Why the Twitter pitchforks came for me over an NHS statistic
Insecurity over inconvenient facts quickly leads to anger and a mob mentality
I was a eugenicist who was guilty of peddling fascism, apparently. One man stated publicly that he would “personally murder” me if our paths were to cross; another implied I should be hanged from a lamp-post; and a woman “comedian” called for my arrest.
Others joined the bandwagon of rage with various insults and accusations — much of the language too choice to republish here.
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So what heinous crime had I committed to provoke such an onslaught? Well — look away now if you are squeamish — I had tweeted, without comment, an official statistic published by NHS England which showed that there had, since the start of the pandemic, been 377 Covid-related hospital deaths involving patients who were under 60 and had no pre-existing condition. I provided within the tweet a link to the relevant data. (I should say that my original tweet didn’t mention the likely small number of additional deaths in non-hospital settings, but this was clarified in a follow-up tweet.)
The number of Covid-related deaths in England involving individuals under the age of 60 and free from a pre-existing condition is 377. This is for the entire period of the pandemic.
Source: NHS England https://t.co/lIaln2odu4
— Paul Embery (@PaulEmbery) December 26, 2020
The citing of this particular statistic was enough to trigger a meltdown among the pitchfork-wielding Twitterati. I was “misrepresenting” the data, claimed some supercilious commentators. I obviously placed no value on the lives of the elderly and disabled, others asserted. I was content to throw society’s most vulnerable to the wolves. I was some horrific disciple of Josef Mengele.
Had my accusers taken a minute or so to research what I actually believed, they would have found that my views were the very opposite of those they attributed to me. I have argued for some time that, as part of a more focused approach, the full resources of the state and civil society should be given over to protecting the genuinely vulnerable — no matter the financial cost — while the healthy part of the population are granted greater freedoms to live their lives. To this end, I have added my name, alongside those of 700,000 others, to the Great Barrington declaration, drawn up by infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists concerned at the terrible costs of blanket lockdowns and calling for more targeted protection.
But the baying mob didn’t trouble to research these facts. They never do. For many of them, it is all about the thrill of the pursuit.
I am certain that if I had relayed the same NHS England data to fellow drinkers in my local boozer, there would have been a few raised eyebrows, perhaps a civilised debate, maybe a hint of disagreement, and then someone would have got another round in. But Britain and Twitter are, as David Cameron once observed, not the same thing. Britain is populated with normal people. Twitterland, by contrast, is filled with frothing dogmatists who lash out if someone dares disrupt their settled thinking. Of course, their unrestrained fury masks their own insecurities: people often become angry when they are confronted with evidence which makes them less sure of their own arguments.
C’est la vie. We must deal in what is real, not what makes us feel better. And we must be prepared to stand up for truth. My tweet was accurate and verifiable. Indeed, the wider media has now started to report the data. Facts are facts — and that doesn’t change just because some people find them inconvenient.
The thing that puzzles me is that goings-on on twitter keep getting reported. If these so-called storms are just the gibbering ravings of an unhinged minority, which I’m sure they are, why mention them at all? Boycott twitter, and let the moronic inferno consume itself.
Happy Holy Innocents Day everybody!
I hope the epitaph on my tombstone will mention
“He never used or even understood Twitter”.
I do find it amusing that there is a vague link to that old English expression ” go tell it to the birds”etc.
Completely agree. All serious news outlets should make it a matter of strict editorial policy never to report on, or quote from, anything ‘said’ on twitter.
I agree entirely. “Twitter storm” should be given as much weight in news reporting as “argument down the boozer”.
The best description I’ve come across is that “Twitter is for people who can’t shut up even when they’re on their own.”
Twitter is – by design – populated by the the most opinionated loudmouths.
Why are these people assumed to be representative of anything?
Well quite. I would find Embery’s whining less irritating if he left Twitter for Parler or Gab, where he’d be among friends.
Paul is upset today.
Well quite. I would find Paul’s whining less irritating if he left Unherd for the Canary or Novara Media, where he’d be among friends.
No I wouldn’t, those guys are mental.
Ad hominem arguments are not attractive. Play the ball, not the man!
That’s precisely my point. If you scroll upwards, you’ll see that I’m mimicking one of his comments.
Toys. Pram. Floor.
Would you care to engage with Embery’s argument? Here’s a precis:-
(a) the astonishingly low Covid death-rate among under 60’s, and
(b) the ruinous economic, social, and mental-health costs of lockdown,
it would be better to let the healthy majority return to something approaching normality, while helping the vulnerable to shield themselves.
Embery’s tweet didn’t make an argument, and in fact, he denied it was advancing one: “As I have told you, I cited, without comment, an official statistic published on the NHS England website. If you don’t like the manner in which NHS England collates and presents its statistics, or think it could be done more clearly, take it up with them.” (Twitter, @PaulEmbery, Dec 28, 2020).
This is either disingenous (or very naive), since he knows (or should know) the conclusions invited by the stat in isolation. As I’ve replied on the other thread, saying “I’m just saying without comment that Novichok is at Porton Down and it’s easier to get to Salisbury from there than Moscow” is a true statement, but if the speaker were subsequently horrified that people took it as saying the poisonings were a false flag, they would be disinsgenous (or very naive).
As to the argument you’ve given above, I see no evidence that what Embery wants is feasible, given multi-generational households, the requirement for carers and so on. As far as I know, people advancing it as a strategy have no detailed plan for its implementation, or modelling showing it’d work (if this isn’t true, I’d be interested to see it).
Leaving all the ranting on Twitter to one side (from all parties) your point in your third paragraph does need an answer from anyone who espouses the greater freedom theory, attractive though it is at first blush.
I am not sure why some people seem to find the concept of protecting the vulnerable difficult, even more so as shielding was once a specific government policy! Shielding seems to be similar to the the GBD concept, only minus any active government support! My mother, 92, an example, living on her own, no one allowed to go into her house, her only official support the occasional NHS letter. She struggles. I can think of loads of practical support that could have been given, including bespoke facilities for those who cannot isolate at home. (Similarly we ask people to quarantine in whatever inadequate circumstances they may have at home).
