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What The Leicester Lockdown Report Might Say About Herd Immunity


I’ve been reading RT articles again and I just know that Andy West will disapprove! This particular one is written by

Peter Andrews, Irish science journalist and writer based in London. He has a background in the life sciences, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in genetics.

But not to worry Andy, I mention it only in passing because it put me on to the report itself, which is rather more interesting. Not that I particularly disagree with the headline:

Britain’s Leicester lockdown is an unjustifiable travesty, based on shoddy figures and a bungled report

The author says:

Even if they had got all their sums right, and there was an upsurge in cases that warranted action, the report makes clear that it is in the “under 19-year-old group”. That is, children. You know, those small humans who don’t get Covid-19, or if they do, are infinitesimally at risk of dying if they do? Just 0.05 percent of deaths from coronavirus have been of people aged under 19, and those under 40 represent only 0.7 percent. If the purpose of a lockdown is to save lives, whose lives do Public Health England think they are saving here?

I thought I would take a look at the actual report and see what it says myself. Firstly, it’s prepared by the so called Rapid Investigation Team, which I found wryly amusing, being so similar to the Rapid Response Team at World Weather Attribution and elsewhere, being a team of crack climate scientists dotted in university departments across the globe, who are on hand to respond to any extreme weather events and rapidly attribute them to climate change, thus generating alarm. In the case of the Rapid Investigation Team we have a group of crack government medics and epidemiological modellers on hand to investigate any ‘unexpected’ rise in Covid cases and attribute them (or not) to an unexpected and alarming rise in Covid cases.

The report begins:

In the last 14 days, 944 cases have been reported – 71 from Pillar 1 [hospital] testing and 873 from Pillar 2 [community].

The apparent sharp rise in cases have all come from community testing (government centres and home test kits), not clinical cases in hospitals, which are declining along with the rest of the country.

The bulk of the new positive cases are in the 18-65 age group though, not, as stated by RT, in the under 19s:

As it turns out, the positive cases are mainly coming from work places, food factories in particular, just like in Germany. So why the hell lock down the whole of Leicester because of some isolated ‘outbreaks’ in food factories? The incompetence of this government is staggering. The ‘outbreaks’ might not even be real and they are certainly not indicative of the ominous beginnings of a second bloody wave of Covid, as Sky News and other media liars would have you believe:

The histogram of pillar 1 and pillar 2 diagnoses appear to suggest that there is an
ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in Leicester with increasing numbers of cases being
identified on subsequent days, most notably since early June 2020. However, the
absolute change in numbers of clinically unwell cases cannot be readily distinguished from the numbers of new infections (symptomatic and asymptomatic) that might be expected to be seen due to the very significant changes in testing regimes that have occurred during the period mid-March to late June.

The rise in pillar 2 diagnose is probably linked, in part, to the availability of testing to the general public, and at least one component of the rise in new diagnoses is due to a
steadily increasing proportion of infections (symptomatic and asymptomatic) being identified rather than a true increase in the number of new infections occurring.

There is an almost linear rise in the numbers of new cases being identified from the
beginning of May until mid-June. However, this is not characteristic of unconstrained growth of an epidemic from an organism that is well characterised as having an R0≈3.

So, again, how does this justify locking down the poor people of Leicester?

However, just to illustrate how grossly incompetent the government are, the report then says:

The proportion of positive PCR tests (as a proportion of all test) is rising. This is
suggestive of a genuine increase in numbers of new infections, not simply an artefact of increasing test rates.

This appears to be in direct contradiction to their previous statement that “at least one component of the rise in new diagnoses is due to a steadily increasing proportion of infections (symptomatic and asymptomatic) being identified rather than a true increase in the number of new infections occurring.”

One moment the data is probably not suggestive of a genuine increase in infections, the next moment it is! Bloody hell. If only the people of Leicster could know why their lives are being put on hold for at least another two weeks.

But then they say something very interesting:

This effect [proportion of positive PCR test rising] is most marked in the under 19-year-old group where the proportion of test positive cases fell to ≈5% (across all age groups) after the end of the initial epidemic peak, and has climbed back from mid-May to a current value of ≈15%.
The proportion of positive tests in working age people has also risen to ≈15%

In the bulk of the test data (18-64) there has been an increase in the proportion of positive PCR tests to total number of tests to the new value of 15%. In children, it’s increased much faster from 5% to 15%.

The graph shows that it appears to have peaked at 15% and is now declining:

The herd immunity threshold for Covid-19 (allowing for T-cell mediated immunity via exposure to other coronaviruses) is variously estimated at 7-20%. Is it just coincidence that the proportion of positive PCR tests in Leicster (in children and adults) have reached 15% and do not appear to be going beyond that figure? Why Leicester though, and not the East Midlands (black on the graph above)? Is this a very big clue:

Since the beginning of June there has been good provision of primary school access for
children in Leicester, with 38% of the all age school capacity now being available (we
believe that secondary access is currently still restricted to children of essential
workers); and of this 94% of child-day place availability capacity is being utilised.
We have been unable to provide any analytical link to correlate this observation with
any real or apparent rise in new infections in the Leicester area. However, it would
seem sensible to investigate this association to exclude any evidence of the recent rise
in observed case numbers of being linked to a return of larger numbers of children to
school.

