UK Covid Strategy

The UK Covid strategy has been led by hesitancy and populism rather than an understanding of the long term effects of early action, creating space for the NHS to breathe.

And now the ex-head of the Covid Strategy task force is asserting more nonsense suggesting that the mass vaccination programme should be abandoned in favour of ‘treating Covid like the flu’. There are an estimated 1.2 million suffers of ‘long Covid’ which is a permanent strain on stretched medical facilities and staff. Even if the NHS were privatised (which is the real intention of the most dishonest administration since before the Magna Carta) the actual hospitals and staff are the same pool of skills and as an investable or insurable proposition, it would be a disaster for the British population. The pandemic has multiplied the problem from being critical to ridiciously dangerous.

The Covid Strategy of this Government has been a disaster with the exception of the vaccination programme. The PM in particular has set a brazen and stupid example from shaking hands with Covid patients (and then surviving the disease) to hesitating and then applying lockdown thus a) reducing the positive effect of reducing strain on the NHS by locking down too late, and b) increasing the damage of the resultant wave’s strength and persistence. A two week lockdown at the very start of a wave suppresses the R number so can be lifted more quickly. Wait for that two weeks, and the lockdown must be extended for months. And that has now happened three times. Boris Johnson and his Covid Strategy Task Force have been a catastrophe to the UK economy. The Chancellor’s programme to save jobs and businesses cost more than it should as a direct result.

And then there is the Test and Trace debacle. £37B wasted on a useless app that has a ridiculous principle as its raison d’être – trusting people who would violate lockdown to be traced on their mobile phone to log in to venues and spending so much money on an app that is essentially three simple technologies combined is not only tragically unbelievable but corruption of the worst kind.

The disturbing trend is the Government is working against the voters by using sound bites, tricks and outright lies to gaslight the population. It is time for honest Government and it is time for this PM to be sacked by his MPs for turning the serious business of Governing into a terrible record of death and reactive stupidity purely and nakedly to maintain popular support. He has failed. Recent by-elections have proven that. Why do the cowardly backbenchers stay invested in this fraudulent menace?

The Covid Economy

It is not the virus vs the economy. That ridiculous idea has guided the USA and UK into the most unnecessary deaths. Italy was hit without any real precedent except China who controlled the virus after trying to suppress information at first, they locked down severely and halted its inexorable exponential climb up graphs. Italy realised what it had to do to deal with its severe outbreak, and although it took time, it managed to “flatten the curve” before it destroyed the Italian economy.

Armed with slogans and incorrect assumptions the UK Government lumbered into terrible mismanagement of the virus, led by a PM who ignored any medical advice and self infected shaking hands of virus victims while his chief advisor flaunted the lockdown (which was called late, with full knowledge of Italy’s plight) after calling for allowing what he called ‘herd immunity’ but is a human culling. The crimes of this government appear to be lapses of thinking but in retrospect you have to assume it is deliberate acts taken to excise care for the weak and frail from the economy, to take this opportunity to destroy the lives of those who were in its care.

The use of slogans acted as euphemisms for causing death. “Flatten the curve” is misleading to most as it refers to the growth curve. If a farmer places a single grain of rice on a chessboard and doubles that number for the second square, proceeding with the same pattern of doubling on every square, how many grains of rice will be required? The sequence is familiar to most computer programmers: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 (that is one row of 8 squares), the rice store has hardly noticed the demand. But by the end of the second row 256, 512, 1024, 2028, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768 – and the visits to collect the grains of rice are starting to raise eyebrows. But the curve starts to appear on the next two lines: demanding 4 billion grains for the 32nd square bankrupts the country. But before the end of the next row the world does not have enough rice to satisfy. That is the effect of a growth curve and to flatten it means to return to a slower growth in numbers before we return to normality. Except that another growth curve will start and that is the terrible mistake that the idiot in the White House made – when the growth in the curve stopped – the number of new cases was still high but not growing. It did not take long for it to start growing again.