I think the idea, if ever entertained, was dismissed out of hand, because there would undoubtedly need to be a lot of detailed work and logistics to be arranged. It is so much easier for governments to print money, pass laws (increasingly ineffective and often contradictory) including telling young people not to socialise or have intimate relations for a year or more. Fat chance that would work in the UK as we are now seeing.
So Twitter is your gold standard for public discourse.
I saw that Twitter thread – you have my sympathy, the comments were outrageous – some of which even came from people whose handles (or whatever Twitter nomenclature is) implied they were doctors! I hope that’s not true.
Particularly unintentionally amusing were those who responded by pointing out the number of people over 60 in the country – as if the elevated risk of mortality would translate in to a Logan’s run style apocalypse past a certain age.
I have no account so could only view rather than comment, but I generally consider the virtue signalling ignorami on twitter to be not worth engaging with, alot of them wouldn’t be able to tell an original thought from a brain tumour.
The rest of us got what you were saying.
as if the elevated risk of mortality would translate in to a Logan’s run style apocalypse past a certain age.
Ah yes the “you’re killing x’s grandthings” argument
Point of clarification – I use grandthings because I don’t with to be accused of sexism (or other ism) by selecting a sex/gender.
How sweet of you to abide by the rules of the small minority with loud mouths. How nice to ensure your vocabulary is within their defined rules and made up words. Whats wrong with grandparents. FGS grow some and stand up to the speech terrorists.
I took it as a joke at the speech terrorists’ expense.
That, if you don’t mind my saying so, is an overreaction to someone using irony to make a point you are very likely to agree with.
“Ah yes the “you’re killing x’s grandthings” argument”
… which, to complete your point in a way that I hope meets with your approval, is easily shown to be nonsense. The “you’re killing x’s grandthings” argument.is a standard case of the basic claim that X’s liberty militates against Y’s shielding. But a second’s introspection shows the basic claim to be ridiculous. X’s liberty doesn’t militate against, but rather facilitates, Y’s shielding. Functional societies, i.e. societies in which people are for the most part able to resume their normal lives, are better at looking after the vulnerable, including helping them to protect themselves from infection.
“…some of which even came from people whose handles (or whatever Twitter nomenclature is) implied they were doctors!”
Don’t be surprised if they are – doctors are particularly susceptible to guru syndrome; the belief that because they have expertise in an area of medicine, they have expertise in anything to which they turn their attention for 10 minutes.
It is also worth noting Gove’s oft-misquoted quip about experts. There is a place for experts, and there are many areas where there is no expertise.
Q. What’s the difference between God and a doctor?
A. God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.
I remember that from childhood with doctor replaced by Englishman.
Never mind, you’ll grow up one day.
Logan’s Run! I had a massive crush for Jenny Agutter…sorry, I digress.
The use of evidence, as opposed to opinion, has become akin to a hate crime during the covid pandemic.
Twitter is a home for the violently deranged. It never occurs to the evolved and sophisticated wokeratie there that threatening to murder people and calling for them to be hanged is not the behaviour of civilized people. It’s the behaviour of the violently deranged.
If not addressed to a (looking at the photo) white male (sorry if I got it wrong) it would come under the heading of hate speech.
Threatening to murder people and calling for them to be hanged is also illegal, but of course we can’t expect the idiots on Twitter to know that.
twitter censors ANY arguments Against ”Global Warming” Support for Trump &questioning Hunter biden’s Chinese &ukrainian business deals, Against the hysteria of SARS2 incompetence, NON-use of 7 nightingale hospitals etc…
I have the perfect solution to the Twitter frenzy. I avoid all social media and discuss the issues of the day with the people I choose and not faceless, nameless entities who can hide behind the platforms issuing threats and unpleasant comments.
What sort of person even thinks of issuing a death threat anyway?
Alex Belfield at The Voice Of Reason has been reporting and re-stating this fact, or the relevant number of deaths under 60, for some months now.
That aside, you are right as always, Paul. Don’t let the Twitter mob get you down.
One thing i would like to know, is how many of those people who died with no known underlying medical conditions were white. Asking such a question would cause more fury from the usual suspects. But it is known that Covid is not a colour blind killer and that this non colour blind approach is not due purely to economic factors, since many well paid physicians have died from it. Until we address the fact that the Wuhan virus has a propensity to kill not just the old and already ill, but those with the highest levels of Neanderthal DNA, we will never be able to get back to normal.
Not just the the mob, but the whole of the establishment will continue to protest too much against any reasonable statement about Covid, and deem the locking down of the whole of society a necessity, to protect the elderly and ill, because it cannot acknowledge there is any reality to the idea of biological difference between races. To admit such a thing is to give up on the idea that race is a purely social construct and they would rather keep their faith in this batty ideology than get to work finding out how to protect all the most vulnerable people, while allowing the healthy and least likely to suffer to continue to fund the NHS by earning sufficient sums to replenish the Treasury, over time.
You may be correct but my opinion is the real difference for the most part lies not in race but in lifestyle. Sharing food and utensils, very close knit communities with many relatives interacting and large gatherings in various places plus numerous children interacting with home and relations
I agree that what you say maybe a contributing factor but from chucks of research I’ve seen, the major factor is more likely Vitamin D deficiency.
A combination of a darker skin that evolved to deal with far sunnier climes than the the bleak Northern European weather, allied to the importance of Vitamin D within the immune system. (Spanish studies have shown how injections of Vitamin D administered at the beginning of a covid hospitalisation can have a dramatic effect on survival rate)
Ivor Cummins has recently done a very interesting video regarding Vitamin D on his YouTube channel, check it out
Leaving aside the minor fact that Black isn’t a colour, at least in the spectrum, you are spot on.
Off course there are differences, just look for example at elite swimming at Olympic level.
Thanks to Jesse Owens, after the 1936 Olympic Games it was the Welcome Trust and the BMA among other that who proposed separate Black and White Games for 1940 Tokyo Games.
They both annunciated the physiological differences between races, although their reports have now been sanitised into oblivion.
