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-   -   Covid-19 and Politics (http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=342577)

EHocking 17th April 2020 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Angrysoba (Post 13059353)
Perhaps, then, if it does come down to male-female explanation, maybe it is not so much that women are necessarily more competent, or that men are necessarily more incompetent, but that if a leader is incompetent, that leader is more likely to be a man.

There could be a scientific reason for that!

The scientific reason is, probability.

Consider that, of the 138 countries in the world, only 14 are headed by women, there is a 90% chance that the head of a country will be a man.

So there is also the 90% probability that if a country’s leader is competent it will be a man.

Mader Levap 17th April 2020 04:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EHocking (Post 13060167)
The scientific reason is, probability.

Consider that, of the 138 countries in the world, only 14 are headed by women, there is a 90% chance that the head of a country will be a man.

So there is also the 90% probability that if a country’s leader is competent it will be a man.

Are you suggesting that women can be as (in)competent as men? That can't be!


(this is sarcasm, in case anyone wonders)

EHocking 17th April 2020 05:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mader Levap (Post 13060171)
Are you suggesting that women can be as (in)competent as men? That can't be!

(this is sarcasm, in case anyone wonders)

The problem is that the quote is out of context because of the mods shutting down multiple threads.

It was a response to the article in this post.
Specious cherry picking.
It is as specious as the oft repeated declaration the the world would have fewer wars/conflict if there were more female leaders.

The Atheist 17th April 2020 10:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EHocking (Post 13060175)
It is as specious as the oft repeated declaration the the world would have fewer wars/conflict if there were more female leaders.

Only among people not old enough to remember Margaret Thatcher.

Ulf Nereng 18th April 2020 12:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Atheist (Post 13060359)
Only among people not old enough to remember Margaret Thatcher.

I remember her, and also Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi. I wish I didn't! ;)

ETA: For some reason I think all three of those would have handled this pandemic rather expertly, though.

Planigale 18th April 2020 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Atheist (Post 13060359)
Only among people not old enough to remember Margaret Thatcher.

Catherine the Great, Indirha Ghandi....

Darat 18th April 2020 12:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13060014)
Alternatively perhaps you have no idea how the real world works. Just how rapidly do you think you can source the raw material and set up a factory producing water repellant material, then turn it into finished goods and CE test it? Bearing in mind countries such as the US and Germany will be preventing the export of material. Perhaps the fact the same issue is being reported across the world might suggest that this is slightly more difficult than you think?

https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/...asks-and-gowns
https://www.businessinsider.com/who-...20-3?r=US&IR=T


The quickest production line I’ve ever started up was in 5 days, granted that was for printing materials, boxes, assembly and so on and in better times. I am certain I know more about and have more practical experience in ops than any of the current front bench.

They could have started the production lines back in Jan. even some of the ludicrous Brexit ideas could have been used, I.e. 3D printing for the retaining fitments for face screens.

So no I am certain that the failure of not having PPE in sufficient quantities to keep to their previous guidelines, and not to have them where needed is a failing of competence.

wobs 18th April 2020 01:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13060014)
Alternatively perhaps you have no idea how the real world works. Just how rapidly do you think you can source the raw material and set up a factory producing water repellant material, then turn it into finished goods and CE test it? Bearing in mind countries such as the US and Germany will be preventing the export of material. Perhaps the fact the same issue is being reported across the world might suggest that this is slightly more difficult than you think?

https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/...asks-and-gowns
https://www.businessinsider.com/who-...20-3?r=US&IR=T

There are factories in developing countries where fast fashion orders have been cancelled, and are now quiet, that could be used to make the PPE gowns etc:
https://traidcraftexchange.org/fast-...K6Cp1vLBeqMwTU

How long to get the spec right, and the material... I don't know.

Planigale 18th April 2020 02:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13060413)
The quickest production line I’ve ever started up was in 5 days, granted that was for printing materials, boxes, assembly and so on and in better times. I am certain I know more about and have more practical experience in ops than any of the current front bench.

They could have started the production lines back in Jan. even some of the ludicrous Brexit ideas could have been used, I.e. 3D printing for the retaining fitments for face screens.

So no I am certain that the failure of not having PPE in sufficient quantities to keep to their previous guidelines, and not to have them where needed is a failing of competence.

So one criticism being made is that unlike masks / gloves / aprons the pandemic stockpile did not contain gowns as it was mostly orientated to flu. This is certainly an unduly narrow view given concerns around SARS and MERS. This is obviously a criticism of successive governments.

Often one is better to review accidents from a system pov; rather than a blame pov. If one attributes failure to the particular politicians in power, then no structural change is necessary, you can just be comforted by the fact that the next lot would have done the job better; this is not something I can have confidence in.

Politicising things e.g. Brexit idea = bad idea, even when the idea has nothing to do with Brexit does not help with a clear headed analysis as to what could have been done better.

One cause of the issues is that the pre-existing pandemic plan which the government was operating from was too biased towards flu, and had not assessed risks and needs for other high risk respiratory viruses. Person to person transmission of the novel coronavirus was only reported on 21 January. By Mid-March (< 8/52 after the first report of person to person transmission and at the same time as the government switched from a containment strategy (isolation and contact tracing all cases)), contracts had gone out for UK production of gowns and the specialist fluid resistant fabric needed. During this time the requirements for PPE for health staff were continually changing. It is not as if there was clarity about exactly what was needed at the beginning, the mechanism of transmission contact, droplet, aerosol, symptomatic or pre-symptomatic was very unclear early on.

One thing that I think probably delayed a response was the then government was criticised for over-reacting to H1N1 pandemic flu, SARS and MERS never emerged as pandemics, so there may have been a desire to not over-react. In retrospect it is easy to say 'act sooner' but if it had all fizzled out what would the reaction have been? Were the trigger points in the European pandemic plan set wrong? ECDC pandemic plans included guidance on when to start sourcing large amounts of PPE; which was of course screwed up when the sole European manufacturers in Germany were banned from exporting PPE out of Germany. So the government had to look to other suppliers rather than the planned supplier.

Clearly the pre-existing pandemic plan was too limited, it had not included a risk that EU countries would close borders to exports to other EU countries. The government probably stuck to the plan a bit too long, but it is unclear at what point it was clear that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was significantly different from the assumptions made based on flu.

Planigale 18th April 2020 02:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wobs (Post 13060432)
There are factories in developing countries where fast fashion orders have been cancelled, and are now quiet, that could be used to make the PPE gowns etc:
https://traidcraftexchange.org/fast-...K6Cp1vLBeqMwTU

How long to get the spec right, and the material... I don't know.

The UK factory to manufacture the material took three weeks to set up and is now up and running, but at this point probably better to keep it in the UK as there is no guarantee that PPE manufactured abroad will be re-exported to the UK.

Darat 18th April 2020 03:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wobs (Post 13060432)
There are factories in developing countries where fast fashion orders have been cancelled, and are now quiet, that could be used to make the PPE gowns etc:
https://traidcraftexchange.org/fast-...K6Cp1vLBeqMwTU

How long to get the spec right, and the material... I don't know.


There are still quite a lot of garment and related producers in the UK that can cope with ad hoc orders that the government could have requisitioned which would simply have needed the patterns, which again the government could have requisitioned or arranged. Most machinists can turn their hand to anything, whether this week it is sewing rag dolls, next week cushion covers, or PP gowns. In regular times if you do a search on any UK job recruitment site you will find there are dozens of companies at any one time looking for machinists (that may not be the case at the moment of course!)

An ex colleague of mine has been using his hobby, 3D printing to produce face guards and he has recruited quite a few other people to do this. Granted that is only a few hundred a week but again this is an area the government could have adopted a “WW2” approach. All it would have taken was to release the 3D model file, and asked all the hobbyists to start turning them out, this could have started months ago.

Unfortunately at least in the UK we have politicians with very little understanding of how production, manufacturing and operations work. As their ineptitude has demonstrated. Hotlines and badges do not get things to happen.

Darat 18th April 2020 03:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13060441)
The UK factory to manufacture the material took three weeks to set up and is now up and running, but at this point probably better to keep it in the UK as there is no guarantee that PPE manufactured abroad will be re-exported to the UK.


As you say took 3 weeks to set up, so that has been in production since the end of January..... of course not....

And another “of course” other alternates could have been used to create stockpiles of different parts of the recommended, sorry previously recommended PPE kit if they had been started in January.

The new guidelines have not been produced based on clinical experience but simply because the government has not done undertaken the right actions at the right time. Just like they didn’t take the right actions at the right time in regards to contact tracing and testing.

From beginning to now they have time and time again been shown to be incompetent at governing. Which is what they are meant to be doing.

I don’t expect the government to get everything right, often decisions have to made and only hindsight can show it was wrong. That is not my criticism, my criticism is based on what they are supposed to do - which is govern - and they have failed to do that at every single critical point during this pandemic.

Planigale 18th April 2020 04:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13060499)
As you say took 3 weeks to set up, so that has been in production since the end of January..... of course not....

And another “of course” other alternates could have been used to create stockpiles of different parts of the recommended, sorry previously recommended PPE kit if they had been started in January.

The new guidelines have not been produced based on clinical experience but simply because the government has not done undertaken the right actions at the right time. Just like they didn’t take the right actions at the right time in regards to contact tracing and testing.

From beginning to now they have time and time again been shown to be incompetent at governing. Which is what they are meant to be doing.

I don’t expect the government to get everything right, often decisions have to made and only hindsight can show it was wrong. That is not my criticism, my criticism is based on what they are supposed to do - which is govern - and they have failed to do that at every single critical point during this pandemic.

