Friday, 29 May 2020

The Purpose of the Cummings Road Show - Engineering a Second Peak, Blame the People.

I have been watching the Dominic Cummings Road Show, and I have been wondering: why now, what is he trying to do, why is he so deliberately making himself a story in the public eye?

While we were overloaded with Cummings, this happened on Friday.

"People with cancer, liver disease or severe asthma have been dropped from the government’s coronavirus shielding list by text message before their doctors have been able to speak to them.
The decision to remove people with various health conditions from the shielding programme in England has caused upset. The text also informed people they would no longer qualify for government food parcels.
Many who received the messages last Friday believed they were fake. But the government has since confirmed the texts are correct and are official government communications".
Cummings is, by his own admission, a media strategist, among other things, and he is a master baiter. He studies the fish, works out their vulnerabilities, then he baits the hook, he dangles the hook, he watches them bite and then he pulls them in. Brexit was a grooming operation since the day Johnson started lobbing rocks over the wall at the Tory Party's glass house, taking delight in the power he felt as those rocks (lies in print) started arguments he could safely observe from afar. Both of these men are people who revel in distal disturbance, men who enjoy the feeling of power they gain as they observe the chaos they cause, from a safe, well paid, distance.

 Cummings grin, caught on camera, as he had that last drink of water, and walked away from the Downing Street Rose Garden Table spoke to me, and others, as 'Job done!'

Satisfied smirk.

Here, then is my review of some key aspects of the Corona Virus story that tries to join the dots, to see what Cummings intent really is. There are other aspects, to do with re-rigging economies and political power systems, opportunism and so forth that I will leave out of this analysis because that thread is not a public health thread, and it is the health of the people that I am most concerned with here.

I hope, sincerely, that I am wrong. I would - seriously - be delighted to be held in ridicule, to see the virus is eliminated from the UK population, by this Government, and to have my worries proven to be febrile fantasies of a feeble fool. I do have my doubts about these perceptions, about everything I write. That is why I question myself, and re-examine in the light of what evidence emerges. Opinion  and belief is never enough, never adequate for dealing with matters of the shared commons. That demands evidence based policy at every level.

I shall start at the beginning, with Johnson's UK Policy as he outlines it.

 3rd February - UK Corona Virus Policy Declared in Public

Hubris claims humility!

"And in that context, we are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.

And here in Greenwich in the first week of February 2020, I can tell you in all humility that the UK is ready for that role.

We are ready for the great multi-dimensional game of chess in which we engage in more than one negotiation at once and we are limbering up to use nerves and muscles and instincts that this country has not had to use for half a century."

Johnson lays out the policy - "Protect the hoard, let the herd take it on the chin!"
Chess, political gaming. By January 31 the UK Government knew the virus and disease was in country.

Throughout February, as the global situation worsened, the  UK Government chose not to chase every case of known infection down. They chose not to pursue detailed contact trace, quarantine and provide treatment in isolation, of every case, in order to suppress the transmission of the virus. They asked people to self-isolate at home, rather than  provide isolation treatment facilities, which they knew were a critical part of the Chinese and Vietnamese responses. They chose not to test or quarantine incoming travellers. They chose not to alert the population, even as they were being alerted by epidemiologists nationally and internationally. All of these together would have been necessary in order to activate the non-shut down Korean style suppression of transmission, eradication of virus within the population - they chose a policy that was not medically rational; it was, as it turns out, medically irrational.

They chose this policy on a daily basis throughout February. Even as epidemics were developing at pace in Italy and Spain and elsewhere.

 5th March

Boris Johnson mentions herd immunity and dismisses the idea, or does he?

I suspect he was floating the idea, rather than dismissing it. A hint. Allowing room to manoeuvre in the future. To be able to draw back from such an idea, and present something that appears to address the situation, yet allows slow spread to continue.

13th March

Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Valance touts Herd Immunity. It's still on the books.

14th March

Professor john Edmund's, SAGE member : "Indeed, achieving Herd Immunity is the only way to stop this epidemic!"

14th March

UK Government suggests isolating elders in care homes, and shielding in place for people with chronic disease, everyone else carries on. Community transmission is in full flow, uncontrolled.

23rd March

UK Government orders shut down.  Does nothing to implement suppression of transmission beyond stay at home, work from home. No policy to stop the spread. Protect the NHS results in many elective hospital work cancelled. Instead of Fever Hospitals, they build intubation hospitals. The spread of the infection continues. Hospitals start to face surges, deaths start to rise rapidly.

