1st June

It is said you can divide the British population into those who trust The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and those that don’t. However whichever side you are on, I think you can agree that the best Teachers have had to go on is a vague statement that they should start bringing back children on 1st June. There are no data that I have seen which can be used as evidence. So I am disappointed to give the first public model of the risks involved in going back to school. My working out is going to be riddled with false assumptions. I apologise for inconsistent rounding before the final stage of the calculations. This is due to the fact the numbers are all very speculative and all I want to do is create is a polemic about how we can calculate the risk.

Isle of Sheppey has approximately 3750 primary children. For the only school on the island that I could find with the proportion per class they are evenly spread out through the age range, so 7 groups and 3 going back equals 1600. With 1 adult per 10 children this gives about 1800 souls.

Now here come some more big assumptions. Given an r of about o.8 and 208.1 (a degree of accuracy I would not use) per 100,000 in Swale confirmed positive and also 40 % of cases asymptomatic. I will assume the 208 are self-isolating but they will have passed it on to 0.8*208 = 166

208/60*40 =173 these 173 are still at large and could have passed it on to 0.8*173 = 138

For a total of 166+173+138 = 477 per 100,000 gives 477/100000 * 1800 = 9 infections in the new school population.

This actually nicely works out as 1 per school. But as the schools are different sizes I will work it out per class of 10. 10 given the size of a classroom, is the only number I think a possibility of non-transmission could occur.

So 9/160 = 0.06. So 6% of classes would have an infection. Another big assumption, that of passing it on to your child or teacher in the month, say 20%, this gives a 0.06*0.2= 0.012 chance of your child or teacher catching SARS CoV-2. 1 in a hundred. Now this risk will have to be weighed according to your family. I.e. ages, risk groups etc.

For me a 55-year-old male. 246,406 confirmed positive with 40% asymptomatic gives 410,676 cases. In my age group 2547 deaths gives 2547/410676= 0.006 chance of dying if infected. In this simple example I will ignore getting significant organ damage.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19roundup/2020-03-26

So 0.012*0.006 = 0.000072   chance of death in that month due to Covid 19

What does this mean? Risk of death UK in a year driving 0.000059 so about an order of magnitude (12) more risky. Although better than when my partner is driving. As the odds of dying in a vehicle accident are already considered high, these odds do not seem good. http://www.bandolier.org.uk/booth/Risk/trasnsportpop.html

Since completing these calculations I think it is interesting that I now have some degree of knowledge about the risks. I am also feeling a sense of shame that I have had to work it out on my old Casio rather than get the data from our Government.

Correction.

This is Keir Starmer’s actual quote from the same document. With the preceding sentence.

Facemasks are only recommended to be worn by infected individuals when advised by a healthcare worker, to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people. It remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected.

Mr Starmer’s main point is that the PM said that this was not the advice.

Very fine lines here. However, I have heard right from the beginning that care homes were seen as a great difficulty in this epidemic. The big issue for me would be testing. Why since SARS were we not able to react to CoV-2. Why did Jeremy Hunt not enlighten the Science enquiry when he had the chance.

Leader of opposition PMQs letter

The letter Keir Starmer wrote to does raise questions, although it is a selective quote. Here it is in full.

This guidance is intended for the current position in the UK where there is currently no transmission of COVID-19 in the community. It is therefore very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected. This is the latest information and will be updated shortly.

Now this remained on the Gov web site at least until 12 March when there were 1580 cases reported.

So was advice changed but not updated on the web site?  However, any professional reading this on 12 March would have known about possible transmission in the community and therefore there could be infections.

A question from Laura.

The First Secretary of State opens with the data. The deaths are very sad again. We are guided by SAGE.

Question from Laura. “Is this a change from we follow the scientific advice?”

SOS gives the considerations we need to balance, which includes protecting our way of life. Steps must be sure footed and sustainable.

Question from Laura. “Do we need to change our way of life as we are destroying the planet?”

Talks about Cyberattacks and gives an interesting list of agencies involved in our protection. Say’s there are State actors involved in criminal activities which include espionage.

Question from Laura “Which states are these?”

Transport graph is back refreshed and trending upwards. The Chief Scientific Officer of the Ministry of Defence says this is worrying.

This is I think due to the public gradually taking risks and going back to work and is part of the Governments policy. However, how could we possibly find out? Questions from Laura “Is this Government policy?” “Why are you worried?”” What are you planning to do about it?”

