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Tuesday 23 February 2021

Lockdown Easing - NOT SO FAST

That combination of herd mentality and inability to interrogate sources, or even perform the most basic of investigations, and desire to bring their readers good news about the Covid-19 pandemic, has led our free and fearless press to an all too predictable scramble to say that it will all be over by the occasion of the Summer Solstice.

So keen to see a way for life to return to the kind of normality that will not inconvenience Themselves Personally Now, the assembled hacks and pundits have failed to stop and think about the underlying reality: the June 21st date is the very earliest point where all restrictions could be lifted, and the virus could all too easily return to wreak further deadly havoc. After all, it has, whisper it quietly, not actually gone away, and nor will it.

So while the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, still pretending to be a real journalist as political editor of the Murdoch Sun, and his opposite number Jason Groves at the Daily Mail, moan about how many months any ending of restrictions is going to take, Sam Coates at Sky News has noticed that SAGE’s latest advice is not quite so upbeat.

Dated February 7th, the opening paragraph shows what Cole, Groves and their pals in the press cohort aren’t telling their readers. And it makes for grim reading. “Four scenarios have been modelled that differ in the speed of easing restrictions from current levels to minimal measures. All four scenarios modelled lead to a substantial resurgence in hospital admissions and deaths”. That’s in addition to the 130,000 or so deaths we already have.

There is more. “The scale and timing of these resurgences are critically dependent on very uncertain modelled assumptions, including real world vaccine effectiveness against severe disease and infection … Given this uncertainty, it would be inadvisable to tie changes in policy to dates instead of data”. Easing could happen later. A lot later.

It gets worse. “Unless vaccine efficacy is significantly better than assumed here, it is highly likely that hospital occupancy would be higher than that seen in January 2021, if all restrictions are lifted by the start of May”. Then a reminder: “As restrictions are relaxed virus transmission will increase. The more slowly restrictions are relaxed, the greater the number of hospitalisations and deaths prevented by vaccination and hence it would be less likely that restrictions would need to be reimposed later to avoid hospitals being put under extreme pressure”. The watchword has to be Caution.

Hence “It would take several weeks after lifting one set of restrictions to determine whether it is safe to take the next step”, and another reminder - “Maintaining baseline measures to reduce transmission once restrictions are lifted is almost certain to save many lives and minimise the threat to hospital capacity”. Face coverings. Distancing. Hand washing.

It is possible that vaccination will reduce transmission, as well as preventing anything more than mild symptoms in the vast majority of the population. So in that case, SAGE is being unduly cautious. But being incautious has not served alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals so well up until now. So caution it is going to be.

That means the press needs to get real about timescales, and stop trying to push the Government into moves which could see tens of thousands more needless deaths. Once again, we see the exercise of power without responsibility. And that’s not good enough.

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Anonymous said...

The tory press (i.e. All of it) doesn't care about human lives.

Never has, never will.

Same applies to the tory party, New Labour, and Cleggy LibDems.

It's the main reason Britain has become a far right racist shit hole owned and run by lying spivs in suits.

J said...

Interesting that now that they have already killed a load of old tory voters and vaccinated the rest... that they want to open schools and spread covid to the one group that will get the vaccinations last (50 and under) that didn't vote tory last time. Its almost as if they have figured "lets kill Labour voters, because we killed to many tory voters last time".

I'm sure Toby "not really a twat, but actually a massive bellend who shits his bed while cry wanking"(1) Young, and all the gimps at spiked, will be crying into their advertising earnings account at the thought of not being able to be anti-lockdown contrarian for cash... Mind you my guess is they will be screaming for more lockdown as soon as the earnings dip because no one is reading their anti-lockdown pages.

(1: I wonder if the freeze peach absolutist will be upset about that bit of free speech; because we all know its true.)

Anonymous said...

Whilst a recent document, this SPI-M paper from the 7th Feb is out of date. Predictions from all four of these modelled scenarios are critically sensitive to some of the uncertain inputs, principally the ability of vaccines to block transmission and their ability to prevent severe disease. Recent data, reported this week and no doubt available to Ministers and advisors earlier, show the assumptions from the SPI-M paper were very conservative. Chris Whitty presented these studies last night. Vaccines are much better at blocking transmission than assumed, and even with a single dose are extremely effective at preventing severe disease.

In short, the predictions of hospitalisations and deaths forecast in these scenarios are incorrect. That's not to suggest the modelling is poor, it is just that predictions are sensitive to uncertain inputs, and cautious estimates may be wrong.

Simon said...

'June 21st: life back to normal'.

You'd have to be smoking some pretty strong stuff to think that is going to happen. No chance.

Anonymous said...

Have you been vaccinated. we should be told !

I have, and it was not a pleasant 10 days following!

Anonymous said...


Yes, I've been vaccinated. I was seen at the exact appointment time and back home within fifteen minutes. The clinic was meticulous and spotlessly hygienic. The marvellous NHS.

Never felt the injection and I've had no reaction of any description.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased you did not have my experience of "brain fog" etc etc !

Pendragon said...


I had the AstraZeneca vaccine five weeks ago. After the jab, which was given early and before the appointment time, I had to sit and wait for 15 minutes to see if I would suffer any short-term ill-effects to it.

Only after that was I allowed to drive home.

Of course there may be a different procedure if you are given the Pfizer vaccine