Author Topic: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?  (Read 1023 times)

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« on: Yesterday at 09:44:44 am »
BBC Rado4's "More or Less" final programme in this extended (by popular request) series has answers through proper analysis of all the data available. Those who follow the programme know it as an essential fact-driven guide to statistics.

Here it is:- https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000kfpy
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Offline Pegasus

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 09:59:47 am »
Thanks for this, I've heard folks saying how good the series is.  Will have a listen now  :thumbsup:

Offline mch

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 10:18:59 am »
BBC Rado4's "More or Less" final programme in this extended (by popular request) series has answers through proper analysis of all the data available. Those who follow the programme know it as an essential fact-driven guide to statistics.

Here it is:- https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000kfpy

When I was young (long long ago) I worked for the Midlands Electricity Board (remember Electricity Boards?) and was involved inter alia with the production of financial statistics. We had a sign on the office wall which read "Statistics are like bikinis, what they reveal is interesting, what they conceal is vital!". Always worth bearing this in mind when anyone puts forward statistics to prove  a particular point.

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 10:28:50 am »
That's what the programme series does - presents by mathematically rigorous analysis the inferences to be drawn from the statistics available.
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Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 11:24:50 am »
For those of you might be confused, there are two versions of More or Less, one which is broadcast on BBC Radio 4, see https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qshd and one which is broadcast on the BCC World Service, see https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00msxfl/episodes/player . Both are good at describing the facts without using much maths.  The Radio 4 version lasts just under 30 minutes and the World Service just under 10 minutes.  Enjoy.

Online mikem

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 01:08:15 pm »
So, the big difference seems to be that whilst other countries were dealing with localised outbreaks, the UK had at least 1300 importers of the virus & it was already much more widespread than the Imperial College modelling, that original decisions were being based on...

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 02:00:38 pm »
It seems to me that:-
a) The Imperial modellers overestimated the gap in days between the Italian stage and the UK stage.
b) That the virus spread to here from three EU countries by arrivals to the UK rather than from China. This has only become known in May/June by DNA analysis.
c) The NHS deliberately returned elderley residents to care homes without testing them.  Care home deaths form roughly one third of all notified Covid deaths.
d) England's connected urban areas are more difficult to contain infection spread for several reaons. Too many people to test every day basically to identify local hotspots.
e) England's demographic and underlying health problems contributed a great deal to the excess death toll in England.
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Offline JoshW

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 02:08:32 pm »
It seems to me that:-
a) The Imperial modellers overestimated the gap in days between the Italian stage and the UK stage.
b) That the virus spread to here from three EU countries by arrivals to the UK rather than from China. This has only become known in May/June by DNA analysis.
c) The NHS deliberately returned elderley residents to care homes without testing them.  Care home deaths form roughly one third of all notified Covid deaths.
d) England's connected urban areas are more difficult to contain infection spread for several reaons. Too many people to test every day basically to identify local hotspots.
e) England's demographic and underlying health problems contributed a great deal to the excess death toll in England.

I came from a country that had a very effective test, track and trace program from the outset, and the UK just hasn't had one at all.

If you can catch the initial 'spreaders' then you'll curtail the early flow. The lack of testing availability early on was embarrassing, and the "deliberate" delay of track and trace absolutely horrendous.

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 02:17:28 pm »
Too many people to test daily. In the UK track and trace is problematic with people zealously guarding their data privacy. Also the UK, in particularly in England have been very undisciplined during lock down.  Too many flocking to Barnard Castle.
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Offline JoshW

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 02:26:30 pm »
Too many people to test daily. In the UK track and trace is problematic with people zealously guarding their data privacy. Also the UK, in particularly in England have been very undisciplined during lock down.  Too many flocking to Barnard Castle.

Barnard Castle tourism board must be rubbing their hands together. First place I'm going to once I feel confident to traverse the length of the country!

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 02:37:15 pm »
Some nice pubs in Barnard Castle and a few decent crags nearby for the climbers  :thumbsup:
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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 02:39:01 pm »
It seems to me that:-
a) The Imperial modellers overestimated the gap in days between the Italian stage and the UK stage.
b) That the virus spread to here from three EU countries by arrivals to the UK rather than from China. This has only become known in May/June by DNA analysis.

I suspect there was some transmission direct from China. My niece had what she thought was a bad cold in February, but with a loss of smell and taste. She works at a hotel in Cambridge which has a lot of Chinese customers - obviously, without testing to see if she's got antibodies and these show signs of having come from exposure to the initial Chinese variant you can't say for certain but the chain of causality is definitely there.