Could it in fact be that in Leicester, where significant numbers of young children have actually been attending school, infections in the community have risen quite rapidly to the herd immunity threshold as a result? Kids get the infection easily, then pass it onto parents and siblings etc.? Deaths and hospitalisations not rising, so no really detrimental consequences of the more widespread infection of children and adults below 65. Is Leicester being locked down because, ironically, it is now one of the few places in England which has actually reached the Covid-19 herd immunity threshold? That is a very unsettling thought to contemplate.

63 thoughts on “What The Leicester Lockdown Report Might Say About Herd Immunity

  1. So why the hell lock down the whole of Leicester because of some isolated ‘outbreaks’ in food factories? The incompetence of this government is staggering.

    I took the time to listen to Boris, Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty in full yesterday. They make a clear distinction between the food factories in West Yorkshire, Anglesey and Wrexham that have been found to have had problems with the virus, and were able to be treated individually, and Leicester, where they judged there is ‘community spread’.

    I don’t find this to be staggering incompetence. Not for two weeks worth of both precaution and further learning. It’s all risk management, from start to finish. But I also noted the three officials didn’t feel the need to swear. Maybe they’re not just looking to vent but to persuade.

    One moment the data is probably not suggestive of a genuine increase in infections, the next moment it is! Bloody hell. If only the people of Leicster could know why their lives are being put on hold for at least another two weeks.

    I read both paragraphs and they both had provisos: “The rise in pillar 2 diagnose is *probably* linked” and “This is *suggestive* of a genuine increase in numbers of new infections, *not simply an artefact* of increasing test rates.” These two can easily be consistent with each other, like it or not. They’re annoyingly non-committal but I don’t find the combination worth another bout of swearing, all for two weeks more lockdown.

    As climate sceptics I think we’re on the brink of a tremendous victory:

    Another reason that I’m not feeling very angry about marginal decisions in an ideaarea I know far less about.

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  2. “But not to worry Andy, I mention it only in passing because it put me on to the report itself…”

    I’m neither worried nor disapproving. There can indeed be useful pointers, and even some useful articles. It’s just that the mouthpiece for Russian state interests does not overall represent good journalism, even compared to the reduced state of once more trusted channels. As these days we have to be much more on guard anyhow with every source, compare and contrast across many is the only way to go, inclusive of all interests I guess.

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  3. Richard, much as I share your hope for wider skepticism about climate crisis claims, I fear at least in the short term there is a crescendo of alarmist pressure against realist energy policies. For example, here’s two data points that concern me.

    1. “Two decades ago, only a handful of climate-related lawsuits had ever been filed worldwide. Today, that number is 1,600, including 1,200 lawsuits in the United States alone, according to data reported Friday by the London School of Economics.

    “The courts are an increasingly important place for addressing the problem of climate change,” said Hari Osofsky, the dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs.”
    https://dailytimes.com.pk/635875/climate-battles-are-moving-into-the-courtroom-and-lawyers-are-getting-creative/

    (Note: In my former life within KPMG, we were always worried about “creative” accounting, and I fear the worst when hearing of creative lawyers.)

    2. “It is steadily becoming clear where the woke brigade will go once the current moral panic over racism has run its course (which can’t be long, following the news that London estate agents have stopped using the term ‘master bedroom’ to avoid its connotations with slavery). A week ago Andrew Willshire wrote here of how the activist group Hope Not Hate has now decided that climate change ‘denialism’ is now a hate crime.

    Now comes another sign that climate change is becoming the next woke battleground. Earlier this week, an environmental campaigner, Michael Shellenberger wrote a mea culpa on the website of Forbes.com. . . What is surely true is that the world’s future energy needs, and the extent of the damage wrought on the climate by man-made carbon emissions, are areas of legitimate debate. If you do disagree with Shellenberger, you have every right to do so. But that is not, of course, how woke politics functions. The aim now is not to engage with political opponents but to attempt to put them beyond the pale, to try to delegitimise their opinions by making out that they belong on some far-right fringe from which the general public needs to be protected.”
    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-next-culture-war-will-be-about-climate-change

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  4. A question for the author. I recently read in 2 different sources that the increased case count in the US is due not only to increased testing but to using tests that don’t differentiate between actively positive cases and a history of the disease. One of the authors stated that for that reason the case count is meaningless and only death counts can be used to evaluate the status of the virus ( all death plots are falling to nearly zero). Now the question–Do you know if the testing in your subject city is of the type discussed in these other US articles?

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  5. David, in Leicester they are counting only positive test results, largely, I believe, from symptomless individuals and not clinical cases. There is the concern that the test itself is unreliable and can throw up significant numbers of false positives.

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  6. Hi Jamie (Tobin’s “sock puppet” nightmare!!??!!),

    Surely all right-thinking individuals recognise that CACC, CoVid, ExtinctionRebellion, etc. etc. etc. are simply politically motivated conspiracies. They had to find something to replace the scare scenarios offered by religious leaders who have failed to maintain their control of the ignorant masses.

