Analysis

Govt’s SAGE committee knows reopening schools likely to lead to 2nd spike – and other scientists find same

Government’s scientific advisers – and other scientific groups – recognise return to school likely to fuel second and potentially larger ‘spike’

Extracts from reports by the government’s own scientific advisors show beyond doubt that the Tories are well aware that sending children back to school is dangerous – and likely to cause another ‘spike’ in coronavirus infections and deaths, potentially even larger than the first.

And research by other science groups agrees.

The Tories and their allies in the media – and some on the Labour right – have mounted a massive propaganda campaign attacking teachers and their unions for being unwilling to put children in the firing line of the virus, with appalling rhetoric and a blithe dismissal of the risk to children as small, in spite of the rapid growth in cases of ‘Kawasaki syndrome’-like illness in children infected with the coronavirus.

But the government’s own papers make it plain that the Tories know the dangers of doing so.

SPI-M-O

According to its page on the government’s website, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, or SPI-M-O for short,

gives expert advice to the Department of Health and Social Care and wider UK government on scientific matters relating to the UK’s response to an influenza pandemic (or other emerging human infectious disease threats). The advice is based on infectious disease modelling and epidemiology.

SPI-M is currently reporting to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

And an SPI-M-O report dated February and titled “Consensus view on the impact of mass school closures” shows that the government’s slowness to close schools in the first place cost lives:

The larger impacts [on limiting viral spread] are seen when closures take place early in a UK outbreak.

The report also makes clear that longer closures are more effective:

longer school closures are likely to have more effective than shorter ones.

…the [modelling] suggests an effect of the order of 20 – 60% reduction [in the scale of the epidemic for a 6-12 week closure], while the compartmental models suggest 7.5% – 30%.

And the report is clear that a return to school risks driving cases and infections back up:

Once schools are reopened, the number of cases may increase again, with the overall attack rate not being reduced.

Official: Potential Impact

A government report titled ‘OFFICIAL: Potential impact of behavioural and social interventions on a Covid-19 epidemic in the UK – 9 March 2020’ echoes the same finding. Discussing the measures taken by governments in Singapore and Hong Kong, the report notes that social distancing and school closures – which the UK government crept towards weeks after the report was circulated (while cancelling parliamentary gatherings to protect MPs), are effective but that reopening schools would help drive a ‘large second epidemic’:

combining stringent social distancing measures, school closures and quarantining cases, as a long-term policy, may have a similar impact to that seen in Hong Kong or Singapore, but this could result in a large second epidemic wave once the measures were lifted

Children as transmitters

A Swiss report by epidemiologists and medical professionals Shedding of infectious SARS-CoV-2 in symptomatic neonates, children and adolescents confirms in its conclusions the role of children in the spread of the virus – to each other and to adults:

SARS-CoV-2 infects children across all age groups… it would be naïve not to consider them as transmitters

This information, published last month, is also available to the government and its scientific advisers – yet the government continues to cast doubt on the ability of children to pass the infection to others in order to shore up its case for re-opening schools.

Ignorance would be no excuse – but it cannot be claimed anyway

The government’s measures for ‘COVID-secure’ work and school places are a joke. The Tories know that putting children back into schools spreads the virus but have taken no significant steps to limit that spread. There has been no provision for serious preventative measures – not even a hint of the kind of protections put in place by countries such as China, which include disinfection for children on the way into and out of school as well as perspex shields and free masks for all children and teachers.

Boris Johnson was not merely slow to close schools in the first place, but even took steps to force them to stay open. Now, knowing that to do so will open the floodgates to another disastrous peak of infections and deaths, he is rushing to reopen them.

He is doing this in spite of a complete absence of meaningful preparations to protect children – and he is not just doing so against the advice of unions and medical professionals, but orchestrating attacks on them for not bowing to his wishes. Ignorance would be no excuse – but he cannot claim it anyway.

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38 comments

  1. 09 March is a long time ago in this pandemic. Lots of modelling done then and previously based on influenza. CV is nothing like influenza and 10 weeks later we know that.

  2. Children are not transmitters of the disease. Just like wasps don’t sting in the month of June.

  3. Starmer should be jumping on this, never mind being forensic about graphs, someone compared the Tory Party’s policy on care homes was akin to the Mongols catapulting plague victims into their enemy stockade at the seige of Caffa, the Tories sent CV19 victims into the closed enviroment that care homes are with no protection for the residents or staff,

    1. “Opening schools will cause more misery and death.”

