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Is Christmas dinner worth dying for? The Government should be clearer about potentially deadly policy calculations

Happy Covid Christmas


December 1, 2020   5 mins

How much is a nice Christmas lunch with your family worth? Can you ever measure the moments that make life memorable? Well, here’s a way to think about how much value you see in that plate of turkey: how many human deaths are you happy to accept in exchange for it?

The UK’s various authorities have agreed to relax Covid-19 restrictions for five days over Christmas. The result will be that some people will die who would not otherwise have died.

I don’t say this as criticism — either of the policy, the people who made it, or the people who will make use of it. Because there’s actually nothing unusual about a policy choice to accept some deaths in exchange for something else. Policy decisions that kill people are made all the time. Which is why we need to get better, and more honest, about the process of deciding when to let people die.

How much is a human life worth? Philosophers and theologians would give answers in words. Civil servants and — though they never say so explicitly — politicians have a simpler answer: £1.6 million.

That is the current Value of a Prevented Fatality, according to Her Majesty’s Treasury. This is not, technically, the value of a single life. It’s just the maximum sum that HMT says is worth spending to avert a death that would otherwise take place. The figure exists to help officials and politicians decide whether any given policy is justified by the lives it would save — and, by implication, to decide when deaths are acceptable because it would cost too much to prevent them.

That figure of ÂŁ1.6 million is potentially hugely important. It is baked into all sorts of choices, made by government and the private sector — which transport safety improvements are justified, for example, or how much money to spend reducing the chances of nuclear power stations blowing up. But there’s a tiny problem with that “VPF” figure. It’s nonsense.

The VPF is essentially based on some numbers plucked out of the air by a few dozen random members of the public in 1997; 167 members of the public, to be precise. They were responding to the Carthy Study, which asked how much they thought it was worth paying to prevent a minor and then major injuries. The Carthy authors calculated each respondents’ implied answer about the value of a death prevented. Then they averaged out the results and came to the remarkably neat figure of £1 million, which has subsequently grown with inflation.

And according to some academics, it’s far too low. Professor Phillip Thomas of Bristol University reckons it should be between £16 million and £22 million. If that’s even vaguely accurate, we’ve been spending far less on making safe reactors and railways than we need to in order to reflect the value people actually place on the lives of their fellow citizens.

But the trouble is, this is a crude measure that takes no account of the differences between people. Have you ever wondered why the accidental deaths of children get much more media coverage than the comparable deaths of adults? Of course you haven’t: we all instinctively recognise that there is something more viscerally upsetting about the passing of a child.

Part of that gut reaction has a sound economic basis: a child stands to live longer than an adult, so the death of a child means a greater loss of life-years. If we must put a cash figure on lost lives to reflect our collective valuation of life, shouldn’t that figure vary with the amount of life foregone? That would certainly accord with our instinctive gut feel about life, death and loss. But it could take us down a dark path, which we have occasionally caught sight of during the pandemic. Some lockdown sceptics have come close to arguing that the lives of older people are simply less worthy of preservation, meaning the case for precautionary measures that do economic harm to younger people are less justified. Some older people have made the same point. “Should we die, we deserve fewer tears than do those who come after us,” wrote 74-year-old Max Hastings in March.

Those arguments make me uncomfortable, because what happens when their underlying logic is applied on a population-wide scale to things such as healthcare: do we really want to formally declare that older people’s lives are less worth saving than those of the young? And if life expectancies determine our value, are rich southerners’ lives worth more than those of poor northerners?

But the answer to this stuff isn’t to shy away from the issue; it’s to debate it properly and systematically.

The good news is that the Whitehall machine is, slowly, moving to replace that nonsensical VFP figure with something that might just capture the different weights we give to deaths at different ages. Over the summer, the HSE published a comprehensive “scoping study” describing how government could better calculate the values that we collectively assign to human lives.

As the paper concludes:

“Applying such values would lead to better and more informed policy decisions and would have major implications not only for efficiency of government spending but also for equity in population well-being.”

Unsurprisingly, there is no sign of politicians engaging with that study or its implications, even though it’s their job to balance “efficiency” and “equity”.  That’s probably because explaining clearly and openly how you strike such a balance would mean telling some painful truths to voters. Truths such as: sometimes we decide that a few deaths are a price worth paying in order to keep the traffic moving, keep your taxes down or let you spend Christmas with your relatives.

What value has been assigned to the lives that might be lost from that festive relaxation? How does it compare with the benefits for the vast majority who don’t die? If the ministers who advanced the policy — or the opposition parties who accepted it — have answers to those questions, they aren’t sharing them. No doubt in due course a SAGE estimate for the number of additional deaths expected from those five festive days will come to light. But only after the fact, rather than as part of the Government announcement, the scandalously limited political debate about it, or any individual’s decision-making about whether to get together with others for Christmas.

The pandemic has been a test of our thinking about the value of life. Yet we have largely taken decisions that can have life-or-death consequences without a proper conception of how much we are prepared to give up to prevent deaths. And despite the evidence that it will kill, and polls showing the electorate is split on the case for it, the five-day Christmas Covid amnesty is effectively going through on the nod. It’s a stunningly casual way to enact a policy with potentially fatal consequences.

To repeat, I don’t criticise people who chose to travel and mingle at Christmas and in so doing marginally increase the transmission, symptomatic or otherwise, of the virus. Because we all routinely do things that marginally and sometimes indirectly increase the chances that other people will come to harm. If you drive at 80mph instead of 60mph, you make it more likely that someone will die if you have an accident; you also contribute more to both air pollution and climate change, both of which are associated with some additional fatalities. (And yes, I have driven at 80mph and may well do so again.)

The state that acts in our name, uses our shared resources and sets the rules for all sorts of activities, makes similar decisions of life and death on a regular basis, and generally on the basis of shoddy evidence and limited, if any, debate.

Household mingling over Christmas will mean more people die than would otherwise have died. And that’s a perfectly defensible choice, both for individuals and the people behind the policy that allows and encourages it.

But those are choices that should be based on a clear and open discussion of their consequences, not least since those consequences are likely to fall on others. If our representatives have concluded that having a nice lunch with your family in late December is worth contributing to the risk that someone’s gran dies in January, they should set out that calculation calmly, explicitly and openly, rather than by mute implication.

People choosing to make use of the freedom to mix might want to give it some thought too. Enjoy your turkey.


James Kirkup is Director of the London-based Social Market Foundation

jameskirkup

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Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

Lord Sumption put it succinctly. “The purpose of life is not the avoidance of death”.

There is no evidence of the author’s claim that it “kills”, in an implied sense of “…unusual numbers of people”. The current excess mortality rate is comparable to the rate we observe in any so-called “hard” flu year. Most people don’t even notice infection by this latest strain of now endemic coronavirus. Of those who do, the vast majority survive. Of those who don’t survive, the majority have already survived beyond the average human life span.

By definition, the consequence of reaching the end of the natural human life span is death, from an extended list of causes ranging from SAR-CoV-2 to falling over. Condemning granny during one of her last Christmases on the planet to lonely isolation from the people whom she loves and who love her is not going to alter this most non-negotiable fact about the human condition. And, for what it’s worth, it’s repugnant.

The claim that we are “formally declar[ing] that older people’s lives are less worth saving than those of the young” is absurd. In fact, by inexplicably switching medical resource from morbidity affecting the young to morbidity affecting those who have reached the end of the natural human life span, we have formally declared precisely the opposite. Relative to the 5 year average, the cumulative number of excess deaths in 2020 of people aged >85 has plateaued. The excess number of people aged 15-45 dying of non-COVID morbidity began rising in May, and is now firmly established on a rising trend. This is, in a precise sense, a death cult.

So to answer the question “how many human deaths are you happy to accept?” About the usual number. Which is to say – the current number.

Be a good chap and pass the sherry. Granny is enjoying Christmas Dinner, and wants a top up.

thesandybuchan
thesandybuchan
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Thanks for this comment. Could you please share where the morbidity statistics you mention come from?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  thesandybuchan

Lord Sumption usually mentions the fact that the average age for a UK Corvid death is 82.4 whilst UK life expectancy is 81.1.

I gather the average death rate has just crept up to a simply staggering :82.5!

More tea Vicar?

roy welford
roy welford
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

UK life expectancy for males at age 80 is 9 years, and females 10. (UK.gov statistics)
Or to put it another way, if you make it to 80, the chances are you’ll live to 89, or 90 if you are female (and a 1in 4 chance of making 94). So Covid in the elderly is significantly life-shortening, and those extra 9 or more years should not be written off as somehow living on borrowed time. Those lives have meaning and value.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

Tripping amongst the elderly is significantly life shortening. It is misleading to claim that years are being “written off” unless the priority of one of hundreds of potential causes of geriatric death is now arbitrarily increased

Conversely, if you make it to 30, your life expectancy is another 60 years, and we appear to be comfortable writing off those years.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Indeed. Assuming uncorrelated age distribution, fewer than half of the people reading this essay about the need to allocate even more medical resource to geriatric morbidity will be lucky enough to live long enough to die of COVID.

Sol Windrose
Sol Windrose
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

<3

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

What does that mean precisely?

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

That means, assuming a 1 year old can and does read this article as often as a 50 year old….

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

Something like that. It’s probably 0 and 81, with some sort of allowance for change in cohort life expectancy and, well, I gave a rubbish example.

Sol Windrose
Sol Windrose
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

You showed statistics need not be humorless 🙂

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

Shouldn’t that be humourless, or do you have the misfortune to be an American?

