Analysis

Video: govt admits COVID-19 ‘reasonable worst case’ is over half million UK deaths

Boris Johnson and advisers don’t say number out loud, but their maths is clear

Boris Johnson, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) appeared on national television this morning and admitted that a UK death toll from the COVID-19 coronavirus of more than half a million people is a ‘reasonable’ worst-case scenario.

They didn’t say that number out loud, of course – that might lead to uncomfortable questions about the Tories sham ‘quarantine‘ of potentially infected passengers – but the maths is simple:

The UK’s population at the last census in 2011 was a little over 63 million. Johnson’s advisers admitted that it is not unrealistic that eighty percent of the population will catch the disease – more than fifty million people.

And they admit – although they raised potential factors that might reduce it – that current experience suggests that 1% of those catching the disease are likely to die from it.

That equation means more than half a million UK people dying from a disease that the Tories have done little to prevent or combat so far.

The government’s language of the ‘great majority’ surviving is little comfort – and does nothing to cover their reckless and frankly lazy approach at the outset of this crisis.

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27 comments

  1. Apparently the latest figures from China indicate mortality rate is 3.5% of those who catch the disease. Those most at risk are: over 60’s; people with pre existing breathing problems eg: emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, copd etc; those with a compromised immune system.
    Their mortality rate is far above 3.5%. Food for thought.

  2. Does anyone doubt the virus will be used for human rights violations and freedom by this government.The NHS is on its knees and may be finished off with the virus.No other government within living memory would dare to roll over the great welfare and health reforms gifted by a reformist Labour government ahead of its time in history..We will soon see the disaster of rejecting a Corbyn Government when the body bags arrive in the terraced streets and tower blocks of the working class.Don’t be in any doubt that the virus Will be discrimetary with better provision in private sector healthcare and isolation.Johnson knows a mass culling has somone on here mentioned will save billions.in health,social security and healthcare……Don’t aceppt its in gods hands.ITs in the hands of the most cruel regime of Johnson and his TORY psychopaths.

    1. Hi Joseph, just a quick query, how would a Corbyn government prevent this contagion? What welfare and health reforms is BoJo rolling over? Been working so not seen any reference to these measures that you refer to.

    2. Since it appears elderly are the most at risk of dying for the disease, it would save the government a lot in pensions.
      No wonder the government is thinking how to force nurses and doctors out of retirement to look after those stricken by the virus.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson and his minions are calculating how much savings can be made.

    3. “We will soon see the disaster of rejecting a Corbyn Government ”

      Oh FFS! Incoherent and incontinent ranting about the Spiv brigade isn’t going to cure or moderate this epidemic, even if we are afflicted by a singularly incompetent government. The authoritarian measures enabled by the Chinese haven’t proved a solution, either.

      ‘Mass culling’? Of the Tories’ main support base? Get the brain in gear.

      As has been pointed out – one of the ancillary dangers is the amount of misinformation and sheer crap pumped out on social media.

    1. Yes but what health and welfare reforms you refer to instituted by Labour is he cancelling? You know I have enormous respect for you Joseph with your careful analysis of economic matters, so I’m sure you wouldn’t have made it up. What did Jeremy say he’d do differently when he shared his thoughts with you? You owe it to your many admirers to let us know!

  3. Half a million is about right according to this study from October 2019:
    https://futurism.com/neoscope/recent-simulation-coronavirus-killed-65-million-people

    65 million worldwide is 0.8% of the population. If spread evenly across the world then that equates to the half million figure for the UK (0.8% of 65 million)

    The best bet for everyone is to assume you’ll get it, but spend between now and then boosting your immune system.
    I use a tablespoon of honey a day on my cereal, with a level teaspoon equivalent of tumeric and ginger. Fruit after every meal. No dairy of course.
    Peak Prosperity website recommends elderberry syrup twice a day; brazil nut daily to boost your selenium; and green tea.
    None of these will cure you of coronavirus. But everything you can do to boost your pre-existing immune system is going to help your body fight it, and normal colds and flu as well.

