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Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 00:20 21 May 2020
by Balham_Green
Frank_Butcher wrote: People love to see conspiracy in everything.

Vallance's remarks are on record. Whitty supported relaxation of the lockdown on record when it was being widely criticised. Are both of those things true Joe?

Scientists and clinicians are highly professional people - if they feel they, or the advice is they give, is being discredited or misused in some way, they have a knack of resigning or at the very least making a statement as a point of pure principle. Would you agree Joe?

Yet none of the advisers to government has resigned (excepting Ferguson for different reasons) - none even whispered a note of discontent that I have seen. Why do you suppose that might be Joe?

It is also interesting that in recent days a few ministers have upped their support for the scientists and clinicians being criticised elsewhere. That could be entirely genuine, they could have course actually be protecting them in a way. But then there will be those who see that as some sort of conspiracy building notion, eh Joe?.

Now if one of those advisers decides they're being misquoted or misused, breaks cover and cries foul, then we will have something to talk about. And, if there's a case to answer I'll be all for it. But there isn't, so if and until that happens, nothing to see here. :yawn:


Very simplistic reply. Its much more nuanced than that. Point is obviously as you know but being disingenuous again scientists offer ADVICE on different options along with other professionals/disciplines . The Govt.CHOOSES and has take responsibity for the final decision. Of course politicians would never look to pass the buck when it suits would they? Yes Minister?

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 08:01 21 May 2020
by Frank_Butcher
Well, the only insights I have are that the government says it has followed advice all the way. That seems to be at least partially backed up by Vallance and Whitty’s ‘on the record’ comments - and as I say none have spoken out against it in any way (which is often the want of highly moral, professional people).

That said, it wouldn’t be the first time and you may well turn out to be right BG - and if that situation emerged I would condemn it as much as anyone. But, that wasn’t the main point had you noticed. My point here was that ignoring ‘on the record’ comments and conflating (contentious) stories months apart is not the way to create a conspiracy.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 21:13 21 May 2020
by mervyn
Here’s a tough call for school heads and academy trust members. My daughter, a teacher, tells me that all heads have all received a letter advising that they will be personally sued by the NUT under the Health and Safety at Work Act if a teacher or pupil dies as a consequence of the early return. No pressure then!

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 22:01 21 May 2020
by Balham_Green
Frank_Butcher wrote: Well, the only insights I have are that the government says it has followed advice all the way. That seems to be at least partially backed up by Vallance and Whitty’s ‘on the record’ comments - and as I say none have spoken out against it in any way (which is often the want of highly moral, professional people).

That said, it wouldn’t be the first time and you may well turn out to be right BG - and if that situation emerged I would condemn it as much as anyone. But, that wasn’t the main point had you noticed. My point here was that ignoring ‘on the record’ comments and conflating (contentious) stories months apart is not the way to create a conspiracy.


'It has followed advice'. What advice? Are you saying all the advisors from different disciplines gave exactly the SAME advice. Too simplistic again.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 06:04 22 May 2020
by Frank_Butcher
What are you on about? Read what I write and it might help. Honestly, I despair sometimes...

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 10:02 22 May 2020
by Quinny
mervyn wrote: Here’s a tough call for school heads and academy trust members. My daughter, a teacher, tells me that all heads have all received a letter advising that they will be personally sued by the NUT under the Health and Safety at Work Act if a teacher or pupil dies as a consequence of the early return. No pressure then!


I'll call that out as bollo.... utter rubbish.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 15:18 22 May 2020
by Ave_IT
Balham_Green wrote:
Frank_Butcher wrote: People love to see conspiracy in everything.

Vallance's remarks are on record. Whitty supported relaxation of the lockdown on record when it was being widely criticised. Are both of those things true Joe?

Scientists and clinicians are highly professional people - if they feel they, or the advice is they give, is being discredited or misused in some way, they have a knack of resigning or at the very least making a statement as a point of pure principle. Would you agree Joe?