Sol Windrose
Sol Windrose
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Unfortunately. Ironically, I used to read so much non-American literature that my school grades suffered for using “our” ^.^ Legal secretarial work knocked that out since our legal system does not tolerate deviance :~)

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

Jolly good!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

So Covid is extending life expectancy?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

What an extraordinary idea, how do you work that out, if I may ask?

peers.lilian
peers.lilian
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I am 85 and have already beaten the virus. i whole heartedly agree that people should make their own judgement as to what to do at Christmas or any other time. At number of people over 60 are too frightened to go out of their front door ( not me I might add), this is what project fear has done. The statistics show how many have died from Covid and tell us that thousands have tested positive, but fail to say how many have survived!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  peers.lilian

Bravo, well said.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  peers.lilian

Total respect for you. Life is for living and no-one’s life is risk-free

Gordon Wolffe
Gordon Wolffe
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Very well said and at least you can think for yourself and make your own choice – that is what living is about

roy welford
roy welford
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

UK average life expectancy for males at age 80 is 9 years, and females 10 years.
Or to put it another way, as a male, if you make it to 80, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll live to 89, or 90 if you are female (and a 1-in -4 chance of making 94). So Covid in the elderly is significantly life-shortening, and those extra 9 or more years should not be written off as somehow living on borrowed time. Those lives have meaning and value.

Weyland Smith
Weyland Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

My dad made it to 80.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

“So Covid in the elderly is significantly life-shortening”

Compared to what? Covid is acting as a substitute for existing morbidities, not an additional morbidity. Following the epidemic that ended in June, excess deaths amongst the elderly is now essentially constant.

roy welford
roy welford
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

That’s not now correct – they’re currently about 15% above normal and rising. The choices of what to do with this infection are extremely difficult and not black and white (especially if you can’t employ effective track and trace) but options along the lines of Great Barrington are unrealistic (ie not based in a workable reality). We have to keep it under control or else neither the economy nor the health service will function. Lockdowns come at a painfully high price, made even worse if employed late in the day, but in the end they do stop spread. Vaccinations will bring the herd immunity we all want, even though the virus will become endemic.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

Can you define which “normal” you used? 5 year average? Typical hard flu year? They yield different measures of excess mortality. What is the delta between this measure and the measure for 15-45 year olds, also rising but due to lockdown? It’s this delta that would drive humane policy making.

Why is stopping spread i.e. accelerating natural immunity in the healthy population a significant goal, do you think? In populations that have allowed natural immunity to develop over the summer in their healthy population, and in places like London where it has developed despite our best efforts to prevent it, per capita death rate is now very significantly lower.

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

Covid isn’t very life shortening even for the over 80s. But anyway, no demographic is worth sacrificing the well-being of the whole, no matter how old they are and that’s what’s happening.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

I was brought up with the adage “moderation in all things”.
You, perhaps in the culture of ‘Me, Me,Me,’ or “enough is never enough ” or worst of all ” because I’m worth it”? Frankly there are millions like ‘you’ and now ‘you’ have critical mass, hence the great Scamdemic.

I having been trotting along in the Valley of Death (VOD) for some years now. Whilst the thought of another nine years is not unappealing, I most certainly do not want it at the cost of my grandchildren’s and great grand children’s future. I and all my friends in the VOD have done all that we ever wanted to do and more, enough is enough, if you can comprehend that?

You say that at 80 you can expect another 9 years or so.
Firstly according to the Age UK figures for 2019, there were 5.4 million
in 75+ cohort, yet only I.6 million in the 85+ cohort, a mere 580K in the 90+ cohort which sounds perfectly reasonable, it does make your figures seem optimistic or as you put it, a “reasonable chance”.

Secondly what of the quality of life (QoL) at 80+! Having Springer Spaniels I walk about 2190 miles a year ( 6 miles a day, every day). As a result my GP thinks I’m quite fit and my vitamin D level is off the Richter scale. However many others in this age group are not. Just pre the Scamdemic I had cause to visit a number of so called ‘Care Homes’. The experience of seeing so many senile old farts, sitting in their own excrement, making the odd mono syllabic grunt was truly depressing, and most of them were considerably younger than me. What QoL was left to them, and yet most were paying about £52,000 for the privilege of been kept alive as an inarticulate cabbage. Where is the mercy in that?

Finally you quirk “those lives have meaning and value”. In some cases definitely yes, but I would guess in the majority no. Either way, are we really going to put the economic and social future of GBplc on the line so that a few selfish old farts (OF) can eek out another nine years, after, in many cases a lifetime of peace and prosperity, the like of which has not been see since the gloriously days of Ancient Rome? I very much hope not.

roy welford
roy welford
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Crikey, Mark, steady on with your rush to vituperation and snap judgements about me – they’re only tempting me to return the personalised analysis.
My stats on life expectancy are from the UK gov site, so anyone can check. It’s naturally good that you’re well and seemingly accepting of your finite life-span, like most people do.
I don’t adopt your utilitarian argument in managing the pandemic. The only practical way to deal with this infection is for everyone to guard against transmission- you can’t draw a line above and below which life is deemed more or less worthwhile, society just doesn’t work that way, even with the old farts, like it or not. Other countries have shown ways of doing that effectively, without over-mortgaging their futures. Labels of scamdemic sadly undermines all efforts to get through this.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

My apologies Roy, I thought I had qualified my remark with perhaps and inverted commas, but in the cold light of dawn recognise it is too inquisitorial.

It’s too early to asses the economic and social damage that C-19 will cause, as I’m sure you agree. However the omens are not good.

I admire you noble sentiments, but frankly old farts (OF) like myself, who have had a lifetime of full-on, plundering of the planet, should now be prepared to go quietly.

I gather there is an American oncologist, by the unlikely name of Ezekiel Emmanuel ( sounds like someone from the “Life of Brian”) who thinks that about 75 should be the limit for OF’s. I tend to agree with him. One method of selection maybe to have some form of exam or test, the “75 plus” for example. Rather like the beloved 11 plus, I suspect 75% of us OF’s would fail.

Either way, it is the young who will decide. “Tomorrow belongs to me”, as they say.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

Roy, I have replied to you but the Censor has yet to release it from Gestapo HQ.

I think the use the expression OF maybe the problem so I shall try again with Coffin Dodger (CD).

Well that didn’t work! So I will give it a little longer before rewriting it. As there is no ‘appeal’ system it is impossible to identify the transgression.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

My apologies Roy, I thought I had qualified my remark with perhaps and inverted commas, but in the cold light of dawn recognise it is too inquisitorial.
It’s too early to asses the economic and social damage that C-19 will cause, as I’m sure you agree. However the omens are not good.
I admire you noble sentiments, but frankly coffin dodgers (CD) like myself, who have had a lifetime of full-on, plundering of the planet, should now be prepared to go quietly.
I gather there is an American oncologist, by the unlikely name of Ezekiel Emmanuel ( sounds like someone from the “Life of Brian”) who thinks that about 75 should be the limit for CD’s. I tend to agree with him. One method of selection maybe to have some form of exam or test, the “75 plus” for example. Rather like the beloved 11 plus, I suspect 75% of us CD’s would fail.
Either way, it is the young who will decide. “Tomorrow belongs to me”, as they say.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

My apologies Roy, I thought I had qualified my remark with perhaps and inverted commas, but in the cold light of dawn recognise it is too inquisitorial.
It’s too early to asses the economic and social damage that C-19 will cause, as I’m sure you agree. However the omens are not good.
I admire you noble sentiments, but frankly coffin dodgers (CD) like myself, who have had a lifetime of full-on, plundering of the planet, should now be prepared to go quietly.
I gather there is an American oncologist, with a unusual name that I forget, ( sounds like someone from the “Life of Brian”) who thinks that about 75 should be the limit for CD’s. I tend to agree with him. One method of selection maybe to have some form of exam or test, the “75 plus” for example. Rather like the beloved 11 plus, I suspect 75% of us CD’s would fail.
Either way, it is the young who will decide. “Tomorrow belongs to me”, as they say.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

My apologies Roy, I thought I had qualified my remark with perhaps and inverted commas, but in the cold light of dawn recognise it is a little too inquisitorial.

James N
James N
3 years ago
Reply to  roy welford

Should I break his heart by explaining how every single common cause of death involves a public calculation of “acceptable losses”?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  James N

You remind me of the late Reginald Maudling’s comment about the early years of slaughter in Northern Ireland, as “an acceptable level of violence”.

He was, off course, correct.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Of course, of course, well spotted!

Maudling was speaking in about 1975 when there had been a dramatic fall in violence from the peak in 1972. He was making the point that road traffic deaths, (about 400 pa) had now exceeded terrorist related deaths and that HMG need not get too excited about the situation. He was correct, in that road traffic deaths consistently exceeded terrorist related deaths for years to come.

James N
James N
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Thank you, sir, but surely someone of your age and wisdom might suspect that most people don’t even know what a spark plug is, let alone comprehend the complex fragility of the privilege they enjoy, and the responsibility required to maintain it. They know to salivate when the media turns the red light on, and that is all.

May your health continue and your wisdom find fertile, rational minds (perhaps beyond the comment section).

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  James N

Thank you for that vote of confidence!

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  thesandybuchan

Hello Sandy. For estimates of infection prevalence, Infection Fatality Rate, and median age of COVID vs. all-cause death, the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University is a good resource. For current versus historic all-cause weekly death rates, Public Health England publish a weekly chart comparing the currently weekly rate with the previous 5 years. For the death rate in each week, for binned age ranges from 0 to 100 for the last decade, the Office For National Statistics publishes a weekly update. I don’t know what Unherd’s policy is on supplying links offsite in its comment section but let me know if you want links.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Hi Richard. Well said. There are some people who have been able to post off site links here, but I have always had mine moderated …. and then nothing shows up. (Some other times I have been moderated, as when I wanted to use the s*x word commenting on an article about s*x, my post eventually showed. But not for the comments with links.) So I just tell people what terms to feed google in order to get it to spit out the page I want them to read.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

Hey Laura – that’s been my experience, and it’s frustrating. If ever there was a time to be able to check who says what based on what authority, it’s now.

