It's an Ill Wind

Peter Fairbrother peter at
Sat Mar 14 06:29:15 PDT 2020

2- It's an Ill Wind

So now we know: first, that the UK government is actually deliberately 
trying to infect over 40 million UK citizens, and in doing so expecting, 
on their figures, 400,000 deaths.

The reason given for this is to develop "herd immunity", where there are 
so many people who have had the virus that there is nobody for someone 
who later contracts it to give it to, as everybody has already had it 
and is immune.

But the Chinese didn't do that. They implemented strong containment and 
stopped the virus dead. They didn't "lessen the peak", they obliterated 
the peak.

There is no reason why we can't do that too.

But the Government insists on buying herd immunity at the cost of at 
least 400,000 (more likely a million [1]) deaths. Why?

The question arises, what good would herd immunity, bought at such a 
terrible cost in deaths, do?

The reason given is that the Government believes that COVID-19 will turn 
into a seasonal disease, and herd immunity might protect us from it's 
return next year.

There are three big problems with that - First, we don't know that it 
will return at all. Second, if it does return next year, it will have 
mutated - and like flu, it is likely that the herd immunity, so dearly 
bought, will not be effective against next year's version, if it happens.

There is also concern about people in China who seem to have gotten the 
disease twice. We don't know why that is, whether it is two different 
strains of the virus (there are several hundred known varieties of the 
COVID-19 virus, it mutates fairly rapidly) or people getting the disease 
twice - however in either case that would lower the usefulness of any 
herd immunity.

So, I don't see why the UK Government are killing 400,000 people.

Apparently it isn't because the UK has a large proportion of older 
people. Older people who need extensive healthcare, expensive pensions, 
who tie up a lot of wealth and property - of the predicted 400,000 
(million) deaths the vast majority would be of older people.

This clearing away of unproductive and expensive (and wealthy) older 
population would more than balance the budget, releasing £10 billion per 
year in state pensions, £20 billion per year in heathcare costs, and so on.

It would stop the disease in the UK fairly quickly, and it would be the 
cheapest option (ignoring the actuarial but not-real-pounds cost of the 

It would release several hundred thousand badly-needed homes (and cause 
a property price crash; the UK needs about 1 million homes, which is why 
UK property is so expensive) and would provide a more balanced 
population pyramid.

So for the UK as a nation it would not be a bad thing (ignoring the 
deaths), and I fear some politicians may think "Hey, it's just the 
useless oldies, who cares?".

But no. There is probably a sensible reason we don't implement strong 
confinement and stop the virus in its tracks, rather than letting it 
have its way. Unfortunately I don't know what that reason is.

Peter Fairbrother

[1] I calculate around a million deaths, but that is a bit of a 
back-of-the envelope calculation based on known death rates elsewhere 
and comparative population age spreads. Exact figures also depend on 
some assumptions about things we do not know about the disease. I have 
made what I think are reasonable assumptions. I don't know how 
reasonable the Goverment's assumptions are, or how they came up with the 
400,000 figure.

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