Saturday, October 16, 2021


Posting this mostly because some people seem to be under the misapprehension that the UK is doing really well at coping with COVID, at least in comparison to our European neighbours. It's simply not true, though it's hard to discern quite how poorly we are doing from most of the media including the BBC. This article in the FT presents some of the data, and I'll take some more from OWID.

While the rapid start of the vaccination campaign was certainly impressive and genuinely superior to the rest of the EU, we have now been overtaken by many of our neighbours.

That's us 2nd from bottom on that chart of major European nations.

Vaccination of children has been abysmal, both with the stupid delay due to JCVI's shilly-shallying, and then the slow roll-out. Boosters are running at about half the rate that the original vaccination was, so the backlog is growing rapidly.


Our own volunteer-run vacc centre was mothballed a while back, we could be doing a thousand a day no problem, but it's apparently not part of the plan.

Case numbers are far higher here than just about anywhere else in Europe. USA is comparable, which is hardly an endorsement.

And of course plenty of deaths too:

Yes, both France and Spain had a bit of bump in the late summer, but quickly got on top of it, which we haven't bothered to do. There's no sign of any improvement and in fact the recent case numbers are ticking up quite firmly, so we can probably expect deaths to follow. The deaths aren't really the only problem of course, the knock-on effect of pressure on the hospitals affects a much broader range of people who aren't even infected.

In case you are thinking optimistically that just about everyone must have had it by now and the numbers must be about to go down, I've seen it said that some regions of Iraq, the total number of cases to date is substantially higher than the population, i.e. many people have had it twice or more. Immunity doesn't last. Of course the severity of the disease is far lower after vaccination, and hopefully will also drop with prior infection. But it's not going to go away and the reluctance of the govt to take any action to help control the disease probably means we'll be stuck with very high levels for the foreseeable future.


William M. Connolley said...

> the stupid delay due to JCVI's shilly-shallying

Indeed. Our experts failing us.

Overall, though, life largely seems to be back to normal, at least my kind of life, so I'm kinda unsurprised that the govt doesn't feel much pressure to do anything, because I suspect most people don't want it to do anything. And it rarely appears in the news, cos everyone is bored of it and hoping it will all go away.

Anteros said...

When you say "We'll be stuck with very high levels for the foreseeable future" it sounds like you think those levels are unacceptable. But if half the current deaths are vaccinated people, we have about 50 (vaccinated) people dying a day. Very easy to think that that's a lot but it's roughly a moderate flu-season number.

My perspective is if we were offered that a year ago we'd have bitten hands off to get it. I might be wrong but I also guess that the death rate will continue to fall over the next few years even if it requires twice-yearly boosters.

So I wouldn't want the Gov' to do much beyond continually encouraging vaccination/boosters and putting teeny bits of pressure on those who don't want them.

Phil said...

USA's case rate/million is well below the UK's. 1,500 vs 4,340

USA's death rate/million is well above, about twice the UK's. 25 vs 12

Lower vaccination rate in the USA seems the likely suspect.

Chris S said...

Vaccination of children has indeed been abysmal. Our government not only doesn't learn from its mistakes - it doesn't learn from its successes either.

It had a vaccination program in full swing, run by local health authorities, yet where I live at least, contracted out the vaccination of 12 - 15 year olds to a private company, Virgin Healthcare. Result - vaccination rates of 14% in this age group the last time I looked.

Our 14 year old son was due to have his vaccination two weeks ago, but Virgin Healthcare cancelled the vaccinations for the whole school one day before he was due to have it.

The obvious time to vaccinate this age group would have been in August before the start of the school term. As you say, this stupid delay has led to the virus spreading throughout schools and into the wider community. Doh!