The Waiting Game

On the 30th of January I warned politicians that we would be short of ventilators … nothing happened.

On the 3rd of March I asked politicians to force medics to wear PPE. (Never in a million years, did it occur to me they wouldn’t have ordered the PPE need – Boris even sent a load to China!!)

In retrospect, I totally underestimated the cock-up by the UK government and I should have just ordered a new freezer and filled it with material, rather than listening to my wife who kept asking “where are you going to put it”. Because, not only did the UK & Scottish government fail to prepare, but I then arrived back last night with a freezer load of material and my son who had suddenly decided he didn’t want to stay on his own. And hence another rather speedy shopping expedition to get more supplies (I should have worn my face masks as many others were).

The fridge is now bulging at the seams, the window sills are cramed full of seed boxes, etc. And can you guess what the best thing I got was? 5 bird feeders and a huge bag of seed, which is now the best TV on offer as everyone else is talking about CV19.

Chaning Trends

Looking at the UK figures, the trend has been pretty steady at about 0.26 or a 10 fold increase every 9 days. But if we now look the end of the curve is now marginally below the trend.

Number of reported cases (blue & red) and deaths (yellow) in the UK since the first case was reported.

Whilst this trend may not appear much, on the old trajectory I was estimating 12,000 cases by now, and now we only have 8000. Instead of going up by 10x in 9 days, the trend is now 10x in 14 or doubling every 4 days instead of 2.6. That may be because “social distancing” was starting to have an effect however, in part that may be because the UK stopped so much testing and we just were not picking up so many cases. However as the death rate also shows a modest drop in trend, it appears this is due to a change in behaviour, rather than a change in testing (almost everyone who dies will be tested).

The week of wait

What now follows is the week of waiting – at least that’s how long it appeared to lag in other countries between action and a change in the stats. By my estimate, the figure next monday will be 21,000 cases & 1,100 deaths in UK. Then from next Monday I expect to see a new lower trend develop.

Unfortunately from that point onwards, we need a far more complex model than mine, because the population is no longer a single entity, but has effectively been cut up into many mini populations each with its own growth curve and some likely approaching saturation point (where most people are infected), when the simple model of an exponential growth no longer accurately reflects the rate of infection.

The Wash up

I know most people are currently thinking about the build up, but for me, my thoughts are now turning to the political outcome after the virus gets under control. To put it bluntly, the UK population were lied to, but arguably for good reason. It’s also true that some people totally cocked up (ventilators and PPE being notable issues). But the biggest scandel was the total failure to predict the timescale. They were talking about “doubling in a week” and that the peak would be as much to 4-5 weeks difference in different parts of the UK. That turned out to be total non-science with the rate of growth almost idenitcal to a few days within different parts of the UK. Likewise, it appears they thought they had plenty of time to get ventilators (when they finally realised they were needed). But by then they needed them in days not months That tells me they got something hugely wrong in their models.

I am reminded of Churchill – who is widely acknowledged as a great wartime hero, who was then kicked out at the first election after the war.

After decades as a climate sceptic not being listned to about the actual science (the politicians only listen to people who don’t use the science but just spread alarm), it was particularly galling to find that yet again they didn’t listen to anyone but the groupthink “The world’s greatest problem is a bit of warmth” crowd who likewise denied the pandemic was coming.

But will the public just accept the inevitable fact that this group-thing gabble are getting it wrong so often?

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