    Unless his understanding of “culture war” is different from the norm, Ross Clark looks to me to be somewhat behind the times with his “The next culture war will be over climate change” (https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-next-culture-war-will-be-about-climate-change). In their war against economic progress CACC-evangelising organisations like the BBC, the IPCC, etc. have been using climate change for decades.

    in 2018 Clark’s fellow journalist Christopher Booker wrote an excellent report on this. “GLOBAL WARMING A case study in groupthink” was published as Report 28 on the Global Warming Policy Foundations forum (https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2018/02/Groupthink.pdf). For those who prefer pictures to words have a look at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=y8350XaGeZY . You can enjoy the likes of Obama, Cameron, the two Eds (Milliband and Davey) spouting the gospel about how “the end of the world is nigh” (only 12 years to go you know) if the ignorant masses don’t change their ways and obey the CACC commandments.

    Section 10 “The ‘Consensus’ and the Media: the BBC decides to break the law for the ‘consensus'” discusses the BBC’s January 2006 seminar “Climate Change: The Challenge to Broadcasting”.organised by its chief environmental propagandist Roger Harrabin. (Journalist Andrew Montford’s excellent book “The Propaganda Bureau” covers that seminar in great detail.)

    That section of Booker’s report also makes reference to the BBC’s star environmental program presenter, Richard Attenborough and his lack of scientific understanding of the science underpinning the processes and drivers of changes to the different global climates.

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  7. Hi Jaime (right spelling this time?), Sorry, should have said “Tobis” (that “real” scientist, ooops, isn’t he a programmer? )not “Tobin”.

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  8. Hi Pete, yes, the long running war of words between climate sceptics and those insisting that climate change is ‘dangerous’ has been not just a debate over the science, but a clash of cultures for decades. The cultural aspects have come to the fore recently, not least because of the absurd insistence by alarmists that the ‘science is settled’ and there is nothing much left to debate. With the massive intensification of the Culture Wars per se, across all aspects of society, it was inevitable that eventually the Woke Left (who largely support climate action and climate alarmism) would start crying out for ‘deniers’ to be silenced, cancelled, deplatformed, even criminalised. They have of course been doing this for quite some time, but now they are probably going to get totally hysterical about it; not least because they sense the real opportunity of shoe-horning in their regressive, globalist socialist agenda whilst so many countries are suffering the consequnces of absurd lockdowns and there is ongoing mass civil unrest created by Woke rioters demanding a Marxist Anarchist new world order to stamp out ‘systemic racism’ and to dismantle the patriarchal, colonialist structures upon which Western prosperity and industriousness supposedly rests. There’s not a lot of difference between the ideological motivations of BLM/Antifa and climate activists/Greens – they’re just slightly different points located on the spectrum of the extreme Left, which appears to be shrinking, those locations becoming ever closer to one another, until eventually one presumes they must merge into the Woke Green Blob.

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  9. Jaime: My ‘personal attack’ used your own words against you. If you’re happy to accuse others of ‘staggering incompetence’ then I hold you to a higher standard, just as I would any Cliscep contributor. But even the way you got banned from Twitter tells me that you have a weakness in your armoury here. Dishing it out and taking it are I think two sides of the same coin, to quote another recent thread.

    On Leicester specifically the nature of the government’s ‘staggering incompetence’ is coming to light today: Leicester lockdown: Hancock 'worried' about practices at clothing factories. And then on Twitter:

    This is a very ugly reality. Yet the government is surely right to tread carefully.

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  10. Ron: Thanks for those pointers. The battle is real and, as you suggest, overlaps with the ‘war on woke’

    And on that war on woke Toby Young did an outstanding thread on reasons to be cheerful yesterday:

    But I confess that despite that reaction it’s still not totally clear to me how the climate debate relates to the broader issues. One step at a time, I say with my Extreme Programming hat on.

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  11. It looks as though my comments are once again ending up in the SPAM bucket. I tried three times with variations of the most recent one but still not posted.

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  12. I’m happy to accuse ‘the government’ of staggering incompetence because in my opinion – and in the opinion of numerous other commentators – it has demonstrated staggering incompetence in its response to Covid-19. I would not accuse other people on this site personally of staggering incompetence in relation to their use of mild swear language. The two are things are obviously not comparable at all, yet you attempt to bizarrely compare them. I’m not so dim as to believe that you, Richard, would accuse any other regular contributor to this blog of staggering incompetence because they used a swear word. What on earth this has to do with the way I got banned from Twitter (saying nasty things about a subhuman who thought it was very amusing to stab a puppy and leave it to die in agony – in common with many other people who were not banned) I really cannot fathom. Best you just stick to arguing the issues Richard as opposed to attacking the person who is raising them.

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  13. Richard, the article on creative lawyering reminded me of this file. Here are lawyers plying their trade, examples taken from court transcripts.

    Lawyer: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
    Witness: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

    Lawyer: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
    Witness: Yes.
    Lawyer: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
    Witness: I forget.
    Lawyer: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

    Lawyer: How was your first marriage terminated?
    Witness: By death.
    Lawyer: And by whose death was it terminated?
    Witness: Take a guess.