      Only if enough parents are daft enough to send their kids to school (would you?) – if not the Tories will be utterly humiliated and Johnson will have proved himself unable to govern, and therefore no longer fit to lead the conservative party.
      Bit surprised Cumminge would tell him the risk of his diktat being disobeyed was worth taking – could he be thinking about switching horses?

    2. Misery and death. Death and misery. That’s the story of johnson & Cummings.

  4. This reopen the schools malarkey is part of the Govt’s deliberate plan to sow dissension and confusion , abetted by the MSM . They have so far entirely refused to establish what ‘herds’ they are defining in their continuing plan for ‘herd immunity’ and allowing by default England , Ireland , Scotland and Wales to be regarded politically as ‘herds’ . This is of course an epidemiological nonsense . North Wales is part of the Merseyside ‘herd’ , with a couple of hundred sparsely populated miles between them and South Wales . In this way of deliberate obfuscation I suspect they are hoping to ‘scotch’ rational regional Public Health definitions and plans , and therefore decentralised ‘tracking & tracing’ as a whole . It could all be down to the public’s continuing to ‘clap for carers’ and ignore what I suspect is the Govts , undeclared real intention . Public Health Regions would be a template for a federal UK . Why doesn’t the Scott Trust hive off the London Guardian and start a local daily newspaper . I’d buy it ,

  5. It would very enlightening if these “ experts “ could provide data which shows how many children have been affected, how children have not been affected what is the percentage of the millions of school children in the U.K. and, if there is any past cases of the majority schools being forced to close by an infectious diseases from the myriad of diseases which could affect them.

    1. As you know, brianbotou, there is no such data. There is something almost touching about Skwawkbox’s frantic clutching at any straws in order to maintain the incoherent panic narrative.

      We do know that children themselves are not at significant risk from the virus (far less than from influenza). That is now firmly established.

      As to the dangers of children passing on the virus – the comprehensive survey of viral infections from Iceland showed no transmission of Covid-19 between children and their parents.

      A major problem of infection now is the spread of exaggerated and misdirected bullshit leading to increasing damage to the workers as the lock-up disbenefits begin to bite.

      1. You must know by now this government have got everything wrong from day one, they keep insisting their mistakes were for the good of the people and science based, Iceland went in for testing and isolation rather than the herd immunity our lunatics pushed for, they closed the borders with the rest of schengen, the fact they are free of childhood infection is down to planning not luck, We have a government guilty of criminal neglect

      2. I think you might like to take your argument to the lancet, I prefer to take expert doctors approach myself who have been sharing information with each other from ‘on the ground’ observations see https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31129-6/fulltext
        Whilst children are proving not to be significant carriers the parents are, schools for security reason tend to have restricted access points. To allay concerns information needed to be presented to parents to show that for instance starting times would be say x amount in half hourly intervals so no more than 10 parents would be turning up at the same time, it’s the huge lack of information that is causing the fears and the very real fears that children can indeed become ill see lancet above, not just your kids will be going back June 1st.

        There is little or no trust in this government!

      3. Like so much of this Corona-19 the organisations promoting it ( even on the left) are using fear, hyperbole, repetitive narratives and unchallenged pronouncements from the “ experts “ whose failures about the epidemics over the last 3 cases have been so conveniently washed down the memory plug hole. The old adage, you can fool all the people some of the time but not all the people all of the time is beginning to be revealed albeit slowly.

      4. There is something almost touching about Skwawkbox’s frantic clutching at any straws in order to maintain the incoherent panic narrative.

        Yes, RH, I think you’re onto something. We’re getting this from a lot of sources you’d expect to know better. This crisis is creating some strange bedfellows!

  6. Careless Talk(ing) costs lives.
    Explaining and re-inforcing to young children to maintain personal space slightly hopeful.
    The quickest way to help the spread of the virus and achieve rapid herd immunity is enclosed spaces , numerous people, not discouraging talking(the virus can remain in air space for 8 minutes) and not respecting the 2 metre personal space.
    Schools and Public Transport are good examples of high risk situations events.
    No Sages in this government.

  7. How can kids go back when teachers are apparently refusing to go back… I’m afraid my head is spinning, I read there is now Covid toe! Normally I would assume this is a parody but these days everything has to be Covid related or it doesn’t matter.

    I put this on another thread but will repeat. My sister told me yesterday that the primary school local to her has remained open for children of key workers. She walks past nearly every day and can see in the windows, no masks, no distancing just looks like normal classes. We don’t usually talk about the pandemic but it happened to come up talking about my health.

