Corona virus on its own thread.

bigmanandy

Legendary Radge
Scientist does not think border controls can currently stop new variants in UK - and worries vaccines may not be as effective against new Kent mutation
Dr Julian Tang, honorary associate professor/clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, is among the scientists to have responded to the mutation of the Kent variant - the so-called E484K mutation - and what it means for the UK.
This is what he had to say: "[It is] a worrying development, though not entirely unexpected.
"This is another reason to follow the COVID-19 restrictions/infection control measures more strictly - otherwise not only can the virus continue to spread, it can also evolve.
"Unfortunately, the lack of control of these different variants in the UK may lead this population to become a melting pot for different emerging SARS-COV-2/COVID-19 variants - so we really need to reduce our contact rates to reduce the opportunities for viral spread/replication to reduce the speed with which these different virus variants can evolve.
"Closing borders/restricting travel may help a little with this, but there is now probably already a sufficient critical mass of virus-infected people within the endemic UK population to allow this natural selection/evolution to proceed - as this report suggests - so we really need to stick to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as much as possible.
"If this E484K mutation is acquired by most of the UK B.1.1.7 variants - the recent reassurances from recent studies showing that the mRNA vaccines will still offer optimum protection against the original UK variant - may no longer apply."

looks like Westminster is now shitting itself with all the early vaccinations that have been made which are going to be pointless while the virus continues to mutate around the vaccine.
 

aggie

Justified Radge
Scientist does not think border controls can currently stop new variants in UK - and worries vaccines may not be as effective against new Kent mutation
Dr Julian Tang, honorary associate professor/clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, is among the scientists to have responded to the mutation of the Kent variant - the so-called E484K mutation - and what it means for the UK.
This is what he had to say: "[It is] a worrying development, though not entirely unexpected.
"This is another reason to follow the COVID-19 restrictions/infection control measures more strictly - otherwise not only can the virus continue to spread, it can also evolve.
"Unfortunately, the lack of control of these different variants in the UK may lead this population to become a melting pot for different emerging SARS-COV-2/COVID-19 variants - so we really need to reduce our contact rates to reduce the opportunities for viral spread/replication to reduce the speed with which these different virus variants can evolve.
"Closing borders/restricting travel may help a little with this, but there is now probably already a sufficient critical mass of virus-infected people within the endemic UK population to allow this natural selection/evolution to proceed - as this report suggests - so we really need to stick to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as much as possible.
"If this E484K mutation is acquired by most of the UK B.1.1.7 variants - the recent reassurances from recent studies showing that the mRNA vaccines will still offer optimum protection against the original UK variant - may no longer apply."

looks like Westminster is now shitting itself with all the early vaccinations that have been made which are going to be pointless while the virus continues to mutate around the vaccine.
Viruses gonna virus, eh? Been saying it for months. So what now? New lockdowns for every variant? The idea that – in the guy's own words – "natural selection/evolution" can be prevented or even suppressed indefinitely by societal engineering is pissing in the wind, and always has been. The thing will mutate, regularly, forever. It is, quite literally, a part of the natural world. It cannot and will not ever be eliminated. Viruses are the ultimate survivors – they are like the Alien from the movies, it is their single and only purpose.

So now, already a YEAR down the line, if – and I stress "if" – vaccines start turning out to "no longer apply", and variants continue to proliferate unabated, then what will be the plan?

We could of course go the Australasia way and turn ourselves into a sort of elite penal colony, forever. Pity we can't just close all the world's borders forever, but alas there's only a very few countries in the world that are a) islands, and b) have anywhere even approaching the capacity to be largely self-sufficient. Although I notice today that Perth, WA is back in lockdown again, masks mandatory, schools closed, etc.... Nevertheless, we could definitely have a go at that one.

Or we can continue to go the way we currently are, as a sort of elite open prison, forever, with the drawback that you can't just lie around and read all day. We must continue to work in our rented boxes, with our pointless jobs stripped of everything that made them bearable. And then we can entertain ourselves in our rented boxes too, with breaks for solo exercise and food shopping. We must never of course freely gather with our family and friends again, share meals, feel the touch of their hand on our arm, the comfort of a warm room full of voices and bodies, the invigoration of gatherings in all their forms. But we can watch stuff and buy stuff on the internet. We can see our people on our personal screens. The thought of years more of that 'new normal' really does have me seriously wondering: where would be the meaning in such a life? What cost to children growing up this way? Already concern is growing for babies and toddlers who are undergoing fundamental development stages in an unsocialised, socially-distanced world. Not to mention (as I've posted earlier) the teens whose worlds have contracted to their homes and phones.