    Lawyer: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
    Witness: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.

    Lawyer: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
    Witness: Oral…

    Lawyer: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
    Witness: No.
    Lawyer: Did you check for blood pressure?
    Witness: No.
    Lawyer: Did you check for breathing?
    Witness: No.
    Lawyer: So, then, it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
    Witness: No.
    Lawyer: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
    Witness: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
    Lawyer: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
    Witness: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

    Defending His Own Case: Did you get a good look at my face when I took your purse?

    Lawyer: Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?
    Witness: No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.

    Lawyer: Could you see him from where you were standing?
    Witness: I could see his head.
    Lawyer: And where was his head?
    Witness: Just above his shoulders.

    Lawyer: Any suggestions as to what prevented this from being a murder trial instead of an attempted murder trial?
    Witness: The victim lived.

    Lawyer: Are you sexually active?
    Witness: No, I just lie there.

    Lawyer: She had three children, right?
    Witness: Yes.
    Lawyer: How many were boys?
    Witness: None.
    Lawyer: Were there any girls?

    Lawyer: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition which I sent to your attorney?
    Witness: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

    Lawyer: Now sir, I’m sure you are an intelligent and honest man —
    Witness: Thank you. If I weren’t under oath, I’d return the compliment.

    Lawyer: What happened then?
    Witness: He told me, he says, ‘I have to kill you because you can identify me.’
    Lawyer: Did he kill you?
    Witness: No.

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  14. So, hang on, let’s recap. Leicester wasn’t like other places where there were localised outbreaks in factories, it was more a case of ‘community transmission’. Now it turns out that certain clothing factories in Leicester are employing slave labour (which has been known about for years) and Hancock is worried about practices in these clothing factories (which have been known about for years), but nevertheless the government locked down the whole of Leicester even though now we are getting strong hints that the sharp rise in cases may have been primarily among workers at these factories. Staggering incompetence.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-53297782?xtor=AL-72-%5Bpartner%5D-%5Bbbc.news.twitter%5D-%5Bheadline%5D-%5Bnews%5D-%5Bbizdev%5D-%5Bisapi%5D&at_custom2=twitter&at_medium=custom7&at_custom1=%5Bpost+type%5D&at_campaign=64&at_custom3=%40BBCNews&at_custom4=0CC33E64-BEB5-11EA-869B-B68F4744363C

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  15. Jaime
    “…now we are getting strong hints that the sharp rise in cases may have been primarily among workers at these factories. Staggering incompetence.”
    Are you perhaps not jumping the gun? Strong hints do not translate into evidence for staggering incompetence. Though with time the hints could blossom into full blown evidence.

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  16. Hi Ron (Clutz), thanks so much for that bit of light relief. It had my wife and me in stitches.

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  17. I am jumping the gun Alan, which is not like me at all! But if you look at the report by PHE, it does specifically identify ‘hotspots’ in the form of workplaces on the map. A Times reporter went undercover recently into one of these ‘sweatshops’ (which the government has known about for a long time) and found that no hygiene measures were put in place at all and social distancing was not being observed. Furthermore, these factories have been operating in this way since May to fulfil a large upsurge in online orders (because of lockdown!) and workers who felt ill were not forced to stay at home; they probably couldn’t afford to.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/boohoos-sweatshop-suppliers-they-only-exploit-us-they-make-huge-profits-and-pay-us-peanuts-lwj7d8fg2

    In the Fail:

    ‘We also have a garment industry in Leicester which should have locked down but has worked for internet retailers throughout.’

    Can it be a coincidence that the area at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak is in the eastern side of the city where most of the garment factories are situated?

    Such clothing businesses have become known locally as ‘dark factories’ echoing the ‘dark Satanic mills’ of William Blake’s famous verse describing the exploitative working practices after the Industrial Revolution.

    The conditions are an open secret, or rather, Leicester’s ‘dirty secret’ and were investigated by Channel 4’s Dispatches in 2017.

    The government was well aware that these factories were operating during the first lockdown without observing guidelines. The Mayor was warned. Nobody did anything until June 18th when almost all Pillar 2 testing stations were set up and surprise, surprise, they found an excess of positive tests in Leicester, but instad of admitting to the fact that the probable source of the positive tests was the thriving sweatshops, they said Leicester itself was the problem and promptly locked the entire city and surrounding areas down.

    The Mayor of Leicester had been warned that some manufacturing companies were breaching Covid-19 social distancing guidelines three months ago, a former minister has claimed.

    Sir Peter Soulsby, 71, and his Labour councillors received a letter from politicians in the Conservative Party warning them of the ‘shuttered premises’ in which textile workers were operating in amid the coronavirus lockdown.’

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8491345/Leicester-mayor-warned-clothing-factories-no-social-distancing-failed-act.html

    It was the Mayor’s responsibility to ensure that factories adhered to strict hygiene rules during lockdown, but he didn’t. It was the police’s responsibility to enforce the rules, but they didn’t. Ultimately, it was the government’s responsibility to ensure that the rules were enforced, but they didn’t. They went in later with testing kits and found an ‘unexpectedly high’ number of infections, which they were almost certainly expecting. But for all that, hospital admissions and deaths are right down, in line with the rest of the country. So what’s going on?

