Support for the government’s handling of the outbreak remains high. While it has declined from an initial peak, far more people think the government are handling the issue well than badly (YouGov’s latest tracker has 58% saying the government are doing well, Opinium has 48% approve/36% disapprove). This is equally reflected in the voting intention polls where the Conservatives are steadily around 50% and in Boris Johnson’s own personal approval ratings, which YouGov has at 66% doing well. Collectively these are extremely impressive figures for a government.

However, look further down and there are signs of weakness in the foundations. There are several, important areas where the public view the government’s handling very negatively. Opinium have found people disapprove of how the government have handled both testing and the provision of PPE. At the start of the month YouGov found that 67% thought the government had prepared badly for the possibility of a pandemic and 62% thought lockdown had been introduced too late. MORI also found 66% thought the government had acted too late. Compared to other countries, people think that the British government has performed worse than the governments of Germany, South Korea, Australia, France, Spain… the only country’s government perceived as doing worse than our own is the USA. Put together that looks like a narrative of failure.

How do we square these two sets of figures? Why do people think the government are doing well, despite also thinking they’ve handled some of the key areas poorly and got some of the most important decisions wrong? My own explanation is that we may be seeing an unusual amount of public goodwill towards the government – a willingness to give them the benefit of the doubt, accept that they are doing their best under incredibly difficult circumstances. Normally we are very cynical towards our politicians, but right now it may be that people are more willing to trust their motives, to want them to succeed.

It’s also worth noting that, even if the public think the government haven’t always performed capably during the crisis, right now there is strong public backing for their direction of approach. The public are strongly in favour of the lockdown and the government are pursuing a policy of lockdown. Therefore, the public approve. The British public have been extremely pro-lockdown since early in the crisis – back in March, the public were ahead of the government in supporting further restrictions and they remain supportive of it.

Back at the end of March I pondered how long the high levels of public support for lockdown would last once it was actually in place and impacting people’s lives, and how the government would fare if they got to the point that the public were clambering for relaxation. So far it appears to have lasted just fine, and it is possible that the government may have to face the alternative problem – how to start loosening the lockdown when the public are nervous of it.

Right now there is little public appetite for a weakening of the lockdown. A YouGov/SkyNews poll on Friday found only 15% thought it would be right to start relaxing the lockdown now. A Deltapoll survey for the Sun on Sunday today found only 12% of people thought the government should start ending the lockdown in the next week.

That is not to say that whatever Boris Johnson announces tonight will be unpopular (the questions above did not specify particular ways of weakening the rules, so I expect respondents assumed some sort of substantial weakening of the rules, rather than the extremely minor relaxations which seem more likely at this point). However, there are problems ahead. Sooner or later lockdown needs to be unwound, and it remains to be seen how united public opinion will be behind the timing for that.

It will also be interesting to see what the levels of public support for the government look like afterwards. Their present high levels of approval may be the result of backing for lockdown, or a general willingness of people to give the government the benefit of the doubt during a crisis. Whatever the reason it will pass, and only then will we be really be able to see whether, looking back in hindsight, the government are seen to have successfully led the country through a difficult time of crisis, or as a government that bungled its response.


4,715 Responses to “On why the public support the Government’s handling of the virus”

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  1. First or second??
    :-)

  2. Crikey. First.

    I’ve done it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A medal or certificate, Anthony?

    :-)

  3. No polling about bikes on pavements?

  4. Very good write up from AW on polling in the crisis.

    There are, unquestionably, great big anomal!es in the public attitudes to the government on this, but overall, whatever the mistakes, there is a sense that the government is following the general path that most of the public want to see.

    An issue soon to be developing for advertisers, the BBC and other broadcasters though.

    If England is going to change the message to ‘Stay Alert’, while Scotland and Wales retain ‘Stay Home’, then these organisations have a clear responsibility to differentiate their own messages.

