In the last couple of days I’ve seen three polls asking about government handling of the Coronavirus. There was a short Yougov poll shared between Sky and the Times on Friday (here), a much longer YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times (here), and an Opinium poll for this morning’s Observer (here).

I should start by saying a little to what extent public opinion matters at all on a topic like this. In judging what the correct approach is, public opinion obviously weighs little if at all compared to the opinion of experts in epidemiology. However polls are not about finding the correct answer, they are about measuring what the public think, whether that is right or wrong, wise or foolish, and on other levels this does matter. We know the government are keen to stress they are following the scientific advice, but would they be blown off that course if there was widespread public dissatisfaction? We don’t know. Perhaps more importantly, many of the actions the government will take in the months ahead will depend upon the public’s willingness to get on board and follow their instructions, so public confidence in the government’s actions really will matter.

On the topline the majority of people approve of the government’s performance:

  • in the YouGov/Times/Sky poll 55% said the government was handling it well, 31% badly.
  • In the YouGov/Sunday Times poll 53% say they have a confidence in the governments handling, 40% do not.
  • In the Opinium/Observer poll 44% approved of the government’s reaction, 30% disapproved.

Overall these are positive findings. However there is a caveat. Asked about the amount the govt have done to respond the YouGov/Sunday Times polls dound 47% think have done too little, compared to 4% too much and 39% about right. Using a differently worded question Opinium found a similar breakdown of opinion (12% over-reacting, 41% under-reacting, 41% about right). In other words, while the public support the governments handling so far, there is some feeling they should now be going further (though given the government have been explicit that they will be introducing more stringent measures in future weeks it’s probably a good sign that there is public appetite for it… it would be far trickier if the public thought the government were over-reacting).

It’s also worth noting that Opinium found that only 36% of people trusted what Boris Johnson personally said on the issue of the coronavirus, a less positive figure than the government as a whole (in contrast 59% of people said they trusted Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Advisor – suggesting the government’s strategy of regularly flanking Johnson with Whitty and Patrick Vallance at press conferences may be a wise one).

Asked about specific changes that could be introduced there seems to be widespread support for a wide variety of measures. The YouGov/Sunday Times poll found majority support for a state of emergency, for travel bans, for food rationing, for cancelling large events. Opinium found similar. Asked about closing schools (perhaps the topic that has been discussed the most over the last week), Opinium found 44% of people in favour, 26% opposed – plurality support, but not the overwhelming backing they found for some other measures.


4,675 Responses to “YouGov and Opinium polls on the government’s handling of the Coronavirus”

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  1. @lewblew

    “Let’s not forget just a decade ago the SNP were 4th place in many Scottish seats with little more than 10%, behind SLD and even SCON, and in that 2010 election Labour won 41 of them”

    And the SNP had won the Scottish GE three years previously and was on track to win an overall majority in 2011.

  2. @Danny – “One of the interesting findings in general is that death rates seem to be falling as more information comes along. That’s is what you might expect since it relies on an accurate tally of cases, which can only increase.”

    While true, you need to place this into the correct context.

    The case fatality rate is – as was widely expected – falling, as we get more data. The issues of unrecorded mild cases, asymptomatic cases etc all create under reporting of cases, while deaths are (broadly speaking) identified.

    However, the infection fatality rate has not really altered in terms of the initial estimates. The WHO, Chris Whitty and most experts quickly settled on an overall infection fatality rate of somewhere around or just under 1%, which would be four or five times more severe than a slightly worse than average flu strain, and the 0.66% central estimate from the Ferguson team in @Lazslo’s link is consistent with that.

    I do think that the view you and others here have taken with regards to assuming very high rates of population infection have completely missed this fundamental point over the fatality rate.

    The only way you can argue for high levels of infection and/or an epidemic that started much earlier than the experts think, is if you are claiming Covid 19 is far more mild than a normal flu, and that a disease which has filled hospitals to overflowing the world over is actually a relatively benign illness.

  3. @ Crossbat

    I was very dubious about cruises and unless it is club 18-30 it tends to be oldies on them (I think).

    But my wife wanted to do one and the compromise was to do somewhere that would be hard to do by other means. So we did a Norweigan Fjord cruise and surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed it- chugging along the inlets, the views were quite stunning sat there on our balcony (which I think is definitely worth paying the extra for).

    But what hit me the most was the ease of boarding and disembarking as compared to airports. You roll up at check in and 5 minutes later you are done and dusted and potentially could be boarding at that time if you time things right. There’s none of the hassle of airports which seem to drag out for two hours, first in a long queue to check in, then in a long queue for security then hanging around a busy airport and walking half a mile to a boarding gate only to wait another half hour. For a smoker turned vaper there is also none of the self imposed addictive pressure of planning your last puff for however many hours.

    The cruise experience itself doesn’t much impress me unless there is scenery to look at. They do try their absolute hardest to make it a pleasant journey and I never felt there were too many people getting in each others way except at food times but then a trip up the M6 doesn’t much impress me either so it is a means to an end. If you are doing it for scenery and difficult to reach locations then I’d thoroughly recommend it. We’ve also done a Scottish Isles cruise and plan an Iceland one at some stage but I don’t see the point of a Caribbean or club med type cruise where you may as well just settle on one resort.

    I do worry a little about the environmental impact, although I can’t see how it is any worse than plane journeys, and as you say mass tourism really has become an issue.

  4. Population Infection Fatality Rates (IFR) – demographically waited? I hope not!

    Not going through that yet again – it was behind the 16Mar UK advice and sadly we now see in the UK deaths data that advice was ignored by the boomers.

