will prevalence data (hopefully by age) be available to Govt and to public? (Dr Harries indicated studies had started but did not indicate when results would be known and released).
    (2)What is current best estimate of prevalence?
    (3ai) What is current best estimate of mortality rate (deaths with Covid19 per number of cases)? [Assuming NHS within capacity]
    (3aii) What proportion of the deaths have comorbidities?
    (3b) When will these estimates be updated based on knowledge of prevalence?
    (4) What is the relationship between exceeding NHS capacity and lives not saved i.e. how much is moratlity rate expected to increase?
    (5) Given the flow-time of a patient through hospital and capacity to treat patients; what admissions rate of covid19 cases (a) keeps NHS within capacity (b) allows return to normal operations to begin?
    (6a) If current outbreak ceases with about 40% of population infects (lock-in R~1.5 homogeneous model) what will the effect be on second outbreak without lock-in i.e. will the reduced R due to community resistance avoid the need for another lockdown?
    (6b) Could the current outbreak cease with limited community resistance leaving the U.K. still vulnerable?
    (7) What is the estimate for the number of indirect deaths caused by lock-in, delayed surgeries etc?

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      (8) How are lives saved from Covid19 compared to the effect of the supply side shock?

  30. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Perhaps no vaccine will be discovered for this virus, and it will have to be dealt with by the body’s own immune system.
    I suspect this virus will go the way of others before it, which posed a risk at the time and then disappeared by themselves. So, flattening the curve is good as it will reduce the overall number cases, not just spread them out over a long period.
    At some point everyone will have to go back to work; the economy will make this essential, and this may be before the danger has passed.
    Best to keep business going, but for them to implement infection control procedures, to make the most vulnerable people able to go back to work safely. Infection control doctrine has to be learnt and practised, so don’t expect it all to be running properly day one of a return to work. Get it in place now.

  31. Sakara Gold
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    The short answer to your question is that we don’t have a clear set of figures on anything, because the government has clearly been manipulating them in a blatant attempt to put a positive “spin” on what is fast becoming a national catstrophe.

    Firstly, the government only reports Chinese plague virus associated deaths if they occur in hospital, where the unfortunate patient has tested positive. Those that occur in the community – in care homes for example – or where the deceased died at home under lockdown, are not counted because the government has failed to provide enough test kits. Once these are included the number of daily deaths rises to about 700 a day.

    Secondly, there is no agreement on what tests to actually use. Having checked this yesterday, I gather that there are numerous manufacturers supplying test kits to the NHS, there are several test kit scientific methodologies involved with no clear quality control of either manufacturing or test procedures. The result is large numbers of false positives and worse, large numbers of false negatives. So if someone sadly dies of the virus but has a “negative” test result, they are not counted.

    Thirdly, we dont know where the “hotspots” are, no current attempt is being made to trace the contacts of the superspreaders and the public cannot avoid food shopping in a “hotspot” as Priti Patel and her spooks have decided that data on the hotspots is a secret!

    After the abject failure to follow the South Korea/Taiwan/HK/Singapore model two months ago, particularly our total failure to close our borders – as has now happened far to late – we really need a re-think on this. I hear that the security service is delighted at the possiblity of being legally allowed to track people using their smartphones and identifying their “contacts”. I shudder in horror at the invasion of privacy that this will entail, coming from an organisation that failed to catch a single Russian spy in the whole cold war, not a one.

    The government’s treatment of the whole Chinese plague virus issue is fast degenerating into a uniquely British total shambles, the nation deserves better than this. In spite of the obvious risks, Parliament should be recalled to debate this disaster and work out a proper way forward to save lives.

  32. Thanks for nothing
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Oh the banks are not going to pay out dividends. Good I decided not to take advantage of cheap bank stocks,I thought about it as a refuge as they had good dividends, a safe haven.

    The government has so far lost me quite a bit of money and most of my freedom doubled one way or another my food bill.

    Thanks, but please Mr Government get out of my life and stop trying to help me! I despise you and hereby throw your gifts back in your face. I don’t deserve your love for me. your help. Now go forth! Go forth now!

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      The government has taken my travel freedom, then they took my work income and now they’ve taken my investment income STOP THIS LOCKDOWN

  33. Thanks for nothing
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”~~~~ Ronald Reagan

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      But you want them to help.

      You want them to give you money.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        NO! We want them to stop taking our livelihood on spurious terms which provides their money!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 3, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          The grounds are not spurious.

          Hospitals all over the world are being completely overwhelmed.

          Whatever need to be done to stop this must be done.

          Isn’t a mantra of the Right “the world owes no one a living”?

  34. Iain Moore
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    We aren’t getting any straight answers on the failure to ramp up testing levels. Is it because the reagent comes from Germany and they have stopped exports? Another example of the policy failure that thought we could import everything. Is it the result of bureaucratic inertia? Is it the failed strategy to centralise the testing in Milton Keynes rather than use the laboratories around the country? Who knows? Ministers don’t know for all they do is waffle on the subject when asked, and this is really not good enough, for as you say until we can get a handle on the level of infections we can’t get the economy back up and running.

    Another issue that particularly irks me is the report on the new infections. It’s close to useless to give us the regional breakdown for it doesn’t empower us to avoid areas, towns, streets that are hot spots of infection. South Korea gave people apps where they could pick up the postcodes of infections, so enabling people to take their own action to protect thesles, we are denied that information.

    Its all typical British state, where information has to be wrung out of them.

  35. ego watch
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Can I go to Church please kind sir?

    • rose
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      HMG wanted to leave the Churches open, though not for services. It was the left wing authoritarian H and S mad Church which insisted on shutting them.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Then HMG is weak, weak, weak


        • rose
          Posted April 2, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          HMG is no longer Henry VIII.

    • graham1946
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Wasn’t t Jesus who instructed his people to pray in privacy in their homes, not in crowds? He also would not like the dressing up box of the Bishops and their palaces.

  36. ego watch
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I think it’s worth investigating this ’60 odd doctors’ dead in italy. We are invited to conclude they died on the frontline battling the illness, but this is tellingly left to our imaginations not said explicitly. i know from a cursory study that at least some of them were retired and quite a few were dentists. It’s sort of wearying the way one cannot trust the MSM and one has to investigate everything oneself.

    • rose
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Never trust the MSM. Investigate everything yourself.

  37. Ian Wilson
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    You are surely right to question the accuracy of the numbers of cases and deaths quoted on a daily basis – they are too erratic to be credible, perhaps understandably. However if translated into 5 -day or 7-day moving averages they should give meaningful trends on which sensible decisions can be taken.

  38. a-tracy
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Surely tests of the staff looking after hospital intensive care patients is primary 1 because otherwise, they could be super-spreaders? If we don’t have enough test kits why weren’t they prioritised as now two doctors treating CV patients have died of CV19.

