Thank goodness, we are now able to move on from Covid.

The fact is the government and media are way behind most of the population and certainly those of us who need to run businesses. the disgrace is that vested interests, of many who work in the Public sector servants of society have trumped private business.,

Sage scenarios vs actual: an update

16 January 2022, 7:00am

Modelling from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine showing Covid beds occupied (19 December)Text settingsCommentsShare

‘Deaths could hit 6,000 a day,’ reported the newspapers on 17 December. A day later documents for the 99th meeting of Sage were released which said that, without restrictions over and above ‘Plan B’, deaths would range from 600 to 6,000 a day. A summary of Sage advice, prepared for the Cabinet, gave three models of what could happen next:

  • Do nothing (ie, stick with ‘Plan B’) and face “a minimum peak” of 3,000 hospitalisations a day and 600 to 6,000 deaths a day
  • Implement ‘Stage 2’ restrictions (household bubbles, etc) and cut daily deaths to a lower range: 500 to 3,000.
  • Implement ‘Stage 1’ restrictions (stay-at-home mandates) and cut deaths even further: to a range of 200 to 2,000 a day

After a long and fractious cabinet debate, the decision was to do nothing and wait for more data. ‘Government ignores scientists’ advice,’ fumed the BMJ. But the decision not to act meant that the quality of Sage advice can now be tested, its ‘scenarios’ compared to actual. 

Sage/Warwick hospitalisations

Let’s start with the Warwick model. It published various Covid scenarios depending on Omicron’s possible ‘severity’: 100 per cent as severe as Delta, 50 per cent, 20 per cent and 10 per cent. A UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) document released on New Year’s Eve said: ‘the risk of presentation to emergency care or hospital admission with Omicron was approximately half of that for Delta’. 

Restrictions should be dropped “completely” once the top nine priority groups have been vaccinated, a senior Conservative MP has said as he warns ministers against “changing the goal posts”. 

Mark Harper, former chief whip and chairman of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG), said he feared the goal posts for reopening society were being shifted beyond the original focus of NHS pressure and daily fatalities. 

“I think what people are worried about is you then keep hearing other things creeping into the argument about the rate of infection and other things keep being thrown into the debate which sounds like it’s changing the goal posts,” he told the BBC’s World at One. 

“I think we should keep focused on protecting the vulnerable, reducing deaths and hospitalisations and the pressure on the health service – and those are the two things I think that need to drive opening up.”

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Of all the charges made against Brexiteers, the notion that we ‘don’t understand the modern world’ is the one that some Remainers have most often returned to; their equivalent of the boxer’s stinging jab that relentlessly wears down an opponent. In a global system increasingly dominated by a handful of big players with huge populations and land mass – the US, China, India, Russia – being a medium-sized nation in Europe without the umbrella of the EU was supposed to be a mug’s game.

In the European Parliament, that arch-federalist Guy Verhofstadt would often refer to the countries of Europe as ‘dwarfs’ who needed to band together to compete in such a world. We all remember Barack Obama trotting out a similar thesis during our referendum campaign, delighting David Cameron’s Downing Street team by saying that Britain would be at the ‘back of the queue’ in trade talks because he would look to deal with ‘a big bloc, the European Union’ first.

When Boris Johnson decided last spring to stay out of the European Union’s Covid vaccine programme out came the jab again from the usual suspects. The Prime Minister was accused of being ready to sacrifice British lives on the altar of a hopelessly outdated Little England ideology – ‘silly Brexit games,’ said Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey. The EU’s massive combined purchasing-power was going to leave us scrabbling about for crumbs.

The Brexiteer answer to such charges has always been that, in fact, there are many advantages to acting as an independent nation state – quicker decision-making processes, the ability to pursue national priorities, more accountability to the public. These arguments have often been summed up by deployment of the word ‘nimble’.

Well, ‘nimble’ has just beaten ‘big bloc’ hands down on the most important post-Brexit issue Britain has yet faced and is likely to face for many months – the provision of life-saving and economy-saving vaccines.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has compounded its hideously embarrassing, ultra-bureaucratic failure to secure its own supplies by resorting to bullying, tantrums and ultimately full-on meltdown in the form of its triggering (and subsequent u-turn) of Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to implement a hard border.

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