The steepness of Omicron’s rise and fall in South Africa really is something to behold.

Here’s Gauteng first, where it all began.

Cases, test positivity, admissions, deaths and excess deaths too all down almost as steeply as they rose, and in much less time than past waves.
We’ve all got used to comparing the height of "new daily x" charts over the last couple of years, but at the end of the day it’s not just wave height but also wave duration that determines the ultimate toll on public health, so it’s worth looking at each wave cumulatively...
And here we are:

*Daily* cases peaked close to Delta, but shorter wave means total cases much lower

With more acute outcomes it’s striking:
• Less than 40% as many hospitalisations
• 10% as many deaths, and excess deaths lower still

These numbers will rise, but not by much
Here are the same charts for the country as a whole.

Remarkably symmetrical meteoric rise and fall in cases and test positivity, with admissions, deaths and excess deaths also now all falling.
The cumulative numbers for Omicron will all keep climbing for some time yet, especially deaths, but it’s already very clear that the Omicron wave will end up being South Africa’s least lethal, possibly by a large margin.
It’s also clear that infections have passed the peak in all English regions, not just based on case numbers but also the ONS’s gold-standard random sample infection survey
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too show declines in both source datasets, though the two series don’t track one-another quite as neatly outside of England.
And that’s backed up in the data from hospitals, where admissions are now falling in every UK nation and region
But... while early UK data mirrors South Africa, it may not necessarily stay that way.

Today’s English data show the rate of decline in cases has slowed, virtually to a standstill:
• Cases rising in children
• No longer falling in 35-59s (their parents’ cohort)
That pattern is what we expected, as schools drive transmission among children, and that spreads to their parents.

Question is whether this is a temporary blip in a downward trajectory, or whether it sends us back to a bona-fide second peak.

Our story: ft.com/content/8d6bdc…
One more note from England:

I’ve seen suggestions the recent rise in Covid deaths may be due to ‘incidentals’ where someone tested positive but died for other reasons.

Nope: reported Covid deaths in London still track the ONS cause-of-death series. Good news is, rise is slowing
(that last one possibly of interest to fellow nerds @PaulMainwood @JamesWard73 and of course the actuaries @ActuaryByDay @john_actuary)

ONS series is adjusted upwards in accordance with historical upward revisions for the same week last year.

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More from @jburnmurdoch

Jan 6
Another good follow-up on Anglophone Millennial exceptionalism, this time by @j_amesmarriott

I think it’s *slightly* overstated because a lot of Anglo/Euro diff can be explained by multi-party vs 2-party systems, but I’m sure phenomenon described is real

thetimes.co.uk/article/how-am…
When you think about it, the phenomenon — American-style progressive youth culture being much more pronounced in Anglosphere countries — is almost certainly related to political party landscapes.
If the only pro-redistribution parties in Europe were all stridently progressive, and the economic right was always the cultural right, I suspect we’d see similar (albeit probably less pronounced) patterns in non-Anglo countries.
Read 4 tweets
Dec 30, 2022
NEW: conservatives have a Millennials problem.

In both UK & US, it’s not just that Millennials aren’t voting conservative because they’re young.

Every previous generation grew more conservative with age, but Millennials are not playing ball.

My column: enterprise-sharing.ft.com/redeem/a0c1c1b… Image
What’s going on?

A common response is "it’s things like homeownership that make people more conservative. Fix that, and they’ll come back".

While there is certainly *some* truth to this, it’s not nearly as simple as people think.
In the UK, even among homeowners, Millennials are less conservative than previous generations, and show no sign of following the old trend. Image
Read 23 tweets
Dec 23, 2022
NEW:

Britain’s grim winter of strikes, falling incomes and a worsening NHS crisis is not some unfortunate series of events

It’s the inevitable result of a decade of Tory austerity that steadily weakened the state’s capacity to respond to shocks

enterprise-sharing.ft.com/redeem/c540270…

Thread:
Let’s start with a straightforward chart and an uncontroversial statement.

British government spending and investment have declined in recent years, both as a share of GDP and relative to peer countries.

But this chart is a little drab, isn’t it. Let’s add some colour...
Here’s that same chart, but now highlighting which party was in power at which point.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed something.

When Labour were in power, spending and investment went up 📈

When the Conservatives came in, it went down 📉
Read 18 tweets
Dec 20, 2022
As hundreds have already told Matt, this is bollocks.

It’s also funny how many of the same people who criticise government for spending £37bn on an app (untrue), also criticised government for ending free testing (which was what most of the billions were actually spent on).
In 2020-21 (21-22 data not yet published):
• Test and Trace spent £13.6bn (less than its £22.2bn budget)
• £10.4bn of that spending was on testing (75%)
• The app cost £35mn (less than half of what was budgeted for it)

nao.org.uk/wp-content/upl…

via @FullFact and @NAOorguk
And re: "only 14% of lateral flow results were reported!! They lost track of the other 600mn!!"

The point of lat flows was to help people test quickly & easily, to make informed decisions about whether to mix with people. Whether you registered the result had zero impact on that
Read 4 tweets
Dec 17, 2022
@ShaunLintern @tapas321 Not skewed by Covid — charts stop at 2019 for precisely that reason.

Key points:
1) To the extent that we spend less than peers, it’s due to smaller GDP, not lower share of GDP. i.e UK is devoting just as much of our money to health as peer countries do, we just have less money
@ShaunLintern @tapas321 2) Another issue as shown in those charts is that we devote much more to treating sick people and much less to either a) stopping people get sick or b) helping people recover/rehab post treatment
@ShaunLintern @tapas321 3) We’ve massively under-invested in capital for the best part two decades. So fucked on both beds and the equipment that gets people out of beds faster Image
Read 7 tweets
Dec 5, 2022
NEW: last week we got the latest UK census data, on ethnicity, religion & identity.

It was met with toxic responses from the usual suspects seeking to weaponise the stats.

Almost every word of what they claimed was false.

My column: enterprise-sharing.ft.com/redeem/5957f3b…

And a thread 🧵
First up, Nigel Farage tweeted a hastily-recorded video from a 🇬🇧 union-jack-draped car seat (you have to admire the attention to detail 😆), stating that "London, Manchester and Birmingham are now all minority white cities".
And he wasn’t alone. The same claim appeared in a national newspaper headline:
Read 23 tweets

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