337 - Covid in Feb & March | Scoins.net | DJS

337 - Covid in Feb & March

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In late January I re-read what I wrote in mid-March of 2020, two weeks before the first lockdown in England. So much of this has occurred much as predicted I wondered at the extent to which the changes are recognised or even recorded. Not only that, but I wonder how mass memory will remember the last year and confuse the pre-covid normal with the post-covid one. I don't see much point in attempting that already, just to indicate that this is a potential issue.

We are generally expecting February to demonstrate that the mass vaccination programme (inoculation remains a more accurate word) is having the expected effect; that assumes that supply continues to ramp up, since supply is the bottleneck. One of those things I noted eleven months ago was the paucity of manufacturing facility here, now slightly remedied. I notice that Europe is having a similar problem, care of that effect that causes like businesses to group together; vaccine, for example, is mostly made in Belgium. The last week of January '21 saw arguments about who 'owned' inoculate they'd bought in advance, which will only get worse as the rich countries demand. The Covax initiative (research and footnote needed) is going to be grossly delayed until there is overcapacity. A wise country will ensure it has security of supply. The AZ-EU spat is recorded on January's page, though I expect this to be the first of several such rows over supply.                                          DJS 20210125

As we have run through March, so some of the expected relaxation of restrictions has occurred. Not at all surprisingly, case rates have bounced: Just because we have something over 20 million vaccinated does not make the virus defeated. In the 20-50 age group very few have been vaccinated and these people seem to fail to recognise that from their point of view, the situation is very much now as it was a year ago. The total number of people who have had covid might be as high as 10% —we have 4.3 M recorded, so it's probably quite a bit higher than that—so 'kitchen-table maths' says roughly 90% have not had covid. The vaccination apparently reduces all sorts of effects, not just the risk of serious illness, so society as a whole is better off and the NHS should be showing reduced demand. But for the 20-50 cohort (datasource), 38% of the 2015 population, this situation has barely changed.
From 29 March, outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and outdoor swimming pools will be able to reopen for use in line with wider social contact limits. Organised outdoor sports for both adults and children will also be able to resume with any numbers, where this takes place under NGB guidance. (Source). This of course explains how it is that the sports grounds in our local park are (and have been) so busy, long before March 29th. So much for 'not before'. So much for 'rule of six'. We really don't deserve to exist at this level of selfishness.                                       DJS  20210318

The UK regional chart above exaggerates the Y-axis because I used a log scale. I am concerned that the figures plateau and that this effect correlates strongly with relaxation of restrictions. It is as if we modify our behaviour to an acceptable level of perceived risk. I recognise this as something I have done myself, but I emphasise that the measure is one's appreciation or perception of the risk, which has very little to do with any absolute measure of risk. I think as a species we are notably bad at recognising this and that even those who do recognise this as a truth do very little to inform themselves about relative risk. Anti-vaxxers are a good example.                                       DJS 20210322

20210125 Vaccine delivery from OurWorldInData; I do wish I could cause updates to occur automatically. There are many charts available, many of which could do with some improvement for readability. Example here:   I do like that some of the charts can be manipulated, such as changing the range of the time axis.                 


Interesting topic from The Conversation (20210125, William Wang and Holly Snape), looking at China's lockdown policies and how/why they work, including explaining why the approach won't work in the West  This is markedly better than I would have written; just because it works does not mean that transfer of the policy would work in the West  The cultural differences act to prevent such policies from succeeding. What we call freedom works strongly against such policies and regimens working. We have to consider that as a price we pay for that perceived freedom; further, we need to recognise that there are some things that authoritarian systems do better than democracy (or whatever label you think suitable).                  


Linear scale version of the UK cases vs deaths chart, dates asynchronous, different scaling in y-axis, showing the last four months or so. The marked dip in the red line is the effect of Lockdown 2, the drop in 2021 is Lockdown 3. I remind you that lockdowns were not equal. Any sudden change at the righthand end may well be a temporary effect, such as weekend figures being low or the new week's being high.This graph is now a 14-day average and the figures are becoming more variable; that is, the relative difference between the weekend and mid-week is larger. In consequence, the variability is always at the right hand end. Imagine this as a forecast beyond the data; able to have significant variability.                