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  18. RICHARD DRAKE’s (5 Jul 2020 1.45pm) pointing to slavery in Leicester has echoes throughout the west. Spain’s recent lockdown in Lleida concerns lodgings for immigrant workers, as does the outbreak in a German abattoir. Northern Italy has a longstanding scandal of sweatshops employing Chinese and other illegal immigrants.

    The “woke” so-called leftwing media choose to interpret this as another example of an unjust world where people of colour are unfairly picked on by viruses, policemen etc., instead of seeing it for what it is: the exploitation by the rich and powerful of the poor and powerless.

    The left, in its pre-woke days didn’t oppose colonialism because it hurt people of colour; they opposed it because it was wrong. They would also have opposed conditions in Leicester’s sweatshops whatever the skin colour of the owners of those sweatshops.

    Incidentally, though I’m with Richard on this, I defend Jaime’s right to use rude words. Though I have problems with her use of “Marxist” and “Anarchist” when used as rude words. We’re awkward cusses at Cliscep. no wonder the sociologists of climate conformity won’t touch us.

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  19. The best thing I’ve read lately on this whole racism outbreak is from Jason Whitlock, a US sports columnist who knows his history.

    “At the time of this nation’s founding, slavery was a global sin committed by black, white, brown and yellow sinners across the planet. Black people in Africa owned white (and black) slaves. Black people in America, as early as the 1600s, owned black (and white) slaves. That’s not a typographical error. Black people in America owned black and white slaves.

    The United States of America, because of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, was actually a global leader in abolishing slavery. As writer and historian Thomas Sowell has repeatedly pointed out, long after the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation, blacks in Northern Africa still bought, sold and utilized white slaves.

    Slavery was a global phenemenon. Economies were reliant on it. You couldn’t just snap your fingers and make that kind of global tradition go away. The world still hasn’t rid itself of slavery.

    But we have and did. And we did it before most of the rest of the civilized world because our imperfect Founding Fathers had foresight.”

    https://outkick.com/what-to-the-intelligent-is-colin-kaepernick-a-fraud/

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  20. A new study funded by the Spanish government suggests that herd immunity cannot be attained and that therefore lockdowns and social distancing will have to continue until, presumably, a vaccine is developed. This needs looking at very, very closely, because it looks like exactly the same type of politicised science which is rife in the climate domain. But perhaps this is no longer the place to point such things out.

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  21. If that Spanish study is true, then how do they explain how this virus burns out in the course of a month or two, wherever it is, with the possible exception of Brazil? Surely, it vindicates the idea that herd immunity occurs at fairly low levels, given that much of the population seems unaffected by it

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  22. MIAB, I suspect that many people exposed to Covid-19 never develop blood antibodies because of T-cell acquired prior immunity. I suspect that serological immunity is short-lived in those who do produce antibodies – just like it is for cold viruses. That is not to say though that those people who ‘lose’ their immunity to Covid-19 are subsequently susceptible to being re-infected as if it was a novel disease; they probably will develop a much milder form of the disease. I suspect that Covid-19 was around considerably earlier than Jan/Feb and that many more people than supposed have been exposed to this virus. All conjecture of course, but having read widely enough now on this disease, not an unreasonable set of conjectures, which might explain the apparent lack of prevalence of the disease.

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  23. Liked by 1 person

  24. The people who suggested back in March/April that the virus had been around prior to January got shouted down by the woke, the Leftwaffe and the lockdowners (including James Annan, climate scientist) … But it does seem more and more likely

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  25. Given the government’s somewhat imperfect track record concerning the management of COVID-19 within care homes, it seems misjudged, to say the least, that Boris should now be saying:

    “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.”

    Mark Adams, who runs the charity Community Integrated Care has responded with:

    “If this is genuinely his view, I think we’re almost entering a Kafkaesque alternative reality where the government sets the rules, we follow them, they don’t like the results, they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best.”

    Seems a fair summing up to me. If the government wants to be treated charitably given the difficult circumstances it found itself in, I suggest it starts by handing some of it out.

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  26. @John, I’m not Boris’s biggest fan, but this particular pudding has too much egg in it. The words were poorly-chosen & seemingly off the cuff; it looked like Boris had turned out to chunter on about how marvellous his policies on housebuilding were. We heard (at least I didn’t) nothing else from that building site visit bar the gaff, which has been seized upon. Subsequently our friends in the media have cast about to find people who are upset by what he said. (Note: Boris is unpopular in some parts of the media, it may be surprising to learn.)

    “The procedures” – now, obviously the definite article seems to give Boris ownership of same, but I think with a small rephrase you could easily be dealing with a factual and in no way accusatory statement. After all, some care homes had no cases. Others had multiple deaths. No doubt some of this can be ascribed to asymptomatic residents being discharged from hospital (which cannot in any way be blamed on the care homes). There is also the issue of staff operating over multiple sites, which can.

