Viewing 40 posts - 81 through 120 (of 423 total)
  • The Covid Inquiry.
  • nickc
    Full Member

    I distinctly remember the week or two before lockdown, when I and most people I knew were already working from home

    Leeds train station at 08.15am a couple of days before the Stay at Home announcement was made by the Shopping Trolley. The Public had made up their minds already

    Leeds Train station 11th March 

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    I distinctly remember the week or two before lockdown, when I and most people I knew were already working from home

    Yep we were all given instructions to WFH from about a week, maybe 10 days before the official lockdown was announced.

    All credit to my workplace (which had a pretty good remote / flexible working policy anyway), they did a huge amount to support everyone.

    franksinatra
    Full Member

    There are a lot of news producers who are going to need a stiff drink tonight. I’ve not heard so many C bombs being dropped on TV since watching Ricky Gervais in Afterlife.

    somafunk
    Full Member

    Listening on R5 but after every f-bomb they cut to a presenter apologising for the language and you miss 15 secs of the evidence, who gets upset about such language these days?

    thecaptain
    Free Member

    Incredibly, the SAGE scientists weee arguing right through the middle of March that we *shouldn’t* be taking action at that point, because they were worried about the risk of delaying the pandemic to the following autumn/winter when it would be a more serious problem (because, background pressure on NHS is always worse in winter).

    It’s impressive how much they’ve managed to skate over their own errors in all this. I suppose I was naive to expect any reflection or self-examination from them.

    kimbers
    Full Member

    I remember watching newsnight and it dawned on me just how lackadaisical the government were being, this was 2 weeks b4 they did lockdown

    In work my Medical colleagues were getting a crash course in ICU for contagious diseases as theyd been called back from their PhDs, we did a fag packet calculation on deaths in the UK based on what appeared to be the herd immunity strategy at the time & none of us could believe it

    I was still commuting into london we were raiding the institute for PPE for the medics to take because Northwick Park hospital had already seen a surge and had run out of scrubs, goggles, gloves and sanitising gel

    My trains into & cycle through London were nuts, went from busier than anything to ghost town, last thing we did before they closed us was pack up our QPCR machines for the lighthouse labs (where they would sit idle for many months before any sort of testing programme was in place)

    thecaptain
    Free Member

    In case anyone doubts my account, the SAGE minutes from 13, 16, 18 March all back it up. Then there’s the SPI-M meeting on the 20th when they suddenly all went “oh shit” followed by the SAGE meeting on the 23rd when they all went “oh shit shit shit” and the rest is history.

    I noted the 3 day doubling on the 10th March (it’s on my blog on that date, I believe I actually wrote it in the 9th). That’s two weeks before SAGE.

    nickc
    Full Member

    My trains into & cycle through London were nuts, went from busier than anything to ghost town

    That photo up there, was taken by me as I was one of the last folks to go to our offices in Leeds, I volunteered as I lived alone, and I was just helping to co-ordinate the effort with IT to move everyone out, my train commute went from packed/standing room only to more or less having the thing to myself. Very eerie at the time.

    Northwind
    Full Member

    nickc
    Full Member

    Leeds train station at 08.15am a couple of days before the Stay at Home announcement was made by the Shopping Trolley. The Public had made up their minds already

    The fact that the government were havering about shutdown and lockdown while companies, sporting organisations, and punk rock bands were going “er yeah time to close” is still pretty staggering. When you’re getting more decisive healthcare leadership from Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls, and the Royal Bank of Scotland are more socially responsible than the government, you know you’re in the bad timeline.

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    So what happened at SAGE? Was it a collective delusion, political influence in the background, or just a couple of loud voices?

    Pretty much everyone else taking an active interest, scientist or otherwise, saw what was coming down the track when northern Italy went under. Some of us were talking about the possibility of a massive spread and significant mortality from a few days after the news broke from Wuhan and the range of possible R0 numbers was highly worrying.

    binners
    Full Member

    So what happened at SAGE? Was it a collective delusion, political influence in the background, or just a couple of loud voices?

    From all thats been said in the last couple of days, it looks like total complacency

    Kramer
    Free Member

    I think it was that they were falsely reassured by the wrong model, as well as forgetting the first law of exponential growth, which is that by the time you realise that there is a problem, it’s much worse than you realise.