    I am particularly looking to the BBC here. I can imagine a justified political storm if the corporation’s public output is amended to reflect a new England only policy, and this is broadcast to jurisdictions beyond English borders.

  5. A very good summary and AW can’t cover everything of course.
    The only point that I would add is that this crisis is occurring very soon after a GE when voters have made a choice and there will be an understandable subconscious desire to support the actions of the PM among Conservative voters.

  6. Alec

    The BBC launched a separate channel north of the border some time ago , because of the constant whingeing of the separatists. Seems only a couple of crofters and the lads from the Proclaimers watch it.
    Bit like another white elephant in Wales, S4C. That’s only watched some Wednesday evenings by a bloke called Dafydd in Machynlleth, who lives At home with his mam.

  7. From today’s “The Guardian’ online @ 10:54 am

    Angela Giuffrida

    Antibody testing at a hospital in Lodi, the province in Lombardy where the first domestic transmission of coronavirus was detected in Italy, has shown that 20% of health workers had contracted the illness without knowing.

    The hospital, where Italy’s ‘Patient 1’ was treated, is the first to complete serological tests on all of its 2,243 staff as part of a region-wide programme. In addition to the 296 staff who had tested positive for the virus up until 8 May, 77 had been infected but showed no symptoms.

    A good-sized sample that shows that asymptomatic cases were almost exactly 20% of the total. Also 16.6% of the staff were infected.

  8. @ HUGO

    Cultural divergence is clearly a challenge for you.

    Keep singing Rule Britannia to yourself old chap. There’s an episode of Dad’s Army starting in a minute.

  9. I think it is far too early to start muddying the waters over lockdown.
    Look at our excess deaths, very high when compared to other countries.

    https://www.ft.com/content/a26fbf7e-48f8-11ea-aeb3-955839e06441

  10. Great post from AW there flagging up what I would describe as illogical responses from the public.

    He missed out the Opinium questions about how we compared to other countries (although covers this in other attitudes) and only USA of those countries mentioned was considered by the public to have done a worse job than we had and yet the public also thinks we have done a good job by net 12%.

    The point about attitudes to lockdown from a practical point of view is more of a problem. There was some polling/survey done suggesting that 50% of the male 18-24 were ignoring lockdown rules to go and see their mates and quite a bit of anecdotal evidence this weekend that some people are now ignoring rules. This worries me a lot for 2nd wave or drawn out first wave. If 80% still approve of lockdown but the other 20% move from not approving to actively ignoring then I assume the cases start to rise again.

  11. “Antibody testing at a hospital in Lodi, the province in Lombardy where the first domestic transmission of coronavirus was detected in Italy, has shown that 20% of health workers had contracted the illness without knowing.

    The hospital, where Italy’s ‘Patient 1’ was treated, is the first to complete serological tests on all of its 2,243 staff as part of a region-wide programme. In addition to the 296 staff who had tested positive for the virus up until 8 May, 77 had been infected but showed no symptoms.

    A good-sized sample that shows that asymptomatic cases were almost exactly 20% of the total. Also 16.6% of the staff were infected.”

    So yet another study where asymptomatic cases are around 20% of the total.

    Also worth noting that the Lombardy region has seen the deaths of 0.14% of its total population. For those arguing for a very low fatality rate (close to 0.1% ) for Covid 19, this would only be possible if almost the entire 10million population there had contracted the virus.

  12. @ Bantams

    Just what have you Bradford folk done to the UK?

    But joking aside, do you know anything about this Voice of Yorkshire choir who might have sung on suffering the virus in January.

    Stoical folk, you Yorkshire people!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52589449

  13. @James E

    “Also worth noting that the Lombardy region has seen the deaths of 0.14% of its total population. For those arguing for a very low fatality rate (close to 0.1%) for Covid 19, this would only be possible if almost the entire 10million population there had contracted the virus.”

    ——

    Yes, it has already been established that there might be locally higher death rates.

