The herd and the unheard

When writing about something like the coronavirus epidemic it’s vital to take care that any information you give is correct and accurate. It’s no hyperbole to say that in an epidemic, incorrect or false information can literally make the difference between life and death. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that we are measured and thoughtful in our words and language. This is not a time for panic or hysteria.

Yet it has to be said, the response of the British government so far does not inspire confidence. It is not scaremongering to ask why it is that other European countries – countries where the spread of the epidemic is no greater than it is in the UK – have adopted more stringent measures to prevent the spread of the virus than the UK has. The response from the British government to this crisis has been chaotic, ad hoc, and confused. We are led by a bumbling and mumbling oaf who lies and lies again, a man who has never considered anything except his own selfish interest, whose childish petulance at Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t even be kept in check while he told the nations of the UK what measures his government was going to take. None of this inspires confidence.

When I was a child, a long long time ago, there was a widespread grudging acceptance that ‘they’ knew what they were doing. They might have been selfish and greedy, but they were smarter than us, better educated, better informed. And then in the 1980s the British government tried to tell us that we could protect ourselves from a nuclear explosion by hiding under the kitchen table and any pretence that ‘they’ were competent went up in a mushroom cloud. There’s been a long slow decline in public faith in British institutions ever since. And now we have Boris Johnson, lying his way into power, smirking and smug, mumbling and stumbling, venal and vain. No one with a functioning set of neurones can believe that this creature has our best interests at heart. It is reasonable to ask whether Boris Johnson and his cronies, who are motivated solely by money and greed, have taken the decision to protect the economy at the expense of the people. Because if that’s the case, it is unforgivable.

We’re hearing a lot about herd immunity. Boris Johnson and the Conservative government have no doubt thought about the rest of us as a herd for quite a while. The phrase means that immunity within a population prevents an infection from spreading as most people are resistant. Most estimates that I’ve been able to find suggest that herd immunity is only effective once around 60% of a population have an immune system which is resistant to the infective agent. The worrying thing however is that most people are not currently immune to the covid-19 virus. Since there is as yet no vaccine and won’t be for at least a year, currently the only way that anyone can develop immunity is to contract the infection and allow their immune system to build up antibodies against the virus.  It is true, and it cannot be stressed enough, that the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus will experience mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all.  However the issue here is that the disease appears to have a mortality rate of 1%. Allowing 60% of 66 million people to contract a virus and then 1% of them will die … well you do the maths. Yet these aren’t just numbers, they’re human lives.

Other countries are trying to protect their citizens from the outbreak and to minimise the number who contract the infection. This will have a dire effect on the economies of those countries. The strategy of the UK government is to allow the infection to happen, but to try and make it happen slowly enough that the NHS will not be overwhelmed and to minimise the damage to the UK economy. The only way to allow herd immunity to build up is to allow the infection to spread, with entirely predictable consequences. People will die as a result of Conservative policy. It won’t be the fit, the economically active, the better fed, the well sheltered. It will be the old, the chronically ill, the homeless, the poor. It will be those whom the Conservatives with their price of everything and value of nothing philosophy will consider expendable.

What makes this worse is that the NHS is reeling from the effects of a decade of austerity and, in England, creeping privatisation. It is a system which is creaking and straining at the best of times. We like to pride ourselves in Scotland that our NHS is performing better than the NHS in the nations of the UK, because the Scottish government has done its utmost to protect NHS Scotland from the malign effects of Conservative policies and budget cuts, and this would be true. Unfortunately the Scottish government is forced to operate within a political, budgetary, and economic regime which is determined by that very same Conservative party. Our NHS and our public services are reeling too, not as much as England’s, but that’s cold comfort.

Meanwhile the Scottish government is heavily constrained in how it can tackle one of the most serious threats to public health in a generation. It lacks the full powers of Westminster, and it cannot diverge significantly from the policies adopted by Boris Johnson as it would immediately be accused by the British nationalist media of attempting undermine the British government, spread panic, and politicise the outbreak. When Nicola Sturgeon even dared to make an announcement before Boris Johnson there was a howl of outrage from the usual suspects. Imagine what they’d say and do if Scotland dared to adopt a radically different strategy to deal with the epidemic. Our lives are being held hostage to the ire of the Daily Mail.

There is however already an important lesson to be learned from this crisis. That is that Scotland needs to be able to take its own decisions in the interests of its own people. We need a government that is accountable to us, and which knows that it is accountable. We should perhaps be thankful that we didn’t rush into a referendum, otherwise we’d now be trying to campaign for our independence in the middle of a major health crisis. Yet the need for independence, as soon as we can get it, is greater now than it has ever been.

We are all Jock Tamson’s bairns. We will get through this, with love, compassion, care, and kindness. We will get through this if we respect each other, and above all if we adopt common sense measures. Avoid large public gatherings. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Don’t hoard or panic buy. Stay at home if you think you have symptoms. Minimise contact with those who are at high risk – the elderly, the chronically sick, and those with compromised immune systems. And this will pass. There is life on the other side of the fear, there is dawn on the other side of the darkness.

When it does pass, that is the time for putting into effect the lessons that we have learned, lessons about the venality of the British government and the Conservative party, lessons about a government that’s unaccountable to the people of Scotland, lessons about surrendering our destiny to people who do not have our best interests at heart. Then we will teach Boris Johnson that we are not a herd, we are the unheard and we have had enough. We will teach him that we are a people in movement, and we will not be stopped.