There are grounds to suspect this C-19 Plague is a Chinese Bio Weapon designed to wipe Negroes from the face of Africa, prior to Han settlement of the same.
What will the next Wuhan cocktail be? As long dead Cato the Censor would have said, Sino delenda est!
Your right Mark there is no black (in the Visual colour spectrum) neither is there white!!! As an artist I have to chuckle in my studio when some nut job rants about white (supremacist) I can’t image what a client would say if I painted them white or black for that matter. Go further with the spectrum and there is no brown or pasty grey. I spend countless hours trying to get colour just so or at least acceptable. Just a thought (for fun:-))
As a feral brat I was taught that wonderful mnemonic ” Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain” to explain/remember the spectrum.
No doubt you were taught the same.
I think we may be in the ‘older’ category:-)
Definitely in my case!
I daren’t tell you the line we were taught in the sixties RAF as an aid to remembering the electronic resistor colour code. It would certainly upset someone!
It would never get past the somewhat puritanical UnHerd Censor I’m afraid.
And – every person with underlying health conditions did not have those known till at some point they were significant enough to be looked into. That means a great many with underling conditions have no record of them. I wonder if those 600 fall under the number of people as of yet not diagnosed.
The heretic must be silenced. That’s how the Twitterati work. Malicious truths cannot be allowed to stand.
That does not explain their power. Why do influential people in the public sphere dance to the Twitterati tune? It is perfectly possible to ignore them and stick to your own principles.
A couple of reasons: first, tweets are magnified well beyond their importance partly due to a lazy media that mistakes Twitter with interviews of credible people, and second, principles are less common than you might think.
What happened to Paul is commonplace and imagine being the target but not having the same pulpit that Paul enjoys. The mob takes delight in trying to ruin your life for whatever wrong-think occurred. We have people whose lives consist of digging up years old tweets for no purpose other than attacking the person behind them.
Also its easy to “retweet” – no brains and virtually no effort required.
That does not explain their power. Why do influential people in the public sphere dance to the Twitterati tune?
Because they are cowards.
The word “Malicious” is not required
I’ve worked in a psychiatric hospital, and am pretty sure – as far as one can be not having met the people, and not having windows into their souls – that many have borderline personality disorders.
Only “borderline”? It would seem that many are well over the border and heading south.
I think “Borderline personality disorder” is a specific kind of malfunction. What little I know of it is thanks to my daughter who watched (and hugely enjoyed) the TV series “Crazy ex-girlfriend” in which the leading character has BPD but doesn’t know it.
I should have capitalised Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s an official diagnosis. The ‘borderline’ doesn’t refer to personality disorder but to the line between this and psychosis. BPD is supposed to be close to that border.
Thanks for the succinct explanation of something I have found myself wondering about.
The suspicion that many MPs seem to use “Twitter” should tell us something. Any offers?
They are vacuous morons without an original thought between their ears?
I saw it too, it was bizarre. When I was a kid I read comics which sometimes had a puzzle; you had to get from lead to foal say changing a letter at time in four moves (I made that up, don’t try). Someone responded to Paul accusing him of being ‘c**t’ (sic) who saw no value in over 60’s with health problems. How many steps did it take to get from ‘most healthy people under 60 won’t die from Covid’ to that? Especially considering other tweets from Paul saying we should protect the vulnerable if they choose to isolate.
Only a couple of steps, actually – you take it for granted that the argument is intended to make sense, and fill in the missing premises to make it so:
– Paul wants to relax the restrictions
– Paul thinks that the low mortality for healthy under-60s is an argument for relaxing the restrictions (why say it, otherwise?)
– COVID is killing a lot of people, just not the healthy under-60s (you may not agree, but the commenter thinks so)
– The restrictions help keep the death toll down (again, the commenter take this for granted).
Which premise do you have to add for the argument to make sense?
Sure, you could add a longer list, like ‘We can use different procedures to protect the vulnerable’, ‘We are willing to spend whatever that takes’, ‘These procedures will be carried out and will work as intended’ … But nuance and trust in people’s good faith seems to be in short supply on Twitter.
It is an even shorter number of steps to say that by lockdown, for each over 60 with comorbidity saved, a young person has had their life destroyed.
I think that the twitter reponses show how successful SAGE’s propoganda has been, with the help of the MSM.
There is never any context to the figures reported. e.g Hospital beds nearly full – they are always nearly full at this time of year; the number of “cases”, when they actually mean the number of positive tests – many people did not even know they were ill; the number of covid deaths – with no accompaning total deaths; the number of people who recover – never seen any figures; etc.
As most people take their news from TV, is it any wonder that they are frightened?
So you writing an articule which shows 377 under 60 deaths ( with no other illnessess) must be dangerous fake news and thus rightly condemend – or at least by those people who do not look beyond the headlines!!
I am surprised the NHS has published this figure.
I suspect that part of the problem is that Paul’s bald quote of a single statistic also was without preamble or context so leaving it to the reader to construct their own guesses about where he was coming from and what agenda he was pursuing. Not surprising really that the more deranged should fill in the gaps as they did. Also a bit naÃ¯ve to expect twitterers to (a) be numerate, (b) check sources, (c) be acquainted with Paul’s record as commentator.
Dropping statistics without context is what the media get away with all the time. But Paul’s statistic has implicit context given that the total Covid death total of tens of thousands is reported by the media all the time.
under 60s WITH NO, AS YET, DIAGNOSED ILLNESSES. They may have had diabetes, a bad heart, auto-immune disorders, cancer, and liver disease but had not been screened for it.
How many died with illnesses and what were they and how long would they have been expected to live? That would be useful. You might find the Rheumatoid Arthritis managed by immunosuppressant medicine that you looked to give you another ten to twenty years just killed you.
I never go on Twitter now. I used to have a contact that provided time sensitive financial info on Twitter that was useful, but I don’t even bother with than now. Too many nutters – Twitter is like giving a lunatic pen and paper.
The daily Coronavirus death figures are routinely reported as
“[x number] of people are reported to have died within 28 days of having tested positive for Covid-19”.
Just a simple non sequitur? Or perhaps calculated wordplay ““ evasive and ambiguous as a shrewd politician’s answer to a direct question.