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  27. As you know, I’m Boris’s biggest fan on here, but even I can’t manage to generously misinterpret the words “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.” as anything other than ‘I’m blaming the care homes for huge numbers of deaths caused by the government policy of dumping thousands of untested hospital patients into care homes to free up beds in hospitals’. Which of course is only one side of the coin. Care home residents requiring urgent hospitalisation for conditions unrelated to Covid-19 in April/May/June have been denied access to hospital for treatment.

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  28. Jit,

    No, I’m afraid I don’t buy the off-the-cuff gaff theory. Boris was accurately conveying the view held within his government. He just wanted to point the finger. And there was no need for anyone to cast about to capture the spirit in which his message was received by the care industry.

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  29. Guys, if you don’t buy the “off the cuff gaff” theory, then you must think PM and co. are pretty naive not to expect a bit of a backlash, huh? Suppose I replace “the procedures” with “the optimal procedures” we have an entirely innocuous comment.

    Really, I don’t know Boris’ motive, if he had one. But I am fairly sure that there is no mileage at all in a clumsy attempt to make someone else take the blame on this. “Look over there, some other bunch of people didn’t do their jobs, don’t blame us!” It just won’t fly. Unless I’m hugely overestimating Joe Public, no-one is going to swallow that. That would make the comment, if deliberate, stupid.

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  30. It’s more desperation than stupidity JIT. Utter desperation to shift culpability onto others, even if it appears to be doomed to failure. It’s either that, or admit to the country that they killed people unnecessarily, because they panicked.

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  31. How about a compromise explanation, Boris was at a building site to proselytize the Tory’s towering ambition to build masses of high price housing units and provide jobs for the hoy polloi brickies, but responded au cuff to a cheeky question on Covid deaths from a media provocateur. The policy had been worked out – to apportion blame wherever, – but the timing and exact wording had not, hence the car crash and media bad weather.

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  32. “That would make the comment, if deliberate, stupid.”

    I think that after Barnard Castle we should be re-calibrating what this government believes it can get away with. This doesn’t strike me as the sort of government that worries about backlash. The PM is not sorry, so move on.

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  33. Isn’t it interesting that everyone prefers to discuss the details of what is probably a poorly reported statement by the prime minister (because the quality of the press is simply dire and it seems to exist to disparage the prime minister and cast doubt and increase uncertainty) rather than, what to me is rather more interesting, the question of herd immunity.

    Like

  34. John R: “we should be re-calibrating what this government believes it can get away with.”

    Definitely. I think they are preparing to make masks mandatory in all closed public spaces, seriously endangering the mental and physical health of the nation on the flimsiest of scientific evidence whilst the death rate figures in the UK remain below the five year average – as they have been for 5 weeks now. We’ve crossed the Rubicon with this government.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Do I detect a somewhat “left-of-centre” bias in recent comments here? What a shame to see the discussion sink so low.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. MIAB,

    Discussing herd immunity is important, but so is discussing the moral compass of a government. I think that BJ’s statement was sufficiently clear and it represented views held by his team – it didn’t need a devious press to spin it. Throughout this crisis I have been following a video diary on my local news in which a care home manager has been reporting day-to-day experiences. The sense of abandonment, bewilderment and fear was palpable from a lady who would be in tears, begging the relatives of loved ones for forgiveness for not having been able to save their lives. She is already having to deal with enough feelings of guilt without BJ’s help. So, by all means, let us talk about herd immunity, but we should never lose sight of the fact that we are not dealing with antelope.

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  37. I’ll leave this here shall I so that certain people might ponder why the government is so obsessively concerned with limiting infections in the community of a virus which is not even remotely dangerous to the vast majority of people, to the point of destroying the economy and destroying our civil liberties and way of life, not to mention killing many thousands of people as a result:

    Liked by 1 person

  38. “The moral compass of a government” is indeed an interesting thing to study. However, I am not sure how useful it is to attempt to analyse it using the data presented by extraordinarily partisan, uninformed, incompetent journalists. Admittedly the government is playing an odd game by selectively leaking policies through the Westminster rumour mill. Parliament as a whole has lost any view of its function and is letting the executive completely off the leash. How do you begin to analyse the moral compass when you cannot be sure you know who is doing what? In any event, obsessing over what might have happened in Castle Barnard 3 months ago seems bizarre to me. It looks like a great way of diverting attention from matters such as why people were arriving in the UK from China throughout March, April etc without any testing or contact tracing. Why quarantine arrangements were not made for visitors from abroad until a couple of weeks ago? Seems more useful than speculation on a moral compass.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. MIAB,

    For me, any spin that the press may be putting on BJ’s statement is irrelevant because I am not listening to media commentary, I’m just listening to BJ and forming my own understanding of his words. It is a statement that explicitly draws attention to non-compliance with procedure whilst saying nothing equally explicit about procedural adequacy, the adequacy of safety-related provisions, or indeed safety governance at the national level.

    The only room for speculation, I feel, relates to what he had meant by the apparent non sequitur ‘but we’re learning lessons all the time’. It echoes previous defenses that have been offered by the government when their own performance has been questioned so he may be offering it either as a mitigation for the government’s performance or for the non-compliance of certain care homes, or for both. However, I do not see it as a mitigation for care home non-compliance because BJ’s use of the phrase “follow…in the way that they could have”, already implies culpability.

