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Heading into autumn - what next?

MikeWM

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I thought it might be interesting to see what people think is going to happen next, and collect those opinions in one place.

We're now heading into autumn - and then winter - again. Compared with last year, we've had the near-completion of the vaccination program - all adults who wanted the vaccine have had plenty of opportunity to get it - which I think at the start of this year most people considered was going to be the 'endpoint' of all this and a return to normality.

But now, what are the expectations for what will happen over the next six months or so? Are things going to get better or worse (or indeed stay pretty much the same)? In England at least, we're currently at something vaguely approximating to 'normal' but even so

- There is still a massive regime of testing and, at least to some degree, contact tracing
- We are still 'recommended'/'expected' to wear masks in 'crowded' indoor places
- Most workplaces don't seem to have enthusiastically embraced the 'back to the office' idea, certainly not yet at least
- The Coronavirus Act and various other legislation is still in place
- International travel is a total disaster

and none of these things have any obvious end-date or clear criteria for ending (except the Coronavirus Act, which expires March next year if renewed again next month).

Obviously in other parts of the UK things are worse. And in most other western countries worse still.

Coming up soon we have decisions on vaccine 'boosters' - are they needed, and for whom, and will it be just one booster or regular boosters forever - and also controversial decisions on vaccinating for under-16s.

And, probably most important of all, the ever-present threat of 'domestic vaccine passports', which would redefine the relationship between the individual and the state in a very fundamental way, probably forever.


Are people optimistic, pessimistic, a bit of both? What would you like to happen next, and what do you expect to happen next?
 
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Kite159

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Pessimistic that cases will start to rise when the colder weather arrives and the lockdown lovers will start jumping on their little soap boxes demanding more restrictions or another lockdown to "protect the NHS".
 

nlogax

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I have a back to office plan starting next month, social stuff is on the calendar as is a bit of international travel. Not really too much to complain about although it's not as back-to-normal as I'd really like.

My guess is we'll see some of the following;

- Higher case and death numbers in the short term. Some short term government wibbling about the threat of more lockdowns but ultimately they won't happen
- Removal of the testing requirements for green countries, ideally amber too
- Continuation of mask requirements on planes
- Vaccine boosters available for priority groups 1 to 6 and the morphing of boosters into something that resembles an annual flu shot
- Further realisation that most face coverings are pretty pointless, and slow but steady corresponding rule relaxations across all businesses except airlines
- A further slow dawdle by companies back to the workplace either in a hybrid or full time sense
- Domestic vaccine passports to just fade away as a concept

Right now I don't know what true optimism looks like or if it's even warranted. Knowing this government literally anything could happen.
 

big_rig

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No idea at all. Personally I am taking as much leave and going away as much as possible before the end of summer/autumn :)

One thing that does seem somewhat certain however is the return to the office for people who don't want to be there has been pushed out long enough that they'll probably get away with not returning in any regularity or indeed at all (I can almost think of more people who have not been in since March 2020 than have even if just on one-off visits) until sometime next year. In mine there is an 'expectation' that people will be in 1-2 days a week and it is still pretty much only the same hardly souls who've been there without fail for the last six months or so.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Pessimistic that cases will start to rise when the colder weather arrives and the lockdown lovers will start jumping on their little soap boxes demanding more restrictions or another lockdown to "protect the NHS".
They are already rising steadily - 38000 yesterday.
UK 7-day rate is 344, fairly evenly spread (rather more in SW, Scotland and NI).
 

adc82140

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They are already rising steadily - 38000 yesterday.
UK 7-day rate is 344, fairly evenly spread (rather more in SW, Scotland and NI).
Much of the increase is being driven by the "nations". Wales, Scotland and NI at the last peak were responsible for only a couple of thousand infections between them at most. Yesterday it was nearly 10,000
 

Eyersey468

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I think winter will be a bad one for colds and flu etc, my concern is that all those in favour of lock downs will be screaming for another one, which will send a lot of businesses under.
 

yorksrob

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The most important thing will be to ensure that no more lockdowns occur. Apart from everything else, many of the issues facing the NHS this winter such as the resurgence of be other respiratory illnesses, will have been exacerbated by previous lockdowns, so there's a public health reason to end lockdowns.
 

