And yet another week…

The UK is the country (out of 180+) with the third highest number of reported COVID-19 deaths …

… but more importantly, it is the country with the fourth highest deaths per capita of population (ignoring Andorra and San Marino) .

As predicted here last week, it didn’t take much predictive skill, we have overtaken France in both lists and Spain as well in the ‘totals’ list. It would be difficult to spin these numbers into any good news on how the UK has handled this crisis.

It would also be difficult to spin the graph below into showing that the number of cases/day is falling – that’s why we keep being told that we have passed the peak, even though ‘still on a plateau’ would be closer to the truth.

There are still c5000 new cases/day – that’s a lot.

I think the good news does appear to be that deaths are declining – a similar number of new cases/day but a declining number of deaths/day – what does that mean?

There are at least two possibilities: perhaps we are getting better at treating cases (we’re learning all the time) and that would be good, or perhaps a lot of vulnerable people were infected early on and we have got better at preventing the virus from reaching the most vulnerable people (and that is good in the short term but has implications for the longer term).

It’s not surprising that people are a bit wary of the loosening of lockdown is it? I’m a bit wary of loosening of lockdown on the advice of politicians whose decisions and actions have led to the graphs above.

Anyone would be wary of taking advice from a government which committed (of its own free will) to a target (100,000 tests/day) by a certain date, then rigged the figures to look as though it had met that target and appears still to be miles away from it. It’s doubtful that 100,000 tests/day was a sensible target anyway but whether it was or wasn’t we clearly aren’t meeting it and yet government says we are meeting it. In this government’s world it is OK to say something wildly wrong, pretend it’s true, and then move on, probably eventually denying one ever said it in the first place. We have a Trumpian government. Yes, Johnson exudes optimisim, but it’s short-term false optimism. Give me a touch of honest realism, and then I’ll trust you.


24 Replies to “And yet another week…”

  1. I think your last point is key. The government have made a pigs ear of this and the people know it. Lock down was obviously necessary, but the decision to delay its implementation was incomprehensible. The decisions on PPE ordering and testing were equally dubious. Why should the public trust the same clowns when they ask people to move out of safety?

  2. Many thanks Mark, I find your posts on this about the clearest short presentations around. And yes, that new cases curve does look pretty flat. But it’s also quite hard to extract meaning from it. Yes, the government set an arbitrary target, for probably the wrong thing at the wrong time, failed to meet it and then lied about that. But supposing that testing has actually gone up and thus so has the detection rate, the result could be that detected new cases remain constant whilst the number of actual new cases is falling. Could clever statistics help estimate that? The government doesn’t seem to have an offer on it so far as I can tell, though it would seem to be an important number if you want to get an accurate estimate of R0.

    1. Alan – you’re right, but the level of testing has been so low until recently, and has been targeted at people thought to have Covid-19, that it might not make much difference for a while. I think.

      It’s nit simple, and I’m no expert on this particular thing, but the published information is worth looking at and thinking about for a simple overview.

  3. I wouldn’t trust the worthless sack of shit if he came out with nothing but honest realism for the next decade; it still wouldn’t redress the balance of the lies he’s told up to now, and the many thousands of innocent lives he and his ilk have destroyed. In fact, I wouldn’t trust any tory to tell the truth, even if their own lives depended on it!

  4. Mark,
    The UK is not a country, it’s a union. The vast majority of the population in the UK lives in England. We have a high population relative to many other countries, an extremely high population density, a high proportion of obese people and a high care home population. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the spread of covid-19, but I don’t think a sensible judgement on which country has done well or badly in managing the pandemic will be possible for a long time.

    1. Derek – thank you for your comment. Yes, we are also one of the richest countries in the world and always claim we have the best scientists, and we moved more slowly than most to react to coronavirus. We may play a blinder from now on but it isn’t looking good at the moment for a report card up to this point.

      1. ” … claim we have the best scientists”

        … so the Gubmint takes advice from the ones who advised it so well on Foot and Mouth Disease 2001. You can’t make it up. Unfortunately.

    2. And it would be nice if England remembered it was a partnership and didn’t keep using Scotland as a damn colony. I’m sure the Welsh have a similar view too. It is long past time to reformat the union for the modern era, and that means each of the partners in it having equal say.

  5. Another week, another week of the government spinning the truth and telling us only half truths ( some might call that lying) We know they acted too late, was it because the blonde oaf was on holiday in March or just no eye on the ball, we also know that in reality no real decisions are made without him. They under ordered PPE despite knowing the was not enough for a real emergency for over a year, incompetence of the highest order. The only contingency they may have got right was in case Blondie died, then he didn’t, I wonder which untalented incompetent we might have been lumbered with, the mind truly boggles. When this is over or at least we are well beyond lock down I’d sack most of them but if they are the best what an earth are the rest like? Whatever happened to test and track, it worked for those countries that tried to do it.
    Italy and Spain have a higher proportion of older people than us and The Netherlands is more densely populated.
    As to trustworthiness Coop has the right of it.
    They are Tories and by their very nature should never be trusted, even with a whelk stall.

    1. interesting you would never trust a tory but you’ll believe everything printed by journalists hell bent on getting negative stories for the sake of selling papers, cherry picking comparisons from other countries that might also be being less than truthful with their figures. I live in a labour stronghold, I wouldn’t trust these jokers to be a whelk stall holders apprentice. thankfully at the recent elections a lot of other people in labour strongholds realised that too

      1. I only read one paper a week(Saturday Guardian) and neither have I cherry picked. None of what I wrote above is opinion apart from the last paragraph, the rest is something that as a Tory you may be unfamiliar with FACT.
        And yes Murray they got the Nightingale hospitals right.