    Regarding asymptomatic cases only being 20%, is that relying on antibody tests? Because as we said, they may not pick up cases where antibodies aren’t produced.

  14. A good article from Stephen Bush on why a true exit plan from covid means a reduction in our freedoms:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/10/johnson-and-starmer-both-know-a-true-exit-plan-means-reducing-our-freedoms

    from the article:

    But the comfort zone approach has obscured an issue that ought to be a real source of political pain for Johnson and Starmer. The way out of lockdown isn’t a mystery: governments must first reduce the rate of new transmissions to as close to zero as possible, and then have the necessary infrastructure to test at scale, track the movements of possible carriers, and isolate the infected as and when new outbreaks emerge.

    There are two barriers in the UK’s path to that destination. The first is logistical: Britain doesn’t yet have the capacity to implement a system of testing, tracking and isolating infections. That is a painful area for the Conservatives, as it means discussing whether they have fallen short in procurement, or if the spending decisions taken since 2010 have left the state ill prepared for crisis.

    But the second barrier is painful for both parties: a functioning system of testing, tracing and isolating new cases would require a major reduction in our liberties and a prolonged period of increased surveillance. It’s far from clear that there is a majority in parliament for that approach, and it’s not a natural political position for Johnson or Starmer. Both are commonly said to be “instinctive liberals”, though their records at the big organisations they ran, whether as mayor of London or director of public prosecutions, are muddier than that.

    Going back to the first decade of this century, while the Lib Dems had opposed ID cards consistently it was David Cameron’s opposition to them that made their introduction politically impractical. Had Michael Howard not lost so badly and stayed as leader or had the Tories chosen a more right-wing leader than Cameron, we might already be accepting a surveillance state. The public welcome for CCTV is another illustration of this, as Stephen Bush also comments.

  15. A rather sobering chart from the WHO showing moving 7 day average of CV deaths/million. It shows we currently have the highest death rate in the world followed by …. Sweden and the USA.

    If this information gets traction with the UK public, I expect there will be an impact on polling.

    Sorry for the long link – I don’t know how to do short Twitter links:

    https://twitter.com/JonesTheBosher?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1259373302289772545&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fuk-news%2Flive%2F2020%2Fmay%2F10%2Fuk-coronavirus-live-boris-johnson-to-announce-covid-19-alert-system

  16. Carfrew

    “Regarding asymptomatic cases only being 20%, is that relying on antibody tests? Because as we said, they may not pick up cases where antibodies aren’t produced.”

    They are serological tests. They are reckoned to be above 90% accurate:

    https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-tests-are-pretty-accurate-but-far-from-perfect-136671

    So it’s conceivable that there may be a little more than 20% asymptomatic cases, but not really plausible that the true figure is much higher – nor the the Mortality rate for Covid is much below around 0.4%.

  17. A piece of advice for Britnats:

    “Nasty attacks demean your points of view and show an insecurity.”

  18. @James E

    As we said yesterday, there is the accuracy in detecting antibodies if they are present.

    But then there is the problem that they can’t detect antibodies if there are no antibodies.

  19. @ Davwel

    Thanks for that, we don’t like to make a big fuss :|} Funnily enough I’m going to have to forward this to friends in Pudsey and Bradford who told us they were variously poorly in December with a “virus” and wondered if it was possibly Covid. They all encountered some of the symptoms, especially the cough.

  20. The senior medical man in Mikan investigating deaths in old folks homed says Milan has seen a massacre.
    Care needed with these death rate comparisons.
    Troubling, very very troubling.

  21. “they can’t detect antibodies if there are no antibodies”

    But if someone has the virus and no antibodies, they die.

  22. Poll suggests 30% of SNP members believe the prosecution of Alex Salmond was a stitch up between the party, civil service and the Scottish establishment.
    Murky, very very murky.

  23. Leftieliberal

    On the surveillance – the inevitability was already noted long time ago and the effects of the current epidemic on it has been noted in (leftie) academic journals in March. Anyway, just to plagiarize:
    Young man: “My dad told me you are spying on us.”
    Government “He is not your Dad.”