The number of patients in hospital is falling. This is due to more leaving.

Question from Laura “What percentages of leaving are recovered or died?”

We still need to get to grips with Care home deaths.

Question from Laura “Can you give any details on this?”

Questions

A very general question on inequalities. SOS says the virus does not discriminate, which is true. Dame Angela McLean says the less advantaged do have a higher correlation, which is also true. She also says the virus will hide in parts of society which are difficult to reach.

Question from Laura “Is this due to some groups having to put themselves at risk to earn money or other types of behaviour?”

Why have we chosen our own app rather than global system? It needs to be tailored to our own specific needs and our standards are high.

Question from Laura “Can you give me an example of high standards the Government have shown in epidemic planning?”

Did Robert Peston actually ask a question? I think he used over 100 words to ask “Are UK deaths going to be the same as Germany?” DAM points out that his interpretation of the graph was to ask, how we can bring people back to life?

I think the scientists should have more fun.

The scientific officer praises the testing strategies of Germany and South Korea and feels we can learn from them.

Question from Laura “What can we learn from them?”

Seems there is some misleading information about schools in Scotland. DAM does not recognize this study. Evidence is thin. What about Obesity? Yes it is a risk factor. Two beautiful studies are being done. Diets do not work it needs a long term change in life style. Mask-messaging shows why it is important to keep information simple. SOS shows the difficulties of giving information as he has to row back on the word good, as in progress with EU. This he knows will cause problems as journalists will cause trouble over it. Football will lift our spirits.

Welsh Journalist asks a question that implies the Welsh do not understand their own constitution. SOS gives a diplomatic answer. In a follow up the Journalist confirms he thinks the Welsh do not understand what their Government is responsible for. So SOS has to repeat the nations are working well together. DAM says England are creating data streams and are trying to persuade the other nations they are useful.

Take that Nicola ‘Twelve o’clock briefing’ Sturgeon. Question from Laura “Could you give us an example of these data?”

Unfortunately, Laura was not at the briefing today. So her questions were not asked.

Between the lines.

Downing Street 04/05/2020

Nick Hancock opens the briefing with a statement on how well he has done to create a system of track and trace which is both massive and unprecedented in scale. He is very direct and confident.

That he is now in the clear for the systematic lack of planning for testing in the first place.

The slightly less positive news of deaths is then announced.

 But they are no longer sad.

JVT states that step 5 will need scientific advice.

This means we need to look at how many people are infected and die as a result of going back to work.

The traffic graph has another day off and is replaced today with Apple data. Searches for directions!

Which I think shows a small upward trend.My question is if we start showing the British public decent information where will it end?

Hospital deaths which is always stated as the most accurate, shows the drop in weekends again. This is at last remarked upon as an artifact of the pre-crisis system.

 Strange that this has not been sorted out yet.

They are also still persevering with global deaths even though we are clearly worse now than Italy and Spain on this graph. Some unconvincing waffle about per capita.

Why not present that data then? Answer, in this graph we will look worse than the USA. Although less than Italy, Spain and Belgium.

Questions

BAME again. Same answers.

Although the Deputy Chief Medical Officer is funny (he says he is obviously from a BAME background as well!) when he says all deaths of NHS workers are a tragedy even if they are Caucasian (sorry JVT !)

Track and Trace. Clearly states that aim is keep virus at low levels not eradicate.

I would have thought as low as possible would be a sensible answer. Is this because with the virus spread across the world it will be impossible to keep it out? Monitor New Zealand?

Hugh Pym is so thankful to be able to ask a question.

The BBC is not safe. If they do not hold this Government to account, the Tories will suspect this will be the same for the opposition if they get into power.

Actually askes an interesting question about when testing will be rolled out. Answer four weeks but headline date deliberately not given. Track and trace capacity is not directly linked to the unlock*a

Why Isle of Wight? Professor Newton sensibly says he has experience of the area. Limited entry to the island. Numbers of people and low levels of cases mean will make it a good place for pilot study. Clearly states the island will not be used a guinea pig to test unlocking strategies! National Cyber security has been involved with regard to security of app.

I feel they have been a little unclear on privacy. Although the contact data is stored only on your phone (a plus) it is then obviously shared when you activate it! When you give your name does it then link this to the phones movement. I think this needs to be clarified because I can see how this could work anonymously so is this just a communication glitch?