You clearly have a thing about contact tracing; but what specifically are you saying the government didn't do at the right time (whatever that is) with regards to contact tracing. I can understand that people have strong feelings that something must have gone wrong, but just sometimes things still go wrong despite all the correct actions being taken. The one thing that is clear from dealing with crises, disasters, major incidents is that the response is better if people stick to a plan rather than everyone winging it in an uncoordinated fashion. You are strong on generalisations but weak on specifics. What is it that you think the government did not decide to do on which day that you would have done, or a non-Brexit supporting government would have done? (Preferably any decision is not dependant on retrospective knowledge.)

Darat 18th April 2020 06:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13060515)
You clearly have a thing about contact tracing; but what specifically are you saying the government didn't do at the right time (whatever that is) with regards to contact tracing. I can understand that people have strong feelings that something must have gone wrong, but just sometimes things still go wrong despite all the correct actions being taken. The one thing that is clear from dealing with crises, disasters, major incidents is that the response is better if people stick to a plan rather than everyone winging it in an uncoordinated fashion. You are strong on generalisations but weak on specifics. What is it that you think the government did not decide to do on which day that you would have done, or a non-Brexit supporting government would have done? (Preferably any decision is not dependant on retrospective knowledge.)

I have a “big” thing about it because if they had done it rigorously and used it as they did in SK we would not be seeing the death toll we are. We didn’t.

Planigale 18th April 2020 08:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13060579)
I have a “big” thing about it because if they had done it rigorously and used it as they did in SK we would not be seeing the death toll we are. We didn’t.

I know people who were doing it, and they were certainly trying to track down all the cases and contacts. I am not sure what you think they were doing wrong. The fact that the only country it appears to have worked in is South Korea, may suggest that there is something odd in South Korea. France, Spain, Italy, Germany etc were all contact tracing, isolating, etc. Perhaps some of the difference we see in Germany may be a more effective contact tracing process but even for Germany it did not work. sweden is carrying out contact tracing.
https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artike...rtikel=7418206
https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/...trol/covid-19/
Singapore where it was previously thought to be successful seems to be running into problems.
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news...ories-12655240
There are other things that SK did other than just contact tracing, schools were closed, all persons entering the country were required to quarantine for 2 weeks, social distancing was in place, face masks were widely worn. Most cases in South Korea were related to a single church and so the state effectively had a list of a small high risk group to focus on for contact tracing.

Darat 18th April 2020 08:26 AM

On the telly now the typical crap, working as hard as we can to get PPE, using UK businesses, journalist tries to get details which companies because they had been speaking to businesses and they are saying we could help but have nothing from the government. And guess what, the minister can’t name any of the companies they claim are helping.

Time and time again they show they have no one of any capability, they can say the words but have no idea how to actually do anything even picking up the bloody phone and talking to people is beyond them.

It is beyond all jokes.

Darat 18th April 2020 08:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13060640)
I know people who were doing it, and they were certainly trying to track down all the cases and contacts. I am not sure what you think they were doing wrong. The fact that the only country it appears to have worked in is South Korea, may suggest that there is something odd in South Korea. France, Spain, Italy, Germany etc were all contact tracing, isolating, etc. Perhaps some of the difference we see in Germany may be a more effective contact tracing process but even for Germany it did not work. sweden is carrying out contact tracing.
https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artike...rtikel=7418206
https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/...trol/covid-19/
Singapore where it was previously thought to be successful seems to be running into problems.
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news...ories-12655240
There are other things that SK did other than just contact tracing, schools were closed, all persons entering the country were required to quarantine for 2 weeks, social distancing was in place, face masks were widely worn. Most cases in South Korea were related to a single church and so the state effectively had a list of a small high risk group to focus on for contact tracing.


Yes I know you confuse a stated plan and a policy for the doing.

I don’t.

The Don 18th April 2020 08:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13060645)
On the telly now the typical crap, working as hard as we can to get PPE, using UK businesses, journalist tries to get details which companies because they had been speaking to businesses and they are saying we could help but have nothing from the government. And guess what, the minister can’t name any of the companies they claim are helping.

Time and time again they show they have no one of any capability, they can say the words but have no idea how to actually do anything even picking up the bloody phone and talking to people is beyond them.

It is beyond all jokes.

Saying that you're doing something or that you intend to do something is just as good as doing it. After all, I'm sure Boris Johnson has said "forsaking all others.... " on a couple of occasions ;).

Elaedith 18th April 2020 08:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13060493)

An ex colleague of mine has been using his hobby, 3D printing to produce face guards and he has recruited quite a few other people to do this. Granted that is only a few hundred a week but again this is an area the government could have adopted a “WW2” approach. All it would have taken was to release the 3D model file, and asked all the hobbyists to start turning them out, this could have started months ago.

Unfortunately at least in the UK we have politicians with very little understanding of how production, manufacturing and operations work. As their ineptitude has demonstrated. Hotlines and badges do not get things to happen.

Universities have these facilities and most are not being used at the moment with campuses closed to non-essential activities. Some universities have already started producing 3D face guards on a small scale. I'm sure this production could be ramped up with a bit of funding and coordinated organisation.

Darat 18th April 2020 08:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Elaedith (Post 13060659)
Universities have these facilities and most are not being used at the moment with campuses closed to non-essential activities. Some universities have already started producing 3D face guards on a small scale. I'm sure this production could be ramped up with a bit of funding and coordinated organisation.


Nah, remember to get PPE you just say “we are doing everything we can” whenever asked and that makes the pixies deliver them.

This is probably not the best time for me to be posting on this, just been talking to my relative who works at a prison and they have been told they have 100 wipes a day to use for passing over key sets. Apparently “the team” has worked out that is all that is needed. If they run out well they have to wait until the next day to get any more but of course they still have to pass the sets of keys back and forward. The keys are made of metal and plastic so not a surface that the virus can live on. Oh and of course there is no PPE for anyone in the prison apart from the nursing team.

Oh and the reason they have to pass the keys back and forwards all day long is that as part of austerity they no longer each have a set of keys. Which at the best of times has people ringing around the prison to find someone who has a set of keys that can open door X because there are no sets in the guard room.

I need to go for my daily outside exercising!

Darat 18th April 2020 09:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Don (Post 13060658)
Saying that you're doing something or that you intend to do something is just as good as doing it. After all, I'm sure Boris Johnson has said "forsaking all others.... " on a couple of occasions ;).


It’s the comfortable class, they live (and yes I am part of that class) with the life long experience that things just happen when they want them to happen. An example was when the restrictions first started and some media was doing a vox pop and someone when asked are they worried about shortages and so on in shops, simply answered with “no I’ll order from Amazon”.

Captain_Swoop 18th April 2020 09:14 AM

remember 2016 they ran the Cygnus trial looking at the effect of a pandemic on the UK
The govt collectively **** itself as it realised the immensity of the disaster that would occur they they did nothing for 4 years to stockpile any PPE.

Darat 18th April 2020 09:27 AM

I mentioned earlier about an ex colleague and the visors, didn’t realise how it had grown, he’s now part of this


https://www.gofundme.com/f/3dcrowd-e...cp+share-sheet

GlennB 18th April 2020 09:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop (Post 13060684)
remember 2016 they ran the Cygnus trial looking at the effect of a pandemic on the UK
The govt collectively **** itself as it realised the immensity of the disaster that would occur they they did nothing for 4 years to stockpile any PPE.

Please explain this to Planigale next time s/he seeks to excuse the Government, claim it isn't a political thing that can be pinned on the Tories, or whatever.

From The Daily Mail: "A Government exercise four years ago predicted a deadly virus from Asia would arrive in the UK and leave the NHS on its knees, but was not published because the results were 'too terrifying'." link

The Don 18th April 2020 11:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GlennB (Post 13060723)
Please explain this to Planigale next time s/he seeks to excuse the Government, claim it isn't a political thing that can be pinned on the Tories, or whatever.

From The Daily Mail: "A Government exercise four years ago predicted a deadly virus from Asia would arrive in the UK and leave the NHS on its knees, but was not published because the results were 'too terrifying'." link

Fake News ?...:rolleyes:

The Atheist 18th April 2020 12:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13060405)
Catherine the Great, Indirha Ghandi....

I'm going to take a wild guess nobody anywhere is old enough to remember Catherine the Great.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13060413)
The quickest production line I’ve ever started up was in 5 days, granted that was for printing materials, boxes, assembly and so on and in better times. I am certain I know more about and have more practical experience in ops than any of the current front bench.

Your tea lady probably had more knowledge than the front bench.

This is what you get when Parliament becomes a refuge for people whose life has been spent working towards getting into Parliament.

Maybe instead of focusing on gender diversity we should be focusing on career diversity and have ministers of commerce who have run a business, ministers of health who have been doctors, etc.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13060515)
You clearly have a thing about contact tracing; ...

I would have thought that the difference in scale between countries that have undertaken extensive contact tracing - Germany, Australia, South Korea - and those that didn't, is stark enough to show just how important it is.

Mojo 18th April 2020 02:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Atheist (Post 13060915)
Your tea lady probably had more knowledge than the front bench.

This is what you get when Parliament becomes a refuge for people whose life has been spent working towards getting into Parliament.


Until a couple of weeks ago most of them probably thought that “PPE” was a degree course.

Planigale 18th April 2020 11:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13060646)
Yes I know you confuse a stated plan and a policy for the doing.

I don’t.

But I know the people who were doing it. You may think contact tracing wasn't done, but it was. You seem to think my colleagues and friends who were doing the contact tracing were negligent, lazy or incompetent. That they are at least morally if not criminally responsible because they did not do their job properly. This is simply not true, they identified contacts, interviewed them, tested contacts, interviewed contacts of contacts tested them; they were on to third generation contacts at the time the policy shifted. If you consider that everyone only has 6 degrees of separation and understand what exponential growth is you can understand how quickly the numbers in an outbreak can grow.

The policies, methods and practice of contact tracing is not something any government minister would have any dealing with. It involved no government decision, the plans for contact tracing High risk respiratory viruses was long established. It was carried out for early cases of pandemic flu, for MERS, SARS. For the latter two it has been effective, there have been no UK outbreaks.

