Not going to happen

Britain must remain in full lockdown until June if it is to avoid the worst effects of the coronavirus, the government’s leading epidemiology adviser warned last night.

As the virus claimed its 1,000th life in the UK — a doubling of the death toll in just three days — Professor Neil Ferguson said in an interview that the entire population could need to stay at home for nearly three months.

That might even be true about deaths from coronavirus. It would still be a damn fool thing to do.

It’s the same with every expert in a field – even assuming that he’s right and Oxford isn’t. He’s solving his specific problem and not accounting for the harms done elsewhere of his solution. Closing down the economy for a few weeks may or may not be the correct thing to do. Closing it down for many months isn’t.

Our aim, recall, is to maximise aggregate human utility over time. Not having an economy to come back to doesn’t do that – for all that the economy not existing at all is mere extremist rhetoric. There really is some point at which the economic loss – because economic losses cause deaths over time – is a greater cost than the benefit of not having to bury or burn 20,000 or 50,000 or 250,000 corpses.

Estimations of those values will differ, of course they will, but the underlying concept is true all the same.

36 thoughts on “Not going to happen”

  1. The Meissen Bison

    Professor Neil Ferguson (who will draw his salary regardless) said in an interview that the entire population could need to stay at home for nearly three months.

  2. I’m going to hazard a guess that the exit strategy here is going to involve some mix of

    1) loosening the controls on movements of lower risk people
    2) turning the new hospitals into some kind of hospice/palliative care centres
    3) much more aggressive testing and controls on those who are positive
    4) let go those whose chances of living anyway are marginal
    5) hurry up the seroprevalence tests to see who’s already had it.

  3. I’m not seeing the logic. If the results don’t improve after a month of lockdown then the lockdown isn’t worksing and you might as well end it. Anyway I don’t think the people will stand it much longer. The diversity definitely won’t. I wonder what they’re up to these days? The news is suspiciously quiet on that front.

  4. And when the economy resembles that of Somalia, or maybe Zimbabwe, we will have the comfort of knowing that Prof Ferguson is no longer being paid, not even a pension, cos there won’t be any money.

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    As I said on one of yesterday’s threads, this will end when people start voting with their feet and I think that will happen when London has peaked because our Westminster focused media can’t see beyond their noses.

    Who will enforce it anyway? The police will be in no position because they’ll have lost all their remaining credibility and as we know policing only works by consent:

  6. In what sort of world does a complete failure such as Ferguson get to advise government? He is a Murphy-level twat

  7. Professor Neil Ferguson said

    The same Professor Neil Ferguson who said “up to” 150,000 people would die of Mad Cow Disease?

    The same guy who talked the government into unnecessarily slaughtering more than 6 million mostly healthy animals to stop Foot And Mouth?

    Who, except everyone who briefly glanced at his record, could have foreseen that this galaxy-brained genius would spectacularly fuck up his mathematical self-pleasuring of Chinese Virus 19?

    Member we used to shame people who caused disasters and they’d quietly piss off and retire/grab a bottle of brandy and a revolver as broken men?

  8. Fuckers won’t even resign these days, let alone go down to the gun room and do the decent thing.

  9. BiND, this is why I’m not on twitter and usually don’t click those links. Very depressing, I don’t really have much respect left for the UK police. Can’t Priti Patel get rid of that carpet-muncher?

  10. Death rate in ICU per admission is around 10% to 25%. It depends what you mean by ICU, where you are, and various other things.

  11. njc

    I’d add one more item to your list of five – loosening of restrictions by region, area, locality.

  12. ‘Britain must remain in full lockdown until June if it is to avoid the worst effects of the coronavirus’

    June of 2025.

    “What? We can’t do that?”

    The politicians created a trap for themselves. Well, beyond lockdown. If you are going to use the (questionable) authority of government to lockdown the populace, you must do so with a date certain end. Else you can’t safely – poliitcally, that is – end it.

    You must now keep it too long. Else the opposition burns you for “killing granny.”

  13. I’m expecting that the same boneheads clamouring for more draconian measures now will be shouting for the restrictions to be lifted in a couple of weeks

  14. Gamecock – I believe it was Polybius who explained Rome’s rise to preeminence by virtue of its culture which stirred citizens to acts of valour, civic mindedness, respect for elders, and fear of the gods.

    Of course, we’ve got none of that now, we’ve got Love Island and Twitter.

    So lockdown isn’t gonna work for much longer. If the authorities are too frit to execute a sensible exit strategy, the public will do it for them.

    Boris Johnson is now threatening Brits with even stricter measures. This is foolishly tone deaf of him, and his advisors should be having a quiet word about the dangers of freebasing on Lemsip. Ultimately the British (and Yank, and Continental) powers that be only hold power for as long as the plebian masses play along.

    Fear of Chinee Plague isn’t a renewable resource, they’ve already used up most of it.

  15. Re Ferguson being a big cheese advisor despite his awful track record.

    Who’s favour is he in?

    Likely the Senior Civil Service–the same SCS so recently in conflict with Blojo’s govt.

    Blojo has now received an economic/political hammer blow. Or will once people realise that they have been ruined or badly damaged over soddall.