There’s no dugcast today because The National is short staffed.  We were delighted to discover this week that the dugcast is on the shortlist for a Scottish Press Award for the Best Scottish Politics Podcast.  Normal service should be resumed next week.

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104 thoughts on “The herd and the unheard

  1. In the time of the bay of pigs trouble in the early 60s we were told to put sheets up all round the room fill the bath with water etc and this was officials telling us this in our school in Rosyth

    • Yeh I lived in midlothian then (the house hasn’t moved only the county line) and I remember even as school childern having serious arguments about the logic verses the practicality of “duck and cover”

  2. Best try and avoid infection if you can. Self isolate, even if you don’t have symptoms and ensure your home (whether a room or a mansion) is as clean as can be. Learn to play a musical instrument, read all the books you’ve promised yourself, or paint your feelings on canvas. ~Do something good and positive every day and don’t overdose on the media reports on the outbreak. Read WGD and post something to make everyone smile. Stay safe and well.

    Just caught up with QT and watched Mr Wishart responding to the question on the magic money tree. Surely to goodness he’s an avid reader of the Dug? What an opportunity….!

  3. How dare Johnson condemn so many, especially the frail and vulnerable, to death to allegedly allow the herd to develop immunity?
    How dare he connive at a situation where many of us accidentally can, and probably will, infect loved ones?
    Stringent measures, which are proven to work in other countries, could allow time for much slower growth of infection rate allowing the development of more beds etc. so that ALL the seriously ill have a fighting chance of survival and perhaps even time for a vaccine to be developed.
    It is not just C19 we need protected from; it’s the UK government and its uncaring ‘leaders’.

    • Most people watched QT last night – but Newsnight was far better. Catch it on iPlayer if you can. The guests were excellent – the overwhelming consensus being that it will be for individuals and communities to overcome this emergency. The government will have to revise its spending commitments in the budget – like its general top down approach to the outbreak. It has to work the other way – from the bottom up. From you and me all the way up the street and round the corner.

      That means putting money in everyone’s pocket so they can prepare properly and navigate through the weeks and months ahead. The true social standing of the UK is about to be laid bare – where a significant number are somewhere close to poverty and destitution amongst a majority two-pay cheques away from the same. Only a tiny number of individuals have the resources to escape the worst – if they are lucky – but this has the potential to engulf everyone, whatever the illusory safety net constructs.

      Empowering the individual is the most important policy governments can do right now. Only those in essential jobs should be at work. Everyone else should try and physically isolate as much as possible. We are so lucky to have the internet though – so it’s not really proper isolation.

      But in regard to ‘uncaring’ – I’m just off the phone to Universal Credit as I was sanctioned for not attending an appointment in January. I wasn’t able to attend for various reasons – but after providing some evidence, they agreed to reinstate my “award”. That was cool.

      My monthly UC award is ten quid less than my rent – but that’s ok. I manage. But the sanction meant I was behind in queer street for a few weeks, so I asked if there was an emergency crisis fund for claimants. Nope. Unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. No food, no soap, no medications don’t constitute “exceptional circumstances” – and the coronavirus outbreak isn’t considered to be an emergency – by DWP rules.

      I’m lucky. I have good friends and neighbours and will always have something to barter or trade – but millions of other good people in my predicament, don’t. If things don’t change in the government’s approach – much of the UK will descend into anarchy within the next fortnight and that will only exacerbate the outbreak.

      Me? I’m buying a new set of tyres for my bike and heading north with a tent and guitar in the morning, providing my DWP award comes through later today. I bags the top of the cliffs on the secret beach at Achmelvich.

      I have a ferocious dog.

        • I’m sure we could find a wee bit o’ space tae shelter even Westminster hinges on. Maybe as befits their status even their own wee island. Purely for isolation purposes you understand. Something sheltered with a nice vista, Gruniard would probably be the best choice. Whitehall knew how to get there long before Google maps became popular.

  4. Sterling stuff Paul, a very factual and inciteful description of this governments response.
    Don’t know if you watched Q/T last night. The former Chief Medical Officer for England absolutely lambasting the governments response.
    And who did they have to argue for their side Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
    Says it all really. Money is more important than lives.

  5. As I understand it, Herd Immunity varies with the degree of infectiveness of the virus. This means how many more people an infected person is likely to infect. With measles this number (R) is 15, which is extremely infective. That’s why measles requires 95% herd immunity. With coronavirus it seems to be around 2, which is still pretty infective (do the maths: one person infects 2, those 2 infect 4, etc.). However, I’m not an expert.

    Letting herd immunity develop naturally is effectively, doing nothing, letting people die. This has advantages from the point of view of the government mainly that it costs little to have an active strategy of doing nothing. Many who die will tend to be Tory voters, but when you are sitting at 50% in national polls you think you are King of the World. I suspect that Johnson asked for some options, and chose the one which fitted his worldview.

    It also allows people to feel good about ignoring the warnings. It will be interesting to see how the USA, Ireland (especially) and Europe welcome people from a country purposely full of coronavirus. Yes, it’s a health strategy, but in the way that American second amendment zealots have an anti-violence strategy; giving everyone a gun is the only way to avoid being threatened by a gun.

    I think that a lot of this attitude comes down to the sort of sense of entitlement which you see in many Tories. Many really don’t think anything nasty can happen to them, because they are decent deserving, middle class (or rich) people, that Bad Things don’t happen to.

    Here in Italy, people seem to be pretty stupefied by the inaction of the UK government (see today’s La Repubblica, Italians seem pretty solidly behind the restrictions which have been introduced here.