Or we can accept it, and start living with it, come what may. Changes in the way we live seem inevitable – say, mask-wearing in supermarkets – but 'social distancing' cannot continue. It simply cannot.

I'm not saying I have the right answer, only that it seems to me that those will be the three choices remaining if – and again, I stress "IF" – the vaccines can only adapt and ameliorate the worst cases, much like vaccines have always done.

Aye, if the vaccines turn out to not be the magic bullet everyone seems to have thought they would be, then it's not just Westminster that'll be shitting itself – everyone will. And with good reason, because we will no longer be able to efface reality. The war analogies were always facile, precisely because this is not, and never was, a winnable war in the sense that a virus can be vanquished and done away with. The can will have been kicked to the end of the road. And we'll have to choose how we want to go on.
 

Rocky

Well-Known Radge
Viruses gonna virus, eh? Been saying it for months. So what now? New lockdowns for every variant? The idea that – in the guy's own words – "natural selection/evolution" can be prevented or even suppressed indefinitely by societal engineering is pissing in the wind, and always has been. The thing will mutate, regularly, forever. It is, quite literally, a part of the natural world. It cannot and will not ever be eliminated. Viruses are the ultimate survivors – they are like the Alien from the movies, it is their single and only purpose.

So now, already a YEAR down the line, if – and I stress "if" – vaccines start turning out to "no longer apply", and variants continue to proliferate unabated, then what will be the plan?

We could of course go the Australasia way and turn ourselves into a sort of elite penal colony, forever. Pity we can't just close all the world's borders forever, but alas there's only a very few countries in the world that are a) islands, and b) have anywhere even approaching the capacity to be largely self-sufficient. Although I notice today that Perth, WA is back in lockdown again, masks mandatory, schools closed, etc.... Nevertheless, we could definitely have a go at that one.

Or we can continue to go the way we currently are, as a sort of elite open prison, forever, with the drawback that you can't just lie around and read all day. We must continue to work in our rented boxes, with our pointless jobs stripped of everything that made them bearable. And then we can entertain ourselves in our rented boxes too, with breaks for solo exercise and food shopping. We must never of course freely gather with our family and friends again, share meals, feel the touch of their hand on our arm, the comfort of a warm room full of voices and bodies, the invigoration of gatherings in all their forms. But we can watch stuff and buy stuff on the internet. We can see our people on our personal screens. The thought of years more of that 'new normal' really does have me seriously wondering: where would be the meaning in such a life? What cost to children growing up this way? Already concern is growing for babies and toddlers who are undergoing fundamental development stages in an unsocialised, socially-distanced world. Not to mention (as I've posted earlier) the teens whose worlds have contracted to their homes and phones.

Or we can accept it, and start living with it, come what may. Changes in the way we live seem inevitable – say, mask-wearing in supermarkets – but 'social distancing' cannot continue. It simply cannot.

I'm not saying I have the right answer, only that it seems to me that those will be the three choices remaining if – and again, I stress "IF" – the vaccines can only adapt and ameliorate the worst cases, much like vaccines have always done.

Aye, if the vaccines turn out to not be the magic bullet everyone seems to have thought they would be, then it's not just Westminster that'll be shitting itself – everyone will. And with good reason, because we will no longer be able to efface reality. The war analogies were always facile, precisely because this is not, and never was, a winnable war in the sense that a virus can be vanquished and done away with. The can will have been kicked to the end of the road. And we'll have to choose how we want to go on.
I don't think things are as bleak and inevitable as you paint here. I'd recommend following Prof Devi Sridhar on Twitter if you're interested in an alternative viewpoint. She doesn't polish the turd but she does provide cause for optimism in my view. It needs collective action globally though and some tough restrictions in the short term. I'm very much of the view that if the politicians had listened to her and followed her advice in the first place we'd be in a similar position to Australia now, with full sports stadiums and open pubs etc. We also might well not have these new variants to contend with as mutations can only happen when the virus replicates. Eliminate the opportunities for replication and you also eliminate the potential for mutation.
 

