The government says the coronavirus rules are tough enough. The problem is compliance

I've been looking at the data and it says something quite different… sort of

A THREAD on what’s going on
This chart comes from the UCL’s brilliant covid-19 social study, which regularly asks more than 70,000 people about their experience of lockdown

It shows that compliance is higher than at any point since the first lockdown
The UCL survey distinguishes between majority compliance (following most of the rules) and complete compliance (following all the rules)

Both have been rising sharply since December – basically in line with the virus
Majority compliance is now at 96%, the highest since April

Complete compliance is now at 56%, the highest since May

With one crucial exception, which I'll get to later, self-reported compliance is really very good
Which rules are people breaking and bending? The covid social study gives can tell us

Meeting up with more than the recommended number of people is where people tend to ignore the rules outright (never here means "I never obey that rule")

But again, generally adherence is good
Since I published this piece yesterday, I've had two overwhelming reactions: surprise and disbelief.

If compliance is this good, people say, then why aren't cases falling faster?
news.sky.com/story/covid-19…
Of course they may well be right, but it does feel as if compliance is now one of things, like crime, where no amount of data will convince people that things are actually improving

Still, to take the question seriously – looking at the data, four reasons stand out
First, the virus is more transmissible. Yes, it’s obvious, but it’s worth repeating

Second: the rules are looser. You can see this in the movement data. It’s roughly between lockdown 1 and 2, which is about what you’d expect based on the rules
Retail is a really interesting case study

This chart shows retail footfall via @Springboard_: it’s highest in retail parks, where more shops are open and there’s more chance to be distant
To me this suggests people are respecting the rules but also taking advantage of available opportunities

Ministers have urged people to stay at home so I guess you could say this is rule-breaking, but shops *are* open

If you want to stop shopping, you might need to close shops
(I meant to say there were three reasons rather than four, so count taking advantage of opportunities as reason three, or 2.5 or whatever. Anyway, the point is that you can move around quite a bit *and* still be within the rules)
The final reason is by far the most important

There is one rule that seems to be being routinely ignored - and it's probably the most important rule we have
The covid social study asked people how many days they isolated for after they had symptoms

This results are frankly horrifying
Isolation with symptoms is THE rule. Next to that, everything else pales into insignificance

But for some reason ministers don't seem to focus on it. Instead, we hear about breaches of social distancing in supermarket queues
I asked @ScienceShared for his thoughts on what could be done. This is long, but it's really worth reading all of it
To end this embarrassingly long thread. The data suggests people ARE sticking to the rules, except the rule that matters above all others

I would humbly suggest that we need to shift our focus / ENDS
Forgot to link to the covid social study. It is such a fantastic resource. Its results should really be better known covidsocialstudy.org/results

Huge credit to @Daisy_Fancourt and team for all their creativity and persistence
I hate quote tweeting rather than replying directly but I will just so I can add this to the thread

I'd say we should believe it, because Springboard measure footfall with tracking cameras. this isn't a survey, it's direct observation
For people asking: yes, there is demographic information on who does and doesn’t isolate. The main difference this survey pinpoints is between older and younger adults, although perhaps not the way you might think
This is right and it's a puzzle to me as well. The researchers say it's related to people still experiencing symptoms. Hard to know what to make of that and I've asked for more clarity
I tend to trust the conclusion on non-compliance because it echoes other large studies. This big survey found that only 18% of people isolated with symptoms - worse than the results in the covid social study kcl.ac.uk/news/effective…

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More from @rowlsmanthorpe

15 Jan
I've spent the day looking at the data on the UK's vaccination programme

It feels dangerously optimistic to say so but there are strong signs that things are going to be.... not awful

A thread on where we're at
Today was a good day for the vaccination programme. It's not just that more than 3m people have now been vaccinated. Yesterday was the first day more than 300,000 people were vaccinated in a single day Image
Can this progress continue? Ministers have always said that the limiting factor is the vaccine supply, but there have been no official statistics published on on how many vaccines the UK has got and when we can expect to get them

Until this week
Read 12 tweets
13 Jan
Something's up with the contact tracing app on Android. It's showing a "loading" notification that never goes away
Lots of complaints. I'd say this is affecting quite a few people - possibly all Android users
twitter.com/search?q=%40NH…
Spoke to someone smarter than me about this, who said:

"That "Loading..." should just appear while downloading keys and then disappear. This suggests it's stuck downloading, not stuck alerting

(ie. If you get this you don't necessarily have an alert waiting to get through)
Read 5 tweets
11 Jan
A government map of every vaccine site in England

"Currently, 96% of the population in England is within 10 miles of a vaccine service. By the end of January, everyone will live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre" Image
Link to the map here. I'm afraid to say it's a pdf
england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp…
In case you're reading this in 2021, @nmsonline has been cataloguing vaccine sites on Google maps
Read 4 tweets
24 Dec 20
EXCLUSIVE: in an extremely 2020 plot twist, the UK's biggest covid testing lab is now home to an outbreak

Three out of four lab teams at the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab have been affected, as have office and administrative staff
news.sky.com/story/covid-19…
One lab worker blamed lax safety procedures and said rules were being broken in order to meet targets

However it happened, the outbreak has hit the lab hard. In one 70-person lab team, there are currently 20 scientists isolating
news.sky.com/story/covid-19…
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was aware of the outbreak, but denied any safety guidelines had been broken

I understand the Health and Safety Executive visited the Lighthouse Lab recently. Perhaps it will have a view
news.sky.com/story/covid-19…
Read 5 tweets
16 Dec 20
What's happening with the data about the vaccine? Well, let's put it this way: there's a lot to sort out

A THREAD on my reporting today
This is Dr Elliot Singer, a GP in Waltham Forest. If anyone can be called a community doctor, it’s him. He wasn’t just born locally, he was delivered by the GP who used to have his practice

He’s delighted to be delivering the vaccine, but the tech is causing “huge frustration“
There are numerous software systems involved with vaccination, but two are central. 1. Recording who's had the vaccine (and which vaccine, what batch etc). 2. Inviting and booking patients for appointments - what's known as "call and recall"

There are problems with both
Read 15 tweets
15 Dec 20
I just wish I knew what an online harm actually was
Funny to see the online harms bill positioned as a blow against big tech when it will give them the power to make sweeping decisions on enforcement while simultaneously making it much harder for smaller competitors
Rule of politics: displays of strength are often signs of weakness. Online harms delegates many aspects of justice to tech companies. It's effectively an admission that the state can't do the work itself
Read 13 tweets

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