    People are quite ignorant about surveillance – in 1991 I was here to do a study the effects of privatisation of public services on delivery. Our car was was broken into, which was duly reported to the police. A few days later immigration officers visited us at the place of work as it was expected and agreed. However, they knew about the breaking into our car, which suggests such a data sharing that was illegal under the then regulations. And that was almost 30 years ago.

  24. Although the polls continue to show net public support for the UK Government, the approval ratings have fallen. As the UK Government moves into more difficult and complex policy territory, political unity within the UK Government will be important. No 10 sources have started briefing against Hancock again. Cabinet sources saying that the Cabinet is being excluded from decisions by No 10. Something to watch.

  25. Some now suggesting that nicotine may be a suppressant of the Rona.
    The Swedes use something called snus and instances of the Rona is low in these users.
    Join me and get vaping!

  26. @MARKW
    This disaggregates excess deaths between the 4 UK polities. There is a dramatic difference between England and the other three, with England far worse and comfortably the worst of all countries surveyed – only Spain briefly came close, France and Italy much milder.
    Quite shocking
    https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps

  27. Good morning all from a warm and sunny Winchester.

    Encouraging figures for the regime at face value but I’m assuming approval ratings will start to go into free fall once the full extent of what the new normal will look like over the next 18 months or so.

    The high approval ratings for the lock down isn’t really surprising and I get the impression a lot of people would be more comfortable with the current lock down measures we have in place now than rather having to negotiate the inevitable social distancing once lock down restrictions start to ease.

    The new normal is going to be quite horrifying for large parts of the UK population. Transport is one area…
    Public transport will lose up to 90% of capacity yet the governments answer to that is people will have to walk or cycle to work.

    The government says most journeys by car are less than 5 miles and says this can easily be done by cycling…Aye maybe so but that depends on the weather, fitness of the person, location, confidence and work place environment. I can’t see too many shop workers, factory workers builders etc wanting to cycle home after being on their feet for 10 to 12 hour shifts. And what about sweaty betty’s, will workers have access to a shower?

    And what about the millions of workers who rely on public transport (especially rail) to get into work and stay at least an hours rail journey away from work? That’s about 60 miles, are they to cycle?

    Another problem…When I was working in London only on a few occasions did I drive into work and that was almost exclusively put down to South Western train strikes so the vast majority of times I used the train was because it’s faster and easier to get into work than having to drive 65 miles each way and parking issues.

    I suspect millions of other workers who use rail for commuting will be doing so because it’s faster and easier than driving into work.

    So where does that leave us? Data shows that in Wuhan after lock down car journeys went up by 36% from pre lock down levels. In the UK we are going to be looking at major increases in car journeys as public transport ain’t going to be fit for purpose for those who live quite a distance from work.

    Who would want to turn up at the station in the morning only to discover they can’t get onto the train because it’s met its social distancing limit when they can simply jump into their car. Despite it only being a 15 min train journey from Winchester to my work in Southampton, I will not use public transport and will instead drive because I don’t know if I’ll get on the train or not. Millions of other people will do the same. Pollution levels will go up through the roof because of social distancing.

    The only way forward for people who need and want to use public transport is for the train and bus companies to install plastic see through screens between and the back of each seat. It’s more practical than seeing revenue plummet, large sections of the population unable to travel to work and increased road usage.

    Social distancing after lock down will impact the poorest significantly, probably a price worth paying for the regime.

  28. Appears there is a particular problem with deaths in Scottish old folks homes. One ti watch and the Scottish government needs to get a grip on this, quickly.

  29. @Hugo – by considering excess deaths you are eliminating the issues around different ways of counting COVID deaths.

    You also capture indirect COVID-related changes in death rate, whether reduced levels of road accidents or increased deaths from heart attacks.