    • I think you’ll find old LBJ had linguistical anomoly (foots in mouth) what he ment to say was herd community. A load o’ sheep led by a goat.

  6. I wouldn’t blame WGD is he tells me off, but I think this is getting lost in amongst Edinburgh court action and Covid-19:

    On Wednesday and I only noticed today from the S30 People’s Action

    and the petition to take to the CoS is here:

    Sorry to be completely OT, and I will be trying to post this btl on National and Herald – if they ever get back as they seem to be interrupted a lot today.

  7. Pingback: The herd and the unheard | speymouth

  8. I feel forced now to make a comment, and perhaps what should be done / have been done, is lock away all the vulnerable underlying health issue people for 2 weeks, self-isolating, food parcels decontaminated and left on doorsteps.

    While the rest of the population kissed, hugged, shook hands, spat on each other, you could have an emergency number “Find out who near you has covid-19 so you can rush over and get infected” – and get the herd-immunity in a couple of short frantic tissue using weeks. Bless you.

    Kind of like childhood things like chickenpox to try to avoid shingles later on where mothers would try to get their kids infected while very healthy and young. Sadly I was too healthy and only got one of the usual things whatever they were 🙁

    The other of course is the way BoJo is doing it which is, ummm, wash your hands.

    • Em, if you get chickenpox then you are a possible contender for shingles later.

      The virus, varicella zoster, remains in the body especially in nerve endings. It can be activated later in life particularly in the elderly and shingles results. If you are in contact with someone with shingles you can be infected with the virus and contract chickenpox from them if you have not had chickenpox before.

      • Yes I know, though a lower chance. But the wisdom of the time was that if you got chickenpox in your youth, you were unlikely to get shingles later on.

        But as someone pointed out, the buzz for swine fever in 2009 was that 1 million would die, whereas it was less than 20,000 worldwide. There’s hope for us yet.

        • “”Yes I know, though a lower chance””
          Of what?

          It was certainly known in the neck of the woods where I grew up that if you had chickenpox then at some point you might, repeat might, get shingles.

          From personal experience they are very painful possibly because the reservoir of the virus is in the nerve endings. In my case just the shingles affected the nerve endings under my jaw so pain up my face into my brain. There is also a sensitivity in the affected area for quite some time after the infection ends.

          • Legerwood. I contracted shingles in 1989 – not on the face thankfully. Still get the ‘stinging nettle’ sensations when tired/run down/stressed e.g. when faced with Brexit and stalled independence plans. Now this. Gonna be tingling a while yet.

          • Hazel, I had it in the mid ’90s I still feel it on my neck in cold weather. Always have to make sure I wear a scarf.

  9. I’m a bit confused about the Covid-19 figures, to be honest.

    If the vast majority of people who catch Covid-19 experience no symptoms or only a mild cold, do they appear in the statistics? Currently in Germany you’re considered to have contracted the illness if it’s been confirmed in a laboratory, and then the numbers are made from that. If people don’t get tested, they won’t come up in these numbers, surely? and if people don’t suspect they have Covid-19 they won’t be tested.

    Doesn’t that mean that the 1% mortality rate actually refer to those tested and subsequently confirmed to have the illness?

    If that’s the case, doesn’t it mean the mortality rate is much lower?

    I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of this illness in any way; all the schools and kindergartens in most of Germany will close next week, so it’s no trivial matter, and I see the very real problems to people in the UK where the health system is considerably creakier than ours, I’m just trying to get an accurate idea of the risk.

    • Mortality rates relative to numbers of people diagnosed with the virus have been much higher than 1% (China 3.95, Italy 7.17%). As you say, it’s likely there are many undiagnosed cases and therefore total mortality is probably lower than the bare clinical figure might suggest. On the controlled environment on the Diamond Princess, where all infections were diagnosed, the total death rate was 0.85%. The figure of 1% being used is probably a reasonable guestimate, but the truth is nobody can be exactly sure how bad the mortality rate is, and the disease can cause very severe long term illness even where it isn’t fatal.

      • I have looked into this mainly using data compiled on the Worldometer site.

        Basically there are three most quoted mortality figures.

        First, is the crude mortality, which is the total number of deaths divided by the total population. That can only sensibly be applied in retrospect, i.e. after the disease has run its full course. People have either died, recovered or been effectively inoculated. However, some folk, perhaps because it suits their agenda, quote that throughout the disease.

        Next, and probably most quoted, is the Case Fatality Rate (CFR), this is the currently total number of deaths divided by the total positively identified cases. The problem with this is that during an epidemic there are at any one time a significant number of ‘active’ cases in existence. At the beginning of the disease event, the number of active cases outnumber both the death and recovery total.
        It is thus, artificially low because, effectively it assumes that all currently active cases will recover.

        Third, there is outcome mortality where total deaths to date is compared to total recoveries.
        The main issue with this being applied during an epidemic is because of the time difference between death peaks and recovery peaks. Time between first symptoms to death peaks at about 14 days but typically the status recovery will not be conferred until 14 days later for survivors. But the designation of recovery status is highly subjective and varies a lot between health systems.

        The disease outbreak will have a bell curve shape so as that shape moves through time.

        Because of the of the time difference between peak death rate and peak recovery, on any reporting day, the leading edge side of the bell curve will have deaths per day reported from a higher ambient case density area of the curve than will pertain for the reported recoveries for that day. So the ‘outcome’ death rate would in that instance be artificially high until the daily death peak has gone past and thereafter it will reduce down to the final real figure.