    One thing you don’t do is put faith in your politicians to fix this. A cull of the most vulnerable in society fits into their eugenics agenda, so our leaders will quite happily do as little as possible to deal with this.
    The good news is, as Iran has found, the top leaders are not immune. Already an Iranian MP (the equivalent of) has died of it, and a senior government minister has it (their foreign secretary possibly?). A cull of fascistic oligarchs will be a welcome side-effect of the corona virus.

  4. One of the worst aspects of the virus is seeing the Government spokesmen adopting the Tory smirk. It’s simply infuriating. ‘Half a million Oldies to die’ (That will stop the old buggers complaining! – Smirk). It’s the same Smirk the ex-Bullingdon Boys gave the beggars as the £50 notes went up in flames. Smirk smirk.

  5. Aging populations were identified as an increasing problem for developed countries a long time ago.
    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it Allan? 🙂

    Being retired and living alone shopping is the only activity I can’t avoid where I’m likely to become infected – last night I saw a lone young man, possibly Korean, just standing inside the supermarket entrance using his phone – it flashed across my mind as I walked past him that he could be part of the Shincheonji Church diaspora doing his bit to bring about the apocalypse. I didn’t build a conspiracy theory on it though 🙂
    A pre/early-symptomatic shelf filler or checkout person could easily infect hundreds if the virus can survive for a few hours on surfaces.

    The only thing short of an immediate cure guaranteed to stop COVID-19 in its tracks within weeks would be a complete ban on travel country to country and town to town – in which case we’d starve instead.

    We haven’t, as far as I know, been told yet how long before and how long after being symptomatic infected people test positive.
    Clearly it’s crucial, given that we can’t self-test, that if self-isolation is to be effective we know how long after we feel OK we should remain isolated.
    Testing of the passengers on the cruise ship and others ought to have produced some parameters by now.

    Given that the young may suffer only mild symptoms they may assume they have a simple cold, not self-isolate, take a cold remedy, say nothing and continue working.
    The government is only pretending it can take effective measures.
    It’s a lottery whatever they do.

    1. There are effective measures that could be tried. Screening of arrivals at airports; disinfecting public transport; urgently expanding emergency sector of NHS; restricting movement from infected areas; settling policy on sick pay for gig workers; mobilising the Forces to provide help; planning large camps for patients in isolation (at least identify where and start ordering the tents etc etc). It’s chilling that this Government prefers inaction with its ‘let’s wait and see’ plan which isn’t a plan at all. No doubt all the Government bunkers are freshly cleaned and equipped? No ‘real’ danger then!

      1. IR thermo-screening at airports won’t detect those who aren’t yet symptomatic – unless you’re considering scraping all their throats and sending the samples for testing? There’s nowhere they can stay isolated until results come back – and just Heathrow has over 100,000 passengers arriving every day.
        “Disinfecting” public transport won’t prevent person to person transmission and fabric seats will become wet. Useless. The spraying you see on the news is just for show so the authorities look like they’re in control.
        Restrict movement? Forces personnel? Tented camps?
        None of that makes any sense.

      2. Doesn’t an elevated temperature tell you something? It only takes seconds. Simply to do nothing is to follow the Government’s line. So much easier and cheaper and if the punters die then it’s probably their fault for not washing their hands!

      3. ‘Nothing makes any sense’? So perhaps we should should just help dig the mass grave and wait to drop in? Personally I think we should fight it: why not? If only we had a Government that took it seriously rather than agree with you that it’s hopeless, “just say your goodbyes and slide in”. We could restrict the death toll. If we wanted to and some obviously don’t. If China had let it run as the UK intends I wonder where they’d be now? Emergency hospitals are a terrible waste of resources you may think when there is plenty of bare earth available to dig a deep pit.

