No more hiding behind the doors of No 10 because of “Science”!
Yesterday Johnson gave his first COVID-19 ‘performance’ after his return to No 10. He was flanked by the Vallance-Whitty Duo. Having watched it, I give Johnson 10 out of 10 for telling the Nation that we’re all wonderful, having shown the right spirit, sacrificing for ‘owerenhaitchess’ while telling us that the Lockdown will stay, but next week – oh yes, next week he’ll tell us about ‘the options’! He’s got a ‘menu’ of them, you see, and there’ll also be ‘a roadmap’ (link). Oh – and we’re now ‘post-peak’, but Johnson didn’t explain why this means the Lockdown must continue. It was as if Johnson gave us lots of sweets and sugar to make us feel good about ourselves so that we’ll accept the Lockdown – and “Teh Science”, of course.
Meanwhile, ‘Our MSM’ have been thrown a new scientific bone to chew on: the ‘R0 value’. This is the rate at which the virus spreads and the aim is to get it below R1. This wiki entry is required reading, especially since ‘our science writers’ in ‘our MSM’ have now all become instant experts in using that value to keep us scared and compliant.
Look at this quote, demonstrating that it’s not Johnson et al following “Teh Science”, but about them evading decision-making:
“R0 is not a biological constant for a pathogen as it is also affected by other factors such as environmental conditions and the behaviour of the infected population. Furthermore R0 values are usually estimated from mathematical models, and the estimated values are dependent on the model used and values of other parameters. Thus values given in the literature only make sense in the given context and it is recommended not to use obsolete values or compare values based on different models. R0 does not by itself give an estimate of how fast an infection spreads in the population.” (link)
We’ve learned during the past Lockdown weeks how wonderful those ‘models’ are. We’ve learned how PHE, how ‘Our Sacred Cow’ and how ‘our modellers’ have manipulated the numbers. Paraphrasing John Donne, it seems that for them ‘any man’s death … ‘ is a corona death.
It won’t surprise you that this R0 number is already used as a handy Johnson-bashing implement while ‘science’ correspondents engage yet again in futile comparisons of ‘us’ v ‘them’:
“Tough “suppression” measures were needed to drive R below one in countries that had allowed the virus to spread rapidly to start with. The UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain all now have Rs at or below one, for example.” (link)
So why must we stay under house arrest when the other ‘competitors’ are being let out already, bit by bit? No answer …! ‘Our MSM’ can indulge in government-bashing because they don’t have to make decisions affecting the nation.
I wonder what those correspondents would have said and written had Johnson for example closed all international traffic to the UK, such as NZ did – another MSM poster child for how to ‘kill the virus’. Never mind – with perfect MSM hindsight, “we”, i.e. Johnson, should have been ‘quicker off the mark’ – like South Korea:
“Countries that were quicker off the mark, implementing mitigation measures early or even prior to the virus getting a grip, were generally found to have lower R-values. Because these countries had fewer cases as a result, they had been able to remain more open. Hong Kong, Iceland, Switzerland and South Korea were all found to have R numbers of less than 0.68 while avoiding nationwide lockdowns, for instance.” (link)
I don’t know why this science correspondent didn’t also mention Singapore in his ‘list of honour’, but even an ignorant, uneducated peasant like me can see that these countries cannot properly be compared, due to differences in culture and plain size. Mind you – I didn’t know that Hong Kong was a country. I’m sure China will be pleased to know!
Fraser Nelson in the DT has put the finger on the spot when he writes that, R numbers or not, it’s not about ‘science’, it’s about making political decisions (link). That means Johnson and his cabinet. The time to hide behind “Teh Science” is over for the PM even as some of our esteemed scientists were launching another scientific trial balloon.
In good old ‘Project Fear&Hysteria’ there’s this report in the DT with the title “Second coronavirus wave in winter may be worse than the first, Professor Chris Whitty warns” (link). Oh dear! And it’s not even summer yet! Here’s what Prof Whitty said – it’s a lovely piece of ‘science speak’:
“Prof Whitty said: “We all need to be honest about the fact there are no easy solutions here. It is entirely plausible for a second wave to actually be more severe than the first if it is not mitigated.” Prof Whitty said health officials were attempting to assess what would happen if further waves of the virus coincided with normal winter pressures such as high levels of flu.” (link)
It’s of course also ‘entirely plausible’ that such second wave might not happen. Whitty’s reference to ‘a second wave’ is about CV-19 patients becoming re-infected. Of course ‘Our Sacred Cow’ must be protected from becoming overwhelmed again. “Health officials” will see to that.