We’ve had nothing but wordplay (well, foul play), evasion and ambiguity since March. For a start, we know that a lot of those positive tests will have been false. We also know that at least 20% of those infected acquire their infection in hospitals.
No. It’s an attempt to be precise. This is the agreed definition between the four UK nations as to how to define a Covid-19 death, after Carl Heneghan pointed out the unsatisfactory nature of the earlier definition adopted in England (any death in a person who had tested positive).
You can argue this is still not an ideal definition, but it has the advantage of being quickly available and thus allow immediate daily updates.
It sounds more like
its difficult to figure out what actually killed this person so to save ourselves trouble we’ll use this definition.
I find it so less than ideal with the greater number being tested, being asymptomatic but potentially being classified as a covid victim if they die.
Agreed. It was not due to impact with the road following a motorbike accident or the bonnet of a bus or car. Definiately not. Covid reigns supreme
It would be better if people like my friend who committed suicide did not have covid on her death certificate, or an old friend whose organs simply closed down due to long term illnesses. Neither had any symptons of covid.
Don’t forget the guy who fell off a ladder and died. His death was ascribed to Covid. Goebbels was an amateur compare to ‘our NHS’.
NHS is first a social engineering organization, secondly a health one.
Surely the only deaths that can be recorded as sars-cov2 (covid 19) are those caused by it? The authorities need to fake the figures and stir up mob hatred does not auger well for them as much as the rest of us. When the pointer starts to turn in their direction there will be no safety in their appealing to reason.
Surely the only deaths that can be recorded as sars-cov2 (covid 19) are those caused by it?
Yes, but identifying these is not straightforward, especially when the demand is for immediate daily updates (that this demand is unreasonable is a separate issue). The obvious misclassifications cited below do not disqualify the 28 day definition, which correlates well with other definitions, including the underlying cause assigned by the treating doctor at the time of death. (The death certification does NOT follow the 28 day rule – or is not supposed to).
So if you are not bound by the requirement to prove cause and effect you can say anything you like for causes of death as long as the ruling elite approve? I know doctors whose cancer patients died for want of treatment in the last 6m who have been forced to sign “Corona Virus” death certs on pain of being sacked. Apparently asking which of the many existing corona viruses caused the death is sufficient to earn a rebuke. This is very dangerous ground for any society as once you throw reason in the bin literally anything can happen.
I am curious. Is there any evidence that doctors being forced to put CV on death certificates?
I can see the NHS as an institution has an incentive to ramp the figures, and I can see it being prepared to do so no matter what the cost rest of us since it has long been an article of faith with the NHS that it is the corporeal embodiment of the British nation and that we exist to serve it not the other way round, but requiring doctors to put CV on a death certificate against there better judgment on pain of being sacked seems apocryphal.
For what it is worth I cannot see any reason you should rely on the judgment of individual doctors. In a large percentage of cases the cause of death is always going to be ambiguous and not all doctors will agree on the same cause in every case. However, it must surely provide a more realistic assessment if the statistics were compiled on the basis of data drawn from the diagnosis of cause of death in each individual case provided by doctors who are expert in such matters rather that the entirely arbitrary died within 28 days of a positive CV test.
Also, dying within so many days of a CV test might be more predictive of the rate of CV infection in the population as a whole rather than the threat of the virus
I suppose that if a person died of cancer due to lack of treatment, due to covid patients taking up all the attention of the health professionals, you could say quite logically that covid was the cause of death!
Medical practitioners are required to certify causes of death “to the best of their knowledge and belief”.
Drs being forced to add CV to death certificates would indeed be “dangerous ground” but I’d be sceptical that your example was more than a local glitch: perhaps people trying to decide whether death from delayed cancer treatment should have covid-19 mentioned on the certificate. I believe this would not be in line with cause of death certification guidance.
Do you really believe that definition is a successful “attempt to be precise”?
Since the beginning of the pandemic we have been warned of the vulnerability of Covid patients with “underlying health issues”. As a consequence we have been urged to stay healthy, lose weight, excercise etc ““ lest we become a burden on the NHS. Added to that, the reliability of the Covid tests are frequently called into question.
Where does that leave us? 28 days after testing positive for Covid-19 (using a test of dubious accuracy) a patient dies and the death is added to the list of victims of the pandemic as though the cause of death was simple and unquestionable ““ no further detail to be asked for or given.
I realise this provides a handy set of daily updates ““ ideal for the news outlets and SAGE to browbeat us with but after 40 weeks of living with the lockdowns I think the public deserve better.
What you want to know is exactly what killed each person. More realistically, you want to know ‘if NN had not caught COVID, would he have died anyway’? But you cannot actually get that. For people with multiple health problems that can be extremely hard even in theory, it might be that it took both COVID and heart disease to kill him.
In practice there is simply no possibility of getting a detailed analysis of what might have happened for each death – and if you leave it to judgement you get inconsistent data depending on who judges, local guidelines etc. The figure they give is quick and easy to calculate, objective, and reproducible. It is not what we most want to know, but it is the best that can be done. No need to worry about conspiracies.
After 40 weeks and 71,000+ registered deaths it should be possible to gain some idea of the pattern of spread, who is REALLY most at risk and under what circumstances have victims ACTUALLY become infected.
Defining a broad pattern should be possible ““ even necessary. You imply that only detailed analysis would do and if that is not possible then we shouldn’t bother ““ sounds defeatist to me. The government and the NHS have asked a lot from us. I think we deserve better than just being told to stay at home and not complain.
The lockdown is a blunt instrument which, judging by those precious figures (if indeed they are reliable) has not been a great success. At this point, lockdown advocates usually resort to their stock excuse ““ “the lockdown was too late and too limited”.
“No need to worry about conspiracies” you say. A cheap shot in my view but symptomatic of this polarised debate:
“¢ Question the official response to the pandemic and you are denounced as a sucker for conspiracy theories, recklessly endagering the public.
“¢ Challenge the lockdown sceptics and you are denounced as a cowardly collaborator, aiding those who would rob us of our hard won freedoms.