    I too built my own model at home to keep track on what was happening as I didn’t have faith in the government.

    jp-t853
    Full Member

    When looking at the Newsnight overview of which countries were locked down above you have to remember that Denmark as an example was locked down two weeks before us but they were also two weeks behind us on the case curve when they did so.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    Makes me laugh that civil service was getting staff working from home 2 weeks before lockdown.

    Another example of us leftie, woke, tofu eating, deep state traitors blocking government policy.

    tpbiker
    Free Member

    I wonder if the PM’s preferred policy towards old folks of ‘f’em, let them die’ will be remembered by all those aging die hard tory voters at the next GE.

    frankconway
    Full Member

    tp – they will need to be reminded of that but, don’t forget, it wasn’t said by that nice mr sunak…

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    it wasn’t said by that nice mr sunak…

    No, he subsidised them all to go out and eat at cafes and restaurants later on…
    Eat Out To Help Out Spread It About!

    binners
    Full Member

    I do think that the English language benefitted today. Not just from the multitude of **** and c**ts repeatedly dropped on BBC afternoon radio, but the addition of the word ‘trollied’ to the common vernacular. The perfect word to describe Boris’s propensity to veer around from one extreme to the other

    “Don’t give him the opportunity to trolly it”

    “Has he trollied it again’

    popped up repeatedly on WhatsApp messages

    funkmasterp
    Full Member

    Letting people die to boost the economy is **** up. We need a shift in how we view the world, society and measures of success. We’re **** if we don’t but that’s for another thread.

    frankconway
    Full Member

    legs – I’m sure that nice mr shnak will be forced to hear/say/read some embarrassing stuff when he appears which labour should use against him.

    slowoldman
    Full Member

    Who are all those people in the inquiry? What are they doing? A few look as though they might be on work experience.

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    Then you had the Cheltnham Festival…

    Some clients were at that as paid medics. My thoughts were, “what are you up to you entitled twunts”? The booking was eventually cancelled as one of them is now suffering from severe long covid problems. It’s harsh, but it couldn’t have happened to more appropriate people.

    dyna-ti
    Full Member

    Pretty much a pointless affair and nothing whatsoever is going to come of it.

    Already most of the witnesses are speaking in the terms of the ‘system’ failing, rather than individual players being so utterly incompetent they should be getting prosecuted.

    TiRed
    Full Member

    I noted the 3 day doubling on the 10th March (it’s on my blog on that date, I believe I actually wrote it in the 9th). That’s two weeks before SAGE.

    Me too. In fact I posted it here. To be fair. Neil Ferguson presented my analysis on March 14th to SAGE probably as an AOB. I had my first contact with Patrick Vallance (outside of my Day job when he was previously head of R&D at GSK) on the 16th. Most of SPI-M were too busy trying to fit SEIR models to exponential growth. The failure was that these models needed info on the incubation and recovery times. Which was not available. I just assumed we looked like all other countries with some lag time. And we did. Only ONE other SPI-M scientist made the same analysis about a week later using Italy data with UK.
    And the rest is history.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    So what happened at SAGE?

    Only Brits involved? And they weren’t talking to any of their peers in any other country? And they’d turned off the phones, TV, radio, the internet?

    Worth reading the Singletrack thread for what was being said here at the time, mostly based on what experts the world over were saying out loud, and other governments were acting on.

    Waiting for UK data was wasting time when we could see what was happening in countries ahead on the curve.

    mefty
    Free Member

    It’s impressive how much they’ve managed to skate over their own errors in all this. I suppose I was naive to expect any reflection or self-examination from them.

    The chutzpah of Edmunds is amazing, he was completely reinventing history by disowning the herd immunity strategy which he had nothing to do with of course. This might surprise those who watched Channel 4 News in early March 2020 or Channel 5, who would have seen him arguing against lockdowns and explaining the merits of the government plan.

    Already most of the witnesses are speaking in the terms of the ‘system’ failing

    But this is a very big issue, it is quite clear our “Rolls Royce” civil service were running around like headless chickens, whatever the merits of political leadership, our government is based on the premise of a permanent professional impartial executive guided by political leadership – there is little evidence that the current setup meets this purpose. But the chances of the Inquiry addressing these issues in any depth are slim – the knockabout political stuff is too good copy.

    chewkw
    Free Member

    Jail them all especially Boris the clown.