Modelling suggests that if >30% of cases are transmitted by asymptomatic cases contact tracing cannot control an outbreak. Is there a difference in proportion of asymptomatic cases between Europe and South Korea? This may explain the differences in outcome of contact tracing. Did South Korea's voluntary 'lock down' / social distancing that happened early limit the outbreak rather than contact tracing?

I know you want a simple answer and someone to blame. The truth may be more complex, we need the correct answer not a quick one. I don't think it gains anything to scapegoat the contact tracing teams as guilty of causing the outbreak because you think they were incompetent.

As someone said,

Quote:

I’m sorry but people having a different reaction to me isn’t acceptable!

Planigale 19th April 2020 12:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Atheist (Post 13060915)
I'm going to take a wild guess nobody anywhere is old enough to remember Catherine the Great.



Your tea lady probably had more knowledge than the front bench.

This is what you get when Parliament becomes a refuge for people whose life has been spent working towards getting into Parliament.

Maybe instead of focusing on gender diversity we should be focusing on career diversity and have ministers of commerce who have run a business, ministers of health who have been doctors, etc.



I would have thought that the difference in scale between countries that have undertaken extensive contact tracing - Germany, Australia, South Korea - and those that didn't, is stark enough to show just how important it is.

I am not arguing that contact tracing is not important it is. I think that some people posting here were under the impression the UK (and other countries) never undertook contact tracing. The initial response and the what happened until 12 march in the UK was all cases were contact traced. Darat's view seems to be those doing it were incompetent, because if they had been competent the outbreak would have been controlled. My point is that it is more important to know why outbreak control was better in some countries than others not just say if we did infection control better it would have worked so we should do contact tracing again. Sometimes doing something that did not work the first time, won't work when you do it again. Given the large numbers of cases the resources that would need redirecting to contact tracing at this point would be huge.

The UK is far more culturally diverse than South Korea, does this impact on contact tracing? Is the higher rate of Covid-19 in BaME persons because some communities were harder to contact trace? Was the behaviour of the virus slightly different? Australia has a very unique demography, most of the population is urban, but the urban centres are physically distant. Border control was probably important in South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. For the UK this is important to know currently because of agreement with EU it is difficult for the UK to close borders. Most of the cases in South Korea were a single point outbreak related to a church, quite different from the widespread multiple events in the UK.

I suspect that if the UK had closed its borders as soon as Italy reported person to person transmission things may have looked more like Australia.

Pixel42 19th April 2020 12:12 AM

A damning article in today's Sunday Times is behind a paywall, but it can be read here (pdf):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-T_...tUsqqYlmz/view

Quote:

Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster

Boris Johnson skipped five Cobra meetings on the virus, calls to order protective gear were ignored and scientists’ warnings fell on deaf ears. Failings in February may have cost thousands of lives

Darat 19th April 2020 12:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13061410)
I am not arguing that contact tracing is not important it is. I think that some people posting here were under the impression the UK (and other countries) never undertook contact tracing. The initial response and the what happened until 12 march in the UK was all cases were contact traced. Darat's view seems to be those doing it were incompetent, because if they had been competent the outbreak would have been controlled. My point is that it is more important to know why outbreak control was better in some countries than others not just say if we did infection control better it would have worked so we should do contact tracing again. Sometimes doing something that did not work the first time, won't work when you do it again. Given the large numbers of cases the resources that would need redirecting to contact tracing at this point would be huge.

The UK is far more culturally diverse than South Korea, does this impact on contact tracing? Is the higher rate of Covid-19 in BaME persons because some communities were harder to contact trace? Was the behaviour of the virus slightly different? Australia has a very unique demography, most of the population is urban, but the urban centres are physically distant. Border control was probably important in South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. For the UK this is important to know currently because of agreement with EU it is difficult for the UK to close borders. Most of the cases in South Korea were a single point outbreak related to a church, quite different from the widespread multiple events in the UK.

I suspect that if the UK had closed its borders as soon as Italy reported person to person transmission things may have looked more like Australia.


Again you are indeed mistaking the stating of a plan or policy for the carrying out that policy/plan.

The Atheist 19th April 2020 01:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13061410)
I am not arguing that contact tracing is not important it is. I think that some people posting here were under the impression the UK (and other countries) never undertook contact tracing.

Weight of numbers plays a huge part, too. You would have had thousands of new cases arriving daily, while NZ & Aus had dozens, or hundreds at worst.

Closing borders is a huge advantage.

Nessie 19th April 2020 01:29 AM

There cannot be a coincidence that Europe's most popular tourist destinations have been the hardest hit and that the virus thrived in the Alps during ski season.

Captain_Swoop 19th April 2020 01:53 AM

Andrew Neil blames the NHS

Quote:

Where was the NHS in all this? Surely it was the job of the NHS to tell ministers exactly what sort of ventilators it required -- and the best way of getting them (which must surely have been building under licence rather than reinventing the wheel)?
Noticed quite a few threads appearing blaming the NHS for shortages of PPE and intensive care beds. It looks like the tide is shifting among the Boris supporters, time to blame the victim.

Things like this
Quote:

The NHS knew about this virus in JANUARY, as most of us did.
THAT was when the highly paid NHS Managers should have got off their arses and ordered ALL the necessary equipment.
It's called "In Preparation " !
Quote:

unless it can be shown Hancock overruled the plans of NHS managers - it has to be the responsibility of NHS staff at an operational level
Quote:

Procurement in the NHS need to shoulder the blame for this
Quote:

The NHS were told after their last pandemic exercise what they needed to purchase and they did nothing about it
and on and on and on

Captain_Swoop 19th April 2020 02:43 AM

https://archive.is/20200418182037/ht...ster-hq3b9tlgh

The full Sunday Times article without a paywall that shows that Rupert Murdoch realises that Boris Johnson is toast and no doubt is the beginning of a bid to get his own man, cocaine snorting Michael Gove in to office.

angrysoba 19th April 2020 03:10 AM

From the Sunday Times today (apparently)...

It is long and it is paywalled, and it squarely blames Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, previous Tory governments's austerity measures and even Chris Whitty:

Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster
Boris Johnson skipped five Cobra meetings on the virus, calls to order protective gear were ignored and scientists’ warnings fell on deaf ears. Failings in February may have cost thousands of lives
April 18 2020, The Sunday Times
On the third Friday of January a silent and stealthy killer was creeping across the world. Passing from person to person and borne on ships and planes, the coronavirus was already leaving a trail of bodies.
The virus had spread from China to six countries and was almost certainly in many others. Sensing the coming danger, the British government briefly went into wartime mode that day, holding a meeting of Cobra, its national crisis committee.
But it took just an hour that January 24 lunchtime to brush aside the coronavirus threat. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, bounced out of Whitehall after chairing the meeting and breezily told reporters the risk to the UK public was “low”.
This was despite the publication that day of an alarming study by Chinese doctors in the medical journal, The Lancet. It assessed the lethal potential of the virus, for the first time suggesting it was comparable to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed up to 50 million people.
Unusually, Boris Johnson had been absent from Cobra. The committee — which includes ministers, intelligence chiefs and military generals — gathers at moments of great peril such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other threats to the nation and is normally chaired by the prime minister.
Johnson had found time that day, however, to join in a lunar new year dragon eyes ritual as part of Downing Street’s reception for the Chinese community, led by the country’s ambassador.
It was a big day for Johnson and there was a triumphal mood in Downing Street because the withdrawal treaty from the European Union was being signed in the late afternoon. It could have been the defining moment of his premiership — but that was before the world changed.
That afternoon his spokesman played down the looming threat from the east and reassured the nation that we were “well prepared for any new diseases”. The confident, almost nonchalant, attitude displayed that day in January would continue for more than a month.
Johnson went on to miss four further Cobra meetings on the virus. As Britain was hit by unprecedented flooding, he completed the EU withdrawal, reshuffled his cabinet and then went away to the grace-and-favour country retreat at Chevening where he spent most of the two weeks over half-term with his pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds.
It would not be until March 2 — another five weeks — that Johnson would attend a Cobra meeting about the coronavirus. But by then it was almost certainly too late. The virus had sneaked into our airports, our trains, our workplaces and our homes. Britain was on course for one of the worst infections of the most deadly virus to have hit the world in more than a century.
Last week, a senior adviser to Downing Street broke ranks and blamed the weeks of complacency on a failure of leadership in cabinet. In particular, the prime minister was singled out.
“There’s no way you’re at war if your PM isn’t there,” the adviser said. “And what you learn about Boris was he didn’t chair any meetings. He liked his country breaks. He didn’t work weekends. It was like working for an old-fashioned chief executive in a local authority 20 years ago. There was a real sense that he didn’t do urgent crisis planning. It was exactly like people feared he would be.”
One day there will inevitably be an inquiry into the lack of preparations during those “lost” five weeks from January 24. There will be questions about when politicians understood the severity of the threat, what the scientists told them and why so little was done to equip the National Health Service for the coming crisis. It will be the politicians who will face the most intense scrutiny.
Among the key points likely to be explored will be why it took so long to recognise an urgent need for a massive boost in supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers; ventilators to treat acute respiratory symptoms; and tests to detect the infection.
Any inquiry may also ask whether the government’s failure to get to grips with the scale of the crisis in those early days had the knock-on effect of the national lockdown being introduced days or even weeks too late, causing many thousands more unnecessary deaths.
An investigation has talked to scientists, academics, doctors, emergency planners, public officials and politicians about the root of the crisis and whether the government should have known sooner and acted more swiftly to kick-start the Whitehall machine and put the NHS onto a war footing.
They told us that, contrary to the official line, Britain was in a poor state of readiness for a pandemic. Emergency stockpiles of PPE had severely dwindled and gone out of date after becoming a low priority in the years of austerity cuts. The training to prepare key workers for a pandemic had been put on hold for two years while contingency planning was diverted to deal with a possible no-deal Brexit.
This made it doubly important that the government hit the ground running in late January and early February. Scientists said the threat from the coming storm was clear. Indeed, one of the government’s key advisory committees was given a dire warning a month earlier than has previously been admitted about the prospect of having to deal with mass casualties.
It was a message repeated throughout February but the warnings appear to have fallen on deaf ears. The need, for example, to boost emergency supplies of protective masks and gowns for health workers was pressing, but little progress was made in obtaining the items from the manufacturers, mainly in China.
Instead, the government sent supplies the other way — shipping 279,000 items of its depleted stockpile of protective equipment to China during this period, following a request for help from the authorities there.
The prime minister had been sunning himself with his girlfriend in the millionaires’ Caribbean resort of Mustique when China first alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 31 that several cases of an unusual pneumonia had been recorded in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in Hubei province.
In the days that followed China initially claimed the virus could not be transmitted from human to human, which should have been reassuring. But this did not ring true to Britain’s public health academics and epidemiologists who were texting each other, eager for more information, in early January.
Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, had predicted in a talk two years earlier that a virus might jump species from an animal in China and spread quickly to become a human pandemic. So the news from Wuhan set her on high alert.
“In early January a lot of my global health colleagues and I were kind of discussing ‘What’s going on?’” she recalled. “China still hadn’t confirmed the virus was human-to-human. A lot of us were suspecting it was because it was a respiratory pathogen and you wouldn’t see the numbers of cases that we were seeing out of China if it was not human-to-human. So that was disturbing.”
By as early as January 16 the professor was on Twitter calling for swift action to prepare for the virus. “Been asked by journalists how serious #WuhanPneumonia outbreak is,” she wrote. “My answer: take it seriously because of cross-border spread (planes means bugs travel far & fast), likely human-to-human transmission and previous outbreaks have taught overresponding is better than delaying action.”
Events were now moving fast. Four hundred miles away in London, from its campus next to the Royal Albert Hall, a team at Imperial College’s School of Public Health led by Professor Neil Ferguson produced its first modelling assessment of the likely impact of the virus. On Friday, January 17, its report noted the “worrying” news that three cases of the virus had been discovered outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. While acknowledging many unknowns, researchers calculated that there could already be as many as 4,000 cases. The report warned: “The magnitude of these numbers suggests substantial human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out. Heightened surveillance, prompt information-sharing and enhanced preparedness are recommended.”
By now the mystery bug had been identified as a type of coronavirus — a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars). There had been two reported deaths from the virus and 41 patients had been taken ill.
The following Wednesday, January 22, the government convened its first meeting of its scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) to discuss the virus. Its membership is secret but it is usually chaired by the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, and chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty. Downing Street advisers are also present.
There were new findings that day with Chinese scientists warning that the virus had an unusually high infectivity rate of up to 3.0, which meant each person with the virus would typically infect up to three more people.
One of those present was Imperial’s Ferguson, who was already working on his own estimate — putting infectivity at 2.6 and possibly as high as 3.5 — which he sent to ministers and officials in a report on the day of the Cobra meeting on January 24. The Spanish flu had an estimated infectivity rate of between 2.0 and 3.0, so Ferguson’s finding was shocking.
The professor’s other bombshell in the same report was that there needed to be a 60% cut in the transmission rate — which meant stopping contact between people. In layman’s terms it meant a lockdown, a move that would paralyse an economy already facing a battering from Brexit. At the time such a suggestion was unthinkable in the government and belonged to the world of post-apocalypse movies.
The growing alarm among scientists appears not to have been heard or heeded by policy-makers. After the January 25 Cobra meeting, the chorus of reassurance was not just from Hancock and the prime minister’s spokesman: Whitty was confident too.
“Cobra met today to discuss the situation in Wuhan, China,” said Whitty. “We have global experts monitoring the situation around the clock and have a strong track record of managing new forms of infectious disease . . . there are no confirmed cases in the UK to date.”
However, by then there had been 1,000 cases worldwide and 41 deaths, mostly in Wuhan. A Lancet report that day presented a study of 41 coronavirus patients admitted to hospital in Wuhan which found that more than half had severe breathing problems, a third required intensive care and six had died.
And there was now little doubt that the UK would be hit by the virus. A study by Southampton University has shown that 190,000 people flew into the UK from Wuhan and other high-risk Chinese cities between January and March. The researchers estimated that up to 1,900 of these passengers would have been infected with the coronavirus — almost guaranteeing the UK would become a centre of the subsequent pandemic.
Sure enough, five days later on Wednesday, January 29, the first coronavirus cases on British soil were found when two Chinese nationals from the same family fell ill at a hotel in York. The next day, the government raised the threat level from low to moderate.
On January 31 — or Brexit day as it had become known — there was a rousing 11pm speech by the prime minister promising that the withdrawal from the European Union would be the dawn of a new era unleashing the British people who would “grow in confidence” month by month.
By this time, there was good reason for the government’s top scientific advisers to feel creeping unease about the virus. The WHO had declared the coronavirus a global emergency just the day before and scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine had confirmed to Whitty in a private meeting of the Nervtag advisory committee on respiratory illness that the virus’s infectivity could be as bad as Ferguson’s worst estimate several days earlier.
The official scientific advisers were willing to concede in public that there might be several cases of the coronavirus in the UK. But they had faith that the country’s plans for a pandemic would prove robust.
This was probably a big mistake. An adviser to Downing Street — speaking off the record — says their confidence in “the plan” was misplaced. While a possible pandemic had been listed as the No 1 threat to the nation for many years, the source says that in reality it had long since stopped being treated as such.
Several emergency planners and scientists said that the plans to protect the UK in a pandemic had once been a top priority and had been well-funded for a decade following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. But then austerity cuts struck. “We were the envy of the world,” the source said, “but pandemic planning became a casualty of the austerity years when there were more pressing needs.”
The last rehearsal for a pandemic was a 2016 exercise codenamed Cygnus which predicted the health service would collapse and highlighted a long list of shortcomings — including, presciently, a lack of PPE and intensive care ventilators.
But an equally lengthy list of recommendations to address the deficiencies was never implemented. The source said preparations for a no-deal Brexit “sucked all the blood out of pandemic planning” in the following years.
In the year leading up to the coronavirus outbreak key government committee meetings on pandemic planning were repeatedly “bumped” off the diary to make way for discussions about more pressing issues such as the beds crisis in the NHS. Training for NHS staff with protective equipment and respirators was also neglected, the source alleges.
Members of the government advisory group on pandemics are said to have felt powerless. “They would joke between themselves, ‘Haha let’s hope we don’t get a pandemic,’ because there wasn’t a single area of practice that was being nurtured in order for us to meet basic requirements for pandemic, never mind do it well,” said the source.
“If you were with senior NHS managers at all during the last two years, you were aware that their biggest fear, their sweatiest nightmare, was a pandemic because they weren’t prepared for it.”
It meant that the government had much catching up to do when it was becoming clear that this “nightmare” was becoming a distinct possibility in February. But the source says there was little urgency. “Almost every plan we had was not activated in February. Almost every government department has failed to properly implement their own pandemic plans,” the source said.
One deviation from the plan, for example, was a failure to give an early warning to firms that there might be a lockdown so they could start contingency planning. “There was a duty to get them to start thinking about their cashflow and their business continuity arrangements,” the source said.
A central part of any pandemic plan is to identify anyone who becomes ill, vigorously pursue all their recent contacts and put them into quarantine. That involves testing and the UK initially seemed to be ahead of the game. In early February Hancock proudly told the Commons the UK was one of the first countries to develop a new test for the coronavirus. “Testing worldwide is being done on equipment designed in Oxford,” he said.
So when Steve Walsh, a 53-year-old businessman from Hove, East Sussex, was identified as the source of the second UK outbreak on February 6 all his contacts were followed up with tests. Walsh’s case was a warning of the rampant infectivity of the virus as he is believed to have passed it to five people in the UK after returning from a conference in Singapore as well as six overseas.
But Public Health England failed to take advantage of our early breakthroughs with tests and lost early opportunities to step up production to the levels that would later be needed.
This was in part because the government was planning for the virus using its blueprint for fighting the flu. Once a flu pandemic has found its way into the population and there is no vaccine, then the virus is allowed to take its course until “herd immunity” is acquired. Such a plan does not require mass testing.
A senior politician told this newspaper: “I had conversations with Chris Whitty at the end of January and they were absolutely focused on herd immunity. The reason is that with flu, herd immunity is the right response if you haven’t got a vaccine.
“All of our planning was for pandemic flu. There has basically been a divide between scientists in Asia who saw this as a horrible, deadly disease on the lines of Sars, which requires immediate lockdown, and those in the West, particularly in the US and UK, who saw this as flu.”
The prime minister’s special adviser Dominic Cummings is said to have had initial enthusiasm for the herd immunity concept, which may have played a part in the government’s early approach to managing the virus. The Department of Health firmly denies that “herd immunity” was ever its aim and rejects suggestions that Whitty supported it. Cummings also denies backing the concept.
The failure to obtain large amounts of testing equipment was another big error of judgment, according to the Downing Street source. It would later be one of the big scandals of the coronavirus crisis that the considerable capacity of Britain’s private laboratories to mass-produce tests was not harnessed during those crucial weeks of February.
“We should have communicated with every commercial testing laboratory that might volunteer to become part of the government’s testing regime but that didn’t happen,” said the source.
The lack of action was confirmed by Doris-Ann Williams, chief executive of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association, which represents 110 companies that make up most of the UK’s testing sector. Amazingly, she says her organisation did not receive a meaningful approach from the government asking for help until April 1 — the night before Hancock bowed to pressure and announced a belated and ambitious target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month.
There was also a failure to replenish supplies of gowns and masks for health and care workers in the early weeks of February — despite NHS England declaring the virus its first “level four critical incident” at the end of January.
It was a key part of the pandemic plan — the NHS’s Operating Framework for Managing the Response to Pandemic Influenza dated December 2017 — that the NHS would be able to draw on “just in case” stockpiles of PPE.
But many of the “just in case” stockpiles had dwindled, and equipment was out of date. As not enough money was being spent on replenishing stockpiles, this shortfall was supposed to be filled by activating “just in time” contracts which had been arranged with equipment suppliers in recent years to deal with an emergency. The first order for equipment under the “just in time” protocol was made on January 30.
However, the source said that attempts to call in these “just in time” contracts immediately ran into difficulties in February because they were mostly with Chinese manufacturers who were facing unprecedented demand from the country’s own health service and elsewhere.
This was another nail in the coffin for the pandemic plan. “It was a massive spider’s web of failing, every domino has fallen,” said the source.
The NHS could have contacted UK-based suppliers. The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) was ready to help supply PPE in February — and throughout March — but it was only on April 1 that its offer of help was accepted. Dr Simon Festing, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “Orders undoubtedly went overseas instead of to the NHS because of the missed opportunities in the procurement process.”
Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.
A senior department of health insider described the sense of drift witnessed during those crucial weeks in February: “We missed the boat on testing and PPE . . . I remember being called into some of the meetings about this in February and thinking, ‘Well it’s a good thing this isn’t the big one.’
“I had watched Wuhan but I assumed we must have not been worried because we did nothing. We just watched. A pandemic was always at the top of our national risk register — always — but when it came we just slowly watched. We could have been Germany but instead we were doomed by our incompetence, our hubris and our austerity.”
In the Far East the threat was being treated more seriously in the early weeks of February. Martin Hibberd, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was in a unique position to compare the UK’s response with Singapore, where he had advised in the past.
“Singapore realised, as soon as Wuhan reported it, that cases were going to turn up in Singapore. And so they prepared for that. I looked at the UK and I can see a different strategy and approach.
“The interesting thing for me is, I’ve worked with Singapore in 2003 and 2009 and basically they copied the UK pandemic preparedness plan. But the difference is they actually implemented it.”
Towards the end of the second week of February, the prime minister was demob happy. After sacking five cabinet ministers and saying everyone “should be confident and calm” about Britain’s response to the virus, Johnson vacated Downing Street after the half-term recess began on February 13.
He headed to the country for a “working” holiday at Chevening with Symonds and would be out of the public eye for 12 days. His aides were thankful for the rest, as they had been working flat out since the summer as the Brexit power struggle had played out.
The Sunday newspapers that weekend would not have made comfortable reading. The Sunday Times reported on a briefing from a risk specialist which said that Public Health England would be overrun during a pandemic as it could test only 1,000 people a day.
Johnson may well have been distracted by matters in his personal life during his stay in the countryside. Aides were told to keep their briefing papers short and cut the number of memos in his red box if they wanted them to be read.
His family needed to be prepared for the announcement that Symonds, who turned 32 in March, was pregnant and that they had been secretly engaged for some time. Relations with his children had been fraught since his separation from his estranged wife Marina Wheeler and the rift deepened when she had been diagnosed with cancer last year.
The divorce also had to be finalised. Midway through the break it was announced in the High Court that the couple had reached a settlement, leaving Wheeler free to apply for divorce.
There were murmurings of frustration from some ministers and their aides at the time that Johnson was not taking more of a lead. But Johnson’s aides are understood to have felt relaxed: he was getting updates and they claim the scientists were saying everything was under control.
By the time Johnson departed for the countryside, however, there was mounting unease among scientists about the exceptional nature of the threat. Sir Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist who is a key government adviser, made this clear in a recent BBC interview.
“I think from the early days in February, if not in late January, it was obvious this infection was going to be very serious and it was going to affect more than just the region of Asia ,” he said. “I think it was very clear that this was going to be an unprecedented event.”
By February 21, the virus had already infected 76,000 people, had caused 2,300 deaths in China and was taking a foothold in Europe with Italy recording 51 cases and two deaths the following day. Nonetheless Nervtag, one of the key government advisory committees, decided to keep the threat level at “moderate”.
Its members may well regret that decision with hindsight and it was certainly not unanimous. John Edmunds, one of the country’s top infectious disease modellers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was participating in the meeting by video link but his technology failed him at the crucial moment.
Edmunds wanted the threat level to be increased to high but could not make his view known as the link was glitchy. He sent an email later making his view clear. “JE believes that the risk to the UK population [in the PHE risk assessment] should be high, as there is evidence of ongoing transmission in Korea, Japan and Singapore, as well as in China,” the meeting’s minutes state. But the decision had already been taken.
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College, was in America at the time of the meeting but would also have recommended increasing the threat to high. Three days earlier he had given an address to a seminar in which he estimated that 60% of the world’s population would probably become infected if no action was taken and 400,000 people would die in the UK.
By February 26, there were 13 known cases in the UK. That day — almost four weeks before a full lockdown would be announced — ministers were warned through another advisory committee that the country was facing a catastrophic loss of life unless drastic action was taken. Having been thwarted from sounding the alarm, Edmunds and his team presented their latest “worst scenario” predictions to the scientific pandemic influenza group on modelling (SPI-M) which directly advises the country’s scientific decision-makers on Sage.
It warned that 27 million people could be infected and 220,000 intensive care beds would be needed if no action were taken to reduce infection rates. The predicted death toll was 380,000. Edmunds’s colleague Nick Davies, who led the research, says the report emphasised the urgent need for a lockdown almost four weeks before it was imposed.
The team modelled the effects of a 12-week lockdown involving school and work closures, shielding the elderly, social distancing and self-isolation. It estimated this would delay the impact of the pandemic but there still might be 280,000 deaths over the year.
The previous night Johnson had returned to London for the Conservatives’ big fundraising ball, the Winter Party, at which one donor pledged £60,000 for the privilege of playing a game of tennis with him.
By this time the prime minister had missed five Cobra meetings on the preparations to combat the looming pandemic, which he left to be chaired by Hancock. Johnson was an easy target for the opposition when he returned to the Commons the following day with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, labelling him a “part-time” prime minister for his failure to lead on the virus crisis or visit the areas of the UK badly hit by floods.
By Friday, February 28, the virus had taken root in the UK with reported cases rising to 19 and the stock markets were plunging. It was finally time for Johnson to act. He summoned a TV reporter into Downing Street to say he was on top of the coronavirus crisis.
“The issue of coronavirus is something that is now the government’s top priority,” he said. “I have just had a meeting with the chief medical officer and secretary of state for health talking about the preparations that we need to make.”
It was finally announced that he would be attending a meeting of Cobra — after a weekend at Chequers with Symonds where the couple would publicly release news of the engagement and their baby.
On the Sunday, there was a meeting between Sage committee members and officials from the Department of Health and NHS which was a game changer, according to a Whitehall source. The meeting was shown fresh modelling based on figures from Italy suggesting that 8% of infected people might need hospital treatment in a worst-case scenario. The previous estimate had been 4%-5%.
“The risk to the NHS had effectively doubled in an instant. It set alarm bells ringing across government,” said the Whitehall source. “I think that meeting focused minds. You realise it’s time to pull the trigger on the starting gun.”
At the Cobra meeting the next day with Johnson in the chair a full “battle plan” was finally signed off to contain, delay and mitigate the spread of the virus. This was on March 2 — five weeks after the first Cobra meeting on the virus.
The new push would have some positive benefits such as the creation of new Nightingale hospitals, which greatly increased the number of intensive care beds. But there was a further delay that month of nine days in introducing the lockdown as Johnson and his senior advisers debated what measures were required. Later the government would be left rudderless again after Johnson himself contracted the virus.
As the number of infections grew daily, some things were impossible to retrieve. There was a worldwide shortage of PPE and the prime minister would have to personally ring manufacturers of ventilators and testing kits in a desperate effort to boost supplies.
The result was that the NHS and care home workers would be left without proper protection and insufficient numbers of tests to find out whether they had been infected. To date 50 doctors, nurses and NHS workers have died. More than 100,000 people have been confirmed as infected in Britain and 15,000 have died.
This weekend, sources close to Hancock said that from late January he instituted a “prepare for the worst” approach to the virus, held daily meetings and started work on PPE supplies.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Our response has ensured that the NHS has been given all the support it needs to ensure everyone requiring treatment has received it, as well as providing protection to businesses and reassurance to workers. The prime minister has been at the helm of the response to this, providing leadership during this hugely challenging period for the whole nation.”