        The third measurement is therefore the one that tells you when and whether the authorities have got to grips with the epidemic, if it starts to drop, when it starts to fall. In China, this started to drop almost from the get go, in Europe it is still rising.

        By UK Government policy, they will not get to grips with it, ie halt it tempoarily, at all and it will continue to rise until it has run its natural course.

        The UK approach is counter to WHO recommendations which are based on the idea that deaths should be minimised until there is a new effective vaccine. It is particularly bewildering for the UK to now adopt such a policy when there has never been more expectation of an early new vaccine from technological improvements and from a bit of luck in related epidemiological work.

  10. Mr Johnson is not talking about ‘herd immunity’. He is talking about natural selection and survival of the fittest.

    Herd immunity is a very specific term relating to vaccinations/immunisations against disease. There is no vaccine against Covid-19, yet. Until there is then you cannot talk about herd immunity.

    Any immunisation programme would aim for 95% coverage of the population although there may be some diseases where a 66% coverage, quoted in the article, might confer herd immunity. Until more is known about the immune response triggered in those infected with the virus the higher figure for coverage would be the aim in the most at risk groups.

    Did they still hold talks in schools about nuclear attacks in the 1980s?

    I remember the talks at school about what to do in the event of an Atomic bomb attack but that was in the 1950s when I was at Primary School. I was about 6 or 7 years old when someone came to the school to give us a talk. Two things struck me at the time which to me, young as I was, did not make sense.

    One was that we should boil a kettle if the 4 minute warning was sounded. Never figured out why. Steam does not neutralise radioactivity which I knew even then and in those days kettles took longer than 4 minutes to boil.

    Second thing was we were told to go to the side of the house furthest from the explosion. Obvious flaw in that which struck me even then was you had to wait for the bomb to go off so that you knew which side of the house was furthest from the explosion! Not a good idea.

    • One of the reasons for hiding under the table, in a cupboard – or furthest from the explosion which could be predictable for many, was not to get blinded by the flash. And even to this day, the best advice would be to shut the eyes, Apart of course from putting the head between the legs and kissing …

      Some air raid shelters carried maps with concentric rings and info during the 50s. These days they’d probably get nicked or vandalised.

  11. Not a virologist (thank goodness) but this seems to be saying that herd immunity won’t make the slightest bit of difference. People will be spraying the virus all around them at the same time as their immune system is successfully fighting it.

    Bravo Boris, more bullshit that’s going to end up with older people paying the highest price.

  12. On top of this (though I know prescriptions don’t work against Covid19 – I’m thinking of the poor who won’t be able to afford them, or those on the border line who will wait ages to be refunded), us, south of your border or east of my homeland’s face having to pay £9.10 a shot for our prescriptions from the start of next month.

    Yes, there are exemptions (but you have to go through a byzantine maze to find out if you’re eligible or not.

    Consider yourselves lucky in Scotland and Wales that all such items are (still) free.

    Happy weekend everyone and be safe out there.

  13. I commented yesterday and most people probably thought I was nuts , but Bawjaws confirmed it in his herd immunity statement , while other countries are attempting to protect their people this Tory government led by , oh words fail me we all know he’s a dangerous clown ,
    This whole episode has the makings of the perfect crime , because the perpetuators won’t be held liable , no one will see a smoking gun , all they have to do is nothing , and while they are doing nothing they will be making sure anyone who looks like doing anything is quietly sidelined ,
    The Professor on QT last night will never be given airtime again. this guy fired both barrels at the Tory minister , Christ he even stopped to reload 3 or 4 times Bruce was at her wits end trying to silence him , but the audience believed him .

      • Just watched that QT in it’s entirety and ended up infuriated by Pete Wishart’s placidity, desperately wanted to wallop that glib Barclay with a 4by2 and shake the hand of the most annoying man ever to appear on that program, along with an audience which has woken from the Daily Mail dream…

        • Even Fiona Bruce acknowledged that there was a difference in the audience from previous weeks.

          I just saw a relatively small part of it but in the bit I did see Pete Wishart pulled up the Tory when he was about to misrepresent the reasons for Ms Sturgeon’s announcement about cancelling gatherings above 500 people and turn it into ‘SNP mismanagement of NHS Scotland’

          Ms Bruce was certainly not well pleased with the Prof. Clearly not towing the BBC line. He was saying what had to be said though

      • Thanks for the link Petra and thanks to the guy, Styzor who recorded and posted on YouTube, even though he is a nasty Sturgeon hater. I heard him describing the FM as the Wee Cranky and that he hated her and the Nationalists when I listened to his comments after one of his previous YouTube posts on the election debates, in which the FM ran rings around the other Participants during the GE in December.

  14. I have never trusted any government pronouncements regarding public safety , I now always think what are they not telling us ,
    Think back to Chernobyl , when the dust cloud was heading to Scotland the advice given was don’t drink milk until it passes , well women all over Scotland suffered the effects on their Throyd this could have been avoided by immediate emergency treatment with Iodine , what happened ,total inaction to avoid panic , so rather than tell the truth it was suppressed, this dereliction of duty in a public office should have meant high ranking officials should have been charged for will fully endangering people, it was only found out the extent of the damage when two doctors one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow started their own investigation and their findings were quite shocking, this could have been prevented but for bloody Politics , the only impediment to people getting what they need is these arsewipes

  15. God I’ve just read through this and as I finished I’ve just heard one of LBJ’s health experts spouting this “herd immunity” magic wand approach to this virus once again. Emphasis now on not visiting anyone in a care home, but still no advice in relation to the elderly or vulnerable living at home on their own.