    When NHS111 have specifically told someone to self-isolate there should be a question on their form to tick if the person they have told to self-isolate does not have two weeks food to sustain them a volunteer (from the 1000’s that have volunteered) from their local area could call them and arrange a shopping trip for them – then one of the 7 big supermarkets (or a local store – although our local mini-stores are empty of key items) could box up their order for two weeks. They should get a one off emergency shopping priority.

    Moving forward I’d like to see our designers/engineers design a lightweight mask for hospital and care workers (anyone that will come into close contact with other people) that has replacement filters and a way to sterilise them, this to me is as important as ventilators that we’ve been told only work in 50% of patients put on them. Plus washable at high-temperature body coverings that are kept and washed at each hospital/care home and people change into their own clothes when they leave (this is assuming hospitals have washing facilities for the sheets etc).

  39. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Reliable statistics that we can trust are always welcome, but we also need to compare against other countries.

    With blair and brown both pushing the case for the unelected UN to take control of the virus situation, and subsequently everything else, I fear that this tragedy is being used for the benefit of some inverted causes that are generally working against us all.

    Postulating the end of this crisis is a useful tool, as long as it is then handled properly.

  40. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I am 80.
    My grandfather was a prominent Cambridge physician at King’s College of which he was a fellow. He used to call pneumonia “the old man’s friend”. It brought merciful release very often.
    He used to walk into a patient’s house, apparently, sniff and proclaim: “Cancer.”
    I am very proud of being his grandson.

  41. Iain Moore
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I gather they changed the method of counting yesterday , where previously it had been hospital deaths, they widened this out to include home deaths, which might explain the jump in numbers . If correct one must ask why the bad numbers yesterday didn’t come with a warning. With all this big brother ‘nudge’ and media management it wasn’t being used to squash any hope the public had with the flat numbers for the last couple of days, and get them to abide by the Governments rules was it?

  42. Jim
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Difficult, in a bad flue year we lose about 25,000 people without fuss or economic lock down. However CV-19 may be a bit different. If left to its own devices the toll could be much much higher – sad for people and more importantly very embarrassing to government. Hence ‘something must be done’ to flatten the curve.

    Flattening the curve may save some embarrassment but it may not alter the total coffin count much. The virus will go on and on. The only limiting factors are a decline in the number of vulnerable people and the development of herd immunity. Snag is the herd immunity comes at a big price.

    Which raises the question of a vaccine. About a year away and then there is administering it to all and sundry. As things stand we look like being in this for the long haul and with a steady rise in the death toll.

    There was the possibility of overtly or covertly giving up on the lock down and letting matters take their course. The economy might splutter back into life and many companies saved. But with the virus still spreading and affecting the big economies I see that option being delayed by politics so long we might as well wait for a vaccine.

  43. Everhopeful
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Well…30 people here have it ( as of yesterday) or at least they test positive for Coronavirus I imagine…that wide ranging virus that causes many upper respiratory infections.
    How many times 30 have lost their livelihoods, homes, partners, minds??

    Since at least 2003 scientists have been moithering on about Coronavirus and horseshoe bats etc so what did the powers that be do in 2015? What did the Italians do re getting workers for their “Italian label”? Mass movement 1918…no lessons learned.

  44. KEITH H from Leeds
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I wish the media would stop their hysterical approach to reporting on the situation. They gleefully tell us the number infected & the daily death total, but never point out that a large number of those infected have recovered. I suspect almost any death in hospital is put down to coronavirus irrespective of any other health conditions.
    It is madness to shut down the entire UK economy for an indeterminate period of time, with a government deeply in debt throwing money in every direction. We need a massive testing programme, if need be of every single person in the UK, done quickly so normal life can resume as soon as possible. We need to be testing 100,000 people a day as a minimum target, & closing to 250,000 a day asap.

  45. agricola
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Winning means having the facility to diagnose Covid19 across the population starting with all those in the front line of care for the sick. Additionally it means having a vaccination against it’s recurrence. Finally having no more deaths from it , a tall order I admit but it should be the aim.

    Once it is no longer the threat it is we need a radical rethink of how we conduct things in the running of the UK.

    If we are able to switch on a very large stream of money to support those affected by Covid19 why were we seemingly unable to fund the NHS at the level it demands. across all the medical specialties. I would add that the same could be said for other spending deficient areas like education, housing, roads and rail. Getting people back to work after a rapid hip replacement is a gain in productivity

    If working from home has worked, how much better it would be if it was formalised where possible. Elimination of time spent travelling and an instant increase in productivity. Plus of course a steep reduction in required commuting capacity.

    The acquisition of clear air due to vehicle journey reduction will be too short to have a measurable effect on health. However it shows the way. Not for the instant electrification of all transport with electricity we cannot produce, but for taking seriously the technical strides that have been made with the I/C engine in terms of emissions or the development of a large hydrogen producing capacity for I/C engines to run on. You are witnessing what our scientists and engineers can do in supplying the NHS with what it needs so let them loose on the I/C engine. The overall effect on national health is another productivity gain.

    As I said yesterday much can be done for the archaic system of government we have. A House of Lords of 100 members appointed on merit not on political affiliation. A House of Commons of 250 members with an operating system and equipment that is the best that technology can provide. Elected as now, but selected as candidates by the whole constituency. Many more referenda to settle major issues. Lobbying by A4 letter not by cosy lunches in restaurants that only large corporations and interests can afford.

    As far as I can judge you have 90% support of the population in the handling of Covid19, make sure you retain it in what you do in the aftermath. Do not for one minute think you can pick up where you left off and that includes not tolerating any nonsense from the EU on our departure, further delay is unthinkable.

    • agricola
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      So moderate it please.

  46. Peter
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Good luck with measuring the numbers then!

    As you point out, different countries seem to use different reasons for ascribing deaths to the virus. Some countries are believed to have suppressed the true figures.

    Political pressure may be applied to boost numbers to justify harsh lock down measures or then to justify a return to a more normal pattern of life.

    Competitive instincts may be applied to enable countries to massage the figures so that they appear to be doing better than a chosen rival (or rivals).

    ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’ as the saying goes.

  47. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    Each day we get the briefing from number 10 on the state of play as it is possible to know at any given moment. As is everything at the moment nothing can be read into any of it as no one knows outcomes going forward. It is not the time for guessing

    The bit that impresses me most at these briefings is those doing the presentations and answering the questions show amazing patience with the questioners from the so-called media. Time and time again the posed question is the same as the one just asked and answered and is primarily is based on ‘how long is a length of string’

    So it is a surprise that in the blog you are poses similar un-answerable question “When will they have flattened the curve enough?”

    Information from all quarters maybe based on the logic of the moment, but being able to project any meaning going forward would be naïve. China is supposedly ahead of the curve and on top of the virus – but the virus is now showing up again from a different direction, so a new set of detection and parameters are required. It could slow tomorrow and flare up next week, as the season change this virus could change. We do know this virus has mutated, logic is it will do so again.

