This morning, @BBCr4today had a piece on how badly Brazil had managed the pandemic, featuring a doctor bemoaning that they had never had a national lockdown "like you did in the UK". No challenge from the presenter of course …
… Brazil has seen a big increase in deaths in recent weeks, but no mention of the fact that their cumulative rate is still below hard-lockdown Peru and way lower than lockdown UK ...
… and no mention that the 7-day average of new reported cases in Brazil have been decreasing since 27 March, whilst the estimated R rate has been decreasing since mid-March ...
What stands out is how it is a matter of blind faith for so many commentators, including leading health experts, that these sort of restrictions must be effective. Evidence and data just have no impact on them.
In the UK, getting rid of the mask mandate should be first on the list for the road map, not relegated to a "review" in June. The risk of any impact on infection rates is very low, whilst the benefits would be very high ...
Yes, disgraceful for the PM to signal support for such unjust discrimination. However, if it is genuinely up to the business, I suspect the free market will soon consign the suggestion to the dustbin ...
... Given the costs of checking & risk of legal challenges on grounds of discrimination, the only reason a pub would deliberately turn unvaccinated away is if there is really big demand from the public for vaccinated-only pubs ...
... people may well say they like the idea in response to an opinion poll but I would be surprised if there was much demand in practice. ...
Update to various Covid-19 indicators for England.
Another big drop in deaths, hospitalisations down too.
Positive tests down & good to see no further rise in school age: data to 19 Mar, last day of in-school testing.
Zoe has been up & down: down a bit today (data to 20 Mar).
Positive tests for school ages by specimen date will be even harder to interpret over next few days due to start of at home mass LFD testing on Sun 21 March. This is meant to be followed up by a confirmatory PCR test so bear in mind ...
... an LFD positive followed by a PCR positive will only count as 1 new positive but:
1. The case will be allocated to the LFD specimen date but when the PCR test is in, that will be deleted & the case added to the PCR specimen date ...
1. When there is a surge in infections, cases eventually come down whether or not there is a lockdown/significant restrictions. 2. Lockdowns/many restrictions have little (not necessarily no) impact on hospitalisations & deaths.
Some find this hard to accept, as it seems so obvious:
Transmission comes from contact, restrictions reduce contact, so surely restrictions must reduce transmission & hence admissions & deaths?
But there are lots of reasons why restrictions may have less benefit than expected:
1. People change their behaviour voluntarily in response to changes in infections.
You choose to take less risk when infections surge, more risk when infections low, but just as importantly ...
Changes in prevalence will reflect changes in infections about 2 weeks earlier. Take age 2-year 6 group (mainly primary). Estimated prevalence increased until a peak on 24 Dec (implying infections peaked about 10 Dec). So infections started falling at a time schools were open.
Prevalence falls until 6 Jan (i.e. infections about 23 Dec) & then increases again. i.e. infections in primary kids started increasing again when schools were shut for holidays.
One reason I am sceptical about impact of Tier 3&4 is decline in infections from end-Dec is part of the normal longer run trend we see v. often: when cases rise, rate of growth increases, then declines & eventually goes negative. A bit like R declining but still > 1 for a while.
Here is rate of growth for Zoe estimates for England.
Growth rate turns -ve (i.e. estimated infections start to fall) on data from 3 Jan (implying infections falling perhaps 5-6 days earlier). But growth rate started falling from 16 Dec, i.e. before school hols or Tier 4.
V. little sign of tier changes/lockdown accelerating the trend. In fact, the inflection point around 23-28th Dec happens just when effect of school holidays/T3 then T4 in London/SE/E might have kicked in. Similarly, no sign of any accelerating of trend after lockdown.
1. France: 7-day cases were falling from 3rd Nov (not the 8th as @cjsnowdon states), positivity from 2nd, hospitalisations from the 5th. Given lag, these all show infections falling well before 31st October ...
France's estimated R-rate started falling from 24 Oct & there is no indication lockdown accelerated the decrease.
The 31st October French lockdown is not a good example of lockdown effectiveness.
2. "ONS infection survey ... rose to 1 in 50 by Jan 2 2021":
they don’t clarify this is prevalence (total currently infected) which will peak much later than incidence (new infections). As it happens, ONS daily estimates suggest even prevalence peaked pre-lockdown.
In his recent article, @cjsnowdon claims that England's November lockdown was a good example of lockdown effectiveness. Let’s look at that claim using the ONS death-by-date registration data which have now been updated for the relevant period.
Although there is some uncertainty over the average lag between infections and death, we should expect any effect of lockdown to be visible in the deaths series after about three weeks.
If the 5th November lockdown had been effective, we might expect a beneficial effect on the deaths trend from about 26 Nov and an adverse effect from about 23 Dec, reflecting the relaxation on 2 Dec.
Some people have been worried about high numbers of pupils attending schools since 4 Jan.
Children are (generally) not at risk of serious illness but concern was new variant wd cause fast spread in children, which cd then spill over to others.
We now some early data to look at.
First positive tests (7-day ave) for 5-9 & 10-14s. Allowing a 7-day lag to test, infections seem to increase during 1st part of holidays (but beware Christmas testing effects), then decrease from end of Dec. Early days, but so far looks like the decrease has continued since 4 Jan
Next NHS Covid-19 triage for U19s. Lag probably shorter than for tests.
7-day ave trend suggests infections leading to triage decrease before schools shut for Christmas, level off during holidays & then decrease again from about 4 Jan.
More restrictions were added up until 31st Dec & cases started dropping from the 9th. But you could just as easily claim the 24th Dec restrictions caused the vertical rise on the 2nd as to claim the extra restrictions caused the drop on the 9th.
I don't think Ireland reports by specimen date & also there were reporting lags. So probably pretty hard to be certain about any cause & effect, but it's not exactly a poster case for lockdown restrictions.
Data over the past week has utterly demolished the case made last week for the latest national lockdown, i.e. that infections (and subsequently hospitalisations) would not decrease without another full lockdown.
Current indicators show infections were decreasing nationally before lockdown 3, the most dramatic falls being in London, SE & E, but most regions decreasing.
(& let’s be clear: the more promising trends were already becoming evident even when lockdown was announced last week).
You can credibly make a case for Level 4 restrictions on the grounds they were having some effect. FWIW, I don't think there is anything in the data to suggest that, but let's put that to one side for now.
The Zoe estimates have been a pretty reliable early indicator but the decrease is also evident in other indicators: NHS triage, positivity % & positive tests have also all decreased nationally & especially in London, East & South East.
NHS triage data goes to 11 Jan so should pick up at least the start of any effect of schools re-opening to key workers from 4th Jan (+ to nearly all primary pupils for 1 day the 4th). So it is good to see U19 7-day ave falling.