      4. I didn’t say “nothing” makes sense, I said none of your ideas made sense, and that was a polite way of putting it.
        Your own home is the best location for isolation unless you’re seriously unwell, in which case it’s hospital.
        Hotels will be empty in the most-affected areas – if it gets bad enough to need more beds than temporary buildings outside hospitals can provide, hotels do make sense.
        Those already ill don’t need isolating from each other, but hotels can be designated for either function.
        I dislike having my words twisted – please don’t do it again.

    1. Frank. It’s a bad flu then, particularly for those over 70 with compromised health with a death rate of 15% + which is a lot higher than seasonal flu.

    2. It’s completely unrelated to the flu. They’re different classes of virus (they are both retroviruses though, I think).

      There’s usually some herd immunity to the seasonal flu – there’s a limited number of haemaglutanin and neuraminidase varients (the H and N numbers – so H1N1 and H5N1 flu viruses have the same varient of neuraminidase), so at least some people have been exposed to similar strains in the past. Their immune systems are able to start fighting straight away (that’s why seasonal flu tends to severely affect the old/immunocompromised, and the young, who haven’t been exposed to those molecules before).

      It’s when new strains arise, like the Spanish flu, that you get particularly high morbidity/mortality rates, because there hasn’t been the same exposure to the H and N molecules.

      This coronavirus is completely new as a human pathogen (it was named Novel Coronavirus 2019), so nobody’s been exposed to it in the past, so there’s no resistance at all. So the immune system has to start entirely from scratch to generate antibodies.

      I’m not making any predictions of mortality/morbidity. But a new zoonotic virus where there’s not been prior exposure to its structural proteins is always a worry, especially if it’s easily communicable.

  6. Try as I might, I just don’t believe national government now in this century (Labour, coalition or Tory) have much grasp of the sheer challenges facing local agencies when or if (hopefully not at the present time) they have to meet this challenge

    Our legislative culture is weak.

    In 1919/21 we could fight Spanish Flu with probably the most draconian legislation on a state drawing board – the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA)

    In the last big epidemic – the 1957 “Asian Flu” outbreak (personal note; I was 8 years old then, and in a class of some 30 odd primary school kids. By the end of the epidemic, there were only 17 of us still attending, and we lost one classmate along with his dad) At the time we still had a lot of WW2 controls on the book, and the overall ethos of society was “corporatism” writ large and where everyone would comply with Whitehall and Town hall directives

    Now ? Well………………..

    Who, for example, is going to tell the notoriously short fused Chairman of a local Premier League side that his coming home fixture with Liverpool (and which is on Sky) will have to be called off ? All the council will get will be demands for more justification as a holding device whilst he rushes off to his lawyers and barristers to prepare for Judicial Review

    What will be the reaction of one of the big modern hotel chains like Marriott, Holiday Inns or Hilton by Hampton that their shiny new block will have to be requisitioned by the local NHS as an emergency quarantine centre ?

    The shouting from transport undertakings like the train operators serving your city station to a council request that they wish them to curtail services – services they will say they are under legal contract to provide under their franchise agreement with DFT

    And add the impact of social change.

    In 1919 it would be easy to shut a massive steelworks, or in 1957 a giant car factory employing many thousands – you only had to deal with one local mass employer. and structured Trade Unions Now that has gone utterly and employment is now spread into thousands of small and medium sized enterprises

    Yes, the spirit to do the job will be there – but will the tools and the legislation be commensurate to the scale needed ?

    1. David. I was 10 when I caught Asian flu in 1957. Even at that age I was a bit alarmed when the GP visited daily. My mother was amazed! I remember it took a long time to fully recover.

      1. I copped that one, too (as did my mother). It was extremely nasty, with a number of possible ancillary symptoms – like massive nose-bleeds.

        This virus doesn’t appear to have the same degree of severity.

    2. The QE2 was requisitioned for the Falklands war.
      If a national emergency is declared people will comply.
      Corporations will comply if they ever want to do business with the government again.

  7. Perhaps the best way to fight this as they soon realised in the 2WW is to adopt socialist planning.
    But wonder with the incompetent Tories if it’s a case of Better Dead Than Red?

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