‘Our NHS’ will also have an app …
Today is April Fools’ Day. Usually, one tries to find the April Fools’ Day story in one’s paper of choice, a contribution to the hilarity of the Nation. In these times of the CoronaVirus Lockdown there’s one such story I wish was a joke – but sadly, it’s not. More on that one below. There are also reports on the latest numbers which appear to show ‘green shoots’ – not because of those numbers going down but because some doubt regarding them is creeping into some reports.
The reports which are not a joke are about an app aimed at tracing contact persons, to show if one was ‘in contact’ with someone infected (link). This app is developed by the NHS. Yes, that’s correct – government didn’t buy the app used in Singapore, a country whose response to the COVID-19 pandemic is regularly used to lambast our government, it’s ‘Our NHS’ which is reinventing the wheel:
“The government is set to introduce an app that will tell users when they have come in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. In the next few weeks Britons will be invited to download the app that sends alerts when a user has been exposed to someone with Covid-19. The app’s development was led by NHSX, the innovation unit of the NHS, which enlisted experts from outside and inside government to make it work and abide by strict EU privacy rules.” (link, paywalled)
How reassuring … This is how this app is supposed to work:
“The app uses short-range Bluetooth signals from a user’s smartphone to store a list of all the other app users they have come in close proximity to over the past few days. If someone in that list then becomes infected and informs the app, everyone else is alerted anonymously and advised to go home and self-isolate. A similar app is in use in Singapore. The user would be sent the alert about 24 hours after the incident and would not be told where the interaction took place to avoid users being able to identify the other person.” (link, paywalled)
A number of questions arise immediately: given the state of internet technology in ‘Our NHS’ where paper files are still in use – do we trust this latest ‘unit’ to develop such app successfully? How does the app admin (NHSX?) know that someone is infected and should be shunned? Are we therefore to assume that the government, in the form of the NHS, is now going to test every single person in the Nation? Who is controlling the app users, checking that they really are self-isolating? ‘Our Police’? Shouldn’t that ‘infected contact person’ have been in self-isolation already? There’s more:
“NHSX plans to appoint an ethics board to oversee the project, according to Sky News. It held an online meeting yesterday with a group of non-government organisations to discuss how users’ privacy will be maintained.” (link, paywalled)
That is truly reassuring, is it not! ‘Our NHS’ will appoint an ’ethics board’! Who will be on it? NHS personnel? Will they rap the knuckles of the NHSX admin people running this app immediately when abuse is reported? Aren’t our private data sacrosanct?
The next quote however shows which way this is going and how “government” in the form of ‘Our NHS’ cloaks this population control app with words of concern, for us peasants:
“In the UK, 22 per cent of adults do not have a smartphone, and this rises to 45 per cent of adults over 55, which has led to fears of health inequalities as those without the app will not know they are at risk.” (link)
I need an app to tell me if I’m ‘at risk’? Are these NHSX developers for real? Do they assume that there’s no information available outside that found on a smartphone? Will we be told to get a smartphone now, or else? In the name of ‘protecting us’ it seems anything is possible, even dropping the protection of one’s privacy!
Notice that for this app to work people must have been tested – and there’s a new culprit which has bungled this, according to ‘expert scientists’: Public Health England, or PHE. It’s a government organisation, under the Dept of Health. Here’s their website. It is, in other words, Whitehall. So no surprise then that the civil serpents running this were not exactly proficient, especially since dragging feet rather than supporting the Tory government seems an acceptable way of operation. As Whitehall is part of government, it’s of course preferable for ‘Our MSM’ to blame Johnson rather than the poor innocent Mandarins:
“As ministers face growing questions over the failure to ramp up testing, The Telegraph can disclose that officials have repeatedly ignored offers of help from many of the country’s leading scientific institutions. Meanwhile, senior health sources warned that the moment for this country to launch a successful mass community testing programme may already have been lost. Professor Matthew Freeman, head of Oxford University’s Dunn School of Pathology, one of the country’s leading disease research institutions, revealed that his repeated offers to provide dozens of specialised machines and expert staff had been largely ignored by Public Health England.” (link)
Is it ‘right hand not knowing what left hand is doing’, or just the usual ‘we know better’, foot-dragging attitude of Whitehall? There’s more:
“Boris Johnson has taken charge of efforts to source chemicals needed for coronavirus tests as the government admitted that they were being delivered too slowly for frontline NHS staff. Hospitals will be told today to test as many of their workers as possible amid frustration in government that laboratory capacity was being wasted because the health service was not ordering enough tests. However, NHS chiefs are pressing ministers to know when they will be able to use a super-lab for testing key workers, which was opened last week but has still not finished a trial period.” (link, paywalled)
Is it really the task of a PM to chase up deliveries? Isn’t that what Whitehall is there for? May we know why test kits were being delivered ‘too slowly’ to NHS staff? It couldn’t be because of bureaucracy, could it? And why are ‘Our MSM’ not praising the feat of organising that ‘super-lab’ but report moans about that trial period, as if it’s better to ‘do something, right now’ regardless if it works properly?
The next muddle, predictably, is about the numbers of deaths. Yesterday the ONS released these data, and it’s as if every death ought to be shown to be somehow connected to CV-19 (link and link, paywalled). This is how the ONS is collecting those data:
“We include all deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, even if only suspected: the gov.uk figures are only those deaths where the patient had a positive test result,” […] We include deaths that happened anywhere in England and Wales, for example some might be in care homes: the gov.uk figures are only those that happened in hospital.” […] The NHS hospital death figures are for anyone who has tested positive and died, so theoretically the cause of death may be an underlying condition.” (link, paywalled)
Does this mean it’s now irrelevant what a patient died of as long as CV-19 can somehow be shown to be involved? For comparison, you might like to read this article (link) detailing how other countries obtain their death statistics. Meanwhile, see this important information which slipped out:
“This data shows that, in the week ending March 20 alone, there were 181 deaths linked to coronavirus. By contrast, there were 1,841 deaths from flu and pneumonia – itself lower than the five-year average of 2,120 such deaths” (link)
Let those numbers sink in … While confusion about numbers reigns supreme it looks to me as if boosting the numbers of deaths ‘due to COVID-19’ is important to ‘our MSM’ and the government. Perhaps they’re needed to justify the Lockdown now and in future. Then there’s this extraordinary information:
“Coronavirus was judged a “moderate risk” to Britain by the government’s scientific advisers five weeks ago as cases began to surge in Italy, The Times has learnt. Scientists on a Public Health England committee, including the key pandemic modeller Neil Ferguson, met on February 21 and discussed the Covid-19 threat level. Recently released minutes show that the experts and Whitehall observers raised “no objections” to holding the risk level at moderate despite alarming figures from China.” (link, paywalled)
Yes, the lockdown-modeller Neil Ferguson was part of this group. What changed his mind? Remember: these are the experts on whose advice Johnson relied to formulate his policies for which he is now blamed.
In summary, on this first day of a new month, with Lockdown a fact and economic disaster looming, it looks to me as if our Cabinet has been kicked into mindless activism, to satisfy the hysteria that was being ramped up in ‘Our MSM’. It certainly was no longer a question of ‘keep calm and carry on’ – like the Swedish government is doing, a country which so often is used as model for us.
Instead, we’re drifting into a state where ‘Our NHS’ is poised to control us all thanks to an app, and that’s no joke, April Fools’ Day or not. Still, and for as long as it’s possible, we’ll