    However, there is no reason to assume a representative sample of people catch the virus – policy should aim for a very UNrepresentative sample (with younger folks moving to a “new normal” asap and elderly/at risk “shielded” for longer)

    With appropriate policies (eg schools reopened, strict enforcement of “shielding”) then we should be able to cut the Population IFR by over 50% (see ICL Report #9 and .xls file from #12 for some ‘projections’ that use their IFR by demographic assumptions – which we all hope a bit on the high side)

  5. Colin,
    labour would be bonkers to join a national unity government. Because they wouldnt be able to accomplish anything being the minority partner with no real power. Because if this goes well con would get first equal credit for it. If it goes badly, labour would get first equal blame. Like Brexit, there is no political gain in coalition, no real ability to effect outcomes. There is more power to influence the course of the epidemic as an opposition speaking publicly.

    Minister was just interviewed on R4 and asked about forthcoming lockdown review meeting. He totally stonewalled any answers on what the government might be thinking. This is disturbing, because what is happening and why should not be a national secret. We should have clear facts and reasons for decisions, and a transparent decision process.

    I can think of two reasons why the minister refused to comment.

    1) a decision has already been made to make a change, but they do not want people to act in accordance yet.

    2) They cannot make a decision and are deadlocked. This in turn would suggest either the cabinet is evenly divided, or Boris was in fact a clear leader on policy against an otherwise majority. So they fear to countermand him while he is sick.

    The situation seems to be cases are falling significantly and NHS is under capacity, and we can expect this situation to get better not worse. So there is a fundamental decision whether to press to suppress the disease as hard as possible, or to let it run at a higher rate than right now (but within capacity).

    Although initially seductive in terms of saving lives, hard suppression now might in fact lead to a second outbreak because herd immunity is not establised, and might in the medium term really save no one. (or even cost more lives, as the longer this goes on the more high risk people will catch it)

    Or if you believe there is no prospect of herd immunity, then suppression until a vaccine arrives, and a year or more of lockdown, might be considered the better choice. Except we could be bankrupt as a nation by then.

    So as a third choice, if it is clear suppression is just making the final outcome worse, we abandon it and let the virus do its worst, getting it over as fast as possible.

    The figures which the government has supported on case numbers are clearly wrong and a big under estimate. The question is we dont know if they are a big underestimate (maybe 5 million cases so far) or a vast under estimate (maybe 20 million cases so far). It is possible on the upper estimates that herd immunity will already be suppressing the disease.

  6. Alec,
    “However, the infection fatality rate has not really altered in terms of the initial estimates. The WHO, Chris Whitty and most experts quickly settled on an overall infection fatality rate of somewhere around or just under 1%,”

    No. Again the reported fatality rates depend upon the true number of cases, which you agreed are well understated. The death rates are a good order of magnitude too high, and as more cases are identified keep falling. The King’s telephone poll is already suggesting 4-5 million cases, not counting any without symptoms..

    The relative death rates seem likely to be consistent, so we might expect the higher risk with age to be reasonably accurate.

  7. The Trevs,
    “However, there is no reason to assume a representative sample of people catch the virus – policy should aim for a very UNrepresentative sample (with younger folks moving to a “new normal” asap and elderly/at risk “shielded” for longer)”

    It is funny how we agree on this one, with Alec now on the opposite side to me in many ways.

    I agree, the minimum deaths strategy is shielding the old and letting the young loose. Which is pretty much what we have done so far. The current cabinet meeting ought now to be taking more steps to differentiate exposure. Presumably that is why they are being secretive and by inference have differences of opinion. A brave decision needed, and no Boris to be fall guy/leader.

  8. @Bantams

    Yes, I saw that Finnish study too. It convinced me that I was right (being over 70) having already started wearing a face mask for visiting supermarkets, based on the University of East Anglia advice.

    My one and only cruise was back in 2006 on a moderate-sized ship (just over 1000 passengers). I don’t have any desire to go on one of these floating cities, although I might by tempted by Hurtigruten who use very small ships that double as post boats.

  9. Times has the “new slide” in the below link.

    “Covid-19 patients in critical care by region[1]”

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/britain-told-to-brace-for-weeks-more-in-coronavirus-lockdown-rrnc7zwvm

    Notes:

    1/ Roughly adding that up you get to under 3k (so we have spare capacity[2] and we know more Nightingale Hospitals, ventilators, etc are coming)

    2/ The scale is linear, not logarithmic (and it should have been logarithmic as they should have been growing exponentially)

    3/ London, UK’s epicentre, appears to have peaked on the 13th day after lockdown

    Not shown in the graph but taking the various time lags and assumption of 10days in ICU then we should start to see more folks leaving ICU than coming in and hence the lines in that slide start to drop.

    The rest of the article is not optimistic on politicians using the extra capacity but you have to wonder why did we build all these Nightingale Hospitals and buy more ventilators if we’re not going to use them?

    I fully expect lockdown will be extended for a week due to the need to see the very lagging daily deaths data come down and then I hope we get some new polling on public opinion on certain lockdown measures and more “Profs” and “journos” helping to turn the narrative.

    We need the public to start to see the “dark side” of lockdown and I’d also like to see deaths data show the “overlap” (ie show how many of the “with” COVID-19 deaths were from folks already knocking on death’s door “from” an age related cause or a UHC)

    [1] and yes, they consider the devolved nations as regions – don’t shoot the messenger!

    [2] they haven’t given that number recently (fair to assume why!) but it was 4k a few days back (including Nightingale London) so should be about 3k now with more Nightingale’s opening soon.

  10. @Danny
    ‘The situation seems to be cases are falling significantly and NHS is under capacity, and we can expect this situation to get better not worse. So there is a fundamental decision whether to press to suppress the disease as hard as possible, or to let it run at a higher rate than right now (but within capacity).’