We should certainly bother, but then we are bothering already. Lots of people are working on getting those patterns. It is just really hard to get reliable data or to make sense of those we have, which is why so many researchers, too, disagree.
Of course it is deeply unsatisfactory to make these far-reaching decisions without a precise idea of exactly how the pandemic works, but those are the conditions. We do not have a good enough understanding, we do not have the data to prove or disprove whether any measure works. Of course the public deserves better, but unfortunately what the public deserves is not available.
So, by all means complain and propose better policies (preferably with evidence, if you have any). But comments like
Do you really believe that definition is a successful “attempt to be precise”?
sound like you accusing the health authorities of deliberate malice. Surely it would better to avoid that.
The pressure in the NHS is real. We can argue definitions all day but the hospital doctors I talk to daily in London tell me hospitals, and ITUs, are filling up with Covid patients. They are trying to save their lives and minimise long term harm. It’s real and it’s devastating and it’s not just the very old or those already seriously ill who are affected.
How do you square that with Alison Houston’s observations on the Royal Gloucester Hospital and the concurrent dismantlement of some ‘Nightingale’ Hospitals’?
( Her response to today’s Tom Chivers essay).
The cases in Gloucestershire only started increasing at an increased rate today (29.12). Their cases / 100,000 are still way below the national average (288.9 versus 402.6). If this increase in numbers continue this will be reflected in hospital admissions in 2 -3 weeks time.
The Nightingales were built as an insurance policy to try and avoid Bergamo like scenes in the spring. There was always a question mark over how they would be adequately staffed.
The Exeter Nightingale has Covid patients and the one in Belfast has been used as a step down facility. Manchester is being used as a non Covid recovery facility and the ones in Harrogate and Glasgow as out patient venues.
NHS England week ending 13 December – total bed occupancy in the SW region was about 89% – not a lot of wiggle room.
Thank you, how very reassuring.
Do you really believe that definition is a successful “attempt to be precise”?
Yes. It tells you exactly what is being reported and, indeed, makes it
clear that it is NOT a direct count of true “deaths from covid”.
See also my reply to Mike Otter below (or above).
Indeed, it does tell you “exactly what is being reported”. It is the report itself that I question. Please see my previous reply above.
Except in many instances the headline figure has prominence and near the bottom of the display in much smaller writing is the qualifier. On a separate note if other countries use a more precise measure then the numbers aren’t comparative but are utilised to attack the UK’s response.
There is nothing sinister in this. It can be hard to attribute death to a very specific cause. As a somewhat trivial made-up illustration, imagine the person who has covid, becomes very breathless while on the motorway, makes a bad decision to keep driving to get home, and as a result of the distraction of their breathing trouble, crashes into a truck and dies. What killed them? The covid or the crash?
This heavy handed illustration happens in milder form. Multi-organ failure when a person is in hospital with severe covid, but in a person who already had pronounced renal impairment due to their poorly-controlled diabetes. What killed them? Covid? Or diabetes?
These are ultimately academic debates – the policy determinant is “how many more people are dying than usual, and are they seemingly related to this infection?”
Death within 28 days of a positive tests is a simple, fairly reliable and unambiguous measure.
The first person died from the crash: ‘covid’ could be replaced by ‘sneezing fit’, ‘bumble bees’, or any distraction you want.
The second person died of immunocompromisation.
If this cause of death was adopted then we would have meaningful statistics, i.e. what rate of immunocompetent persons are killed by whatever virus, bacteria, etc .
Perhaps you are not aware – but if a healthy, non-immunocompromised person contracts E-Coli, they can end up with sepsis, multiorgan failure and die. What, in your analysis, caused death?
I’ve been at several autopsies. And certified death in many people. It is not always clear.
If an immunocompetent person contracts E-Coli and dies then, for meaningful statistical purposes, the cause of death was E-Coli.
“But Britain and Twitter … are not the same thing.”
It would be nice if more journos realised this. Twitter is a small subset of the world’s population, and those posting bile are a subset of that. Just because something is big news on twitter doesn’t mean it matters one iota elsewhere, to the vast majority of people who are non-twits.
You won’t hear this in Twitter ‘ a doctor assigned to the COVID ward in a hospital thought that she had walked into the obese ward’. You disrespect your body , it will disrespect you .
But the said doctor will him/herself probably be targeted for wrongthink by the malignants who infest Twitter.
Must be true – you just said it.
In the U.S. there used to be a star of children’s TV. He was an unassuming man who talked about life’s truths. His show was called “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” Here is one of his quotes:
The only thing evil can’t stand is forgiveness.
‘But Britain and Twitter are, as David Cameron once observed, not the same thing..’
Nor were Britain and David Cameron the same thing, as it turned out. That aside, how did all the Twitter mob express themselves before Twitter? I guess some of them wrote to their local newspaper while others howled at the full moon. But that still doesn’t quite explain the sudden presence of all these people.
Some of them got drunk and picked fights in pubs. The thing is, when that got to be a problem in certain pubs, the owners hired bouncers to chuck the obnoxious out for being obnoxious. It’s in the interest of the pub owners to keep their pubs part of civil society.
It’s not in the interest of Jack Dorsey to keep Twitter civil. Twitter is selling the idea of a flash-mob to those who want to be part of such things. This becomes the new standard of acceptable behaviour on Twitter, and formerly reasonable people all get the thrill of mob rule. The ones that stay like it that way, or at least tolerate it as ‘letting off steam’ and ‘freedom of speech’ and some such.
The typical angry Twitter mob member tends to be very much opposed to ‘freedom of speech’.
They tend to think it’s a right wing* trope rather than a pillar of civilised society
*Plus they think right wing = evil… and anything they disagree with is right wing
Oh yes, that is exactly what it does. It could not have been better designed to provide the easiest possible way for the malignant to cluster, like flies on rotting meat.
Before they probably couldn’t write or spell. They probably still can’t even with spell checker. Reason? It’s easy, don’t bother to get of the couch to do something or lurch up and let the upper orifice vent for a change.
Though I wouldn’t know, as I can’t imagine using such a means to express myself. Unheard is as far as I will go. And I only stay here for the comments as most articles are mediocre, but often produce some lively debate despite the authors efforts.
