UK update and busting a couple of myths about their handling of Covid

Missy is back with a welcome update from the UK.


I thought I would give a quick update (and bust a couple of myths) about the UK, apologies if it has been done already.

Myth one: The UK’s official strategy was initially herd immunity. WRONG. The strategy was always about flattening the curve and not overburdening the NHS, it was just that one of the scientists said herd immunity was the natural outcome of the UK’s strategy as they expected upwards of 60% or more of the population to be infected.

Myth two: The UK has Europe’s highest death toll from the virus. This is a tricky one, on a per capita basis it is far from true, on reported numbers it is currently true, however, there are problems and issues wiht these stats. first: The reported deaths are not only where confirmed cases have been the sole cause of death, but also a contributory factor, or where someone died of something else but happened to have COVID-19.

None of the UK statistics section out those who have, or died from, probable or suspected COVID-19 vs those that were confirmed cases, they are just lumped as one statistic second: deaths in care homes and the community are taken from death certificates, and this is problematic as COVID-19 symptoms are similar to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, also there has been a suggestion by some that the doctors are just putting COVID-19 on death certificates even when the patient died of something else (no verification of that, but if true this is huge). third: Many countries in Europe are not including care home and community deaths, but just hospital deaths that are confirmed, so numbers are skewed, and most likely under reported.

In the UK there has been a lot of discussion around the fact that ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by the virus, along with men, with some MPs (Labour mostly) claiming the virus is racist. Despite calls for the Government to set up an inquiry as to why, generally with the aim of making it political and somehow the Government’s fault, the opposition are ignoring evidence of research from a variety of institutions and hospitals, including Trinity College in Dublin (the most comprehensive study I have seen so far) which states that vitamin D deficiency impacts how severe the symptoms are.

It is already acknowledged in the UK that ethnic minorities tend to have lower vitamin D levels than the white population, thus putting them more at risk. Also, in my area at least, it tends to be the immigrant population (Africans and Middle Eastern mainly, but also some Eastern Europeans) that have not been adhering to the lockdown rules, this may also have an impact on those communities.

So, the UK lockdown, or should I say lockdown lite. With the exception of the Government ordering some businesses to close and enforcing of social distancing, in general most of the lockdown was a guidance only, and nowhere near as severe as much of Europe – though not as relaxed as Sweden. The Government were advised by a group that included scientists, medical professionals and behavioural scientists, when the lockdown was brought in it was expected about 70% of the population would adhere to it, and that the 30% who didn’t would be able to aid the economy and eventual economic recovery.

As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and this did. Over 80% of the population adhered to the lockdown, and now over 60% are too scared to go out, or return to any form of normal life. The struggle the Government has is to convince the population to return to a form of normal life.

Which brings me to the easing. Despite reporting (and G’s article above), the PM’s plan is in general quite clear about things, if a little complicated. In short he is putting some of the responsibility onto the population of what they do or don’t do, instead of telling everyone how they should behave.

The basics are:

  • If you are unable to work, and your workplace is open, then return to work;
  • If you are returning to work then drive, walk, or cycle if you can and try to avoid public transport if at all possible;
  • Garden centres and takeaway food places may open;
  • If the virus is under control primary schools will re-open on 1 June;
  • If they adhere to COVID-19 guidelines non-essential shops may open in June;
  • Pubs, bars, and restaurants will not re-open before 4 July;
  • In England people may travel for exercise or recreation activities, such as to play tennis or golf, or to fish etc;
  • People may meet one other person outside their household as long as they maintain social distance and don’t go to each other’s homes, they may also play sports such as golf or tennis with this person, or exercise;
  • People may leave their homes for an unlimited time and may visit parks for more than exercise (eg: picnics or sunbathing) as long as they maintain social distancing and limit the people they meet to one other person.

All international visitors, with the exception of those from the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man), and France, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Guess that means no self isolating for the illegals coming from the camps in France that is rabid with COVID-19.


Gezza on Boris Johnson:

“In his first statement to Parliament on the coronavirus pandemic, months after the beginning of the outbreak in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday issued a lengthy clarification to his government’s advice over the lifting of lockdown measures.

He had addressed citizens on Sunday evening in a recorded televised address, but his statement was criticised for prompting more questions than it had answered.”

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/pm-boris-johnson-forced-clarify-uk-lockdown-advice-200511215621327.html


A response from Missy:

The poor guy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

For weeks the Government have been criticised for not giving an overview of the plan for exiting the lockdown, when the PM gives an overview of the plan he gets criticised again.

The Monday address was not him being ‘forced to clarify’ his advice, it was him going into more depth for the nation of the document that was presented in Parliament earlier in the day.

By the way, I read the 50+ pages of the strategy to get out of lockdown, and with the exception of a statement of intent for quarantining, it was in general pretty clear what they were wanting to do.

Seriously the media have done nothing but nitpick and try to get gotcha moments without asking any questions that actually gives new information, BBC have been one of the worst at it to be honest.

In the first few weeks of the lockdown the best media question came at a weekend from – of all places – ladbible. If everyone is praising them for asking one of the most pertinent questions then there is something wrong with the so-called expert political reporters who start most questions with ‘will you now admit you were wrong about….’.

