If you are looking at voting intention or best Prime Minister figures to judge how well an opposition leader is doing, the first thing to note is that they are relative. It’s not just about how well the opposition are doing, it’s about how well the government are doing. Indeed, it’s probably mostly how well the government are doing – I am a great believer in the old truism that oppositions do not win elections, governments lose them. A really good opposition leader can pick holes in a government and force them into political errors, but primarily it’s a job of waiting for them to make a mistake, and making sure that when they do, you look like a plausible enough alternative for the public to place their trust in you.

Many of Starmer’s internal Labour party critics start with the absolute assumption that the Government are incredibly unpopular and that Labour should therefore be ahead of them. The reality is the Government’s figures really aren’t that bad and, on corona vaccination – the issue that currently dominates the agenda – are strikingly good. Looking at the Ipsos MORI polling this week, 38% think the government are handling corona well, 46% badly (negative, but not overwhelmingly so). 86% think they are doing well at securing vaccine supplies, 78% that they are doing well in rolling it out. For better or for worse, Boris Johnson has also delivered on his main election promise – getting Brexit done – and his own approval ratings appear to have bottomed out at the end of last year and have improved slightly since then.

As such, we’ve seen the Conservative party creep back ahead in the polls over recent months. At the tail end of last year the polls were broadly neck-and-neck. The Tories now clearly have a small lead again. Opinium and YouGov’s polls this week show a 5 point Tory lead, Survation a 6 point lead, Ipsos MORI earlier this month a 4 point lead. This is likely more a reflection of the Conservative Government’s recovering fortunes than anything Labour have or haven’t done. If we want to get a decent measure of public attitudes towards Keir Starmer, we need to look at figures asking directly about Starmer himself, rather than his relative position to the Government.

If we do that, then on the whole, Starmer’s ratings are at least acceptable. During the early part of his leadership there were very solid indeed, but over the last few months they have declined. His approval ratings are fairly neutral (Opinium’s last poll had 32% approving, 30% disapproving; Ipsos MORI has 40% satisfied, 35% dissatisfied; YouGov 39% good job, 37% bad job). These are significantly better than Boris Johnson’s current ratings, and better than his predecessors Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.

Looking at polling on perceptions of Starmer, YouGov gives him positive ratings on being strong, likeable, decisive and – especially – competence (42% see him as competent, 21% incompetent). Ipsos MORI finds strongly positive ratings for him on being decisive, and moderately positive figures on leading opinion and demonstrating a clear vision.

MORI also ask a regular question on if the opposition leader looks ready to be Prime Minister. 33% of people think Starmer does, 37% think he does not. Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband got figures ranging between 17%-31% thinking they looked ready to be Prime Minister, but consistently got in excess of 60% saying they did not. The positive figures may not be that different here, but Starmer’s negatives are far, far less than his predecessors. YouGov have a similar question, and found 33% think Starmer looks like a Prime Minister in waiting.

It is clear from the polling that Keir Starmer is seen by the general public as much more of a competent, plausible Prime Ministerial figure than his two predecessors. Whether that is enough is a different matter. I’ve frequently compared Starmer’s figures in this article to Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn. By that yardstick they’re not bad at all. But compare them to Tony Blair, or even to David Cameron, the last two leaders of the opposition to actually go on and become Prime Minister, and they look less positive.

It’s also worth underlining that the direction of movement for Starmer is currently negative. Lots of leaders have positive ratings to begin with (think of how positively rated Theresa May was to begin with, for example). At the moment it looks as if the way that Keir Starmer presents himself has chimed enough with the public for them to give him a serious hearing and to remain open-minded on whether he’d make a good Prime Minister. It looks as if Starmer has managed to win the opportunity to be heard, but having that opportunity doesn’t mean he won’t fluff it.

Obviously Keir Starmer is not yet in a position to win a general election. We won’t know until after the boundary review exactly what sort of lead the Labour party would need to win an election, but to get an overall majority on a uniform swing then without some degree of political realignment they’d need a very substantial lead indeed and at this point, Starmer has no lead at all. I suppose for those within the Labour party, it depends exactly how much one can reasonably expect from leader who inherits a party that has just suffered one of its worst ever general elections, its fourth in row, and has spent the last five years busy in internecine warfare.


2,990 Responses to “How well or badly is Keir Starmer doing?”

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  1. BBC link
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-56069325

    Also note those groups have a higher risk of serious infection (and hence higher % likelihood to need NHS treatment higher % who go on to die)

  2. 6:21pm post is the link for the final post on p3.

    For the higher risks then various reports. EG PHE report p39

    “The highest age standardised diagnosis rates of COVID-19 per 100,000 population were in people of Black ethnic groups (486 in females and 649 in males) and the lowest were in people of White ethnic groups (220 in females and 224 in males)..

    Death rates from COVID-19 were higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to White ethnic groups”

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/908434/Disparities_in_the_risk_and_outcomes_of_COVID_August_2020_update.pdf

    NB That report was very vague and did mention correlation with socio-economic factors as the mention a bit lower of p39. However, along with ONS and other reports then it is very likely that the same ethinic groups being ‘hesitant’ about the vaccine are the ones who would benefit the most from having it (and help rCommunity via lower demand on NHS)

  3. Interesting report on R4 news just now. A professor discussing their covid patient who has immune suppression because of treatment for lympthoma.

