The Corona Diaries – Day 482

Today was ‘Freedom Day’. I made sure I packed an extra mask and stayed clear of the loonies! It was another hot day in Yorkshire. I met up with friends and went for a walk along the cliffs near Robin Hood’s Bay. I was pleased to see that everyone was still wearing masks! Everyone was being courteous! Nobody was being stupid. I bet that won’t be the case tonight though when the kids go out to the pubs and nightclubs. Ironically they are the ones most at risk!

This virus must be rubbing its little spikes gleefully. Could you provide a better set of circumstances for it? All the young vulnerable ones packed into enclosed spaces, pissed, hugging, kissing, dancing and puffing out a thick aerosol into the air in an enclosed place!!

Johnson and his cabinet of inept imbeciles couldn’t have created a worse situation!

Variant breeding grounds. Transmission fast track.

We’re heading for a lockdown! We’re heading for a surge of ventilators and deaths!!

Stay Safe!! Ignore the stupid morons!! They know not what they do!!

6 thoughts on “The Corona Diaries – Day 482

  1. 484, the numbers keep getting bigger. We talked about rotten apples. Too many of them!
    “Ain’t no room for the hopeless sinner
    Hurt all mankind just to save his own”

  2. Yesterday was strange down here. Almost like the early days of the first lockdown; traffic well down, way less people on the streets than usual. OK, it was Monday, and 31 degrees C. And the schools were still in session – they don’t break up till tomorrow. But what I did notice is that none of the people on the streets were wearing masks – NONE! The only people I saw wearing masks were shopkeepers. Whereas up to last week, about 10% of shoppers were wearing masks even in the open between shops.

    There’s another way of looking at this. The vaccines, even if they don’t do as much to curb transmission as was promised, do seem to have cut the number of hospitalizations per case substantially. I’ve heard a figure of 93% protection – that is, only 7% as many hospitalizations per case as before the vaccination program. It isn’t easy to check this, but my “magic spreadsheet” for the UK is showing numbers since January that tally reasonably well with that. Current hospital bed occupancy by COVID patients is 10% of what it was back at the peak in January, and ICU occupancy about 13.5% of peak. So for those who think that herd immunity is the only way to get rid of this thing (and I suspect that includes Sajid Javid), there is some slack now to “let ‘er rip” without overloading the hospital facilities. If I take the above figures literally, up to 300,000 or even 350,000 new cases per day could be supportable at the next peak.

    Is there a better time of year to “let ‘er rip” than the middle of summer? I don’t think so. And what kind of virus variant would you pick to let rip? One which is highly transmissible, but doesn’t seem to be as lethal as some of the earlier waves? That’s certainly better than the other way round.

    This could get the UK towards herd immunity at a substantial rate. From Worldometers figures, my calculator tells me that to reach Czechia’s level of 15.5% of population having been confirmed as cases would take about 17 days at 300,000 new cases per day. Herd immunity, of course, may still be some distance even beyond there; which is why I am watching the Czechia case figures closely (they are only about 100 new cases per day right now). It’s quite possible, of course, that the week-on-week increase in cases will start to peter out before, or even well before, 300,000 per day. But that would be good news; it would mean, most likely, that we’re closer to herd immunity than we thought.

    1. Not my experience here. Around my village and walking with friends into Robin Hood’s Bay there were ironically many more people wearing masks than usual. Nobody in the shops were without a mask. People are rightly frightened.
      We are back to herd immunity. It’s an experiment, like they started right back at the beginning, and, in my opinion as big as mistake as back then. Here’s why:
      a. We have 3.4 million vulnerable people who cannot be vaccinated because of health problems impacting on their immune systems. It is impossible to completely shield them. They are now in prison.
      b. The vaccine is around 93% effective at preventing serious illness and death. 7% of our population is over 4.5 million.
      c. The hospital entry rates seem to be rising at the same steepness as on the previous wave. That killed 100,000 people.
      d. The number going down with long covid is extremely large. A lot of our youngsters might not die or need hospital treatment but will be damaged – many for life. They estimate there are over two million people already affected. That it affects 1 in 20. The results of allowing our kids to catch it could be dreadful.
      e. The more virus there is the more mutation. Allowing the virus to flourish in a partially vaccinated country is a recipe for culturing variants. We only need one nasty one to evade the vaccine and we’re in lockdown at square 1.
      f. The immune response to virus infection is much weaker than that of the vaccine and fades after only six months.
      g. Then we have the antivaxxers – a group of vulnerable people who are becoming more at risk by the minute. A group who have, up until now, been protected by the law, the responsible behaviour of others, the level of vaccination and the low level of virus. A good number of those will become severely ill and die.

      This is an experiment with no scientific basis. It’s political. Johnson has caved in to his right wing, abandoned science and heading for a disaster.

      1. (A) Well Opher, you’re the one who keeps on being so adamant that the needs of the collective should override the needs of individuals! Which is more important – freedom for 64.9 million, or an increased level of risk for 3.4 million? “Democracy” would suggest the former. (So would Rishi Sunak, but that’s for a different reason).

