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.


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.

The Football League

I was listening to Good Morning Britain today and was a bit surprised to hear this season should be declared null and void if the rest of the games cannot be completed.

The topic of probability is believed to have been invented when Pascal et al discussed how to resolve a gambling dispute. A game had been interrupted and he had been asked to see how best to share the bets based on the current position. Although how to resolve this football conundrum is not based on simple chance, could a solution be found that is considered to be the best of a bad job? I am going to look up if Stato from Football Fantasy League has data that can be used in a minute, but there must be hundreds of people who could look at the odds and base predictions on how the league would have turned out.

The odds on Liverpool not winning the league this year must be miniscule. However, reaching the Champions league and relegations etc will have varying degrees of doubt. If it could be decided who would be promoted, for example, a second calculation could be made of a share of revenue that club would receive. This could be based on the amount of uncertainty placed on the result and could be given to the club that missed out.  Likewise, if a Premiership team was relegated they could share in some of the revenue of the team that stayed up. Another solution could be that if it was decided a few games could be played their value could be decided in advance. If it just cannot be decided who goes up or down in a few cases a throw of a multisided dice! This is just a quick look at this and would think more sophisticated approaches could be found.

A one off wealth tax.

I saw a headline for a one off wealth tax today in a paper and this needs to be challenged. I will not go into the reasons now but most should become apparent whist reading my alternative solution.

First off all a 50% super tax on any assets or capital moved from the jurisdiction of UK tax regulations. This would go on company balance sheets to be payable in five years’ time at a percentage much like student loans.

According to Office for National Statistics the market value of financial and non-financial assets for the UK was 10.4 trillion pounds in 2019.

So next a wealth tax of 0.0004 % in the first year could then be levied. A person who owns a £250,000 house without a mortgage would pay £100 for example.

This should raise £4 billion. HMRC budget could then at best be doubled but in any case the extra resources could be spent tracking down and prosecuting those who evaded the tax in the first round.

It would create like the NHS a service where the brightest and best of our society would be proud to work. HMRC and the public could then see what the next round of tax should be, how it is being evaded, avoided and for whom it would be the fairest to be charged. After say four years we could then see if any of the super tax needs to be payable as some companies would have made legitimate business decisions.

You never know it might be possible to look and see if any other past financial injustices could be rectified. It is likely that over time with a fair and transparent tax system you will get that £100 back but what is certain we cannot blame the EU for injustice in our society anymore.