    The story was introduced that mutation takes places in people who for some reason do not clear the virus, but in reality this was a story about a patient who is exceptional in that his immune system has been deliberately suppressed medically, but as a result has been the subject of a lot of treatment to try to clear the disease and a lot of testing to see how it is succeeding.

    What the report really sounds like is HIV patients, who of course have suppressed immune systems because the virus does this itself. And in them what we see over time is the virus mutating and changing in response to treatment, which is precisely what was seen in this covid case.

    However I dont see this as really typical of covid patients or how the disease normally changes. All it demonstrates is that
    the virus within one person is quite capable of changing a lot, and they reported monitoring how the population in this patient changed each time they changed his therapy. They mentioned remdesavir, which the doctor said clearly did not work, but it did cause the virus population to change in response.

    What the doctor did not exactly say is that the overall population of types of virus changed because individual viruses muted, as distinct from the drug causing a selective dieoff of certain variants. By which I mean, I have heard reported before that every person contains many different strains of covid, but ordinarily there is no big selective pressure and they continue to have these many strains. But once you introduce an external agent then there will be selective pressure for strains unaffected by it and against strains which are. Before treatment there might have been a million strains, with one dominating. After treatment there might still be a million strains but a completely different one (or subset) now taking the lead.

    All this might really mean is that neither the drug nor treatment with antiboides taken from blood from people who had recovered were sufficient in themselves to clear all the virus. neither was sufficient in itself to do what the immune system does for everyone who recovers from covid. The immune response is far more effective and medically impressive in wholly containing all the viruses ability to change and survive.

    The ability of the virus to survive antibody from previous patients perhaps suggests the treatment was rather a poor immitation of the real body response in making its own antibody supply. But it might also suggest the real response by the body is far more broad and dynamic than simply taking a snapshot of blood from a recovered person, where essentially their immune system has halted its response because it already won.

    This might however suggest one reason why recovered people have a poor measured antibody response, because if their virus keeps changing then the antibody response would have to keep changing to follow it. But if so there would not be a buildup of one particular strain of antibody in huge numbers which was the perfect pattern to match and kill the virus. Instead we would just see a much more modest quantity of antibody of the final pattern which did the job. Nor would there be reinforcing of one particular antibody pattern by repeat exposure to new infection.Instead it would create a spread of many different low quantity antibody types.

    Again, there would be an implication that natural infection is likely to do a better job of creating a broad immunity in recovered people than is any of the vaccines based upon just taking one section of virus protein to create a response. Vaccine would cause a much stronger and clearly visible antibody rersponse, but not necessarily more effective. And of course much less broad in its potential to continue to resist new strains.

    Medics said they chose their vaccine target proteins because they are relatively stable. Which in a way is confirming my conclusion is correct, that in nature there is wide variation always. And also confirms the finding that vaccines made from whole virus are considered to be more resistant to mutation.

    This would also be a theoretical basis of how different strains of corona virus would be likely to create cross immunity to other strains. As we saw, in there being immunity to covid generally before it arrived. What we are looking at is an organism which contains a natural ability to morph within a certain range of combinations while continuing to function as something able to reproduce. But the totality of changes is limited and shared by the related viruses.

    The reporter plainly stated that epidemic mutation happens in patients who do not beat the virus. I dont see any evidence for that conclusion, and indeed the doctor did not say this. All he said was that they happened to have this particular patient they were studying. He didnt say, but obviously this is a very exceptional patient and the virus in nature could not rely upon the existence of such people as a petri dish it could use to develop new strains. In nature such a person with such an immune failure would presumably have been long dead.

    We are starting to see evidence identical mutations have arisen in different parts of the world, as you would expect given the virus is mutating within its set of possible changes to meet new conditions. The new conditions being many humans having developed first line immunity to the original strain, so any cohort of virus anywhere will start switching to plan B in its offensive capability. The version which works best given human immunity has occurred to version A.

    So the reporter was rather misleading in most probably making an accidental medical claim which is wholly wrong. In reality mutations happen in a community of fit people who are infected only for a couple of weeks, and the virus has to survive principally with selective pressure being between new victims not within them. The point of selection of a new strain cannot be within one person, but is as it tries to infect new ones. The multiplicity of strains observed in this patient (and all others) is blown out in air and reaches new people. Some virus will find new hosts and some not, and those better able to survive will be more likely to find new homes at that point.

    The implication is that mutation to new strains is inevitable once the original set of susceptible people is exhausted. Its no good Johnson or anyone trying to prevent new strains developing by not removing restrictions for as long as he can. Strains only develop once the virus encounters immune people and therefore has to adapt. But every individual infected person already carries the potential to generate all viable new strains, so it only takes one.

    When we see the epidemic falling away because of developed immunity, what we are seeing should not be viewed as the virus in fast decline, but the total percentage of new variants capable of reinfecting people starting to grow. Viruses like this are able to survive in almost a benign form where they only create very mild infections but are still able to transmit, while the population of new variants build. This is obviously true, otherwise they would be long extinct.