      • Great that they’ve had the sense to self-isolate Paul (I’ve got an elderly family member with additional health issues who’s refusing to do so) and are lucky that they have each other plus a family network. My real concern is for people who live on their own and have no family members left or friends. I mentioned my 98 year old neighbour recently. She’s lived to such a great age that she’s outlived her siblings, many cousins and all friends and she’s not on her own in this respect.

    • [Comment removed by WGD]

      Robert – I have removed this comment because the figures you cite are incorrect and are scaremongering of the worst kind. In order for what you wrote to be correct, the virus would have to have a mortality rate of just shy of 20%. Absolutely NO authoritative source has put it anywhere near that high. Additionally, in order for what you wrote to be correct, the entire population of the UK would have to become infected. Again, absolutely NO authoritative source believes that every single person will contract the virus.

      It is incumbent upon all of us to be measured and responsible in what we write and say during this emergency.


  16. is another interesting read that show how this “herd immunity” strategy is another bunch of bollocks. If you don’t want to read the link, then just read the following:

    Achieving herd immunity would require well over 47 million people to be infected in the UK. Current estimates are that COVID-19 has a 2.3% case-fatality rate and a 19% rate of severe disease. This means that achieving herd immunity to COVID-19 in the UK could result in the deaths of more a million people with a further eight million severe infections requiring critical care.

    Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s probably not going to get nowhere that bad, probably. However this governments’ utter incompetence means it’s only going to get ugly.

    Now’s the time to make sure the people you care about are well stocked and can afford to stay out of circulation for two weeks.

    The only word that is going to be associated with “herd” during this Tory-sponsored, pandemic is “thinning”.

      • I agree but very few people have the resources to isolate themselves for long periods of time so the best option is to hunker down for decent stretches and try and stay out of trouble.

        The schools here in Portugal are closed for 4 weeks with the option of extending that. This is not going to blow over any time soon.

  17. Paul.. The last Paragraph is worth it’s weight in Gold.

    Looks like people are already panicking, and this Pandemic is only just starting here.

    Mark. good posts..I see that Aldi…or was it Lidl, were selling decent Pannier bags for the Bike.. Train to Oban Time.. Ferry to One those Paradise Islands.

  18. I remember leafing through our copy of ‘The Family Doctor’ (essential reference material prior to the NHS apparently) as a young teenager,and imagining that I was experiencing the early symptoms of every illness I read about.
    Reading the comments here is having the same effect.
    Shingles, smallpox, radiation poisoning, measles.

    As a mate of mine once observed:-
    ‘Thank the heavens that the only illness we men can’t get is hypochondria’.

    Johnson would have us believe that we are caught in a surreal disaster movie, somewhere between Camus’ ‘La Peste’. and Wyndham’s ‘Day Of The Triffids’

    Bring out your Dead! Bring out your Dead!

    What a good year to bury bad news, and thousands of old wrinklies, 9400 of whom voted to elect this buffoon as leader of the Tories. Oh, the irony.

  19. the other problem with herd immunity through contact with the virus rather than via vaccination is that, the greater the number of people you allow to become infected by the virus, the greater the likelihood of the virus mutating into a form that immunity to covid-19 is no longer effective.

  20. Boris Johnson is simply following the best medical advice , which is to wash your hands .
    Unfortunately he took that to mean ”wash your hands of any responsibility for the old and vulnerable ”!

    • I seem to remember from my childhood a story about a famous hand washer who’s father served on Hadrian’s wall

  21. The big problem is that the population of the world is 7 billion, the population of the EU including transitioning UK is 520 million, that of the UK is 67 million, and even Scotland is 5.4 million.

    We are all supported by a functioning world economy, and it’s anyone’s guess what a non-functioning global trade situation could sustain. Look at your nearest supermarket shelves to get a small idea.

    Covid-19 could kill say 1 million worldwide. Global panic could kill 3.5 billion.

    • Nonsense, Yindy2.
      ! million worldwide?
      Arrant nonsense.
      Stop playing their Panic In The Streets game.

      As far as I can see ‘life’ is still going on in Scotland.
      Is there enough room in your basement bunker to stretch out among you 500 packs of toilet rolls ?
      You are reacting how the Establishment want you to react. Dog Eat Dog hoarding.
      The survival of the richest.
      There will not be hundreds of thousands dying. Honest.
      England, the Idiocracy; the Tribe That Lost Its Head.

      • Jack, lad, try reading it again. My point was indeed that a panic leading to the shutdown of the world economy would be far far worse than the “pandemic” itself.

        Jings, what are people like with this lack of reading comprehension these days? Eyes that only read what they want to read so they can howl at the moon?

        Read the news, not just that on your “Scotland and England only” planet, try reading the world news, like Trump stopping flights with the EU and considering doing it to the UK, Norway, Spain, other countries closing borders, the stock markets, currencies (not just the pound) and the WHY of currencies like the dollar doing OK at the moment, people like BA warning about job losses of thousands, planes flying around empty. Do some international news reading.

        The world is in a panic, and that will cost a lot of lives, through poverty.

      • With respect the “Hong Kong Flu” epidemic in1968/9 killed 80,000 in the UK and an estimated 1-4 million worldwide so I don’t think yesindyref2 is too wide of the mark.

        • JG, in 1967 25% of houses lacked on or more of the basics: an indoor WC, hot water, and so on.
          In 1970, only 30% 0f households had some form of central heating, and virtually none, double glazing.
          Today 95% of houses have central heating.