On a slightly related note, if you want to read something really depressing, this Atlantic  article looks at America's national response (or lack thereof), and how it was utterly avoidable.... https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/how-white-house-coronavirus-response-went-wrong/613591/
Dirty old mines need love too....

Online Fjell

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 02:42:15 pm »
UK airlines carried 150 million passengers a year, 3 million a week. The UK had a test capacity of 30,000 a week in March and a few hundred contact tracers in PHE and local councils. Most of that test capacity was immediately needed in hospitals. Apparently most cases arrived in early March within a week or two, so there was no way of stopping thousands of cases, which instantly blew track and trace out of the window. Especially as it was mostly younger people who would be asymptomatic to a significant degree.
All of western Europe had the same problem at the same time. Eastern Europe didn’t, central Europe in the middle.
If you are an island in the Pacific with a low population, things might be different.

Online mikem

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 03:02:58 pm »
a) the Imperial model assumed starting from a small number of cases, not the significant amount that actually arrived almost simultaneously - so, it didn't stand any chance of being accurate.

b) whether cases did come in directly from China, or not, they were not the main reason for the spread of the virus.

c) percentage of cases in care homes was similar, or lower than several other Western European countries, so were they also returning cases to care homes, or is some other factor more significant here?

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #15 on: Yesterday at 03:10:16 pm »
Almost no-one in China has had the virus (in percentage terms). Even back in March (maybe even February) the worst-hit European countries probably had a much higher incidence than China. If it wasn't for China being the source of the outbreak, based on the current incidence we would be considering China as one of the safest countries in the world.

Treating every Chinese person as if they have just flown in from Wuhan is not only borderline racist, it's also sloppy maths.

Online mikem

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #16 on: Yesterday at 03:52:05 pm »
Nobody knows what percentage of the Chinese population were infected. Virtually accusing someone of racism based on a statement of facts (no matter how sloppy) isn't helpful.

Offline Boy Engineer

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 05:31:53 pm »
Talking of Barnard Castle. And very nice it is too. Can’t turn it for some reason.

Online Fulk

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #18 on: Yesterday at 05:45:11 pm »
Here you go – maybe!!


Offline TheBitterEnd

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #19 on: Yesterday at 07:53:02 pm »
Listened to that this morning but underlying the question "why did the UK have such a a Bad Epidemic" is the fact that like pretty much all the worst countries we are run by right wing popularists who care more about being popular than keeping their people alive. Contrast with the best countries, often with a woman in charge.
'Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.' — Mark Twain

Online Fjell

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #20 on: Yesterday at 08:39:54 pm »
Listened to that this morning but underlying the question "why did the UK have such a a Bad Epidemic" is the fact that like pretty much all the worst countries we are run by right wing popularists who care more about being popular than keeping their people alive. Contrast with the best countries, often with a woman in charge.
The best performing countries in Europe are all in the East, and most are run by hard right male demagogues. Germany has performed worse than any East European country. A rarely reported fact.

Offline droid

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #21 on: Yesterday at 08:45:07 pm »
TBE: Got it in one

Fjell: Believable statistics?
No longer 'Exceptionally antagonistic' 'Deliberately inflammatory'

Online Fjell

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 08:48:39 pm »
Yes. The EU has being monitoring it itself. West is bad, Central OKish, East is fine.
UK's big problem was the staggering number of Brits who fly on holiday all year round. In fact I think the UK has about the highest number of flights per person in the world, certainly in Europe. in March it was 80,000 a day just from Spain I believe. No chance of containment. And all those people have to come back regardless, and it isn't exactly the group prone to being told what to do.

Online Fjell

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 09:05:26 pm »
But we are going to open flights again soon cos Spain, Portugal and Greece will go broke otherwise and Brits will riot and burn the place down holiday here instead.

Offline TheBitterEnd

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Re: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
« Reply #24 on: Yesterday at 09:52:48 pm »
Listened to that this morning but underlying the question "why did the UK have such a a Bad Epidemic" is the fact that like pretty much all the worst countries we are run by right wing popularists who care more about being popular than keeping their people alive. Contrast with the best countries, often with a woman in charge.
The best performing countries in Europe are all in the East, and most are run by hard right male demagogues. Germany has performed worse than any East European country. A rarely reported fact.

Lies, damn lies and statistics. See this
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Russia has reported about the same number of cases per million population as the UK but only has 10% of the deaths per million. Are the Russians so much healthier than the British? Is the Russian health care system so much better than the NHS? Of course there is some variation but 90% difference?  The other thing about popularists is they are more likely to skew the statistics, or more precisely those working for them, if they don't want a spell of "re-education" are more inclined to under-report
'Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.' — Mark Twain

 

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