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

I think they do allow links. Lets try https://fingertips.phe.org….

Sol Windrose
Sol Windrose
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

It is very difficult to have a healthy discussion without evidence of statistics. Mine were just moderated out for a separate article.

Peter Williams
Peter Williams
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Hi Sandy and Richard. The Government’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) is a good source of empirical data. Particularly when used against arguments for our government’s crazy Covid interventionsðƾ˜Ơ.

I’d also recommend watching Ivor Cummings’s latest podcast. Here’s a link.

https://youtu.be/m121hAiREvc

Ivor has enlisted a data boffin who uses ONS figures and blows the government’s Covid strategies out of the water. By far the most impactful argument I’ve seen against lockdowns etc. His conclusion is that all governments Covid interventions have made absolutely no positive impact on the virus death rate. In fact there is a possibility that one of their actions may have increased this rate.

I’d also suggest to likeminded folk that they take up Peter Hitchen’s plea to keep bombarding your MP with any ammunition that fights for freedom. It seems this is the only lawful protest left to us!

Also wanted to add I have copied Richard’s excellent reply to this scaremongering post and will use it to whenever an opportunity arises to shine a light on this government’s failings, I hope he doesn’t mindðƾ˜Ơ

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Williams

Hello Peter, this is a great post. As a point of reference, I have written to both my MP and my MSP (I live in Scotland) asking them to supply me with evidence as my political representative of (i) the number of emergency laws that have been issued under Covid (Ii) the number they have read (iii) the number they have voted on, and which way.

My MP responded telling me to go and look up her voting record online. My MSP has not responded at all.

Emma Thomas
Emma Thomas
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Excellently put. Thank you.

shinybeast1
shinybeast1
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Well said

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Great comment, if I could have up-voted that twice I would have. I have always found it strange that we get the emotional blackmail from politicians of ‘don’t kill granny’ – oblivious to the fact that granny’s generation (I am about the same age as Matt Hancock – who keeps saying this) would be turning in their graves at the way we have responded to this thing. They didn’t suffer through war and pandemics to see humanity mistreated in this fashion.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

I couldn’t agree more, David. And having watched horrifying scenes from Oxford Street at the weekend of 70 year olds being pinned face down in the tarmac and handcuffed by burly policemen, we might be forgiven for the impression that we are only being “allowed” now to respect the wishes of our elderly relatives because they don’t quite have enough police yet to enforce their isolation.

UPDATE: After posting this, the Conservative government announced that they are increasing police numbers by 20,000.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Lord Sumption prophesied this behaviour back in March. The
Met Police, (“the best Police that money can buy”, as we used to say in the 60’s) are more than happy to poleaxe a 70 year old to the ground, and also grovel and “bend the knee” if required. The Commissioner, d**k Cressida should be called to the Bar of the House of Commons to explain.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

The Lord Sumption prophesied this behaviour back in March.
The Met Police, (“the best Police that money can buy”, as we used to say in the 60’s) are more than happy to poleaxe a 70 year old to the ground, and also grovel and “bend the knee” if required. The Commissioner, Cressida d**k should be called to the Bar of the House of Commons to explain immediately, before serious rioting breaks out both across the Capital and the country.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

As this implies there maybe a problem with the Met, the Censor is prohibiting comments! This is my third, heavily self-censored attempt to reply!

Now at 1500, 2Dec, the Censor has relented and idiotically passed both posts.! Hallelujah!

Moral, don’t get Cressida D***k the wrong way round.

Peter
Peter
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

The hypocrisy of this really sticks in my throat. As you say, we have all this “don’t kill granny” stuff from a set of politicians, who have failed to grapple with social care, have closed the community hospitals where many of my elderly forebears have died in peace, and who otherwise treat the elderly in this country, which has appalling pension provision, disgracefully. The old are just Aunt Sallys to this lot.

Kevin Haughton
Kevin Haughton
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

It is a fact that some people will die as a result of the relaxation of the covid rules at xmas. I don’t believe in a risk free life , it would not be worth living. I do believe in making informed choices. My age tells me not to mix with my children and families at xmas – too dangerous and they agree. When this is over we will all get together for a big late celebration. We are just postponing our celebrations till later.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Haughton

The point is to make a clear decision which you have done. We have made the opposite decision. No problem. We both have freedom of choice.

Margaret Ogburn
Margaret Ogburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Haughton

To be honest Kevin if your family are healthy and not coughing and sneezing or have a sore throat, I would carry on as normal. We will never have our version of normal back unless we are prepared to fight for it. The chance of anyone passing on this virus when not showing symptoms is virtually nil. They have no intention of letting up and giving our freedom back so enjoy this Xmas as you would if this were not an issue. Have a look at this article as well. https://www.janssendentalcl

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Haughton

And that is your choice to make. As it is every other family’s. We are not automatons!!!

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Haughton

We are too. Hopefully we will celebrate many Christmases together for years to come. Some of the commentators above miss the point of this article. It is merely saying that people need to be given the facts before the event, not in some enquiry years down the road. There is an argument too about the knock on effect on the NHS staff in January but I’m sure a good old doorstep clap will sort that out.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

Re. A good old doorstep clap

Or, indeed, that fraction of the half a trillion in debt that funded seven emergency hospital facilities, 5 of which remain unused.

fotolawrence4
fotolawrence4
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Haughton

Wrong! No one will die as a result of relaxation rules, what nonsense! Stop believing that thee is some deadly killer virus. Most intelligent people are waking up to the truth about this Covid hoax Plandemic. The only place Cov2 exists is on your mainstream Te-Lie-vision or radio. Turn them off and the virus dissapears.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  fotolawrence4

So do you, and an angry Irish one at that.
How very disappointing.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

You are committing thought crimes. Were you a home schooler? You are not supposed to be able to think for yourself. I’ve notified the authorities. They will be over shortly to strap you into a chair and make you watch CNN 24/7 until you are cured

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

I wrote this from Edinburgh, Dennis, where legislation to extend to private homes the criminalisation of reported politically incorrect thought and speech is being prepared.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

That is really wicked but that is what Scotland have voted for.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

They have brought it on themselves, spare them your pity!

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Define “they”, Mark. You are aware we aren’t a hive collective, yes?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Richard, the SNP and all who sail in her.

No, never heard of “hive collective” rather as I suspect you have never heard of the Gold-stick in Waiting?

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

So you should know better. 🙂

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

I find that far more horrifying than Covid

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I agree, Cheryl. The virus affecting humans will burn itself out. It’s the virus affecting the foundations of liberal democracy that will kill us.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

They’re using this virus to further undermine liberal democracy, often calling themselves Liberals without irony.

For Scotland I weep, a country who but a few short years ago ran rings around England in both education and common sense.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

Oh no! I couldn’t stand that.

John Ottaway
John Ottaway
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Ivor Cummins had an analogy to describe any new virus that hits mankind over time immorial. He likened it to skimming a flat stone over a pond. The first bounce can be of significance, the second bounce is substantially less, and thereafter you will have the odd ripple.
And that is what will happen with Covid. We are towards the end of the second bounce , and although it is now endemic, next winter we will see only ripples,
And they will proclaim the vaccine has saved the world, when the virus was long gone over the hill.

Margaret Ogburn
Margaret Ogburn
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ottaway

Good analogy but viruses don’t bounce lol they don’t have 2nd waves it’s more BS to keep people afraid and compliant

John Ottaway
John Ottaway
3 years ago

Agreed, but essentially a large first wave, a small resurgence as we move in and through the first endemic winter, and then virtually gone. Just as the vaccine arrives when it was never needed in the first place.

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago

They have seasonal surges though which is what this one is.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

We are reducing humans to being disease vectors, and come to think of it if we are just disease vectors what does it matter how long we live.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Very well put. Perhaps a more relevant question would be: “Are basic human rights, common sense and truth worth dying for”.
Impoverishing people reduces overall life expectancy. So does reducing screening for cancer and other disease. Comparisons of countries have shown that, in the era of COVID-19, enabling people to meet as families and act normally in society, taking personal responsibility for health of self and others, does not.

Alan Matthes
Alan Matthes
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Brilliantly said Richard.

richardpauldaunt
richardpauldaunt
3 years ago

The more we obsess about every single thing that “could” cost lives, the less attractive life becomes. It’s not about assigning a dollar amount to each life, it’s about choosing quality over quantity and respecting the right of individuals to make their own decisions. If you want to lock yourself in because a miniscule new risk has cropped up, be my guest, but don’t use the force of law to make me do the same.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

That’s what Sweden had. Voluntary lockdown and it seems to have worked.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Yes, an excellent example of how to behave, as you might expect from a nation that has given us the Aga, Volvo and Saab.
Incidentally they have, to use their expression, also cleared out the “dry tinder”. Bravo!

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Recent data falsifies your assertion.

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

No, I don’t think it does. They are no worse off than us for all our lockdowns.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

Recent data in fact shows that their per-capita death rate is exactly half of ours. Possibly because they didn’t spend half a trillion pounds doing everything conceivable to prevent the acquisition over the summer of natural immunity in the healthy population.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

Why not just lock down perpetually and never leave the safe confines of our homes?

Think how many lives we would save through no traffic accidents, no work-related accidents etc etc

We don’t because it’s absurd. Putting it in binary terms of kill/save lives is ridiculous when there is such a low probability of death. We need to stop this madness.

Peter
Peter
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Are the confines of out homes really safe in such circumstances? I wonder how many house fires, with a depleted Fire Brigade to attend (hereabouts they’re almost all “retained”), murders, and all the other types of domestic mishap have increased, or might do so.
You are absolutely right about this.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I don’t know. I think you have uncovered their plan. I’m not joking. The new normal. Buy everything online. No more cars and air pollution! You will save the planet! The new “green” economy.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

Reminds me of “Old soldiers never die they only fade away.”