    An honest and well-informed analysis is always required to determine the root cause of a health and safety incident. Too often, such analyses are biased towards the practitioner error theory when the true causes are usually far more systemic. Management are usually in charge of the inquiry and they are often reluctant to apportion blame to themselves. That I see as a moral issue with practical importance, and that is why I choose to see significant importance in the government’s moral compass on this issue.

    Thank you for your interest in my comment. I agree that there are other things of importance to consider but, on this occasion, I choose to take BJ’s comment as a prima facie statement of causation in a health and safety context and, as such, I find it wanting.

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  40. Brazil:

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/brazil/
    New cases graph is starting to tip over, mortality is level, maybe because of inconsistency of reporting. Although still high in absolute terms, neither are spiralling out of control, as reported constantly.

    Deaths at 320 per M of population compared to the UK 657. It will be interesting to see the outcome of Bolsanaro’s infection, whether he “does a Boris”, or whether he gets a mild case with little impact, or even somewhere in between. He is taking HCQ he says.

    Like

  41. “Areas of New York have recorded a nearly 70 per cent rate of immunity to Covid-19, in what scientists have described as “stunning” findings that suggest they could be protected from any second wave.

    Some 68 per cent of people who took antibody tests at a clinic in the Corona neighbourhood of Queens received positive results, while at another clinic in Jackson Heights, 56 per cent tested positive.

    The results, shared by healthcare company CityMD with the New York Times, appear to show a higher antibody rate than anywhere in the world, based on publicly released data.

    The next closest is the Italian province of Bergamo, which recorded 57 per cent, followed by Alpine ski resort Ischgl, the site of Austria’s biggest coronavirus outbreak, which reported 47 per cent.

    Emergency doctors in New York told the Telegraph on Thursday that the rates confirmed what they had been seeing clinically in lower income areas of the city which had high minority populations.

    Dr Daniel Frogel, a senior vice president for operations at CityMD, which plays a key role in the New York City’s testing program, suggested that some communities may have already achieved herd immunity.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/09/scientists-hail-stunning-results-show-areas-new-york-may-have/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_iosshare_AvmQRZLbCGGd

    Good job Handcock’s not in charge; he would have locked down Queens.

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  42. I’ve previously suggested that the government may have been reluctant to identify the particular ‘communities’ associated with the hotspots in Leicester, that their blanket and draconian policy of locking down the whole of Leicester in order to contain these highly localised outbreaks may have been based less on sound science, more on a politically motivated desire to avoid accusations of ‘racism’. I can’t seem to find those comments; hopefully, they have not been deleted. I accused the government of staggering incompetence in that regard and was roundly criticised, whilst the government’s decision was defended on the basis that Leicester was ‘different’ because transmission was in the ‘community’, not in isolated pockets of the ‘community’. Then we heard about the poor practics at clothing sweatshops in the east of the City. Now this:

    “The public are not being given a full, accurate, picture of where coronavirus cases are – to protect people who test positive from possible hate attacks.

    News has emerged of around 72 new positive cases in a week in Birmingham, slightly up on the week before but still low compared to hotspots like Leicester, which has remained in lockdown, and parts of the North West.

    But the precise locations of any small outbreaks in schools, workplaces or communities remains a closely guarded secret from public eyes – with good reason, says Public Health England’s deputy director for the West Midlands, Dr Helen Carter.

    She said news of positive incidents in workplaces and households had already triggered ‘community tensions’.

    “We are confident that at this moment in time we do not have a ‘Leicester’ scenario happening in our patch,” said Dr Carter.

    “But we rely on people who develop symptoms to stay home, get tested, and do not go into work or college. I cannot stress that strongly enough.

    “If we do not all do that, we run the risk of becoming a Leicester-style scenario.”

    https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/we-cant-tell-you-coronavirus-18560223

    This suggests strongly to me that the government did not act to contain the localised outbreaks in Leicester when it knew excatly what their source was. It suggests they deliberately concealed this information from the public and from local health officials. Why? To avoid inflaming ‘community sensitivities’ and causing ‘hate crimes’ targeting specific communities. Instead, Handcock went in with a sledge hammer and closed the whole city and surrounding villages down.

    Like

  43. Bill,

    Like

  44. BillBedford. What is The Bernician? There you can read weird articles – even one arguing that coronavirae are not contagious. It looks like an anti-vaccination website to me.

    East Anglia has been on the quiescent side during the Covid 19 outbreak, yet the Norfolk and Norwich hospital was, when I was in residence, heaving with patients in Covid 19 wards. I cannot reconcile my experience, with that being anonymously told by an alleged medic from Surrey. Their testimony, if true, would require Surrey to differ from everyone else or the entire country, and indeed increasingly the whole world to be subjected to an outrageous deception.

    A big part of their argument is that the virus does not cause the illness, it’s the body’s over-reaction. As if this matters.