What is significant here in February is the new caution that government ministers are showing — this actually means the PM and the Health Sec, in terms of who we see, but one hopes it is the whole Cabinet. The test here is just how long they can persuade the MPs to leave off the clamour for relaxation; what I am hoping for is a little bit of bottle, some conviction that we really must force the case count and hospital bed count down to something really quite low before we relax, because I'm sure that the very first bit of relaxation will be treated as everything being relaxed. And si if that were to happen, I then expect us to have another surge of cases, despite there being vaccines in circulation.              

          DJS 20210125

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Sat 13 Feb New year of the Ox. My tier 5 jab today. I'm prompted by a piece in The Conversation that many are treating the jab as a binary state of immunity when this is far from the truth.                   20210213

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National comparisons as published by Worldometers, in per million figures, sorted by deaths. Oct-Jan on November's page. Inoculations per thousand (jabs/k) added from February, taken from OWiD.


Covax scheme: called by WHO the ACT, access to covid tools. See the site. BBC report. The hope is that around 2 billion doses will have been delivered to the relatively poor countries by the end of 2021 - which implies years to reach the 70% we need for herd immunity — and it is no good having less than herd immunity or we'll only have waves of this forever. That might indicate five years to reach target rather than the two you might think, because I'm expecting there to be demand for booster doses and the giving will, like so much of donated support, by abstracted by the powerful and used for political / power ends. Man does not deserve to survive. The biggest donors to date are the US and the UK.

Update on NHS figures 20210211Thurs



I wrote, back in March 2020 The demand for nationwide internet coverage to be 100% already exists, This is already too late; if we had it, there would be a move by some to live at a greater separation than at the moment. The demand for personal (safe) space might well fuel a different demand for bigger houses or a different (lower? less uneven? Investigate) density of living. Maybe we will have people looking at regulation for that, too. However, it needs saying; we suddenly need for all internet services to be fully delivered and amazingly reliable. Essay 291                    

Today I fOUnd this at The Conversation, from Humphrey Southall at Portsmouth U. That we might change our housing as some sort of reflection upon the effect of a pandemic is not disputed but it seems to be only a temporary matter, based on previous experience. That is, the appeal of high density living and the effects of synchronicity (there's a pun in there somewhere) are of sufficient draw to cause people to move back into cities pretty smartly. The same argument could apply to wanting an office in a city rather than at a distance. I wonder immediately if the existence of the internet is a game-changer, rendering the historical record as no longer relevant. It's a worthwhile read.           

DJS 20210209       


Where, quite, do we draw the line? At last, the government is being cautious, not wanting to return to any sort of lockdown. 'Irreversible' is the word BJ used. I'd want infections below 100 phut, preferably 50; I'd want covid hospitalisations down a flu levels let's say under 2000 (but I think MPs will say five or ten), definitely want herd immunity so that R has fallen well below 1, let's say 0.5-0.7. But what I want isn't going to happen and we'll have a staggered 'roadmap' that re-opens schools (after Easter, please!), then non-essential shops and then hospitality businesses. The essential objective has to be that we don't need to do this again. I suspect we'll have face masks forever for some people by preference and we may well have a load of circumstances in which masks are recommended (like in China, on public transport). I think long-distance travel has lost a load of appeal.                

During Monday 20210222, the PM and others presented the 'roadmap' out of covid. We have four steps or stages, each separated by five weeks during which we are to ascertain whether the timing of the next step is appropriate. Despite much mention of 'data not dates', what we have been given is indeed dates not data, with a side-proviso of 'not earlier than', but knowing that all of us have held to any date as if already cast in concrete, mostly because we think that is what the media are telling us. Each stage is defined very vaguely—which perversely makes the dates all the more definite—where I think this is an occasion where we could quite sensibly indicate that certain number targets need to be reached. I was curious that Chris Whitty (who provided very good content again) expects case counts to surge (i.e go upwards) perhaps after every de-restriction. One question that could have been better answered was about the R number, in the context of it having been really important. It wasn't that the answer was bad, but I think there is a misunderstanding. The R number depends greatly on the proportion of the population able to contribute to spread, so that, if vaccination continues apace, that dramatically reduces the effect of crowding (spacing, local density); even if it doesn't actually stop anyone being infectious, it is clear that is reduces infectiousness well. So each relaxation stage will allow R to step upwards simply because there is more social mixing, but the reduction in who might become infected (or infectious, for that matter) should keep those changes in R below unity.                

