There might be an unfashionable answer here

Government unable to explain its coronavirus testing failures and lockdown strategy

Because the process runs through the NHS, perhaps the last Stalinist bureaucracy in Western Europe?

Not that I’d insist it is entirely that, inefficiency allows cocks ups at many points in a system. But it is a question that needs to be considered, nu?

21 thoughts on “There might be an unfashionable answer here”

  1. Once it becomes obv that coro is winter flu+ at worst and that we have a huge economic reckoning ( both UK and worldwide) to pay–large numbers of those fawning over Johnson will turn on him savagely. Because if they don’t blame him it might be (even partly) the fault of THEIR reeking fear and unreason–and that can’t be right can it?

    The most sickening part is that leftist trash –who supported Blojo’s dumb moves –and cursed him for not doing enough stupid stuff ( eg Spud and food rationing) will be announcing that they knew all along that Bloj was over-reacting hysterically to protect –I don’t know –the money men or hedge funds or some other leftist cockrot.

    The faithful will swallow it–Orwelll understood exactly–“we have always been at war with Eastasia”. They will be called on Twitter but they will just ignore that and twit is a small minority. There will be not a word in the left-controlled MSM.

    And thus the mob will call for Blojo’s head and Gove stands ready to answer the call. Won’t the SCS just love that.

    And given the level of gen unrest and economic chaos –the emerg powers will stay of course.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    Isn’t it Public Health England’s job to organise testing?

    “ The agency, which has an annual budget of £4.5billion, bears the lion’s share of responsibility for running the national testing programme, which – we were assured by NHS medical director Stephen Powis on March 26 – would mean ‘we get to hundreds of thousands of tests a day… over the course of the next few weeks’.”

    Also, Matt Wridley Tweeted that he’d had it on good authority that PHE was turning down help from the private sector when it came to testing – I can’t find that tweet.

  3. The idiots at PHE are the primary culprits here. Both on the testing, but also on the strategy.

    I’m less convinced than Mr Ecks that this is winter flu +, although the full effect is difficult to work out:

    Things we don’t know:

    1) What percentage of the population are likely to catch it?
    2) What would the symptoms be?

    Things we know:

    1) What is the likely spread? (R0> 2.5 – I actually think PHE are wrong about this, I think more like 3+): Without strict social distancing exponential with transfer to most of the population within months
    2) It looks very bad for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Assuming that the death rates by age hold this means with 80% of the population infected, UK deaths would be on the order of 500,000-600,000. If this occurred without peak flattening, death rates might be double or more than this. Annual UK deaths is around 600,000 – it is as yet unknown what percentage of these deaths were statistically already likely to occur.

    The results of what we do know applied to the 80% infection of population over months depends on whether the wider population is as vulnerable as those who did catch it (there may be some immunity) and the symptoms. People point to the Diamond Princess as an experiment, but they did enforce a lockdown so it’s not like they simply let it rip through the population, so we cannot be certain if there is resistance to Coronavirus in the wider population. Nor do we know if the true infection and death rates are as high as this. Some data from Diamond Princess suggest that the death rate might be as low as a third to a half of the number given above.

    PHE are morons. We could have closed the borders back in early March and then tested and tracked down the ill. This would mean that the population herd immunity bollox was impossible, but we could then wait for wide spread testing and eventual cures. No need to lock down the population etc. Allowing these idiots to decide policy is a mistake. As for the WHO, another bunch of pillocks. The advice against closing borders was stupid in the extreme. And their testing, testing, testing mantra might have been a damn sight more helpful when the incompetent Italians stopped testing back in February.

  4. I’ve a friend who works on the COVID-19 testing in PHE.

    The chat I had with him last night on Whatsapp about the issues with getting the testing scaled up can be summarised with the phrase “Public Choice Economics”

  5. Ken–Why estimate 80% will get it?

    100% will likely be exposed to it.

    But as far as I know–and obv I’m not a doctor–NO disease in known history has ever INFECTED 809% of humanity or even 80% of any given group. The Black Death was nowhere near that nor any of the plagues or Spanish flu.

    Is there ANY real evidence that would justify 80% infected estimates?

  6. Bloke in North Dorset


    My concern hasn’t necessarily been the excess deaths, but the rate at which they occur. An excess of 200k deaths over the year will be a tragedy but within the management of the healthcare system, with some extra spending. Most of those deaths, plus those brought forward, in, say, 12 weeks will be a nightmare, politically and economically. Some balance needs to be found.

    On that score two good articles in The Critic, first by Toby Young arguing against lockdown on economic grounds, followed by Sam Bowman countering his arguments. Both make valid points.

  7. @Ecks

    “Infected” does not necessarily equate to “falling ill”. A healthy immune system catches quite a bt before things get out of hand.
    As is evidenced by the current CoVid/SARS2, where a lot of people develop mild to barely any symptoms, simply because their immune systems deal with it efficiently when they encounter the virus.
    So it’s entirely possible, even desireable, that 80+% of people get infected. It doesn’t mean 80+% falls ill enough to require hospitalisation.

  8. Grikath

    Interesting point. Many of us don’t get the full versions of winter colds or whatever are doing the rounds, despite being exposed to all sorts of traces of these bugs. Hence, probably “infected” to whatever small degree without really getting it – building up different immunities as we go.