  8. When it first came out, you couldn’t get it by someone sneezing on you – only coughing or touching spread it.

    Then facemasks were as little as no defence against it. And you have to keep a 2 metre distance as the virus can’t travel any further…Not even by public transport!

    And care homes were safe environments; as were large capacity crowds – because we were assured that transmission between people was ‘low’.

    Then, kids couldn’t catch it…And their symptoms were only mild – if at all noticeable when they did.

    And now, it’s highly transmittable by sneezing, facemasks should be used wherever and whenever possible – especially in close proximity to someone else. And those same snotty-nosed, dribbling kids what couldn’t contract the virus- well, they can – but they CAN’T transmit it, apparently. Not this week, anyway.

    So, shall we have a sweepstake on what flavour of bullshit the next shovelful brings?

    I’ll go for: ‘You can’t transmit it to a family member of the person who transmitted it to you – if they’re not a relative”

    1. ‘You can’t transmit it to a family member of the person who transmitted it to you – if they’re not a relative”
      Not at weekends anyway – that’s why the numbers always go up right after.
      It must be that coz the only other explanation for the weekend dip would be that the civil servants who do the sums are too posh to work weekends.

  9. Where are the psychologists from the. Behavioural Insight Team (Nudge Unit) You don’t need RCT’s to determine the probability of the outcome example a PALMERSTON’s Folly.

  10. Schools still open for key workers children so let’s get some stats about infection from this source since lockdown. If cv incubation period is 5-14 days and it started 23 March and we know infection was around before then, these kids and their families should be dropping like flies but they’re not. Skwawky hysteria misplaced here, but “never let a good crisis go to waste”. A useful quote from that prominent NHS supporter W S Churchill I’m told!

  11. This is the Conservatives’ WMDInvasion of /Iraq.
    1 – they use re-openning schools too early to facilitate their beloved herd immunity/eugenics of unproductive plebs; and
    2 – it makes a large chunk of the electorate realise the real nature of their Government and despise it.

  12. One should take note and listen closely to the advice given by the BMA , they , unlike the commentators here , do know what they are on about , are experts and have no political axe to grind , only the desire to save lives .
    The hysteria being exhibited here in some of the above comments is worthy of a column in the Daily Mail in their desperate drivel in wanting to get kids back to school and hence everyone by de-facto back to work .
    I thank God that you lot are not in power and have no relevance ( just like me) outside of this blogshpere
    Keep up the good Tory work Boris will be proud of you lot .
    PS R factor now at 1 .

    1. The BMA is not quite the impartial, unpolitical body that you claim.

      The BMA is dominated by supporters and promoters of allopathic medicine, a tradition which has been taken-over by big pharm and pharmaceutical symptom management mascerading as ‘medicine’.

      Point is, it’s only a short step from pro-pharmaceutical medicine to viciously pro-capitalist globalism (as embodied by the Gates foundation and other billionaires’ pressure groups, and is, of course, a highly political stance, which often breaks the hypocritical oath of medics to ‘do no harm’.

    2. ”only the desire to save lives”

      It’s not spelt ‘save lives’ it’s spelt ‘save pensions’

      *Or ‘prolong careers’

  13. You would think after damage done to the Labour party by evidence free AS Scam we would see through this kind of hysteria
    Or that there would be evidence that bairns are in danger or super transmitters by now
    Apparently not
    Stick to what we know from other countries and insist we follow the same precautions
    Are the government ready to open schools on 1st June
    Answer No
    KISS
    Keep it simple stupid

  14. ‘Herd Immunity’ & ‘Cull the Herd’………………….how can you most easily control transmission? Open & close schools especially in specific areas & observe results when some form of testing programme can identify hot spots………then open or close the tap. An opportunity to both cull the herd & expand the immunity. All generations to participate.

    1. and let the kids be the Tory Party guinea pigs ,, great plan I like it ( so says Dominic )

  15. https://www.medialens.org/2020/an-illusion-of-protection-the-pandemic-the-criminal-government-and-public-distrust-of-the-media/
    An Illusion Of Protection: The Pandemic, The ‘Criminal’ Government And Public Distrust of The Media
    ……..’Here in the UK, honest and responsible journalism would have made it clear, regularly and prominently, that many deaths were avoidable and a consequence of damaging government policies including:

    the imposition of ‘austerity’ in past years
    the deliberate corporate-driven break-up of the National Health Service
    the government’s lack of preparedness for a pandemic
    the belated move to lockdown and the present rush to ‘open up the economy’ and send children back to school
    If we had an actual functioning ‘mainstream’ media, it would be holding this disgraceful government to account, properly and comprehensively’………

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