The target, return to a form of normality, continues to not-quite deal well with the issue of crossing the national border. I am quite sure that today there will be a surge in overseas holiday bookings (I think at step/stage 3; already reported) which is making several false assumptions; that the travel is possible, welcome, unrestricted and even sensible. One hopes, already, that the time between now and the Step One date (March 8th) will cause people to begin to be sensible—maybe I mean pragmatic—in deciding what course to take. However, what we have shown through 2020 (and this is what is now 2020 hindsight) is that there is an active, very vocal, minority who will do what they want, when they want and everyone else can go hang. This is the self-definition of 'elite', thanks to Dominic Cummings. As yet we have no consensus move to curtail this attitude and I see no simple way of that occurring.

DJS 20210223


The European chart to the right is domenstrating yet another surge in cases, while the UK, Portugal and Spain haver  ase counts running in the opposite direction. At the same time there is notable doubt over vaccines (called anti-vaxxers) and the Times (paywall) offered a list over the weekend of (20210320) of unused vaccines in the EU, implying that these had been in some sense wasted or lost.   There are several connected worries in this positioncentred around whether this is another wave which will hit us and Iberia too, or have we somehow dodged this bullet.  One observes that the large numbers vaccinated here—now doing the 50-60 age group— leaves the under 50s in a position where they could (should) view themselves as a separate population, one in which the disease lies uneasily. Yet observed behaviour shows that, in general, they are taking relatively little compliance action (and I'd correlate activity with age, so the older teens are a visible danger). One sees that the old folk continue to stay out of sight or visbly careful. This general behaviour makes no sense. I continue to believe we don't deserve to survive, based upon the observed stupidity; by that I mean that the perception of relative risk is out of line with my own appreciation of such matter.                   DJS20210322

The so-called roadmap out of covid has managed to display some of the misunderstandings about infections and epidemics; it is a surprise that after a year of this experience we do not have a good grasp of the consequences of our actions and I see this as remarkably worrying – evidence that people are refusing to do thinking. Each time we undo one of the restrictions we have been following (to some extent, so following our individual understandings of what those mean) there will be some increase in infections, hospitalisation and deaths, even as the vaccine (that's the word we're using, wrong though that is) takes effect. So today I read (here) content I think entirely straightforward but equally at odds with my perception of current understanding. I see having a jab as part of the route out, but—despite one's reaction—it is not an individual's solution. So Yes I've had a jab but No it should not change my behaviour.In a very similar way, there were jobless figures released yesterday, which show that the young are particularly hit, that the figures are well masked by the 20% furloughed and contrarily, the median pay has gone up. No, this is not a surprise, because what is missing are the many low paid workers not being employed at all.  We continue (still, amazingly) to have large gaps in the pay support system such that significant numbers of people work or don't get paid, whether ill or in quarantine, largely because they somehow don't qualify for support (and often because the support is so slow to appear). One would have expected this to have been sorted over the summer of 2020.


From the DfE site. my emboldenment; All secondary school and college students will take three COVID-19 tests as they return to the classroom from the 8 March at existing school testing facilities. Schools and colleges will have discretion on how to stagger the return of their students over that week to allow them to be tested on return. After an initial programme of three tests in school or college, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home. You are kidding, right? Give kids something to take home? Does the DfE have any idea what proportion of anything to be taken home actually gets there? And some results coming back from home? I think any sensible Head is going to find a better way of being sure tests have taken place.            I expect to see some slow media and union reaction to this.  Williamson is already known as an idiot; we don't need any more evidence.                                                                DJS 20210224