    Actually the stats (using a 3-day rolling average to smooth out bumps) have new cases roughly flat-lining and deaths still increasing.

    Based on the Italian/Spanish experience it will be a further ten days before we see regular reductions, and even then we will see peaks and troughs on the way.

    It may be four to six weeks before cases are low enough to support a move out of lockdown on health grounds – which is a worry as the economic forecasts are that we start to run into long-term economic problems if we don’t re-open most economic activity by mid-May.

  11. @Danny – “No. ”

    Yes. So there!

    Sorry but you really are wrong. The WHO initially said that the overall fatality rate was around 1%, Chris Whitty said he thought it would come in ‘a little below 1%”, and most other experts also agreed with this, with some suggesting 1 – 2%.

    “I agree, the minimum deaths strategy is shielding the old and letting the young loose. Which is pretty much what we have done so far.”

    That’s right. We have a lockdown which has banned all non essential activity except for letting the young loose.

    ????

    This is the problem with conspiracy theorists. Evidence becomes secondary.

  12. @Shevii

    “But what hit me the most was the ease of boarding and disembarking as compared to airports. You roll up at check in and 5 minutes later you are done and dusted and potentially could be boarding at that time if you time things right.”

    An interesting insight into a world I know nothing about. I’ve been on a few ferry crossings, but never a cruise. I have many good friends who love their cruises and have enjoyed some wonderful holiday experiences on them. They’re not for me, although, ironically, the Norwegian fjiords did tickle my fancy, and my wife’s, some years back but we never took our initial interest any further.. I also have an old university mate who has quite advanced Parkinsons disease and cruising is the only holiday that is realistic for him and his wife. They book a specially adapted cabin, way in advance of the trip, and they’ve just about been all around the world on various cruises, often going away for months on end. His wife, a wonderful woman, is his full time carer and these cruises provide her with much needed respite and relaxation. They’d miss them terribly if they were no longer able to go on them.

    Accordingly, I’m greatly confliced by a lot of this. I’ve been a mass tourist too, flying to most destinations and being a member of the vast armies of holidaymakers that descend on Majorcan, Spanish mainland and Algarve resorts every summer. Kids clubs, dads five a side hotel football tournaments, drinking games, happy hours et al! I’ve also been on many a long haul flight too and hated every bit of the experience from the moment I’ve set foot in the departure lounge of an airport to the moment I’ve blissfully escaped the arrivals terminal of my destination. But it’s given me the chance to see beautiful faraway places and have truly life-affirming experiences. However, I’ve been increasingly aware of the unsustainability of it all and the damage it is doing to our environment. My guilt levels have risen remorselessly over the years and this current experience of the pandemic may well spell the end of flying for my wife. The train will probably take the strain in future – and electric cars!

    Maybe, and this is still unknowable at this stage, a combination of the economic post pandemic fall out, revised government policies towards travel across the globe and individual behaviour/attitude changes make the demise of mass tourism, including cruising, inevitable.

    This is an interesting take on things, I think: –

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/09/flights-are-grounded-is-this-the-moment-we-give-up-our-addiction-to-flying

  13. Danny

    “labour would be bonkers to join a national unity government. Because they wouldnt be able to accomplish anything being the minority partner with no real power. Because if this goes well con would get first equal credit for it. If it goes badly, labour would get first equal blame.”

    I agree and I don’t think Starmer will fall into what might be a trap. Interviewed on Peston last night, he went close to ruling it out. He said he was happy with the privvy access to experts that Johnson had afforded him and would be a critical friend of the Governmnent as they handled the crisis. He said that it was important that he carried out his constitutional role of scrutinising the Government. I think he’s spot on. Makes for better Government.

    Katy Balls, a centre right commentator from the Spectator, gave the game away the other day day :-

    “The latter point worries some skittish Tory MPs, that the UK could become an outlier in fatalities and the economy struggle to recover. This is why some Conservatives are privately pushing for Starmer to be invited to certain meetings and brought into decisions.This way some portion of blame could be shared.”

    Last sentence is the giveaway and Balls has insider knowledge of how Tory party thinking works.

  14. @Trevs – “The rest of the article is not optimistic on politicians using the extra capacity but you have to wonder why did we build all these Nightingale Hospitals and buy more ventilators if we’re not going to use them?”

    I think most people would see the obvious answer to that question, which would be the simple notion that we couldn’t be sure, so proceeded on a sensible, precautionary basis. The swift move to additional bed capacity through co-opting and repurposing existing buildings was a great move by the government and was something we did better than the Chinese.

    I suspect we will see a far more definitive statement on extended lockdown that just another week, although I could be wrong. I would think that most health experts would be happy to go with sometime past the May Day bank holiday as a first step and then see.

    The other thing that is interesting to consider, which I have mentioned before but no one seemed to take up, is this false idea that economic and other damage only arises from lockdown. This isn’t true.

    There was some research from the US into the Spanish flu outbreak which discussed the various approaches adopted by different cities, and they concluded that lockdowns defeated the disease, damaged the local economies, but allowed the economy to bounce back quicker than those areas that let the disease run it’s course.

    There is going to be some level of ongoing economic and social disruption that will roll around for a long time if we release from lockdown. It’s hard to imagine the pubs would be full as normal next week if we ended after three weeks, and then you have the ongoing economic costs of illness to deal with as infections pick up again.

    As ever with these things, it really isn’t a simple either/or binary.

  15. @ Danny 9.05 am

    I heard Oliver Dowden on Radio4 Good Morning too, and was not impressed. He`s a light-weight Culture Secretary, and was stone-walling because the questions were beyond his competence.