        (B) My understanding is that the vaccine is 93% effective at preventing hospitalization and death after allowing for the effectiveness of individuals’ own immune systems. Thus I would expect the deaths per case now to be about 7% of what it was prior to the New Year. The current level of deaths per case (with cases offset 21 days back) is 0.27%. That’s about 9% of the cumulative deaths per case as it was at the new year (2.95%) – and that 2.95% includes all the care home deaths early in the epidemic. So we’re looking at something like 7% of 2.95% as deaths per case from here on in – which is close to 0.2%. 7.5 million more cases to reach Czechia, times 0.2%, is 15,000 more deaths. That’s not good, but nowhere near your 4.5 million.

        (C) Hospitalizations are rising at the same weekly growth as cases now, yes; but from a far lower base than last time round. It’s one of the things I’m going to be monitoring when I next go through the stats (probably sometime next week, when the effects of opening up on cases should have become apparent).

        (D) But isn’t the alternative – which, essentially, amounts to holding the whole population locked down for an indefinite period, maybe even for ever – far worse?

        (E) Once herd immunity is reached, it won’t matter how many people are unvaccinated. Once the R-rate is permanently below 1, the thing is done for, absent mutations that make it more transmissible. That is what will save your 3.4 million – and the sooner we get there, the better!

        The other counter-argument is that the longer you give the virus to allow it to mutate, the more it is likely to mutate into something that is worse. In many ways, lockdowns are counter-productive in the long term; they slow down cases now, but still leave people vulnerable to the next wave, and they allow it longer to form.

        (F) That’s not what I heard. Antibodies may well be gone in six months, but T-cell immunity isn’t lost that fast. There’s got to be a reason why only 0.1% of people who have had COVID once have had it again, and that’s probably that the T-cell immunity is still there in most if not all who have had the virus.

        (G) Well Opher, if the antivaxxers are mostly Tory supporters as seems likely, wouldn’t you be tempted to say “tough, it was their own fault?”

        I see that the dreaded Neil Ferguson (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57877033) is now talking about 100,000 to 200,000 COVID cases a day over the summer. Very much in line with what I was saying above! He is also saying cases should be going down by late September, even in the worst case scenario. That’s about 70 days from now; again, if you pull the cases down to 100,000, it’s not that far away from the 51 days my top-of-the-head calculation would have given. I never thought before that I would be saying anything complimentary about Neil Ferguson! But he and I now seem to be closer in agreement than ever before.

      2. a. Yes I believe that we should, out of empathy and compassion, look after the needs of our fellows. That is what society is all about. We are not individuals selfishly living our lives but individuals within something much bigger. We have benefits and responsibilities.
        b. The 4.5 million was the number modelling for herd immunity at the beginning of the pandemic. Vaccination will have brought that number down. Add your 7% for which the vaccine doesn’t work, to the 3.4 million who are vulnerable but cannot be vaccinated, to the 40% of the population who have not yet been vaccinated (mainly too young) and the vulnerable antivaxxers (some communities in poor areas and ethnic minorities have very low levels of vaccination). We are looking at hundreds of thousands of deaths or worse.
        c.. We’ll see what the lag is on hospitals – but as the virus takes off it will quickly start to reach the more vulnerable – the antivaxxers and shielded. The government admits that it is impossible to shield – you have carers going in, food deliveries etc. I expect that rate to zoom up followed by the deaths. Vaccination is holding it artificially down.
        d. Having a cretin in charge doesn’t help. But, as we see with countries that went for border controls and zero virus they open up quicker. A good track and trace would help plus a moderate opening up -= retain masks, eat outside, outside events only. Inside events with masks and social distancing. It’s Summer we have no need for eating inside or allowing vulnerable young people to party inside – outside festivals yes – nightclubs no.
        e. It is possible that we will never reach herd immunity. The antibodies from the illness are weak compared with the vaccine. They rapidly fade. It could create an endless cycle. Vaccination is the only way to achieve herd immunity. In lockdown there are few people with the virus (each person infected generates trillions of viruses). That slows the mutation. Opening up increases the number of infections, the number of mutations and hence the number of variants. Having a vaccinated group available for a new variant that evades the vaccine is inviting the variant to go wild. You are removing competition – a recipe for disaster.
        f. T-cell memory is not as important as antibodies. The effect of infection is far weaker. People are being reinfected six months later and often getting a far worse reaction second time around.
        g. The same in the States. It’s the Trump supporters dying in far larger numbers. Their refusal to distance, vaccinate and wear masks is killing them. Unfortunately not yet in large enough numbers to affect elections. Their selfishness is keeping us all locked down longer and stopping us from reaching herd immunity.

        In the UK we need to vaccinate children and partially lockdown until we are in control. This unscientific stupidity could well generate a worse epidemic that could shut down the whole world all over again. We are dicing with death.
        We’ll see if it builds. I’ve read reports of up to 500,000 a day and the NHS totally overwhelmed – tens of thousands dead and huge numbers of long covid.
        We’ll see!
        Maybe then the antivaxxers will wake up and start believing in science! (those that are left).
        Get yourself vaccinated Neil. Start taking responsibility for yourself and others. You are risking your life and that of others.

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