As the case count steadily drops, it does so for the aggregated regions but when one looks at the detail, the position is more as if there is a local acceptable level of (in)activity. So Tower Hamlets, for example, which at one point topped the ltla counts, close to 2000 phut on any day, is now under 70 phut, while somewhere like Blackpool (!!) seems quite happy to have its figures rise often enough to support such an opinion. Regionally, Yorks and Humber has gone up on each of the last five days. Look at the On The Rise choropleth on the Nov and Dec pages (blue and pink, mostly). I have the feeling that what this demonstrates is, as I said, a collective agreement as to what is appropriate behaviour - acting as a herd. But if you look here, at the last two tables and opt to show them ranked by rate, then the worst ltlas overall today. I show the top 20 ltlas sorted on total cases phut.     JVT (Deputy Chief Medical officer, England) said yesterday (I think) that 20% of ltlas have phut per week going the wrong way, which supports my feeling for the data. ONS survey says 

I re-discovered an article about modelling. Worth a read. Among its many points is that people who want to use a model are not prepared to take responsibility for accepting the assumptions made - like the model for opening university that assumed that the students would follow the rules (which, if the article is to be believed, was actually law). So whose fault is it if the model proves inaccurate?                                                                                                              DJS 20210225


I had something of a local disaster today 20210324, in that I discovered that yesterday there was an issue with filing my Covid spreadsheet. This should not be an issue, since I have Time Machine running. Except that it IS an issue, because Time Machine has NOT been running. So somehow the Covid spreadsheet adjusted itself to the last back-up, which was January – and probably that's when I upgraded to BigSur, MacOS 11.2.2. So basically there's a load of date inexplicably lost and I learn that the back-up system has NOT been working as expected. This is a grand excuse to cease the daily grind of recording changes, though I view the loss of the utla data as the worst, since I don't see how to recreate that. Thus there will be no more updates of the graphs on these pages and what I did yesterday is the end result, however accidental.

Meanwhile, I learn that BigSur wants a different formatting on my backup disks (which is the explanation why it doesn't work.  If I'd been made aware of this, I could have avoided the data loss, since use of Time Machine is not exactly common - I'd reckon maybe two or three times a year to restore a corrupted file. So what I'll do is erase one disk and make that the back-up, and then repartition the bigger one (3TB) in the required APFS format. Also learn that drives behave differently under different formatting, so that some partitions CAN be adjusted for size, and some cannot. One also discovers just how unhelpful the manuals are. A complete backup takes around 10 hours (it says: start at 08:45, reduced to 7 hours by 08:55, finished somewhen around .....

I also discover that the revert facility in Excel has vanished. I spent quite some time looking to see whether there were other copies of my covid file and found many from March 2020 to January 2021, but none thereafter. Oh bugger.


Related Pages:  (faulty links updated 20201202)

Essay 291 - Effects of an outbreak  what it says, effects, but some description of what we have (and not)

Essay 293 - Covid-19 charts  charts published daily reflecting concerns and issues.

Essay 295 Long-term Distancing        consideration of spatial restrictions

Coronavirus (Y10+)   modelling problems

Epidemics                  more general theory

Infectious disease      looking at the 2020 problem, particularly effects of the reproduction number changing.

Essay 298 Covid Consequences       Surprisingly prescient, considering when it was written.

Essay 299  Covid in April

Essay 300  Covid in May

Essay 303 Covid in June

Essay 304 Covid Disparities              A report on the report, including what it doesn't say.

Essay 305  Risk

Essay 306 Covid in July

Essay 311 Covid in August                 International charts updated

Essay 316 Covid in September          European comparison charts updated

Viruses are very small                        Worth reading, I think. (But I would, wouldn't I?)

Essay 317 Covid vs Influenza   

Essay 318 Covid in October                Charts updated through November

Essay 322 Covid in November            UK Regional chart and table through Lockdown Two

Essay 325 Covid in December            Updated graphs of rate and prevalence, plus US charts.

Essay 328 Vaccine progress               What it says on the tin.

Essay 332 Covid in January                 Lockdown 3 takes effect

Essay 337 Covid in February              This very page.



From I Was, or Am A Runner, 1st February.


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