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New lockdown in England, including school closures, announced by Johnson, 4/1/21

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Class 33

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From the Sky News website

Be prepared for tougher restrictions if cases rise after lockdown is eased, warns government scientist

The country must be prepared for more tougher restrictions if infections rise once lockdown is gradually eased, a government scientist has warned.

Professor Andrew Hayward of the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) told Sky News falling infection rates meant lockdown has worked, but warned "we have still got a long way to go".

"I think the fear is if you unlock too quickly, if you start from a reasonably high baseline, then it can get up to high levels that much quicker than if you let it go down to much lower levels before you start to relax," he said.

He said the modelling shows that "if you gradually release from March through to July and then you just let go and went completely back to normal, then we could still be looking at the high tens of thousands of deaths in that scenario".

"So I think what we'll see is a relaxation, but not back to complete normality, but we are going to need to be driven by the figures," he said.

"Whilst none of us want this to be reversible we do need to be prepared that if those figures aren't showing what we hope, that we may need to tighten up again while the vaccines continue to be rolled out."

Dear oh dear oh dear. It doesn't require me really to rundown all that is wrong with what this bloke is saying! How an earth some of these people got jobs as professors/scientists beggars belief, it really does.
 

yorksrob

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From the Sky News website



Dear oh dear oh dear. It doesn't require me really to rundown all that is wrong with what this bloke is saying! How an earth some of these people got jobs as professors/scientists beggars belief, it really does.

If you've "gradually released" from April through to July, that doesn't appear to leave a lot to "let go" anyway.

I notice he says "while the vaccines are rolled out", so this should be well on its way by then anyway.
 

RomeoCharlie71

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From the Sky News website



Dear oh dear oh dear. It doesn't require me really to rundown all that is wrong with what this bloke is saying! How an earth some of these people got jobs as professors/scientists beggars belief, it really does.
I had just read that and nearly spat my coffee out.

"Tens of thousands of deaths". Hang on, by July, I am anticipating every adult in the UK will have been offered at least one dose of the jab. The vaccine is proven to be extremely effective at preventing deaths, hospitalisations and severe illness.

So where are the tens of thousands of deaths coming from?

I think Professor Andrew Hayward needs to get back in his shoebox and politely zip his lips closed.
 

Huntergreed

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I had just read that and nearly spat my coffee out.

"Tens of thousands of deaths". Hang on, by July, I am anticipating every adult in the UK will have been offered at least one dose of the jab. The vaccine is proven to be extremely effective at preventing deaths, hospitalisations and severe illness.

So where are the tens of thousands of deaths coming from?

I think Professor Andrew Hayward needs to get back in his shoebox and politely zip his lips closed.
Problem is, the metric used to calculate deaths is deaths after 28 days of a positive test.

This means, if we open up and let the virus spread (as we should), COVID deaths will seem to soar (actually people are just catching it and dying from natural causes, but it’ll be reported as a COVID death due to the metric we use to count deaths)

A rise in deaths very well could extend restrictions (due to a faulty metric). I hope this doesn’t happen, but it’s how deaths are counted in this country.
 

DavidB

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From the Sky News website
Professor Andrew Hayward of the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) told Sky News falling infection rates meant lockdown has worked

Nothing to do with the large numbers vaccinated then? or natural fluctuation?

Wonder how he would explain why the numbers had already peaked and were beginning to decline before the lockdown could have had any effect? Or why Sweden has seen a near-identical trajectory without a lockdown? These are the sort of questions which media outlets should be asking, but aren't.
 

WelshBluebird

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I'll be honest I don't understand the outrage above.
Isn't it just obvious?
If we remove restrictions and cases, hospitalisations and deaths increase, then it may be needed to reintroduce some restrictions.
That isn't surprising to anyone surely?
Hopefully because of the vaccine we won't see that increase and so won't reintroduce restrictions, but we don't know that yet.
This is what I was saying in another comment about needing the base policy on actual data rather than just setting a date and sticking to it no matter what. Policy must be informed by what is going on at the time, which we can't possibly know for sure until closer to that time.
"Tens of thousands of deaths". Hang on, by July, I am anticipating every adult in the UK will have been offered at least one dose of the jab. The vaccine is proven to be extremely effective at preventing deaths, hospitalisations and severe illness.
Isn't it the end of August / September they are aiming for?