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Unfortunately, the “confines of our home” is one of the most dangerous places to be for older adults. According to Aging.com as well as many other sites, every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall: falls are the #! cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries amongst the elderly: 1 in 4 older people dies from a fall: every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the ER due to a fall.

A 93 year old friend as broken two hips, one shoulder, one rib and one pelvis all in her own home. She is so ready to leave this earth that I suspect she would love to have one of those dangerous invites to a Chrstmas dinner.

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
3 years ago

I wonder if and when an article will ever be written giving some consideration and empathy to the the plight of all those that have already lost their jobs, livelihoods and health and the many more to come as a result of this fiasco. You can only enjoy a turkey if you can afford one.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

Bill gates is working on lab grown meat and Klaus Scwab thinks we should all be eating bugs. It is all they are wiling to pay for with tbe UBI they will be giving us

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

I rather die of Covid, or anything else, than eat bugs.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

They’re not bad actually, I mean would you eat a prawn if it was a brand new food? They’re not exactly attractive looking either

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

Didn’t someone say it was a brave man who ate the first oyster?

Others have described it as “eating old man’s snot”.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

Lucky you are not Chinese then!

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

Better get out of the city and bring your fishing poles!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

Don’t worry. There will be no shortages for the MP’s who consigned us to this.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

It’s impossible to have any kind of sensible discussion about this due to the mass hysteria caused by nearly a year of propaganda. People just aren’t thinking clearly. As an example… My father is refusing to see anyone over Christmas in case he gets the virus. However he’s still going to the shop on a daily basis to buy his cigarettes… And wearing a mask to do so. One slight health risk is unacceptable, but the other, much greater risk, is worth taking apparently. He’s in favour of all the restrictions because “people shouldn’t be free to kill themselves”. The irony passed him by…

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

That’s why in this bovine country, it is quite legal to kill yourself, but illegal for someone to help you (assisted dying).
Illogical tosh, as even the late, lamented, Lord Denning pointed out.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

However, it is apparently OK to travel to Switzerland during the lock down if you want someone at Dignitas to finish you off.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Given the billions we have already squandered on this Scamdemic, it would have been far cheaper to evacuate everyone over the age of 80 to the Alps and given them a years taxpayer funded holiday.

For those driven mad by boredom, it would only be a short rail journey to Dignitas to be “finished off”.

ShellyAnne Finney
ShellyAnne Finney
3 years ago

Is it just me or are the comments to some (not all or even most obvs!) of these articles are better written & thought out than the articles themselves. I get the point that the VPF is arbitrary & might need discussion but it is barely relevant to this overblown ‘pandemic’ & equating people wanting some semblance of normal life for a few days after a year of increasing restrictions, to selfish Granny killers is a massive stretch. This week our local care home (Shinfield View, if you want to Google it) announced a huge covid outbreak with 100 cases. Of those 48 were residents, (the others being staff who all recovered). Of the 48 4 died, 2 of which were already receiving end of life care. So of 48 very old, frail people only 2 actually died of Covid. Now that’s terribly sad of course but people do not move into care homes unless they are coming towards the end of life anyway & the great news is 46 elderly people who tested positive for Covid are going to be able to share another Christmas with their families, for most of them their last chance to do so. If we start having the conversation about the value of life it really needs to also include quality of life as well as potential years. If you knew you probably have only one more Christmas in you wouldn’t you want to spend it with your loved ones?

Stephen Collins
Stephen Collins
3 years ago

Well exactly. My mother spent the last two months of her life in a cancer hospice, and if I had told her that I wasn’t going to come and see her because I risked giving her COVID, she would have said two words, one of which would have been “off”. Her mother was unlucky enough to endure five years of dementia at the end of her life, which came at the age of 98, only after my mother had fought the NHS to stop treating her and end a rather squalid cycle of UTI and treatment that had precisely no quality of life.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago

No, many of the comments on this site are knee-jerk reactions, often to promote a preconceived idea, that don’t address the complexity of the argument and seize on the headline or a single reference in a rather misleading way. In this case, the article is about the lack of any real consistency or transparency when it comes to political decisions affecting life and death. The author says several times that he is not blaming people for mixing with older relatives, so your statement about ‘calling people Granny killers’ is a major distortion. Your example from the care home is interesting, although I’ve no idea how typical the numbers are. But it’s only tangentially relevant to the substance of the article.

Weyland Smith
Weyland Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

The article does indeed say that he is not blaming people, but for me it reads mainly as an attempt to disguise the main message, with the penultimate paragraph only a slight repackaging of “don’t kill granny”.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

That’s very encouraging. Thank you.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

That is the real reason so many news sites have ditched their comment sections: the commenters holding their feet to the fire over instances of subpar or unethical journalism, and absurd opinion pieces. They claim it’s the trolls or the bigots or what have you, but it’s really about preventing their egos from being bruised. And that is how so many once venerable sites and papers have drifted into poorly written, poorly researched tabloid trash with an agenda.

So thank you, Unherd, for continuing to allow for the corrective influence of your readership.

Daniel Smallwood
Daniel Smallwood
3 years ago

If there is any sense to his argument, should we make a similar calculation every Christmas, to avoid vulnerable people dying from the annual winter ‘flu and pneumonias? Perhaps we should make lockdowns a normal part of the ‘war against death’.

For the avoidance of doubt, I don’t think we should.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

HMG are now looking to legislate against dying any more apparently.

Don’t know about you, but as most accidents happen in or near the home I’m going to get as far away from it as possible in future….hmm, might need to think about that one a bit more.

Still, according to the learned author above, inviting ‘granny’ round for a festive sherry and a mince pie is tantamount to you making an appointment with the grim reaper for her apparently and by rights, the way things are going, presumably could leave you wide open to a future involuntary manslaughter charge if she dies within the next 28 days having tested positive for covid at any point during that time right up to the mortuary slab.

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

PHE’s criteria for a COVID death up to August is below. Take a look at 3 and 4 in particular. Hardly inspiring of confidence.

1. deaths occurring in hospitals, notified to NHS England by NHS trusts using the COVID-19 Patient Notification System
2. deaths with a confirmed COVID-19 test, notified to PHE Health Protection Teams during outbreak management (primarily in non-hospital settings) and recorded in an electronic reporting system
3. all people with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test identified to have died through tracing against NHS records
4. ONS death registrations which can be linked to a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test

They are little better now. No clinical diagnosis of Covid is required to be defined as a covid death.

sallyglover
sallyglover
3 years ago

I think that is, in essence, what we already do each Christmas. We weigh up the risk to our relatives and if we think we could pass on an infection to anyone who couldn’t handle it, either we or they stay away.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago

In the West generally there’s seems to be a policy that death must be avoided at all costs, whatever the health or age of the person. Maybe we have too much choice. Maybe the Welfare state makes us expect life must be preserved whatever the quality. The official government policy seems to be determined to frighten people into obedience with the threats of death by hugs. We may be blackmailed into having the vaccine by threats of being banned from restaurants etc, if we refuse, or if we comply we may be given a “freedom pass” to lead a normal life.
Society cannot function like this, no society in history had the choice. We should be prepared to take a risk – if there is one.

Lerryns Hernandez
Lerryns Hernandez
3 years ago

The point is that you ignore the sovereign decision of that grandmother who undoubtedly has less time to live and wants to spend it with her family and the people she loves. It is very easy for you to write about possible deaths, and you assure that there will be. Of course they will exist. Since it is born, my friend, death is there, present. But do not pretend, based on that possibility, to deprive the right of hundreds of thousands of citizens to assume their own responsibility and meet at Christmas.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

Absolutely. And isn’t there something exquisitely absurd about pinning face down and handcuffing a septuagenarian for protesting that he does not welcome their protection?

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

One wonders, being self-employed and having been at work throughout this seemingly never-ending orgy of self-harm, having now had many tens of thousands of face to face interactions throughout (and counting) due to the nature of my business, quite how many of the non-covid deaths I know of have likely been expedited by the prevailing climate of fear and misery being propagated by our politicians under the premise of ‘saving lives’?

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Quite so. Excess mortality amongst food store employees working 40 hours a week all year exposed to the great unwashed is conspicuously absent. It’s the equivalent of holding up a photograph of the earth taken from space to a flat-earth cultist.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I think they know this. They don’t seem to care. It is great fun pretending to be a God and ruling over the little people. They don’t want to give this up.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

I think that for most of them it’s more of a Rubicon moment.

They’ve invested so much in propagating the ‘mass killer virus’ myth that they’re all supposed to be diligently saving us all from and that so many have bought into and they’ve wreaked so much havoc and destruction in the process that they see no choice but to plough on.

It’s far easier to convince people of a lie than it is to admit to them, after all this unfolding misery and time, that they’ve been fooled.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

To justify the policies that lead to the wholesale destruction of society, the Government has to make the virus as big and scary as they can.

By making the virus as big and scary as they can, the Government has to bring in bigger and bolder policies that destroy even more of society.

It’s self-propagating.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

Is the government effectively destroying society and the economy with these Draconian measures?

Based on the overwhelming evidence to date, the answer can only be yes.

Is it doing it intentionally and with malign intent?

Perhaps I’m being blissfully naive, but I like to think not, not least because the alternative is unconscionable to me.

Chris Rimmer
Chris Rimmer
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

they see no choice but to plough on

It worked out well for Macbeth.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I think this is the only explanation now. When the high wears off and the rubble stops bouncing, there will be an investigation into how we could possible have done this amount of harm to ourselves. The scope of harm is such that it will have to consider criminal sanction. Game theory would predict that the only rational course of action (for a psychopath) would be to double down.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

You are probably immune by now with all the contact you have made. Apparently you can pick up other bugs from them. If your body overcomes them these will help against Covid apparently. They call it herd immunity.

peers.lilian
peers.lilian
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

And lets have more of it!

Jean Redpath
Jean Redpath
3 years ago

In addition to all the valid comments below, if, as the data suggests the current resurgence is declining (England hospital new Covid admissions peaked around 11 November (arguably too soon to be a consequence of the new restrictions), Covid beds occupied peaking on 23 November), then having Christmas – in three week’s time – poses little risk.

Where I live in the far south of the world we’ve had a similar resurgence (despite incipient summer), which seems to have peaked (in terms of hospital admissions) about 10 days ago without any change in restrictions. Of course further restrictions are nevertheless being mooted.

The virus has its own rhythm; it is hubris for governments to believe they can control things and “save lives” (in the long term) by pulling the levers of restrictions.

Sol Windrose
Sol Windrose
3 years ago

“Yet we have largely taken decisions that can have life-or-death consequences without a proper conception of how much we are prepared to give up to prevent deaths.”

I am imagining Sun Tzu reading these words while considering the number of countless deaths from wars brought about by personal preferences and personal belief systems. And what about iatrogenic deaths that are mostly ignored unless a politican needs certain statistics to ease the way for a dire need.

With statistics rising since the advent of COVID19 for suicides, domestic violence, and child abuse, how might the “proper conception of how much we are prepared to give up” be better defined? And by whom? Who should decide personal matters for another?

“The sovereign is he who decides on the exception” ~~ Political Theology, Carl Schmitt

What about the professional opinions of psychologists and medical experts who are speaking against lockdowns because of the trauma already produced by lockdowns?

Separating families during holidays that are important to them seems to be more of a measure by governments to see how long individuals will play this morbid game of “Simon Says”.

How low can they get us to go?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

Until you die of lonliness?

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

On a purely technical note, the number of people dying in hospital of confirmed Covid is higher than the number of people admitted to hospital with confirmed Covid. Infection management has been degraded by the practice of prohibiting NHS workers in receipt of (a likely false) positive test from coming to work-some hospitals are reporting absences of up to 25%, hence the reports of “pressure”.

A component of this pseudo epidemic is that proportion of disease created by and in our hospital system.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

The academic discussion aside, when did otherwise free people accept the premise that it is the role of govt to manage holiday gatherings? Has society become so filled with frightened sheep that we’re no longer able to tie our own shoes without some govt ministry dictating the process?

Already, there are stories about the effects of the various draconian measures issued from people who are never impacted themselves: more young people thinking about or committing suicide, the elderly dying of isolation, an increase in physical and substance abuse. And all for what, so that we can preen about how an 85 year old with multiple health issues hung for 3 extra months with next to no quality of life?

Michael Hollick
Michael Hollick
3 years ago

“The UK’s various authorities have agreed to relax Covid-19 restrictions
for five days over Christmas. The result will be that some people will
die who would not otherwise have died.”

Oh dear me. Everyone dies. Some people might die sooner. Given what we have seen of the mortality rates for Covid-19, we are talking about, on average, those deaths coming a matter of months or even weeks, sooner than they would have done.

SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago

Whatever happened to personal responsibility ? just because restrictions are lifted doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of them. I am a granny and take the view we all have to go some time, my only vulnerability is my age and I have a DNR registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and with my GP and family – that is my choice, If I cared about contracting Covid then it is up to me to take precautions. Seeing the number of morbidly obese persons around when it is a known fact that being fat is a factor in Covid deaths and the news reports of mass protests and raves with no social distancing or masks, it is obvious that people are not taking personal responsibility

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  SUSAN GRAHAM

Personal responsibility takes govt minders out of the equation. If you take responsibility, then they can’t tell what you what to do and how to live your life. What’s the fun of being a politician without the power to control people? I say that with tongue partly in cheek as many of the restrictions – such as shuttering schools – are absolutely useless and are more likely to be counter productive.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

Flu kills ten times more people than Covid but doesn’t ruin the economy.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

It’s not ten times, but it’s comparable. In the COVID epidemic phase, the excess death count in Europe’s population of 250,000,000 was 20,000 relative to the 2017/2018 due season.

croftyass
croftyass
3 years ago

This is a truly awful article:
Household mingling over Christmas will mean more people die than would otherwise have died.based on what -precisely how many-how exactly will people behave –the process of deciding when to let people die.ok so you’ve bought into the narrative that th eGovernmnet decided when we die?

Phil Thompson
Phil Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

everyone dies, somewhat overlooked by “The result will be that some people will die who would not otherwise have died.”

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Thompson

I’ve yet to meet someone who has not died or will not die.

Tom Adams
Tom Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

Hello!

David Allen
David Allen
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

The statistics are overwhelming – life is a positive death trap. There is only one way to eradicate dying & that is to prevent irresponsible idiots breeding.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

His articles have a tendency to be awful.

Jeremy Rolls
Jeremy Rolls
3 years ago

My roast turkey and all the trimmings is definitely to die for…seriously though we need to apply commonsense, personal choice, proportion and perspective all of which has sadly been lacking throughout this whole total mess. We need to trust families to manage their own personal risk and make sensible decisions based on, for example, whether they have all already had covid (in which case they are almost certainly immune and a very low risk to an elderly relative). No one is making the Christmas family dinner compulsory. Consider this though: which is worse to deprive an elderly relative of the possibility of enjoying what may be their last Christmas or take some sensible precautions to reduce even further the very small risk they might catch covid?

Peter James
Peter James
3 years ago

Right, we’d better stop people driving as that is highly dangerous. We could cut road deaths at a stroke. In fact, as most people die in bed, we ought to ban all beds immediately. Somehow, I suspect that the ‘Social Market Foundation’ doesn’t do logic, science or statistics.

Marc Moloney
Marc Moloney
3 years ago

What is the point of even ASKING this question, other than to stoke the flames of fear?
Here is a simple fact:
Statistically, between 8-9 people out of a million may die of COVID in the UK, if the attributed numbers are to be believed, which is doubtful.
Out of the same million, 290 will die because of a road traffic accident.
Get grip and apply some common sense!

Micheal Thompson
Micheal Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Marc Moloney

Not sure of the maths here. The UK has a population of 68,035,000 so at 9 deaths per million that would be under 600 deaths – currently listed as 58,448 deaths. Quite a discrepancy !

Sol Windrose
Sol Windrose
3 years ago
Reply to  Marc Moloney

Micheal Thompson @mic

Dr. Annie Bukacek, an Internal Medicine phsycian for 30 years in Montana, USA has spoken out to say in April earlier this year, she received a communication that suggested signing death certficates with cause of death as COVID19 when that is secondary.

What about hospitals being paid to report COVID19 deaths above other causes?

Where are the real numbers?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

We all know that at least half of the deaths attributed to Covid were attributed falsely.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

On September 29 2020 it was reported by the Sun that flu killed ten times more Brits than Coronavirus for the 14th week in a row. The difference with Covid is that our economy has been thrashed because of it. Someone’s priorities are seriously wanting. Apart from the March/April Covid spike flu is by far the bigger killer of the elderly and those who through other health problems are vulnerable..

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The Sun, as ever are playing fast and loose with the actualite.

So far there are just 3 weeks this year (12,36 and 37) where flu + pneumonia deaths were 10x higher than Covid deaths (ONS figures)
According to the ONS :
1. In comparison with the deaths due to influenza and pneumonia occurring in the year to 31 August 2020, deaths due to COVID-19 have been higher than every year monthly data are available (1959 to 2020).
2. Of all death occurrences between January and August 2020, there were 48,168 deaths due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) compared with 13,619 deaths due to pneumonia and 394 deaths due to influenza.
3. Figure 5: COVID-19 mortality rates were higher than influenza and pneumonia rates for 2020 and the five-year average for all age groups in England

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

Elaine. In Europe’s population of 250,000,000, in the epidemic phase (ie in an immunologically naive population) the excess death figure relative to the 2017/2018 flu season was 20,000. Cherry picking can be useful for understanding dynamics. The macro level informs us about significance.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Citation please for this metric

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Marc Moloney

That really does not make much sense. Last year there were 1,870 road death in the UK. So I’ve no idea where the 290 per million figure comes from, or the 8-9 Covid deaths.

Laura Sirdevan
Laura Sirdevan
3 years ago
Reply to  Marc Moloney

Just a fact here, not an opinion: Worldometer reports 869 deaths / million in the UK.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Laura Sirdevan

Which comes out to a death rate of 0.0869%. The panic is grossly disproportionate to the actual risk.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
3 years ago

The problem is that not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Worse still, some things that are counted are not really counted at all, but just ascribed an arbitrary value. So trying to balance the social benefits of a family Christmas (counts but can’t be counted) against the mortality consequences (can be counted by picking numbers out of a hat) would be absurd.

What sticks in my craw with this pandemic is that anti lockdown protesters appear to be treated differently to BLM or Extinction Rebellion protesters. Is it just an impression I have gained by only reading some of the news, or is it the case that the authorities have decided that some law breakers are more equal than others?

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Graeme Laws

That is definitely my impression. Whether the police assign any value for money metrics when deciding which demonstration to break up or to leave alone is another matter. Maybe some ambitious officer has worked out how many Virtue Signalling decisions you need to make before you are considered for Chief Constable.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

You must be thinking of Alan Pughsley (Kent), he of the “bender knee” or Andy Marsh (Somerset & Avon), described by a most notable UnHerd subscriber as a terribly “woke” git?

Viv Evans
Viv Evans
3 years ago

There’s a quip said to’ve been made a by a beer-swilling Bavarian who, when told that drinking too much kills, said (roughly translated): “If I drink beer, I’ll die – if I don’t drink beer, I’ll also die. Therefore – I’ll drink beer.”

To be applied to Christmas and topping up granny’s sherry glass and gramps’ tumbler of whisky.
(Why do politicians only talk of granny-killing? Do gramps’ lives not matter?)

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Viv Evans

Yep, in these testing times we need to remind ourselves occasionally that grandparents are for life, not just for killing at Christmas.

Your earlier quip reminded me of the similar ‘dry’ line, ‘giving up drink won’t make you live forever, it’ll just feel like it’.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

Can we calculate in the immeasurable cost of thinking like this. Sure, bureaucrats may have to to some extent. But if this becomes the mentality society will never re-open and there will be human and financial cost which are much greater (there already are). Put it another way in normal government there are a large range of objectives: once the agenda is seized by one narrow objective and all the others go to hell the we are in peculiar trouble. It is a distortion of what government is there for.

Pauline Hutton
Pauline Hutton
3 years ago

James if you haven’t realised this is a scam I’m sorry for you. As for Christmas Dinner with your family, it’s our right as a free people to do so and no one has the right to say otherwise.

The government are not OUR Masters, they seem to have forgotten that!

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Pauline Hutton

I don’t think they have. They have just decided that they will indeed be our masters. They are goingvto try it at least

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
3 years ago

Oh dear “some people will die who would not otherwise have died”. James my dear chap we all die. I grant you some may die earlier than had they not had Corona, but they could also have been run over on the way to Christmas lunch. I gather the latter is more likely for younger parts of the population

Personal responsibility and freedom to choose. I’m 65 with no serious underlying illnesses. I’ll be having Christmas lunch with my daughter’s family. Were I 80 with respiratory illnesses then I wouldn’t.

Graeme Ackland
Graeme Ackland
3 years ago

The real alternative to your £1.6M VFP is the value of a quality adjusted life year at NICE, which comes in at around £30k.
Despite the fact that lockdown is clearly a medical intervention NICE seem to have been conspicuously absent in this whole debate.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Graeme Ackland

That is an alternative measure. There are actually quite a few. Another is the “VSL” or “revealed preference” – the increase in earnings that average people expect in order to undertake a hazardous occupation. Rather than being the amount a cash-strapped state is willing to spend on rationed medical treatment, this is the amount at which individuals value their own lives. This comes in at c. $130,000 per year in the US. I’m sorry, I don’t have a UK figure.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Graeme Ackland

Exactly. Fag packet numbers: 430,000 deaths avoided (SAGE estimate of 500,000 deaths unmitigated less 60,000 deaths actual). Half a trillion pounds mitigation cost. 10 quality adjusted life years per mitigated death. That’s £113k per saved year.

That 10 years is optimistic since COVID victims are geriatric / have existing morbidity and, of course, the SAGE estimate of unmitigated death rate is deranged.

Separately, an estimated 3m life years have been lost to COVID. An estimated 200m life years are lost due to poor people having shorter life expectancy than rich people. We just made them unimaginably poorer.

And the author thinks that spending 4 times the normal amount on geriatrics, and declining the invitation to shorten poor people’s lives further, is evidence that we are attaching insufficient value to the lives of geriatrics.

Gerard A
Gerard A
3 years ago

I did do the risk calculation from available stats. Assuming people are sensible and don’t turn up with symptoms the chances of this Christmas being a grandmothers last one is between 25 to 75 times more likely than of her dying of Covid caught at a family gathering of 10 people this Christmas. Grandfathers fare a bit worse as males are more vulnerable, but still around 20 – 40 times more likely to die. Given that the chances of being ill enough to be hospitalised are probably 3 times more likely, that is probably much more of a connsideration.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Gerard A

We will eventually have herd immunity from Covid on the level of flu although it is going to take much much longer with all the lockdowns.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

it’s almost like that’s the point – to prolong the discomfort as long as possible.

Barry Mapp
Barry Mapp
3 years ago

A flawed article (when it comes to meeting up for a christams gathering) because it fails to consider probablities and vulnerabilities. A family gathering of 100 people all below the age of 40 who have been supplementing with vitamin D at the start of Autumn have a low probabilty of catching the virus and if they do, a very low probablity of death (onein a million I think) – so these people are more likey to die in an accident. However those with special vulnerablities (obesity/metabolic syndrome) should avoid the Christmas gathering unless they wish to take that risk.
My Mum for example is 97 and will be spending CHristams with family as she feels this could be the last CHristmas that she’ll be here. However (apart from her age) so has no special vulnerability and hasbeen taking high dose vitamin D since October

Sol Windrose
Sol Windrose
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Mapp

Awesome! Medical experts have said from the beginning that those with a low immune system are most at risk?

The real mystery – assuming genuine concern – is why governments are not advising protocols that boost the immune system. I can only speculate that would not please those profiting from COVID19. Then there’s that recent 30,000 record set on the stock market. Nothing to see… move along ^.^

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Sol Windrose

If immune systems were boosted, the dictators among us would be powerless. The lockdowns and other restrictions would be exposed as even more pointless than they already are. Money may be part of the equation. Control almost certainly is.

Chuck Burns
Chuck Burns
3 years ago

“shoddy evidence and limited, if any, debate.” A slanted article with an agenda. You mentioned “more people will die”. No mention at all about the survival rate. No mention that Corona virus is seasonal. No mention that letting grandparents live alone or in nursing homes is a sure way to reduce their quality of life and shorten their lives. I am 75. I will enjoy the holidays with my family. I am an American. I prepared Thanksgiving dinner and had my children and grand children visit to enjoy a family Thanksgiving feast together. In three weeks I will cook again for Christmas. Live life and enjoy. Waiting alone for death is no way to live. Do not trust the Left!

Clive Pinder
Clive Pinder
3 years ago

Why is it that supposedly bona fide commentators find it so hard to be balanced and authentic? The sin of omission is deeply ingrained in yet another piece of propaganda from sanctimonious lockdown apologists.
Where is the author’s reference to the catastrophic socio-economic damage that his line of thinking has caused to the UK, let alone the rest of the world?
Where is his acknowledgment that it is the poor and vulnerable and those who can’t work from home who suffer most?
Where is his intellectual curiosity, let alone his intellectual integrity, to work out that at current cost estimates of the CV19 lockdown policies and using his £1.6m value of life, we would need to save 200,000 lives if the Government is to follow its own advice.
Where is his research into the other Health metric that the NHS use to evaluate the cost effectiveness of an intervention – The QALY? The current cost of lives saved using the Government’s modeling is about £760,000. NICE say any medical intervention that costs more than £30,000 per QALY is not justified.
The hysteria and irrationalism surrounding Covid is almost entirely due to this sort of flawed, one-sided self-serving propaganda.
The real question everyone should be asking is whether our limited time on this planet should be focused on the avoidance of death or the living of life?

Simon Stephenson
Simon Stephenson
3 years ago
Reply to  Clive Pinder

Bravo, Clive. But I think the REAL question that needs answering is what, if any, are the undisclosed agendas which are driving what at first glance seems to be a half-baked, counter-productive, logically unjustifiable and internally inconsistent policy that is the State’s response to Covid. And to anyone who claims that the authorities don’t have any undisclosed agendas, I’d like to say that I’ve got a very nice bridge that I can offer them at a cut price that is unique to them.

John Kozakiewicz
John Kozakiewicz
3 years ago

I am a seventy-year-old male living in Canada, where we also have socialized medicine. In the cold light of day, I know very well ““ and accept – that the medical resources (limited and finite as they are) expended on me should be less than those expended on younger, healthier specimens, and it would be disingenuous to argue otherwise. How much less my life is worth in dire medical circumstances is a question I will leave to the number-crunchers and ethics committees. In any case, doubtless, formulae exist. In the moment, of course ““ the emotionally-fraught and desperate moment ““ we will beg, plead, and bargain with medical personnel (and, perhaps, our God) to pull out all the stops and save our loved one. That being said, it is clear that our society has very unrealistic expectations when it comes to length of life, prolonging life, and, indeed, the very safety and security of our living conditions. We are in denial regarding our physical fragility, and the constant and very real dangers inherent in the project of existence.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

One can only hope that this candid, measured, thoroughly decent, devoid of unseemly sentimentality appraisal gets the attention that it deserves.

Tom Adams
Tom Adams
3 years ago

Ah, there it is – ‘…equity in population well-being…’
So we’ll ALL have half a turnip in the PoMo utopia that’s coming.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Adams
diana_holder
diana_holder
3 years ago

There’s a Daily Mail article on this subject, giving the value of a British life at 2.4 million and comparing against other countries’ pricing eg Germany is five times as expensive.
There’s also an article in Moneyweek by the editor Merryn Somerset Webb which talks about Quality Adjusted Life Years. This is the figure NICE use when assessing the value of medical treatments. They authorise these up to £20k -£30k, and above that, justification has to be very strongly argued. Everyone’s been fine about this for years.
Apparently, if you assume (generously) that the lockdown has halved the number of deaths, that as with actual deaths mainly elderly people would have died, and that they have an average of five more years of life to live, then the number of life years saved shared out among the cost of the lockdown to GDP, puts each QALY at a million quid.
Merryn asks, how on earth did we go from £30k to £1m in the blink of an eye?
I ask, why are they doing this?

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago

Of course the problem is your assumptions have to be correct. Does one car driving 80mph contribute any significant pollution to cause harm? Do lockdowns actually work? Do lockdowns cause more deaths than they save? Will extended lockdowns cause long term healthcare problems? Have they already? Etc. What was overall health outcomes under Soviet totalitarianism? Were they better or worse than Western outcomes? Since this is the system everybody has come to believe in.

Mike Finn
Mike Finn
3 years ago

A more useful measure would surely be to compare the number of “lost Christmases” in both scenarios: One where people completely avoid mixing to reduce Covid-19 deaths but all miss any Christmas this year; and the one where they mix freely so have a Christmas this year but increased Covid-19 deaths will reduce the number of future Christmases. We are then comparing the actual issue at hand, not trying to convert everything to an abstract monetary value.

There must mathematically be a “maxima of Christmas happiness”, and the data seem to indicate it is very unlikely to be the one where no one meets anyone this year, and probably not one of crazy partying either; much more likely one of informed and sensible personal risk management. Which – let’s be realistic – is pretty much what people are going to do anyway.

Derrick Byford
Derrick Byford
3 years ago

Ministers are being completely and criminally derelict in their duty to understand and take account of the catastrophic impacts of their policies. Their arbitrary, unevidenced diktats demonstrate a willingness to spend virtually unlimited amounts, destroy any number of livelihoods and remove all individual liberties in their attempts (largely unsuccessfully) to prevent deaths from covid (median age over 80), with hardly any account of the value of lives lost, and which will be lost later, through all other causes.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

Enjoyed a lovely turkey with my in-laws last week for Thanksgiving. Travelled to a different state and entered areas where more than a 100 people were gathered. Contrary to dire media warnings, no-one died of COVID-19. It is becoming increasingly clear that this lockdown is ideological rather than practical. I’m curious as to where this will all lead.

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago

PHE’s criteria for a COVID death up to August is below. Take a look at 2, 3 and 4 in particular. Hardly inspiring of confidence.

1. deaths occurring in hospitals, notified to NHS England by NHS trusts using the COVID-19 Patient Notification System
2. deaths with a confirmed COVID-19 test, notified to PHE Health Protection Teams during outbreak management (primarily in non-hospital settings) and recorded in an electronic reporting system
3. all people with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test identified to have died through tracing against NHS records
4. ONS death registrations which can be linked to a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test

They are little better now. No clinical diagnosis of Covid is required to be defined as a covid death. Just a positive test and a death within 28 days. We now have super laboratories set up to handle the SAGE second wave that hasn’t happened. They are not staffed by trained NHS laboratory staff.

Christian Filli
Christian Filli
3 years ago

One of the best reflections I’ve come across this year. I wonder, though, if it is realistic (or even reasonable) to expect politicians and policy-makers to be that forthcoming and transparent with the public … So that leaves us with the question: whose job is it to properly inform people and foster honest debate? The Media? Institutions (in this case, the medical sector)? Academia? Corporations (perhaps even more unrealistic given financial interests, e.g. Pharma/vaccines)??? Philosophers? Philanthropists?

Dennis Wheeler
Dennis Wheeler
3 years ago

Hysterical fear-mongering nonsense.

My risk of dying from having Christmas dinner is no greater this year than any other year from flu or any other disease in the air. In fact, the greater risk is probably driving to dinner, as getting in a car crash is statistically more probable than getting Covid and dying.

This insane, irrational fear-mongering over a virus with an IFR in the range of flu, this idea that “people will die” if others are allowed to live life as normal, is killing the world, and driving people insane.

Madmen like James Kirkup ought to be locked up in the Tower of London instead of spreading irrational fear and paranoia.

Simon Stephenson
Simon Stephenson
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Wheeler

Exactly my point, Dennis. Take their argument to its conclusion and one would reach the realisation that the most effective way to minimise unnecessary deaths would be to stop people producing children in the first place. If you’re not alive, you can’t be a casualty of Covid, or of anything else.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago

Around 2001, a few people died on the railways. The resulting safety mania disruptions to services around London made commuting even more hellish than normal. A Private Eye cover had a railway boss in front of a train explaining: “The trains are now perfectly safe – there aren’t any”.

Charles Wells
Charles Wells
3 years ago

A characteristically sneering article from Mr Kirkup. The petty snipe “enjoy your turkey” tells you all you need to know about his own view and of anyone who might disagree with it. He tries so hard to present his case as simply an attempt to inform those planning a family Christmas, of the unintended consequences of their actions. Mr Kirkup wants you to know that he has spent time considering this issue and has duly arrived at the correct conclusion. Unfortunately, the arrogance and over-inflated self-regard that permeates his writing spoils and distorts anything of worth that might be found therein.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago

This is a rather one-sided article for the obvious reason that no matter what financial value we put on life, there is a cost to the reduced activity and liberty involved in lockdown and social distancing that itself kills people. In fact, the higher the value we place on human life in financial terms, the more reliant we are upon a fully functioning economy in order to preserve life, and the higher the burden of proof required for draconian economically destructive policies. In any event, even a light burden of proof was never achieved by the government for its ludicrous and indefensibly destructive Covid19 policies of 2020.

And this is only half the question, given that it is very likely that lockdown may have perverse effects upon the evolution of the virus which may reduce the rate at which it reproduces to milder variants, which will mean more people die in the end from Covid19 than otherwise would.

And by the way, on the matter of driving at 80mph instead of 60mph, once again it is wrong to assume that reducing the top or average speed of the UK’s fleet of 30 million cars can be achieved without costs: increased journey times equate to lower output and lower living standards, which as already explained, comes with the cost of fewer human years lived.

It’s the same everywhere in public policy though: concentrated effects always win out over dispersed effects, even if the overall harm from concentrated effects is much lower than the dispersed effects which policymakers find easier to live with – simply because nobody ever has to take the blame for dispersed effects.

Going further of course, it is incomplete in any case to oppose lockdown on utilitarian terms alone. It is not good enough to claim that there is a utilitarian case for lockdown – there isn’t even such a thing anyway – because the assumptions that apply are logically incorrect anyway. We have been placed in a national quarantine, and this has been done to healthy people, not sick people. This is a fundamental logical fallacy that has poisoned public policy, because it has never been argued and then broadly accepted that millions of healthy people who are in no danger from this virus should have their lives partly closed down in order to suppress risk to people who should be looking out for their own health. We got this backwards from the start and now we’ve squandered quarter of a year’s output for nothing, confiscated a year’s freedom from young people and loaded them up with even more debt.

It’s a disgrace.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago

After reading this article , I feel we are desperately in need of death education. By preserving life at all costs and then there is no dignity left in dying .

And what else can we hold the government responsible for other than this Christmas’ rules ? How about neglecting the health of the nation (obesity & dietary imbalances) ? In addition to what we consume , what we breathe ( pollution) & where we go ( travelling risks) ? Is it taking responsibility for lack of vigilance that the Chinese bungled up the initial response to the severity of this virus , and so did we ? Going back further, is it taking responsibility that the Chinese are consuming rare forest meat or living in close proximity to wild animals and we accepted this without question till it came to our nation? How did it get here that we are talking about 5 days over Christmas?

Maybe the health of a nation is defined by healthy bodies , minds & happiness too. Just keeping people alive cannot be the end game .

Christin
Christin
3 years ago

I’m always interested in the implicit bias of writers like this. This one just assumes everyone knows that it’s the role of the “politicians…to balance efficiency and equity”. Ummm…no, it’s not. No one that I respect has ever ceded that kind of authority to politicians and bureaucrats. The author blathers on and on about” relaxing restrictions” while never once asking himself whether these restrictions and lockdowns and demands about people’s lives are even remotely moral. The fact that “everyone is doing it” is no justification. Authors like this are quite happy to surrender their liberty in return for an illusory uptick in “security”. As someone else said, he deserves neither.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  Christin

Kirkup is director of the Social Market Foundation and he has probably lost the plot. I am sure actually governments given finite resource do have to balance objectives and this precisely what neither he or the government are doing.

Simon Stephenson
Simon Stephenson
3 years ago
Reply to  Christin

It seems very much to be the modern way, Christin, for people to write as if highly contentious points of difference are non-existent, and never have existed, and that therefore they can produce what at first sight looks like fair argument but what on closer inspection turns out to in fact be gaslighting.

When was it decided that aggressive gaslighting was the cutting-edge way to promote ones point of view, and that the assertiveness of respectful argument was just 20th century wishy-washyness?

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago

I usually lose my will to live sometime around dessert on Xmas day.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

Best comment award 🙂

Simon Stephenson
Simon Stephenson
3 years ago

It is arguable that there will be more deaths as a result of road accidents involving people travelling to Christmas Day festivities than there will be as a result of Covid infections that will take place as a result of intermingling at these festivities.

When did the inevitable deaths resulting from non-necessary Christmas Day travelling last bring about a prohibition of such travelling? Has no such prohibition ever happened? Can we not argue, therefore, that every government up to and including this one (last Christmas) have been grossly negligent in callously failing to address and prevent this needless addition to the national death rate?

Or should we get real and start asking what the real reason is for the ongoing covidiocy?

cbrown
cbrown
3 years ago

Simple arithmetic tells us (GDP / Population) that we are worth around £26,800 pa of contributing life. Taking 40 years “service” this equates to (magical number) ~ £1M. Bizarrely this is consistent with the Whitehall figure, arrived at by different means.
We absolutely should make decisions -as a society – with this consideration in mind. I don’t want or expect the State to spend ruinous sums saving my life albeit I do want them to “have a go”.
Moving to coronavirus specifically – it is evident that we have over-reacted and continue to do so Korea for example will not even do a mass vaccination program because they see cv19 as a NDIC. I agree. Average death age (UK) is 85 and 95% of those had serious underlying medical conditions.
Furthermore – looking to our next pandemic (they are approx every 10 years nowadays), we should establish a “Health budget” per person, after which medical aid stops, unless personally sponsored. Ugly, but we will have to contemplate this. These views are my own.

andrew_mullens
andrew_mullens
3 years ago

The Christmas relaxation of interaction rules allows individuals to make their own assessment of the risk of catching Covid. In normal times, risk is part of our lives – crossing the road, eating food prepared by another, flying etc. We seem today to expect others to assess risk for us, even though they may not know our individual situation.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

It is not about the Turkey it is about family. Everyone has to weigh up the pros and cons personally. Personally I am inviting my son and my brother whom I have not seen since the start of Covid. To cancel christmas is not the right decision for me. We won’t be seeing our other son and his family with five children until Easter probably. My son and my brother are old enough to make their own decisions.

J Newis
J Newis
3 years ago

So some back-of-a-fag-packet calculations. The gov has spent est. £284bn so far on Covid response (see BBC). I will ignore the wider economic damage caused by the lockdown and just use this figure.

I will assume Imperial was correct and say 460k people were saved by lockdown. As the average age of death was over 80 I will be cautious and say we saved on average a quarter of someone’s life (circa 20 years ignoring if those years are as happy and productive as younger years would be). This means around 115,000 lifetimes were saved, at a cost of £2.46m per lifetime – way above Kirkups potential £1.6m figure.

If we compare to NICE and Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs), a fair cost of 30k per saved year. We assume average 20 years saved again for 460k people, resulting in an fair cost of £276bn, which we have already exceeded by £8bn – even using the highest estimates possible for potential deaths, years lost, and ignoring as much of wider economic cost and deaths from lockdown (cancer diagnosis misses, deaths from despair, etc…) as possible.

Seems even from this perspective, the numbers don’t add up.

I’m actually on the fence on lockdown, and can see why we did it, and don’t disagree with the approach taken as such. But articles such as the above do annoy me when they don’t even seem to both actually crunching the numbers they are defending.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  J Newis

I feel like applying a SSF (Scared Shitless Factor) to the calculations. The most extreme example I have heard is the guy being interviewed on Radio 4. I don’t think the interviewer named him, as his words were sufficient humiliation. He declared that no cost was too high to prevent a single death – a trillion pounds, whatever.

If the VPF for an ordinary death is £1.6 million (SSF = 1), then a trillion pounds should give a SSF of 600,000. Fortunately, the economy would have collapsed long before this logic could be given full rein.

Clive Pinder
Clive Pinder
3 years ago

Why is it that supposedly bona fide journalists find it so hard to be balanced and authentic? The sin of omission is deeply ingrained in yet another piece of propaganda from sanctimonious lockdown apologists.
Where is the author’s reference to the catastrophic socio-economic damage that his line of thinking has caused to the UK, let alone the rest of the world?
Where is his acknowledgment that it is the poor and vulnerable and those who can’t work from home who suffer most?
Where is his intellectual curiosity, let alone his intellectual integrity, to work out that at current cost estimates of the CV19 lockdown policies and using his £1.6m value of life, we would need to save 200,000 lives if the Government is to follow its own advice.
Where is his research into the other Health metric that the NHS use to evaluate the cost effectiveness of an intervention – The QALY? The current cost of lives saved using the Government’s modeling is about £760,000. NICE say any medical intervention that costs more than £30,000 per QALY is not justified.
The hysteria and irrationalism surrounding Covid is almost entirely due to this sort of flawed, one-sided self-serving propaganda.
The real question everyone should be asking is whether our limited time on this planet should be focused on the avoidance of death or the living of life?

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

What if a worker on a turkey/goose farm has an equipment accident and dies? In the aggregate, everything you buy has blood on it, and every move you make is potentially fatal.

We can’t have a serious conversation about acceptable casualties if one side is pretending that zero is a realistic figure.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

The idea that sage could produce an additional death figure associate with 5 days at Christmas is so ludicrous it beggars belief that anyone intelligent would write such a thing. Sage pick numbers from inaccurate and unvalidated models to support whatever the government want to hear / use to justify their actions – 4000 deaths a day if we don’t lock down!

Yes we should be balancing QALYs ie what is lost by the young with their futures ruined as a result of lockdowns vs what is saved by the old as a result of lockdown. Then there are the £Bns that have been spent on test, track and trace or whatever it is called this week. How many lives has it saved? That probably works out at a lot more than your £1.6m per life figure.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Well, one can make an attempt at doing that calculation you think so ludicrous. David Spiegelhalter has an interesting study (search for What are the risks of COVID? And what is meant by ‘the risks of COVID’?) showing that the peak 5 weeks of the first wave gave an additional risk of mortality roughly equal to 3 weeks of normal mortality in each age group over 45. If we make a rough estimate that social mixing at Christmas approximates the pre-lockdown era, then 5 days at Christmas brings 3 days of additional risk. That’s hardly an exact figure, but if you put it that meeting the grandchildren at Christmas takes three days off your life, most grandparents would probably grab it with both hands.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago

Since when were “deaths”, considered purely as a numerical factor or statistic, as has become the norm in 2020 when we’re supposed to imagine ourselves in danger of deadly contagion from a seasonal respiratory virus the average age of whose actual casualties exceeds the average lifespan, the supreme arbiter in public life surpassing all other considerations?

Mortalities have often been higher in recent years and no one batted an eyelid, because it’s normal for the aged or otherwise infirm to be seen off by such infections their immunity being impaired.

But this author can be relied upon to toe the globalist line which, incidentally, has never been put more succinctly than by Larry Fink, CEO BlackRock and Agenda Contributor, World Economic Forum who spoke recently of ‘The intersect between Covid, Climate and Racial Justice: the three great issues of our time.’

Journalists are better understood as political activists. UnHerd should be done under the trades description act. But one could say the same of any media publication pretending to reportage. None of whom veer far from the globalist orthodoxy however they might be leavened with just enough ‘populist’ red meat to antagonise “the left”.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

Mortalities have often been higher in recent year

.

Not in April and May, when there were around 40-50,000 extra deaths above the five-year average. 2020 is on track to be the worst year for 20 years.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

depends what you call ‘recent’ then

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

I understand there have been 8 years in the last 30 where the total annual figure was higher. The figures have to be adjusted for population of course. Twenty years is recent when old like me, even if ancient history for youngsters under fifty. But even if more people were dying how does that justify confining younger people to prolong the lives of their elders? For my part I’d sooner be free to roam and chance death which is coming anyway than be guaranteed life in confinement.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

I occasionally see this sort of figure: commonest is that 2020 is only eighth out of the last 27 years. This is true, but the seven worst of the last 27 were 1993-2000. Broasdly speaking, death rates per head of population were trending downwards for most of the 20th century, although they flattened out around 2010.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

… a statistically significant excess number of which caused by people aged 15-45 dying of non-Covid illness due to changed medical priority.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Maybe so. But first point to establish is whether there have been excess deaths at all, which I take it you agree with. If so, then the next question is what were those deaths due to.

David Spiegelhalter recently shared a graph illustrating the point you make.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

There is of course no onus on Unherd to give the punters what they want: perhaps it is more creative to give them plenty of what they don’t want – could be it is more fun that way anyway. Nevertheless, the discrepancy between opinion upstairs and opinion downstairs is fascinating. You wonder what all these purveyors of acceptable opinions can really believe – perhaps we are all a great disappointment. Does any of it ever make upstairs think?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago

I think there is a fallacy at work here, one of the more common ones, but I no longer remember its precise name. It is to confuse that ‘most x are y’ with ‘most y are x’.

In this case it is to assume that because most people who have died of covid are elderly, that implies that most elderly who catch covid will die. The elderly who are figuring out what to do over Christmas only need to concern themselves with the risk they will die — or get very sick — if they catch it. (Or, I suppose, if they are considering meeting with other elderly people, the risk that they will give the disease to them.) That they happen to be the same age as most of the other people who will die, and have died of covid is irrelevant to their problem. But this is precisely what the media is not telling us. You have to go look it up in government statistics and try to work out the math yourself. I think we deserve better.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

“Affirmation of the consequent” fallacy.

If it’s been raining, the road is wet. The road is wet. Therefore it’s been raining. (False, because you may have just washed your car)

If you die of covid, then you are elderly. You are elderly. Therefore you will die of Covid. (False, because at this age, it’s a race between SAR-CoV-2 and tripping in ill fitting slippers).

Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
3 years ago

Our modern societies have become averse to death. In our futile attempt to save thousands, we are sacrificing the present and future of tens of millions.

Among those who passed away, how many died because of an unhealthy way of life? How many were overweight or obese? How many were heavy smokers?

Also, how many simply reached the end of their lives? Nobody dies of old age, death is always caused by something.

I sometimes wonder what the generations who lived through the Great War would think of our “enlighten” society?

John Dineley
John Dineley
3 years ago

“…Household mingling over Christmas will mean more people die than would otherwise have died…”

We will only know that when we look at the average mortality rates for the British population overtime. We may find this winter’s mortality rates have been generally the same as other years. I still find it incredible that the Western world has been thrown into complete chaos by a virus that has such a low mortality rate and one with a specifically defined demographic: the aged with comorbidities. Moreover, it’s not as if it hasn’t happened in recent decades with certain seasonal flu epidemics. It’s also quite concerning that the health response has been to emulate the behaviour of the Chinese Communist Party. The inevitable public enquiry could be interesting when the dust settles.

Greg Eiden
Greg Eiden
3 years ago

Great comments here.

Have any of you reviewed this (google the following): Genevieve Briand, assistant program director of the Applied Economics master’s degree program at Johns Hopkins; effect of COVID-19 on U.S. deaths? Her analysis suggests that COVID has miraculously reduced deaths by non-COVID causes by the exact numbers ascribed to COVID. I’m a scientist so I’m skeptical…of everything. But especially “scientists” working in certain disciplines. It would be good to see her analysis with error bars.

Stewart Ware
Stewart Ware
3 years ago

An interesting and ethical minefield.

But what is this “VPF” or “VFP”? It’s not explained anywhere. Voluntary Provident Fund? Visual FoxPro?

Tom Adams
Tom Adams
3 years ago