- December's tiers are more strict than many expected.
- The "curve may have been flattening" before the lockdown began - why?
- Do Lockdowns work? Yes!
- Other factors affecting the pandemics behaviour.
- Tiers bases on smaller areas and more tiers would help.
- Mass testing has colossal costs for few benefits
- The financial hardships will need new political thinking
So here we are again with a new set of restrictions which for 55 million people in the UK are about as severe as the lockdown in place since November 5th. After a month of Lockdown 2, many people were expecting to be rewarded with more ability to socialise and for economic activity to resume, but this has not materialised. Only Cornwall has escaped the top two tiers as the picture shows - expect lots of traffic west across the border for a night out with friends?
For many it is disappointing that so many restrictions remain in place in so many areas where the R0 is less than 1 and also with the NHS coping at the moment after the early peak and localised problems in the North.
This time there are more complaints with many Conservative MP's rebelling as they find their leafy rural constituents lumped in with the more affected urban neighbours. The Labour Party and Green Party, MP Caroline Lucas have abstained, finding themselves in a position of acknowledging the need for further restrictions, though not able to vote for the governments way of imposing them.
Personally, I had hoped the proposals did not get through parliament and that the Government then have to think again about how to proceed with restrictions and support. For many online punters, of course, restrictions have been a terrible infringement on our freedoms with little benefit. It seems to me that some clarity is needed.
What the data shows
The governments own data shows that this winter curve, so far, looks smaller, though may ultimately be wider than the spring wave. There are reasons for this. First of course, are the earlier local restrictions in the north where the second wave was at its worst. So, the flattening of the curve started before Lockdown 2 from November the 5th, (arrow) and resulted from local action in the areas hardest hit - again crowded, polluted cities, in areas with more poverty and those who suffered less in the first wave. .
|Positive test trends|
After positive tests come hospital admissions, the most important measure when it comes to decision making. These can be expected to lag behind the trends for positive tests by a week or two and suggest that the restrictions have been effective.
|COVID19 Hospital admissions trends|
More evidence - on one hand.....
and on the other hand......
"Three weeks into the second national lockdown in England there has been a ~30% proportionate reduction in prevalence overall, with greater reductions in the North. As a result, inter-regional heterogeneity (differences) has reduced, although average absolute prevalence remains high at ~1%. Continued monitoring of the epidemic in the community remains essential until prevalence is reliably suppressed to much lower levels, for example, through widespread vaccination"
Interestingly, they do acknowledge that restrictions forcing people to stay at home adversely affects those in crowded houses where being shut indoors will lead to more cases. Measures to combat this, namely offering alternative accommodation for people who can't effectively isolate at home have not been put into place.
Does Lockdown work?
|Lockdown light USA COVID deaths|
While there is more to this than restrictions: poor public health, world leading social inequality, terrible food and obesity, the sad upward march of COVID related deaths is truly Trumpian.
Why is this happening?
|1918 Influenza pandemic waves|
Of course, that pandemic was different, yet immunity built up and the pandemic ran its course, tragically leaving 50 million dead behind it. By comparison, COVID19 is a milder infection, though at least 10 times worse than endemic flu strains, most of which have descended from the 1918 pandemic strain. COVID19 will come in waves, perhaps up to four, then fizzle out to join flu as a part of our year to year experience. To some degree this has to be what we are seeing right now. Hope that its severity will decline with time is right now, hope, not certainty.
How could we do better?
|Testing (and spreading?) event in Liverpool|