And in terms of deaths, given that during Janaury, most days had more than 1000 deaths, it doesn't take many days like that to add up to "tens of thousands". So yeah it sounds scary but thats the reality of the virus in this country during the last just over a month. Hopefully because of the vaccine (at the very least all specifically vulnerable people should have got a vaccine by May as is planned) we won't see a repeat of that. But somebody saying if we do, then we may need restrictions again, surely that isn't a shock to anyone?
 

roversfan2001

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Hopefully because of the vaccine (at the very least all specifically vulnerable people should have got a vaccine by May as is planned) we won't see a repeat of that. But somebody saying if we do, then we may need restrictions again, surely that isn't a shock to anyone?
If the vaccine works, cases may rise but hospitalisations and deaths won't, so there's no need for any restrictions.

If the vaccine doesn't work (we've seen nothing to suggest it won't, but I'll humour you), then hospitalisations and deaths may/will rise, but permanent restrictions isn't a viable solution, so we will have to continue the easing and just accept that more people will sadly die until the virus reaches endemic equilibrium. Like I say, there has been nothing to suggest the vaccines outright don't work.

I don't think anyone is shocked, because certain scientists seem to thrive off scaremongering like this. But we're entering the territory of people just making scenarios up in their head as an excuse to remain locked down. That isn't acceptable.
 

yorksrob

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I'll be honest I don't understand the outrage above.
Isn't it just obvious?
If we remove restrictions and cases, hospitalisations and deaths increase, then it may be needed to reintroduce some restrictions.
That isn't surprising to anyone surely?
Hopefully because of the vaccine we won't see that increase and so won't reintroduce restrictions, but we don't know that yet.
This is what I was saying in another comment about needing the base policy on actual data rather than just setting a date and sticking to it no matter what. Policy must be informed by what is going on at the time, which we can't possibly know for sure until closer to that time.

No, because once the vaccine route has been exhausted, they need to find another plan. If we get to the stage where all the people have been vaccinated and we're still imposing lockdowns, then what ? Where's the exit strategy.
 

DavidB

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Isn't it just obvious?
If we remove restrictions and cases, hospitalisations and deaths increase, then it may be needed to reintroduce some restrictions.
That isn't surprising to anyone surely?

No, it's not obvious. We've been sold lockdowns on the basis that the NHS would be overwhelmed otherwise (which is itself questionable given the lack of evidence for lockdowns having much effect). The vaccine plus seasonal decline is almost certain to reduce the pressure on the NHS to such an extent that even in the unlikely event that it does dip then increase a bit, this should still be nowhere near enough to cause the NHS capacity problems.

If a number of under-40s feel a bit crap for a week because they haven't all had the vaccine, well, so what?

And in the highly unlikely event that the vaccines don't work, lockdowns aren't a viable long-term strategy so we just have to get on with normal life again - and infections would reach equilibrium in any case before too long, from every previous precedent ever.
 
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Bertie the bus

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Hopefully because of the vaccine (at the very least all specifically vulnerable people should have got a vaccine by May as is planned) we won't see a repeat of that.
That statement isn't true. The specifically vulnerable have already been vaccinated. Being in a priority group at the lower end doesn't make you vulnerable, it means you have a higher risk relative to youngsters which is totally different.
 

35B

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Problem is, the metric used to calculate deaths is deaths after 28 days of a positive test.

This means, if we open up and let the virus spread (as we should), COVID deaths will seem to soar (actually people are just catching it and dying from natural causes, but it’ll be reported as a COVID death due to the metric we use to count deaths)

A rise in deaths very well could extend restrictions (due to a faulty metric). I hope this doesn’t happen, but it’s how deaths are counted in this country.
A "faulty metric" that happens to capture the reality pretty well, with 90%+ of deaths by that measure having Covid as the primary cause of death on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, I'm with @WelshBluebird in taking the view that his assumptions are based on the plans for vaccination, not the best case scenarios for vaccination. Given the track record here over the last year, I'd go with an analysis that sees the risk of exponential increase from a high base as worth taking seriously because liable to cause significant illness and death within the remaining non-immune population.
 