Yet none of the advisers to government has resigned (excepting Ferguson for different reasons) - none even whispered a note of discontent that I have seen. Why do you suppose that might be Joe?

It is also interesting that in recent days a few ministers have upped their support for the scientists and clinicians being criticised elsewhere. That could be entirely genuine, they could have course actually be protecting them in a way. But then there will be those who see that as some sort of conspiracy building notion, eh Joe?.

Now if one of those advisers decides they're being misquoted or misused, breaks cover and cries foul, then we will have something to talk about. And, if there's a case to answer I'll be all for it. But there isn't, so if and until that happens, nothing to see here. :yawn:


Very simplistic reply. Its much more nuanced than that. Point is obviously as you know but being disingenuous again scientists offer ADVICE on different options along with other professionals/disciplines . The Govt.CHOOSES and has take responsibity for the final decision. Of course politicians would never look to pass the buck when it suits would they? Yes Minister?

Sorry Frank – must say I’m with BG here. However, you look at the outcome it’s increasingly impossible to draw any conclusion other than things have been handled badly in all sorts of way. Now the government are repeatedly hiding behind the mantra the “we were only following the science” which sounds very like the “we were only following orders” defence to wash their hands of culpability. Government doesn’t work like that and it really is a bogus and cowardly act to try and pass the blame to scientists for policy …… there was a most revealing slip of the tongue recently by a minister who said they were “following the political science”. Quite.

From the very beginning they have been absurdly secretive about what the scientific advice actually was and indeed who was giving it. They originally claimed they couldn’t reveal who was even on the Sage committee to protect its members from the press and/or intimidation – that sounded a bit weak – but OK, give them the benefit. Then it transpires that this ‘independent’ science panel has many people on it who are effectively civil servants on the government payroll (not that that I’m saying that should preclude them) and amongst its august ranks is actually Boris’s ‘Vote Leave’ campaign manager and Dominic Cummins ……Ah, yeah, but, they were merely ‘observers’ weren’t they ?……. Except for when it suited them to leak stories that the heroic Dominic had persuaded the reluctant egg-heads to impose the lock-down (as opposed to the scurrilous story in the Times from an insider who said Cummins had basically argued to let old people die). Hurrah for good old Dom then? Maybe, maybe not - we could get to the truth by having a look at the minutes of the meetings? Except of course we’re not allowed to see the full minutes of these meetings - what has been released has been heavily redacted and they’re now saying they can’t give full disclosure of the evidence and timelines until the pandemic is over. Why?

The point is that following advice is not the same as taking advice. Any discussion amongst scientists is bound to cover a whole heap of ideas and possible scenarios & courses of action especially as fresh evidence emerges. Also the government won’t just take evidence from scientists – they understandably have to consider the economics, the resources available and last (but far from least) assess political realities. So when you have the likes of Dominic Cummins on the Sage committee it is blatantly obvious those factors will be thrown into the discussions so to then blame policy mistakes squarely on the scientists is pretty despicable IMO.

A few quotes from eminent scientists put it much better than me:-

Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (The president of the Royal society) - “The science is complicated and putting it into policies also complicated and so you can’t just say you’re following the science in every case,” …….“I think what ministers should say is, ‘we’re heeding the science advice, we’re considering it when we make our decisions’ – that would be a more honest thing. Politicians are in charge, and they decide what advice they get,” ……. “Scientists like me are invited to give advice and have no power to enact any decisions. They don’t have to accept the advice, and indeed should take a wider view than the science when making decisions – they are elected by the population to take decisions on our behalf.”

Professor Brian Cox said ” “I’ve seen instances of the phrase ‘we were following the science’ as a very simple defence to a difficult question,”. “I worry that if you have a straightforward defence to a difficult question which is ‘we were always following the science’ then that masks a whole area of debate that will have gone on behind the scenes. The politicisation of science or scientific advice might deliver some short-term political advantages. It's very tempting, I think, to blame the science if a decision is made which subsequently turns out to be suboptimal in some way. But, this will have, I think, have serious long-term consequences because it undermines public trust in science. We need to see how ministers made the decisions, and how they may have changed their minds as new knowledge became available, because this is the way to enhance the public trust. I think you can see why there's concern in the scientific community over the, 'we are following the science message'.

