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I don't understand the British media. I really, really don't.

Basic things: Ireland and the UK started this pandemic with roughly the same number of ICU beds (6.5 per 100,000 for Ireland, 6.6 per 100,000 in the UK).

If anything, the UK was slightly better off.
As of today, there have been 320 deaths from the coronavirus in Ireland, and 9,875 deaths in the UK.

Ok, ok, but the UK has a ginormous population, right? Especially compared to Ireland.

So we adjust per capita - how many deaths per 100,000 people?
As of Saturday 11 April, there have been 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Ireland.

There have been 14.81 deaths per 100,000 people in the UK.

Guys, people have been dying at more than *twice the rate* in the UK.
You'd think, given the long *handwaves towards a complicated mess*... shared history... between the two regions, that this would be a massive news story, right?

I mean, it'd be a huge angle for the UK media, surely?

That the UK's closest neighbour, with almost the *exact* same starting line in terms of its health system, is having a wildly different outcome?

Not saying Ireland's a paragon of virtue! Loads to discuss & critique & make better!

Nothing. At least, not much that I can see.
But wait, it's worse!

Because if you compare the per capita death rate between Ireland and *England*, rather than the UK as a whole, England has almost *2.5* times the number of deaths as Ireland (14.81 deaths per 100,000 vs 6.5 deaths per 100,000)
So you have two English-speaking countries, with close cultural and historical associations, both with underfunded health systems, & comparable levels of ICU beds (almost half the EU average) going into the pandemic.

But England has more than 2.5 times the deaths? Why?
If you're arguing over whether Boris & Co's 'herd immunity' policy (& the resulting delay in lockdown) had any effect on death rates - here's your angle, lads.

You have a real-time A/B test happening *right in front of you*.

Because Ireland closed down earlier. Much earlier.
While Boris was telling the British people to wash their hands, our Taoiseach was closing the schools.

While Cheltenham was going ahead, and over 250,000 people were gathering in what would have been a massive super-spreader event, Ireland had *cancelled St Patrick's Day*.
In Ireland, we watch a lot of British media and news, and let me tell you, it was like living in bizarro-world.

Because our Irish TV news was filled with very direct, serious pronouncements about what was coming. But when we switched to the British TV channels... *crickets*.
Particularly vivid for the weekend before Paddy's Day.

Rolling restrictions in Ireland, so no groups > 100, but pubs not yet closed. Video emerged of people singing in a pub in Temple Bar => public outcry, #shutthepubs trended, Health Minister comments, voluntary closure ensued.
Again, take a beat. There was a public outcry to close the pubs *the weekend before St Patrick's Day*.

The seriousness of the situation was very, very clear in Ireland, and there was massive public buy-in.
That same weekend, this was happening in Cardiff:

I remember watching that video being posted on Twitter that Saturday night, and feeling sick to my stomach. How many people were being infected, at that very moment, singing along to the Stereophonics? It was such a huge crowd.
I assume there were people in Cardiff who felt the same way I did. But the difference was: I was supported by my government. You weren't.

And that cost lives.
The Stereophonics gig was on the 14 March. Median 5-7 days to get sick, and let's allow another 14 days to get seriously ill. The people infected at the Stereophonics gig were in hospital last week.

The people *they* infected will start dying next week.
Pandemics roll along exponential curves. The NYT (using @brittajewell's calculations) showed it beautifully here:…
.@brittajewell used US figures, & showed that if you started to stay home *this week* (March 13, at the time of publication), you could prevent 2400 infections. But if you started to home *next week* instead, you prevented 600 infections.
It's weird, right? Exponential curves are really counter-intuitive. When they go up, they go up FAST. Timing matters, a lot.

By staying home *this week* rather than *next week*, one person could prevent an extra 1800 infections. One person!
And as @jkottke pointed out, assuming a 1% death rate, that's 18 lives saved.

18 lives saved, by the choices of one person to stay home for the week starting 13 March, rather than the following week.
That Stereophonics gig? Was on 14 March.
I'm not singling them out, honestly I'm not. They're a great band, I really like them! I'm not tagging them, because what use would that do?

And I'll say again: those figures were based on US infection numbers at that point, with 30% growth rate per day. It's not the UK.

In a pandemic, every day counts. Every *hour* counts. And the UK government wasted two whole weeks.