Richard Scott

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A "faulty metric" that happens to capture the reality pretty well, with 90%+ of deaths by that measure having Covid as the primary cause of death on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, I'm with @WelshBluebird in taking the view that his assumptions are based on the plans for vaccination, not the best case scenarios for vaccination. Given the track record here over the last year, I'd go with an analysis that sees the risk of exponential increase from a high base as worth taking seriously because liable to cause significant illness and death within the remaining non-immune population.
So what you seem to be saying is we constantly have to wait and see so people's mental wellbeing and being able to live a normal life can wait indefinitely?
 

DavidB

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A "faulty metric" that happens to capture the reality pretty well, with 90%+ of deaths by that measure having Covid as the primary cause of death on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, I'm with @WelshBluebird in taking the view that his assumptions are based on the plans for vaccination, not the best case scenarios for vaccination. Given the track record here over the last year, I'd go with an analysis that sees the risk of exponential increase from a high base as worth taking seriously because liable to cause significant illness and death within the remaining non-immune population.

What it doesn't capture is how many of those were likely to die soon anyway from other conditions. Given how high the average age of a 'with Covid' death is, that is going to be a significant number.

Why would it cause 'significant illness and death' among those demographics which so far have been demonstrated to be the least affected by this virus, with only a small number ending up hospitalised and even fewer dying?
 

Yew

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A "faulty metric" that happens to capture the reality pretty well, with 90%+ of deaths by that measure having Covid as the primary cause of death on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, I'm with @WelshBluebird in taking the view that his assumptions are based on the plans for vaccination, not the best case scenarios for vaccination. Given the track record here over the last year, I'd go with an analysis that sees the risk of exponential increase from a high base as worth taking seriously because liable to cause significant illness and death within the remaining non-immune population.
We're not on a quest to stop all death though, nor to prevent anyone from feeling unwell ever. We must weigh these against the harms that the measures to control them cause.
 

island

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I mean things like masks and social distancing came in before Boris even agreed to let parliament vote on stuff retrospectively.
That isn’t correct.

All of the Coronavirus restrictions regulations were required to be, and have been, approved by retrospective votes of each house of parliament, pursuant to section 45R of the Public Health Act 1984. Had they not been, they would have expired after 28 days. (Except that one or two sets of regulations were approved in the commons a day or two before taking effect, before the pedants come crashing in.)

The international travel regulations were not required to be so approved, pursuant to section 45B of the said Act, but it is open to parliament to vote to annul them.

Social distancing is not and has never been a requirement placed on individuals in English law; the only time it appears in law is a requirement to keep 1m+ between tables in pubs, cafés, and restaurants.
That means there is nothing in law about when it will end, what conditions would need to be met and so on.
Also incorrect. All of the various regulations under discussion have expiration dates. The current regulations which impose a prohibition on leaving home without reasonable excuse expire on 31 March 2021.
At least we wouldn't have to put up with the idiots who drag themselves into the office despite being full of flu and end up infecting multiple people who will then end up having to take time off themselves. In that case one person who could have stayed at home for a few days has ended up causing several people to have to stay at home for a few days. I've had to deal with that on teams in work before where instead of just one person taking sick leave you've had several having to because that one person didn't.

Of course, I don't expect (nor want) a rule that means you have to stay home if you are ill. But I do hope that this will make people more aware that if they are ill, then maybe spreading that illness around isn't a great idea if it can be avoided. For some jobs maybe work from home for a day or two if you are sneezing all over the place several times a minute, and for others where being ill is actually grounds to not be in work (e.g. kitchen staff) I hope those rules are actually more tightly followed by managers who before this would bully staff to come in despite being ill.
I think this would be quite sensible and something worth sticking with. Particularly with working remotely an option in many cases.