    So it goes on around the World. All different battles, different approaches but no one has won the war.

    It is an unseen enemy to all on this planet and the only logical conclusion in terms we understand is when there is a cure and the World has been vaccinated, we will see the end of it. Anything else for the moment is just guess work which when taken out of context will breed unwarranted suspicions.

  48. forthurst
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The government has no idea how many people have already been infected by COVID-19 or are currently suffering from it or are spreading it in their local areas. The daily totals of new cases are hogwash: to paraphrase, the government are clueless. Without testing, tracing and isolating and putting hotspots into total lockdown with checkpoints preventing outward movement, is there a possibility of preventing this epidemic lasting for very many months and infecting the great majority; in addition, without blocking the inward movement of people can the re-introduction of this virus be prevented.

    As the government had ONLY been testing people who have been admitted to hospital with the symptoms of COVID-19, the mortality figures are the only ones deserving some credence.

    Why when the government have had the opportunity to study the epidemics in China and South Korea, going back to January, are they still groping around in the dark? Why when South Korea’s epidemic peaked at the beginning of March were they giving credence to a scientist advocating a policy of ‘herd immunity’ a fortnight later?

    The Chinese have admitted that only by taking the advice of a leading virologist to lock down Wuhan within Hubei and Hubei within China was the epidemic preventing from spreading equally throughout China.

    Should the PM stand aside and let a chemical engineer like Xi Jinping or Sir Jim Ratcliffe take charge? We need action, fast.

  49. Bob
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Something needs to be done to flatten the curve on overreach by the police.
    A chap who had £8,000 worth of tools stolen from his van gets no help from the police, but a month later he criticizes a traffic warden handing out parking tickets during the lock down and he gets a team of five police officers knocking on his door asking him to attend an interview because he caused the traffic warden alarm and distress.

    Meantime in Peckham a man harasses a police officer with aggressive threatening behaviour in the street and said police officer merely turns the other cheek (you can make up you own mind as to why).

    The police need to sort out their priorities.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      I have seen the video clips, and might I say I believe the police have sorted out their priorities, their actions are fully compliant with the identity politics our political masters think is so important.

  50. glen cullen
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    When cash is in short supply and the risks of unemployment is high the government (via the bank of England via its Prudential Regulation Authority) have instructed all UK banks not to issue any dividend this year to its shareholders

    There’s a lot of people who rely upon this dividend as income….just another nail in the economic coffin

    Why did our government decide upon this policy….it should be trying like mad to get liquidity back in the economy not restrict it

    • Mark B
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Why did our government decide upon this policy . . .

      It was unprepared. It was then frightened into doing something, anything, by doom ladened ‘predictions’ and an over zealous MSM eager for a good story. Those we place our trust in did not, unlike our kind host, question the advise or sought alternative opinions. It effectively became hostage to events and just reacted, and in a rather excessive way to gain some sense that it was in control.

      When this is all over, there are going to be an awful lot of very angry people, much like those that lost their jobs, homes, business and families, all due to the ERM. And the result, alas, will be much the same.

      You have been warned.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        It like they don’t understand the reality of whats going on out there

    • graham1946
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      The banks are behaving disgracefully as I said they would 2 weeks ago. They should never have been allowed anywhere near dishing out government money. They are causing delay, asking for things not in the brief and trying to charge interest on interest free loans (if they grant them).

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Its not the banks it the instructions from government, the BoE and PRA to the banks thats the problem

  51. Horatio
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks John. Very good common sense response. If we are going to destroy the economy and take civil liberties back to ‘1984’ then we must actually understand why.

    My one piece of advice to govt: PLEASE PUT A BUSINESSMAN IN CHARGE OF PHE!

    We are told millions of articles of PPE have reached the frontline but this news to the frontline! Who is managing this?

    I see that a British firm producing millions of pounds worth of coronavirus tests is selling most of them abroad as the UK doesn’t have enough laboratories to use them. Novacyt has made £17.8million selling its testing equipment to more than 80 countries. But only £1million worth has been sold to the UK. What is the govt playing at?

    The Chemical Industries association says that it has met all govt targets for delivery of reagent for testing even though govt claims otherwise as an excuse for its woeful testing record. What is the govt playing at?

    Oxford University has 119 machines that can be used to identify genetic signs of the virus, but Government officials have only so far accepted one. Insufficient labs is not a valid, weasel excuse. What is going on at PHE? If i performed this badly at work id be sacked.

    Please put a businessman in charge and make these useless public officials accountable. Lives will be lost and the economic future of this country depends on it.

  52. Polly
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional …www.ons.gov.uk › birthsdeathsandmarriages › deaths › datasets ›

    The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 20 March 2020 (week 12) was 10,645; this represents a decrease of 374.


    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Don’t give those figures out, remember its a pandemic, epidemic, half a million dead, complete lockdown, etc etc

      Stop that narrative it conflicts with our message….lockdown is good

  53. hefner
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Might be of interest to some here: Ethical Dilemmas in Protecting Individual Rights versus Public Protection in the case of Infectious Diseases, Infec. Dis., 2023, 6, 1-5 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

  54. agricola
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    If I am to believe the Daily Mail, the government initiative to get financial support to Covid 19 hit small businesses has run into the buffers at the banks. These paragons of financial virtue are imposing their own criteria on those that need financial help and in effect not giving it. My advice is to cut them out of the loop and make these payments the direct responsibility of HMRC who have the whole picture of every company and self employed person in the country. Government needs to act fast. Action today.

  55. APL
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    JR: “To get a more accurate figure most deaths would need to include a virus test, and protocols would need to be followed over how to judge the virus contribution to mortality. ”

    From what I’ve heard many of the tests of live subjects in NY are returning up to 50% positive results for Covid-19 antibodies.

    That would suggest they are approaching the point where Covid-19 dies out because it can no longer find more victims.

    What is the level of immunity in the British population? It’s my opinion that with open borders and a large number of Chinese students in all our University towns ( Just the demographic that can be infected by the virus but not even know they have it ) all through last year, Covid-19 is much more widely spread in the British population at large than the government models currently credit.

    And another question. Currently the government has sacrificed economic activity in the economy in pursuit of it’s ‘lockdown’ policy.

    Given that medical staff, Doctors, Surgeons, Nurses and other ancillary staff are in the ‘thick of it’ what is the risk of the COVID-19 virus actually being unwittingly spread from areas of high concentration ( our hospitals ) by medical staff returning home into the community.

    Wouldn’t it be a better policy be to quarantine medical staff at the hospital where they work, given regular tests and once test positive for antibodies allowed back into the community? Then allow the rest of the economy to get on with the day to day business of paying for it all?

    After all even the government advisor, Neil Ferguson has said “we will be paying for this year for decades to come”.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      Which antibody tests have been used in New York. Companies are only now beginning to release these and there have been questions on specificty and sensitivity?