bigmanandy

Legendary Radge
I don't think things are as bleak and inevitable as you paint here. I'd recommend following Prof Devi Sridhar on Twitter if you're interested in an alternative viewpoint. She doesn't polish the turd but she does provide cause for optimism in my view. It needs collective action globally though and some tough restrictions in the short term. I'm very much of the view that if the politicians had listened to her and followed her advice in the first place we'd be in a similar position to Australia now, with full sports stadiums and open pubs etc. We also might well not have these new variants to contend with as mutations can only happen when the virus replicates. Eliminate the opportunities for replication and you also eliminate the potential for mutation.
The problem is that the rich countries only care about themselves, Liz Truss basically said the other day there’s no money to be made out of giving poor countries vaccines (yup typical Tory), we are going to see further mutations throughout the years, this virus is going nowhere, will we even see say the inside of a pub normally again? I seriously doubt it. The UK climate aids this virus, 2 years in was way to early to have a reall effective vaccine while this thing still mutates into god knows what next.
 

Rocky

Well-Known Radge
The problem is that the rich countries only care about themselves, Liz Truss basically said the other day there’s no money to be made out of giving poor countries vaccines (yup typical Tory), we are going to see further mutations throughout the years, this virus is going nowhere, will we even see say the inside of a pub normally again? I seriously doubt it. The UK climate aids this virus, 2 years in was way to early to have a reall effective vaccine while this thing still mutates into god knows what next.
I think it was something like three days it took to develop the vaccine after the DNA sequence of it was published. The "platform" for the vaccine has now been proven to work so even if the virus keeps mutating they just need to load the new DNA sequence in and release a booster to everyone. Making the vaccine is no more complicated than making a Tesco meal deal once it's developed so the future might involve everyone getting a booster every six months or so. Bit of a pain in the arse but not the end of the world.
 

aggie

Justified Radge
I don't think things are as bleak and inevitable as you paint here. I'd recommend following Prof Devi Sridhar on Twitter if you're interested in an alternative viewpoint. She doesn't polish the turd but she does provide cause for optimism in my view. It needs collective action globally though and some tough restrictions in the short term. I'm very much of the view that if the politicians had listened to her and followed her advice in the first place we'd be in a similar position to Australia now, with full sports stadiums and open pubs etc. We also might well not have these new variants to contend with as mutations can only happen when the virus replicates. Eliminate the opportunities for replication and you also eliminate the potential for mutation.
I hope you're right, Rocky. I really, really do.

Would you like to go ahead and define "short term" though? (especially in the context of a year and counting of "short term" measures)
 

Rocky

Well-Known Radge
I hope you're right, Rocky. I really, really do.

Would you like to go ahead and define "short term" though? (especially in the context of a year and counting of "short term" measures)
"Short term" is probably the next year or two in the context I used it there. I think there'll be stages along that journey though. E.g.able to meet folk in gardens by March, outside in boozers April, back at fitba September. I reckon it'll all be contingent on tight border controls and robust test / trace and (especially) isolate though. We can't go through another cycle like last year only to fuck it up by letting folk go on holiday to Spain etc again.
 

Greenmachine

Aulder Than The Internet This Radge
Great post by Aggie, but I am more optimistic about things getting back to "normal" this year around summer/Autumn. Mass vaccine roll-out, new treatments being developed, much better test and trace. As Aggie says Covid will be with us forever, but we absolutely must get back to normal life as soon as possible.