We're not on a quest to stop all death though, nor to prevent anyone from feeling unwell ever. We must weigh these against the harms that the measures to control them cause.
Some people seem to think we are :(
 

Watershed

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Also incorrect. All of the various regulations under discussion have expiration dates. The current regulations which impose a prohibition on leaving home without reasonable excuse expire on 31 March 2021.
That is rather pedantically correct - but if contemporaneous government policy is for the lockdown or requirement to remain home to continue, they will simply make new Regulations extending those restrictions.

I don't think anyone should be fooled into thinking that any of this will end just because the legislation is currently set to expire on a certain date.

@joncombe also make the entirely valid point that whilst the legislation has a (theoretical) expiration date, nowhere in law, let alone in policy, has the government published the exact criteria it is using to assess the level of restrictions that should apply.

Today's Times contains an article discussing a report by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which suggests criteria for the different alert levels and, accordingly, the restrictions that should apply:

Johnson’s road map out of lockdown next week should set out a clear, numerical link between the state of the epidemic and the lifting or imposing of restrictions, according to the report published today by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

It also reaches the conclusion that lockdown easing cannot be irreversible (which is hardly a surprise given the current 'zero Covid' policy), but the criteria are the important thing here:

Table.png

I think the light blue indicates thresholds at which you would move up a level, and dark blue shows when you would move down. I think they've mixed up "R less than 1" and "R more than 1" for level 5.

I don't necessarily agree that these thresholds are the right ones - but at least people would know exactly what to expect, and where we might be heading. For example, would be likely to move to alert level 4 within weeks rather than months, as the current weekly cases are about 160 per 100k, and decreasing at about a quarter per week.
 

kristiang85

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If we go off that table, then we will never have a restriction-free life again. COVID cannot be eradicated. No respiratory disease has ever been eradicated. It will just be included in the repertoire of coronavirsues in general circulation that we will call 'the cold'.

But then again I hope the government won't take advice from an organisation named after the man who sold us a pointless war (that killed 400,000+ people) based on dodgy dossiers.... but given the parallels between COVID policy and Iraq policy I'm not so sure.
 

Simon11

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I don't necessarily agree that these thresholds are right - but at least people would know exactly what to expect, and where we might be heading.
Thanks for sharing that, and yes I agree, especially at the bottom! Will we ever get to 0-10 cases per 100k? It doesn't seem possible!
 

brad465

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This week's ONS infection survey keeps up the rapid decline, and looking in particular at the age rates the marked decline in those aged 70+ infected looks to be a sign of the vaccines working, while the much lower positivity rates in that range and the 50-69 suggests decreasing hospitalisations and deaths will continue for a long time:


1613741146031.png
 

Watershed

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If we go off that table, then we will never have a restriction-free life again. COVID cannot be eradicated. No respiratory disease has ever been eradicated. It will just be included in the repertoire of coronavirsues in general circulation that we will call 'the cold'.

But then again I hope the government won't take advice from an organisation named after the man who sold us a pointless war based on dodgy dossiers.... but given the parallels between COVID policy and Iraq policy I'm not so sure.
I wouldn't reject the whole report just because you dislike the author! Unfortunately it does peddle the zero-Covid agenda, but the principle of defined alert levels with numerical data to justify changes is a sound one IMO.
 

Domh245

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If we remove restrictions and cases, hospitalisations and deaths increase, then it may be needed to reintroduce some restrictions.
That isn't surprising to anyone surely?
Hopefully because of the vaccine we won't see that increase and so won't reintroduce restrictions, but we don't know that yet.
This is what I was saying in another comment about needing the base policy on actual data rather than just setting a date and sticking to it no matter what. Policy must be informed by what is going on at the time, which we can't possibly know for sure until closer to that time.

You're right, although I'm going to quibble with "hopefully because of the vaccine" - we can be pretty damn certain that the vaccine prevents hospitalisations and deaths, no "hope" about it. The only real variable now is when, and how much, we ease restrictions (and consequently case levels and vaccine coverage)

It's entirely possible that there have been updated models, but the "tens of thousands of deaths" I presume refers to the warwick & imperial papers presented in early January, which look to have pretty pessimistic assumptions in retrospect. Don't disagree that policy must be based on what is going on, but that certainly isn't cause to be hopelessly pessimistic either.