    Basically it is only seriously reliable comparative figure; using that, all sources appear to suggest that the UK is one of the, if not the, worst performing countries in the world.

    If you are suspicious of sources being biased against the government, try the FT’s extensive stats pages – if you think the FT is peddling left-wing anti-government bias then I politely suggest that you are beyond reason.

    For whatever reason – structural issues, complacency, bad advice, poor leadership – it is becoming pretty certain that we have handled this crisis badly compared to our peers.

    We need to understand the reasons fast so that we can correct them going forward (although if poor leadership has played a part we will have to wait a number of years to make any changes…)

  30. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter –

    “It’s such a missed opportunity. The public out there who are broadly very supportive of the measures, they’re hungry for details, for facts, for genuine information, and yet they get fed this what I call ‘number theatre’, which seems to be co-ordinated really much more by a Number 10 communications team rather than genuinely trying to inform people about what’s going on.”

    Stay alert!

  31. Germany’s R rate has gone back up to 1.1, days after easing some restrictions.
    Worrying, very very worrying.

  32. @James E

    “But if someone has the virus and no antibodies, they die.”

    ——-

    As explained previously, it takes a week or more for the body to produce antibodies, that specifically target the pathogen.

    But the body doesn’t usually let the virus run rampant in the meantime. In the meantime, the body has other defences, that might be less specific.

    For example it has macrophages that engulf pathogens and break them up into bits to produce antibodies from. It has NK cells, that test cells to see if they are healthy, and zap the ones that are infected.

    If those first line defences work well enough, there is little need for antibodies domthe body may not produce them. Also, research in the last decade suggests there may also be a memory effect in this less-specific, “innate” part of the immune system, so there is some defence if encountering the virus again, even if not full immunity.

    Furthermore, because less-specific, it means that other things might assist in priming the innate system against Covid, e.g. possibly the BCG vaccine, exposure to other pathogens previously etc.

  33. So ‘Stay Alert’ mean ‘Stay at home as much as possible’.

    So that’s clear then.

  34. Alec

    Spiegelhalter has an ego the size of the Post Office tower.

  35. (little need for antibodies so the body may not produce them.)

  36. Blame the Victim!

    @ Guymonde
    “I am a fat old man but I have never once been abused by a fellow cyclist (though often enough by cars, white vans etc).”

    You should read Fat Man on a Cycle by Tom Vernon which became a best seller!

    The same debates are conducted on this site time after time. The rare anti-cycling one is usually started by me when irritated by a casual anti-cycling comment.
    Data are provided on the carnage caused to cyclists (& pedestrians): 50 cyclists are killed or seriously injured every day. The same as the no of pedestrians, although there are infinitely more of the latter! That should tell one something.
    But … you make the excellent point that the two groups actually have a common cause. The pedestrians are encouraged to attack cyclists when it’s the drivers who are killing & maiming them at 50 a day.

    The response to these data is they cycle on pavements, jump red lights etc. It is then shown that these anti-social activities cause negligible injuries compared with e.g. motorists jumping red lights: even drivers opening car doors into cyclists causes far more injuries.
    Yet the last comment on cycling on the previous thread by @ Edge of Reason was another wearying “they cycle on pavement artist at work.”

    The pavements belong to pedestrians. But the roads do not belong to motor vehicles. They are “shared spaces” to which all humans are entitled to safe access. It’s only drivers who think they own the roads, abetted by the right-wing press, who attack cyclists more than drivers and see driving, anywhere, anytime, as an inalienable human right. Why the “progressives” on here side with the Tabloid Tat is another question.

  37. Alec

    That little Labour chappie Ashworth was on telly earlier demanding clarity. Like you, he thinks people would be wandering around bumping into things and dribbling if the government changes the message.
    The left is forever patronising the British people. One of the many reasons it keeps losing.