    So he filled in with comments like “I`m sure every one of your listeners was looking forward to getting away for a break this weekend”. Well NO, not over most of the UK. People might have intended to watch their football or rugby team (maybe 20,000 of them for the traditional Wigan – Saints derby) or even attending church.

    Danny gave 2 reasons for Dowden stonewalling. But surely the most likely third reason is that they realise the data available on cases, testing, recovery rates, regional distribution, is too shaky, and they need to wait before planning to relax lockdown until it has been improved.

    In an ideal scientific world, testing would have been organised to get a representative sample spread across the whole country but proportionate to population numbers. But what we have now got on tests is a mishmash with no proper age/healthcondition/regional breakdowns that I can see. I.e. a nightmare task for the epidemiologists to predict from.

  16. Britain’s Labour calls for coronavirus lockdown exit strategy

    ““I’m calling on the government to publish its exit strategy,” Labour leader Keir Starmer said.

    “I’m not calling for precise timings, but the strategy. This is incredibly difficult on people and we need to know that plans are in place, and what they are,” Starmer said.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-britain-labour/britains-labour-calls-for-coronavirus-lockdown-exit-strategy-idUKKCN21R0X2

    Well I published a UK one on here a while back. Denmark, Norway, Spain, Austria, Germany, etc have published their “strategy” and specific 1st steps (or strongly hinted at them). Beyond Austria’s strange decision to keep schools shut then most folks are thinking the same and basing it on the SCIENCE (notably what we know about IFR by demographic – and the economic impact by demographic[1])

    It would be naive of me to expect Keir to publish his own thoughts but great to have him on the team that is fighting for the living!

    [1] Not many 80+s are that economically active but if you reopen the schools then parents will be more economically productive. I’ve posted some Oxford Economics articles before and folks can now get a free trial to access more research:

    https://www.oxfordeconomics.com/coronavirus

  17. Surely if there are discussions underway as to the shape and timing of a relaxation of lockdown, to air them on the media at this stage would be thoroughly unhelpful?

    Alec in particular has been critical of the media handling by the government – and especially the giving out of information when the full facts aren’t known (as with testing).

    It really does feel like “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

  18. @Robert Newark

    Apologies accepted! Actually, I rather liked being ‘worried of Tunbridge Wells’., it’s a welcome change from my usual goody-goody soft left image. If I try a bit harder I might even achieve ‘disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’, now that would be a soubriquet worth earning.

  19. and a repost:

    “Governments will determine the economic consequences of COVID-19”

    http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/governments-will-determine-economic-consequences-covid-19

    Other good articles in that blog, notably from Sarah Whitebloom (not that I’m biased in any way whatsover)

  20. @Danny

    “the minimum deaths strategy is shielding the old and letting the young loose. Which is pretty much what we have done so far. The current cabinet meeting ought now to be taking more steps to differentiate exposure. Presumably that is why they are being secretive and by inference have differences of opinion. A brave decision needed, and no Boris to be fall guy/leader.”

    Twaddle, again.

    Eradicate is the only game in town.

    The is no such thing as herd immunity with this virus.

    The care homes have been very badly affected by this? Why? The care workers (young) have brought it in.

    It simply not possible to Isolate the most vulnerable (those needing care). “Split the herd” is pure fantasy in reality – utter b******s.

  21. Some support for Danny’s views in the comments of the Home Office scientific advisor in this article about the Passport Office.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52219930

  22. Danny

    You (re your contention of a majority of cases being asymptomatic ): “If you have been reading this thread, then you already know all the sources of this information. Others have already posted them.”

    I’ve read the past 15 pages, and have not seen any evidence to support your view of a majority of cases being asymptomatic, nor of other countries (Including China and Italy) sharing your view.

    So, I’ll ask again: if there is evidence from any scientific or governmental source for this virus being mostly asymptomatic, could you point me to it – preferably with a link ?

  23. @DANNY

    The problem facing ministers is that if they relax the lockdown now or soon (and countries ahead of us are only just thinking about it) the public will not be happy. They have totally bought into this – look at all the stay at home stuff trending on Twitter. They will read about the escalating death rates and ask the government, why?

    Of course the government could point at science and experts, but when’s that ever mattered to the public!

    In terms of public relations popularity (which I do not think is an ideal way of running a country) I’d have thought a short extension of the current regime – 2 weeks? – would play well with the public, as it would suggest it’s working (so not pointless) and that we just need a *little* more time to make sure. Prudent. Then relax in 2 weeks, except for oldies.

  24. The Trevs,
    ” London, UK’s epicentre,”

    We dont actually know that. We know it started in several places at different times, and these might be out of London, only coming to London later. Seems to spread faster once in a city.

    Bigfatron,
    “Actually the stats (using a 3-day rolling average to smooth out bumps) have new cases roughly flat-lining and deaths still increasing.”

    The official stats are nonsense and reflect the number of tests done, not the number of cases. The kings 2 million repondend poll has cases fallen from 1.9 to 1.4 million from 1-8 April. With more fall expected. Falls in deaths havnt worked through yet, but we are under the capacity in intensive care already.

    Government stats are reliant upon hospital admissions for their data, so are probably a week lagging the polling data, maybe a bit more. The government statisticians must be well aware they now have a new source of information telling them cases are falling sharply: their problem is they have never acknowleged all these extra cases.

    incidentally, the yougov poll a few weeks back also indicated a lot of cases, based upon symptoms, probably in line with Kings, which is a rather different sort of poll.

    Alec,
    “This is the problem with conspiracy theorists. Evidence becomes secondary.”