As one of the most vulnerable (apparently) I do agree with this author and have just signed the Great Barrington Declaration. My husband and I live in our own house and are octogenarians but we like to be independent. At the beginning of the first lockdown one of our neighbours did some shopping for us, but withdrew their help after seeing a friend (elderly person who lives alone) coming into the garden and being given a cup of tea, a scone and some conversation, all at a perfectly safe distance. Eventually I plucked up courage to leave the house and went to do my own “Click and Collect” and have been doing it ever since. We have not been ill and none of our friends have either. I feel distressed about the people whose businesses are closing and who are losing their jobs. I feel that the politicians are running around like headless chickens. On the other hand thousands of Africans and others are coming across the Channel in tiny blow-up boats and welcomed in and allowed to wander round all parts of Britain. All these rules are ridiculous. We should be able to get hydroxychloroquine and other prophylactics and then left to use our common sense. (I wouldn’t say no to a food parcel, but that hasn’t been forthcoming. And other help for medical problems has been put off.)
Well said girl. Right on the nose. If you were my neighbours I’d bring you both your dinners on a plate every day of the week. And a pudding if you wanted one. Stay safe, get out the house to shop/get some fresh air and be healthy. Happy New Year to you and your husband – and many of them too!
I think it’s about time we stop being outraged by the Twittersphere being outraged. I read somewhere that less than 10% of people have an active Twitter account. And I suspect it’s largely a circle-jerk of lefties, with a few exasperated normal people trying to get a word in edgewise. I gave up on it after a few months, realizing it was impossible to have a reasonable discourse. Twitter makes FB look like a Mensa meeting. My take – give up on it. Let it die. Go to the pub and see friends in real life.
Twitter is clearly the home of raging lunacy.
But, on the point of substance: Do you have a practical plan for keeping everybody over 60 and everybody with any pre-existing condition isolated and safe while the epidemic is going through everybody else? Because if you do not, the number of 377 deaths could be said to be a bit, well, cherry-picked.
No one has such a plan, practical or otherwise, because the stated goal is an impossibility. And it’s the job of people at risk to manage that risk; it can’t be outsourced to an unaccountable third party.
No one has such a plan, practical or otherwise, because the stated goal is an impossibility.
That is what I thought too.
it’s the job of people at risk to manage that risk;
OK. So are you saying that you and I should both adjust our behaviour to suit our own risk and risk tolerance? And that any risk we might thereby cause to third parties is not our problem, but theirs? Does that mean that you reject all the stuff in the Barrington Declaration about protecting the vulnerable, or can you suggest how it can be accommodated in your approach?
No one has such a plan, practical or otherwise, because the stated goal is an impossibility.
I thought so too.
it’s the job of people at risk to manage that risk;
So, are you saying that you and I should adjust our behaviour to fit our own risk and risk tolerance, and that any risk we cause to third parties is not our problem, but theirs? If so, what do you think about the Barrington Declaration and its emphasis on putting resources into protecting the vulnerable?
As an “over 60” since I’m 69 I’m willing to take my chances with this mild pandemic. I’m also overweight, diabetic and have high blood pressure. Still willing.
The other wrinklies I talk to seem to be of the same mind. I’d love to see how the surveys that suggest otherwise are carried out.
The plan is: lets get back to a real life and stop hiding away.
‘i saw the tweet and the insane responses. Sorry you had that. Keep disseminating the true numbers (at least as true as we’re able to get).
I can understand why writers need to have a full social media presence. I don’t have a Twitter account. I have a Facebook account from around 2007 which I have pretty much never used. I have a LinkedIn account which is a professional requirement – not having one would hurt my ability to find freelance work.
But the ability to project virtual personas is still something humans have not fully adjusted to. There is an element of those who engage in anonymous social media, feeling themselves to be invisible, and this grants them a licence towards behaviour that would not typically come out face to face – to vent rage for example. It’s the equivalent of seeing someone picking their nose in the cabin of their car – they imagine themselves in private surroundings, ignoring they are still visible. Once the habits start forming under this seeming invisibility, boundaries start to blur and actions begin spilling over into everyday human interactions – as bewildered family who don’t understand the hidden tribalism can attest. That seeming anonymity is of course a complete phantom for those who use but don’t understand the tech. It’s real for a tiny number – those who know how the toys are put together. Those who use social media (and this includes me, eg this post) are going to learn the hard way that it ain’t free, but those who eschew social media will also pay a (different) price.
Twitter is particularly interesting. I came to the conclusion pretty much instantly after I first came across it, that Twitter is the abode of the BOFI. Twitter belongs to the BOFI Tribe. Dangerous terrain, I keep away as much as is possible.
Agree we need more data and facts. Let’s start with trying to work out how many would count as vulnerable (in Barrington terms) and what we’d do for them. I’ve not seen a single advocate of the Barrington Declaration answer those questions.
That is because it is not a practical proposal which has been thought up with the intention of anyone being able to implement it. It is a philosphical fig leaf – a “Look! Squirrel!” designed as a cover for protecting no-one and letting all fend for themselves.
This is a complete lie. Did you two clowns even bother reading it? You are terrible people. The declaration states itself focusing on providing preventative healthcare. Missed childhood vaccinations, missed doctor screenings for high blood pressure, missed doctor screenings for cancers, missed doctor’s appointments for depressions, missed care for dementia patients. Particularly the socialization aspect with their families have already caused great harms. This is just the effects of the mob mentality you blindly support. It doesn’t even start to address the virus. As far as the virus goes. They advocate for Herd immunity right in the declaration. Have the health and able bodied build up immunity. How much further would be if we kept track of the population that recovered and is less susceptible now. You could target that population especially among health care workers and nursing home care as targeted employment to treat at risk population. You could hire other recovered people with the aptitude to help with elderly care. This is an actual plan. What do you have to offer? You people are terrible. What you have to offer is to let the elderly rot isolated and alone. It is a terrible crime you have enabled. It disgusts me to no end. Elderly not being taken care of properly and dying alone because their families are refused to access to monitor, advocate for, and help with care. Or to even say goodbye. I can’t even get my head around it. Hysteria and paranoia rule. https://www.cnn.com/2020/12…
It is not a “complete lie”, it is my carefully considered opinion after reading it. It’s pants. It’s an even more useless pipedream now that vaccination programmes are underway. There is no possibility whatsoever of shielding all of the vulnerable in the way the GBD envisages. None.