  38. Am hearing that Sir Keir Starmer is in cahoots with the TUC to recommend they demand “safety ” before anyone gets back to work.
    Nothing is totally safe. But the knight of the realm knows this, slippery lawyer that he is.
    A pattern is emerging here..he behaved like this before Brexit and was the main contributor to Labour’s shocking defeat in the election.
    Like most lawyers , he’s too clever by half and will come a cropper.

  39. Another aspect to look out for after lock down rules are relaxed. We are being encouraged to work more from home. Yes that sounds great but in reality for those of us who are quite social then its as boring as shi#

    Don’t get me wrong, having more time to spend with mini me and my other half is great but not always practical when you’re having to clean a dirty bottom and deal with a colleagues time sheet over the phone at the same time.

    Humans are social creatures and like to wind down at the end of the working week,. If more people work from home then this will have a negative impact on town and city center businesses in the evenings and not to mention the millions of workers who buy their lunch from cafes , shops etc during lunch.

    I know it’s not easy for the government to negotiate us through Covid19 and there will be millions of people in the cumming year who will lose their jobs because of social distancing but it really does depend on how sympathetic the Tory regime will be towards those mostly impacted by Covid19 that will determine their future VI .

    Simply dumping millions onto a draconian run Universal Credit benefits system simply wont do.

  40. Carfrew

    “As explained previously, it takes a week or more for the body to produce antibodies, that specifically target the pathogen.”

    So, if large numbers of of the medical professionals who were tested now develop Covid, the figures will need to be revised. But this looks unlikely as cases in Northern Italy have fallen sharply from their peak.

    And it is all very well to list various reasons why a few tests might be inaccurate. But if you want to argue for there being well over 20% asymptomatic cases, and an IFR around 0.1% or 0.2% then it would be necessary to show that ALL testing, across many different countries, has hugely understated the numbers who have been infected. To me, this seems vanishingly unlikely.

  41. The Robert Koch Institute reporting their R value in Germany has risen to 1.1. Anecdotally I find their infection and death rates difficult to believe, a few internally well-known Germans have died and a week before the football is supposed to start footballers start going down with the virus. I then read that one of the top universities has a view that the infection rate is 10 times the published amount therefore the death rate must be higher. I know they’re way behind on care home deaths and don’t show death in the community figures.

    Did they get a milder strain? We all know that good hospital facilities prevent more deaths and the German emergency medical system is very good but we haven’t had a single case where intubation wasn’t available when needed. Do we have have a higher percentage of BAME nationals which might explain the difference, especially working in the health system. Testing on it’s own can’t explain the differential between the UK and Germany on the effects of coronavirus. Over to TW.

  42. The Government would only be changing the slogan if it believes it will achieve something positive.

    Maybe the intention is that discussion around changing the slogan reinforces the central message and that is the purpose?

    Maybe one day they will deign to reveal the purpose?

  43. https://www.ft.com/content/a26fbf7e-48f8-11ea-aeb3-955839e06441

    It seems reckless to change some of the subliminal messaging around the slogan, using green appearing to indicate ‘safe’ or ‘go’ rather than red for caution.

    ” Stay alert, control the narrative, save Boris.”

    Thanks for the link above guymonde.

  44. Aktion T4 is well and alive in the brains of some in here – some are identifying with it proundly. It is an advanced stage so hospice-like treatment is the only one that can be offered.

    More difficult are the sometimes asymptomatic cases. They don’t know that their brains were infected by Work in T4, but it is there. However, the testing (replies to comments) show the presence of this potentially fatal infection and no antibodies are produced.

  45. @James E

    And it is all very well to list various reasons why a few tests might be inaccurate. But if you want to argue for there being well over 20% asymptomatic cases, and an IFR around 0.1% or 0.2% then it would be necessary to show that ALL testing, across many different countries, has hugely understated the numbers who have been infected. To me, this seems vanishingly unlikely.

    ————-

    It is not just about test accuracy. As has been said many, many times, many studies have not used very representative samples.