    So what has been done?
    Warn people the old are at most risk.
    Get everyone to stock up on food.
    Gradual increase of warnings and measures.
    Segregating the population into at risk and not. special measures for at risk.
    Keep the schools open as long as was possible – until they had insufficient staff to keep them open. ie, fully expose the children.
    Keep the tube and buses full, to fully expose workers, especially essential workers, before the disease really got going and the greatest reliance need to be placed on essential workers.
    Impose lockdown only because of estimates suggesting NHS capacity to be exceeded (not to try to reduce case numbers)
    Dont bother organising testing, because it really isnt needed unless you want to try to completly eradicate the disease. Just enough for monitoring. admissions data tells us how it is ptrogressing, and so long as we keep this within capacity, doesnt matter to policy how many real cases there are. Especially if you believe they are way higher and the disease will burn tself out relatively soon.
    propaganda campaign to scare people into following the rules, so it is possible to fine adjust the rate of exposure and new cases.

    ” The swift move to additional bed capacity through co-opting and repurposing existing buildings was a great move by the government and was something we did better than the Chinese. ”

    Not if, actually, those places are never used.

    “I suspect we will see a far more definitive statement on extended lockdown that just another week,”

    The possible problem I see is different regions at different stages of the disease. Though I dont know this is the case. It could yet prove the disease has peaked everywhere. However, the evidence I am seeing is cases falling sharply, and too deep a fall is merely extending the time this goes on.

    .”The other thing that is interesting to consider, which I have mentioned before but no one seemed to take up, is this false idea that economic and other damage only arises from lockdown. ”

    Well.. all the financial experts seem to be expecting a recession. The longer it goes on, the worse. Lockdown extends the duration of the pandemic.

    “It’s hard to imagine the pubs would be full as normal next week if we ended after three weeks, ”

    i wouldnt be opening pubs first. I would be thinking about getting kids back to school (also gets them off parent’s hands), and seeing what industries can resume.

  25. @ NEIL A – “Surely if there are discussions underway as to the shape and timing of a relaxation of lockdown, to air them on the media at this stage would be thoroughly unhelpful?”

    That’s a tricky behavioural one.

    On the way IN to lockdown then with the benefit of hindsight then “old folks will be locked down soon” just encouraged them to get out for some final days of freedom and 2weeks later fill up the ICU beds with many of them going on to die (in the last week and coming days)

    However, on the way OUT of lockdown then several possible mindsets and clearly making specific issues “salient” will encourage behaviour:

    1/ If you’re old/at risk this disease is very deadly but if you’re in those groups and stick to the 12weeks rule then you’ll get back out before Summer is over and then be able to hug your loved ones, etc: 75%+ adherence to that?
    (and if you don’t adhere you’ll spend more of your final year locked down and your legacy will be massive debt, high unemployment, bankrupt businesses, increased mental health / abuse / etc for those that still have decades left to live with the consequences of selfish “Blitz spirit boomer” behaviour)

    2/ One more week of intense lockdown for everyone and the schools can reopen (with caveats and exceptions) and if we (75%+) can behave like adults and stick to some voluntary ongoing social distancing then we can slowly move to get some more shops etc open for those LEAST AT RISK: 75%+ adherence to that?

    3/ Conduct and release serology testing info that shows young have near 0% risk of the disease but tell them they have to stay in lockdown anyway – I predict a riot or the need to move away from UK approach of “policing by consent” (ie move towards a Police State – like some Asian countries)

    NB Hopefully everyone on UKPR knows the IFR by demographics but given the politicians and press are avoiding that issue for now but it would be foolish to think we can keep treating the young as FOOLS (Fatigued Of Oppressive Lockdown) for months once the “peak” has passed (and on “infections” it probably already has)

    Then you also have the role of “pharma” – I just tend to focus on the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions, the behavioural aspects and the maths/modelling.

    PS Why the 75%+ thing? We’ll that was the assumption in much of the Science info posted on gov.uk yonks back. I hope we’ve done better than that IN lockdown and if we don’t ease out of lockdown soon then folks will ‘self select’ on that anyway (see #3 and note Italy have flattened the peak not brought cases or deaths down to zero)

  26. @ Crossbat

    “and being a member of the vast armies of holidaymakers that descend on Majorcan, Spanish mainland and Algarve resorts every summer.”

    I think as long as you had your Villa top on all week, refused to speak Spanish and drank British beer in a British themed pub to excess then I can probably forgive you.

    Like you I have done similar travelling in the past and travelling in the 1980’s was a much more enjoyable experience than now with places like Paris much quieter. I don’t know how I would feel if I was someone who still wanted to see the world but while I might travel again in retirement I think I would be trying much harder to limit the damage. In retirement of course you have more time and make that plane journey less damaging if you were to be somewhere for 6 weeks rather than a one week chill to squeeze in a break from work. My point of reference would be whether I could imagine Greta scowling at me!

    Your friend’s story about cruises reminded me that there was someone on the internet that my wife pointed out who had decided it would be cheaper and more comfortable to be on a cruise when his alternative was a care home- so he traveled the world being waited on hand and foot and with a nurse/doctor on board anyway for emergencies and when the cruise finished he was booked on the same boat leaving on its next journey. I doubt something like that could go on for too long until you were too ill to even manage that and the insurance must have been high, but plenty of people in care homes do see to still able to potter about for a while at least.

  27. @JAMES E

    Don’t know about on these pages, but this article suggests a majority of those on that cruise ship were asymptomatic:

    https://eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.10.2000180

    3063 of 3711 passengers and crew were tested. 634 positive – 328 asymptomatic.

    I assume the test was to find evidence of corona infection now (i.e. not the antibody test) so perhaps some had recovered quickly?

    Also good to note note the majority of passengers were over 60 years old. So it’s not a guaranteed boomer killer!

