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The UK is now the world’s Covid cot case

Written By: - Date published: 9:09 am, January 6th, 2021 - 25 comments
Categories: boris johnson, covid-19, Donald Trump, health, uk politics, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

This is a pretty intense competition.  Which first world country dominated by science denying narcissistic personality disordered leadership is making the biggest botch up of Covid?

For a long time the good old US of A that held this position.  But no more.  It seems that enough of the States are taking sufficiently stringent action so that its infection rate has plateaued although a recent further surge must be worrying.

Meanwhile the United Kingdom has become a basket case.  Hospitals in London are approaching capacity and a leaked email confirms that the Royal London Hospital is operating in disaster medicine mode and is unable to provide high standard critical care.

Things are that bad Boris Johnson has announced the strongest lockdown the UK has had since last March.

This must hurt.  He had been playing politics with the issue for so long, measuring up the potential political damage to his administration caused by listening to the scientists as compared to the threat of an unabated pandemic being set loose.  He should have locked the country down well before Christmas when news of the new more easily spreadable strain of the virus emerged.  Waiting these three weeks have seen numbers of new infections surge to well over 50,000 cases per day and per head of population England and Northern Ireland are now far worse than in America.

If you want the starkest contrast the daily rate of infection per head of population in Northern Ireland is twice that of the rest of Ireland despite both nations being part of the same island.

Johnson has finally relented and shut all schools down.  But you get the feeling the decision was forced.

From Jessica Elgot and Peter Martin at the Guardian:

England will enter its toughest nationwide lockdown since March, with schools closed until mid-February, as Boris Johnson warned that the weeks ahead “will be the hardest yet”.

As new figures put the UK on course to exceed 100,000 Covid-related deaths before the end of the month without urgent action, the prime minister said once again that people must stay at home, with exercise limited to once a day. All non-essential shops were told to close from Monday night.

The lockdown will last for at least seven weeks, with measures to be reviewed during half-term week. Any relaxation would not come into effect before 22 February.

Just a day after urging millions of pupils to return to the classroom, Johnson announced all schools would switch to remote learning until the February half-term, and GCSE and A-level exams were unlikely to go ahead as planned.

The prime minister said parents would “reasonably ask why we did not make this decision sooner”, adding: “I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents and pupils up and down the country.”

This speaks volumes about Tory selfishness.  Personal disruption to them and their ilk s more concerning than the deaths of 100,000 fellow britons.

The restrictions appear to be similar to New Zealand’s but with some strange anomalies.  From the BBC:

People in England will have to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons. Primary and secondary schools will move to online learning for all pupils apart from vulnerable and keyworker children.

  • Work or volunteering where it is “unreasonable” to work from home. This includes work in someone else’s home, such as that carried out by social workers, nannies, cleaners and tradespeople
  • Education, training, childcare and medical appointments and emergencies
  • Exercise outdoors (limited to once a day). This includes meeting one other person from another household in an open public space to exercise
  • Shopping for essentials such as food and medicine
  • Communal religious worship
  • Meeting your support or childcare bubble. Children can also move between separated parents
  • Activities related to moving house

New Zealand’s lockdown rules were quite clear for business.  Unless you were a vital industry you had to close, no ifs no buts.  Imagine having a requirement that it has to be “unreasonable” to work from home.  This leaves things far too open.

And why have the opportunity to meet one person from outside your bubble for exercise?  A bubble should be a bubble.

And why permit communal religious worship?  Crowding lots of people in crowded rooms and having lots of singing and the sharing of food and wine surely has downside.  Have they not heard about our Mt Roskill Church bubble?  Is Boris thinking that some divine intervention will occur and prevent the virus from spreading?  Of note Nicola Sturgeon has closed churches even though Scotland’s rate of infection is much lower than England’s.

And why is getting into England so easy?  People travelling to England from many locations only have to self isolate for 10 days but if they get a negative test from a hand picked group of providers after day 5 of their return then this period can be shortened.  By contrast Scotland only allows people with an essential purpose to enter the country and this even applies to Donald Trump.

The contrast and the timing to New Zealand’s response is startling.  Kiwi resident in the UK Todd Atticus has said this:

When Johnson dithered over whether to keep schools open, Britain felt gloomier than ever. With a third lockdown ordered, we’re scarcely better off now than we were in March. And winter has made things even harder. It feels especially galling queuing outside a supermarket in sub-zero temperatures, or going for a run in the rain because gyms have been closed yet again. At this stage, I’d give anything to have a healthy slice of Wellington normality, good day or no.

It is clear to me that these alternate realities aren’t just dumb luck or geographical good fortune. They are the result of different political choices. The virus arrived on Kiwi shores in the exact same way it did around the world. And it continues to do so on a regular basis with returning New Zealanders, who head straight into isolation. Already six cases of the new highly infectious variants have been apprehended in managed isolation facilities on arrival from the UK and South Africa.