    Oh, the fact the patient did not simply die rather suggests the virus itself knows better than to spread uncontrollably. Or the immune system is not so simple as to have only one line of defence which was what had been medically suppressed.

  4. A selective quote from the above post:

    “Strains only develop once the virus encounters immune people”

    Sigh…..

  5. James E

    And “the virus itself knows better”.

    I’m guessing that Danny doesn’t actually believe that viruses have cognition, and is just using a figure of speech.

    Such anthropomorphising (and many politicians do it) isn’t very helpful in understanding mutation and evolution.

    Just as well we have scientists to explain things to us!

  6. Peter Cairns,
    “Yes a new thread is good, but it will only improve things if the Trevs and Danny don’t post screeds on Covid!”

    You mught have noticed that AW referred to covid policy, in particular vaccines, as the likely reason for Johnson and con doing better just now. This isnt a subject which can be avoided as it is politically number one. With brexit temporarily as number two.

    If the scientific view eventually comes in that lockdowns internationally were a mistake, that view will become dominant probably while we struggle with the consequences of lockdown, higher deaths from other causes for years to come and austerity to pay the covid debt. The topic isnt going away, although con have laid down the foundations for claiming they were the party opposing lockdown. Especially credible if by then they have replaced Johnsons and ditched both leave and lockdown as policies. Leaving labour floundering because it never seriously opposed either.

  7. @ Danny

    “However I dont see this as really typical of covid patients or how the disease normally changes”

    That’s fascinating to hear from such a renowned expert in this field.

  8. @Danny – ” I have heard reported before that every person contains many different strains of covid…”

    I suspect you are talking total [email protected] again.

    The news from last month that a single patient in Brazil was found to have two different strains of covid simultaneously was declared as extremely unusual, and was so noteworthy that the WHO reported on it.

    I really don’t think you have a clue what you are talking about.

  9. Sat Hi to the new head of the WTO – https://twitter.com/gbenro/status/1361335256356450306

    Trade’s going to get funky now.

  10. Old English,
    “Now we have shown the whole of Europe how to organise the purchase of vaccines and distribute them at speed to the first 15 million of the most vulnerable.

    We shall soon begin to see the benefits of Brexit and all the new free trade Deals which have been signed over the last year”

    Indeed. Or not. Potential here for both to be terrible failures with england leading the way in a very traditional reenactment of the charge of the light brigade.

    Alec,
    “I think it is a fascinating bit of social science that voters appear to reward the UK government for leading on vaccines, while declining to punish them for having a truly awful record on covid deaths. ”

    But pinpoint how those deaths came about. There is the carfrew school of vitamins/vaccines and cross immunity/social norms which were pre existing factors we could not have done much about at the time covid arrived. And then there was the capability of the NHS and care services, which seems likely to have majorly contributed to deaths. And then there is miss reporting of deaths as covid deaths when they arent.

    Miss reporting just means the deaths never did really happen. Other deaths with covid have been described as deaths from covid. But if a large proportion of cases were caught in care settings (and they were), just how much could reasonably have been done about that? Its true the government set its face against a policy of segregating the high risk and letting the general population have liberty – which might have reduced deaths, not leqast by ending the entire epidemic much faster thereby reducing the durationn of quarantine (which must fail in the long term)

    But both lab and con supported lockdown. not much political gain not be had there from failed lockdown.

    On vaccines -both parties have supported it as the plan, and con seems to have done as well as could be expected in delivering, so no chink there. If the policy fails to prevent spread then not their fault as lab never opposed it at the time.

    I think the final blame for a high total of deaths in the Uk will go to the structure of care services and the NHS. Which makes the clapping for the NHS very hollow indeed. It is noteable that countries with poor care services have done relatively well -suggesting ours did not help!

    alec,
    “For all the fuss about the rapid vaccine roll out, the outcomes still look like being substantially worse here than in most other countries, and they seem likely to catch up with vaccination in due course, having suffered far less.”

    Vaccines have played no part in the current Uk fall of cases. this is down to developing immunity because we caught it. Or at least, the portion of the population which is not locked down caught it. Which including direct family and colleagues, contacts in defiance of restrictions and frankly the inability of the restrictions to stop spread because it is much more contageous than generally believed, is probably most of the population. There has been a singular failure to prevent covid reaching the most vulnerable despite the most strenuous attempts.

    Peter cairns,
    “For all the Brexit issues, those that wanted it seem to be prepared to stick with it come what may”

    In terms of impact, brexit has not happened yet. This has been masked by covid lockdown, though even without covid we would still be in flux now.

  11. Old Nat

    Re Viruses having cognition – See:

    “The new conditions being many humans having developed first line immunity to the original strain, so any cohort of virus anywhere will start switching to plan B in its offensive capability.”

    You may well be right that he doesn’t actually believe this. it’s a bit like a script for ‘the unbelievable truth’.