And just look at how well your “carefully considered opinion” did in the real world. When you are so stupid you try to control everything you wind up controlling nothing.. and having zero effect. Or are you going to tell me it would have been 1000 times worse if we had done nothing. The UK is what? 9th worst in the world in death per million (1282). Sweden is 21st? Your thinking made no difference. It actually has caused more death due to poor healthcare for the elderly, lack of social support for the elderly, and a lack of family advocation for care and support. Your thinking has resulted in even more deaths. It is terrible what you people have done.
You are not making a lot of sense here. I’ve commented only on the GBD. If I wanted to discuss the pros and cons of the approach actually taken in the UK (which has been in fact similar to that suggested by the GBD, with the addition of a health system overwhelm avoidance over-ride) I would have initiated such a discussion. I didn’t.
Surely this is a matter for the actuarials who have access to more granular data than the general public?
Of course if you were to leave it to them they’d throw up all sorts of ‘far right’ confounding factors e.g. overlap with those who are likely to die at the next stuff wind and year-on-year comparisons and so on and the end they’d tell you there’s nothing remotely exceptional about 2020.
If someone says that they will “personally murder” you, does this not count as a death threat and therefore constitute a criminal offence? Are the police investigating this, or are they too busy tracking down people who quote rap lyrics or tell jokes which someone imagines someone else is offended by?
They are bullies and so they will be cowards. A coward will always hide. These bullies hide behind anonymous keyboards in the either. Twitter should insist their members include their home address that’d quieten a few of them down and save many a life too I’d wager.
The benchmark for extending a life by one quality year is Â£30,000. To increase the amount allocated to extending the life of someone infected by SAR-CoV-2 would entail reducing the amount allocated to someone with another fatal morbidity, or increasing debt in a country where 7 times more life years are lost to poverty than to COVID.
It’s a human coronavirus – one of seven in general circulation – with 99.7% survivability. Not Ebola. Can you say why you believe this particular cause of death might merit increasing mitigation cost to some arbitrarily large number?
Perhaps you are merely saying this to demonstrate to the deranged that you take this virus seriously. However, it is perfectly possible to take it seriously and avoid capitulating to irrationality and hysteria.
Really, the writer says he would accept any cost to protect the vulnerable. Crazy stuff.
“But Britain and Twitter are, as David Cameron once observed, not the same thing. Britain is populated with normal people. Twitterland, by contrast, is filled with frothing dogmatists who lash out if someone dares disrupt their settled thinking. Of course, their unrestrained fury masks their own insecurities: people often become angry when they are confronted with evidence which makes them less sure of their own arguments.”
I am in no way condoning the behaviour of the people who reacted to your tweet but, given the above quote in your article, I do have to ask why you did it in the first place. I can only assume that you knew exactly what reaction you would get and lo and behold you obtained enough material for a completely pointless contribution to Unherd.
As for the value of signing the Great Barrington Declaration, I would put that in the same category as sportsmen taking a knee.
“I have argued for some time that, as part of a more focused approach, the full resources of the state and civil society should be given over to protecting the genuinely vulnerable ” no matter the financial cost ” while the healthy part of the population are granted greater freedoms to live their lives.”
Wow, that sounds as stupidly extreme as the lockdown zealots who likewise don’t care about the massive opportunity cost from the resources put into tackling Covid.
As for Twitter, it’s another platform that gives nutters a voice. In the past they’d mainly be stuck under their rocks and limited to ranting in the pub.
I cannot recollect ever reading or hearing anything positive about Twitter. So, unless you really enjoy ” Typing What I’m Thinking That Everyone’s Reading” do yourself a favour Mr Embery, liberate yourself from the Twitterati narcissism and click that “unsubscribe” button.
I joined to contribute to Bereson and Ivor Cummings threads. There are others who do a good job of presenting information on them. I quit after being censored. I still read some threads I found on twitter but I can’t post since I don’t have an account. I’m not sure why Bereson and Ivor don’t get censored. I guess they are more careful around popular accounts. The tech giants are not friends of the 1st amendment. They are not on the people’s side. IMHO they want to be powerful oligarchs who manipulate the masses and bring about a new feudal age.
Don’t go on Twitter, Paul. It’s daft to use a forum designed to remove nuance and understanding, if that was your aim, and disingenuous to then complain when the forum delivered exactly what it was designed for.
Where have you been? You only made it worse by citing GBD, arguing for more freedoms for the healthy, and more resources and focus on the vulnerable. The mob hates freedom. Loves lockdowns. Loves masks. Loves pain, punishment, and misery. This is their mission. The Great Reset. They don’t even care about the vaccine. They want people to stay in lockdown, social distance, and wear masks forever. After all, there are an estimated 380 trillion viruses in the human virome. We are going to need a lot more vaccines. Babies being born should just stay in the hospital forever receiving vaccines shots. Their lives should be an endless series of injections until their death. LOL.
You may jest about the endless series of injections but have you seen the number of vaccinations US children get….OMG! I am not an anti vaxxer, my last 2 decades of posts on ATSNN prove this. However, since this Covid debacle started my eyes have been opened to what is an appalling vaccine situation in the US.
My impression is that the vaccine industry started off with the best of intentions but has now morphed into a multi trillion dollar industry where the dollar sign has blinded those who work in it. Meanwhile the trusting public has now morphed into a very distrusting recipient of dodgy injections. Quite where the two curves crossed I don’t know.
But why on earth did an intelligent, sensible guy like Paul Embery put the info up on a flaky medium like Twitter? Indeed, why put anything rational or reasonable there to be seized upon and distorted by the deranged and malicious denizens of the medium? As my old grandmother used to say in pre-social media days “What can you expect from a pig but a grunt?” Better to starve it of any involvement or attention. Better still if, as a public service to society, it could be taken down!
