What is UK gov’s strategy for coronavirus?

As of today it is “wash your hands and sing Happy Birthday”.

I’m not making it up. This is it.

Ok. – On some website somewhere which no one looks at people from a limited list of worst-hit areas in the world are told to self-isolate at home on their return for 2 weeks. But, according to travellers arriving at Gatwick today from Italy, there are no checks – and no advice. Nothing; even the passport desks weren’t staffed. And no one, as far as I am aware, does anything to check up that anyone is obeying the self-isolation period. (Contrast with Russia where Moscow police are actively enforcing their regime of self-isolation). People from affected countries but outside peak areas can come in without even any requirement for self-isolating.

Otherwise; wash your hands and carry on.

The government claims that it is “following scientific advice”. Hiding behind the ‘scientific advice’ is a standard ruse of modern ‘democratic’ politicians; it means they never have to take difficult decisions and be held accountable for anything. This is wrong; science can give you facts, or, in most cases, such as in the ‘science’ of epidemiology, informed estimates; but science itself cannot make decisions. In reality the situation is worse than this act of bad faith; in reality the ‘scientists’ fake the ‘advice’ to suit what the politicians demand of them. This way everyone fakes it and no one is responsible for anything. Remember “45 minutes”. (For which no one has yet been held accountable).

Interestingly while the UK population is being told that the “scientific advice” is to carry on  Germany is telling its citizens to work from home and avoid public transport. (I can’t find the link now but the original Guardian article said that this was on the advice of scientists). The WHO is telling governments to take robust containment measures and learn from China. They are referring to strict quarantine measures.

Why is the science in the UK so different?

Of course; it isn’t. What has happened is that a political-financial decision has been made to weather the storm. To minimize economic disruption and avoid social panic. And – at best – to spread out the cases so the NHS can cope.

In response to the charges, mentioned above, that there are no checks at Gatwick the government explained that airlines have been asked to identify passengers showing symptoms and call ahead. But this approach relies on the discredited idea that the virus is only transmitted by people who are showing symptoms.

Interestingly, this tactic mirrors the government’s approach to terrorism. Rather than police patrols in the streets everything must be seen to be normal. Any police action is intelligence-based and behind the scenes. The second guiding principle in all this (alongside protecting the economy) is to avoid doing anything which looks authoritarian. ‘Liberal-Democratic’ governments depend for their legitimacy on a notion that they are one with the people. Showing that they are not, by implementing authoritarian measures, is an anathema to them. Maybe it is easier in continental Europe where the authorities in general are more respected. It is certainly easier in Russia where stronger containment measures have meant that covid-19 has got a late start. Russia is not burdened with the need to create an aura of a ‘free society’.

At this stage the most likely scenario seems to be that Gov.uk will be dragged in the end into implementing public quarantine measures. But it looks like it will only happen when the outbreak is already well underway. In the interests of maintaining the fiction that we have an ‘open society’ they are willing to contemplate the avoidable sacrifice of many people, especially elderly people.

Update – stranger and stranger

In a press conference the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser has said:

What you can’t do is suppress this thing completely, and what you shouldn’t do is suppress it completely because all that happens then is it pops up again later in the year, when the NHS is at a more vulnerable stage in the winter, and you end up with another problem. [1]

The Guardian also reports that Patrick Vallance said that the aim was to reduce the mortality rate amongst the at-risk group (presumably the elderly).

It is very hard to interpret this. It appears to be suggesting that there is a deliberate strategy of letting people get infected now so they do not get infected later, while managing the care of the elderly so as to save as many as possible. Is this really the strategy? If so that is amazing and why are the newspapers not screaming about it? But it really seems this is what he said.

Since the winter has just passed he must be referring to next Winter. At one level the idea of letting people get infected is perhaps not crazy. IF being infected guarantees immunity. I’ve searched the Internet and, surprisingly, can’t find any definite information on this either way. There is the case of a Japanese woman who became reinfected but that could have been a reactivation of the virus rather than a reinfection, or even mistakes with tests. Does Public Health England know for a fact that having covid-19 will give you immunity? This certainly isn’t the case with the flu virus which constantly mutates, thus defeating the body’s immune system. In this case people could get covid-19 this year and then a variant next year.

At any rate if we take Patrick Vallance’s statement at face value the UK’s strategy is to allow people to get infected and to manage the illness by spreading it out and to try and reduce mortality in the at-risk group (old people).  It appears that the MSM has simply missed this.

That this is the strategy (and I have not misunderstood) is supported by the facts. As I’ve noted above there has been no serious no action to attempt stop the virus. The government has already said that people with mild symptoms should stay at home and not go to hospital. The idea is to let the virus run its course in the population, who should treat it like normal flu and stay at home. The limited number of intensive care beds are then used for the very elderly.

Incidentally it appears that Vallance has not read the letter from one Italian doctor who has reported that his clinic is seeing an increase in younger patients aged 46+ including those with no prior medical conditions. He explains this by saying that he thinks these people have fought off the virus for longer than the older patients but now are succumbing. This would disrupt Sir Patrick’s strategy – which appears to be a high-risk gamble and one that appears to have been evolved with no public discussion. It is also absolutely contrary to what the WHO is advising.

Do the public know and understand that UK gov. strategy is not to try to suppress this thing completely? To allow it to run its course in the population and focus on treating the at-risk groups?

Update 10/3/20 – government continues to try to hide its strategy from the public

I’m copying this verbatim from the Guardian news feed:

More from the Commons where Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth is quizzing the government on its response to the coronavirus outbreak. Asked about the government’s advice to those with underlying health conditions and “what lessons the Government has learned from the Italians on their handling of coronavirus to date and why we are taking a different approach”, health minister Jo Churchill said:

So our approach as we’ve laid out from the beginning will be science-led and it will be about putting the safety of everybody – that’s why at some point in the future doctors will make decisions over clinical judgments and those with existing comorbidities or more serious ends of the illness will be triaged up into an appointment first.

And that may mean that some people have to wait a little longer during this period, but it will always be done on clinical advice and it will always be done with the safety of the patient at the heart.”

What is interesting is that the government minister responds to the clear question “Why is the UK’s policy different from that of Italy [and by extension from WHO Guidelines]?” by answering a completely different question.

In the news conference I cover above it is clear that Vallance sneaked out the information in an aside. (Though this is absolutely no excuse for much of the MSM simply not picking up on this).

Johnson has also been picking his words very very carefully.

Basically; they have a strategy which is absolutely different from what China has done and Italy is now doing – and which the WHO commends countries to follow. But they are hiding this from the public – avoiding scrutiny and debate. At the same time they are clever enough to sneak out little bits so they cannot later be accused of having actually mislead the public.  Once again, this gives the lie to any notion that we have a democractic and scientiifically informed relationship between the public and government. Note especially how the corporate media fails almost entirely in their role of holding the government to account.

The above account is possibly the clearest available account in the UK on this story. I will be lucky to get one reader!

Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2020/mar/09/boris-johnson-cobra-labour-trevor-phillips-says-his-suspension-by-labour-suggests-party-turning-into-brutish-authoritarian-cult-live-news?page=with:block-5e667c068f085f0b8d945196

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer