It is hard to overstate what a catastrophic failure the Govt & SAGE’s policy of continual restrictions & lockdown has been.

Not only has it caused economic devastation & misery for millions, it has not stopped high rates & surges in infections, hospitalisations & deaths.
Over the past 6 months, UK governments have tried mask mandates, curfews, local restrictions, regional restrictions, tiers, short *firebreaks*, national lockdowns, stricter tiers, extra tiers.

All have caused enormous costs yet look where we are at with Covid. Time to rethink.
“But it’s just obvious that lockdowns will work."

It’s past the time to indulge in wishful thinking about what you think *must* or *should* happen. Like it or not, we have to face reality: the continual lockdown/restriction cycle has failed on every possible measure.
“But things would have been even worse without the restrictions”

Hard to see how but, if you believe that, where is the evidence? e.g. have places with lighter restrictions had demonstrably worse Covid outcomes? Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Florida, Brazil?
“But it would have been different if we’d locked down more things/earlier/longer …”

More collateral damage & misery for certain, but where is the evidence Covid outcomes would be better? Look at Belgium, Italy, Peru, Spain, Czechia, New York, Illinois, France, Argentina.
“But New Zealand!”

Long term (& continued) border closures & extreme lockdown in an isolated island nation before the virus was endemic: whether you agree or disagree with what NZ did, it was just not relevant for the UK situation last March and certainly not now.
“But what’s your alternative?”

Please think that question through. If the lockdown strategy creates huge costs and doesn't help with Covid, it needs to be stopped whether or not there is anything else the Government should do.
Whatever side of the lockdown debate people have been on, to continue with this strategy despite the clear evidence of how badly it has failed is not just reckless but criminally negligent.
Eventually we need a proper inquiry into the advice SAGE has given but the urgent thing now is to reverse some of the most damaging measures: school closures, retail, hospitality & sporting shutdowns & the use of criminal law to stop families meeting up.
Can I end with a plea to journalists?

When ministers, scientists, union & council leaders push for more school closures & even tighter restrictions, at least provide *some* challenge on why we shd believe measures that have failed so disastrously up to now will succeed this time

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More from @cricketwyvern

1 Jan
Of course I didn't say reducing social interactions does little or nothing to help. However, asking why shutting cafes, pubs etc might do little or nothing to help would have been a good question.
When cafes already have strict Covid measures in place, shutting them completely is unlikely to have anything other than a small marginal benefit. But if closure drives social interactions into other locations, there may be no benefit at all & it could even make things worse.
As we have seen, opening pubs in July did not lead to a big surge in cases whilst shutting them in Nov did nothing to stop the big surge in cases that started during the last lockdown.
Read 4 tweets
30 Dec 20
Given much of the country has been under drastic restrictions continuously since 5 Nov (in some cases earlier) @BorisJohnson will have imposed an effective lockdown of 5+ months ...
5+ months during which it will have been a criminal offence for you to invite your elderly neighbour into your house (or even garden) for a drink or just a chat

and when tens of thousands of pubs, cafes, restaurants & others are being banned from operating their businesses.
5+ months of it being a criminal offence for someone to sit in a cafe having a cup of tea

and for parents to hold a birthday party for their 6-year old with kids who mix together every day at school

and for millions of young people to meet anywhere indoors with even 1 friend.
Read 4 tweets
29 Dec 20
This is not a good take:

53k is high but does not indicate a surge in itself. Rather the big number seems largely due to Christmas reporting, both delays & Christmas effect (people getting tested in days after Christmas rather than on the 25th).
If you look by specimen date, 7-day ave of positive tests went down on 24 & 25 Dec & then up in days after. Data still incomplete for more recent days, so we don't know yet what is the net effect.
Zoe App data suggests infections still going up until 25th Dec but the rate of increase slowing. It may turn out that cases started to go up faster again from 26th Dec, but we don't know that from the data yet.
Read 5 tweets
29 Dec 20
Post-Christmas update to English hospital deaths. Headline reported total 365.

5-day reporting total is down from 293 to 235 (for 24 Dec) but Christmas reporting means it may not give a like-for-like comparison as there is probably more backdating to come than usual.
And here is the trend in the 5-day reporting total for the past month. 7-day average is down a bit up to 24 Dec but likely due to slower reporting than normal over Christmas.
And here are the regional trends for English hospital deaths for the last month using the 5-day reporting totals (up to 24 Dec). Again, falls in most recent days may be probably explained by Christmas reporting ...
Read 4 tweets
28 Dec 20
Update to various Covid-19 indicators for England.

Deaths up a bit but fairly stable in week up to 22 Dec.

Zoe App up (though rate of increase declining), positive tests down (at 23 Dec).

Obvious caveat is that reporting affected by Christmas so interpret cautiously. Image
Christmas effects may include more people getting tested in run-up whilst delayed reporting may mean more backdating than usual to come. Also (not relevant for today's table), many who might have got tested on the 25th, delayed until after Christmas day.
That said, from reports so far, positive tests done on 23 Dec (so relating to infections from well before Tier 4) look to be down in quite a few of the hard-hit areas such as Havering, Medway, Barking, Southend, Kent, Redbridge.
Read 4 tweets
14 Dec 20
It is useful to debate effectiveness of lockdown restrictions but we sometimes need to step back & remember these are unprecedented & draconian restrictions on basic rights & freedoms:

to education, worship, socialise, play games, & to provide for yourself & your family.
However effective they may be, such restrictions should only be considered as a last resort in an emergency & should be strictly time limited. They are not an appropriate as a medium to long term approach to managing an ongoing public health problem.
Even as short-term emergency measures, there should be a very high bar of evidence that any particular restriction is both necessary and likely to be effective.
Read 4 tweets

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