I just want to travel abroad again go to gigs, the football, have a drink with my mates etc. If I can't do all that without wearing facemask or socially distancing, then things will not have got back to normal as far as I am concerned.
 

aggie

Justified Radge
I just want to travel abroad again go to gigs, the football, have a drink with my mates etc. If I can't do all that without wearing facemask or socially distancing, then things will not have got back to normal as far as I am concerned.
Agree 100%.
 

aggie

Justified Radge
I don't think things are as bleak and inevitable as you paint here. I'd recommend following Prof Devi Sridhar on Twitter if you're interested in an alternative viewpoint. She doesn't polish the turd but she does provide cause for optimism in my view. It needs collective action globally though and some tough restrictions in the short term. I'm very much of the view that if the politicians had listened to her and followed her advice in the first place we'd be in a similar position to Australia now, with full sports stadiums and open pubs etc. We also might well not have these new variants to contend with as mutations can only happen when the virus replicates. Eliminate the opportunities for replication and you also eliminate the potential for mutation.
PS Rocky, you do know that Sridhar is a "zero Covid" advocate? Also perhaps interesting to note that while her first degree was in biology, her PhD is in politics... In other words, she has no particular expertise in epidemiology, virology, clinical practice or any other subject normally considered relevant to make recommendations about infection control. This has been publicly confirmed by her department head at Edinburgh when directly challenged. I'm not saying she's not worth listening to at all – her 'expertise' is in the politics of global health, societal effects of interventions etc – rather I'm saying that the uncritical way in which many folk seem to accept her proclamations as gospel is also worth evaluating: she is not bound by the same ethical standards as actual medical professionals, precisely because she isn't a medical professional.
 

southfieldhibby

Aulder Than The Internet This Radge
I just want to travel abroad again go to gigs, the football, have a drink with my mates etc. If I can't do all that without wearing facemask or socially distancing, then things will not have got back to normal as far as I am concerned.
Absolutely this. Will be a tear in the eye when we can cross the threshold of Robbies post-match, or feel the heat of a foreign country when you leave the airport.
 

Rocky

Well-Known Radge
PS Rocky, you do know that Sridhar is a "zero Covid" advocate? Also perhaps interesting to note that while her first degree was in biology, her PhD is in politics... In other words, she has no particular expertise in epidemiology, virology, clinical practice or any other subject normally considered relevant to make recommendations about infection control. This has been publicly confirmed by her department head at Edinburgh when directly challenged. I'm not saying she's not worth listening to at all – her 'expertise' is in the politics of global health, societal effects of interventions etc – rather I'm saying that the uncritical way in which many folk seem to accept her proclamations as gospel is also worth evaluating: she is not bound by the same ethical standards as actual medical professionals, precisely because she isn't a medical professional.
Personally I don't take anyone's proclamations uncritically so I can't comment for those who do. Also, I don't expect medical professionals to be the experts in how to manage a pandemic - I expect the biologists / virologists etc to supply the insight on how viruses mutate and transmit but there's a much bigger picture out there including human behaviour, financial impacts, importance of education etc etc etc. So I'm not really fussed what her education and background is, I'm only really interested in her analysis and recommendations.

I've followed her on Twitter for nearly a year now and she's been right pretty much at every turn. So I agree no-one should take anyone's proclamations as gospel, but I have taken the trouble to evaluate what she's said extensively and in real time (i.e. not just reading over her posts with hindsight) so I'm comfortable that my view isn't just based on cherry picking bits that she's said.

In any event, I'm not suggesting that she's the oracle of all things covid, I just mentioned her as in my view she provides a good counterpoint to the fairly bleak outlook you posted, although she's certainly not painting a rosy picture.
 

aggie

Justified Radge
Personally I don't take anyone's proclamations uncritically so I can't comment for those who do. Also, I don't expect medical professionals to be the experts in how to manage a pandemic - I expect the biologists / virologists etc to supply the insight on how viruses mutate and transmit but there's a much bigger picture out there including human behaviour, financial impacts, importance of education etc etc etc. So I'm not really fussed what her education and background is, I'm only really interested in her analysis and recommendations.

I've followed her on Twitter for nearly a year now and she's been right pretty much at every turn. So I agree no-one should take anyone's proclamations as gospel, but I have taken the trouble to evaluate what she's said extensively and in real time (i.e. not just reading over her posts with hindsight) so I'm comfortable that my view isn't just based on cherry picking bits that she's said.

In any event, I'm not suggesting that she's the oracle of all things covid, I just mentioned her as in my view she provides a good counterpoint to the fairly bleak outlook you posted, although she's certainly not painting a rosy picture.
Aye, apologies if you thought I was implying that you did – I honestly didn't mean that. Only that many do.