Which weeks?
Ireland cancelled Paddy's Day on 9 March, initiating a series of rolling, controlled restrictions, from school closures & large group bans (12 March), to closure of non-essential businesses & social distancing, to full lockdown.

It was precise, clearly communicated, controlled.
The UK closed their schools on 20 March, a full week after we closed ours.

Full lockdown came to the UK on 23 March.
And while there was some muddied, confused advice in the UK between times (avoid non-essential travel from 16 March? don't go to the pub, but then again, they're still open, so maybe do?) - there was an abrupt about-turn, after the Imperial College report came out.
The comparisons aren't neat between the two countries, because the processes (and nomenclature) were different.

Technically, the UK went into lockdown *before* Ireland; but that's not a fair comparison, as we were already operating our 'Delay Phase' from 12-27 March.
But I would argue the crucial difference lies in that two-week period: from 9 March, when we cancelled Paddy's Day, to 23 March, when the UK govt finally (and abruptly) wheeled about, and went into lockdown.

Two weeks.
And because the UK government delayed, distorted and distracted for those two weeks, the UK people ended up on the wrong part of an exponential curve, when lockdown started.

And now, the UK has over twice the number of deaths per capita than Ireland.
But wait, it's worse!

HOW how HOW can it be worse.

Because: testing.
Because the UK figures only include deaths, in hospitals, from people who had already been tested positive for COVID-19.

That sentence has a whole pile of clauses and commas, doesn't it? Let's break it down.
It means that a person could die *in a UK hospital* of the coronavirus; and all their doctors could agree that yes, they definitely died of coronavirus; and their *death cert* says that yes, they did, in fact, die of coronavirus -

... and they wouldn't be included in UK figures
Because they weren't tested.

And you have to have a positive test, before death, to be counted in the UK deaths.
The UK isn't testing nearly as much as it needs to.

And Ireland is testing a *lot* more. We have a drive-through testing centre in the sacred sporting grounds of Croke Park - think turning Wembley Station into a testing centre, and you get somewhere close.
Ireland is still building its testing capacity, but we've been explicitly following the South Korean model of test, test, test (and contact trace). And we're using our time in lockdown to build our testing network.
The aim is to have 15,000 tests per day, or 105,000 tests per week - that is, testing 2% of the population a week.

15,000 tests is about 7 months of flu testing for Ireland – and we're planning this, every day, for months and months.
We're not there! We had to grab Germany for a dig-out, we fell so far behind! There's loads of teething problems! Like I said at the top of the thread: I'm not saying that Ireland is a paragon of virtue here.

And: we ARE building this testing network.
And to date, Ireland has performed 8.69 tests per 1,000 people.…

The UK has performed 4 tests per 1,000 people.…
So: to my UK friends, let's lay it out there.

You're testing at half the rate that Ireland is, and your loved ones, your family, your friends are dying over twice as fast.
And that's still a wild underestimate of how bad things are, because your low testing rates are artificially depressing your death figures; whereas Ireland's high testing rate is (comparatively) inflating ours (or, more fairly, accurately recording them in our figures).
I say this not in some kind of coronavirus Olympics. I say this with a knot in my stomach.

I lived for long periods of time in the UK, and I have loved ones still living there, people whose safety I'm desperately afraid for.

I say this because: you are being failed.
Failed by your government, and failed by your media.

Failed, by news reports that (correctly!) talk about how horrific the death toll is in NYC, while eliding the horrors of nearly 1000 people dying in a single day at home.
Failed, because it didn't have to be like this.
Failed, because there are lessons and exchanges to be found here, but in those 2 weeks when so much could have been done, your media didn't pay any heed to what was happening beside it.

Because your media didn't report on the contrast between Boris' choices and ours.
Failed, because your media STILL isn't reporting on the contrasts in death rates between us, and why that might be the case.
Failed, because in this long-standing, complicated, skewed relationship between us, we can see you clearly, and you seem to barely see us at all.

And it breaks my heart.
But there's still time.

Time to flatten your curve. Time to build testing. Time to develop a robust contact tracing system.

Time to *use* your lockdown as it should be used, while we do the same.

Time to be our partners in this, as we all must be, in a globalised pandemic.
The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is now.

The best time to stop this pandemic was last January. The second-best time is now.
And while we're working this ground together, remember that over the fence, in your neighbouring allotment, we're tackling the same tasks as you. It might be worth taking a peek over the fence sometime, to see what we can share.
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