We know what happened after that. It gets worse, and worse. The only action that is slowing the community transmission is the fact that the bulk of the British citizenry stay home, and they take the various pressures that staying at home has created, on their shoulders. They show considerable solidarity, compassion and kindness. Mutual aid groups spring up everywhere. They watch in horror and disbelief as the shortages of PPE become a defining narrative. They watch as the death toll mounts. They watch as the UK Government does nothing to stop the spread of infection and does everything to allow a slow spread, through bad policy, inadequate provision. They watch as Government ministers lie about the situation. They stay home. They are not fearful, they are concerned. Concerned citizens doing their bit, watch a their Government fail to do it's bit, recounted by a media that is inadequate to the task of holding Government to account.

The people are so much kinder, so much warmer, so much more concerned about each others welfare than the Government is about theirs.

The citizens hold the line. The are the ones who do most to slow the transmission. But they cannot do this on their own, indefinitely.

10th May

Johnson makes a televised speech to the nation, and issues vague instructions to ease the lock down, to 'restart the economy'. The Economy has not stopped, the stock exchange is still trading, furlough is providing income for 6 million workers to stay at home, and they are all buying food and other goods, on-line and in weekly shops. That money is going back into the economy, rents are being paid, bills are being paid. The transmission appears to be slowing down, but it is nowhere near suppressed.
Hospitalisations continue, deaths continue. The transmission is nowhere near being under control.
British citizens, in poll after poll, say 60% want to continue to stay at home until it is genuinely safe. The Government wants them to go to work. A power struggle ensues.

13th May

The government lifts the restriction on how far people can drive to reach the countryside and take exercise, but visits and overnight stays to second homes remain prohibited. This encourages reckless behaviour. That is the intent. A war of attrition against the 60%.

16th May

"Back to school! Protect the vulnerable children!"

I have written about Gavin Williamson's odious Education Briefing from 10 Downing Street, the day before Gove appears on Marr. Williamson uses deliberate tactics - conflating issues, emotional blackmailing and gaslighting to deliver a bullying speech, aimed at putting pressure on teachers, manipulating parents and workers, sotto voce. The pattern is clear, the intent is obvious. They are going to use every manipulative tactic they can to push the workers back to work.

17th May

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show, Gove said: "The only way ever to ensure that you never catch coronavirus is to stay at home completely. There's always, always, always in any loosening of these restrictions a risk of people catching the coronavirus"
Here Gove is basically taking the piss, gas-lighting the genuine concerns of teachers, parents and children. He is bullying, brushing aside the risk, rather than governing in people's best interests.


May 26th

Democracy Now report on New Zealand explores what they did, and why they did what they did, and why it succeeded.

"New Zealand implemented one of the earliest lockdowns and has largely succeeded in eliminating the coronavirus under the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Some of the country’s success has been attributed to her leadership, trust in science, and clear communication during the crisis. We get an update from Michael Baker, professor of public health at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand. He is an epidemiologist and a member of the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s Technical Advisory Group. Baker has been advising the government on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.2 

Their slogan is “Stay home, stay safe, and be kind.”

26th May

New Zealand's leading epidemiology advisor to the New Zealand Government speaks on Democracy Now.

"And I think across the Western world, there was this strange idea of complacent exceptionalism, that somehow the virus might behave differently when it hit the Western world compared with how it was in Asia. But, in fact, we looked to Asia for examples of a good approach, and — for example, the way China contained the virus, and other Asian countries were managing it — we realized that elimination was possible, so we changed direction very quickly."

As I have written elsewhere, those countries that were willing to learn from China, Korea, Taiwan and other East Asian countries and apply the protocols for suppression of community transmission to stop the spread (rather than merely to slow it) with a view to eliminating the virus from within their population have done and are doing a very good job indeed, and those who chose not to learn from others experience have stumbled and lurched; making matters worse they have lied, manipulated data and evidence and gaslighted their populations and there are dead bodies all over the place.

Funerals and cremations with no-one present to mourn them. A terrible price has and is being paid by the people.

Peaks and Waves.

Furthermore,  these states are facing multiple peaks within this first wave  - only because they refuse to learn from the East Asian experience. Why would they be so foolish?