      2. Tell it to the families of their victims. Those who died simply because those with more money than they could ever spend in one lifetime are deemed more deserving than those with little or nothing; by the party that supported Pinochet and Apartheid, and victimised gay people with clause 28.
        Tell it to the parents of children, blown to bits in the middle east by bombs which were sold to their killers by the tory party.
        Tell it to those who can’t afford to heat their homes in winter, who sit in sleeping bags, while damp runs down the walls and windows, because our utilities were stolen, and handed to profiteers by the tory party, who justified this theft with the lie that free-market competition would keep prices down.
        Tell it to the NHS staff who’ve had to use food banks because the tories continually voted to refuse them a decent wage (but it’s okay, we clap them every thursday. what more could they possibly want?).
        Still, who gives a toss about others, and the fact that this country is “governed” by criminals when we wave our little plastic union jacks and join in a hearty chorus of Jerusalem!

        1. My argument on this particular blog is the use of cherry picked stats which cannot be verified at this point in time being used to support mark’s weekly government bash, there is enough negativity at present. Interesting you go back as far as apartied but don’t mention anti semitism and you mentioned selling bomb’s to the middle East but don’t mention Blair’s wars

          1. Merlin – you’ve got a cheek! The stats are published and rely on the government stats. But I failed this week to put in the link to see them – which I have now rectified.

          2. Your lazy assumption that I support them aside, you’ll find that I’ve not actually mentioned the Labour Party at all (whatever the leader or flavour).
            No amount of whataboutery can change the truth that the tory party is the government. And, is responsible for untold suffering throughout its reprehensible history, and the only reason it continues to exert its corrupting influence, is due to the fact that it appeals to the basest of human instincts; especially those of who are perfectly happy to live in a desperately unequal and divided society as long as they’re not at the bottom.

      3. As I post this comment, I’m watching the fantastic film Hidden Figures. How sad that some (59 years after the depicted events) are happy to be represented by a Prime Minister who refers to people of African heritage as “piccaninnies”.

    2. Harsh judgemnts in very dark times. But at least this government can congratulate itself on the Nightingale hospitals remaining almost superfluous. So, should we be saying their creation is some kind of mistake? No, they are the result of incisive and good contingency planning. Let’s hope these over-spill hospitals continue to be a successful failures.
      Yes, many mistakes have been made. But this virus is new to science – and the statistical comparison of death rates, country by country, is extremely difficult, especially while we are all still in beginnings of this pandemic

      1. The virus may be new but the principles for stopping its spread are not.

        Isolate the sick in designated quarantine hospitals.
        Verify suspected cases and isolate the infected and their families in their homes.
        Restrict ships to port and ground all continental flights.
        Control movement of people and goods.

        Worked for the Black Death without knowing about the pathogen and its vector or listening to Ye Soothsayers of Proven Ineptitude or handwringing about international league tables.

        1. FC: The two novel problems of asymptomatic transmission and unknown strength of conferred immunity in unsuspecting ‘victims’ both militate against those principles. This virus is acting in ‘clever’ and perplexing ways.

          1. Au contraire – “asymptomatic transmission” would be mitigated by 3rd and 4th, and “conferred immunity” would not apply to the sick nor necessarily to their contacts. But it has to be said – measures against Black Death weren’t that effective and it kept returning but there were enough survivors to keep going and here we all are.

            When I told Dearly Beloved Mrs Cobb in January that a very nasty SARS-like virus was killing peeps in a Chinese town where they were dropping dead in the street and it had quite a long incubation period but they became infectious well before they showed symptoms and the map showing that planes from their airport had been going all over the world since it started and no gubmints had apparently barred flights despite the obvious need to do so she replied “So we’re fucked, then”. And so we are.

            Any road up – if the Gubmint tells me going out is compulsory again that’s when I’ll be staying in because that is obviously the most dangerous time with the symptomless sick flocking back to horse races and footy matches and everything. But there won’t be any Classic cycling races as the pelotons are so large that social distancing means the winners finish before the Lantern Rouge leaves the neutral zone so they’ve cancelled them all.

  6. Let me start by saying that I believe that our government has made a series of mistakes that have led to thousands of deaths that could have been prevented if they had acted sooner, more decisively and had paid more attention to the advice of experts from the WHO and other countries who actually had real-world experience of dealing with this and other recent epidemics.
    However, honesty compels me to point out that one reason why the government can claim a more rapidly falling incidence of deaths and especially cases than is obvious from the graphs you show is a technical one. The excellent Worldometers site, from which I think you get your graphs, plots deaths and cases against the date on which they are recorded. By contrast, our government plots them against the date on which the death occurred or the swab was taken. There is often several days’ delay before the death is reported or the test result recorded. This pushes the respective Worldometers curves to the right.
    In this case, I think the way the government presents the data is actually more representative of what is happening on the ground than the plots you show.
    This in now way changes my opinion that our response to this crisis has been abysmal.

  7. Filbert Cobb — Mon Dieu, I defer to your wife — regarding her procreative comment on this matter. I also defer to the next epidemiologist at variance with the last one I saw on TV. That makes me some kind of expert. Non?

  8. It is reported in the Meejar that the Soothsayer General has resigned from SAGE. A cock-up, it is alleged.

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