This is the funniest thing that has happened in politics in my lifetime! (Quite probably, the first funny thing in politics in my lifetime). I called in to my local Co-op this morning, saw in the newspaper rack the headline about recently appointed health secretary Sajid Javid catching the COVID virus, and couldn’t stop laughing! When I got home and looked up some more, my laughs became belly-laughs.
Sky News tells us that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, as recent contacts of Javid, were phoned directly by NHS people, not pinged by the app. And that “legally” requires them to self-isolate for 10 days! Heh heh heh. Boot. Foot. Other. Hoist. Petard. Own.
I do hope that this will lead to a proper debate on what “the rule of law” is. In my view, it means that the rules we are expected to follow must be the same for everyone, with no exceptions – even for government. But I’m not holding my breath yet. The media are so corrupt that they are still with the establishment. As witness the “on-line safety bill,” intended to silence people who oppose the establishment, that makes exceptions for those “qualified” as “journalists.”
If I compare politics to a game of chess, Javid is a genius player. With one move, he has neutralized both the current incumbent and his main rival for the Tory party leadership. And he hasn’t been in his place long enough to be held responsible for the situation. Gove is already compromised by his recent trip to Portugal. When the Tory rank and file get restive this winter after lockdowns are re-imposed, who will they turn to? David Davis? Steve Baker? Or Javid? I can’t think of any other candidates.
For the avoidance of doubt, I do wish Sajid Javid a speedy and complete recovery from the coronavirus.
There are nine kinds of “lockdown” measures against the COVID-19 virus, which have been implemented in many countries of the world. They are: school closures, workplace closures, public events cancellation, restrictions on gatherings, public transport closures, stay-at-home restrictions, national travel restrictions, international travel restrictions and face covering mandates. What the chart shows is an average of an average. It is the average, over the nine measures, of the proportion of days over the course of the COVID epidemic since January 2020, that there has been in place a full restriction. And the chart shows this average for 14 countries in Western Europe, including the UK.
By a full restriction, I mean: all schools closed, all “non-essential” workplaces closed, all public events cancelled, gatherings restricted to 10 people or less, public transport closed, forced stay at home with only minimal exceptions, mandatory restrictions in place on internal travel, border closure, or face covering required at all times when outside the home. These are the restrictions which the Blavatnik School of Government, based at Oxford University, regard as constituting 100% lockdown in their respective spheres. And who am I to disagree with them – since I’m choosing to use their data?
Look at those Irish go! Or not, of course. An average of almost three out of nine fundamental freedoms totally denied them, over the course of more than a year? And the UK isn’t much less bad.
I’ve been looking, for a few weeks now, for hard evidence that the COVID vaccines being rolled out in various countries are having an effect, or not as the case may be. I think there is probably enough data now to do at least a preliminary assessment. So, here goes.
The data I used for this report, both from Our World in Data and the Blavatnik School of Government, was taken on April 1st, and ran up to March 31st.
In recent weeks, I have been developing the “magic spreadsheets” which help me to follow the statistics of the COVID epidemic, with the aim of significantly increasing the number of countries I am able to look at. This is the first report based on the new technology. It covers the whole of Europe, a total of 46 countries divided into four groups. Here are the groups:
Rest of Western Europe
Eastern Europe (North)
Eastern Europe (South)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
I’ll end this essay with an assessment of the UK’s performance against the virus to date. I think it’s fair to say that to call my assessment “scathing” would be an understatement.
Until now, all the reports I have done on the COVID-19 virus have been at a national and international level, comparing different countries’ performances against the virus. Today, I’m going to focus on new COVID cases reported over the past few months. And, particularly, on a small swathe of South-East England around my home.
This is an update to my paper of December 3rd on tracking the COVID-19 epidemic in fourteen Western European countries. It uses the data up to and including December 31st 2020. The data sources are the same as before: Our World in Data and the Blavatnik School of Government, both at Oxford University.
The main news this month, apart from seemingly never-ending lockdowns and the ghost of Christmas passed, has been the new, supposedly more easily transmissible strain of the virus, discovered in the UK. Initially, I was a bit skeptical. But as you can see in the graph at the top, the UK (pink line) does indeed have a climbing trend in new daily cases, which over the whole of December is very different from the trends in the other countries. So, I think we can fairly say that there is indeed a new, more transmissible strain, in the UK and perhaps some other countries.
A month ago, I compared the histories of the COVID-19 epidemic in fourteen Western European countries. At that point, the “second wave” of the virus, which had been building throughout the region for three or four months, was giving governments an excuse to start re-introducing lockdowns. So, I said that I would review the situation in a month or so. That month has now elapsed, so here’s the review. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll now have enough data to form some idea of which lockdown measures have been effective, and which haven’t.