The crucial difference is that, unlike in Britain, nothing is left to chance. Ardern drew a red line. Her government was resolute. In “going hard, going early”, the lives of New Zealanders were paramount.

Everyone in the world has been reminded of the power the state has to reshape our lives. For us Brits that power has been the regional tier system, shutting shops and pubs, paying or not paying wages in the furlough scheme, deciding whether or not you can get a haircut. But in New Zealand, political power used well has created a whole alternative reality – the old normal that we in Britain so long for. The lesson is not that New Zealand is a lucky country, but that with good governance nations make their own luck.

Johnson’s measures are too weak and too late.  He should have pressed the panic button when the new strain was discovered in September last year.  SEPTEMBER!  Or when a quarter of new cases in London were from the new strain in November last year he should have then taken urgent measures.

But no, he dithered.  He let his decision making get clouded by politics, and when you are on the right this is an extremely dangerous thing to do.

As an adjunct to this post the Government has decided that instead of receiving two anti viral shots within three weeks as recommended by the manufacturer they will spread the shots out.  More people will get a single shot this way but the efficacy of the treatment is untested.  This really feels like a bean counter/politician response to an inability to deliver on the promised number of vaccines and again runs the risk that the overall effects of the response will be too weak and too late.

The next few weeks will tell but right now England’s future looks bleak.

25 comments on “The UK is now the world’s Covid cot case ”

  1. Andre 1

    I can't believe I'm doing this.

    To be fair to BoJo the Clown and other RWNJ tosspots, California is doing every bit as badly at the moment.

    • Red 1.1

      And Israel is leading in respect of rate of Covid vaccine roll out Dam I hate facts over political bias and points scoring

      • Incognito 1.1.1

        Israel’s covid stats have not been impressive. Of course, the pending Election on 23 March is a major factor in the all-out effort to vaccinate. Reading headlines only is a mugs game.


        • Red

          Agree hence only raised vaccine roll out point They started ok but lost it a bit in the second hit of the virus My key point is each country has its unique challenges and cost benefit approach to Covid, Nz from a challenge point of view re elimination and controlling the virus probably the least in comparison, small population, isolated by sea etc, In this regard some nz commentators can all be a bit smug in our success/ luck. Politicising makes it even worse. For every anti right wing correlation drawn on covid you don’t have to go far to find a left wing counter example ( ie Andre above Israel, New York)suggesting left/ right is not necessary a causation to an appropriate response. The right response I suggest will be in hindsight and a few years away yet re a determination ;

      • SorgenHobel 1.1.2

        Israel is leading, as long as you’re not in Gaza or a Palestinian on the West bank.

    • woodart 1.2

      I cant beleive you are doing this either. whataboutism is the worst form of debate and you should be ashamed. the issue is NOT california or israel, the title of this article quite clearly is about the u.k……can people on this board not stay on topic?

      • alwyn 1.2.1

        I would suggest that the article is not just about the UK. The title alone implies that it is a comparison between countries It says "The UK is now the world’s Covid cot case".

        Well if you say one country is the worst, at anything, surely people are quite entitled to say something like "No it is not. XXX is worse"?

        The post indeed starts with, in para 2, "For a long time the good old US of A that held this position.". If this is not a comparison of 2 countries, rather than only talking about the UK I don't know what is.

        I inclined to agree with the Author's premise, although I do wonder whether it is really any worse than Brazil. Whoops! A comparison, which you seem to be saying should not be done.

    • Treetop 1.3

      For me it comes down to which strains of Covid are active.

      California is not doing well at all. If the B.1.1.7 or the South African strain is not the dominant strain in the US the situation will change for the worse just like in the UK.

    • Andre: bollocks.

      Britain is an island-it could have locked-down in exactly the same way NZ did but as usual Bojo has failed miserably…….but then NZ doesn't have a libertarian finance minister yelling in the PM's ear that there should be no lock-down.

      Why did Bojo listen to Rishi and not the scientists?

  2. Poission 2

    If you want the starkest contrast the daily rate of infection per head of population in Northern Ireland is twice that of the rest of Ireland despite both nations being part of the same island

    Ireland is catching up fast,the rate of growth is now equivalent to the UK.Arguments tend to decay fast under exponential dynamics.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      I agree it is spiking. See the FT graph in the post. It was offered by way of comparison to Northern Ireland which has twice the infection rate for some strange reason.

      • Andre 2.1.1

        With exponential growth, even if the event that started the spikes happened at exactly the same time, that Ireland started at half the rate of infections that Northern Ireland had is enough to account for the difference in infection rates now. Or the spiking event happening a couple of days later would also do it. So I'd be really wary of reading much into it.

      • Poission 2.1.2

        Ireland now has a doubling rate of 5.5 days in hospital admissions ( and infections 21% increase per day) the inflection point with NI around next monday.