The UK has fared better than the US in terms of flattening the curve, and reducing the number of deaths perhaps, but it has also opened up before the number of new cases had been properly quashed so that controlling the spread of any virus lurking in the community becomes possible (still expensive and requiring stringent measures). The daily new cases got down to one or two hundred and then the government said ‘time to open up’ and now it is back over a thousand. Fortunately the quality of medical care in the UK and the USA reduces the death count.

But the policy of balancing the economy vs the virus is not the best way to manage it.

And now the USA, India and Brazil have become massive virus factories, breeding mutations which have dire potential. The UK, Spain and Italy are similar but the UK had a chance where Italy and Spain were early adopters of the difficult to digest virus control policy demonstrated by South Korea and China. The lax thinking of the UK Government meant we experienced just as much economic damage and death – at least half of which were completely unnecessary. If the government had acted three days earlier. But which chess square did they reach in their gamble? It was about two to three weeks delay between when it became evident that it was possible to control the virus and lockdown steps being taken. With a doubling rate of about 3 days, that is square 6 or 7: meaning they could have been on the ball and reduced the number of infections by 50 times. But they did not. And then they only got new infections down to about 100 – 200 per day before opening up again. Hovering at over 1,000 infections per day may seem manageable but it is always a few days away from 2,000, then 4,000 infections. The death rate has reduced but the number of active and recovered cases is not available. And the statistics are not fully representative of the real scope of the infection and it’s spread.

Trump’s USA is so much worse, alongside India and Brazil – still on square 15 – and with policies that are too little too late to control the virus without halting the economy. A full two month lockdown would remove the virus from the equation. If people respected it, and if the President or the PM and his chief advisor flouts the rules and ridicules the cautious, then there is no possible unity in already badly divided democracies that have evolved into two sides bitterly out to destroy the other.

The disturbing trend is the collapse of liberty in the West and the rise of a more aggressive and controlled culture. It is quite predictable that America sleepwalks into electoral deceit and four more years of Trump seal the deal. America will become a third world superpower. A very dangerous aggressive and capable adversary to freedom. The Constitution is being eroded by this insane criminal pretending to be the best president when he is considered worse than Hitler according to Norm Chomsky. According to the chessboard theory: Trump could destroy America. He is over halfway there.

“They’re dying … it is what it is”

What is the difference between an Elephant and a Swan?

Is this something that Trump think’s he has aced, on his dementia test? Yes, he can point at an elephant but in his Axios interview with Jonathan Swan, he demonstrated that he is prepared to filter statistics to tell a story to show how good he is. As if shuffling bits of paper with simplified big block graphics that prove to the President that he is responsible for the USA having ‘the lowest’ of the percentage of cases resulting in death, ‘better than the World!’ as he put it. That is not what it means.

Disingenuous. Stupid. Not his achievement!

His statement: “They’re dying, it is what it is.” That is his actual achievement.

The percentage of deaths in the USA from diagnosed Covid is a measure of the quality of care, the level of technology available and you would expect wealthy countries to have invested in better medical equipment. Trump ordered the USA to buy up equipment and drugs and wants any vaccine to be available to the USA exclusively. So this trends of USA having better treatment options than The Republic of Congo may continue, however is the USA the best in the world at research and keeping the suffering alive, at least, until the election? Probably. But that has absolutely nothing to do with Trump, and a lot more to do with how Obama widened medical care to more population before Trump started to limit access by repealing this. It is just that contracts and laws take time to unwind.

What statistic measures Trump’s performance in controlling the virus? The percentage of deaths per capita is one, that measures how quickly the government reacted. Or the number of cases per capita. Or the number of cases now compared to peak of the curve. The Government of the USA has really been awful, perhaps only exceeded in causing uncessary death by Brazil and the UK whose governments have been lamentable, also.

Let’s look at what it means: The USA has recorded nearly 5 million cases, and 160 thousand deaths. Of these five million cases 2,276,450 are still classed as ‘active’. How many of these are actually dead? It is not logical that half the cases in the USA were recorded in the three weeks, is it? It also has the highest number of serious/critical cases at 18,407. How many of the 2.276 million active cases are actually serious enough that they will add to the death statistic?

Yes, the USA has tested more people than most, and therefore has identified more cases, that is true. but what do they do? It takes over a week to get a result. There is no way to control the virus spread.