    On the second thought, don’t jail them coz they have family, but put them to community work like washing the roads or something.

    frankconway
    Full Member

    It’s far from being pointless.
    What are we learning? Joined up thinking is important essential in government; telling porkies when attempting (and failing) to manage a pandemic is hugely destructive; those damned ‘experts’ actually have some value and relevance; ‘technocratic capability’ is essential; failing to plan produces exactly the same result as planning to fail; honesty and the willingness to be accountable is massively important; dysfunctionality is not the exception at the highest level of government; the peter principle is thoroughly validated here.
    The list is long.

    I completely agree that there should be prosecutions but if that was ever even a remote possibility…much more information would have disappeared, witnesses would have been more ‘economical with the truth’ and that would actually have made it a truly pointless enquiry.

    Think of the Grenfell enquiry – the truth only began to emerge, slowly, after it was confirmed that witnesses would be granted immunity from prosecution.

    I, for one, welcomed Cummings candid assessments of his ‘colleagues’ – describing them, their performance and capabilities in terms which could not be misinterpreted.
    To borrow a phrase…harsh, but fair.

    Del
    Full Member

    it is quite clear our “Rolls Royce” civil service were running around like headless chickens

    Mainly because the civil service exists to facilitate the whims of those in charge? The government? All the while being undermined by Cummings et al? Wtf would you expect!?

    willard
    Full Member

    Currently watching a short summary of Cummings’ statements (thanks PoliticsJoe). Wow. He’s really a horrible person.

    hightensionline
    Full Member
    binners
    Full Member

    The ‘misogynistic comments’ thing had been extensively trailed too, by the usual Johnson cultists

    SQUIRREL!!!

    His defence was unarguable really. He was/is equally obnoxious to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, creed or colour

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    Worth reading the Singletrack thread for what was being said here at the time, mostly based on what experts the world over were saying out loud, and other governments were acting on.

    The first chunk of the Coronavirus thread is certainly interesting to re-read three years on.

    The failure was that these models needed info on the incubation and recovery times. Which was not available. I just assumed we looked like all other countries with some lag time. And we did.

    But of course! It astounds me that the experiences of other comparable populations wouldn’t be the logical starting point. But I do hope that the politicians don’t find a way to heap all the blame on scientific advice made in good faith when it is clear they were resistant to doing the right thing as well.

    nickc
    Full Member

    I, for one, welcomed Cummings candid assessments of his ‘colleagues’ – describing them, their performance and capabilities in terms which could not be misinterpreted.
    To borrow a phrase…harsh, but fair.

    He’s very much deflecting blame, @mefty is partly right, the effing and jeffing has become the story. It should centred around a man who’s unfailing view of himself as a genius unfettered by normal moral constraints was in full public display again yesterday. Look at how he was dressed, look at how he spoke, all a carefully crafted performance. He was suddenly relevant again – What exactly has he done since Nov 2020 when he was unceremoniously sacked? No regrets about his Barnard Castle visit, everyone around him useless, everyone (but him) unclear and running around like a headless chicken, sack all the Cabinet. Sack all the CS that I don’t like. Get rid of the women asking too many questions. If this enquiry reveals anything, it should at least convince everyone watching that Cummings should be let no where near anything more important than redecorating a bathroom, or writing his unreadable* blog

    *Read by folks who no doubt feel themselves to be geniuses, and happily pay the tenner a month for all the reinforcement they can get.

    binners
    Full Member

    @nickc – pretty much the same conclusion drawn by John Crace in the Guardian. A good summary…

    Genius among morons Dominic Cummings gives Halloween display of his ego

    31 October. Halloween. Dominic Cummings has decided to come dressed for his appearance before the Covid inquiry as … Dominic Cummings. Of course he had. He’s a one-man horror show. A man who has arguably done even more damage to the country than his former useful idiot, Boris Johnson.

    TiRed
    Full Member

    But of course! It astounds me that the experiences of other comparable populations wouldn’t be the logical starting point

    The SAGE/SPI-M view was one of groupthink (R0 anyone? – i always preferred doubling time), one epidemiological analysis method and a concentration on the UK data. It wasn’t universal, but was mainstream. uncertainties in the disease made parameter estimation unreliable. I just brought some statistical nous instead (nonlinear mixed effects models if interested). Collating the data was also not easy. The European CDC were collating numbers manually into a daily spreadsheet, which I used. OWID was months away. The COVID dashboard too.