Some of the media reporting I have been seeing is just diabolical, its hysterical nonsense that has imbued the nation with a sense of fear that if they get sick they will die.

Leave a comment

18 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  13th May 2020

    ”Trinity College in Dublin (the most comprehensive study I have seen so far) which states that vitamin D deficiency impacts how severe the symptoms are.”

    You don’t mention that fact in Aotearoa. No one is interested, including talkback hosts. You’d think the governments first strategy would be to insure peoples immune systems were the the best they could be ( especially folk in rest homes). Our strategy is to wait until someone tests positive then hospitalise them.

    Vitamin D – roughly $15 a bottle.

    Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  13th May 2020

      Vitamin D — Free by standing in sunlight for 15 minutes.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  13th May 2020

        That’s the problem though, isn’t it Gerrit. You must also consider the bodies ability to make Vitamin D declines with age.

        I don’t know how many Muslim woman Britain has, but it’s almost a given many would be deficient.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th May 2020

          I’ve always assumed that those Muslim women who always wear the full burka when outside in public probably are Vitamin D deficient, but I’ve not researched it on the interweb. This would include a heck of a lot of women in middle Eastern countries where the full burka seems to at least socially enforced.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th May 2020

            *to be at least socially enforced.

            Reply
            • People in most countries have to be covered to some extent, and men in particular often have only hands and face uncovered even in summer.

            • ‘The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.’ I think it is. (Burns)

        • Missy

           /  14th May 2020

          Studies completed previously have shown that vitamin D deficiency is a problem in the ethnic communities in Britain, some of it is down to diet, some down to low sunshine hours, and some down to the melanin in the skin making it harder to absorb from the sun.

          Of the healthcare professionals publicly identified from ethnic backgrounds in the UK that have died from this virus, the majority have been middle eastern/south asian muslims. I don’t think that is a coincidence, as they are most likely to be vitamin D deficient.

          Also, note the UK was still in winter when the virus first made an appearance, as such the levels of vitamin D in much of the population were still very low, despite NHS guidance very few people take a supplement over winter.

          Reply
      • Missy

         /  14th May 2020

        Gerrit, in the UK it is recommended to take supplements, especially over winter as we do not get enough sun to generate vitamin D, and for many with busy lives indoors, or slathering on the Sunblock etc, they are vitamin D deficient without knowing.

        Also, not everyone can process vitamin D well, those with high melanin in their skin are less efficient, and more likely to be deficient, also some medical conditions prevent the processing of vitamin D. I think NZ is quite lax around it, and it isn’t something that people know much about, or they worry about, most likely because like you they think standing in the sun will be enough.

        Reply
      • Missy

         /  14th May 2020

        This might be relevant to the US, but I would dispute the factor about there being no ‘epidemic’ of vitamin D deficiency, it may not be an epidemic as such, but across Europe there are high levels of vitamin D deficiency, the Trinity College study looked at European levels over 20 years, and noted that many countries have high percentages of their populations with a vitamin D deficiency.

        Reply
    • Missy

       /  14th May 2020

      It isn’t mentioned much here either Corky, I found out about it when researching something for work.

      If you (or anyone else is interested) the link to the Trinity study is here: https://www.tcd.ie/news_events/articles/association-between-vitamin-d-levels-and-mortality-from-covid-19/

      Reply
  2. duperez

     /  13th May 2020

    Other angles from the UK. The latest episodes from Jonathan Pie, and Janey Godley’s voice over of Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

    Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  13th May 2020

    ° People may meet one other person outside their household as long as they maintain social distance and don’t go to each other’s homes, they may also play sports such as golf or tennis with this person, or exercise;

    ° People may leave their homes for an unlimited time and may visit parks for more than exercise (eg: picnics or sunbathing) as long as they maintain social distancing and limit the people they meet to one other person.

    @ Missy

    Thanks for all that; really great to see a post from you.

    That “one other person”. Is this one other person at a time, or one other person – period – so you can meet ya old mate Muzza, but nobody else until the rules are relaxed further?

    Also, how does it werk if Muzza’s wife Shaz wants to come along too? Ist verboten? Or ok if you take your Mrs, Meghan, & she can peel away from you & Muzza & go do girl stuff?

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  14th May 2020

      One person full stop. Though that is expected to change when further easing happens in June, and we will be like NZ with bubbles of 10. To be honest I don’t think it will make any difference, most folk around my area were meeting people (more than one) when they felt like anyway.

      Sorry, only Muzza. Shaz will have to meet someone else.

      I don’t think it will be policed that strongly, and with about 20% of the population ignoring the rules anyway most will just meet loads of friends regardless.

      Reply
    • Missy

       /  14th May 2020

      I think differences in the populations isn’t often taken into account when looking at the comparisons. UK has a higher obesity rate with all the attached health issues (most who have died have fallen into this category), also the UK has an older population than Sweden, and in Sweden more people will live on their own. So these all factor in how it is, also the vitamin D factor, as in Scandinavia they are apparently more likely to have foods fortified with the vitamin than southern European countries.

      Reply
  4. Duker

     /  13th May 2020

    Thanks Missy, good points about nit pickers and keeping every one happy.

    Reply

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