The tests per capita – the USA is the 18th in the world. Even the UK is ahead at 14th. As is Denmark, Singapore and the UAE. It is not statistically significant that Monaco has the best testing rate, with a population of 39,268. Ranking comparisons like these are misleading. What is more meaningful is that with all the testing (60 million tests, second to China with 90 million) they have managed to not arrest the curve of infection. It is a reflection of the push to open up too soon, of a President in denial, leading a culture of not wearing masks and even holding a rally in Oklahoma that has resulted in a massive surge in cases there, of a government clearly patting itself on the back while actually doing very little to stem the tide of an infection pool (that encourages the virus to mutate) far larger and unconstrained than anywhere else in the world. Compared to China, the USA has done a terrible job.

Trump has reversed the Regan trope – this time capitalism lost against the great totalitarian communist state controlled socialism. And he has lost his trade war by damaging productivity. The US economy has turned into a betting shop with 5 trillion dollars of slush fund propping up a vulnerable market. It already crashed once as investors were spooked by the Covid crisis. Why confidence has restored when the premature opening up of the economy will in fact damage it long term is a reason for investors to be nervous that their wealth is simply an excess of capital supporting a massive contraction in activity and uncertainty of the very survival of entire sectors. Who will wake up and blink first?

If the USA re-elects this Government it is only logical that it will suffer a terrible fate, starting with the collapse of the stock market bubble, the virus killing another half million and the number of cases being measured in the tens of millions. I do not think that the USA is that stupid or ridiculous but it is also possible that their electoral system has been infiltrated. It is inherently logical that Trump is more than a useful idiot for Putin. He is an unconvicted criminal who mistreats women, exacerbates racism, abuses power and has brought the USA to its knees with his terrifying record of mismanagement. It seems probable that the Russian influence that got him elected has not slept through his enablement. Does he oppose mail votes as the Russian infiltration machine can not influence it?

Biden is actually exactly what the USA needs. A New Deal for the eradication of the virus (a three week shutdown is what it would take). It also needs to repair its social coherence and end this pretence that it is doing okay when it is in fact in a terrible state, propped up by a confidence that is increasingly vapour, the breath of a con-man manipulating statistics to prove his point, statistics that when analysed show how terrible he is.

Trump is an anathema to the Republicans, he has ensured that his empire will crumble. The Republicans should reopen and enact the impeachment and remove him from office. Then run with Lindsay Graham who at least speaks truth.

Beyond Belief

In badly affected US Southern States students have been holding Coronavirus Parties with a cash prize for the first person to test positive for the virus. These grim ‘parties’ invite or are hosted by a person who has tested positive. Why? Apparently due to ideas that the virus is fake, a conspiracy, a plot or scheme of underhanded Government or Government agencies. These students do not ‘believe’ that a percentage of them are in danger of permanent damage or infecting others. What possibly could have convinced them to ignore the warnings of the medical profession and the WHO, scientists in general and instead go along with the idea that they are in some unknown way protected from the reality of hospitals overrun with patients?

Quite possibly these students are stupid. But the words of politicians may have an influence as well as the usual sub-currents of suspicion of authority and distrust of government spreading through social media and word of mouth. It is very likely that social acceptance your peers in teenagers trumps reading newspapers or listening to news reports. The great government conspiracy, everyone knows, is out to curtail your freedoms and wants to violate your person by injecting tracking chips under your skin so they can control you. Social pressure to be cool and accept that this sort of logic is valid and being spoon fed knowledge is easily summed up as part of the process of that troublesome transition between the innocence of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood, requiring rejection of childhood influences and the formation of independent thinking.

That these children becoming adults listen to Trump as the voice of dissent is troublesome. That Trump is seen as a sort of counter-culture hero by some is upside-down. He is rich, privileged and ridiculous. He has proven that, himself. He does not need the ‘radical Left’ to make him look stupid, he is fairly good at that, himself.

Evolution seems to be on the side of reason, for a change.

battle black blur board game

Magical Thinking

Mathematics is concerned most often with certainties. If x plus y equals z, then 2x plus y equals zx. That sort of thinking is not arrogant, it is simply one way or the other.