They refuse to draw from the experience of New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Vietnam and others who have managed to suppress community transmission, and practically eliminate the virus from within their populations - their refusal to apply those lessons learned elsewhere is a deliberate choice, a political choice and an economic choice, not a public health choice.

It is important to understand that to prevent a second wave in the latter months of 2020 demands that the virus is eliminated from the local population in the first wave,  retaining an active and agile contact trace, quarantine and isolation treatment facility ready for new outbreaks within each jurisdiction. This is entirely reasonable since populations are organised across the Earth within defined jurisdictions, with structured borders that can be policed. That means that borders must become quarantined borders. This means that the security of all is the security of the most vulnerable.

And the choice being made, as outlined in Johnson's February 3rd speech is to choose allow movement through those borders, to prevent the closure of the borders by allowing herd immunity to achieve a kind of parity, the parity that a vaccine would create except for the fact that no such vaccine is available, and no such vaccine is on the horizon within meaningful time limit.

Herd immunity is this manner entails a soft form of mass murder - avoidable deaths are not avoided, they are simply slowed down, and that is a deliberate action, intentional.

Those involved must be held to account, and  we must understand that the lies and misleading narratives they used to protect themselves and their policy are damning evidence of intent.

The citizens of each of those countries have a stark choice in front of them.

We, the citizens of the UK, have a stark choice in front on us.

May 22nd - the Dominic Cummings Road Show is launched.

The Dominic Cummings road show was designed to break the 'stay at home to protect the vulnerable' dynamic of concerned citizens across the UK. It forms part of a general thrust since Boris Johnson's 10th May passive aggressive management instructions to the nation. That is the outcome of the road show. Behaviour, actions, outcomes, patterns speak the truth of history.

There has been a serious, concerted on-line campaign portraying the genuine concern of UK citizens who choose stay home stop the spread as an irrational fear, with the gas-lighting suggestion that this irrational fear is itself causing the damage to the economy. Their fear is the culprit.

If nurses are 'Heroes' walking to the 'front-line', what are those who dare not step out of their homes? If Doctors and Shop Assistants are 'Heroes' what are workers, furloughed in comfort, receiving tax payers money for doing nothing, who refuse to get out and get the economy up and running again. because they are frightened? That was a subtext that was allowed far too much space, that went unchallenged for far too long. Freedom of speech, and the right to hold an opinion trumping the evidence.

Whereas it was, and it remains Government policy on SARSVOC2 and COVID19 that is causing the most damage to the UK Economy.

Had they chosen the path New Zealand took, the economy would be looking so much better right now.

The patchy nature of furlough as it was rolled out, the inadequacy of self employment support, the inadequacy of rural and farming support, the blatant bail outs to corporations by comparison, and the inadequacy of PPE support across all care systems have caused immense difficulties, difficulties that could have been avoided with better thought out policies. There are other groups who are vulnerable such as hospitality staff, entertainment artists, technicians and workers, tourism operators and independent retail staff and others who are not afforded decent furlough, and this all adds to the pressure to get out there and be working - whereas if the Government funded them to stay home, and stop the spread, that pressure would be greatly reduced.

There are recent media campaigns to exploit domestic abuse, child abuse and other long standing social care issues as leverage points to get the economy going. The implication is that shut down has made all there problems exponentially worse - and there is some truth in this, yet the solution is to provide more support rather than get everyone back to work. Where were these concerns in the start of the lock down, where were they in April? They were not headlines. But as soon as get the economy going emerges, they become headline stories. This is not accident, this is no co-incidence.

 What if everyone gets back to work and there is no extra support for all these issues - support that is already lacking, even before the epidemic? What then? More spread. More pain, More abandonment.

The tune that has been playing in the background to the Cummings Road Show - "Get The Economy Moving, Get Back to Work!"

Cui Bono?

The Cummings Road Show in the media has created a groundswell of people who will not follow guidelines, as those were clearly abandoned by a senior Government figure, and "if it's one rule for them, and another for us, well stuff that!" which is both irrational and irresponsible. It amounts to "if they can be shits, I have the right to be a shit too!"

And what we hear and see is people in media nodding their heads, and going "Well, yes, totally get where you are coming from." Encouragement, rather than critique.

This all adds to the pressure to push teachers and others back to work, and it will intensify.

Gove maintains it is safe to return more children to school, the BMA and Teachers Unions point out that the evidence suggests quite clearly is that it is not.

This is insanity...