      • APL
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        Caterpillar: “Which antibody tests have been used in New York.”

        I don’t know.

    • Mark
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 1:05 am | Permalink

      I note Neil Ferguson has yet to release his computer code for his model, despite promising he would do so. Perhaps he is now aware of flaws it contains?

      We need proper transparency over models and the data used in them. We should not be taking massive decisions on the health of the economy without that. This applies to climate modelling every bit as much as to epidemics.

      • APL
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Mark: “Perhaps he is now aware of flaws it contains?”

        For the love of God! Not CRU all over again, please no.

  56. Ed M
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I thank and encourage the government for what they’ve being doing under really challenging conditions. And especially the NHS. But others too, including scientists trying to come up with solutions.

    I would encourage the government though to focus on systems and technologies – that the Chinese have adopted relatively successfully – that would enable people to return to work more, and so we would be better able to manage our economy as well (not getting people back to work yet but thinking about / planning how to do this as safely and effectively as possible – when the time is right).

    Health is of paramount importance right now – getting the testing done and ventilators and so on. But we need to think and plan more about how to get people back to work more using highly developed social distancing techniques and technologies etc .. That the Chinese are doing relatively successfully.

  57. Edwardm
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Pertinent analytical thinking.

  58. nshgp
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    NICE publish clear guidelines about the cost of saving a life and when the NHS will treat.
    Why have you thrown that out for Covid 19?
    The damage and the extra spending far exceed NICE’s guidelines as when you let people die, and when you treat.

  59. NickC
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    JR, There is increasing evidence that health “officials” are getting in the way of clinical professionals trying to do their jobs in this emergency.

    I have already noted that one clinic to my knowledge (one of my children is a doctor there) had to tell the health authority they were going ahead with modifying their triage response, in the face of nit-picking opposition from the officials when every day counts.

    Now the DT (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/31/public-health-england-ignored-offers-testing-help-amid-mounting/) reports how officials failed to take up offers of testing facilities. The excuse the officials of PHE have given is the initial government “herd immunity” approach, as though that precluded testing. How could PHE know the herd immunity was even happening, let alone working, without tests?

    Once this is over the NHS must be dragged out of the centrally planned top-down, officials-know-best, “push” management style, rooted in the 1950s. The NHS must update to a modern “pull” management, where clinical professionals have the responsibility, and the officials are reduced to gofers – because that’s all they’re fit for.

  60. Free V Slave
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    U.Kingdom 1800 dead 66million Population, workers at home Imprisoned
    Sweden ……….180 dead 10 million Population workers at work. Freedom

    Get us back to work. We are on the same CURVE as Sweden but with a very foolish government

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      concur, we have put ourself in this position, we need a strong leader to reverse this economic lockdown

    • Mark B
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      According to the government, it is not about saving lives, it is about saving the NHS. Yes, Europe’s biggest bureaucracy must be saved from the people it was created to serve (save), and at the expense of the productive economy.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Indeed – PROTECT THE NHS – numpties


      • glen cullen
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Too true

    • anon
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      Social distancing may be easier in Sweden.

      • rose
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        In their pubs and bars? In their restaurants? In their schools?

  61. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Sir John, the simple message from more and more people to the Government and their hysterical ‘experts’ is that We Don’t Believe You!

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Especially when the statistics would suggest its no different from seasonal flu

    • Original Chris
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Lynn, and I believe that we have very good reason not to believe those “experts” who apparently did not factor into their models the normal/expected number of deaths among the elderly each winter from flu and pre-existing conditions.

      Of course the figures subsequently generated by those computer models for COVID-19 deaths will be artificially very high if they include the normal seasonal deaths amongst elderly people.

      They seem to think that we are stupid. However, my own view is that Boris, himself, could be accused of that. At the least he was unwise to accept these figures without first scrutinising them rigorously and carrying out a cost benefit analysis of the proposed policy. Why is trashing the economy and destroying livelihoods, a significant number irreversibly, considered a viable policy, and all simply to alleviate pressures on the NHS? Politics of the madhouse, in my view.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Let’s see if BB gets off his mild symptoms sick bed any time soon….


        • rose
          Posted April 2, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

          Some of us are worried about him. He is putting on a brave air, but he may be quite ill. Some people who have had the mild symptoms say they are petty unpleasant.

  62. Chris B
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The experts will think they have won when around two thirds of the population are infected and the curve is managed below NHS capacity. Unless of course a vaccine is available first.

    It’s possibly why they seemed dismissive of early interaction on flights, mass events and schools, and don’t seem overly concerned about testing and understanding the infection rate.

    It is to be hoped that there are mitigating factors that are not understood.

  63. Javelin
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    There will be a public enquiry into the preparedness of the UK.

    From what I can see the paper work on the response to a pandemic is all in place.

    There were a few critical problems

    – the analysis of the required required equipment was inadequate. For example there were no figures for how many respirators were needed

    – the 2016/17 pandemic framework said more information stockpiles would be finalised and made available for trusts, buy it never was.

    – the stockpiling requirements were not published for PPE.

    – the “just-in-time” delivery sources were not sourced, tested or secured

    – the requirements were a “framework” and not a “minimum standard” so they had no legal force on trusts to implement them.

    Meaning the army had to step in and release their stockpiles of PPE.

    Apart from those major deficiencies there is lots of hypothetical paperwork and planning.

  64. Data Please
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry Sir John, I’m generally a strong supporter of your views and especially your transparency via this blog (something badly lacking in others).

    However, I’m saddened that you are essentially supporting this blind response by the Govt whilst attempting to convey it as being data led.

    As you’ve mentioned, Data is the key, yet this Govt is being tardy regarding mass testing and haven’t done confirmatory testing of the so-called DIY kits.

    Please correct me (with evidence please) if I’m wrong.

    For the Govt to be recently enthusiastic that we’re testing 25,000 per day is frankly disturbing.

    At that rate, for the 48 hour test, my humble estimates expect it will take around 7 years to test the UK population..

    My understanding is that the DIY Kit UK Manufacturer is SureScreen in Derby. I expect their declaration of 98% accuracy would be confirmed by official testing

    Assuming that us great unwashed will make mistakes I think the Govt needs to take calculated risks, which I believe the majority will support..

    Maybe data from similar DIY kits that are widely used for a number of conditions, may help the Govt to determine the accuracy of the public doing such tests.

    Reporting simply on new cases and apparently related deaths without any breakdown in that data, in my opinion, is simply continuing to fuel an hysterical response to this outbreak.

    Why aren’t measures being taken to produce data breakdown such as the following:

    -) Cases of none to mild symptoms

    This will allow us to put the death rate into perspective and essentially allow us to determine both its public risk and lethality.

    Without mass testing we have absolutely no idea about the UK herd immunity, yet apparently this Govt is going to destroy our economy via indefinite, blind lockdowns.