Magical thinking believes that given a few little tweeks you can make 2+2 equal what the hell you want it to be, and for Americans, at this critical juncture in history, over half want it to mean an end to the president’s continuous distortions of the truth to benefit himself, and a return to more honest leadership in their interests.

But thinking that more of the same is somehow going to change the future because bad luck can not rule forever is simply fanciful. The facts are stark, Trump has led America into the death of a very significant number of people, and the injury to the lives of possibly more by being too optimistic about a virus as though he could somehow negotiate with inevitability and look good because he predicted it would magically go away. Unfortunately his misdirection backfired and the killed 132,000 Americans. That number is not going to magically reduce, it will inexorably increase. And he is proud of his record! Look how great he is! It is painfully obvious he is damaging the USA more seriously than any person in the last two hundred years. And yet, 30% or so will still vote for him, even as their family members die because they attended a Maga rally.

Magical thinking also infects the Government of the UK. Believing that this crisis is over when there are still 500 new infections in a day, because it is not at the level it was, is a failure to understand the mathematics of viral spread. 500 new infections means that there are well over 100 hotspots where he virus is not contained. 500 can be doubled to a nice round 1000, and then if the R rate jumps to 2, the number of infections returns to 8,000 in a couple of weeks. Rationality is to get the infection rate down below 10, then you have more time to control any pockets of infection.

The virus has mutated, mainly due to the unrestrained infection rate. Every person infected adds genetic information to the virus, and increases its chances of survival in our bodies. The mutation makes the virus more contagious. The only way we can control it is to reduce the pool of bodies it currently infects to those in hospital, and no others.

The other terribly difficult issue is if the progress of the virus is not defeated and the UK crashes out of the EU without a trade deal at the end of the year, poverty will become more widespread. Poverty is the best friend of the virus – desperate people still need food, but can not isolate so easily.

So the luxury of being able to open up early is magical thinking and it will prolong the economic damage into next year when the threat of more expensive food imports will destroy the lives of a larger percentage of people who simply have debts: student loans, mortgages, vehicle loans, and most significantly, credit cards, leveraging their ability to pay and support themselves in the face of extended lockdowns and economic false starts.

No, Mr Johnson, and Mr Cummings. Your machinations are like Mr Trump’s. Magical thinking. And it will be the ruin of many average people.

Tory backbenchers who support Johnson’s insane government, beware. Your constituents will become increasingly aware you did nothing to prevent the most destructive Government in the UK’s history from destroying their lives.

Also read …

The Guardian on Brexit in the Covid-19 era

coronavirus

The Origin of Covid-19

covid-19
Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

Here we go, Mike Pompeo asserts that the virus ‘originated’ in the Wuhan laboratory, who deny that they have ever sequenced the virus before the outbreak. America is trying to undo the Chinese Communist Party rule by inviting Taiwan to a WHO body, and China may be ramping up its military muscle over Taiwan.

The USA Government is trying to lay blame on China for mismanagement of the virus outbreak despite the fact that China after initially trying to suppress information, China published full sequencing of the virus and cooperated with the WHO. The USA withholds funds from the WHO.

China (without information from other outbreaks) managed its outbreak and America, with information from China, Korea, and Japan botched its response so badly their death rate is so far 20x China’s and by far the worst in the world.

Deflection propaganda is in full play by this self-centered and destructive administration governing the USA.

Consider the ridiculous argument the White House is asserting: it also means a) the virus is not sourced in nature, and b) it’s spread was intentional. To accuse China of the deliberate massacre of potentially millions requires very solid evidence to be credible. But to say that they crafted the virus requires a level of science and bravado that only the USA has employed in its play for dominance in the world. It is also a bit silly – millions of viruses are sourced in nature and could and do jump species, but only a handful presents a challenge to immunity that evolved over time with us to protect us from infection.

Total Cases of Covid-19 infection, World
Compare USA cases (right) as the rate driving the worldwide infection rate

It will happen again. It is how we craft our political response and empower science and medicine that limits the destruction of a virus our biology does not deal with swiftly. We are not there yet, despite what we learned from the 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ outbreak. Despite our successful containment and eradication of SARS and MERS. Despite what we could learn from the Covid-19 outbreak.

The plague sweeping over America is predictably going to claim millions of lives if the growth curve of infection continues to rise exponentially. The end of containment has happened. If the infection rates do not subside over summer, growth in the fall is inevitable.

Every country in the world has to cooperate to reduce infection to zero, instead, America has taken the risky course of infecting its most vulnerable (i.e. anyone) and survival of those with natural immunity until the vaccine arrives. The moment they found a drug can help treat the symptoms, the arguments for containment and mitigation were rolled over by the economic argument that is based on a fear of tax increases required to support the isolation measures.

America justifies its lack of management, pats itself on the back for its ‘incredible’ response and the only real hope the world has is in a vaccine that has yet to be found. The response by President Trump, in particular, has been spectacularly wrong and misguided, ineffective and dangerous.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/five-eyes-network-contradicts-theory-covid-19-leaked-from-lab

low angle view of lighting equipment on shelf

Lies and Statistics

Trump is guilty of misrepresenting the truth, within 24 hours he tries to fool people by saying he was being sarcastic to the media when saying people could take disinfectant into the lungs, when, clearly and obviously he was not. He appeared earnestly serious, trying to be ‘the man’ who ‘found the cure’ by suggesting something which seemed logical to him in the moment and asking his medical experts if this could be a feasible cure. That he did this was not the issue, that he did this in a press briefing designed by his deputy to inform the public, and taken over by him for obvious reasons of continuous exposure is utterly beyond contempt. That he then recommended to his willing faithful that they should take hydroxychloroquine – ‘just take it – what do you have to lose’ and more recently light and disinfectant to the lungs, or injected into the bloodstream not only reveals his rampant desire to be ‘the one’ who found a cure, the miracle man – but a complete ignorance on the role of the press. He then plainly and obviously lied about it – saying he was being sarcastic. For what exact purpose? To elevate him above the evil media who criticise him? To assuage his aching ego?

His personal measure of success, the stock market, has betrayed him and with any luck destroyed his electoral chance as people start to really feel the bite in November. ‘Winter is coming’ and death stalks the dishonest dealer.

And then the UK, representing their Covid-19 deaths statistic by only counting those that occurred in hospitals and the total count only tests conducted in hospitals, ignoring the more horrific measure of grief, people who died in their own homes and the sad horror of the convenient reduction in the care-home population being left out of daily media reports.

Well, here it is – as we pass by the grim 20,000 death ‘threshold’, the FT has published a ‘conservative estimate’ of 41,000 total deaths, making the UK and the USA the two countries that have badly mismanaged the outbreak – the very worst in the world – and by a grim and significant margin. And the worst of this is yet to come.

(Source: FT linked article included here for clarity)

Both countries reduced the message and allowed the pride of its population to attend events in March or congregate in ‘freedom’ protests encouraged by President Trump in April, while other badly hit EU countries are starting to recover, the UK and the USA are relealing an accelerating infection and consequential death rate, and can not even be honest about their numbers. Because they are so terrible they do not really even know. Because the Executive branch of the USA government is dysfunctional, and the UK Government is run by dishonest and rather useless ministers.

Boris Johnson and Trump have carved their places in the very flesh of history. They will be remembered, certainly.

The Danger of Polarisation

The middle ground offers the least amount of danger, overall.

Total lockdown has to be temporary. It is analogous to repairing a car, you have to turn the engine off. But to drive the car, you have to have a running motor.

Too rapid or even total exposure would overwhelm our health systems, fill hospitals and quickly expose how (in the UK) Tory governments ignored the demands of the health and other social systems in their 10-year austerity quest: now ridiculous as they have to spend so much more to protect the economy from a single viral contagion.

The middle ground is to allow some return to productivity. Those who are low risk can keep the economy working while investing in protective measures for those who are at risk. The gradual spread of immunity is the natural way to protect us all from the virus. But our system needs revisions if we are to survive with an increased quality of life.