  28. @Neil A – I don’t share the critical tone about recent ministerial interviews batting away talk of the ending of the lockdown. I think you are correct, that such talk now would be confusing, and I think the government messaging on this has been good so far. Don’t look too far ahead, and right now we simply need to reinforce all messages about maintaining the lockdown.

    When the time comes, this is going to need to be a very carefully calibrated message, and very difficult to do properly. I’m sure there will be mistakes, but these are almost inevitable. It’s also important that we accept that we should be allowed to say something was a mistake, without being overly criticised for saying so. Openess and honesty on all sides is important.

    As ever, I think the @Trevs are gloriously over interpreting what other countries are so far doing, and I don’t think anyone as yet has a clear plan.

    I’ve already said this, but I very much see the German approach as something that we can learn from. They seem to be establishing a strategic objective, which will then be translated into practical measures.

    We have to avoid the simplistic idea of looking at tasks and activities and restarting these on a case by case basis (eg open schools day 1, restart buses and trains day 7, open hairdressers day 10, then pubs etc) but instead set out very clearly what we need to be able to achieve. Then we can examine each activity and work out whether it fits with the strategic objectives.

    The German government has said that it wants to maintain an R0 of <1, so the easing of lockdown is still all about suppression, and nothing whatsoever to do with 'splitting the herd' or 'herd immunity'. Getting this strategic starting point agreed and clearly communicated is absolutely vital. If we want to go for slow release of infection and herd immunity, then we need to say so, and craft the practical measures accordingly.

    After establishing their strategic objective on R0, Germany has then established a delivery criteria where it wants to ensure they can trace 80% of contacts of any new cases within 24 hours.

    That's really useful guidance for businesses to have. A hairdresser or garden centre can start to work up plans that enable them to open but meet these objectives by (for example)

    – limiting customer numbers at any one time
    – maintaining 2m distancing wherever possible
    – screens for reception staff
    – only allowing customers access with face masks
    – asking customers to provide ID and contact details before entry

    etc etc

    It is likely, under this approach, that instead of a blanket announcement covering all members of a specific sector, we end up finding that some garden centres (for example) could open while others cannot, because they cannot meet the requirements.

    That would be a sensible approach, but will require some very clear communication between government, industry and citizens.

  29. Lewblew

    Thank you, but if you go on to read the article in detail it in fact supports the view that only a minority of cases are asymptomatic.We know that people have the virus for some time (5-7 days, normally) before exhibiting symptoms. The distinction that needs to be made is between those who have no symptoms when tested, and those who never develop symptoms. The overwhelming view is that the latter are a minority – perhaps around 15-30%.

    Their evidence is summarised as follows:

    “Of the 634 confirmed cases, a total of 306 and 328 were reported to be symptomatic and asymptomatic, respectively. The proportion of asymptomatic individuals appears to be 16.1% (35/218) before 13 February, 25.6% (73/285) on 15 February, 31.2% (111/355) on 16 February, 39.9% (181/454) on 17 February, 45.4% (246/542) on 18 February, 50.6% (314/621) on 19 February and 50.5% (320/634) on 20 February (Table). Soon after identification of the first infections, both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases were transported to designated medical facilities specialised in infectious diseases in Japan. However, these patients were treated as external (imported) cases, and a detailed description of their clinical progression is not publicly available.”

    It goes on to conclude that

    “Our estimated asymptomatic proportion is at 17.9% (95%CrI:?15.5–20.2%), which overlaps with a recently derived estimate of 33.3% (95% confidence interval:?8.3–58.3%) from data of Japanese citizens evacuated from Wuhan [13].”

  30. NEILA

    @”Surely if there are discussions underway as to the shape and timing of a relaxation of lockdown, to air them on the media at this stage would be thoroughly unhelpful?”

    I agree.

    It is clear from the last two daily Press Conferences that the Press are bored with lockdown now & want to write headlines about releasing it.

    Not so long ago they were criticising the slow implementation-and then publishing pictures of the hoards on Snowdon.

    They have short time spans & itchy fingers & all this waiting for the science business is irritating them.

  31. @Shevii

    “I think as long as you had your Villa top on all week, refused to speak Spanish and drank British beer in a British themed pub to excess then I can probably forgive you.”

    You may forgive me for I have indeed sinned accordingly!

    The most bizarre example was in a British themed pub in Las Vegas, the only one I think, and I dragged my reluctant wife and more enthusiastic younger son, to it to watch a live televised Villa game. It was at some silly time of the day, and we sat and watched the game over an English breakfast and a pint of warm and insipid Tetleys beer. Well, I did, my wife and son, only about 14 then, desisted!. We were playing Sheffield United and our only company in an otherwise deserted pub were two young female Blades fans. Game ended 2-2 and Villa scored a late equaliser, much to the chagrin of the two Blades fans. They didn’t take to my instinctive and loud celebration of the late equalising goal and mouthed some indistinct but obvious abuse at me as they quickly left the pub. I was the embodiment, at that very moment, of a slightly ludicrous English football fan cum tourist! The cap fitted so I wore it that day.

    Your comments on retirement, and the relative freedom it gives to travel differently because of the absence of school/work scheduled holiday restrictions, is absolutely right. It has given my wife and I some opportunities to do things differently, certainly in terms of times of year to travel and modes of transport. Like you, we’ve travelled extensively, especially over the last 15-20 years, but maybe we’ve sucked that orange dry now. We’ve very much enjoyed our recent UK trips and holidays and it might be the way we go now.. That said, I’d be sad if my children’s generation couldn’t have the chances to travel that we’ve had. We have to think anew about how they could still do it, but it seems massively challenging in this pandemic threatened and climate changing world.