  12. edge of reason,
    “From both your summaries and the data I’ve seen, it appears Conservative support in Scotland is in decline in recent months, so in conjunction with their improvement in the English-dominated GB polls that would imply a predominantly English effect, if indeed one exists at all? ”

    Which would be consistent with the effect being due to perceived anti covid success. About which i gather the scottish government has had much credit within scotland.

    carfrew,
    “Vaccines are working, new figures suggest, with deaths in the over-80s dropping twice as quickly as in the under-65s.

    New research by the University of Oxford shows that since the peak in January, the case fatality rate (CFR) in the over-80s has fallen by 32 per cent.”

    Spiegelhalter on a bad line on R4 so they had to cut him off, seemed to be saying it was too early to attribute this to vaccines. I would attribute it to many high risk being dead already so naturally ther proportion must fall.

    However, Spiegelhalter did say there was some early evidence of a disproportionate fall in older admissions.

    Johnson quoted a figure that most people in hospital with covid are under 70. Which struck me as rather odd. It could reflect 1) a huge amount of bed blocking as people cannot be discharged because there is nowhere to send them. 2) It could well be correct as an age profile if it is because lots of general hospital patients have been catching covid there.

  13. carfrew,
    “New research by the University of Oxford shows that since the peak in January, the case fatality rate (CFR) in the over-80s has fallen by 32 per cent.”

    if my model is correct, that in fact there is a much smaller high risk group than generally believed, which is only a subset of the age cohort, then this is precisely what you would expect to see assuming lockdown has not worked well. Because the highly susceptible caught it early and are now gone from the cohort.

    This wouldnt necessarily invalidate the vaccination program, because the model is one of promotion from the general age cohort to a high risk one because of general disease, which is likely to strike new people all the time on a steady basis. so vaccinate the lot and you would have it covered, but the important underlying reality is that only 0.1% of the population was ever at risk, and thgis risk could have been reduced by different measuresn (though maybe we could not have implemented them in time because they might have meant fundamental reform of how care operates. The US further privatised model might be seen as even worse than ours. a private sector does not respond to health risk but to profit. Making contingency provisions is pure loss. )

  14. carfrew,
    “”On Sunday, Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London said that the single dose jabs of vaccination appeared to be providing 67 per cent protection against infection, based on data from the ZOE Covid Symptom Study App.””

    nice to see we sometimes believe him. now how about his finding that only 1/4 as many caught covid in November peak as April and only 1/3 as many in jan.

    So both these were considerably smaller outbreaks.

    which makes one wwonder whether the deaths reports are cosniderably inflated by people dying with covid rather than from covid, which will affect but numbers within 28 days of a positive test and people dying of a serious disease with a minor covid complication. While excess deaths must currently be inflated by untreated other conditions.

  15. carfrew,
    “To date, it has generated and made publicly available more than 100,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes.”

    Thats a tiny fraction of all cases. Indeed about the same proportion as deaths. 0.1% though pretty good for an opinion poll. However…….is the sample representative?

    ““If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery, and could provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains.””2

    Seems they also think vaccines creating a narrow immune response might be a problem.

  16. Robbiealive is not the name that appears on my birth or marriage certificate, passport or driving licence. It came to me in one of the few moments of spontaneity I have ever experienced when I filled in the form to come on this site.
    99.99% of posters on this site have chosen anonymity. It is probably the only point on which all agree.

    @ Statgeek
    I use my facebook site which I use once a year for a particular purpose. Adverts popped up on my page so I decided to “subvert” the site by shifting my residence.
    When I lived Mexico City most ads were about lowering cholesterol. In Scuynthorpe, ads were about how to leave.
    I now live in Pyongyang. This attracts no ads at all. I probably have a file in MI5.

  17. @Laszlo

    Thanks re Orwell. Can I respond later as I need to refresh my memory about Orwell’s famous list.

  18. Steve,
    “To get that into some perspective the mortality rate from covid for the under 40’s is around 0.2% ”

    No- thats the mortality rate as a percentage of all people dying. The overall death rate on a per population basis is only 0.1%, so for under 40s its 0.2% of 0.1% ( or actually more like 0.1% of total dying which is about 0.15% from 2 waves of covid. )

    Anyway, its about 0.0002%

    see stats here https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/weeklyprovisionalfiguresondeathsregisteredinenglandandwales/2020/publishedweek532020.xlsx

  19. ComRes Scots poll also ha a question on how keen/reluctant folk are to get the Covid jag.

    Males : 75% Keen : 6% Reluctant
    Females : 64% Keen : 16% Reluctant

    If that differential is reflected in the Leicestershire study, then it may help to explain the low uptake figures, as NHS staff include a higher proportion of women.

    By age –

    16-24 : 53% Keen : 21% Reluctant
    25-34 : 61% Keen : 13% Reluctant
    35-44 : 54% Keen : 18% Reluctant
    45-54 : 72% Keen : 13% Reluctant
    55-64 : 83% Keen : 7% Reluctant
    65+ : 91% Keen : 1% Reluctant

  20. @ CARFREW – The report to which you refer is Prof Heneghan

    “Recent falls in age-specific estimates of the case fatality ratio in England”

    https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/recent-falls-in-age-specific-estimates-of-the-case-fatality-ratio-in-england/

    Another way to start to observe the impact is NHS England hospital deaths. Some data geeks are looking at the ratio of deaths in 80+ to deaths in 60-79 and observing a continuing/accelerating drop in that ratio

    https://twitter.com/george_yarrow/status/1361326295540510721

    What is slightly odd is that we are not seeing a drop (in % terms) in hospital admissions for the oldest cohort (NHS data up to 7Feb)

    There was some SPI-B concern that folks who had received a vaccine dose would reduce adherence to rules (eg visit children/grand children) but I’m not sure how they could measure that given the real World is not a blind trial.

    Whitty+co. are justifiably cautious and waiting for a bit more time and data to see the impact of vaccines. Even if we can start to see it then they don’t want to let the SPI-B concern become a major issue.

    A little bit of ‘fear’ is a good thing and 8Mar (phase1 of easing of lockdown) is still 3weeks away.

    PS I expect you might have seen some new studies on impact (or lack of) teachers catching C19 in school settings. ONS have shown similar data as well.

  21. Danny

    ‘nice to see we sometimes believe him. now how about his finding that only 1/4 as many caught covid in November peak as April and only 1/3 as many in jan.

    So both these were considerably smaller outbreaks.

    which makes one wwonder whether the deaths reports are cosniderably inflated by people dying with covid rather than from covid, which will affect but numbers within 28 days of a positive test and people dying of a serious disease with a minor covid complication. While excess deaths must currently be inflated by untreated other conditions.’

    That is very strange conclusion. Why is it you think the king’s study data is more reliable than the death data? The April 2020 kings data used a totally different method to the king’s data for the second and third waves. That gross methodology difference is the obvious reason for the discrepancy. Essentially the early method used only self reporting, presumably leading to overestimation. The later method relies on positive tests as confirmation. Its more nuanced than that, I did read about it when they changed the method in early July, but forget the full details. It appears there aim in making the change was not to provide data comparable to the original method, but to provide the most accurate data possible. Kings recognise their original method was limited, I think you need to recognise that too.

    If we take a look at the other end of your argument, perhaps you could answer some of the following. Why have hospitals needed to run 3x normal ICU capacity? Where are the extra patients coming from if it’s not covid? Why are all these patient that just happen to contract covid dying in such numbers?

    Sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one

  22. While keenness/reluctance to get the jag might be thought unlikely to be driven by political affiliation, but just by correlated demographics, “just as a bit of fun” here are the numbers in ComRes –

    SLD : 82% Keen : 4% Reluctant
    SNP : 75% Keen : 10% Reluctant
    SCon : 74% Keen : 11% Reluctant
    SLab : 66% Keen : 11% Reluctant
    DNV : 49% Keen : 19% Reluctant
    Oth : 45% Keen : 25% Reluctant

    SNP voters are, on average, younger than those for the Unionist parties, so it may reflect greater trust in ScotGov advice from SNP supporters and an element of “If that bloody woman wants me to get it, I’m not going to” among the more insane Unionists. :-)

  23. @ OLDNAT – If you/others want to read the actual study then this is the link. Press (eg BBC link I provided earlier) have already reported on the ethnicity, age, gender[1] aspects:

    “After adjustment, factors found to be negatively associated with vaccine uptake were; younger age, female sex, increasing deprivation and belonging to any non-White ethnic group (Black: aOR0.30, 95%CI 0.26–0.34, South Asian:0.67, 0.62–0.72)”

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.02.11.21251548v2.full.pdf

    [1] Pregnancy has been mentioned but that would only have a small impact

  24. carfrew,
    “Yes, our experts didn’t give us a pandemic plan for curtailing deaths from a virus so much as coping with them. ”

    Yes. They assumed a starting point of half a million deaths and 2 million hospital cases. So inevitably many would die from failure to treat since capacity is only about 100,000 total and 10,000 intensive care.

    In reality it turned out very different so the mitigation plans became exacerbation plans as people were turned away from care unnecessarily.

    JIB,
    “The UK and Israel look like the two entities that come out of this crisis first, demonstrating the effectiveness (or possibly not) of herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2 through vaccination.”

    In israel there has been time for vaccine effects to start coming through, but in the Uk its still down to immunity through infection. (all the Kings app age group data so far doesnt really indicate any older age dropoff. But then it is including mild cases so wouldnt necessarily show a change from severe to mild)

    “The politicians are right to be cautious though at the moment.”

    Certainly they have done their best to prevent natural immunity developing, so there would be grounds for concern. But they dont seem to have succeeded.

    Colin,
    “When VDL. finally got round to apology she admitted that they just assumed producers would deliver. ie. a purely arms length commercial transaction.”

    The published contract included clauses for the EU to assist in providing essential ingredients where it could, so someone understood this would become a problem. But it was probably the manufacturer which inserted them.

    carfrew,
    “And because we cut deals early, and accepted more liability, it meant pharma could commit to producing vaccine earlier.”

    Yes i think thats true. but it doesnt alter the moral case that using our supply of vaccines earmarked for under 40s would do more good treating older people abroad. (under 60s really)

    Somerjohn,
    “But given the extreme age gradient in vulnerability, it is at least arguable that the greatest number of deaths will be prevented by giving maximum protection to those at greatest risk.”

    Arguable, but the general medical consensus seems to be it is probably wrong. But the real answer depends on stuff we dont know. Could even be different answer for different vaccines.

    What is true is that vacine manufacturers have only one prime directive. To make money. they have no real interest in maximising efficacy beyond a certain level and certainly not in proving one dose is as good as two.

    Alec,
    “my real world experience suggests that for now at least, keeping my name largely hidden is the right choice for me at this time. It’s business, not personal, as someone once said”

    Upset the wrong people and you might end up with poisoned underpants. Though those sort of people would probably intercept your internet traffic anyway. I wouldnt assume anything posted on the internet is truly anonymous.

    Steve,
    ” Johnson: “And just to help people think about what we’re trying to do on February 22, remember what we did around about this time last year, or a little bit later ” ”

    Remembering of course the peak this year has been at the start of january, whereas last year it was at the start of april, so on the same timetable everything should be three months earlier. Without allowing for the vaccination program, which given the 2020 plan aimed to ‘flatten the peak’, really ought to mean had vaccination been in place then that no measures at all would have been justified beyond placing the NHS on a war footing itself.

    “Was there an alternative reality early 2020 that we all missed otherwise this appears to be an out and out l!e.”

    Certainly there was an alternative reality where we had the infection peak in Hastings probably in 2019. This probably also brought forward cases across the SE and into london too. Certainly there were negligible cases here during the official spring outbreak and therefore no justification for local lockdown at all.

    Although all outbreaks since then have been characterised by a sharp local rise over a couple of weeks followed by a slower decline over maybe a month. That isnt a million miles away from the classic evolution curve expected for an epidemic, just affecting only a fraction of the whole population. (implying most are either immune or protected, but since where there has been a chance to compare regions with and without measures they havnt made much difference…so it is probably not that few were exposed. Most were exposed and became immune to the then circulating strain)

  25. On anti-vaxxers

    This from the 1930s

    https://twitter.com/Shornoff/status/1361093793190207490

  26. @Danny

    “Yes i think thats true. but it doesnt alter the moral case that using our supply of vaccines earmarked for under 40s would do more good treating older people abroad. (under 60s really)”

    ——-

    And I agreed it was an issue. I just mentioned a couple of things that might mitigate.

  27. @Danny

    “Seems they also think vaccines creating a narrow immune response might be a problem.”

    —–

    Like the flu vaccine gives a narrower response than natural infection?

  28. Oldnat,
    “Lower proportions of black and Asian staff at a hospital trust have come forward to have a Covid-19 vaccine, according to a study.”

    I imagine being professional medics, like prof lockdown they expect there is no point in being vaccinated because they already had the disease and are immune. Better to let a pensioner have one.

    This is even consistent with the reported numbers that ethnic groups were catching it much more so presumably more of them would consider themselves immune already.

    but the existence of people already immune is not an officially acceptable explanation to present to the public.

  29. @danny

    “now how about his finding that only 1/4 as many caught covid in November peak as April and only 1/3 as many in jan.”

    ——-

    Well, early on that sort of data seemed open to some contention and able to accommodate numerous theories so I left it to others and looked into immunity etc. instead.
    .

  30. Robbiealive

    There were two articles in the Guardian when the list (the full list and the one that he passed on) was released.

  31. @Danny

    “but the important underlying reality is that only 0.1% of the population was ever at risk, and thgis risk could have been reduced by different measures”

    ———

    Well as you probably recall I have tended to be concerned with alternative measures of protection for the most vulnerable, for those where vaccines may not be sufficient. And to help cope with new variants.

    Another study on the benefits of higher doses of Vit D has cropped up, though I have only seen a brief report of it and some question as to how representative…

  32. @Danny

    “Spiegelhalter on a bad line on R4 so they had to cut him off, seemed to be saying it was too early to attribute this to vaccines. I would attribute it to many high risk being dead already so naturally ther proportion must fall.
    However, Spiegelhalter did say there was some early evidence of a disproportionate fall in older admissions.”

    ——

    Yes. The article also noted the link was tentative. It shows some early promise, nothing more.

  33. A selective quote from the above post:

    “Strains only develop once the virus encounters immune people”

    Sigh…..”

    Dont see your point. what i posted is precisely correct.

    While a virus is not intelligent per se, you should regard it at least like a computer which has a programme to execute and suite of options to take given certain stimulus. That is very much what it is, an alternative operating system for body cells which replaces the original one. Plus a delivery system.

    It is generally accepted that a minimum quantity of virus is needed to infect someone before they get an active infection. What i dont see is any information whether if we arbitrarily take 1000 as that number of virus particles, it might be only 10 are of the current dominant viable strain, and 990 are all mutants in one respect or another which are potentially more effective in certain cirumstances. Only some take hold, but each time they reproduce many new variants are produced including all that are theoretically possible.

    I dont see how any testing we have available would be able to determine if a sample of 1000 viruses included 1 with 1000 changes or 1000 with 1 change. Both would be undetectable minority versions in the mass of results. Anyone have more info?