  9. I haven’t had a flu since I stopped commuting almost two decades ago, I used to get a horrible flu twice a year, winter and summer. Most I get nowadays is a bit of a sore throat and the sniffles when I turn down the thermostat around two degrees around March/April. C vitamin for 2-3 days and it goes away. As a mild hypocondriac this past 2-3 weeks I’ve had chest quite dry (but no cough) and muscle ache (which could be due to dumbbell exercises). Food and especially beer still taste wonderful though…

  10. NJC – please elaborate… it would be really interesting to understand.

    Public Health England have been terrible. Their budget is insane- that’s 4 brand new hospitals per year every year, or 25 thousand ventilators. All we have to show for it are some anti-junk food ads on TV.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    I don’t know if its medically sound but there is a theory that the more colds and ‘flu we get the more immune we become to other variants and mutations of the viruses that cause them. Anecdotally I used to get loads of colds when misses BiND was teach infants and then when I started travelling internationally. I don’t remember the last one I had, its many years.

    I’m sure BiG or someone else is better placed than me to comment.

  12. @Oblong
    In summary:

    Senior management fighting for control for personal career reasons
    Middle management trying to work out which side to back
    Scientists focusing on the science

    Lessons not learned from previous epidemics
    PHE not organisationally designed to move from small scale to mass scale testing
    Internal systems not designed to change/move quickly
    Too much “we don’t do things that way” mentality

  13. I had the usual childhood diseases with no obvious lasting effect. In my 20s I had 2 or 3 nasty bouts of ‘flu that sent me to bed for days, though nothing that bad since, even when I started the international technical tourism stuff. More recently I’ve had stuff that starts with a fever for a day and develops into a cough for some days that drives me to the spare room so I don’t keep my wife awake, but probably only once every other year or so.

    I think some people have the genetic luck, compounded by early exposure to the bug environment, to have strong immune systems that can shake most things off early with only mild symptoms. This is probably reinforced over the decades so bouts of even mild symptoms decrease. Others never get to that state. What the proportion these days of strong immuners versus weak immuners might make a good PhD study, if it’s not already been done. Even better would be a historical comparison but the data for that is probably impossible to find or infer reliably.

  14. Doctors and nurses may be at greater risk than the public simply because of viral load. If it’s a numbers game it’s obviously easier to fight a few bugs than an army. You could call it natural variolation, which has been shown to work.
    So a large proportion of the population may already have been exposed and so has been able to build up some natural resistance.
    Whether that is enough to confer some degree of herd immunity I’m not qualified to say. Possibly, no on is. A remarkable feature of this epidemic is how little we still know about it.

  15. People point to the Diamond Princess as an experiment, but they did enforce a lockdown so it’s not like they simply let it rip through the population…

    It was free and loose for two weeks – on a cruise ship. The “lockdown” was for passengers. Other than wearing masks and gloves when delivering provisions to passenger cabins, the crew interacted normally (lots of close quarter mingling) for another ten days. After that they made them leave an empty seat between them in the mess halls and confined the symptomatic to their cabins, which they shared with colleagues still working. Plus the ship had common air conditioning. Not surprisingly, passengers still became infected after the lockdown.

    Yes, Diamond Princess was relatively short time duration, but it was very intense otherwise. Something akin to riding the Khan incubation express all day.

  16. It would be good to see how many tested daily not just the new cases rate.
    Locally they are only testing suspected so people with symptoms and likely contact as well as health staff, they have said they do 3,500 tests a day but new cases are in the 50 to 100 range so that’s over 90% testing negative. If this is a targeted group I’d expect much higher rates of positive.
    So the figures of over 50% of population having it seem high, or its been around longer than thought and a lot of people have had it and recovered without noticing something out of the ordinary.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset


    In my limited experience of cruising (1x 3 day taster, 1x 10 trip round Iceland and Norwegian fjords) there’s a lot of built in infection control. Antibacterial and antiviral hand wash everywhere with regular exhortations to use it. Crew very meticulous and lots of cleaning. There is a real danger of food poising whizzing through the ship, so it’s not there for fun.

    Not the same as social distancing but not typical environment either.

  18. BiND

    You’re right about crusing. But the precautions you describe are for norovirus, which spreads by hand contact, and won’t help with something that can also spread by inhaling someone else’s cough.

    And the crew typically live 4 to a small cabin, with bunk beds.

    And live virus was found on cabin walls 17 day after the ship was vacated.

  19. @Bloke in North Dorset April 2, 2020 at 7:52 am

    +100 DM article explains why NHS & PHE so sh1t vs Germany (I’d exclude %GDP bit)

    Re: PHE turning down help from the private sector on testing

    Correct, many reports of this and of regulators preventing new equipment being used

    C4 News “Good News”: NI to open drive through test in huge car park: self test, pickup kit in tent 1, drive to tent 2-6 and do test, then leave in bin

    Sounds good so far? Be patient, very patient – 300 per wait for it, not hour; 300 per Day :facepalm

    Vid @2m 25s

    This manufactured scare is proving to be the evidence needed that big state/gov is useless and dangerous

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