          Our diet has improved dramatically in the past half century.
          Smoking is banned in public places, and consumption of tobacco products at an all time low. And so on.
          The 1968 Clean Air Act repealed the 1953 Act because 1000-1500 citizens a year were dying of smog inhalation.

          I well recall the pea green thick fog we expected to live through every winter.
          The Red and Blonde sandstone buildings were black, from coal tar in those days.

          In the 21st Century our diet, life style, and general well being are drastically different from the smoke filled pubs of the ’60’s.

          I remember waking up in the morning to Jack Frost’s ‘ice painting’, as my dear old Ma called it, covering the window panes.

          To compare 1960’s UK to now, is, well, a stretch.
          The 60 odd years advances in Health Care alone would have been unimaginable to medics treating Hong Kong Flu victims back then.

          Panic I said, panic I meant.

  22. Another wonderful polemic but the truth is as a people we dont need to be stopped cause under the current leadership and their coterie we haven’t moved one iota closer to independence.

    • It doesn’t matter a jot who the leader of the SNP is or what they do or don’t do if the underlying conditions are not right to bring about a victory in a referendum or some other recognised vote. The point is that opinion is moving in the right direction. So in that vital respect, we have moved considerably closer to independence.

      • Indeed Paul and if anything can be learned from this Corona virus episode and the response from Boris and the Westminster government versus the response from our own Scottish Government, it is that it is imperative that Scotland becomes independent so we can make our own decisions to protect our people.
        If folk can’t see that after Boris’s appalling response to this crisis, then quite frankly I don’t know what will.

        • There was a time when Saor Alba was a curiosity painted on a disused railway buttress in Glen Ogle, as you climb up from Loch Earn over to Killin. That and strange bearded men who seemed lost without a traditional pulpit.

          As a Fifer born at the start of the sixties in halcyon days, I was aware of the conflicting influences with Scotland and Britain. We were taught to be proud of our history, but encouraged to speak and write ‘proper’ English – as if our version was somehow inferior. Isn’t life funny? The first seeds…

          We all have different journeys and experiences. The good bit is sharing them so we can gleam, at least, a slightly different perspective to our own. It’s an enlightenment – a great thing to learn.

          I’ve had the strangest of journeys, met quite a few people that are well known to you all – politicians, royalty, musicians, miners, soldiers and just about everyone from all swathes of life. It’s been a blast – but the single most important thing I’ve learned, is that we are all the same; we all want the same thing, but just come at it from different directions.

          The one positive thing tonight is the realisation that despite the gravity, we are not alone. I’d like to thank Paul and the Wee Dug for the humour, incisiveness and quality of the posts over the years – and for the realisation that strange bearded men may have a point after all.

          As an old aunt used to remind, good things come in small packages.

  23. It’s not just this government it’s every British government, they would let all Scots die if they could. They have absolute hate for Scotland and our people. The Scottish government have control of the police force, they need to close the border and put checks on the movement of people from England.

    I can assure you if it was Scotland that had a disease and they needed protection , they would quarantine Scotland and let us die.

    No doubt in my mind whatsoever.

    Scotland needs to grow up and take control of the situation, stop obeying the British state.

    They are willing to let enormous numbers die, but protect the banks, what a disgrace. True to form the British state only care about wealth and power.

    • It worked ok, Petra.

      However, I’ve cut and pasted it in ‘open format’, so people can see it without having to open your link (and thus also increasing traffic to WoS. I hope you and K1 don’t mind.

      K1 says:

      13 March, 2020 at 7:23 pm

      I suggest if you feel that the UK gov is going against WHO guidance that people write to their Scottish MP and MSP’s and urge them to push for us to follow those guidelines. Scotland has an opportunity here to pursue a different tack and I think we as people to should bombard our government to implement a different approach.

      Just put your post code in and a list of MSP’s for your area will come up, don’t have to do this individually to each MSP. The MP for your area has to be done separate letter.
      I’ve sent mine and with everyone’s indulgence I’m posting what I have written as a kinda template for others to use. We tell them what we want, but we need to let them know as soon as possible.

      Here’s mine:

      ‘Dear James Kelly, Pauline McNeill, Annie Wells, Johann Lamont, Adam Tomkins, Patrick Harvie and Anas Sarwar,

      Dear Patrick Grady,

      I am writing to urge all of our Scottish MSP’s and MP’s to take cognisance of the WHO recommendations that were published yesterday, 12/3/20 after the Covid19 virus was declared a pandemic.

      The UK government’s response to this and the press conference that Boris Johnson held yesterday to tell us all that testing would be discontinued in peoples’ homes and that a 7 day isolation period, reduced from the 14 day period would now be adopted, along with no further social distancing measure put in place immediately is a woeful response to this pandemic. Here is what the WHO published, the UK gov’s response is in breach of this advice:

      ‘WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the Mission briefing on COVID-19 – 12 March 2020

      12 March 2020

      ??????? ?? Français ??????? Español

      Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

      First of all, I would like to say good morning.

      As you know, yesterday I said that that the global COVID-19 outbreak can now be described as a pandemic.

      This is not a decision we took lightly.

      We have made this assessment for two main reasons: first, because of the speed and scale of transmission.

      Almost 125,000 cases have now been reported to WHO, from 118 countries and territories. In the past two weeks, the number of cases reported outside China has increased almost 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has almost tripled.