Mag_seven

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I think winter will be a bad one for colds and flu etc, my concern is that all those in favour of lock downs will be screaming for another one, which will send a lot of businesses under.

Those who argue for more lockdowns should be forced to state that they believe that the vaccine programme has failed.
 

bramling

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I thought it might be interesting to see what people think is going to happen next, and collect those opinions in one place.

We're now heading into autumn - and then winter - again. Compared with last year, we've had the near-completion of the vaccination program - all adults who wanted the vaccine have had plenty of opportunity to get it - which I think at the start of this year most people considered was going to be the 'endpoint' of all this and a return to normality.

But now, what are the expectations for what will happen over the next six months or so? Are things going to get better or worse (or indeed stay pretty much the same)? In England at least, we're currently at something vaguely approximating to 'normal' but even so

- There is still a massive regime of testing and, at least to some degree, contact tracing
- We are still 'recommended'/'expected' to wear masks in 'crowded' indoor places
- Most workplaces don't seem to have enthusiastically embraced the 'back to the office' idea, certainly not yet at least
- The Coronavirus Act and various other legislation is still in place
- International travel is a total disaster

and none of these things have any obvious end-date or clear criteria for ending (except the Coronavirus Act, which expires March next year if renewed again next month).

Obviously in other parts of the UK things are worse. And in most other western countries worse still.

Coming up soon we have decisions on vaccine 'boosters' - are they needed, and for whom, and will it be just one booster or regular boosters forever - and also controversial decisions on vaccinating for under-16s.

And, probably most important of all, the ever-present threat of 'domestic vaccine passports', which would redefine the relationship between the individual and the state in a very fundamental way, probably forever.


Are people optimistic, pessimistic, a bit of both? What would you like to happen next, and what do you expect to happen next?

An interesting question, one which I was thinking about only last night. The key point is I note you've asked what everyone thinks *is* going to happen, rather than what *should* happen.

My view is cases will rise as we get into September, and this is going to require the country as a whole to collectively hold its nerve, which in reality I'm not sure will quite happen. There will be continued clamour not to return to work, which will no doubt be used by some for their own personal reasons, which isn't going to help. It wouldn't even surprise me if furlough ends up being extended again, though I think this is probably unlikely. There will continue to be two camps within the population, and probably some increased bickering between the two opposing viewpoints - I notice Boris is being slated today for coming out with a figure for acceptable death levels, watch out for more of this over coming weeks. We'll probably end up with some kind of enhanced restrictions at some point between now and spring, and no doubt at some point there will be some kind of scare regarding a variant. There will probably be some kind of cluster**** over Christmas too. Meanwhile Boris will continue to look, sound and feel more and more useless with every day that passes, and we'll still have people going round in masks come next year.

I wouldn't be surprised there will be issues with winter flu too, which some people will big up in order to try and justify some kind of lockdown. I don't think we've heard the last of "save the NHS".

At least with this pessimistic outlook, I'm leaving myself scope to be pleasantly surprised if things go better, but unfortunately as can be seen I'm not confident.

The most important thing will be to ensure that no more lockdowns occur. Apart from everything else, many of the issues facing the NHS this winter such as the resurgence of be other respiratory illnesses, will have been exacerbated by previous lockdowns, so there's a public health reason to end lockdowns.

Part of the difficulty is this year's one in particular hit a sweet-spot where for many people the lockdown was a positive experience - it was simply freeby leisure time. This is quite damaging as it means a lot of people won't be overly bothered if we start getting the usual suspects screaming for one.