    Like

  45. I think another factor that should be considered here is the NHS guidelines used to determine who should receive what treatment once in hospital:

    https://inews.co.uk/news/covid-19-decision-support-tool-doctors-patients-intensive-care-417894

    You will note that the above scoring system mirrors that used for determining who should be considered vulnerable within the community, i.e. the criteria used to withhold ICU and intubation were the same used to enforce in-community shielding. The implication is that the government had to introduce in-community shielding, not just because these individuals would be more vulnerable to the virus, but they would be more vulnerable to the NHS policy of withholding treatment in favour of treating the young and less frail. Also keep in mind that the implication of the palliative strategy imposed upon the high-scoring patients would often mean that they would be returned to the community, e.g. back into the care home.

    The strategy of protecting the NHS has a lot to answer for, particularly when such protection requires the exemption of patients. It’s a bit like trying to ensure the integrity of a bus service timetable by not stopping to pick up customers when the bus stop is busy.

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  46. As a caveat to the above, I think it should also be acknowledged that some of the ICU treatments would be considered so invasive that they were likely to do more harm than good for the high-scoring patients. The guidelines were written up in the early days when treatments were to some extent based more upon desperation than science.

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  47. Hancock deliberately withheld information on the exact location of the positive tests and instead put the entire city of Leicester unnecessarily into lockdown. The truth eventually comes out. Even Sky have cottoned on now.

    “It will be a political decision that will take us out, the same way it was a political decision that brought us into lockdown,” he said.

    “I’m just very angry and frustrated because we’ve now, well into the lockdown, begun to get some data from the government that actually shows where the virus is and where it isn’t in the city.

    “We’ve been asking for this for weeks.”

    He said the data shows the infections are mostly “in perhaps some 10% of neighbourhoods of the city and the remaining 90% is very largely free of it,” he added.

    “If we had this before, we could have used it to intervene – as Blackburn and other places are using it to intervene now – with those neighbourhoods to prevent the lockdown ever being necessary.”

    https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-leicester-lockdown-unnecessary-if-data-had-been-known-earlier-says-citys-mayor-12029450

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Late comment due to internet problems, just now catching up. Jaime, I’ll be devastated if you don’t keep posting here. I always find your analysis interesting and useful.y

    Liked by 2 people

  49. Thanks guys, I shall return. Currently exploring the highways, byways and footpaths of NE Lincolnshire. Loving the Humberside area and surrounding wolds. Hope everyone is well.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Jaime, I can only second others’ comments. Please don’t stop posting. Yours is a voice of sanity, common sense and intellectual rigour. If you decide to stop posting on Climate Scepticism, please do make sure you carry on posting elsewhere, and that those who are interested can easily find the “elsewhere”.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Two months later, the media has finally cottoned on to the fact that testing asymptomatic people in the community (Pillar 2 testing) is not such a good way of tracking ‘infections’ after all. Even the BBC has wised up.

    “The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say.

    Most people are infectious only for about a week, but could test positive weeks afterwards.

    Researchers say this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic.”

    https://www.bbc.com/news/health-54000629

    The BMJ is even more damning:

    “Novel coronavirus cases in England have been rising steadily since the beginning of July. However, this trend may not tell us what we really need to know about the pandemic and the most serious cases—or what to do about them, says Elisabeth Mahase.

    From 10 to 16 August 2020, covid-19 case detections in England rose to 6418, up from 5763 the week before, Public Health England’s surveillance report shows.1 This fits in with the wider trend of a steady increase in cases since the beginning of July.2

    So, is this the much feared second wave? Experts are increasingly concerned that these headline figures don’t provide a clear picture of what’s really happening in the pandemic—or how we should respond, such as with local lockdowns.

    “In any other disease we would have a clearly defined specification that would usually involve signs, symptoms, and a test result,” says Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at the University of Oxford and the editor of BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. “We are moving into a biotech world where the norms of clinical reasoning are going out of the window. A PCR test does not equal covid-19; it should not, but in some definitions it does.”

    Both Heneghan and Raffle say that it’s hard to compare the figures on cases over time because the way we define a case seems to have changed, moving from people with symptoms who have then tested positive to a PCR positive result alone, regardless of symptoms.

    Another problem with relying on PCR testing alone to define a covid-19 case is that, owing to the sensitivity of the test, it can pick up a single strand of viral RNA—but this doesn’t necessarily equate to someone being infected or infectious.

    Heneghan says, “If you go into a community population you are going to pick up more SARS-CoV-2 RNA for which you don’t understand the importance of what that means, particularly if you don’t interpret it in the context of symptoms or viral load. Many of these people might have had an active infection some weeks ago and are still carrying the RNA in their nasal swabs: it might not actually be live virus that you are picking up.”

    While the testing data are so opaque, using them to direct local lockdowns is unhelpful, argues Heneghan. “The testing is there to drive the test and trace strategy,” he says. “But what seems to be happening is that, as soon as we see an outbreak, there tends to be panic and over-reacting. This is a huge problem because politicians are operating in a non-evidence-based way when it comes to non-drug interventions.”

    More attention should be paid towards hospital admissions and cases with symptoms, he believes.”

    https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3374

    What we have here is post normal epidemiological science and it must now be obvious to all that the government had no right whatsoever to lock down Leicester (or any other area) based on the ‘evidence’ of increasing positive PCR tests.

    Like

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