As for her less than rosy outlook, I'd say it's as bleak as mine in a sense, if not more so, given that she is an avowed "zero Covid-er" – she actually believes that that can be achieved. Entailed in such a belief is very much the necessity for the 'new normal' that I and many others fear most: i.e. an endless 'management' of Covid, oscillating perpetually between varying levels of draconic – witness Perth, in the supposed Covid utopia of Australia, where one case justifies another lockdown. With the end always "in sight" or "within our grasp", but in fact never arriving – because the "end" that is zero Covid is an impossibility – where and when is the line drawn for the justification of continued restrictions? Does no one else fear "mission creep"?

PS will be absolutely ecstatic if I am made to eat my words, truly I will.
 

Rocky

Well-Known Radge
Aye, apologies if you thought I was implying that you did – I honestly didn't mean that. Only that many do.

As for her less than rosy outlook, I'd say it's as bleak as mine in a sense, if not more so, given that she is an avowed "zero Covid-er" – she actually believes that that can be achieved. Entailed in such a belief is very much the necessity for the 'new normal' that I and many others fear most: i.e. an endless 'management' of Covid, oscillating perpetually between varying levels of draconic – witness Perth, in the supposed Covid utopia of Australia, where one case justifies another lockdown. With the end always "in sight" or "within our grasp", but in fact never arriving – because the "end" that is zero Covid is an impossibility – where and when is the line drawn for the justification of continued restrictions? Does no one else fear "mission creep"?

PS will be absolutely ecstatic if I am made to eat my words, truly I will.
I think you may be misinterpreting what she means by "Zero Covid" (which is understandable as the term doesn't really describe what it is). It doesn't mean complete eradication, it means that there is zero acceptable level of Covid infections. E.g. the UK Government position last year was that 1,000 infections per day was acceptable and they would just bumble along like that. As we've seen though, it doesn't work like that and it can escalate out of control ridiculously quickly. Infection rates in parts of England increased by 600% in 15 days in December. Leaving that unchecked would be disastrous, so what are you left with? Either a months long national lockdown as we're in now or a complete meltdown in hospitals with people dying in their homes as they can't even get an ambulance.

So the point of Zero Covid is to drive infections down (which we did between March and June last year) then focus on stamping on any localised outbreaks as they turn up. Remember last year we were hearing about individual abattoir outbreaks which were getting traced and isolated fairly quickly before they could lead to community transmission. For this to work though, we need to close the borders or have strict quarantine to prevent it from coming back into the country. That's where it all went wrong last year as so many cases were imported from Spain which re-seeded the virus. It does also mean that if cases are detected coming into the country you have to act quickly to stamp on them. Hence in the case of Perth they've gone into a short, sharp lockdown as a result of that security guard case. Not ideal but surely locking down one city for a week or two and having all the pubs etc open outside that is better than what we have here?

And remember it's not forever, it's only until the vaccine is rolled out. And the more we let it spread before the vaccine is rolled out the more chance there is that mutations will make the virus vaccine resistant and the rollout will need to start from scratch. Viruses mutate all the time anyway, but if you think about the odds of "bad" mutations happening, we've had one particularly bad variant in the UK from 4,000,000 recorded cases. Cut those cases right down and the chances are pretty small of another happening. However if you let it run through the population more and more will appear.

So I'm fine with taking a Zero Covid approach, drive the cases right down, open things up, do a bit of "whack a mole" to clamp right down on any outbreaks (including short/sharp lockdowns if necessary) and get the vaccine rolled out (globally, no point in just looking after ourselves while other parts of the world are suffering and potentially creating new mutations). I'm not a tennis fan particularly but looking at the pictures of the Australian Open with full stadiums does make me spectacularly jealous. If the price to pay for that in the short term is the risk of pubs shutting down for a fortnight I'm OK with it.
 