Professor Devi Sridhar (chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh) ” As a scientist, I hope I never again to hear the phrase ‘based on the best science and evidence’ spoken by a politician. This phrase has become basically meaningless and used to explain anything and everything.”

Prof Mark Woolhouse (epidemiologist at University Edinburgh) ” I do think scientific advice is driven far too much by epidemiology – and I’m an epidemiologist. I understand that the government is being advised by economists, psychiatrists and others, but we’re not seeing what that science is telling them. I find that very puzzling.”

The government have also been guilty of playing fast-and-loose with statistics and facts throughout to avoid acknowledging their failures & mistakes. . I’ve mentioned before how the PM selectively quoted Prof David Spiegelhalter’s balanced article in the Guardian to back up his claim that comparisons with other countries were “fruitless” - only to be subsequently asked by the professor to stop quoting him and that was NOT what he was saying. On Sunday he (Prof Speigelhalter) was on the Andrew Marr show and he called the Covid briefings a an “embarrassment” and said the stats presented were nothing more than a “numbers theatre” that were quite misleading – precise numbers of deaths quoted that we all know are far fewer than the true total and claims about testing rates that are also disingenuous.

Anyone who watched Charlie Broker’s brilliant ‘anti-viral wipe’ recently would have been astonished to see footage from March 7th of Boris Johnson visiting a hospital with Covid-19 patients literally boasting about how he’d shaken hands with everyone there. We also know he didn’t even bother going to the first 5 Cobra meetings about the developing crisis because apparently he had more important things to occupy his time. Now it may be circumstantial evidence but it seems pretty obvious he and the government did not understand the seriousness of the situation so any advice they were given would have been acted upon with that casual cavalier attitude that Johnson embodies. Now they're setting up the scientists to be the fall-guys for the inevitable enquiry. Disgraceful.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 16:57 22 May 2020
by KeithB
OK, I'm not the biggest fan of Boris, but why have a chief medical & scientific advisor, if you don't consider their advice?
The problem is there are an endless number of 'experts' with conflicting opinions (mostly after the event).
Nobody has the right answer, just different opinions.
The real flaw has been the data modelling and its interpretation ... rubbish in, rubbish out!
The early part of this UK response has been all about capacity management, and buying time to undestand the virus.
Although not perfect, I actually think the government have done a reasonable job.
Forget all the political spin and follow the actions. The truth is that will only ever know the real 'cost' when the crisis is over.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 19:35 22 May 2020
by Frank_Butcher
Ave_IT - nice to see you back. I had hoped for a response or acknowledgement to my last reply to you but hey ho... ;)

Your selected quotes may indeed come from eminent scientists etc. but I believe only one of them sits on SAGE - the others are just sniping from the sidelines, perhaps with no insight to the relationship betwene SAGE and government. And your selective quote from that one person, Ramakrishnan, includes the point "They don’t have to accept the advice...". Very true, but that also implies that they may do so as well. Well, what if they did accept the advice - and are continuing to do so?

I don't know the extent to which they are, but the fact remains that aside from Ferguson's 'different reasons' and Ramakrishnan's point of accountability (which I believe is fair), none of those 50-60 odd eminent professionals has resigned or spoken out against the decisions that have been made, and yet people in these positions are traditionally extremely honourable and principled.

Revelations may well come but until, or if, that happens then their relative silence speaks volumes for me.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 22:06 22 May 2020
by Ave_IT
So because the scientists on this commitee that is so cloaked in secrecy we can't see what is discussed........because those scientists haven't totally broken ranks (if not the official secrets act) ......we must assume everything the government says is exactly representative of the advice given??? Really? Why the F*** don't they release the full advice and discussions into the public domain then?