    -) Cases due to those who returned to the UK with the disease

    This will allow us to understand how many cases are due to spread within our communities to justify blind complete lockdown.

    -) Deaths by those who were already suffering from chronic illness.

    And how many of those were likely to have died from those complications anyway

    -) Similarly cases and associated deaths from those with identified vulnerabilities

    This will allow us to reduce lockdown measures to those most at risk rather than across the entire society

    -) Daily death rates correlated to average daily death rates at this time of year

    This will help give us a perspective.

    I expect other criteria could be measured.

    This Govt is undertaking a catastrophic strategy more related to a panic response to MSM and Social Media hysteria than the scientific, data led response they are attempting to convey.

    This Govt is currently expecting us to blithely accept that we will have our jobs, savings, pensions, businesses and houses flushed down the toilet and future generations burdened with untold debt, untold unemployment, reduced services etc

    When is the Govt going to give us detailed reports on data led measures to tackle this situation rather than bland statements of we’ll be continuing with these blind lockdowns for an indefinite period ?

    Stop this Nanny State appoach and start treating us like Adults capable of rationising risk.

    I cannot imagine that using crude data, which simply measures cases versus deaths, to justify a catastrophic response will be tolerated for much longer.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Wise words and very good questions…only hope the government is listening

    • matthu
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:17 pm | Permalink


      is a good starting point.

      Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, Provisional should give an indication of the extent to which death rates are going up or are merely being ascribed differently.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      You do not need mass testing to know about herd immunity or indeed a level of population resistance. You need antibody testing of quite a small sample.

      • Data Please
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        If that’s the case it sounds like an excellent start, that the Govt may have difficulty ignoring (excusing) on the basis of resources.

        Yes, I should have been clearer on the DIY Kits, I was referring to the Rapid Response AntiBody kits, in that case 15 mins was mentioned.

        I was also inferring, because I realised my comment was getting overlong, that despite screw ups by the Public it should still leave an overall result on which Educated decisions / risks could be taken.

        I was going to estimate that despite Public screw ups we may see overall accuracies around 80% but recognised that was pure conjecture on my part.

        However from what you’re saying even, lower levels of Public accuracy could be sufficient to determine population resistance and herd immunity.

        I fear now that we’re already into Govt face saving measures, hence any talk of acquiring data will be resisted. Better to follow the herd of other Govts so our economic meltdown can’t be criticised, than understand our herd, take embarrasing decisions on the chin and give us and our economy a head start on recovery.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think they backed themselves into a corner because for whatever reasons they wasted 2+ months of warning, until inadequate preparations, made this current lockdown inevitable.

        But to be telling us that this economy melting, blind lockdown approach will be repeated indefinitely, I can’t it see being tolerated.

  65. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I’d like to see the statistics on how many people that have been vaccinated (for flu, or anything else) that have actually died from CV or have been shown to be infected with CV.

    Likewise – Have any people who have had no recent vaccination died from or been infected with VC?

    Now that would make very interesting reading, but somehow I doubt that such statistics would be kept…

    • rose
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      I am very interested in this too. Years ago a microbiologist who was internationally distinguished told me vaccines can give some cover for other things which come along. Some cover, not full cover. When Trump asked this same question he was universally derided.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Happens to me all the time – derision (:

        But yes, it is a serious question

        • APL
          Posted April 6, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

          On Vaccines.

          Take the much vaunted Polio vaccine. Look at the data there was a peak of Polio cases around 1950-52 in the US. Yes the mass vaccination program for Polio was introduced in 1954, but the number of cases of Polio had already declined by half before the program got under way.

          Didn’t stop the medical scammers from claiming all that easy government money for the vaccination program tho.

          What really did for Polio in the West, was improved sanitation and clean drinking water.

      • Norman
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        18th Century Gloucestershire physician Richard Jenner pioneered vaccination in the Western world when he used cowpox virus, later modified to become Vaccinia virus, to immunize against smallpox, eventually leading to its eradication. So the principle of cross-immunisation ought to be seen in principle, though it will vary depending on the type of virus in question, the strain involved, vaccinal potency and infective dose. So in practice, its quite complicated. I would respect Trump’s intuition – only the ignorant would scoff at his suggestion.

  66. Stred
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I wondered how the NHS could possibly take so long to distribute the PPE to the hospitals. How could iy take weeks to send a van full to every ITU unit in a country where it is only s few hours drive? Today the reason became obvious. A hot line is to be set up in order for hospitals to get through and place an order.
    They know where the hospitals are and that the staff are desperate for the equipment but they need s proper order and it’s more than their job is worth to guess what is needed and book a van to take it there and settle up in the artificial single market later. This says all we need to know about the NHS.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Understand your concerns, which should concern us all, especially those who work on the front line. but we are informed that 170,000,000 bits of PPE equipment were delivered in the last week, direct to hospitals etc.

      Given governments world wide are all chasing the same products, I guess that manufacturing cannot keep up with such demand, and that the price has risen dramatically.

      Hence the reason we should try to get manufacturers in the UK to switch to such products if at all possible.

      • Stred
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Alan. Staff are still complaining about the lack of proper protection in some hospitals. There was a report on ITV last week showing an enormous warehouse near Liverpool which was stacked high with safety equipment. It should have been delivered weeks ago.

  67. George Brooks.
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    First and foremost I must say the government is doing a cracking good job with an extremely difficult problem. Here we have a virus of which we know very little about, have no known cure, and no vaccine at present. Every health service throughout the world has limits on staffing, ICUs etc and it is of paramount importance that these limits are not overrun.

    Not knowing how or when infection takes place the government have been absolutely right to bring in social segregation to slow the spread of the virus but this has put them in the position of being between a rock and hard place

    Introducing the ‘lockdown’ was hard enough in some areas but maintaining it is going to get even harder. In order to keep us persuaded to stay indoors the decision was taken to use the statistics of infection and death but unfortunately testing for infection has run into unforeseen supply and facility problems. This has led to several inaccurate announcements which has given the media the chance to introduce confusion. Added to this the ONS has published the figures for the total number of deaths so far this winter against the 5 year average and the virus appears not to have caused an increase as current totals are in line with the average.

    It is vital that segregation is maintained for the time being and at least until the Nightingale hospitals are up and running, ventilators have a confirmed rate of manufacture and testing has reached the target of 25,000 a day. To do this the government needs to take a step back and establish strict rules for reporting infections and deaths.

    Some parts of the NHS report deaths when the person is taken to the mortuary others delay until next of kin have been informed and some wait for the Registrar. This causes the daily figures to fluctuate and gives the media an opportunity to scare or confuse us. Once having decided on the basis make it mandatory throughout the UK and publish it. Also do the same with the number of infections which has to be based on an established rate of testing.

