Coronavirus - Strange times

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WillPS
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Kings Meadow Campus (former Central studios on Lenton Lane) Studio 7 is currently kitted out as a vaccination centre, although it doesn't seem to have been used in anger yet.
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iSon
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WillPS wrote: Mon 11 Jan, 2021 10.31 Kings Meadow Campus (former Central studios on Lenton Lane) Studio 7 is currently kitted out as a vaccination centre, although it doesn't seem to have been used in anger yet.
Come on down... The Dose Is Right!
Good Lord!
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cdd
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So the good news is that we will soon reduce deaths to almost nothing and hospitalisations to a manageable number.

The bad news is that some people are still talking about the need to keep cases low...
cwathen
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cdd wrote: Wed 17 Feb, 2021 00.37 So the good news is that we will soon reduce deaths to almost nothing and hospitalisations to a manageable number.

The bad news is that some people are still talking about the need to keep cases low...
I believe we predicted this would happen...

If it weren't so serious, I would laugh at Boris' suggestion that we will have a 'cautious but irreversible' reopening but with 'delayable' (i.e. reversible) dates. Those 3 words do not fit in the same sentence. He also still will not rule out Lockdown IV which is an absolute pre-requisite for an 'irreversible' reopening.

As it is you can be damn sure that if he steps out of line with what the scientists want (which I believe is no significant reopening till about June and even then not as much as we had last year) then another new variant will suddenly become concerning backed up by another dubious PowerPoint presentation with chronically over modelled consequences predicted.

The trouble is the only opposition to the government's front bench is the government's back bench with the actual opposition doing nothing. Then there are clearly divided loyalties when on the one hand the CRG can find 60+ signatories for a letter opposing continued lockdown but when it came to voting down the current restrictions they could only find a dozen. I doubt Boris, Hancock, Gove and the Pritster will be particularly worried about an anti-lockdown group in their own ranks which largely didn't vote against a lockdown, nor an opposition which makes a lot of noise but then inevitably either votes for restrictions or abstains every single time.
all new Phil
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So much anger on every bloody side of everything these days so you can understand Boris being non-committal about dates for reopening. As someone who is freedom-loving but understands the need for the restrictions we have, I can’t begin to tell you how much I despair at what a bunch of curtain-twitchers people have become.

I can’t believe the brass neck of the Labour front bench though, this week complaining about the economic cost of lockdown and how growth rate has declined more than most other comparable countries, whilst simultaneously arguing we aren’t being strict enough. Pick a side like, for all their other faults, the Tory back benches seem able to.
Thought this was a nice forum, clearly not.
cwathen
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all new phil wrote:So much anger on every bloody side of everything these days so you can understand Boris being non-committal about dates for reopening.
TBH, I can't understand his approach actually considering he is supposed to be the head of government and is effectively the country's leader. It's all very well for him to proclaim that he is 'making tough decisions' but from where I'm standing he seems incapable of making a definite decision and sticking to it. All I see is him being pushed towards positions by a small group of scientific advisors and having been pushed to a position ultimately taking a decision based on what other countries are doing. The real answer to 'when will we come out of lockdown?' is 'shortly after another Western European country does but not before'. The real answer to 'will there be a 4th lockdown?' is 'that depends on whether someone else does one'. This is not leadership.
all new phil wrote:Pick a side like, for all their other faults, the Tory back benches seem able to.
Exactly. Either we are fighting the virus at all costs and accept the price of that might be a permanently changed country and large scale deaths from the huge economic and societal damage which will result, or we save the country from that damage but accept that people will end up dead from the virus as a result. I do believe it is a binary choice which needs to be made one way or the other with full and frank admission of the downsides of that choice, this idea that somehow we can take a course of action where we get to have it both ways demonstrably doesn't stack up when we've now ended up with one of the highest death tolls in the world from Covid yet also have the biggest economic slump in 300 years (and the jury is still out on the societal damage).

Being able to tread a path which manages to simultaneously incense those who are both for and against the restrictions is an almost impressive level of incompetence.