I was about to make the very same point, before reading your eloquently worded post!
But why on earth did an intelligent, sensible guy like Paul Embery put the info up on a flaky medium like Twitter?
Every writer, pundit, or other media person has a Twitter account. For better or worse.
Thank you for having the moral, courage to highlight that astonishing fact that a mere 377, fit, under 60’s have been killed by C-19 to date!
Yet our society testers on the brink of destruction by the Shriekers of Quislington, and with the exception of your good self, Lord Jonathan Sumption, Peter Hitchins and a few others hardly a word is heard.
Fu Manchu & Co must be incredulous.
No one said they were fit, just that they had not had a diagnosis of comorbidity.
Aren’t you rather ‘splitting hairs’?
Define fit? I know plenty of fit people with autoimmune conditions, asthma or type 1 diabetes.
Well, like beauty it is in the “eye of the beholder”.
In my case, well past three score years and ten, it means six miles a day, every day, with my English Springer Spaniels. That’s a little over 2,000 miles per annum. Pure nectar for all concerned!
You should try it, you will not be disappointed!
Now lets start with the facts and figures on the “man-made climate change” scam eg the 10 climate predictions for 2020 that went horribly wrong (Global Warming Policy Foundation)
‘But Britain and Twitter are, as David Cameron once observed, not the same thing’, he didn’t seem to realise that when he was PM, he and his successors were and are led by the Twitter trolls. Their policies follow whatever is trending on Twitter,,as there media puts it. It wouldn’t surprise if the govts heroic Brigade 77 are trolling away on there right now.
I agree with the criticisms of twitter mobs. But at least you were able to get this important statistic out into the public discourse. Twitter does have its uses.
Paul, just stay off Twitter. What do you expect?
I sometimes wonder if Twitter exists to give pigeons a rest from mad people shouting at them, hence the name.
For me it serves as a painless way to peer into other people’s view, one that I can disengage from in a moment.
Alternatively it gives the possibility of engaging with the great and the good in way that normally would be impossible. I try to follow a range of opinions from left to right and parody (not always easy to separate).
With regard to the original post, i too have signed the Declaration.
No David pigeons coo, I have half a dozen waddling round my garden. I mention this because it is far more informative than listening to the so called BBC news.
Perhaps the most pleasing sound one can hear in the English countryside.
We need an upvote the article button (and a downvote as well since this isn’t Facebook). If we had please be assured I would click the upvote button frantically.
Another example justifying the assertion that social media platforms should be designated as publishers.
Every individual on these platforms should have a physical address to which their joining code is sent and a mobile phone account that is regularly checked via an access code to validate their account.
Great, so vigilantes can enforce prohibition of speech.
What is Embury complaining for? He is fully aware of the regressive twitterati. He uses Twitter to build his profile and get his message across just as those he complains of do.Get off it or shut up. I am more concerned where he was in March, like so many other so called radicals,when it was vital to dissent this irrational madness that has been embarked upon. It was then that the inept and irrational political class and parts of the scientific community needed opposing just as some brave scientists and commentators did nationally and internationally. Too little too late is a kindness. Political leadership means just that not following when it’s safer to do so.
Twitchforks? Fitting as these digital digs are small and without conscious control.
Friedrich Nietzsche ” There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know and those who want to believe”
I believe if you have never changed your mind on a fundamental issue you either never look at any opposing evidence or you are the latter type. Or both.
Didn’t Nietzsche end up in a loony bin?
Glossing over that point!! I think he also said something to the effect “We have Art so that too much Truth doesn’t kill us”…
Paul. Twitter: half baked, moronic idiots who have hollow, shallow lives that are stuffed to the brim with a shockingly large amount utter mundane un-importance. Twitter is the only way these bullies and narcissistic pond gazers can feel that someone, anyone is listening to them. If only they knew. Don’t go there mate you’re better, and you deserve better, than any of them.
Why on earth you let the mindless opinions of thos idiots upset you I cannot understand.This encapsulates one of the bad ways in which society has gone- give uneducated self seeking tossre a forum, and they can say what they want, and worse- they think their opinion matters ! As for the cretin who threatened to kill you – call his bluff and ask to come and carry out his threat. You are right- they hate the truth when confronted with it,but would not have the b***s to insult you to you face.BTW, I like the comment by Andrew D. ” the moronic inferno ” Excellent.
is this what passes for an article these days?
(i) Makes stupid comment on Twitter.
(ii) Has it pointed out to him why it was a stupid tweet.
(iii) Doubles down on stupid tweet by expressing support for (even stupider) Great Barrington Deception.
Do you get paid for producing this rubbish?
Posting official statistics isn’t any kind of comment, stupid or otherwise. Inferences drawn from said stats can be incredibly stupid (and were).
With ref the GBD, how is it ‘stupider’, can you show me the historical precedent for universally mandated hysteria as a sensible response to a pandemic? Can you explain why WHO did not recommend our current response to a pandemic prior to 2020?
GBD is just a call for perspective – it is worrying that such a thing is derided as ‘even stupider’ now.
Can’t be arsed. Read the JSM.
You should work for SAGE
I can’t make any sense of that suggestion. I don’t think it’s me.
No it isn’t; it is a libertarian fantasy. Can you show me a historical precedent for anything like the GBD being conceived of and implemented ever? Thought not.
This was 12 days ago! Have you become exhausted from celebrating the third lockdown and decided to check Disqus?
There is no precedent for anything being done at the moment but we do have plenty of examples of the inhumanity that ensues when people are psychologically terrorised about an invisible threat (viral or bacterial) and encouraged to blame each other for it; we also know what will happen when we contract our economy .
Whatever; you have what you wanted. It has set a terrible precedent for future generations to follow in the face of similar threats though and its a response that would not have been recognised by our forefathers (see how many baby boomers even remember the Asian and Hong Kong flu’s, for instance or look up social distancing in the UK during the Spanish flu).
We may still regret what we have done in the years ahead.
So it was 12 days – Disqus is not the only priority in my life.
Anyway, thought not.
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