Captain_Swoop 19th April 2020 03:51 AM

Uninterested and lazy PM who didn't follow the scientific advice. He chose one of the three scenarios offered by his 'advisers' the 'herd immunity' that just happened to be aligned with their political convictions. Most scientists were against so-called 'herd immunity'.

Darat 19th April 2020 06:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop (Post 13061456)
Andrew Neil blames the NHS



Noticed quite a few threads appearing blaming the NHS for shortages of PPE and intensive care beds. It looks like the tide is shifting among the Boris supporters, time to blame the victim.

Things like this







and on and on and on


Right, and with which funds were they supposed to use to stockpile the PPE? Plus like everyone else the NHSs has become reliant on the JIT economy, which means nearly all production is based on estimates/predictions/preorders literally to the ground level, these predictions can’t account for events like the pandemic (well they could but it would be very costly and would undermine the JIT philosophy which is all about lower costs).

Mojo 19th April 2020 08:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darat (Post 13061579)
Right, and with which funds were they supposed to use to stockpile the PPE?


Perhaps they could have sold some of the ventilators that they weren’t using at the time.

Planigale 19th April 2020 11:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by angrysoba (Post 13061490)
From the Sunday Times today (apparently)...

It is long and it is paywalled, and it squarely blames Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, previous Tory governments's austerity measures and even Chris Whitty:

Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster
Boris Johnson skipped five Cobra meetings on the virus, calls to order protective gear were ignored and scientists’ warnings fell on deaf ears. Failings in February may have cost thousands of lives
April 18 2020, The Sunday Times
On the third Friday of January a silent and stealthy killer was creeping across the world. Passing from person to person and borne on ships and planes, the coronavirus was already leaving a trail of bodies.
The virus had spread from China to six countries and was almost certainly in many others. Sensing the coming danger, the British government briefly went into wartime mode that day, holding a meeting of Cobra, its national crisis committee.
But it took just an hour that January 24 lunchtime to brush aside the coronavirus threat. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, bounced out of Whitehall after chairing the meeting and breezily told reporters the risk to the UK public was “low”.
This was despite the publication that day of an alarming study by Chinese doctors in the medical journal, The Lancet. It assessed the lethal potential of the virus, for the first time suggesting it was comparable to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed up to 50 million people.
Unusually, Boris Johnson had been absent from Cobra. The committee — which includes ministers, intelligence chiefs and military generals — gathers at moments of great peril such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other threats to the nation and is normally chaired by the prime minister.
Johnson had found time that day, however, to join in a lunar new year dragon eyes ritual as part of Downing Street’s reception for the Chinese community, led by the country’s ambassador.
It was a big day for Johnson and there was a triumphal mood in Downing Street because the withdrawal treaty from the European Union was being signed in the late afternoon. It could have been the defining moment of his premiership — but that was before the world changed.
That afternoon his spokesman played down the looming threat from the east and reassured the nation that we were “well prepared for any new diseases”. The confident, almost nonchalant, attitude displayed that day in January would continue for more than a month.
Johnson went on to miss four further Cobra meetings on the virus. As Britain was hit by unprecedented flooding, he completed the EU withdrawal, reshuffled his cabinet and then went away to the grace-and-favour country retreat at Chevening where he spent most of the two weeks over half-term with his pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds.
It would not be until March 2 — another five weeks — that Johnson would attend a Cobra meeting about the coronavirus. But by then it was almost certainly too late. The virus had sneaked into our airports, our trains, our workplaces and our homes. Britain was on course for one of the worst infections of the most deadly virus to have hit the world in more than a century.
Last week, a senior adviser to Downing Street broke ranks and blamed the weeks of complacency on a failure of leadership in cabinet. In particular, the prime minister was singled out.
“There’s no way you’re at war if your PM isn’t there,” the adviser said. “And what you learn about Boris was he didn’t chair any meetings. He liked his country breaks. He didn’t work weekends. It was like working for an old-fashioned chief executive in a local authority 20 years ago. There was a real sense that he didn’t do urgent crisis planning. It was exactly like people feared he would be.”
One day there will inevitably be an inquiry into the lack of preparations during those “lost” five weeks from January 24. There will be questions about when politicians understood the severity of the threat, what the scientists told them and why so little was done to equip the National Health Service for the coming crisis. It will be the politicians who will face the most intense scrutiny.
Among the key points likely to be explored will be why it took so long to recognise an urgent need for a massive boost in supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers; ventilators to treat acute respiratory symptoms; and tests to detect the infection.
Any inquiry may also ask whether the government’s failure to get to grips with the scale of the crisis in those early days had the knock-on effect of the national lockdown being introduced days or even weeks too late, causing many thousands more unnecessary deaths.
An investigation has talked to scientists, academics, doctors, emergency planners, public officials and politicians about the root of the crisis and whether the government should have known sooner and acted more swiftly to kick-start the Whitehall machine and put the NHS onto a war footing.
They told us that, contrary to the official line, Britain was in a poor state of readiness for a pandemic. Emergency stockpiles of PPE had severely dwindled and gone out of date after becoming a low priority in the years of austerity cuts. The training to prepare key workers for a pandemic had been put on hold for two years while contingency planning was diverted to deal with a possible no-deal Brexit.
This made it doubly important that the government hit the ground running in late January and early February. Scientists said the threat from the coming storm was clear. Indeed, one of the government’s key advisory committees was given a dire warning a month earlier than has previously been admitted about the prospect of having to deal with mass casualties.
It was a message repeated throughout February but the warnings appear to have fallen on deaf ears. The need, for example, to boost emergency supplies of protective masks and gowns for health workers was pressing, but little progress was made in obtaining the items from the manufacturers, mainly in China.
Instead, the government sent supplies the other way — shipping 279,000 items of its depleted stockpile of protective equipment to China during this period, following a request for help from the authorities there.
The prime minister had been sunning himself with his girlfriend in the millionaires’ Caribbean resort of Mustique when China first alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 31 that several cases of an unusual pneumonia had been recorded in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in Hubei province.
In the days that followed China initially claimed the virus could not be transmitted from human to human, which should have been reassuring. But this did not ring true to Britain’s public health academics and epidemiologists who were texting each other, eager for more information, in early January.
Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, had predicted in a talk two years earlier that a virus might jump species from an animal in China and spread quickly to become a human pandemic. So the news from Wuhan set her on high alert.
“In early January a lot of my global health colleagues and I were kind of discussing ‘What’s going on?’” she recalled. “China still hadn’t confirmed the virus was human-to-human. A lot of us were suspecting it was because it was a respiratory pathogen and you wouldn’t see the numbers of cases that we were seeing out of China if it was not human-to-human. So that was disturbing.”
By as early as January 16 the professor was on Twitter calling for swift action to prepare for the virus. “Been asked by journalists how serious #WuhanPneumonia outbreak is,” she wrote. “My answer: take it seriously because of cross-border spread (planes means bugs travel far & fast), likely human-to-human transmission and previous outbreaks have taught overresponding is better than delaying action.”
Events were now moving fast. Four hundred miles away in London, from its campus next to the Royal Albert Hall, a team at Imperial College’s School of Public Health led by Professor Neil Ferguson produced its first modelling assessment of the likely impact of the virus. On Friday, January 17, its report noted the “worrying” news that three cases of the virus had been discovered outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. While acknowledging many unknowns, researchers calculated that there could already be as many as 4,000 cases. The report warned: “The magnitude of these numbers suggests substantial human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out. Heightened surveillance, prompt information-sharing and enhanced preparedness are recommended.”
By now the mystery bug had been identified as a type of coronavirus — a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars). There had been two reported deaths from the virus and 41 patients had been taken ill.
The following Wednesday, January 22, the government convened its first meeting of its scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) to discuss the virus. Its membership is secret but it is usually chaired by the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, and chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty. Downing Street advisers are also present.
There were new findings that day with Chinese scientists warning that the virus had an unusually high infectivity rate of up to 3.0, which meant each person with the virus would typically infect up to three more people.
One of those present was Imperial’s Ferguson, who was already working on his own estimate — putting infectivity at 2.6 and possibly as high as 3.5 — which he sent to ministers and officials in a report on the day of the Cobra meeting on January 24. The Spanish flu had an estimated infectivity rate of between 2.0 and 3.0, so Ferguson’s finding was shocking.
The professor’s other bombshell in the same report was that there needed to be a 60% cut in the transmission rate — which meant stopping contact between people. In layman’s terms it meant a lockdown, a move that would paralyse an economy already facing a battering from Brexit. At the time such a suggestion was unthinkable in the government and belonged to the world of post-apocalypse movies.
The growing alarm among scientists appears not to have been heard or heeded by policy-makers. After the January 25 Cobra meeting, the chorus of reassurance was not just from Hancock and the prime minister’s spokesman: Whitty was confident too.
“Cobra met today to discuss the situation in Wuhan, China,” said Whitty. “We have global experts monitoring the situation around the clock and have a strong track record of managing new forms of infectious disease . . . there are no confirmed cases in the UK to date.”
However, by then there had been 1,000 cases worldwide and 41 deaths, mostly in Wuhan. A Lancet report that day presented a study of 41 coronavirus patients admitted to hospital in Wuhan which found that more than half had severe breathing problems, a third required intensive care and six had died.
And there was now little doubt that the UK would be hit by the virus. A study by Southampton University has shown that 190,000 people flew into the UK from Wuhan and other high-risk Chinese cities between January and March. The researchers estimated that up to 1,900 of these passengers would have been infected with the coronavirus — almost guaranteeing the UK would become a centre of the subsequent pandemic.
Sure enough, five days later on Wednesday, January 29, the first coronavirus cases on British soil were found when two Chinese nationals from the same family fell ill at a hotel in York. The next day, the government raised the threat level from low to moderate.
On January 31 — or Brexit day as it had become known — there was a rousing 11pm speech by the prime minister promising that the withdrawal from the European Union would be the dawn of a new era unleashing the British people who would “grow in confidence” month by month.
By this time, there was good reason for the government’s top scientific advisers to feel creeping unease about the virus. The WHO had declared the coronavirus a global emergency just the day before and scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine had confirmed to Whitty in a private meeting of the Nervtag advisory committee on respiratory illness that the virus’s infectivity could be as bad as Ferguson’s worst estimate several days earlier.
The official scientific advisers were willing to concede in public that there might be several cases of the coronavirus in the UK. But they had faith that the country’s plans for a pandemic would prove robust.
This was probably a big mistake. An adviser to Downing Street — speaking off the record — says their confidence in “the plan” was misplaced. While a possible pandemic had been listed as the No 1 threat to the nation for many years, the source says that in reality it had long since stopped being treated as such.
Several emergency planners and scientists said that the plans to protect the UK in a pandemic had once been a top priority and had been well-funded for a decade following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. But then austerity cuts struck. “We were the envy of the world,” the source said, “but pandemic planning became a casualty of the austerity years when there were more pressing needs.”
The last rehearsal for a pandemic was a 2016 exercise codenamed Cygnus which predicted the health service would collapse and highlighted a long list of shortcomings — including, presciently, a lack of PPE and intensive care ventilators.
But an equally lengthy list of recommendations to address the deficiencies was never implemented. The source said preparations for a no-deal Brexit “sucked all the blood out of pandemic planning” in the following years.
In the year leading up to the coronavirus outbreak key government committee meetings on pandemic planning were repeatedly “bumped” off the diary to make way for discussions about more pressing issues such as the beds crisis in the NHS. Training for NHS staff with protective equipment and respirators was also neglected, the source alleges.
Members of the government advisory group on pandemics are said to have felt powerless. “They would joke between themselves, ‘Haha let’s hope we don’t get a pandemic,’ because there wasn’t a single area of practice that was being nurtured in order for us to meet basic requirements for pandemic, never mind do it well,” said the source.
“If you were with senior NHS managers at all during the last two years, you were aware that their biggest fear, their sweatiest nightmare, was a pandemic because they weren’t prepared for it.”
It meant that the government had much catching up to do when it was becoming clear that this “nightmare” was becoming a distinct possibility in February. But the source says there was little urgency. “Almost every plan we had was not activated in February. Almost every government department has failed to properly implement their own pandemic plans,” the source said.