Davy

get off yer bum an sing radge

4. Hunting down the Covid loan fraudsters​

More than £40bn has been lent to struggling firms though the government’s bounce back loan scheme. Worth up to £50,000 per application, the loans offer a lifeline to companies on the edge. But financial crime experts fear many billions may have been lost to fraud and mistakes - the BBC has exclusive access to the unit tracking down the fraudsters

As if the country aint going to be in bad enough shape. Crazy these guys seem to get loans without having to prove how much money their business turned over. Will be down to us the taxpayer again to put more money into taxation, Policing, Courts etc and none of them will pay anything back and maybe get a short spell at her Majesty's pleasure...at our expense, if they even get that
 

hibadelic

Radge-a-Casblanca
I think you may be misinterpreting what she means by "Zero Covid" (which is understandable as the term doesn't really describe what it is). It doesn't mean complete eradication, it means that there is zero acceptable level of Covid infections. E.g. the UK Government position last year was that 1,000 infections per day was acceptable and they would just bumble along like that. As we've seen though, it doesn't work like that and it can escalate out of control ridiculously quickly. Infection rates in parts of England increased by 600% in 15 days in December. Leaving that unchecked would be disastrous, so what are you left with? Either a months long national lockdown as we're in now or a complete meltdown in hospitals with people dying in their homes as they can't even get an ambulance.

So the point of Zero Covid is to drive infections down (which we did between March and June last year) then focus on stamping on any localised outbreaks as they turn up. Remember last year we were hearing about individual abattoir outbreaks which were getting traced and isolated fairly quickly before they could lead to community transmission. For this to work though, we need to close the borders or have strict quarantine to prevent it from coming back into the country. That's where it all went wrong last year as so many cases were imported from Spain which re-seeded the virus. It does also mean that if cases are detected coming into the country you have to act quickly to stamp on them. Hence in the case of Perth they've gone into a short, sharp lockdown as a result of that security guard case. Not ideal but surely locking down one city for a week or two and having all the pubs etc open outside that is better than what we have here?

And remember it's not forever, it's only until the vaccine is rolled out. And the more we let it spread before the vaccine is rolled out the more chance there is that mutations will make the virus vaccine resistant and the rollout will need to start from scratch. Viruses mutate all the time anyway, but if you think about the odds of "bad" mutations happening, we've had one particularly bad variant in the UK from 4,000,000 recorded cases. Cut those cases right down and the chances are pretty small of another happening. However if you let it run through the population more and more will appear.

So I'm fine with taking a Zero Covid approach, drive the cases right down, open things up, do a bit of "whack a mole" to clamp right down on any outbreaks (including short/sharp lockdowns if necessary) and get the vaccine rolled out (globally, no point in just looking after ourselves while other parts of the world are suffering and potentially creating new mutations). I'm not a tennis fan particularly but looking at the pictures of the Australian Open with full stadiums does make me spectacularly jealous. If the price to pay for that in the short term is the risk of pubs shutting down for a fortnight I'm OK with it.

Great post. I'm finding it hard to understand why people find it difficult to understand that what works elsewhere will also work here. A year down the line and we're still not copying Asia because somehow we still know better. British nationalism encouraged by the torys and labour has a lot to answer for.

Yes, it might mean no international travel for a while but surely better than a lockdown?

Life isn't returning to normal any time soon but short term, harsh measures are better in the long run. Surely, after funking it up twice we can learn what's bloody obvious the third time round.
 

aggie

Justified Radge
Great post. I'm finding it hard to understand why people find it difficult to understand that what works elsewhere will also work here. A year down the line and we're still not copying Asia because somehow we still know better. British nationalism encouraged by the torys and labour has a lot to answer for.

Yes, it might mean no international travel for a while but surely better than a lockdown?

Life isn't returning to normal any time soon but short term, harsh measures are better in the long run. Surely, after funking it up twice we can learn what's bloody obvious the third time round.
It's absolutely facile to blame "British nationalism" - firstly, because it's not as if we're the only Western country to have problems, and secondly, well, as I said, it's totally facile.

The answer to your question "why are we not copying Asia" is, ultimately, people.

1) Experience: this vital component of the Asian response alas simply cannot be replicated. The region’s approach has been shaped by the traumatic memories of other recent epidemics — most notably Sars — which meant that governments were better prepared to react fast and forcefully and populations much more willing to co-operate. As I'm sure ours will be in future years and future pandemics.

2) Compliance: this relates to both experience as above, but also to the general political conditions of normal life. Chang Shan-chwen is convener of the expert advisory panel to the Central Epidemic Command Center, which manages Taipei’s response: “In [China’s] autocratic system, every citizen will stay at home when told so. But this is something which cannot be easily achieved in free and democratic countries.” Quite so.