    I only had good interactions with civil servants. As the levers of government, they can only act as instructed. They were always professional. Never talked politics. SPI-M was given instructions on predicting scenarios of interest. I didn’t do any of that as (i explained here), statistical models are not mechanistic and good for two to four weeks (at best).

    The enquiry is just confirming everyone’s suspicions at the time. The biggest learning really for me is DATA. You need it, accurate and early. we were flying instrument free a the start. 

    thecaptain
    Free Member

    So what happened at SAGE? Was it a collective delusion, political influence in the background, or just a couple of loud voices?

    Groupthink, anchoring bias, not invented here syndrome. Circling the wagons as the criticism and alarm grew stronger. Thinking they were the cleverest people in the room, when they really weren’t. Well they might have been in the SAGE meeting room but they weren’t in the wider societal debate. All of the above.

    It wasn’t helped by the fact that the “something must be done” crowd really didn’t have a strategy either, just saying “let’s keep it out” was never going to work indefinitely, the scientists knew that.

    However, what they didn’t account for, was that we would get better treatment, not just including vaccines (which were regarded as speculative at first) but also various drugs and methods (face down etc).

    They also didn’t realise that with their preferred strategy we could have been well over 10,000 deaths per day at the peak, which would have been bodies rotting in their houses stuff. We just don’t have enough body bags, morgues, crematoriums. Normal death rate is around 1700 per day (a bit more in winter) and systems were creaking at the seams with an additional 1k or so deaths for a couple of weeks. Plus the much larger numbers of seriously ill of course.

    For some reason, the SAGE group fixed on 5 day doubling early on in Feb – variously 5-7 days is written in the SAGE minutes – and then dismissed all evidence to the contrary as being due to improved testing and diagnosis and counting (see Edmunds on C4, 13 March I think, for a classic example of this). Even though the initial estimate was only ever a very rough number, coming out of Wuhan, with large error bars. And the 3 day doubling was apparent all over Europe, in countries like Italy, Germany, France, generally socially similar to us, a week or two ahead on the pandemic curve.

    There also didn’t seem to be anyone in epidemiology who knew much about modern methods for forecasting and more generally estimating uncertain parameters from dodgy data (which is basically the foundation of forecasting, along with having decent models which they did have). This happens to be my speciality – a lot of the theory comes from weather forecasting, in my career I adapted and developed similar methods for climate change which turn out to be well suited to epidemiological models too. Not that it really takes much sophistication to draw a straight line though a log plot as so many people did, but you can do more advanced things too. Even Ferguson’s celebrated 16 March paper, which is credited with sparking the lockdown debate, was rather complacent. He suggested we might need to go into lockdown at the end of that month (ie an additional week later, 2 or more doubling times, compared to what really happened on the 23rd).

    binners
    Full Member

    Helen McNamara confirming that she did say

    “I have come here to the Prime Ministers office to tell you all I think we’re absolutely ****ed. I think this country is heading for a disaster. I think we are going to kill thousands of people.”

    Seems like a pretty accurate prophecy. No wonder Dom didn’t like her coming in with some home truths

    She also said that they let the Liverpool/Atletico Champions League game go ahead (which was utter madness) as nobody in the room had ever actually been to a football match, so they didn’t know what the issue was

    TiRed
    Full Member

    not invented here syndrome


    @thecaptain
    summarises the situation well. Eventually, once there had been so many interventions that keeping track of them in any form of model was impossible, the near-term projections switched to statistical methods. There was definitely an over-reliance on conventional (in a UK model-based epidemiology sense) approaches to data analysis. I don’t think the scientists thought that lockdown was a political option at the time. But I wasn’t involved at that time.

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    There also didn’t seem to be anyone in epidemiology who knew much about modern methods for forecasting and more generally estimating uncertain parameters from dodgy data (which is basically the foundation of forecasting, along with having decent models which they did have). This happens to be my speciality – a lot of the theory comes from weather forecasting, in my career I adapted and developed similar methods for climate change which turn out to be well suited to epidemiological models too.

    My wife is from a data modelling/forecasting background, albeit not epidemiological, and she was tearing her hair out from late January onwards with the relatively scant information available even then, and questioning what appeared to be a ‘wait and see’ approach to a tsunami.

    I wonder how much of thinking came from an assumption that our emerging Covid cases had been seeded at a certain point, around half-term, when it is likely that we were already further along the graph without realising it? There are certainly suggestions that northern Italy was seeded by Chinese fashion workers in late 2019.

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