The real issue here does seem to be people latching onto a "might" story as a "definitely will" story - there's a lot of caveats to the story that are glossed over

Isn't it the end of August / September they are aiming for?

And in terms of deaths, given that during Janaury, most days had more than 1000 deaths, it doesn't take many days like that to add up to "tens of thousands". So yeah it sounds scary but thats the reality of the virus in this country during the last just over a month. Hopefully because of the vaccine (at the very least all specifically vulnerable people should have got a vaccine by May as is planned) we won't see a repeat of that. But somebody saying if we do, then we may need restrictions again, surely that isn't a shock to anyone?

That may be their aim but there's no reason to believe this can't be comfortably beaten, it'd require a pretty catastrophic collapse in vaccine deliveries not to have first jabs done for all adults by early summer.

The deaths issue again I'd dispute the model that Warwick produced as it really does seem to overestimate the deaths. The phrasing chosen by the prof doesn't help either "high" tens of thousands means at least 50,000 deaths which by all metrics (28 day, ONS, and PHE Underlying cause) takes you back to November to achieve (at least for England, which I've been tracking the numbers on; UCOD: 50,026 between 31/10 and 29/1, ONS: 51,615 between 14/11 and 29/1, 28 day 50,084 between 21/11 and 29/1)

It also reaches the conclusion that lockdown easing cannot be irreversible (which is hardly a surprise given the current 'zero Covid' policy), but the criteria are the important thing here:

Table.png

The use of case rates is utterly depressing to see, particularly as with the vaccines they become increasingly irrelevant and dissociated to the actual important metrics
 

Watershed

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The use of case rates is utterly depressing to see, particularly as with the vaccines they become increasingly irrelevant and dissociated to the actual important metrics
Ok, but replace case rates with hospitalisation numbers and suddenly it's a much more useful tool.
 

yorksrob

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That is rather pedantically correct - but if contemporaneous government policy is for the lockdown or requirement to remain home to continue, they will simply make new Regulations extending those restrictions.

I don't think anyone should be fooled into thinking that any of this will end just because the legislation is currently set to expire on a certain date.

@joncombe also make the entirely valid point that whilst the legislation has a (theoretical) expiration date, nowhere in law, let alone in policy, has the government published the exact criteria it is using to assess the level of restrictions that should apply.

Today's Times contains an article discussing a report by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which suggests criteria for the different alert levels and, accordingly, the restrictions that should apply:



It also reaches the conclusion that lockdown easing cannot be irreversible (which is hardly a surprise given the current 'zero Covid' policy), but the criteria are the important thing here:

View attachment 91013

I think the light blue indicates thresholds at which you would move up a level, and dark blue shows when you would move down. I think they've mixed up "R less than 1" and "R more than 1" for level 5.

I don't necessarily agree that these thresholds are the right ones - but at least people would know exactly what to expect, and where we might be heading. For example, would be likely to move to alert level 4 within weeks rather than months, as the current weekly cases are about 160 per 100k, and decreasing at about a quarter per week.

I think it's an interesting concept, but a non starter as the impact of case numbers should change as more people are vaccinated and the same numbers result in fewer severe cases.

It's also got very stringent limits. Non-essential retail doesn't happen until case numbers are below 50 in 100,000. I would question how likely that is at all in areas of high density population, large households and a high proportion of work that can't be done from home (i.e. Northern cities).
 

kristiang85

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I wouldn't reject the whole report just because you dislike the author! Unfortunately it does peddle the zero-Covid agenda, but the principle of defined alert levels with numerical data to justify changes is a sound one IMO.

I didn't say I dislike the author, I said I disliked the organisation that published it. And there's definitely an agenda there, given what Blair has been saying lately.

And Zero COVID just cannot be countenanced as a sensible strategy, so I will dismiss any report that has this as its ultimate aim. Unforunately I can't read the article in full as I don't subscribe to the Times.
 
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