Virus Isolation Day 4

On Thursday night we saw people take to their doorsteps and windows to “Clap for our Carers”.

A fantastic sentiment, and I hope that those who over the last decade supported cutting the numbers of staff and keeping wages fixed had a massive shite into their hands before they started clapping.

I’m also not sure Clap for our Carers is the best slogan. I’m going to be promoting “Gonorrhoea for our Politicians”.

We look for light relief as we all sit at home, and for me this came from the inestimable Marty Beard in an interaction with the never over-estimated Douglas Carswell. I think this is called “have your arse handed to you on a plate”.

On a more serious note, some thoughts about data and interpretation of the differing theories provided. At the beginning the UK government promoted an idea of herd immunity, which led to everyone scurrying away and working out that if 60% of the population are allowed to contract the virus, and 1% die, then there would be 400,000 deaths. More detailed analysis by Imperial College put this at 250,000, which was a wakeup call to government who could see the need for reducing the death toll considerably by promoting policies such as the ones we have seen latterly regarding social distancing and curtailment of movement. A more recent paper from Oxford has again promoted the idea of herd immunity (which has not been peer reviewed and is being promoted by a PR company rather than the university press office). There’s a great write up of this in the FT ( where Tim Harford weights up the differing perspectives. As he points out, the data as yet isn’t very good, and so the best policy for now is stay indoors, expand health system capacity and test. He also suggests that some policymakers and individuals may come up with reckless responses based on this one report. For me, this is always going to be a danger. As we move through this crisis, there will be multiple papers assessing the current position and forecasting the future based on different strategies. My view would be that until data gets significantly better, we need to remain cautious. I’d also be questioning the motivation of the pundits who take papers such as the Oxford one and use this to suggest that the current measures aren’t worth continuing with. As with so many pieces of scientific work, it’s always good to get a wide range of analyses, but it’s better to follow the one where the majority agree. And when there is dispute, sometimes it’s worth asking who benefits. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that you could find plenty of evidence to say that smoking wasn’t harmful.

Tomorrow in this somewhat random blog, I’ll look at how some people are already using the coronavirus as the next battlefield in the culture wars as well as thinking about what the future might look like

Today’s Heroes and zeroes


Everyone who has starts drinking when the afternoon press conference starts

(by Modern Toss – always worth a read.)


Branson – asking staff to take 8 weeks without pay after previously suing the NHS and asking for a bailout for his airline

Mike Ashley having to apologise for wanting to keep sports equipment stores open and now trying to regain credibility by offering to lend trucks to the NHS

Tim Martin for his u-turn on paying workers but now not paying suppliers.

Who’d have thought these See-You-Next-Tuesdays didn’t have the best interest of their staff or the country uppermost in their minds? I, for one, am shocked. Shocked I tell you!