    Do you watch this Race Around the World Programmes on BBC where couples try to get from A to Z faster than each other, through an array of countries and by what means they can on a limited budget. No flying allowed. Last year it was from London to Singapore and took them through Europe and countries like Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan along the way. It ticked my fancy and, before this pandemic, I was slowly persuading my wife to do a London to Tbilisi version ourselves this year. No planes, a tight budget, rucksacks and relying on trains and the kindness of strangers. Maybe take 3 months and play it by ear. See where it took us.

    Gone for a ball of chalk now. Maybe one day, who knows. Better be soon though before these couple of daft 60 year old’s bodies wave the white flag!

    :-)

  32. It seems to me that there is one overiding objective of lockdown release-prevent a second wave of infection.

    The way this was tackled in China & SK was testing for & tracking of hot spots in order to contain.

    Netherlands has just announced its intention to use apps , like China.
    As has been observed by an Italian politician-there isn’t much point in testing unless you do something with the results.

    Coming out of lockdown successfully is going to generate GO & NO GO areas.

    And if fears about lack of sustained immunity are born out-all chips are off the table

  33. Don’t Mock Majorca!

    @ Shevii
    My favourite European town is beau Soller in NE Majorca. Nothing beats sitting in the old town square looking at the wondeful pink glow/sunset on the surrounding granite mountains, one of which you have just climbed. Nearby is the Puerto, a fine resort in a perfect natural bay. The town has problems with inflation of property prices by German buyers & AirBnB, tho they have taken pretty rigorous steps to control the latter.

    The town is still pretending it may hold the annual May & mad festival celebrating the repulsion of the “moorish” invasion by women using treacle & household implements. (Bit like the great western Destry Rides Again (1939), when the women of the town, armed with mobs & buckets, drive out the outlaw baddies, led by saloon girl M Dietrich. She has to die, so Jimmy Stewart can marry the town gingham-wearing-goodie-girl-virgin. The film also has the greatest of all saloon brawls, between two women! Marlene & her rival!)

  34. CB11

    The re running of Rick Stein’s TV series Long Weekends does seem somewhat ironic and ill timed at present, relying as it does, on the premise of hopping on a jet for a weekend abroad.

  35. Crossbat

    I must confess to never having been one for foreign holidays, I find abroad to be very overrated.
    The horror that is the airport, full of little Hitler’s throwing their weight around in their hi vis jackets, the cramped smelly aeroplanes fishing out plastic food whilst you force yourself into an uncomfortable, tiny seat.
    And when you get there, invariably it’s too hot, I don’t mind a few days of sunshine but it does become very monotonous. And I know this sounds very British, but the tea never tastes the same, I bring my own tea bags so I think it’s the water or the milk. That first cup of tea when you get back to Blighty is heaven.
    In all honesty, there is nothing that you can’t get at the British seaside, and I hope the foreign jaunt might be less popular moving forward.

  36. @Robbiealive

    Watched Destry Rides again recently – terrific fun and Dietrich is magnificent in it

  37. And if it’s culture you want, we have more than enough in this country.

  38. @ Shevii

    Cruising per head is far more environmentally friendly than flying, both have improved their fuel efficiency in recent years but the bigger the ship or plane the better the efficiency increases. P & O are our preferred cruise company after trying various others, they have always been scrupulous about hygiene in our experience. The new ship, the Iona, will be running on LNG creating a new era of cleaner cruising. Electric ships are in the pipeline.

    I accept it’s not for everyone but we love it and we love the Caribbean, especially the smaller islands away from the main ports of call. Someone mentioned Hurtigruten (aka Hurdy Gurdy), one of their ships visited various Devon and Cornwall ports recently to promote the company. Looks interesting.

  39. @Bantams

    The cruise industry is in big trouble.

    Because many of the companies are serious tax avoiders based in tax havens, ships and all, they are ineligible for bailout help.

    Few tears being shed for them in the wider travel industry from what I understand.

  40. I like going abroad but seldom do it. The only holiday I’ve taken in the past 15 years that didn’t involve going to stay with friends somewhere was my honeymoon.

    I like to tour around, wandering from place to place for a night here, two nights there or even just for a lunch stop and a wander around in the afternoon. Our honeymoon took in Rome, Assisi, Siena, Lucca, Florence, Malcesine, Verona and Venice.

    Other trips more recently have involved driving between visiting friends in Ulm, The Black Forest, Bonn, Denmark, Sweden etc.

    I particularly love Germany. Very underrated tourist destination in my opinion. Copenhagen is also fantastic.

  41. Llewblew,
    “In terms of public relations popularity (which I do not think is an ideal way of running a country) I’d have thought a short extension of the current regime – 2 weeks? – would play well with the public,”

    At a cost of extending the crisis by maybe four weeks, and adding another £100bn to the bill?

    Alec,
    “– asking customers to provide ID and contact details before entry ”

    Thats useless bureaucracy. If the goal is to eradicate every last case, then we need contact tracing, especially with so many asymptomatic cases. But this plainly is not the goal. The goal has been repeatedly stated, which is to keep cases within the capacity of the NHS to treat, which has been very significantly increased. The longer this goes on the worse for everyone, including all the people failing to get regular treatment because the NHS is completely turned over to corona, and the old who are at risk every week it continues. Speed in getting through this will save lives.

    James E,
    “Thank you, but if you go on to read the article in detail it in fact supports the view that only a minority of cases are asymptomatic”

    havnt had time to work out their maths, but I note they had two reservations. 1) it was mostly older people, who other information suggests get more symptoms all together. 2) they conentrated testing on people with symptoms. So they werent testing enough people without symptoms to see if they had virus.

    Colin,
    “It seems to me that there is one overiding objective of lockdown release-prevent a second wave of infection.”