One deviation from the plan, for example, was a failure to give an early warning to firms that there might be a lockdown so they could start contingency planning. “There was a duty to get them to start thinking about their cashflow and their business continuity arrangements,” the source said.
A central part of any pandemic plan is to identify anyone who becomes ill, vigorously pursue all their recent contacts and put them into quarantine. That involves testing and the UK initially seemed to be ahead of the game. In early February Hancock proudly told the Commons the UK was one of the first countries to develop a new test for the coronavirus. “Testing worldwide is being done on equipment designed in Oxford,” he said.
So when Steve Walsh, a 53-year-old businessman from Hove, East Sussex, was identified as the source of the second UK outbreak on February 6 all his contacts were followed up with tests. Walsh’s case was a warning of the rampant infectivity of the virus as he is believed to have passed it to five people in the UK after returning from a conference in Singapore as well as six overseas.
But Public Health England failed to take advantage of our early breakthroughs with tests and lost early opportunities to step up production to the levels that would later be needed.
This was in part because the government was planning for the virus using its blueprint for fighting the flu. Once a flu pandemic has found its way into the population and there is no vaccine, then the virus is allowed to take its course until “herd immunity” is acquired. Such a plan does not require mass testing.
A senior politician told this newspaper: “I had conversations with Chris Whitty at the end of January and they were absolutely focused on herd immunity. The reason is that with flu, herd immunity is the right response if you haven’t got a vaccine.
“All of our planning was for pandemic flu. There has basically been a divide between scientists in Asia who saw this as a horrible, deadly disease on the lines of Sars, which requires immediate lockdown, and those in the West, particularly in the US and UK, who saw this as flu.”
The prime minister’s special adviser Dominic Cummings is said to have had initial enthusiasm for the herd immunity concept, which may have played a part in the government’s early approach to managing the virus. The Department of Health firmly denies that “herd immunity” was ever its aim and rejects suggestions that Whitty supported it. Cummings also denies backing the concept.
The failure to obtain large amounts of testing equipment was another big error of judgment, according to the Downing Street source. It would later be one of the big scandals of the coronavirus crisis that the considerable capacity of Britain’s private laboratories to mass-produce tests was not harnessed during those crucial weeks of February.
“We should have communicated with every commercial testing laboratory that might volunteer to become part of the government’s testing regime but that didn’t happen,” said the source.
The lack of action was confirmed by Doris-Ann Williams, chief executive of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association, which represents 110 companies that make up most of the UK’s testing sector. Amazingly, she says her organisation did not receive a meaningful approach from the government asking for help until April 1 — the night before Hancock bowed to pressure and announced a belated and ambitious target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month.
There was also a failure to replenish supplies of gowns and masks for health and care workers in the early weeks of February — despite NHS England declaring the virus its first “level four critical incident” at the end of January.
It was a key part of the pandemic plan — the NHS’s Operating Framework for Managing the Response to Pandemic Influenza dated December 2017 — that the NHS would be able to draw on “just in case” stockpiles of PPE.
But many of the “just in case” stockpiles had dwindled, and equipment was out of date. As not enough money was being spent on replenishing stockpiles, this shortfall was supposed to be filled by activating “just in time” contracts which had been arranged with equipment suppliers in recent years to deal with an emergency. The first order for equipment under the “just in time” protocol was made on January 30.
However, the source said that attempts to call in these “just in time” contracts immediately ran into difficulties in February because they were mostly with Chinese manufacturers who were facing unprecedented demand from the country’s own health service and elsewhere.
This was another nail in the coffin for the pandemic plan. “It was a massive spider’s web of failing, every domino has fallen,” said the source.
The NHS could have contacted UK-based suppliers. The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) was ready to help supply PPE in February — and throughout March — but it was only on April 1 that its offer of help was accepted. Dr Simon Festing, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “Orders undoubtedly went overseas instead of to the NHS because of the missed opportunities in the procurement process.”
Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.
A senior department of health insider described the sense of drift witnessed during those crucial weeks in February: “We missed the boat on testing and PPE . . . I remember being called into some of the meetings about this in February and thinking, ‘Well it’s a good thing this isn’t the big one.’
“I had watched Wuhan but I assumed we must have not been worried because we did nothing. We just watched. A pandemic was always at the top of our national risk register — always — but when it came we just slowly watched. We could have been Germany but instead we were doomed by our incompetence, our hubris and our austerity.”
In the Far East the threat was being treated more seriously in the early weeks of February. Martin Hibberd, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was in a unique position to compare the UK’s response with Singapore, where he had advised in the past.
“Singapore realised, as soon as Wuhan reported it, that cases were going to turn up in Singapore. And so they prepared for that. I looked at the UK and I can see a different strategy and approach.
“The interesting thing for me is, I’ve worked with Singapore in 2003 and 2009 and basically they copied the UK pandemic preparedness plan. But the difference is they actually implemented it.”
Towards the end of the second week of February, the prime minister was demob happy. After sacking five cabinet ministers and saying everyone “should be confident and calm” about Britain’s response to the virus, Johnson vacated Downing Street after the half-term recess began on February 13.
He headed to the country for a “working” holiday at Chevening with Symonds and would be out of the public eye for 12 days. His aides were thankful for the rest, as they had been working flat out since the summer as the Brexit power struggle had played out.
The Sunday newspapers that weekend would not have made comfortable reading. The Sunday Times reported on a briefing from a risk specialist which said that Public Health England would be overrun during a pandemic as it could test only 1,000 people a day.
Johnson may well have been distracted by matters in his personal life during his stay in the countryside. Aides were told to keep their briefing papers short and cut the number of memos in his red box if they wanted them to be read.
His family needed to be prepared for the announcement that Symonds, who turned 32 in March, was pregnant and that they had been secretly engaged for some time. Relations with his children had been fraught since his separation from his estranged wife Marina Wheeler and the rift deepened when she had been diagnosed with cancer last year.
The divorce also had to be finalised. Midway through the break it was announced in the High Court that the couple had reached a settlement, leaving Wheeler free to apply for divorce.
There were murmurings of frustration from some ministers and their aides at the time that Johnson was not taking more of a lead. But Johnson’s aides are understood to have felt relaxed: he was getting updates and they claim the scientists were saying everything was under control.
By the time Johnson departed for the countryside, however, there was mounting unease among scientists about the exceptional nature of the threat. Sir Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist who is a key government adviser, made this clear in a recent BBC interview.
“I think from the early days in February, if not in late January, it was obvious this infection was going to be very serious and it was going to affect more than just the region of Asia ,” he said. “I think it was very clear that this was going to be an unprecedented event.”
By February 21, the virus had already infected 76,000 people, had caused 2,300 deaths in China and was taking a foothold in Europe with Italy recording 51 cases and two deaths the following day. Nonetheless Nervtag, one of the key government advisory committees, decided to keep the threat level at “moderate”.
Its members may well regret that decision with hindsight and it was certainly not unanimous. John Edmunds, one of the country’s top infectious disease modellers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was participating in the meeting by video link but his technology failed him at the crucial moment.
Edmunds wanted the threat level to be increased to high but could not make his view known as the link was glitchy. He sent an email later making his view clear. “JE believes that the risk to the UK population [in the PHE risk assessment] should be high, as there is evidence of ongoing transmission in Korea, Japan and Singapore, as well as in China,” the meeting’s minutes state. But the decision had already been taken.
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College, was in America at the time of the meeting but would also have recommended increasing the threat to high. Three days earlier he had given an address to a seminar in which he estimated that 60% of the world’s population would probably become infected if no action was taken and 400,000 people would die in the UK.
By February 26, there were 13 known cases in the UK. That day — almost four weeks before a full lockdown would be announced — ministers were warned through another advisory committee that the country was facing a catastrophic loss of life unless drastic action was taken. Having been thwarted from sounding the alarm, Edmunds and his team presented their latest “worst scenario” predictions to the scientific pandemic influenza group on modelling (SPI-M) which directly advises the country’s scientific decision-makers on Sage.
It warned that 27 million people could be infected and 220,000 intensive care beds would be needed if no action were taken to reduce infection rates. The predicted death toll was 380,000. Edmunds’s colleague Nick Davies, who led the research, says the report emphasised the urgent need for a lockdown almost four weeks before it was imposed.
The team modelled the effects of a 12-week lockdown involving school and work closures, shielding the elderly, social distancing and self-isolation. It estimated this would delay the impact of the pandemic but there still might be 280,000 deaths over the year.
The previous night Johnson had returned to London for the Conservatives’ big fundraising ball, the Winter Party, at which one donor pledged £60,000 for the privilege of playing a game of tennis with him.
By this time the prime minister had missed five Cobra meetings on the preparations to combat the looming pandemic, which he left to be chaired by Hancock. Johnson was an easy target for the opposition when he returned to the Commons the following day with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, labelling him a “part-time” prime minister for his failure to lead on the virus crisis or visit the areas of the UK badly hit by floods.
By Friday, February 28, the virus had taken root in the UK with reported cases rising to 19 and the stock markets were plunging. It was finally time for Johnson to act. He summoned a TV reporter into Downing Street to say he was on top of the coronavirus crisis.
“The issue of coronavirus is something that is now the government’s top priority,” he said. “I have just had a meeting with the chief medical officer and secretary of state for health talking about the preparations that we need to make.”
It was finally announced that he would be attending a meeting of Cobra — after a weekend at Chequers with Symonds where the couple would publicly release news of the engagement and their baby.
On the Sunday, there was a meeting between Sage committee members and officials from the Department of Health and NHS which was a game changer, according to a Whitehall source. The meeting was shown fresh modelling based on figures from Italy suggesting that 8% of infected people might need hospital treatment in a worst-case scenario. The previous estimate had been 4%-5%.
“The risk to the NHS had effectively doubled in an instant. It set alarm bells ringing across government,” said the Whitehall source. “I think that meeting focused minds. You realise it’s time to pull the trigger on the starting gun.”
At the Cobra meeting the next day with Johnson in the chair a full “battle plan” was finally signed off to contain, delay and mitigate the spread of the virus. This was on March 2 — five weeks after the first Cobra meeting on the virus.
The new push would have some positive benefits such as the creation of new Nightingale hospitals, which greatly increased the number of intensive care beds. But there was a further delay that month of nine days in introducing the lockdown as Johnson and his senior advisers debated what measures were required. Later the government would be left rudderless again after Johnson himself contracted the virus.
As the number of infections grew daily, some things were impossible to retrieve. There was a worldwide shortage of PPE and the prime minister would have to personally ring manufacturers of ventilators and testing kits in a desperate effort to boost supplies.
The result was that the NHS and care home workers would be left without proper protection and insufficient numbers of tests to find out whether they had been infected. To date 50 doctors, nurses and NHS workers have died. More than 100,000 people have been confirmed as infected in Britain and 15,000 have died.
This weekend, sources close to Hancock said that from late January he instituted a “prepare for the worst” approach to the virus, held daily meetings and started work on PPE supplies.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Our response has ensured that the NHS has been given all the support it needs to ensure everyone requiring treatment has received it, as well as providing protection to businesses and reassurance to workers. The prime minister has been at the helm of the response to this, providing leadership during this hugely challenging period for the whole nation.”