The transmission of the virus is not under any control within the UK. It is still largely invisible. We are still with more cases, and more hospitalisations and more deaths than when the lock down was called on 23rd of March.

The new NHS contact tracing program was launched 5 days earlier than planned,  and after one day it is already falling apart. The program is headed up by a Tory peer, Dido Harding, who was CEO of Talk Talk during a serious data hack, and who managed that situation quite dreadfully. She has no public health qualification or skills. They readily admit that it will not be properly functional until end of June. A month of enabling more community transmission without the resources to quell outbreaks, to quarantine contacts, to treat the symptomatic away from the community.

It will take three weeks to five to return to another climb towards a new peak; there is no policy to stop the spread, eliminate the virus from the the population.

A new surge is all but inevitable.

They have engineered a point of no return.

Herd immunity remains on the cards.

"But today comes another challenge. A team led by Gabriela Gomes of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine argues that it is wrong to assume that herd immunity will only be achieved when 60 per cent of people have been infected. It is more likely, they argue, that the true figure lies between 10 and 20 per cent. The 60 per cent figure, they say, is based on the idea that we are all equally likely to contract the virus"

This article was 4th of May. It has not been debunked yet, it has not been dismissed. Everything that has happened since 10th of may suggests it is feeding into the decision making at 10 Downing Street.

"Incorporating, in a reasonable manner, inhomogeneity in susceptibility and infectivity in a standard SEIR epidemiological model, rather than assuming a homogeneous population, causes a very major reduction in the herd immunity threshold, and also in the ultimate infection level if the epidemic thereafter follows an unconstrained path. Therefore, the number of fatalities involved in achieving herd immunity is much lower than it would otherwise be.
In my view, the true herd immunity threshold probably lies somewhere between the 7% and 24% implied by the cases illustrated in Figures 4 and 5. If it were around 17%, which evidence from Stockholm County suggests the resulting fatalities from infections prior to the HIT being reached should be a very low proportion of the population."

This article was published May 10th. - Same day as Johnson's speech. Sweden's situation is not as positive as many have been asserting.

Both of these are modelling exercises, removed from the social material realities.

Everything the Government is doing is going to guarantee the spread of the infection, coupled with inadequate provision for contact tracing, quarantine and importantly no provision at all for isolation treatment of symptomatic cases at the earliest possible moment, away from the community - that is to say nothing approaching the utility of Fever Hospitals. The evidence is that Government rejected the idea of Fever Hospitals when it was mooted as a way to stop the spread within care homes.

I have addressed the efficacy of fever hospitals in a previous blog piece.

The logic is very clear and simple: it makes sense to send people who are symptomatic at the earliest possible moment away from main hospitals, away from care settings, away from peoples homes and shared apartment complexes where if symptomatic people remain to self treat they will absolutely guarantee more spread of infection with a higher viral load within the community! That is best avoided. But no, Government policy is to enable that spread with a higher viral load within the community.
This is insanity.

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson, The Cabinet, The Behavioural Insights Team are behaving appallingly. 
Remember that Government text message sent out to vulnerable people, without reference to their doctors? 

"No more support, not for you." 

Go forth and multiply (the virus).
I say, again, that they need to be removed from office, indicted for misconduct and misfeasance, and that we the citizens of the United Kingdom, in all four Nations, and indeed in the Republic of Ireland with whom we share a border,  need a new UK government, a unity government, where the Majority Party works with all other parties, guided by epidemiology and the experience of New Zealand, Vietnam, China and others who have suppressed the transmission of the virus within their populations to do the same - to stop the spread of the virus, and eradicate it from the population.

As I like to put it, Stop the Spread, Spread the Love!

Both the people and the economy will benefit in equal measure.

Herd immunity is neither practical nor safe.

It is not economically sound either.

It is murder.

Kindest regards


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old dog said...

Interesting stuff, but if you drop the agenda you might see more.

corneilius said...

No agenda. I am well aware of the economic and political gaming that the sponsors of the Johnson and Cummings and The Behavioural Insights Team and their policies is all about.

These pieces are simply dealing with this Virus, and what is clearly a murderous policy. That murder is the issue.

Given the choices, the lies and the misleading narratives, the awareness of the harms caused and the repetition doing nothing to resolve them in real terms suggests intentional action, rather than incompetence.

This is not about left/right. It is about abuse, straight up. Lethal abuse.

Burboboz said...

Criminal negligence insofar as lack of PPE for NHS, carers.