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COVID inquiry

Recently, there has been a lot of interest in – and excitement about – the UK Covid inquiry. The focus is – unsurprisingly – on the first days of the pandemic in 2020, and on the decisions leading to the first lockdown.

Many people have provided more or less balanced commentaries and views related to the lockdown. A lot of them err on the side of using too much hindsight, imputing all we know now into what was known at the time.

This is why diaries from the time are so important, as they attempted to capture the actual state of knowledge and mind at that time. The tweet/X above by @jim_reed provides a good running commentary on the current situation.

Interestingly, I wrote the following in March 2020, which, I think, captures neatly what was happening at that time:

Is my government doing enough/too much? You need to understand that a politician needs to carefully balance the pros and cons of any action they take, as the consequences might be massive. This means that they tend to either do nothing (President Trump before the 11th of March) or go into a full action (President Trump after the 11th of March). They will not want to be accused of needlessly spending money. Still, on the other hand, they do not want to see TV programmes about hundreds of people dying in hospitals. In fact, our own research shows that for people, there are two rational strategies, do nothing, or act with a full force. Economists call it a ‘bang-bang’ approach.  So, expect the governments to swing between different options as they face the biggest crisis since 2008.

AK, March 12th, 2020

So true for the following three years…

“Endemic” Covid – Autumn 2023

I have not had much time recently to update this blog. A combination of personal issues and workload has caused other things to be more important. I am also just about to go on a short break to one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, but before leaving, a very quick update on Covid:

Unfortunately, the UK is entering a new Covid wave. Fueled by new variants, immunity loss, and children returning to school, it will likely stretch into Autumn, possibly joining the flu (and RSV) season.

Note how cases in Scotland are increasing more rapidly than in England – children are back at school north of the border, whereas English children are still on holiday. And, I suspect the big peak in the 15-24 ages was caused by the Edinburgh Fringe.

It is not only the UK that is facing the return of Covid. Again, a combination of the loss of immunity with an increased contact rate due to return from holidays brings another Covid wave.

As a reminder, Covid is “endemic” which means that it is always present in the population (in Greek, Endēmos is formed of en meaning “in”, and dēmos meaning “the people”). It regularly becomes an “epidemic” as it causes waves like the one we are experiencing now. But, many people saying that it is not longer a “pandemic”.

Measles risk

I have been very quiet recently, with my last post in May. Many things have happened since, so regular blogging was not my priority.

In the meantime, I have written a new piece for The Conversation, on measles and vaccination. All The Conversation articles are very short (a limit of 800 words), so it is not easy to put in all caveats and mathsy detail. Hopefully, I will find time to explain in more detail here (or on Substack) in a not-too-distant future.