    A significant degree of honesty from the government would help with both testing and PPE distribution. Public Health England and the NHS do not have procurement and distribution systems like Amazon but with the help of the army they have done a fantastic job from virtually a standing start.

    The publication of ambitious targets and forecasts will make the job of keeping us segregated much harder than if we are given honest facts on a sound foundation so that we can easily see how we are progressing

    • forthurst
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Is it April 1st? Yes, it is.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        Yep – I checked the calendar too…

    • Original Chris
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      GB, you suggest that there is a lack of knowledge about the virus. I would suggest otherwise.

      There is an immense amount of information out there which virologists and epidemiologists have been working with, hence the rapid diagnostic tests available now through Abbott Laboratores (results in 5 mins, 50,000 tests being delivered daily in the USA, thanks to P Trump’s prompt action and encouragement) and the emergency authorisation for use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat the disease in the USA.

      The people who seem to have been less than rigorous in their predictions of disease spread and death rates seem to have been the modellers that Boris paid particular attention to. Please do not tar all epidemiologists and virologists with the same brush. There is a lot of expert knowledge out there, but the channels/access to government for these experts are not always made smooth.

    • Mark
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      They could have asked Amazon to help them.

  68. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    To be really thorough and to differentiate the cause, suicides from the economic and social

    effects of the economic lockdown, should be noted seperatly

  69. outsider
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Sniping is always bad Cheshire Girl: the currency of gossips and the irresponsible partisan. But questioning plays an important role. Acting as a conduit for health professionals and others, media questioning has undoubtedly speeded up some official action, for instance on protection supplies for the NHS.
    Those with access, like Sir John , and the media, are rightly questioning and prodding the Government over testing. They should also be asking what treatment the NHS is currently giving to patients at the crucial stage when home isolation and cold treatments are not enough but before the last resort of being put on a ventilator.

    Posted April 1, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Minimum wage increased. Idiotic, backward and incredulous.

    This is the Tory party in full gutless mode. Acting politically out of fear of being attacked by the leftist press, BBC, Labour and the Marxist unions

    And so they crush business even further to protect their own party interest

    This crap wouldn’t happen under Thatcher

    What is the point of the Tory party?

    • Min wage person
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I don’t want a few extra pence I want my freedom back

    • Mark B
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      The State determining the price of Labour. Soon it will also determine the price of goods.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      The increase should have been delayed until the autumn.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 2:30 am | Permalink

      Indeed a job destroying & idiotic law that makes it illegal for some people to work (or even just learn how to work) even if both they and a would be employer both want this.

  71. glen cullen
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Number of UK excess winter deaths 1999/2000 – 48,000 no lockdown
    Number of UK excess winter deaths 2014/2015 – 44,000 no lockdown
    Average Number of UK excess winter deaths – 26,000 no lockdown
    Number of UK covid19 related deaths 2020 – 2,352 lockdown
    (source – ONS)

    • Mark B
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      And yes, they will claim that that figure (2352) was achieved ‘because’ of the lockdown. Even though there is no direct evidence to prove one way or another.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      2352 but this figure going up at 33% a day, 7 times per weeks, 50 times in two weeks and 350 times in three weeks. Unless the belated lockdown finally start to reduce the rate of increase. With perhaps 10 times this number needing hospital care.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Sorry lifelogic wasn’t it supposed to be 10,000 deaths yesterday from your prediction 10 days ago, and then you said that because of social distancing which was imposed last week it had miraculously decreased. Are you Ferguson from Imperial College in disguise? Nonsense!! Social distancing wouldn’t have an effect on figures until three weeks hence!


      • APL
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        In his testimony to Parliament, Neil Ferguson said probably two interesting things. On the economic impact of these measures:

        ” we will be dealing with the economic impact of this year for decades to come.”


        “We don’t know what the level of ‘excess’ deaths will be, in this epidemic, by excess deaths I mean by the end of the year, what proportion of those people who died from COVID-19 would
        have died any-how,

        but it might be as much as half – half to two thirds of the deaths we are seeing from COVID-19.

        Because it is affecting people either at the end of their lives or with poor health conditions.”

        In this epidemic one half to two thirds of the people the lock down is supposed to protect, will be dead anyway by the end of the year.

        And for this we have destroyed innumerable small and medium businesses. An action which will have severe consequences in terms of medical cost – depression, marital strain, divorce, and suicide, that Ferguson has not factored into his la la land model.

        And it going to go on for decades!

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      RT – no, I don’t watch it often – reported that India might have to deal with 300-500 million cases. They have 20,000 ventilators across the country. I’m disappointed that people still compare CV with the flu.

      • APL
        Posted April 6, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Sea Warrior: “India might have to deal with 300-500 million cases. ”

        India even today, barely has any sanitation. The implied comparison with the UK is just silly.

        This condition is a more virulent strain of COVID. That is its a more virulent form of the flu.

    • margaret
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      These were not due to superspreading events alone though .

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      But what is the number of excess winter deaths this year Glen – if it is £50K already with no end in sight then maybe lockdown is justified.

  72. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Given another sharp rise in todays deaths(563) and regrettably with even more to come.

    It doesn’t go unnoticed the recriminations have begun. A response on this blog only a week ago it was pointed out that in part the shortage of PPE was not directly the governments fault. As it is not government that is managing the individual hospitals. At the time it was suggested there were ample supplies in warehouses, just hospital management(those responsible for their smooth running) hadn’t requested/ordered any.

    It is not as I am aware of it down to the Health Secretary to do the daily rounds of each individual health unit and order their supplies for them. Accepting the blame when his management of these units gets it wrong is one thing, not addressing their individual ineptitude is another.

    Now today that self same management has been exposed for threatening their staff if they tell any one of the problems.

    Government is being incredible diplomatic in trying to keep everyone on side. The danger is it will be government that created Covid-19 and therefore government directly responsible for all missteps in dealing with this crisis.

    I have always had a problem with this over centralized form of government control and management. It can never work it is nonsense to pretend. The sooner it is recognized the responsibility for the day-to-day government is closer to those affected the easier it will be to solve situations.

  73. Ed M
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    It is believed now that Germany is able to carry out up to 500K tests per week. The UK is struggling at maximum 60K tests per week.

    Testing is key in the short term – but also in the medium to long term (including our economy). However, the Germans weren’t ready for this. They have just been super fast at responding to the crisis and ramping up tests over the last few weeks.

    The UK government has to really focus hard, hard, hard on ramping up these tests, any way they can.

  74. Norman
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Just wish the supermarkets could get their delivery and collection services up to speed. Since the lock-down, it’s become almost impossible to get a slot for either, despite our rural location. The little local food businesses however, have been a lifeline – including the milkman, who supplies many other staples.
    I suspect there are some ‘regular users of supermarket delivery services who are too frail too to go out, or lack the will to go on, or to raise the alarm, and are now going hungry. Perhaps proud of their lifelong independence, they’ve consigned themselves to bed. I’m reliably informed of one local who hadn’t eaten for 10 days, and when finally taken to hospital, died – not necessarily from CV at all.
    Sorry to offend, but there’s more to this than ‘Protect the NHS’.