      The second reason is that despite our frequent warnings, we are deeply concerned that some countries are not approaching this threat with the level of political commitment needed to control it.

      Let me be clear: describing this as a pandemic does not mean that countries should give up. The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous.

      On the contrary, we have to double down.

      This is a controllable pandemic. Countries that decide to give up on fundamental public health measures may end up with a larger problem, and a heavier burden on the health system that requires more severe measures to control.

      All countries must strike a fine balance between protecting health, preventing economic and social disruption, and respecting human rights.

      We urge all countries to take a comprehensive approach tailored to their circumstances – with containment as the central pillar.

      We are calling on countries to take a four-pronged strategy:

      First, prepare and be ready.

      There are still 77 countries and territories with no reported cases, and 55 countries and territories that have reported 10 cases or less.

      And all countries with cases have unaffected areas. You have an opportunity to keep it that way.

      Prepare your people and your health facilities.

      Second, detect, prevent and treat.

      You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. That means robust surveillance to find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission.

      Third, reduce and suppress.

      To save lives we must reduce transmission. That means finding and isolating as many cases as possible, and quarantining their closest contacts. Even if you cannot stop transmission, you can slow it down and protect health facilities, old age homes and other vital areas – but only if you test all suspected cases.

      And fourth, innovate and improve.

      This is a new virus and a new situation. We’re all learning and we must all find new ways to prevent infections, save lives, and minimize impact. All countries have lessons to share.

      WHO is working day and night to support all countries.

      We have shipped supplies of personal protective equipment to 57 countries, we’re preparing to ship to a further 28, and we’ve shipped lab supplies to 120 countries.

      We’ve published an R&D roadmap, with a set of core protocols for how studies should be done.

      We’ve published a comprehensive package of technical guidance.

      We’ve had more than 176,000 enrollments in our COVID training courses on OpenWHO.

      We’re working with the World Economic Forum and the International Chambers of Commerce to engage the private sector. We’re also working with FIFA.

      We’re working with our colleagues across the UN system to support countries to develop their preparedness and response plans, according to the 8 pillars.

      And more than 440 million U.S. dollars has now been pledged to WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan

      We thank those countries that have contributed, especially those that have contributed fully flexible funds. Because this is a dynamic situation, we need the greatest flexibility possible to provide the best support possible. In the spirit of solidarity, we ask countries not to earmark funds for this response.

      Thank you all once again for your support and commitment.

      As I keep saying, we’re all in this together.

      I thank you.’—12-march-2020

      I urge our Scottish government to take a different tack and follow the guidelines clearly stated above in the WHO statement. We must continue testing and isolating our citizens, we can and must not accept that ‘our loved ones’ will die with no attempt to take the measures that are having an effect in China and elsewhere, I urge to you to follow your conscience, put your party political differences to one side and work for the benefit of the whole of Scotland to prevent further spread of this virus.

      We must not give up on our vulnerable and older people at the behest of a lack of leadership and questionable science with regard to the notion that ‘herd immunity’ will ensue by adhering to the Tory government’s advice yesterday, 12/3/20.

      There is increasing pressure on the UK to change course with this, from the scientific community itself, I urge you all to follow the developments and criticism and hopefully create pressure to stop and reverse this course of folly by the UK government.

      Social distancing must immediately be put into to place in Scotland, the WHO recommendations and the clamour that is beginning to question the science and best practices from other areas must be the deciding factors and we must not give up so easily and just let people suffer and die in their homes because of a coterie of self appointed experts who seem to ‘think’ ‘they know best’.

      Yours sincerely,’

  24. The percentage of deaths increases with the age group so the over 80s death rate may be in the 30% plus range. The Tories will have done the maths and calculated that if 30% of the over 80s die off this will save them and the corporate pension providers a few billion quid as all the “useless eaters” die off.

    If you add what this guy says to the mix there is no doubt at all in my mind that the government strategy is an economically motivated insane gamble and the best case scenario will involve at least a million people dying.

  25. I tried watching the Trump press conference earlier regarding the C19 virus and only lasted 5 minutes! it’s like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone whilst on speed! Somebody’s got to take responsibility in the US soon to get rid of this buffoon and save the American people. By the way, it ain’t going to be Joe Biden!

  26. I apologise for my earlier post Paul ,I was angry at the way Scotland is treated and let it get the better of me.

    Sent from my iPad


    • Melvin you have every right to be angry. Of course Johnson (the grim reaper ) and his pals have no right to casually create a situation of casual disregard for the potential deaths of unknown numbers of people in the UK.

      Idiots voting for criminally negligent idiots.

  27. So the Gov in Westminster has decided to follow Ms Sturgeon’s lead. From BBC News web site:

    “”Mass gatherings could be banned in the UK from as early as next week amid the outbreak of coronavirus.

    “”A government source said ministers are drawing up plans for the move – to ease pressure on emergency services. “”

    You have to read almost to the end of the article to find out that Ms Sturgeon has already taken this step in Scotland.

    By the way the pound is tanking against the Euro and the US dollar..

  28. This is an interesting read into why the ‘Herd Immunity’ theory is complete mis-information.

    A small snip:

    “Herd immunity describes how a population is protected from a disease after vaccination by stopping the germ responsible for the infection being transmitted between people.” In other words, we vaccinate about half the population or more, and then everyone else is protected, too (especially like immunocompromised people, for whom vaccines can be genuinely dangerous.)

    Did you see a small problem between the British government’s definition of herd immunity…and what it actually is? Herd immunity is — the real thing — what happens after enough members of a population have been vaccinated. It’s not…just letting an entire nation be rampaged by a lethal virus for which there’s no vaccine.