      • Poission 2.1.3

        Now the inflection point has passed and the geometry is reversed,it seems Ireland has twice the infection rate of NI.( 128.8 /100k vs 64.7/100k on the 11/1) questions need to be asked of the Taoiseach.

        eg Should he have made more bikepaths ? or rounded the chooks up faster?

  3. Craig H 3

    Based on the current figure of 2.65 million UK cases, and that NZ's lockdown resulted in the R value for Covid being 0.2, it would take 4 incubation cycles to get below 10,000 cases (if that's their goal), which would be 8 weeks. That's a long time to maintain compliance, but NZ managed it, so maybe they'll get there.

    • tc 3.1

      When you can't get highly paid professional footballers and pollies to comply and set an example then the roads going to be a long one.

      40 EPL players/staff tested positive in 2,295 tests from 28/12 – 3/1. Games postponed and that's just a single week.

  4. thebiggestfish7 4

    Speaking as a kiwi living in the U.K. this is just pure political dribble from you Micky. Scoring political points when people are losing lives here is just disgusting . No different to the failures of our governments. Yes the U.K. are doing terribly, but it’s a symptom of Europe as whole. The whole continent is dealing with the same issues to varying degrees. You are just being totally blind in your bias towards the U.K. government and I for one am totally sick of people like you and politicians like Borris playing silly political games.

    • Muttonbird 4.1

      What's untrue? The UK is a disaster because of the Boris Johnson governments response. People coming from there are threatening the lives of New Zealanders. Should be a complete ban on travel from the UK.

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        Go to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

        Scroll down and order the big table by 'Deaths per 1M pop' (use the little pull down arrow in that column header).

        You will see that by this measure the UK is only the 10th worst in the world. (Sweden that hell hole of non-lockdown failure is currently only the 25th worst.) Looking at the table from this perspective, no clear pattern emerges in terms of how countries have responded. The things that do seem to matter are demographics (older populations simply mean more vulnerable people), long dark winter (Vitamin D or something closely associated) and integrated health systems that can mount a fast coordinated response. And probably a bunch more things we'll understand better in years to come.

        Politics should really be left out of it.

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          You will see that by this measure the UK is only the 10th worst in the world. (Sweden that hell hole of non-lockdown failure is currently only the 25th worst.)

          RL, is there anything NZ (only the 186th worst in the world) could have adopted from the UK (only 10th worst) or Swedish (only 25th worst) pandemic responses to drop us further down that table? Or Australia (131st position) for that matter?

          Lockdowns (national and local) restrict personal freedom – such restrictions are acceptible under the circumstances, IMHO. I still wonder if it might be something as simple as objecting to being told what to do; and poor leadership, of course.


          Now the Swedish model has failed, it's time to ask who was pushing it

          Sweden crisis worsens after its anti-lockdown stance proven a failure

          Dr Nick Talley, editor-in-chief of the Medical Journal of Australia, said the Swedish model had been a failure.

          "In my view, the Swedish model has not been a success, at least to date," he told news.com.au.

          "One clear goal at least early on was [to] reach herd immunity – but this was not achieved, not even close, and this was arguably predictable.

          "There were restrictions put in place but the philosophy was voluntary rather than compulsory. There is evidence there was a major impact of this voluntary lockdown on behaviour as reflected in, for example, reduced mobility and spending. However the spread of Covid-19 and the death rate was substantially higher in Sweden compared with its neighbours who mandated lockdowns.

          "A major contributor to the failure of the voluntary approach was spread of infection into homes for the elderly. Young people also appear to have been the least likely to alter their behaviour which may have contributed to community spread."

          • RedLogix

            There is only one measure of this epidemic beyond all statistical doubt; excess mortality:


            There is never any doubt as to whether someone is dead or not, so this data cannot be quibbled. What this shows is very interesting, COVID is a serious but not catastrophic illness, and that the various political responses don't seem to have much correlation.

            Hah … and just for my sins Brisbane is going into a 3 day lockdown this weekend.

  5. Poission 5

    There is never any doubt as to whether someone is dead or not, so this data cannot be quibbled

    Zamyatin (On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters 1923) suggested otherwise.

    Organic chemistry has already obliterated the line between living and dead matter. It is an error to divide people into the living and the dead: there are people who are dead-alive, and people who are alive-alive. The dead-alive also write, walk, speak, act. But they make no mistakes; only machines make no mistakes, and they produce only dead things. The alive-alive are constantly in error, in search, in questions, in torment.

    The same is true of what we write: it walks and it talks, but it can be dead-alive or alive-alive. What is truly alive stops before nothing and ceaselessly seeks answers to absurd, ‘childish’ questions. Let the answers be wrong, let the philosophy be mistaken- errors are more valuable than truths: truth is of the machine, error is alive; truth reassures, error disturbs. And if answers be impossible of attainment, all the better! Dealing with answered questions is the privilege of brain’s constructed like a cow’s stomach, which, as we know, is built to digest cud

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Not breathing? No pulse? No pupil reaction to light? Cold to the touch? Been this way for a while now?

      Probably dead.

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