But both choices are bad choices, neither one is easy and either will result in death. A tough decision if you will. But at least if a definite approach is followed then something will be achieved - and some people will be satisfied with the approach. Boris seems unable to do that.
all new phil wrote:I can’t believe the brass neck of the Labour front bench though, this week complaining about the economic cost of lockdown and how growth rate has declined more than most other comparable countries, whilst simultaneously arguing we aren’t being strict enough.
Starmer showing himself up to be a fence sitter is both a shame and incredulous given what a force a non-fencing sitting Starmer could potentially be. You can see in his early months that he really had Johnson rattled, suddenly you had a guy who appeared to be planning to move Labour back to the centre ground, who was up on the details, did research his facts, could construct arguments & deliver them in a calm and measured way and couldn't be deflected by the standard Boris approach of laughing and trotting out some pseudo-Latin quote.

But it's not enough merely to criticise the government's handling of this or any other matter; to actually deliver any power with that skill set he needs to make decisions and be clear on what he thinks should be done instead. I chastise Boris for being weak on decision making but Starmer seems worse. The lawyer in him seems to have made him so scared of showing his hand or playing it too soon and getting something wrong and then losing the case that he won't play anything and wants to just wait and wait for the case in support of whatever view he might have to build yet waits so long that the moment passes. Really very disappointing.
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Pete
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cwathen wrote: Wed 17 Feb, 2021 11.44As it is you can be damn sure that if he steps out of line with what the scientists want (which I believe is no significant reopening till about June and even then not as much as we had last year) then another new variant will suddenly become concerning backed up by another dubious PowerPoint presentation with chronically over modelled consequences predicted.
right...
"He has to be larger than bacon"
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cdd
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I think it’s obvious that we had to be in lockdown while there were 1000+ deaths per day. Even if lockdowns didn’t reduce it by much it would be unthinkable to add to that figure. I personally disagree but I can accept I am wildly at odds with public sentiment in that opinion.

But to quote myself from earlier in this thread:
cdd wrote:
gottago wrote:Strictly speaking it's not primarily to protect people who might get Covid and suffer from it, it's to protect the health service from being overwhelmed.
I hope you’re right. It won’t take that much vaccination before overloading the health service is no longer a credible threat. Unfortunately I fully expect the goalposts to be moved again
If the facts (genuinely) change — meaning a variant ineffective against hospitalisations and deaths — then so be it. But taking the accepted justification of lockdown, namely to protect the NHS and stop deaths that could have been prevented if they had access to treatment (which is different from aiming to reduce all deaths from Covid), nothing I have seen so far indicates we shouldn’t release restrictions once the over 50s have received at least one dose.

That’s why I don’t understand why Boris is obsessed about a low number of cases. Especially as we plan to massively further expand flow testing. I’m concerned we have subtly moved onto a target of elimination.
Jonwo
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Chris Whitty mentioned back in December that there is likely going to be a political decision down the line on what is the acceptable number of hospitalisation and deaths from Covid in order for society to be able function like it did before because it's inevitable that they won't be able to prevent all deaths much like they accept x number of flu deaths a year.
cwathen
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cdd wrote: Wed 17 Feb, 2021 16.58 I think it’s obvious that we had to be in lockdown while there were 1000+ deaths per day. Even if lockdowns didn’t reduce it by much it would be unthinkable to add to that figure.
I wouldn't say that is obvious actually. Some restrictions yes (Hands, Face, Space, rule of 6, limits on household mixing etc) but they should always have stopped short of lockdowns and closing the economy. Until lockdowns are ruled out, irrespective of what happens, we will never get out of them. Even if they succeed in getting cases down to tiny numbers (maybe even achieving days with no new cases) all that will then follow is the ceiling for what constitutes a spike or a major outbreak is lowered and suddenly lockdowns are called over tiny numbers of new cases because the expectation will be for there to be none (see Australia and New Zealand). They must be made unacceptable in Western countries in order to end them. Otherwise next thing you know lockdowns will spread beyond Covid and be imposed in cases where a year ago it wouldn't even have entered anyone's minds to suggest it.