Back in last March, Singapore banned short-term visitors from entering or transiting through Singapore, limited gatherings to 10 people, banned large events, and closed all bars and entertainment venues. Not so bad, right? We did similar (travel excepted). But they also enforced social distancing of 1 metre, and those who defied the order could be fined up to $10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,000 U.S.) or be arrested and face up to six months in jail. In some cases, both penalties were enforced. The government also used mobile apps, house visits and phone surveillance to monitor the activities of citizens and catch potential violators. Even in sainted NZ, the polis could search your home without a warrant.


Now you might weigh things up and think stuff like that is tolerable, and fair enough. I, though, do not feel admiration for autocratic, authoritarian states in general, and I certainly don't think that the extreme ends of the measures are justified or proportional, and in some cases, not something we should tolerate in any circumstances: it's the thin end of the wedge.

Doubtless you'll brand me a "pampered Westerner", or tell me I'm happy for my granny to die, but I don't care any more. It's how I feel. There's a degree of liberty I consider inviolate, as it is literally a foundation stone of the way we live whether there's a pandemic or not.
 

Rocky

Well-Known Radge
It's absolutely facile to blame "British nationalism" - firstly, because it's not as if we're the only Western country to have problems, and secondly, well, as I said, it's totally facile.

The answer to your question "why are we not copying Asia" is, ultimately, people.

1) Experience: this vital component of the Asian response alas simply cannot be replicated. The region’s approach has been shaped by the traumatic memories of other recent epidemics — most notably Sars — which meant that governments were better prepared to react fast and forcefully and populations much more willing to co-operate. As I'm sure ours will be in future years and future pandemics.

2) Compliance: this relates to both experience as above, but also to the general political conditions of normal life. Chang Shan-chwen is convener of the expert advisory panel to the Central Epidemic Command Center, which manages Taipei’s response: “In [China’s] autocratic system, every citizen will stay at home when told so. But this is something which cannot be easily achieved in free and democratic countries.” Quite so.

Back in last March, Singapore banned short-term visitors from entering or transiting through Singapore, limited gatherings to 10 people, banned large events, and closed all bars and entertainment venues. Not so bad, right? We did similar (travel excepted). But they also enforced social distancing of 1 metre, and those who defied the order could be fined up to $10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,000 U.S.) or be arrested and face up to six months in jail. In some cases, both penalties were enforced. The government also used mobile apps, house visits and phone surveillance to monitor the activities of citizens and catch potential violators. Even in sainted NZ, the polis could search your home without a warrant.


Now you might weigh things up and think stuff like that is tolerable, and fair enough. I, though, do not feel admiration for autocratic, authoritarian states in general, and I certainly don't think that the extreme ends of the measures are justified or proportional, and in some cases, not something we should tolerate in any circumstances: it's the thin end of the wedge.

Doubtless you'll brand me a "pampered Westerner", or tell me I'm happy for my granny to die, but I don't care any more. It's how I feel. There's a degree of liberty I consider inviolate, as it is literally a foundation stone of the way we live whether there's a pandemic or not.
I don't really disagree with much you say but, as you've acknowledged yourself, you don't have an alternative to propose and it's quite easy to argue against something if you don't have to balance it with an argument "for" something.

As I see it there are basically three options:
1. Lockdown and release cycles as the UK has done. Frankly the level of "release" we've had doesn't justify the amount of lockdown we've had in my opinion.
2. Let it run through the population - I reckon that would probably lead to between quarter and half a million dead in the UK, not to mention the chance of new, vaccine resistant or more deadly, variants emerging.
3. "Zero Covid" - which I agree needs a curtailing of liberties which I'm not entirely comfortable with, but I'd take it in exchange for life getting back to near normal. I do wonder whether, if the messaging had been clearer up front and things like the Cummings debacle hadn't happened, would we have managed to pull together better as a population to drive it voluntarily and not need to legislate so much? We'll never know for sure and frankly I doubt it, I don't think the UK population is wired that way.

So whilst I agree you present a compelling case against 3, I personally think it's the "least worst" option. Bottom line is that pandemics are a bit shite and there's no "good" way to deal with them.
 
SUPPORT THE SITE!
May Goal: £70.00
Donations so far: £40.00

Unread Posts

Top