Much of the increase is being driven by the "nations". Wales, Scotland and NI at the last peak were responsible for only a couple of thousand infections between them at most. Yesterday it was nearly 10,000

Out of interest, why do we think this is? Scotland one might think could be explained by the schools being back, however wasn't it concluded on another thread that their increase is possibly a bit premature to coincide with the schools? It is interesting that England seems to be doing comparatively well, despite a slightly lighter touch on opening up. Or do masks actually make things *worse*, as some have suspected?! :)
 
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brad465

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Cases are already high, and in the latest infection survey they are high among school ages as well, which suggests they don't have much potential for going higher (although may remain high):


1630072481302.png

A key consideration is whether Sunak holds his guns on the furlough scheme; if he does and doesn't bring it back then attitudes to supporting restrictions will drop. The other issue is whether or not local restrictions return; last year it was very easy to do this in largely Labour-held areas with limited financial support, but once Tory areas started getting out of hand it was national lockdown and full return of furlough.
 

bramling

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Cases are already high, and in the latest infection survey they are high among school ages as well, which suggests they don't have much potential for going higher (although may remain high):


View attachment 101827

A key consideration is whether Sunak holds his guns on the furlough scheme; if he does and doesn't bring it back then attitudes to supporting restrictions will drop. The other issue is whether or not local restrictions return; last year it was very easy to do this in largely Labour-held areas with limited financial support, but once Tory areas started getting out of hand it was national lockdown and full return of furlough.

It's a pity furlough wasn't ending now, instead of in September. It's been like a toilet which won't flush properly, every time we think it's nearly gone it comes back again. Once it's finished it will be much harder to bring back, but there's a risk that if things do go downhill over September then it could be extended at the 11th-hour and 59th minute again.
 

102 fan

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It's a pity furlough wasn't ending now, instead of in September. It's been like a toilet which won't flush properly, every time we think it's nearly gone it comes back again. Once it's finished it will be much harder to bring back, but there's a risk that if things do go downhill over September then it could be extended at the 11th-hour and 59th minute again.


Extending furlough is like spending on a credit card to the maximum. At some point in the near future it will have to be repayed. It can't go on much longer.
 

Mag_seven

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Extending furlough is like spending on a credit card to the maximum. At some point in the near future it will have to be repayed. It can't go on much longer.

The problem is though we keep saying "it can't go on for much longer" and it keeps going!
 

plugwash

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Extending furlough is like spending on a credit card to the maximum. At some point in the near future it will have to be repayed. It can't go on much longer.
Not really.

Since the central bank is effectively part of the government, debt owed by the government to the central bank is effectively a legal fiction.
 

greyman42

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I think winter will be a bad one for colds and flu etc, my concern is that all those in favour of lock downs will be screaming for another one, which will send a lot of businesses under.
No amount of screaming is going to make any difference if hospitalisations remain relatively low. What makes you think this winter is going to be bad for colds and flu?
 

seagull

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The government needs to tread very carefully indeed. Any action that returns us to the dark ages of last winter (lockdowns, furlough extension, distancing, etc.) will cause a good proportion of the population to absolutely refuse point blank to bother having any further vaccinations, if they seemingly achieve nothing at all except to waste everyone's time.

Plus the simple fact that the longer this goes on, the more people realise that Covid is simply another of the many of life's risks that we will have to learn to live with.
 

102 fan

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Not really.

Since the central bank is effectively part of the government, debt owed by the government to the central bank is effectively a legal fiction.

Do you really, honestly, think we're not going to be paying for this for years to cone?
 

plugwash

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No amount of screaming is going to make any difference if hospitalisations remain relatively low.
And that is the big "if" isn't it. Hospitalisations are currently much higher than they were this time last year.
 

Bantamzen

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So what does Autumn hold for us? I think a few have already articulated some of my fears that if / when cases rise again, pressure will be exerted on our politicians for more lockdowns. Whether or not this will happen will be down to three things, the strength of the lockdown argument voices, the economy, and events elsewhere. The latter one is a new element in 2021, the fall of the Afghan government & the rise of the Taliban followed by the re-emergence of ISIS is going to be focusing a lot of minds for the rest of the year and into 2022.

So I have a bold prediction, masks will start to be questioned by security forces are the world as a result of increasing threat of terrorism.
 

Eyersey468

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No amount of screaming is going to make any difference if hospitalisations remain relatively low. What makes you think this winter is going to be bad for colds and flu?
Because we were all shut up last winter so colds and flu didn't spread as much as they normally do
 

yorkie

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Do you really, honestly, think we're not going to be paying for this for years to cone?
I assume their thinking is we'd get hyperinflation instead.
Because we were all shut up last winter so colds and flu didn't spread as much as they normally do
However influenza levels remain low, possibly due to viral interference.