By the way that Prof David Spiegelhalter I mentioned did give evidence to Sage (but not a 'member') and Sir Ian Boyd (a member) for one has said he wanted the government to act sooner - so saying 60 odd scientists are not critial is quite untrue.

Also - you can't just dismiss eminent scientists not on the commitee as just "sniping from the sidelines". What exactly are they saying you take issue with? I haven' t "selectively quoted" them either, I quote them for their concise erudite points. Nor are they unrepresentative of the wider science community. The chief scientific adviser to Tony Blair (Prof David King) has formed a shadow Sage panel of emminent scientists that do publish their discussions. This guy knows how politicians can treat scientific advice. Here's a non selective quote from him about the official inquiry into BSE (mad cow disease) :-

"The conclusion in the inquiry that was held into the government handling of the BSE crisis was that the ministers were telling the scientists what to say and not listening to science advice. And in particular, the result was driven by the desire to sell British beef here and abroad, rather than deal with the crisis that was pending in the transfer of disease to human beings. So the advice of the [inquiry] published just after I was appointed in November 2000, was: Chief scientific advisers and all science advisers in government should have an independent voice, which means they should be able to put their information and advice that they’ve given into government into the public domain. That became my mantra.

That lack of transparency is why he (and many scientists) are so furious at the way the government is presenting the science.

PS... I've been busy Frank ;) - not complaining - very lucky to have a job I like

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 22:29 22 May 2020
by Frank_Butcher
Still time ;) .

Sorry, what you don’t seem to grasp - like some others on here - is that I don’t take a position without evidence to support it. If that appears, I’ll consider it. You seem to have made your mind up on the basis of others’ supposition. As you said Spiegelhalter isn’t a member of Sage. And if Boyd feels so strongly, why not resign his position and do some real damage?

And I’m well aware of ‘Independent Sage’. But that doesn’t change anything - they may have an opinion, it may even be right, but they aren’t the Government’s scientific and medical advisers are they? And they haven’t been for the last 3 months.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 23:56 22 May 2020
by Ave_IT
But what you don't seem to grasp is there's a shed load of over-whelming evidence the government response has been......errrrr..... 'sub-optimal' in many different respects. The question is how much can the blame be laid at the door of the scientific advice (as they are now scape-goating) or their own political competence and policies. The fact they want to deliberately obviscate (is that the right word?.....sounds good!) .....they deliberately obviscate the decision making process and their own track record of wilfully distorting evidence, statistics and facts certainly strongly suggests to any reasonable person they are the main culprits. At the end of the day THEY are the government - THEY make policy. To quote the president of the Royal society again:-

"Scientists like me are invited to give advice and have no power to enact any decisions. They don’t have to accept the advice, and indeed should take a wider view than the science when making decisions – they are elected by the population to take decisions on our behalf.”

To duck that responsibilty is gutless & cowardly.

Re: Coronavirus

Posted: 01:37 23 May 2020
by AdelaideGreen
People arriving in the UK must self-isolate for 14 days from 8 June to help slow the spread of coronavirus, the government has said.

Travellers will need to tell the government where they will quarantine, with enforcement through random spot checks and £1,000 fines in England.


https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52774854

Err ....... hasn't the horse rather bolted here?

And plans to impose this only from June 8?

This should have been done over two month ago at least - if it was worth doing - and if it's needed now, implement it now.

Australia and NZ did this in March, and new arrivals don't just promise to go home and stay there - they tried that and surprise, surprise not everybody did what they promised - so they are taken to a government selected hotel to serve out their quarantine. Nice hotels, government pays for it - but still only a small hotel room (pray you get a balcony).

It worked there because it largely prevented community transmission. Once that gets started it is like a wildfire - very hard to get under control. And community transmission is well and truly rampant.

And they do this as they relax other Covid-19 rules...

Stay alert. The country needs lerts.

:facepalm: