by UnHerd
Tuesday, 16
February 2021
Video
15:07

Government scientist speaks out: we want the old normal back

Freddie Sayers spoke to SPI-M member Dr Michael Tildesley about learning to live with the virus
by UnHerd

When is life going to go back to normal? That’s the question on everyone’s lips and one that Government ministers have — so far— been reluctant to answer. It was hoped that the advent of a vaccine would lead to a loosening of restrictions, but as things stand the country will be in full lockdown for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile there is a growing campaign among some parts of the ZeroCovid campaign for keeping certain restrictions in place permanently.

One scientist who stands firmly against this proposal is Dr Michael Tildesley, an epidemiologist from the University of Warwick. Dr Tildesley is a formal advisor to the Government, on SPI-M or the “scientific pandemic influenza group on modelling”, which feeds into SAGE, the government scientific committee. While Dr Tildesley favours a slow and gradual loosening of restrictions, he is adamant that keeping restrictive measures in place forever is “very, very scary” and verging on “dystopian”:

I worry actually about the long term mental health harm and developmental harm for our children. There’ll be some really young children that won’t be used to actually interacting with with strangers with people not in their family, because they never see their faces. I can understand the need for these restrictions now, but I would hope we would be trying to achieve a society where in the long term, we can get back to some semblance of normality.

There may be certain things that actually we take forward: better hygiene, making sure we wash our hands, maybe using hand gel, when we go in and out of places. These are things that actually a pretty good practice, and we should continue to observe, but I think we are a sociable society. And we should try to achieve at least getting back to some level of being able to interact with people that are not in our immediate family. I do worry about a lot of the rhetoric that suggests that there’s going to be some level of controls that we’re just going to keep forever.

- Dr Michael Tildesley, LockdownTV

On loosening restrictions:

The key thing for us when it comes to relaxing lockdown is the need to do it gradually. We do know that any kind of relaxation is going to impact the R number. But we do have some good news, which is that the vaccination campaigns going really well. And far better actually, than I thought it would have done at the start of January. If we can keep that trajectory going and these vaccines work, and they have a high level of protection, not just from severe symptoms, but also in terms of blocking transmission, we could be in a position that by the summer, we can dramatically ease lockdown. But it’s really dependent upon getting a high level of uptake of vaccine, even in the non vulnerable groups.
- Dr Michael Tildesley, LockdownTV

On the inadequacy of the R number as a lone metric:

If the virus is sweeping through the healthy population, and no one’s getting badly sick, that’s acceptable. Even if there’s a low level of hospitalisations, then maybe that’s also acceptable. So it’s not just the R number. It’s really the R number coupled with any kind of local prevalence. If there are particular communities with high numbers of cases, or if there is evidence of hospitals starting to come under pressure, then all of these things need to be taken into account. If the vaccines are really good at protecting the vulnerable, and then actually, as I said, the R number becomes almost irrelevant. Actually we’re really focusing on what’s going on in the community what’s going on in our hospitals. And if, if that’s okay, then we could potentially relax controls further.
- Dr Michael Tildesley, LockdownTV

On an acceptable level of Covid:

If we are not going to eliminate Covid, and I would argue that that’s probably extremely unlikely, certainly in the near future, then we do need to have that discussion. What are we as a society prepared to accept in terms of the numbers of people in hospital and the number of people sadly dying? People die from all causes every day: we have people dying from cancer, we have people dying from heart disease. And actually, you know, the cancer figures, 400/450 people a day: they’re horrifying. If they were reported every single day, the number of people dying from cancer, those figures would be really, really scary. But we don’t put them so you know, at what level are we as a society prepared to accept it?
- Dr Michael Tildesley, LockdownTV

On ZeroCovid:

The only way you can really achieve ZeroCovid and stay with ZeroCovid is to achieve ZeroCovid internationally because you are always going to be under that risk of reintroduction. And I think this is the problem. So yes, theoretically, we probably could do it if we went into severe lockdown for the next year, banned anyone coming into the country. Then we could probably get to ZeroCovid levels. But this is just not practical. And if we go into these kinds of severe restrictions, there is long term harm and not just economic harm: if we stay in lockdown for another 12 months, there’s the potential for more people going into poverty, and that has negative health implications as well. So this is it’s a pipe dream to think about achieving that. 
- Dr Michael Tildesley, LockdownTV

On the ‘old normal’:

We should really want the old normal back so that we can see our loved ones and have that level of social interaction because we’re a social species. A lot of the dystopian discussion of a new normal actually really scares me, because I think we lose that level of social interaction that actually keeps us going. We don’t talk enough about mental health. And actually, one of the big challenges in the last 12 months has been people who have suffered more from mental health challenges before the pandemic, but also an awful lot of people who have suffered as a result of the pandemic.
- Dr Michael Tildesley, LockdownTV

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Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago

One thing I’ve noticed is that those who insist on stringent lockdown measures constantly remind us that they have saved lives, yet at the same time these same people seem completely unconcerned by very possible fatal side-effects of an experimental covid vaccine, claiming it’s a small price to pay for everyone to become immune.

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Just one aspect of the panic driven mass hysteria the world has been suffering from for the last year.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

They also are unable to provide any actual evidence that any of these stringent lockdown measures saved even a single life.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
1 year ago

Indeed. It’s not impossible that lockdowns have resulted in a higher death toll than a well managed strategy of protecting the vulnerable would. Nobody knows. There seem to be an ideological split between those who favour and those who are sceptical of lockdowns. I wonder why.

Rob Nock
Rob Nock
1 year ago

Government’s own pandemic plan (the one ignored last March) said lockdown increases number of deaths just slightly more spread out.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
1 year ago

I think those whose livelihoods are not affected support the idea of lockdowns. Also the FEAR that government, media, and public health have instilled in citizens makes people want to stay home and locked down.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Can you describe what sort of evidence you are looking for, Kathy? A controlled trial perhaps?

John Chestwig
John Chestwig
1 year ago

I personally think that it not for those questioning such actions to justify their position, even to the extent of specifying the evidence they wish to see. Rather it is for Government, who are introducing these quite spectacularly impactful changes, to justify the net benefit and lay out their reasoning and underlying data.
I would have sympathy for the view that it’s a complicated picture and difficult to balance very different criteria, but Government have utterly failed to lay out their arguments and just keep returning to the mantra that ‘lockdowns are better than no lockdowns’ with zero supporting evidence.
It wouldn’t work in any other area of life – I don’t get to shoot my neighbour’s dog on the basis I just repeatedly state “it’s for the best”.

Davinia Draper
Davinia Draper
1 year ago

Certainly have costed lives though,

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago

That is one of the most silly comments I’ve heard in some time. Throughout the world, lockdowns and restrictions are followed by massive drops in the number of infections and deaths – to the point that New Zealand, Australia , and the massive China have more or less removed the virus from society

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago

This is not true. Wuhan opened on April 8th and they haven’t lockdowned since. Vietnam never locked down but have maintained tight border controls. Japan and South Korea never locked down either. Australia is literally a totalitarian hell hole with wildly changing rules and constantly going in and out of lockdown. New Zealand has maintained tight border controls and opened up their society after an initial lockdown. They have been somewhat sane compared to Australia.

s p
s p
1 year ago

You are thinking very small and narrow to claim Kath’s comment as “silly”.

David Slade
David Slade
1 year ago

Anyone who believes a word coming out of China has lost all right to accuse anyone else of being ‘silly’

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Well this guy will soon be cancelled and disappeared by the evil psychopaths that comprise the governing and mainstream media classes.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Oh he’s on TV all the time. Well he was. I don’t bother a lot with it now. Don’t watch it all. He has to be fair had quite a lot of airtime.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“This guy” is saying what the UK government and UnHerd’s fantasy bad-guy Neil Ferguson have all been saying the past couple of weeks. Nothing new. They’re just trying to keep a lid on the optimism after so many false promises last year (“it’ll be over by summer”; “it’ll be over by Christmas” etc etc). Chill out and keep an eye on Israel’s data, which is positive so far; no reason the UK will be any different.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Should I continue watching this? I switched off when he said that the R number is going to be affected by a relaxation of restrictions. Now at the risk of repeating myself, the R number in South Africa has plummeted without a hard lockdown and without vaccines. All this with the dreaded South African ‘mutant’ variant.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
1 year ago

A quick comparison of S Africa’s very high excess deaths against their comparatively low Covid stats suggests the latter are not particularly accurate, no?

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
1 year ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

How high are South Africa’s excess deaths?

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Hartley

Check out the Financial Times‘ or The Economist‘s tracker of governments’ reported excess deaths.

Davinia Draper
Davinia Draper
1 year ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

“Excess deaths”,? We had 50 000 “excess deaths” in 2017/2018,from flu, no lockdown then, or other years, look i’ gov statistics, if they haven’t removed it. So many deaths are put down to covid that are not. How many lockdown deaths? And there will be more.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Hartley

Eva is merely deflecting from the point which is the shape of the epidemic curve and the effect of lockdowns and vaccinations on the epidemic curve. There are many reasons for South Africa’s excess deaths and no explanation yet… poverty itself could be a high contributor as well over 50% of the population is now living in poverty. This has increased dramatically because of lockdowns.

Davinia Draper
Davinia Draper
1 year ago

Exactly!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

There are various reasons for SA excess mortality – not all directly Covid – and some reason to question their Covid stats even though there is instruction to test cadavers for Covid. I should also mention that different provinces in SA have similar epidemic curves and there are different levels of efficiencies between provinces. Look, they haven’t the nous or wherewithal to crook the figures so efficiently. If you had any knowledge of SA you would not fall into that trap.
I would also say you could question the Covid stats of many countries including the UK (as was evidenced last year), but that doesn’t change the fact that hospitalisations are way down in South Africa. Are you suggesting that South Africa has a completely different shape of epidemic curve to e.g. the UK and doesn’t follow the traditional epidemic curve?
The nub of the discussion though is the UK – are you suggesting that the UK without vaccinations will not follow the same curve that they experienced the last time which cutting through everything else is the question at hand. Suddenly only vaccinations and hard lockdowns will control the curve? We all know what happened last time.

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago

Yes lockdown was followed by a massive drop in infections and deaths and hey presto, the same is happening with the second lockdown. What on Earth is your point

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago

I thought we’d stopped comparing countries due a variety of differing factors.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
1 year ago

We haven’t stopped comparing statistics within countries though, Claire. Something is causing those excess deaths in South Africa.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Eva, contributing factors are people without Covid are avoiding hospitals. That goes from the poor to the wealthy. Another contributing factor is that the bulk of the country are classified as poor.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Age profile? Weight profile? Diabetes profile? Need to know the facts before anything can be said.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

No Claire, we continue to discuss and compare between countries. Keeping it to the UK if you wish, compare the last epidemic curve in the UK to this one. Why when the curve dropped last time, will it not drop this time (without vaccinations?). Why did the curve not rise immediately last time when restrictions were dropped and their were no vaccinations?

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago

Why did the curve not rise immediatly last time …?
Because the weather improved in the UK and people got outside.
Because the numbers of infected bods was relatively low when the restrictions were lifted in the late spring in the UK.
If the UK didn’t have vaccinations right now the curve I would guess, would still be going down (at a slower rate) because people aren’t mixing as much with restrictions in place.
Claire is correct, any self respecting epidemiologist wouldn’t waste their professional time on comparing cases, deaths, curves, NPIs directly between countries – too many confounding, variables and unknown and known unknowns (see the latest in the BMJ webinair series – “Covid 19 and schools”).
This doesn’t stop some of them trying of course but one look at say “Ranking the effectiveness of worldwide COVID-19 government interventions” Nature human behaviour November would be enough to convince anyone of the futility of this exercise. One of the authors’ take homes from this massive study :”Our main takeaway here is that the same NPI can have a drastically different impact if taken early or later, or in a different country.”

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago

Who on Earth said it won’t drop without vaccinations? It’s beginning to sound to me that your are arguing against vaccines?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

In India, too, the R rate and deaths etc have declined after a surge, and without lockdowns. The fact is that lockdowns make no difference to the R rate because Covid will kill a certain number of people. But lockdowns will make a significant difference to the suicide rate.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Lockdowns and suicide rate. Well no sign of that yet in the UK according to ONS who are very fussy about their data. We won’t know for sure of course until the coroner’s courts catch up with their backlog (early autumn this year maybe ?).
Yes, the modelling tells us that without a vaccine the same number of people will die from Covid with or without “lockdowns” – it will just take longer – like 2 years (the original much decried Imperial model). The main objective of restrictions is to reduce the numbers of really sick Covid bods blocking beds in hospitals so that the NHS can get on with other potentially mortality reducing work. This was NEVER all about deaths.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago

The suicides are all “covid” deaths in the UK

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
1 year ago

Oh really! Some amazing rewriting of history going on already!

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And this ‘significant difference to suicide rate’ is your well informed and evidenced prediction or just another bit of doom mongering

Bits Nibbles
Bits Nibbles
1 year ago

Hmmmm. Have you not been paying attention? Suicide rates were high already, and likely highly under-reported. Mental issues have increased, substance abuse has increased, and suicides have increased in 2020. Japan reported that more people died from suicide in October 2020 than from COVID-19 in all of 2020.

Davinia Draper
Davinia Draper
1 year ago

Not just in South Africa either, India, Sweden and others.

Carlo Dallapiccola
Carlo Dallapiccola
1 year ago

Very sensible discussion. I have a few comments.
Let’s imagine that by 1 June everybody who is ever going to take the vaccine has taken it. What is the next step, if *not* that of releasing all restrictions and living life normally, understanding that the susceptible pool of the population that remains will inevitably become infected, sooner or later? What would be the point of continuing restrictions, assuming there is no extreme pressure on the healthcare system? To wait for those who chose not to vaccinate themselves to change their minds (while meanwhile we all follow restrictive measures to protect them against infection)? To wait for an even *better* next generation of vaccines (which, say, more completely blocks transmissions)?
My second comment relates to the discussion about the legality of visiting with one’s grandparents (or any other members of one’s family, for that matter). Am I to understand that it is actually ILLEGAL for someone in the UK to visit with a family member that happens to not live under the same roof??!! And you accept that?

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Two excellent points. There would be no defensible reason for continuing restrictions after everyone has been offered the vaccines ( assuming they do work). Furthermore, that we have meekly allowed a pretty hapless Government ( only thing it got right was the vaccine) to make meetings between close family members who do not live together to be an illegal act is truly shocking.

John Chestwig
John Chestwig
1 year ago

Great points – it appears the UK Government is completely unclear regarding what endpoint it is trying to achieve.
If myself and another 1 million people refuse to have the vaccine, are they going to keep UK-wide lockdown measures going forever for our protection!?

Peter Boreham
Peter Boreham
1 year ago

The public has no idea that COVID-19 deaths are not that big in the scheme of things. Once the vulnerable are vaccinated, the benefits of lockdown are too small relative to the costs

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Boreham

Once the vulnerable are vaccinated we will not need restrictions. The hysteria from the anti-lockdown group matches or even out does that of the pros. Hysteria all around and yet the people just get on with it in the best way they can. Stop the hysteria please from both sides.

Andrea X
Andrea X
1 year ago

I thought that the vulnerable had been pretty much vaccinated. Still we are told no Easter holidays, no school, no summer (and this is February) and so on.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I’m pretty sure that’s not what the UK government, nor indeed what the government advisor in this interview, is saying. Seems to me the government is being sensible after a year of over-promising and under-delivering. But if you read between the lines, the message is pretty optimistic. The hope is we follow Israel’s results, and so far there’s no reason to think we won’t.

Andrea X
Andrea X
1 year ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

I am in Scotland, so we have had NO over promising at all but only doom and gloom, which is still continuing unabated, and, honestly, I don’t understand why.
We would very likely be freer without the vaccine than we are with.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrea X
Hamish Hossick
Hamish Hossick
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea X

A large part of the problem is the virus is a welcome distraction from other serious problems Nicola Sturgeon is struggling to cope with.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I have a lot of data and news from a friend in Scotland. It seems there is a lot of panic and doom mongering based on very little evidence. Control of the people. Of course we know that the strategy in the Scottish government is ZeroCovid… so good luck!

Hilary LW
Hilary LW
1 year ago

It’s much the same situation here in Wales. Incredibly high take-up of vaccination among the over-70s, hospital admissions plummeting, but Mark Drakeford is cautioning against any relaxation of restrictions and even suggesting that they could be tightened further. How, I dread to imagine.

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago

Panic and doom mongering ? By who and if you mean by the Government then whats the evidence for your claim that they have ‘very little evidence’. Or is that just a bit of doom mongering by you based on very little evidence?

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
1 year ago

Yes Devi Sridhar and Prof Linda Bauld seem to have Nicola Sturgeon in a zero covid spell, that and the fact that she seems to wish to model herself of Jacinda Ardern.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
1 year ago

Really? Even here in Canada, people like me who absolutely hate masking (because I can hardly breathe in the damn things, and usually feel sick after wearing one for an extended period of time) are being told just to get used to it because it’s likely we’ll still be forced to wear the face diaper almost everywhere even after we get both jabs. Why? For what purpose, if we’re really immune and unable to infect others? No-one seems to be able to adequately explain that to me.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago

Because we don’t know yet whether immunised individuals are potential transmitters or not. Sars Cov 2 vaccines like most vaccines do not confer sterilising immunity on the recipient.
+ median age range of admission to critical care beds in the UK since the spring has been 58 – 61y. Most of these individuals do not have serious co-morbidites and with this age range are probably economically active. Until this age cohort is immunised they will remain at risk.

s p
s p
1 year ago

Totally false notion concerning spread. If you don’t have symptoms you don’t have the virus. This has always been the understanding with viruses.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  s p

Not with this one. Plenty of evidence that both asymptomatics and presymptomatics carry the virus. They don’t necessarily transmit of course, it depends on their viral load, among other factors. See :
“SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV viral load dynamics, duration of viral shedding, and infectiousness: a systematic review and meta-analysis” Cevik January 2021

David Slade
David Slade
1 year ago

If everyone is immunised against severe disease and death then I don’t see the logical reason for stopping transmission purely for its own sake. That seems more like ideology than epidemiology.

Surely you want that sweet spot of a vaccine that mitigates the worst harm whilst allowing those variants of the virus to become dominant – so you know you can prevent the harm from those strains out-competing all others?

Last edited 1 year ago by David Slade
Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
1 year ago

At risk of what?

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
1 year ago

My question stands: why the heck would anyone want to get this experimental jab?

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago

Because, as you should know very well by now, nothing is certain in terms of what happens next with the spread, mutation rate and type, and masks are to protect those who, in spite of vaccines (non of which have 100% effectiveness) might get bad or fatal Covid. I don’t like makes either but I’m certainly not going to risk causing someone else’s death

s p
s p
1 year ago

A very false sense of virtue with such reasoning.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

On this site you will find that 99 percent are anti-lockdown because they see themselves as free thinkers. If the government had said ‘no lockdown’ then 99 percent would be pro-lockdown.

Davinia Draper
Davinia Draper
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Think you may be making presumptions here.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Not free thinkers. Just thinkers.

s p
s p
1 year ago

We may “not need restrictions” after widespread vaccinations but without a significant mind set change we will forever be in and out of them.

Hamish Hossick
Hamish Hossick
1 year ago

If the vulnerable are vaccinated, logic demands those who are not vaccinated are not vulnerable. That leaves no excuse whatsoever for maintaining any lockdown. You cannot keep redefining who is and isn’t vulnerable and ignoring the ever-increasing need to let us get on with our lives. The viral infection will naturally decrease in the spring anyway, just as it did last year, so let sense prevail for once and get out of the way.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Hamish Hossick

The median age range of admission to critical care beds in the UK throughout this pandemic has been 58 – 61y. Most of these individuals do not have serious co-morbidites (ICNARC stats from September 1 to now) and with this age range are probably economically active. Until this age cohort is immunised they will remain at risk.
Not all vulnerable individuals were / are crinklies with 2 co-morbidities living in a care home or a multigenerational household.
Yes the transmission of the virus will wane as a cumulative effect of less personal interactions + as the weather improves and people get outside more. It will return when the weather gets colder and people congregate indoors again, next autumn.
The more people who are not immunised, the more people there will be carrying relatively high viral loads and swapping their virus with other (asymptomatic / mildly symptomatic) people, then the more likely it is that new variants will arise (more viruses being challenged more frequently by natural immune systems). This is a numbers game.

Hamish Hossick
Hamish Hossick
1 year ago

Ignoring that a great many will have been exposed to the virus by now and retain t cells to fight off future infections. The numbers are also mounting for other life-threatening conditions and the debt accumulating from an inactive economy which funds the NHS. Vastly increased government debt and many bankruptcies means there will be less money available for treating anything in future.

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago
Reply to  Hamish Hossick

Well, you could make a fortune if you came up with a rapid test to identify with accuracy who is ‘vulnerable ( to serious illness) and who isn’t . However, and on the slight chance that it could be many years before you create this test, we all need to take care and stop arguing that we should be allowed to do what we want regardless of the number of fatalities.

Hamish Hossick
Hamish Hossick
1 year ago

You are either oblivious to or simply don’t care about the damage being done to lives and livelihoods by this sort of hysterical nonsense. Would you have us cowering at home, abandoning primary healthcare for all other conditions every winter?

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
1 year ago

It’s scary to me that this guy is one of the most sensible advisors, and he is still saying things like “lockdowns can be eased only once hospitalizations are low enough” or “infection rates are low enough”. Who gets to decide what “low enough” is? Here in Canada, my mom died during lockdown (of cancer complications, which likely would not have happened had she had normal access to in-person medical care). She was depressed and isolated for the last 7 months of her life. Lockdown had a massive negative effect on her quality of life, and lockdown impact on healthcare shortened her life in all likelihood (she was expected to live at least several more years with an indolent cancer). Who is this scientist to say what “low enough” is? Should people like my mom get to decide what level of risk is acceptable? She was a math teacher and likely had a much better grasp of statistics than this epidemiologist. If the government can dictate what risk is acceptable for COVID, why not with every other risk we take on? Where does this end?

John Chestwig
John Chestwig
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Milburn

I’m sorry to hear you have personally affected in this way.
Sadly human reaction to risk (greater for immediate impacts than slower burning ones) and the MSM’s delight in exploiting a commercial model which relies on scaring people witless, will leave us all to repent at our leisure.
At which point, none of the main political parties will want to claim the issues of the day are due in large part to lockdown etc, because they were all responsible for it. They’ll try to pretend it never happened, leaving us to deal with the wreckage.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
1 year ago

So this fella is advising the government? Right…. that explains it.

Harold Aitch
Harold Aitch
1 year ago

It’s all about the vaccine… Does no one believe in natural immunity anymore?

He also mentioned immunity doesn’t last forever, however there have be studies that have apparently shown that cross immunity from SARS1 from 20 years ago has been keeping people safe from SARS-Cov2 in the now. I realise 20 years isn’t “forever” but who lives forever?

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
1 year ago
Reply to  Harold Aitch

I believe in natural immunity wholeheartedly and feel concerned that so many are ready to take an experimental jab without knowing (and dare I say trusting) the outcomes short-term or long-term. I will continue to support my immune system. 🙂

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago
Reply to  Harold Aitch

I think that in their afterlife, the dead might be wondering what happened to their natural immunity along with the billions who have died from other diseases which, fortunately, we now have vaccines for

John Chestwig
John Chestwig
1 year ago
Reply to  Harold Aitch

I’m certainly not looking forward to the tsunami of colds which is going to hit me when we finally get out of this, with my immune system having barely been challenged at all for the first year ever in my life.
Again – absolutely no apparent modelling regarding such recoil effects. It may well be impossible to calculate, but that just emphasises that this Government is playing a giant experiment on us with no idea of the overall health effects.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
1 year ago

Last week on Politico, Neil Ferguson said pretty much the same as Tildesley does here. Seems pretty reasonable, nuanced and fact-based.

Last edited 1 year ago by Eva Rostova
Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Don’t mention facts here because they are rarely acknowledged. Sad for an open discussion forum. Don’t give up though.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

You are correct. Emotions rule before facts. It is easy to have ideas and you become convinced that you are correct but, of course, they are only ideas.

Carlo Dallapiccola
Carlo Dallapiccola
1 year ago

Very sensible discussion. I have a few comments.
Let’s imagine that by 1 June everybody who is ever going to take the vaccine has taken it. What is the next step, if *not* that of releasing all restrictions and living life normally, understanding that the susceptible pool of the population that remains will inevitably become infected, sooner or later? What would be the point of continuing restrictions, assuming there is no extreme pressure on the healthcare system? To wait for those who chose not to vaccinate themselves to change their minds (while meanwhile we all follow restrictive measures to protect them against infection)? To wait for an even *better* next generation of vaccines (which, say, more completely blocks transmissions)?
My second comment relates to the discussion about the legality of visiting with one’s grandparents (or any other members of one’s family, for that matter). Am I to understand that it is actually ILLEGAL for someone in the UK to visit with a family member that happens to not live under the same roof??!! And you accept that?

John Chestwig
John Chestwig
1 year ago

I got to 6 minutes in and this was already a train wreck of an interview – not because of the questions Freddie was asking, rather it was the answers from Dr Tildesley.
At the start of the interview, he introduced himself as someone who did modelling to help the decision makers (Government) reach the correct decisions. He then got asked a series of policy-related questions by Freddie and proceeded to answer them all with absolute confidence, without ever clarifying those were outside his remit. he could have answered them, but stressed in every case that he was expressing a personal view.
The obvious conclusion is that the modellers are letting their personal feelings on policy influence their advice to government, furthermore it seemed obvious from his answers that Government has absolutely no clarity regarding what questions they are trying to answer and hence what data they need.
This helps explain the bungling approach to ‘management’ of this whole business, the constant changes in direction, the utter lack of clarity regarding how decisions should or are being made and hence the quite spectacular economic and social mess this country is in.

Rachel Rolfe
Rachel Rolfe
1 year ago

Given that the WHO advised reducing the number of cycles for valid PCR testing (anything above 25-30 cycles started showing bits of other viruses left over like colds and most testing centres were cycling anywhere between 30-45) it would be interested to research what impact this has had on the reduction in infections (or ‘infections’) though I am not sure how this could be done?

stephen f.
stephen f.
1 year ago

I want the old Unherd back…as do many others

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago

I am so glad someone government-y is talking like this. It’s easy for us to forget that politicians, scientists etc are humans and I am sure love their country and their families too.

Joe Reed
Joe Reed
1 year ago

Great article

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Mental health problems could be serious. After 9 months of pseudo-lockdown my wife and I could, maybe, kill each other. But I just can’t believe that children will suffer. Locally, children have regularly cheated on the lockdown when little groups of two or three get together. Children are very resilient and they find ways around these things.
Basically, anyone can say, “X might happen.” or “Y is a possibility.” or “We’d better lookout for Z.” but none of these statements mean anything. They come from people who are given airtime but don’t really know any more than us.

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Quite right. There is an awful lot of scaremongering about children’s mental health and development . As you say, children are very resilient and quick to learn.

If people really want to go on about mental health of children, they should concentrate not on a few months of lost schooling etc, but on those growing up in longstanding ‘ hard to reach households and communities’ where their whole life can be influenced by an environment of permanent lack of aspiration, support, nurturing etc.

Mayte Fernandez
Mayte Fernandez
1 year ago

Ppl needs to understand that we will NEVER go back to normal
Covid19 change the life of all of us won’t be gone we will need a yearly vaccination just like the flu
And Covid it’s move powerful dangerous and contagious than any virus in the story of mankind
So get use to this stop complaining follow the rules to save your love ones first then to take away the paramount efforts and stressing work in the NHS.
NHS couldn’t care less about applauses what they need is the covidiots stop killing ppl
All that ppl have blood in their hands

David Slade
David Slade
1 year ago

This is trolling right? I mean, you’re not serious; ‘more powerful and dangerous and contagious than any virus in the story of mankind’? That’s not describing a virus that large numbers of people don’t even know they have.

How fortuitous (if true) that it happened at just the right point in history that we have the technology for home working, mass testing and tracking through mobile phones? Almost makes you believe in God. Just ten years ago our current ill advised response wouldn’t have been technically possible – and we would all be better off for it.

I think you will find (deadly as this undeniably is), it isn’t even the most deadly of the last 60 years.

I’m sure there must be something more convincing you can copy off of Chinese propaganda posts.

stephen f.
stephen f.
1 year ago

One of the worst things about this entire Covid situation is people like you-energized by fear, as society is increasingly enervated.

joycebrette
joycebrette
1 year ago

All people have blood IN their hands , it helps prevent them falling off. English please.