    Even better Bloj has been induced to deliver a huge hammer blow to his own cranium.

    His only salvation might be that every other political turd wanted to do the same–or, as in the case of ZaNu wanted to do even more stupid stuff.

    However you stack it up –the Empire has struck back.

  16. I took a trip to Tesco this morning. As expected, queueing in the car park until 10:00 while the NHS workers shopped (coming out with trolleys not laden with fresh fruit and veg they insist we eat, but definitely over government recommended limits for booze, she notes..).

    But unlike last week, much less of the cheery weather are all in it together, mustn’t grumble!’ attitude and a lot more sullen looks at the staff seemingly enjoying barking orders to socially distance a little too much, and waspish comments under the breath about North Korea.

    And lots of rationing. Even for cigarettes (are people panic buying those?)

    This is not going to end well.

  17. There’s a good piece by Christopher Hitchens in today’s MoS expressing views which are pretty much at odds with the Panic Central output from DM/MoS.

    Großer: – you and German speakers might find this interview with immunologist and toxicologist Prof. Dr. Stefan Hockertz informative if you haven’t already come across it.

    It was ironic, if you like that kind of thing, that Michael (we’ve heard enough from experts)Gove saying on the telly/guido earlier that it will get worse before it gets better. Of course it will, else govt. would have to admit they have horsed the whole thing up.

  18. JuliaM – that’s a good sign tho.

    All of the weirdos and petty authoritarians who were frotting themselves silly over how a bad flu CHANGES EVERYTHING are in for a surprise.

  19. TMB

    Thanks for that – Hitchens has it mostly right.


    “North Korea etc”

    I was doing a bit of the same whilst in the queue last week. Maybe it doesn’t hurt to be doing more, if it helps challenge the current indoctrination process taking place…

  20. The campaign was started without defining victory, without quantifying goals, and without defining the exit. Ex post facto, it’s purpose was claimed to be “smoothing the curve,” though actions have been to minimize infections, not manage them. Not “smoothing the curve,” but keeping the line as low as possible.

    It’s going to take a great statesman to figure a way out of this crater.

    Not many great statesmen around. Trump, perhaps. He floated Easter as an end date a week ago. Got blasted by the legacy press. But then they blast him every day. This does show he’s thinking about it, which is a good thing.

  21. the staff seemingly enjoying barking orders to socially distance a little too much

    There’s a very significant minority of the British population which loves that kind of thing. We like to pretend it’s not there, aided by not being occupied in WW2, otherwise we’d all have a host of nasty tales about people shopping their neighbours.

    I still believe we’re better than most in this respect though.

  22. I see the idiot children (aka twats) writing for the Mail are suggesting the lockdown is responsible for today’s lower death and infection figures. Because a disease that takes two to three weeks to manifest is bound to react after six days.

    This is probably a blip but even if it continues (proving the whole thing bollocks) they’ll still try and have us under house arrest for months.

  23. Gov’t have now doubled it

    – Current restrictions could last for Six Months or even longer – UK deputy chief stasi medical officer

    All based on Ferguson/Imperial GIGO models – Oxford Epidemiology Prof vehemently disagrees

    @Roué le Jour

    +1 No logic on display, it’s all ‘must be seen to do something’ – even if counter productive:


    Similar here. It’s a farcical disaster created by State, HR & H&S twats

    Tesco Express today announced only One of each item – peeps must go out and shop even more often

  24. I did some elementary maths over the weekend. Some figures based on gut feeling where not publicly available.

    2019 UK GDP was $2.8tn; cable at $1.28 gives us £6bn output per day
    Estimate shutdown to halve output while in place, i.e. cost £3bn per day
    Original estimate if left unchecked was 500k dead; bullsh*t detectors says “too much”
    Revised estimate if left unchecked is 25k dead; bullsh*t detector says “not enough”
    Geometric mean of those two is 100k dead which smells ok.
    Most deaths are of people with a short remaining life expectancy. Let’s assume that 80% of deaths will have 5 years’ life expectancy and the remaining 20% have 40 years’ life expectancy.
    Thus total lost years of life = 80k * 5 + 20k * 40 = 1.2M
    NICE says 1 quality-adjusted year of life is worth £30k
    Total value of life lost: £36bn
    If it lasts 12 days and saves everyone then it will break even. If it lasts longer or doesn’t save anyone then it won’t.

    At 25k deaths if left unchecked we’re already past the point of worthwhileness.

  25. BlokeInTejasInNormandy

    Some more statistical info I stumbled upon while seeking to find what the distribution of time-on-ventilator looked like for L19

    It doesn’t actually answer the question, but there’s graphs and all. If I read it right – amazingly – not everybody’s going to die!! Preprint, so use with care. As usual, it’s curves estimated from observations, which are of varying reliability, and it’s for the USA.

  26. @Matt

    25k winter ‘flu/respiratory’ deaths is around normal annual figure

    Ferguson admitted yesterday that most dead would have died in <9 months if no CV-19

    Recalculate required

  27. @Pcar — I was trying to make the most sympathetic possible case for the action, which even those who have fallen for Project Fear Mk IV could accept… and prove that even under those conditions it’s not worthwhile.

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