    No Vaccine = No chance of Herd Immunity = Cull the weak/Eugenics

  29. The idea of using “herd immunity” to protect the population is sadly even more desperate than you suggest. In order for herd immunity to develop, first immunity to the virus has to be possible. We have only known about SARS-CoV2 for 3 months, and it is therefore impossible to know whether short, medium or long term immunity to the infection is developed naturally. Indications from SARS and MERS are that humans don’t develop stable long term immunity to those closely related viruses. There have been some clinical reports of people being reinfected with SARS-CoV2, suggesting in some people no short term immunity is acquired. What this means is that in addition to the UK government’s public health policy being (as others stated above) one of survival of the fittest, it might also be the case that thousands of people will be allowed to die and there will be no public health benefit at all. It’s a policy of gambling the lives of tens of thousands of people on a lazy supposition which is partially contradicted by available evidence. It is complete and utter insanity.

  30. 500 people in the UK have been affected. ‘Died’? with underlining health issues. They would have died getting the flu. 10,000? other have been affected. Some do not know it. Pop 67million.

    If an IndyRef had been called for October, it might have had to be postponed.

    People having to cancel travel plans.

  31. Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction – the testing protocol for virus such as coronovirus….What is the efficacy? Who’s testing and who is being tested?? I’ll leave it there and let those who profess not to be from a zombie nation to do their own research…it might help explain why GP surgeries are not testing for any virus…

    • The test is very sensitive and specific for this virus. Thanks due to the Chinese for rapid sequencing of the viral RNA and sharing that sequence with the rest of the world.

      Six virus labs in Scotland plus some Microbiology labs can test for viruses.

      Some of the guidance being issued by HPS on a range of issues related to Corvid 19 including Laboratory testing and sample handling.

  32. No. They’re not big on the whole ‘duty of care’ part of government and their idea of leadership is to basically shout at people and attend photo ops. Government is more…. an asset management game for them. Some assets being more disposable than others obviously. So… herd immunity as an approach doesn’t surprise or shock me at all where these… (let’s call them people to be nice)… are concerned.

    Don’t think there’s much doubt that the current Conservative govt. will also use the Covid 19 pandemic for their own political purposes. They’ll use it and peoples’ lives to cover an awful lot of very public screw ups.

    In times like these, where people should have confidence in their government, trust in their services and public institutions? The current crop have invested decades ensuring that such trust has been undermined and replaced with fear, suspicion, anger. Jeebus! They’ve ensured that people barely trust each other. All in the name of playing politics and sitting in big chairs for personal gain.

    Well done them (very slow hand clap).

    • Tail of the article – “There’s no dugcast today because The National is short staffed. We were delighted to discover this week that the dugcast is on the shortlist for a Scottish Press Award for the Best Scottish Politics Podcast. Normal service should be resumed next week.”

    • The National was short staffed yesterday, so we couldn’t do it. The paper’s office is now closed to external visitors because of the epidemic – but I don’t count as an external visitor so we can still do the dugcast next week. Unfortunately it means there can be no guests on the dugcast until things return to normal.

  33. Oh dear the WoS bloggers these days are digging themselves into the manure. Apparently the National is kin to the Mail or Express really and in Edinburgh we are governed by the Vichy.
    Mais oui, sacre blue. Who needs Tories as adversaries.

  34. Just got back in from doing the weekly shop….. (mutters darkly)


    Shelves empty of… damn near everything. Pasta, sauces, tins of tomatoes, bread. Veg racks empty, bargain price paracetamol and ibuprofen, hand sanitiser and soaps (natch), and don’t get me started on bum wipes.

    The shop literally had to put a notice up telling people they were limited to two packs per. That was the final straw! I may have mentioned (slightly loudly, but fairly diplomatically) that catching covid 19 through your arse was a long shot… at best. I know there’s dock leaves in the forest over my back fence available, but FFS!

    Is there some part of ‘DON’T PANIC or PANIC BUY’ that people are finding hard to grasp?

  35. Westminster’s advice, wash hands frequently and don’t go on a cruise. No mention of constantly cleaning surfaces.

    …Conclusions:- ”Human coronaviruses can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces for up to 9 days. Surface disinfection with 0.1% sodium hypochlorite or 62–71% ethanol significantly reduces coronavirus infectivity on surfaces within 1 min exposure time. We expect a similar effect against the SARS-CoV-2.”..

  36. They need a vaccine. It will have to be developed. For most of the other conditions there is a vaccination.

    The Tories have already killed off 120,000 people because of austerity. More than the virus. The average Tory Party member is over seventy.

    If an IndyRef was going to be held in October. It would have had to be postponed.

    The elderly are often at home alone. Self isolating.

    The economy is already tanking because of Brexit. The Tories now have a diversion.

  37. ” … with love, compassion, care, and kindness … ”
    How many of these words do the Tories even comprehend? I doubt they’re in their vocabulary. To them we’re simply a herd, and when your herd is infected you naturally cull it. We are mostly dispensable, always have been ever since widespread mechanisation and automation at least, and that’s the able-bodied. Most of us are just a nuisance from their POV.

  38. The numbers infected in the UK are probably a lot lot higher than any official stats.

    I say that from direct personal experience. A family member went on hol to Spain, came back and has got the virus – now self isolating and been in bed for days now and very unwell but not in age group or underlying sick issues category – middle age. Unable to get through on 111 gave up due to being that unwell.

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