If we have a lot of Covid around this winter, I don't foresee us having a lot of 'flu in addition.
 

adc82140

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And that is the big "if" isn't it. Hospitalisations are currently much higher than they were this time last year.
Hospitalisations are manageable. On the average autumn day, over 1000 people a day get admitted with flu, and 150 a day will die. Barely gets, any column inches.
 

bramling

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Do you really, honestly, think we're not going to be paying for this for years to cone?

We already are, in the form of inflation. House price inflation seems to be rampant at the moment, which given the backdrop of a health pandemic is actually quite odd as one would expect most people to have stayed put. As ever, it's government policies which are causing the issues rather than Covid itself.

And that is the big "if" isn't it. Hospitalisations are currently much higher than they were this time last year.

I suspect there will be some powerful screaming along the lines of "there's XXX deaths every day". This is not being helped by the Covid mortality figures being distorted by the "with Covid not of Covid" effect.

I simply don't have faith in this weak government to hold their nerve as the inevitable screaming gets louder. They've buckled too many times.
 

brad465

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According to this report in the i from this morning, Johnson is happy with 1,000 deaths a week as a threshold which must be crossed consistently before restrictions are reintroduced:



A cost-benefit analysis will have set the acceptable level of Covid-19 deaths before restrictions are reintroduced at around 1,000 deaths a week, two Government advisers have told i.

Downing Street has denied it has set any “acceptable level” of Covid deaths but one adviser, who has been close to the Government since coronavirus struck 18 months ago, told i that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had privately accepted that there would be at least a further 30,000 deaths in the UK over the next year, and that the Prime Minister would “only consider imposing further restrictions if that figure looked like it could rise above 50,000”.

The Government’s cost-benefit analysis on Covid measures is believed to set not only the acceptable level of cost to save the life of a Covid patient at up to £30,000, but also how much each life lost costs the UK economy.

There are several issues I can see here. Firstly, the current rate is 770 a week, so this doesn't have to go much higher, and if vaccine immunity levels do drop off enough, 1,000 a week is more easily reached. Also, if covid does suddenly start behaving like flu, most of the winter season will see deaths consistently above 1,000 a week, possibly by several times that value at a particular peak, and thus winter restrictions would by default return under this aim, but for most of the year they'd be considerably lower than that threshold.
 

bramling

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Firstly, the current rate is 770 a week, so this doesn't have to go much higher, and if vaccine immunity levels do drop off enough, 1,000 a week is more easily reached.

This was my first thought. Going by the headline death figures, which is the limit in terms of how far Joe Public analyses things, we aren't far off 1,000 now. Boris could well now get bitten like he was with the "20,000 deaths will be a good outcome" soundbite.
 

yorksrob

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According to this report in the i from this morning, Johnson is happy with 1,000 deaths a week as a threshold which must be crossed consistently before restrictions are reintroduced:





There are several issues I can see here. Firstly, the current rate is 770 a week, so this doesn't have to go much higher, and if vaccine immunity levels do drop off enough, 1,000 a week is more easily reached. Also, if covid does suddenly start behaving like flu, most of the winter season will see deaths consistently above 1,000 a week, possibly by several times that value at a particular peak, and thus winter restrictions would by default return under this aim, but for most of the year they'd be considerably lower than that threshold.

Indeed. The methodology should be to look at overall mortality in the context of winters during the post war period generally.
 

bramling

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Indeed. The methodology should be to look at overall mortality in the context of winters during the post war period generally.

Far too complex for the news media. It's far easier to play a scene of people in Asda's fighting over toilet rolls, or Durdle Door beach packed to the rafters.
 

yorksrob

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Far too complex for the news media. It's far easier to play a scene of people in Asda's fighting over toilet rolls, or Durdle Door beach packed to the rafters.

I suppose the beach at Durdle Door packed to the rafters isn't something we'll have to worry about in the middle of winter :lol:
 

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