    No. Society canot exist in a permanent state of lockdown. It simply isnt necessary for the majority of people, and they arent going to put up with it without a clear exit strategy. Infection rate right now is too low and needs to be increased, which means something has to be released to allow more infections. The only way out of this is for most people to get it and be immune.

  42. @Danny

    “No. Society canot exist in a permanent state of lockdown. It simply isnt necessary for the majority of people, and they arent going to put up with it without a clear exit strategy. Infection rate right now is too low and needs to be increased, which means something has to be released to allow more infections. The only way out of this is for most people to get it and be immune.”

    Wrong and wrong again.

    Herd immunity, split the herd. Total claptrap from rambling fools.

  43. From today’s Daily Telegraph

    A groundbreaking study in Germany has found that far more people may have been infected with the coronavirus than previously thought, suggesting the real death rate is as low as 0.37 per cent and that 15 per cent of people may already have immunity.

    “This means a gradual relaxation of the lockdown is now possible,” Prof Hendrik Streeck, the leader of the study said.

    Prof Streeck and his team are testing over 400 households in Gangelt, the town at the centre of Germany’s most serious outbreak, for antibodies to the virus.

    Initial results showed far more previously undetected cases than expected. The scientists found 15 per cent of those tested had antibodies to the virus.

    This suggests those who have survived an infection have immunity to the virus, the scientists said.

    “The 15 percent is not that far from the 60 percent we need for herd immunity,” Prof Gunther Hartmann, another member of the study, said. “With 60 to 70 percent herd immunity, the virus will completely disappear from the population. Then the elderly are no longer at risk.”

    On another note, sadly I learned today from our Vicar that one of our long-standing church members has died after contracting coronavirus; she was well into her 80s and had health issues but could still have been with us for a few more years otherwise.

  44. @ COLIN – “It seems to me that there is one overiding objective of lockdown release-prevent a second wave of infection.’

    Exactly! Hence the slow and gradual exit from lockdown, based on the Science, that other countries have already announced and that UK will “copy” in due course. Apologies for needing to repeat that – yet again.

    NB To be clear. Into Easter weekend, with glorious weather and daily deaths still rising the timing for UK is not there YET. However, IF as seems likely from admissions and ICU capacity data[1] we are about to “peak” (having successfully “reduced the peak”) and will soon have “flattened the curve” then Boris, along with all leaders, need to look again at the Science and see which “interventions” should be removed first (eg schools, then some more shops and finally things like pubs). It will take months – perhaps as long as the 6mths that Harries has mentioned in some of the daily pressers she has attended (and I posted the “maths” on the route to get there a while back)

    The aim is to keep R below 1 (other “maths” that I have posted showing illustrative numbers).

    However, it is a political decision whether you wish to “flatten the curve” with 95% confidence you’ll never use up max capacity (approx 800 daily deaths once we’ve peaked and all the new Nightingale Hospitals are ready) or whether you drive the number lower first and “flatten the curve” at say 500 (99.9% confidence you won’t blow the NHS capacity limit). We can also “throttle” the measures (eg if we see risk of 2nd wave in improved testing info then we can put some of the brakes back on).

    In yet other “maths” that I have previously shown, then IF ‘lockdown’ has got R to 0.6 then it will probably be 18weeks before we can get to where S.Korea are at and then we’d need to have the S.Korean “surveillance” State to keep the virus contained and hope we avoid a 2nd wave. Not a credible option for UK IMO (although some “S.Korean-lite” approaches or things like ‘smart ID cards’ would be something I’d certainly support)

    NB2. For sure increased testing (both via a reliable antibody test once it’s available and we’re ready to use it and some semi-complete but much speedier contact tracing) will play a role in helping keep R lower than we managed during late Feb-late Mar. How much help can “Pharma Interventions” provide?? Well we can look to Germany and see it “helps” but is not the solution by itself – even with their huge testing they’ve clearly missed quite a lot of actual infections (and infectious spreaders)

    [1] the slides we saw in y’days 5pm presser, with Times link to the ICU utilisation by region/nation posted earlier.

  45. DANNY

    So which government , do you predict, will be the first to say :-

    ” F8ck this-lets scrap the restrictions & save the economy. We need lots of people to get it- the death rate will be low & mainly those at the end of life anyway”

  46. @Danny – “Thats useless bureaucracy. If the goal is to eradicate every last case, then we need contact tracing,…”

    Indeed, that is indeed what I said. First, you decide what your strategy is, and communicate that clearly, then, come up with specific measures that fit with your proposal. The Germans are currently aiming for eradication (R0<1) and the above proposal was given in that context.

    "The longer this goes on the worse for everyone, including all the people failing to get regular treatment because the NHS is completely turned over to corona,…"

    Agreed. Something the herd immunity supporters are as yet not acknowledging is that pursuing this policy will mean that the outbreak goes on for a very long time.

    Indeed, there is no end in site for the ultra vulnerable unless and until we have a vaccine, as it would be highly likely that the disease maintains a circulation at some level on a more or less permanent basis.

    As I have said several times already, but no one has engaged with, a herd immunity policy is much longer term approach than eradication would be, it will create substantial but prolonged economic impacts, and it has no guarantee of success.

    The reasons put forward in favour of this approach are also arguments against it, until we get much more data.

  47. @Colin

    ” mainly those at the end of life anyway”

    There is no need to single out the Conservative party membership in that way.

  48. @ COLIN – 1:06pm. IMO that is more a case of “Unsurprising” rather than “Unbelievable” and that was only 2weeks into lockdown!

    I’m surprised the French “yellow jackets” (youth wing) haven’t held something a bit more revolutionary than a few “corona parties” – maybe this Saturday?

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