    And convenient to put the burden of proof on me, but I am not arguing for a particular IFR rate. If you want to rule out lower IFRs, you might consider the burden of proof to be on you to show that only a few of the infected have not produced antibodies.

    A recent study indicated that most of those hospitalised produced antibodies. (Though only 40 percent in the first week). As for those not hospitalised, who might clear it up,in a few days?…

  46. @Bantams
    Perhaps we could allow the Germans to speak for themselves?

    When this came up a few weeks ago the comment (reported on BBC IIRC) from the German Health Ministry was that three factors contributed to the low death toll:
    – relative youth and fitness of the initial carriers, as the source was various alpine ski resorts
    – use of test and trace to identify infected patients early in onset of the disease
    – early intervention with ameliorative treatments (oxygen and anti-inflammatories IIRC) meaning that fewer patients required intubation (which seems to be particularly dangerous)

    We can be confident that Germany’s death rate is not dramatically understated, because it is consistent with their ‘excess deaths’ figure, which is less than 10% of the UK’s.

  47. It seems No 10 has had to issue a clarification of its new slogan for England before it has been announced:

    https://twitter.com/alexwickham/status/1259442270576787456?s=19

    So “Stay alert” means “Stay at home” .

  48. @ BANTAMS – Germany is not my polity but having R=1.1 when you have a very low level of infection and huge capacity in your healthcare system is not a major problem.

    If they have say 100,000 currently infectious people then 110,000 next week is OK. It will be over 7weeks before they get to 200,000 and their healthcare system can easily cope with that. LASZLO might be better placed to comment on how many infectious they can “cope with” before their healthcare system is over run.

    FWIU they have a “cluster” issue in a few places which is to be expected. They need to “Stay Alert” of course and adjust the timings on their flexible “roadmap” as they continue to monitor the situation.

    They will have very low immunity levels overall (maybe 5%?) so they can’t allow the R0 to go too high.

    England’s advantage is that we can have a higher R0 and still keep R close to but below 1. We currently have a lot spare capacity as well so we can even risk R a bit above 1 for a while, especially if you have a “built-in” return to lockdown in place (eg School Summer holidays!)

    Formula Reminder (and rearranged):

    R0 = R / (1-HI%)

    Where:
    – R0 is the the reproduction rate for a 100% naive population[1]
    – R is the reproduction rate within a population with some immunity
    – HI% is the % level of the population with immunity

    The “aim” is to control the R0 as you let HI% build up. As you build up more HI% then you can ease further measures (or have less adherence to existing measures).

    I’m optimistic we can get back on track and get the flock through the gate before next Winter but we have a lot of lessons to learn from wave1.

    [1] The “population” could be a single Care Home where you want 0% immunity to be acquired or a region (eg London which could be 50% by now but SWest England probably isn’t above 10%)

  49. Carfrew

    There is a considerable body of testing evidence from numerous countries which points to an IFR in the region of 0.4%-1%. So if the true rate is far less than that, it would require a huge systematic international testing failure.

    I think IanH made the case clearly yesterday as to why the idea of an IFR of 0.1% or 0.2% is not credible. Probably best to leave it at that.

  50. If they wanted to change the slogan, I would have preferred a much more direct and simple to understand slogan, with practical meaning, such as ‘keep your distance’.

    @Markw – on that FT link, their latest tables of excess deaths are fascinating.

    They have updated this to may 6th, so there may well be some reporting delays, but in terms of all causes excess deaths over and above the five year average, the UK is now the worst in the world at +61%. This pips Belgium and Spain, both on +60%, Italy on +55% and Netherlands on +52%. Germany is +3%, Sweden +28%, Denmarks +6%. and Norway none.

    These figures are nothing to do with testing numbers or confirmed cases etc, so they are ‘real’ data. However you cut this, these numbers suggest that the UK, with three or four weeks headstart, has made a hash of this. We are, in terms of excess mortality, the worst in the world at present.

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