One error is that the prime minister normally chairs cobra meetings. This is untrue it is normally chaired by the minister from the lead department, for a terrorism event the Home office, for a pandemic the Health Dept.

GlennB 19th April 2020 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13061792)
One error is that the prime minister normally chairs cobra meetings. This is untrue it is normally chaired by the minister from the lead department, for a terrorism event the Home office, for a pandemic the Health Dept.

Your relentless apologies for this Tory cluster-**** is beginning to make me wonder about your motives in posting on the subject at all. The other day I quoted that bastion of right-wing UK politics, The Daily Mail, which was criticising the government. Here, another undermines your point -

From The Express:

"Despite its name, a COBRA meeting is not a gathering of the Cabinet, which is when the Prime Minister meets with his frontbenchers.

The COBRA attendees are much more fluid and there’s no set register of people expected to join the Prime Minister.

The makeup of the meetings depends on the issue that is being discussed.

They are usually chaired by the Prime Minister and the most senior or most relevant minister, for example during the coronavirus pandemic they Health Secretary Matt Hancock will be playing a key role in the meetings."

This was a developing emergency and the PM attended none of the emergency meetings?

Elsewhere, more recently:

"Gove is correct in that prime ministers do not always, or even routinely, chair Cobra meetings. But it is common for them to do so during a major crisis."

This was, as we well know, a developing crisis and the PM was doing what, precisely?

Planigale 19th April 2020 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GlennB (Post 13061802)
Your relentless apologies for this Tory cluster-**** is beginning to make me wonder about your motives in posting on the subject at all. The other day I quoted that bastion of right-wing UK politics, The Daily Mail, which was criticising the government. Here, another undermines your point -

From The Express:

"Despite its name, a COBRA meeting is not a gathering of the Cabinet, which is when the Prime Minister meets with his frontbenchers.

The COBRA attendees are much more fluid and there’s no set register of people expected to join the Prime Minister.

The makeup of the meetings depends on the issue that is being discussed.

They are usually chaired by the Prime Minister and the most senior or most relevant minister, for example during the coronavirus pandemic they Health Secretary Matt Hancock will be playing a key role in the meetings."

This was a developing emergency and the PM attended none of the emergency meetings?

Elsewhere, more recently:

"Gove is correct in that prime ministers do not always,or even routinely, chair Cobra meetings. But it is common for them to do so during a major crisis."

This was, as we well know, a developing crisis and the PM was doing what, precisely?

Happy for you to quote the DAILY EXPRESS as your gold standard. If the DAILY EXPRESS says something then I am clearly wrong.

Planigale 19th April 2020 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GlennB (Post 13061802)
Your relentless apologies for this Tory cluster-**** is beginning to make me wonder about your motives in posting on the subject at all. The other day I quoted that bastion of right-wing UK politics, The Daily Mail, which was criticising the government. Here, another undermines your point -

From The Express:

"Despite its name, a COBRA meeting is not a gathering of the Cabinet, which is when the Prime Minister meets with his frontbenchers.

The COBRA attendees are much more fluid and there’s no set register of people expected to join the Prime Minister.

The makeup of the meetings depends on the issue that is being discussed.

They are usually chaired by the Prime Minister and the most senior or most relevant minister, for example during the coronavirus pandemic they Health Secretary Matt Hancock will be playing a key role in the meetings."

This was a developing emergency and the PM attended none of the emergency meetings?

Elsewhere, more recently:

"Gove is correct in that prime ministers do not always, or even routinely, chair Cobra meetings. But it is common for them to do so during a major crisis."

This was, as we well know, a developing crisis and the PM was doing what, precisely?

Perhaps you should accept that my comment that the PM does not routinely chair COBRA meetings but is done so by the lead minister was correct, and is supported by your quote. My interest is in facts and truth not politically motivated commentary. There are places for that but a skeptics site is not the place for opinion but the place for fact.

GlennB 19th April 2020 01:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13061848)
Perhaps you should accept that my comment that the PM does not routinely chair COBRA meetings but is done so by the lead minister was correct, and is supported by your quote.

No, it isn't. This was a very serious crisis developing and the PM was absent for 5 consecutive meetings where he would be expected to be present at some point, if not most of the time. Where was he? Perhaps he thought he could stay away because it really wasn't a very big deal?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13061848)
My interest is in facts and truth not politically motivated commentary. There are places for that but a skeptics site is not the place for opinion but the place for fact.

Your 'commentary' relentlessly excuses a government that has handled the situation disastrously and Johnson is the worst offender. His true colours have come shining through at the worst possible moment.

Planigale 19th April 2020 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GlennB (Post 13061879)
No, it isn't. This was a very serious crisis developing and the PM was absent for 5 consecutive meetings where he would be expected to be present at some point, if not most of the time. Where was he? Perhaps he thought he could stay away because it really wasn't a very big deal?



Your 'commentary' relentlessly excuses a government that has handled the situation disastrously and Johnson is the worst offender. His true colours have come shining through at the worst possible moment.

In retrospect it was a serious crisis. There are legitimate criticisms of the government. But that the PM did not chair COBRA meetings on a potential pandemic (as it was then because WHO had not declared it as such) is not one. There is an objective comparison, how many of the COBRA sessions on H1N1 pandemic flu did the PM chair?

A man may be guilty of a crime but he should not be fitted up for a crime he did not commit. I entirely accept BoJo is a prat. I did not vote for him as mayor of London. I did not vote for him in favour of Brexit, I dod not vote for him for PM. But he should be condemned for errors he committed, not those you make up. The reality is that the pandemic was underway when he was elected, by the time he was in post it was too late to address failures in the pandemic plan. It was too late to increase the pandemic stockpile. Failures belong to preceding governments.

Captain_Swoop 19th April 2020 03:23 PM

This has Cummings paws all over it.
An official govt response to the Sunday Times piece on a proper .gov.uk website

https://healthmedia.blog.gov.uk/2020...sight-article/

Intro
Quote:

‘This article contains a series of falsehoods and errors and actively misrepresents the enormous amount of work which was going on in government at the earliest stages of the Coronavirus outbreak.’
‘This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, guided at all times by the best scientific advice.
‘The Government has been working day and night to battle against coronavirus, delivering a strategy designed at all times to protect our NHS and save lives.
'Our response has ensured that the NHS has been given all the support it needs to ensure everyone requiring treatment has received it, as well as providing protection to businesses and reassurance to workers.
‘The Prime Minister has been at the helm of the response to this, providing leadership during this hugely challenging period for the whole nation.’
Followed by a detailed rebuttal.

Captain_Swoop 19th April 2020 03:34 PM

“Is it true the UK sent 266k pieces of PPE to China?” Gove: “I’m not going to get into that now”
https://skwawkbox.org/2020/04/19/is-...into-that-now/

Captain_Swoop 19th April 2020 04:01 PM

Dominic Cummings has turned http://gov.uk, supposedly a neutral non-party political govt website ... in to his own badly written pseudo-intellectual blog to challenge critics ... this has his hallmark fragility of ego.

a_unique_person 19th April 2020 04:45 PM

I have to agree with Planigale.

Mojo 20th April 2020 12:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Planigale (Post 13061932)
Failures belong to preceding governments.


They always do. They were still blaming Labour in the 1990s.


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