Tag Archives: political activists

Should we close footpaths because of Coronavirus?

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I think there are a couple of sides to this. There are those footpaths which run up along the side of the house. Now might be a good time to get them diverted. But that is from a general privacy point of view. It has very little to do with the virus, although the authorities might be more sympathetic if you get your appeal in now.  But for most footpaths I think the answer is strictly no.
First let’s look at the reality of the situation. At the moment my lady wife and I are locked down because we’re recovering from what was probably coronavirus. The embarrassing thing about this virus is that that majority of us will end up being a bit vague as to whether we’ve had it or not.

Even if you get it, how serious is it. There’s an interesting article in the Lancet

 

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30244-9/fulltext

 

“A unique situation has arisen for quite an accurate estimate of the CFR of COVID-19. Among individuals on-board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, data on the denominator are fairly robust. The outbreak of COVID-19 led passengers to be quarantined between Jan 20, and Feb 29, 2020. This scenario provided a population living in a defined territory without most other confounders, such as imported cases, defaulters of screening, or lack of testing capability. 3711 passengers and crew were on-board, of whom 705 became sick and tested positive for COVID-19 and seven died, giving a CFR of 0·99%. If the passengers on-board were generally of an older age, the CFR in a healthy, younger population could be lower.”

 

Indeed if you assume that cruise passengers tend to be in the 60+ or even the 70+ age groups, looking at this chart you’d expect the morality to be a lot higher. So perhaps it isn’t quite as lethal as the initial fears?

 

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The problem is we’re living in a 24 hour news cycle. In our village an older lady had to be taken into hospital. After two days being treated from pneumonia as a complication of the virus infection, she was brought home to recover there. But ‘elderly lady not very ill’ isn’t the sort of story the media is seeking.

The problem is that the ‘There’ll be a million dead and Boris has their blood on his hands,’ school of social media warrior is actually causing even more grief. A lady I know works for a medical centre. She wrote in her blog, “It appears that most of the middle aged or elderly patients are not turning up for their clinic appointments, thereby not undergoing Lucentis, Eylea or Avastin injections to save their eyesight from the ravages of wet age-related macular degeneration.“

Let’s not beat about the bush, they have a very slight chance of dying if they go for treatment and a very very high chance of going blind if they don’t. Terrifying people for a bad news story or political capital isn’t going to end well for a lot of people.

 

Not only that, but others are kicking against the full lockdown. The Swedes for example. This article is interesting.

 

https://unherd.com/2020/03/all-eyes-on-the-swedish-coronavirus-experiment/

 

One part of the article really did interest me.
“Tegnell doesn’t like to describe his strategy as ‘herd immunity’ but he talks openly about the inevitability of the disease passing through a large chunk of the population, and even says that containing the disease like South Korea is doing would not even be desirable, since it will surely only come back. His stated goal is to slow the spread of the infection to a manageable pace, and he doesn’t believe a mandated lockdown is necessary to achieve that.

 

So far, so technical. But look more closely and the difference between the UK and Swedish approaches is as much about politics as science.

 

I spent much of the weekend on the telephone to friends, family and journalists from both Left and Right in Sweden and it felt like I’d fallen through the looking glass into an upside-down world. It almost could be the UK, just with a few political factors flipped over.

 

First, the fact that they are standing apart is a point of pride as much as concern. There is a note of Swedish exceptionalism, particularly when contrasted with longstanding competitors Denmark and Norway (both of whom have opted for a very thorough lockdown). I heard multiple theories as to why their Scandinavian neighbours were different, ranging from Denmark and Norway’s occupation during the Second World War having given them have a residual mistrust of authority, to the Danish government’s political desire to look strong. It couldn’t be further from the UK instinct, which is to take any differences with other countries as proof of our own sluggishness and inadequacy.

 

Second, the Government is a centre-Left coalition, which changes everything. Alongside a deep-seated Swedish respect for technical experts, this means that support for the more moderate strategy is considered the enlightened left-liberal position; unlike the UK or the US, the knowledge class are fully on-side. Anders Tegnell himself has a left-of-centre feel about him, making regular reference to the importance of equality in the government’s chosen course. This means, although he continues to meet with criticism, there are no online hordes of political activists demanding a lockdown.”

 

Even with the lockdown, we have to accept that in the next couple of years pretty much everybody in the UK is going to get the virus anyway.

If you want to see the modelling that the current lock down is based on it’s written in simple terms so that politicians and political activists can understand it.

 

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

 

Again, in simple terms, the lockdown is to reduce the strain on our intensive care system. A proportion of those who do get the virus need treatment in intensive care (pretty much like flu really). If the intensive care system isn’t overloaded, then the recovery rate is pretty good. If the intensive care system is overloaded and a lot of people cannot get the treatment, then a lot more people die.

So the plan put forward for getting out of this situation is to lift restrictions when the number of people in icu with the virus drops to 50 a week and clamp down again when the number of people in icu with it rises to 100 a week. We seesaw into the next year as more and more people get the virus and become immune. Also at that point there might even be a vaccine.

 

But there’s another reason for not shutting the footpaths (other than it’s not necessary.)
At the moment I’m locked down. I’m self-isolating on a hundred acres and anyway I’m busy. Can you imagine the poor sod who’s stuck in a small three bedroom terraced house with spouse and two children! Or somebody in a flat? Even if you’ve got a semi, it’s hardly spacious.

And a lot of people are being tightly banged up. I know one chap who does have an autoimmune condition. He’d planned to self-isolate at home, then drive down here with his air rifle and self-isolate miles from anybody just shooting rats for us. His employer sent him home and he was informed that if he was even seen outside the house that would be reason for immediate dismissal.

But on the positive side, where are all those vegan activists? When the supermarket shelves emptied, about the only thing left was the vegan options. At the moment we’re the ‘good guys.’ Indeed it may well be that the major chemical companies are going to have better things to do, what with branching into medicines and vaccine manufacture, than trying to make ‘vegan meat substitutes.’
So when normality resumes and the assorted single issue pressure groups raise their head again (They will, they’ve got to justify their salaries and pay their mortgages like everybody else) they’ll be all over the media.
Do you what our customers to listen to the various fringe groups and mutter, “Yeah, the farmers, they’re the bastards that shut down the countryside.”

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There again what do I know? Wisdom available from the expert in paperback and ebook format

As a reviewer commented, “Another excellent compendium of observations from the back of Mr. Webster’s quad bike in which we learn a lot more about sheep, border collies and people. On the whole, I think the collies come out of it best. If you fancy being educated on the ways of the world, with a gentle humour and a nice line in well observed philosophy, you could do a lot worse than this.”