It’s interesting though that a report in yesterday’s Times doesn’t seem to have penetrated into the clever minds of other ‘science correspondents’, never mind our ‘health officials’ or indeed those science advisers behind whom Johnson and his cabinet are hiding:
“South Korean scientists have concluded that coronavirus patients cannot relapse after recovering from the disease, despite hundreds of recovered people testing positive again.The new findings suggest that rather than indicating reinfection, the positive results were caused by shortcomings in the standard virus test. They will greatly reassure governments threatened by the nightmarish prospect of a never-ending cycle of infection and reinfection.” (link, paywalled)
Now isn’t that interesting – and indeed reassuring! The findings should at least influence Johnson’s menu, if it’s really about ‘science’:
Positive test results on people who had tested negative were the result of “fragments” of the virus lingering in their bodies, but with no power to make them or ill or to infect others, according to South Korea’s central clinical committee for emerging disease control.” (link, paywalled)
We’ve read about the uncertainty of test results, not even taking into account the contaminated ones sent out by China. But what to make of the CV-19 ‘news’ from the subcontinent? India is ‘doing very well’, with ‘only’ 35,043 cases and 1,154 deaths according to the worldometers site (link). You are aware of India’s population size … Add to this a report in the DT that Pakistan is also seeing much lower death rates:
“Pakistan’s death toll from Covid-19 is dramatically below early projections, raising the possibility the coronavirus pandemic is somehow proving less virulent in South Asia, the minister overseeing the country’s response has said.” (link)
While international health officials are puzzled, given that they predicted a veritable holocaust sweeping the subcontinent due to high population density, poor health care conditions and a prevalence of lung diseases, here’s a most intriguing explanation:
“The effect of heat and humidity on the virus, robust levels of immunity caused by a lack of sanitation and persistent malaria and dengue, or even some kind of residual immune-boosting effect from the humble BCG tuberculosis jab have been suggested as possible explanations.” (link)
Why then are we being told that BAME patients die in such high numbers? Is it our weather? Is it our ‘better sanitation’? Or is the virus in fact not ‘racist’? Who knows!
I wish the correspondents – political, science, economics – would grasp the one fact which has been emerging in the last few weeks: the numbers on which they base their Lockdown apologetics are inaccurate, unreliable and they are manipulated, certainly here in the UK, to ‘achieve’ that goal to ‘protect Our Sacred Cow’ – protecting it from us who ought to be protected from illnesses by them.
It remains for the indefatigable Sir John Redwood to talk about the economic devastation which is surely to follow the Lockdown. In his Diary today he looks at what the US is doing to alleviate the economic impact of their CV-19 policies. He is too clever a politician to draw an explicit comparison to our situation in the UK, but we can all read between the lines, e.g.:
“The huge downturns the fashionable anti Covid 19 policies generate are designed to do maximum economic damage to all but health, food and essentials and the public sectors. […] There are many arguments over the details and duration of the current health policy. There are no arguments over its economic impact. Everyone agrees it is a disastrous economic policy. […] The huge budget deficits, the big expansions of money can only be short term palliatives. The only sensible economic policy is to get many more people back to work as soon as possible.” (link)
Read the whole thing, it’s vintage Redwood! While he gently hints that keeping the Lockdown going might not be such a good idea, there are signs that quite a few of us peasants are taking things into their own hands. We read yesterday that traffic had been increasing and was nearly 56% of pre-lockdown conditions. Strangely enough, today is the first day that I can hear the background traffic noise I used to hear pre-Lockdown. The sun is shining, so it’s not ‘rain hitting my roof’ …
Could it be that, Johnson and ‘Teh Science’ notwithstanding, people have had enough and are trying to get back to normal? That they are no longer scared of all those ‘we’re all gonna die’ predictions? That we’re perhaps seeing the “Wisdom of the Crowd” in action?
Perhaps it’s just plain British bulldog spirit, evoked by the PM at the start of this Lockdown. Perhaps it’s also a warning to Johnson that we’ve been willing to let him lead but that, given what we’ve learned, we may now be prepared to leave him behind.
We’ll see – and meanwhile, keeping safe, we’ll watch, weigh our options and