Interesting discussion on antibody tests. Although not accurate enough to give an individual a clear result on whether they had been infected, they are now good enough for surveys. Two large surveys are underway about whether you are conferred some protection if you have had it once and for how long it will last. 2 years is a suggested time frame for the studies. Mr. Van-Tam gives good reason for this and explains how we cannot make our bodies respond faster. Secretary of State gives a good answer that he would not be happy ignoring social distancing even though he has a had the virus. The reason is until we know about this novel virus it could risk infecting others.

*a Unlock. Clearly this country has not gone as far as others but more than Sweden. So we need to careful about this term.

All the World’s problems (And how to solve them).

Most of us have problems. Some work to help others and worry about the world we live in. In a short essay I want to show my priorities for the worlds crisis.

My list of problems in order of importance.

One. The murder, unnecessary deaths and inhumane conditions of people.

Two. Extinction of species.

Three. Individual problems that have a political solution.

Four. Global warming*a

Humans are the most important creatures on the Planet. Their value is only our subjective opinion of course but it needs to be stated. It is easy to have a romantic view of the blue dot we call home. There has just had a reminder that there are a huge number of things that are out to get us. Global warming will at this rate finish off all but the wealthiest; but bacteria, draught, ice, and, until the last few thousand years, even monkey-eating eagles have all had a go.  We have to stick together. I find it difficult to believe that murderous governments killing families, children dying of malnutrition or treatable disease, can be allowed in the modern world. I know it is a cliché but a person dying now is not coming back and how can people be allowed to suffer. If the worst abuses of human rights were addressed first so many corrupt processes and injustices could be eradicated and we could then look clearly at the next problem. *b

The only European who can be happy in a rain forest is Ray Mears (Bear Grills is just there for show). Everything wants to eat you. However, when I was younger I developed the moral sense from somewhere, that burning down the rainforest*c was intrinsically wrong. Maybe it is. But there is a less altruistic view. Millions of years of evolution are lost when an environment is destroyed.  Not forever because the planet will eventually move on, scarred perhaps but life will evolve again to occupy these positions. However, it will be lost to us. Its beauty and wonder, our spiritual and cultural connections. It is probable that the continuing destruction is a huge contribution of the imbalance of greenhouse gasses. If we need any other reason it has been said for decades the usefulness of plants for pharmaceutical research and its  value for our future health. There are many others. Yes, most of nature and humanity will be destroyed if we have a runaway temperature spike but I am worried there will be very little left when the temperature crises hits. We are not being successful at present. If we can first live in our world without destroying it then it should be possible to look at the next set of problems.

As an example of the third most important issue I would state the development of Donkey sanctuaries. It is not a facetious attempt at a joke. In a conversation I had with a friend many years ago, I snapped (and pretty sure this included a snort) why would anybody spend their time or contribute to running a donkey sanctuary when we are destroying the planet and there are a hundred other things we need to sort out. She very patiently suggested that at least they were doing something to make the world a better place. We can all attempt to help by contributing to our own passions and concerns, these problems are not mutually exclusive, and for some they will be one or more of the other three on my list.It baffles me why Human Rights and Biodiversity have not been made a cross party issue but British politics will have to solve the third set of problems we feel are important. This I am sure will include how to run our economies without destroying our children’s futures. Hence leading to solutions for Global warming.

We are living in very worrying times and this lock down had originally made people think about their values. However, I am worried that if we are not careful, we will return to behaving using the same confused, thoughtless and selfish narrative as before.

*a. I would prefer that we use the term Global Warming when reporting this issue. Global warming is a long term trend. I am a non-scientist but I am disturbed by how every extreme event can be used to make a story about Climate change rather than how it impacts societies in terms of the first two catastrophes.

My order of importance was before SARS-CoV-2. There is an opportunity now took again at our economies due to the second bail out.

*b. It is the snowball of problems which is the main point of this article, in that, for example War displaces populations and this is a possible factor in the explosion of the AIDS epidemic. Destitution means having to destroy the environment to survive. Poor farming practices and conditions have been allowed to expose us to at least 400 zoonotic events since 1945.

Change is obviously unlikely to happen in the short term. However, we should clearly state the issues and be prepared to engage with the media and our political representatives on a consistent and regular basis.

*c This includes our own ancient woods.

One of my main reasons for this article is the frustration I have with what I have perceived as one of the main drivers of the media before the outbreak Climate change (Global Warming). I do think as a single issue it deserves to be at No3 but feel if we dealt with the first two as societies and number three mainly as individuals I believe the solutions to Global warming would follow.