    • Original Chris
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      Norman, it is proving impossible to register as elderly at risk, or special needs e.g. DS, on the supermarket websites. They refer you to the phone lines but then you can’t get through and they refer you back to the websites. Delivery slots seem to be unavailable even for weeks ahead and I have tried many supermarkets. Hopeless, and made worse by the ingratiating emails they send to me saying they are taking special care of the elderly, vulnerable and so on. They are not.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted April 2, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink


        Agree we have tried for three of weeks to get a delivery with no luck at all, eventually managed to get a click and collect booked for a couple of weeks in advance.

        Makes you wonder what all of these man with a van type self employed drivers are doing at the moment doesn’t it, why do not the supermarkets use them for the non perishable goods (tins and packets) etc.
        At least that would get something to some people.

  75. Advisor
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    The only way the govt is going to get out of this hoax is by throwing piers Morgan under a bus, metaphorically speaking.
    Get on with it.

    • Zorro
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Physically just as good.


  76. glen cullen
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    The UK covid19 recovered rate hasn’t changed for a week with numbers holding at 135

    With news that Prince Charles is said to be recovered yesterday, the number hasn’t changed

    I am surprised that MSM hasn’t picked on this. Surely this number is a key factor on the health of the nation and an important indicator as to when to lift lockdown

  77. Sea Warrior
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    The next few days? The next few days will see a spike due to people going to see their parents on Mothers Day.

  78. glen cullen
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Medical lockdown

    Identify & test patients, isolate patients (in house or by ward), cure patients, note recovery

    Economic lockdown

    Close businesses, restrict travel, stop dividend payments, restrict liquidity, allow collapse of markets, and reduce the flow of money tractions

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      I’m waiting for Boris to recover too. Should cause a massive jump in the recovery stat! Chris Evans says his whole family have recovered (no hospitalisation). My husband and I think we have had it and recovered. Symptoms seemingly as mild as PC and Boris – we were barely inconvenienced by the virus but may well be wiped out by the ‘cure’!

      • APL
        Posted April 6, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        Lynn Atkinson: ” My husband and I think we have had it and recovered.”

        There was definitely something nasty going around end of last year beginning of this. I had a very persistent dose. My partner followed the exact pattern reported for COVID-19, persistent cough, took time off work to visit the GP who gave a clean bill of health, ( Wednesday ) 2am following Tuesday, into hospital ER with an eventual diagnosis of pneumonia.

        Lynn Atkinson: we were barely inconvenienced by the virus but may well be wiped out by the ‘cure’!”

        I sincerely hope not. Good luck.

  79. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    JR – Why are some subjects eliminated from discussion.

    Anything to do with the NWO

    brown and blair’s history of being traitors, which continues

    UN treaties concerning refugees

    How the right are victimised

  80. Ian Wilson
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    @ Glen Cullen
    Excess UK winter deaths vis-a-vis the USA, adjusted for population size, attributed to our grossly inflated energy costs due to our obsession with renewables is 35,000 pa. (source, paper by Allan MacCrae)
    Nevertheless the situation on Covid 19 is extremely grave and tragic for both those afflicted and those who have lost livelihoods.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 1, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      An interesting article…the main point I got out of it was the normality to excess winter deaths

  81. RichardM
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Germany are conducting 500000 tests per week. We have only managed to test 2000 front line NHS workers in total to date.
    Alok Sharma just admitted there is no plan for mass testing. There is no timeline for an exit plan. Without mass testing there is no end to this lock in, and no end to unnecessary deaths.

    • everyone knows
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      Germany are conducting 500000 tests per week.

      You read that in the papers did you? Saw it on TV?
      Every time the MSM say people are being tested citizen journalists turn up and its all lies, all stunt for the cameras.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      Alok Sharma simply failed to answer almost all of the questions he was asked – so what was the point of the session? He said again the virus does not discriminate yet it clearly does. He said that the 2352 deaths were of those “in Hospital” really? How many who did not make it to hospital died? Why so little testing? How many of the dead received ICU care before they died and how many are in ICU beds currently? How many ICU beds do we currently have free. If 563 people die in a day then one assumes very many people must be in intensive care currently.

      Why not just be honest and open rather than clearly evasive and shifty?

      • zorro
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. Do you realise now why I have been asking for these figures, and surely you now realise that they don’t want to give them? He seemed to be behaving quite naturally in his delivery to me….


  82. graham1946
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Unless I heard it wrong on the radio today, Dyson which has 10,000 ventilators ordered is being held up by some govt quango who must approve the design. Only heard it once, so perhaps that has been edited out of the news. If it is the case we may be waiting till the end of the emergency. I thought the NHS engineers were involved in the design. Why the delay?

    • R.T.G.
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Those who spent three and a half years exhausting the country’s intellectual resources fighting the democratic vote on Brexit might like to reflect that the time and effort might have been better spent actually thinking about how to run the country effectively, including Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response by the NHS and others.

  83. Iain Gill
    Posted April 1, 2020 at 11:03 pm | Permalink


    Dont know if youve seen todays Trump briefing. Most interesting for what his docs say.

    They are not anticipating the end of this being a cure found, or vaccine developed, rather they are going for mass repeated constant testing, with contact tracing. So they can trace exactly where the virus is and isolate it strongly.

    Makes sense in the short term, at least its something we know how to do, and already have the technology to deliver.

    Wonder if our own decision makers have come to the same conclusion yet?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      but of course implies strong monitoring of each and every individual, including those in the criminal underworld, illegal immigrants, and so on…

  84. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 2, 2020 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    It’s about time we did an approximate calculation of the value of one year of human life.

    If the crisis goes on for a year the fiscal hit will be approximately £200 billion. That estimate was based on grants, a 10% default rate on soft loans, 80% subsidy of the wages of 10 million workers, and help for the self employed. The hit to the economy will be a similar order of magnitude.

    Now let us suppose that all of the Draconian restrictions reduce total deaths from the epidemic from 100,000 to 20,000 and that each of the 80,000 people whose lives are saved will live on average an additional 5 years each. We will have spent £200 billion to acquire an extra 400,000 years of human life. That’s £500,000 per extra year of human life. Worth it?

    My figures are only order of magnitude numbers but sooner or later rational politicians will have to make such calculations and come to a judgement as to how much damage to the economy is acceptable.

  85. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 2, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Small ventilators cost £5,000 each and the larger ones cost £25,000 each (source: Guardian)

    If the NHS takes 30,000, the cost will be between £150 million and £750 million.

    Compared to other items of Government largess, that’s small beer.

    And they will save lives.

    So what’s the schedule for acquisition, installation and operation?