  34. @Trev

    “What is slightly odd is that we are not seeing a drop (in % terms) in hospital admissions for the oldest cohort (NHS data up to 7Feb)”

    ——-

    Yes, I seem to recall some concern expressed before that even with a reduction in deaths due to vaccine, hospitals might still have quite a lot of cases to deal with, hence lockdown might not be eased quite as readily.

  35. Danny,

    “ You mught have noticed that AW referred to covid policy“

    That’s hardly an excuse for filing enough posts on a page to make a PHD thesis!

    Peter.

  36. “I imagine”

    A very apt summation by Danny of his theories on everything.

  37. @Trev

    “PS I expect you might have seen some new studies on impact (or lack of) teachers catching C19 in school settings. ONS have shown similar data as well.”

    ——

    I haven’t actually, if you’ve got a link? Though I have considered reasons why it might be the case before now, e.g.

    – younger children having greater NK cell immunity
    – teachers might have more cross-immunity from colds etc.
    – maybe some caught Covid early in before we were tracking it, (e.g. my partner reporting an outbreak of some mystery bug at her school)

  38. JIB,
    “That’s fascinating to hear from such a renowned expert in this field.”

    thank you, its always encouraging to be well regarded.

    James E,
    ““The new conditions being many humans having developed first line immunity to the original strain, so any cohort of virus anywhere will start switching to plan B in its offensive capability.”

    You may well be right that he doesn’t actually believe this. it’s a bit like a script for ‘the unbelievable truth’.”

    I suggest you look up some of the research on HIV. In the presence of drug 1 HIV switches to a strain which evades drug 1. switch to drug 2 and it discontinues the variant immune to 1 and instead adopts one resitant to 2. Real cases were observed where it switches between the same variants depending on your changing the drugs. It goes back and forth at need. The R4 report about the covid patient said something similar.

    The way HIV was stopped was to use drugs which prevented critical steps at 1 and 2 and 3 at the same time. The virus had a repertoir of alternative forms it would adopt in the presence of one or two but cannot overcome all at once. It has a good ability to mutate, but only within a certain scope.

    You might consider this is the three nuggets of unbelieveable truth which are deliberately inserted in every script, and the whole point of the game is to spot the unlikely but actually true elements.

    This evening, I expect you were listening, they reported that people are allowed to take horses on board aeroplanes with them. Apparently true (if its a guide/helper animal, and have been used for nervous passengers. And a small one. Details are always important. )

    There are no effective drugs against covid, although what they said could suggest remdesivir might be a candidate as part of a cocktail.

  39. Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest voting intention poll in Great Britain finds the Conservative Party leading by 2%––an decrease of 3% from last week’s poll and a return to the same slim lead from our poll one month ago. Altogether, the full numbers (with the changes from last week) are as follows:

    Conservative 41% (-2)

    Labour 39% (+1)

    Liberal Democrat 8% (+1)

    Scottish National Party 5% (–)

    Green 5% (+1)

    Reform UK 2% (–)

    Plaid Cymru 0% (–)

    Other 1% (–)

  40. Some further analysis of the Savanta Comres Scotland poll which gives some indication of th3 challenge facing Starmer:

    https://twitter.com/markmcgeoghegan/status/1361310224687255553?s=19

    One third of 2019 Labour voters intend to vote Yes and 1 in 8 intend to vote for the SNP in May.

  41. Example of the depths of stupidity that the Brexit deal is – https://twitter.com/ed_lyon/status/1361356580155973632

    Meanwhile, the noises are that the EU will grant the UK equvalence on data handling.
    This has surprised many people, although it has to be said that it isn’t a done deal. It certainly sounds like this decision is coming, which will remove a real problem from many UK companies, but it doesn’t mean the situation is necessarily that stable.

    Firstly, it creates an anchor that will act as a drag on UK data decisions. If we want to diverge, UK businesses (as well as police and security services) will have something big to lose. I suspect that this may be the main reason for the EU to make this decision. It also is not a one time only decision. The EU can decide the withdraw this at any time.

    But the interesting thing is that the decision can be challenged in the EJC. This happened with the EU equivalence decision on the US, and the complainant won, throwing the equvalence ruling into considerable dissaray.

    This is an example of the potential lack of stablity within the UKs relationship with the EU, and loss of stability is not factor new investors like to deal wth.

  42. The Trevs,
    “What is slightly odd is that we are not seeing a drop (in % terms) in hospital admissions for the oldest cohort ”

    Dont forget someone can be admitted to hospital twice for the same trip. Once for some illness other than covid, and then a second time because you are detected as being infected with covid after arrival.

    So the same person could logically be both a covid and non covid admission, and we have the problem of people having a major other illness which causes them to die but count as a covid death within 28 days of a test, or alternatively are counted as a covid hospital admission despite being a very minor covid case.

    I would not be surprised if someone effectively immune from harm from covid because of vaccination nonetheless could be infected in hospital enough to test postive despite no symptoms.

    They seem to be testing patients daily now. That will be finding many more covid admissions than they officially had last spring.

  43. Ian H,
    “Why is it you think the king’s study data is more reliable than the death data?”

    See above to Trevor. Answers to polling questions are only as good as the questions.