I am fully reconciled to the fact that if we didn't do 2nd and 3rd lockdowns we would have a significantly more horrific death toll by now and the NHS would have been pushed past breaking point, but the question is not whether that is acceptable (of course it's not) it is whether the awful reality might be that allowing that to happen could have been the least worst option which we didn't take vs the death toll which will now follow from the damage these restrictions have and are doing which I believe will be measured in millions over the next 20 years (you've already got Prof Philip Thomas' study predicting the eventual premature death of 560,000 people purely from the economic damage, and that was written before Lockdown II or III - that's more than the worst case scenario for the total number of Covid deaths if nothing at all was done to control it). As far as I'm aware, the concern with new variants is increased transmissibility and resistance to vaccination causing them to potentially infect people who might not otherwise have been infected. However actual severity of the disease is unchanged and it remains the case that for almost all of the population the disease is not serious. Even numbers measured in hundreds of thousands have to be kept in context that there are 68 million people in the country.
cdd wrote: If the facts (genuinely) change — meaning a variant ineffective against hospitalisations and deaths — then so be it.
For me that change would have to be the virus mutating in such a way that it became likely to kill millions of people (in the UK) with no particular demographic trend making it impossible to try and identify those at risk i.e. it had become an indiscriminate existential threat and as such there is no possibility that any restrictions could do more harm than good given the overwhelming risk from the virus. As terrible as Covid is, it does not pose such a risk, nor do I believe there is any belief that it will.
cdd wrote: But taking the accepted justification of lockdown, namely to protect the NHS and stop deaths that could have been prevented if they had access to treatment (which is different from aiming to reduce all deaths from Covid), nothing I have seen so far indicates we shouldn’t release restrictions once the over 50s have received at least one dose.

That’s why I don’t understand why Boris is obsessed about a low number of cases. Especially as we plan to massively further expand flow testing. I’m concerned we have subtly moved onto a target of elimination.
You've answered your own question, because he's obsessed. When there was a pedal back on reopening in September followed by widespread support for further lockdowns despite the issues they cause Covid ceased to be an emergency and became an obsession - one of your own earlier posts put the question as to whether it should be not just important, but of absolutely infinite importance regardless of how bad a long list of issues you identified ever gets and the response you got was 'Yes'. Obsession.

What's interesting is that today Boris has said the focus will be on 'data not dates'. For me that is a terrifying prospect - if the data leads you to determine that this will go on for 5 years is that what we'll do? Yet within minutes Prof Mark Woolhouse (epidemiologist, member of SAGE, definitely qualified to have an opinion) pointed out that if we genuinely had that focus then we would now be pulling forward the relaxation of restrictions, not pushing them back as the vaccination programme has been more successful and the data is looking better than was expected. So therefore we go with the data and pull things forward. Yet how much do you want to bet that 'data not dates' will only apply if that will delay things, and in the event the data is taking you to a place that things should be speeded up, TPTB will be uncomfortable doing that and will stick to their dates for 'safety'? Meanwhile any alternative scientific opinion will be considered by definition the correct ones because it keeps progress slow and anything else suggesting a swifter reopening must be presumed to be wrong because it is uncomfortable, despite supposedly being led by the data. Obsession.

I do have some sympathy for Boris' views - I personally believe when he caught it he was much more ill than was generally known and it was believed he might die. As such of course it is understandable that after such an experience his desire to want to stop the disease may have moved from priority to obsession, but that doesn't make him right. And in fact calls into question whether he is too close to it to have any objectivity.
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cdd
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cwathen wrote: Wed 17 Feb, 2021 18.05 I wouldn't say that is obvious actually. Some restrictions yes (Hands, Face, Space, rule of 6, limits on household mixing etc) but they should always have stopped short of lockdowns and closing the economy. Until lockdowns are ruled out, irrespective of what happens, we will never get out of them. [...] They must be made unacceptable in order to end them.
You’re preaching to the converted with me; indeed I have spent the last several months relocated to places where lockdowns are not practiced (even as things got pretty bad), in Mexico and the USA, and will continue to do so until restrictions in the UK are eased to a point that I consider makes life back home worth living. I’m extremely lucky that my work allows me to do that, and maybe it’s selfish of me not to fight with those who don’t have that luxury and are having their lives destroyed. But I don’t think that argument is going to be won here and now; I think it’ll be won in the years to come, when Covid is in the past and the numbers are added up and the deaths are not current, and people realise that lockdowns were not worth the price. That won’t happen while emotions are so strongly charged.
cwathen wrote:For me that change would have to be the virus mutating in such a way that it became likely to kill millions of people [...] As terrible as Covid is, it does not pose such a risk, nor do I believe there is any belief that it will.
I agree, but I think you’re trying to win an argument that is both unpopular and, right now, unnecessary. As you say, based on what we know about immunity it is very unlikely that any likely new variants would completely evade the current vaccines for the most serious outcomes. I therefore believe the position of protecting the NHS is the right one to argue from, because it is eminently achievable in the very near future, and simply asks those who called for lockdowns to stand by their own words and the social contract they got the nation to agree to back in March.
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