    Reply Money has never been the issue. The Health secretary made clear he would buy how ever many they can make that work to the specification.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      reply to reply…..A specification only just produced? And why did we have so few available coming out of a winter when they might be required in a standard season?
      NHS/ Government really need roasting as to hopeless preparation and ‘forecasting’ – but then if we rely on experts who predict 500,000 deaths, and 1 week later its down to 5,000 – heads should roll – figuratively of course.

  86. Steve Hayes
    Posted April 2, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    To gain an accurate view of the size of the coronavirus one should look at all cause mortality figures. These figures are, of course, reliable, unlike the numbers thrown around for the virus. If one looks at the Office for National Statistics weekly death figures, one would see that fewer people died last month than the five yearly average for the corresponding weeks. This is the opposite of what one would expect to see if the virus presented the serious public health it is supposed to be. Indeed, fewer people dying does not justify the trampling upon our rights and liberties and the trashing of the economy. The Coronavirus Act 2020 is our Enabling Act 1933. The difference is in Germany there was substantial opposition, here there is virtually none.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Steve Hayes,

      I agree with your statistics point and retrospectively many may ask why the economy was trashed. Unfortunately the ONS stats are usually about 11 days out of date when released and then we wait another seven days for the next release. After the fact comparing the ONS stats with a winter peak will be telling.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted April 2, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      people staying at home leads to less car accidents leading to fewer deaths due to road traffic injuries, so death figures being like that does not necessarily lead to the conclusions you are jumping to.

      • Steve Hayes
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        Iain Gill The draconian measures restricting movement have only been in place for the past two weeks, which means they have not had any impact on the number of deaths I referred to.

  87. Ronald Olden
    Posted April 2, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan Ashworth has been been making party politically motivated comments about ‘testing’.

    So perhaps he could investigate why the Covid 19 death rate in Wales is so high. Corbynite Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford says it’s because Welsh people are older and less healthy anyway. (i.e. it’s their fault). 

    He’s lying of course, because the death rate is MUCH higher in Wales than in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the highest anywhere apart from London and one or two other densely populated conurbations in England where the spread of the virus is more advanced.  

    So could it be because the Welsh Labour Government took the policy decision to stop testing altogether in Mid March? I would say not, because medics say there’s no reason why more ‘testing’ should diminish the mortality rate. 

    All testing does is tells us where the virus is. But you can do that with small sample testing like an opinion poll. The advice to someone who tests positive or negative is the same as to someone who hasn’t been tested, but is showing symptoms.

    So there’s no point in mass testing. And what do you do with the vast majority who will test negative in a mass test, either because they had the virus, and it’s gone, or because they haven’t had it yet Keep testing them every day for the rest of their lives? The only use for testing is to find out if NHS are staff are off work unnecessarily.

    The only useful test of wide use will be the antibody test because anyone who thinks they’ve had the varies will be able to be tested and if they have the antibody can, for the time being assume they are safe to themselves and others, and go about their normal business.

    So in conclusion Wales’s plight must be be something to do with Labour’s NHS Wales being the worst in the UK.

    As for the UK’s actual deaths we won’t know that till the epidemic subsides. The fact that someone has died ‘with’ COVID 19 doesn’t mean that it was the decisive cause death. You have to make a sensible judgement of how long the person would have lived had they not tested positive.

    Would someone living the final days of their lives in a hospice for example be recorded as a Covid 19 death if they tested positive for it, and had the symptoms? The answer is YES.

    It’s theoretically possible that if Boris has fallen down the 10 Downing Street stairs last week and suffered fatal injury, he’d be counted as someone who’d died with the virus.

    The only sensible way is to measure the excess mortality rate by comparing the number who died from all causes in the affected months with the number who died in an average year. The total number of deaths in March 2020 were likely lower than the number in March 2018 and DEFINITELY lower than in February 2018.

    When all the facts are known I would wager that the UK will have amongst the lowest number if Covid 19 deaths in Europe. Perhaps THE lowest. It’s already touch and go whether the number will even reach the number of deaths in the flu epidemic of 2018.

  88. T. Llewellyn Jones
    Posted April 3, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Dear John Redwood,

    Please could you comment on the following:-

    At about the time the  lock down started the Government itself downgraded COVID 19 as ‘no longer high risk’ and is of lower status than Avian Flu:


    ‘ 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.

    The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) is also of the opinion that COVID-19 should no longer be classified as an HCID.

    The need to have a national, coordinated response remains, but this is being met by the government’s COVID-19 response.

    Cases of COVID-19 are no longer managed by HCID treatment centres only. All healthcare workers managing possible and confirmed cases should follow the updated national infection and prevention (IPC) guidance for COVID-19, which supersedes all previous IPC guidance for COVID-19. This guidance includes instructions about different personal protective equipment (PPE) ensembles that are appropriate for different clinical scenarios. ‘

    Please note that Prof Neil Ferguson is a member of the  Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens which endorses this standpoint.


    Many thanks,

    T. Llewellyn Jones

    Reply I have no idea why this happened

    • Ken Moore
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      I suspect it was downgraded as for most people, covid-19 results in mild disease with few or no symptoms. As with influenza some people have a worse outcome.

  89. T. Llewellyn Jones
    Posted April 3, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Dear John Redwood,

    Regarding your comment >>Reply I have no idea why this happened<< would it be possible to ask the Government is this assessment is still valid?

    In the spirit of promulgating consistent analysis this would be to the public good.


    T. Llewellyn Jones

  90. Chris B
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    For an objective debate we need the number of recoveries to be published, not just the number of new cases and deaths. This information is available on Worldometer for most other leading countries. The peak will be reached when the number of new recoveries plus deaths equals the number of new cases.
    With continuing low case numbers and deaths in the southern hemisphere and hot countries such as India, maybe it’s time to query the experts textbook answers on seasonal effects.

  91. Ken Moore
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    It seems odd that the distinction between those that die WITH the covid-19 virus and those that die OF the virus isn’t made.
    Excess winter deaths is the way that the severity of flu epidemics have been determined in the past . Why are we not being told how many excess deaths are being created by the covid-19 pandemic ?. I suspect that many cases of influenza would be attributed to bronchitis and other diseases. Because of the attention surrounding the covid-19 virus, it is being more widely diagnosed and reported as cause of death. I suspect the actual number of people that die this year is in no way exceptional – yet we will have plunged our economy into a very deep recession.

    ‘Between December 2014 and March 2015 there were 44,000 excess winter deaths, 2.5 times higher than the record low of the previous winter, and the highest number since the winter of 1999/2000 when flu levels were very high’.

    In a period of 8 days from the 21/12/2014 , the daily number of excess deaths increased from 120 to nearly 600. This was largely unremarked upon and life carried on as normal.

    What is the justification for cancelling cancer operations, closing down businesses that have taken generations to build, increasing mental health problems ,smashing liberty and smashing up the British economy ?

  • 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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