  44. Danny

    “…three nuggets of unbelieveable truth which are deliberately inserted in every script, and the whole point of the game is to spot the unlikely but actually true elements ”

    Yes, that’s the game i was referring to – although it’s actually five truths.

    I wonder if anyone can spot some true facts hidden in your lecture(s) this evening?

    :-)

  45. Bantams
    Thanks for the polling report. I had almost forgotten that this is supposed to be a polling site.
    ————————
    Danny
    May I make a plea for you to reduce the volume of posts about Covid and the optimum way of dealing with it? It really does get tedious. If you can’t, at least make the effort to describe what effect you think Covid policy might have on polling. Thanks.

  46. Ian H,
    “The April 2020 kings data used a totally different method to the king’s data for the second and third waves.”

    This is true, but its doesnt necessarily invalidate either method. King’s remains the only study of population incidence at that time. it took months for government to organise its testing or surveying.

    Note that Kings excludes people in hospitals, its a population study. Government accepted last year that the course of the epidemic was different in hospital from care homes from the general population. It is possible for both to be right assuming they are measuring different things, and I outline above some reasons why the total of hospital covid admissions and even deaths is also now being reported on a different basis to last spring, and is being over reported now or under reported then because of methodology changes.

    The main difference in the King’s app is that now self reported symptoms have been validated against testing results. Since tests became available a sample of respondents have been asked to use them. This only goes back to may, but the proportion positive then is about the same as right now (and went up a lot during the nov and jan outbreaks). So its consistent as far back as it goes. On the basis of this they refined their questions about symptoms.

    Overall there was massively more raw reports of illness in the king’s study then than now. What we have seen in the last two waves is pretty steady reports of illness, but big spikes in the percentage testing positive as covid. It might be if there is an error, it was in under estimating the spring peak.

    General news reports of covid cases in hospitals are very different now to then. There was real concern about capacity at that time and people being refused treatment. Now as far as I can see even hopeless cases are being treated in reaction to triage decisions before which refused care, and probably erring on the side of treating when medics would have advised non intervention.

    Elective procedures have not been much curtailed, even when there were media reports that this was happening, it wasnt. The pressure has been as much because of a deliberate policy this time NOT to cancel these services that crowding has arisen. Whereas the NHS operating principle for winter has always been to cancel elective procedure whenever winter demand grows, which it always does. That isnt special to covid and right now we are probably displacing deaths from flu with deaths from covid.

    “perhaps you could answer some of the following. Why have hospitals needed to run 3x normal ICU capacity? Where are the extra patients coming from if it’s not covid? Why are all these patient that just happen to contract covid dying in such numbers? ”

    Thats not odd. In the spring there was a massive effort to increase ICU capacity. i assume this is still all in place and was increased over the summer. i hope it was.

    I explain above where extra patients are coming from. A pensioner with a broken hip becomes a pensioner with covid after admission for the hip. For that matter a teenager with appendicitis becomes a covid patient after catching it there. Probably many more teengers in hospital with covid they caught there than which were real serious covid cases. A teenager critically ill from a car smash and in intensive care for that might become a covid intensive care case and then death!

    Anyone with a terminal illness who catches covid in hospital becomes a covid death. The history all along has been very sick people who catch covid and then die. because they were very sick in the first place, even for those who succumbed to covid and not actually their original illness.

    And the proportions dying are falling, which is precisely what you would expect if a lot of them are people who just happened to catch covid while in hospital for something else which was not terminal. I am thinking of two specific local cases I know of. one terminal cancer patient who tested positive in hospital and thus had it reported on their death certificate as a cause of death (relatives were furious), and one hip patient who incidentally caught covid in hospital along with the rest of the ward and some staff but came to no harm as a result.

    Thats the nature of the epidemic in Hastings which has caused so much concern. I know a third person who I am sure had covid in 2019 and nearly died from it in hospital (not diagnosed then of course, it was unidentifed pneumonia). Who was in hospital again this christmas for something else and despite regular testing failed to test positive this time visiting the same hospital while this internal outbreak was going on. And a fourth person who died of unidentified pneumonia with covid type symptoms in 2019. Given I dont know the great majority of people who are hospitalised…thats a big anecdotal sample suggesting i am right.

    I fear a real problem is that hospitals expose sick people, so not at their best anyway, to large infecting doses so they are more likey to get an infection than in other places. If we wanted to stop spread of covid we should have closed hospitals and evacuated care home residents into private homes.

  47. That worked then.

  48. Pete B

    :-)

  49. New stats:

    Up to Oldnat’s 11:55pm post, there were 8,113 words, or which Danny posted 5,441 (67.07%).

    Best of luck with all those “desist” posts. He’s not going to. The ego (or whoever he works for) won’t allow it.

  50. 6 or 7 or more posters have lined up today to bully Danny: it’s becoming unpleasant. If you think his posts are nonsense, don’t read them.

    The only grounds for this bullying would be if his posts are having a harmful effect on people’s health or wellbeing. What we can be sure of is that they no such effect: in fact no influence whatsoever on anyone: no more impact indeed than the 50,000+ posts containing 10,000,000+ words posted on this site every year.

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