Monday 19 October 2020

pay peanuts, propagate pandemic

Joinedy up thinking is harder than promulgating a series of arbitrary rules: 

  • 2m distance; 
  • 15 minutes of contact; 
  • outdoors good, indoors bad; 
  • masks not visors; 
  • not those masks, these masks;
  • corona not coronaries;
  • covid not cervical

You will have heard the no-mask argument that "people" [that's me, and you] will take greater risks on distance and parties so long as they are dressed bandito. As if "people" were incapable of dealing with two ideas at once. Ian Mackay's swiss cheese model for comprehensive complementary control measures is graphical and helpful

It's like the sieve of Eratosthenes a series of grids each with a different granularity and starting points which allows only a tiny fraction of the particles to reach the other side. It's not an ideal model because it would be super-helpful to know quantitatively which slices were most effective [had smaller or fewer holes] especially if these were cheapest [in money and social cost] to implement. I suspect that distance trumps masks and probably hand-washing. Me, I would be really leery about touching tap in a public restroom. The chief benefit of I R Retire is that I don't have to use the jacks at work which, at the best of times, were never properly cleaned. and they offered only warm-air aerosol concentrators for hand-drying.
Tweeters I love and respeck are getting grumpy at the continuing uncertainty: "Just tired and ground down by this. The back and forth, the absolute waste when the gov. make a reopening roadmap they abandon a few weeks in, a detailed level structure they immediately ignore. Mental health is paramount, but you can only see people if you can pay to go out."

In March, I was paying attention to the nightly reports of covid-cases and covid deaths. I had them all in an excel spread-sheet and was plotting the % change as well as recording our family's coffs and sniffles. Then about the middle of April I stopped: the covid cases count was meaningless unless The Man was testing people pro-actively rather than reactively. Better still would have been to test a large number of randomers off the street to establish a baseline. That was why I was excited when Ioannidis and Battacharaya carried out the Santa Clara County count. That got a lot of adverse scrutiny and I had to retract my imprimatur. 

But FFS, IF 80% of infected people are asymptomatic but still infectious THEN we should be testing a hella lot more people to flag the carriers so they can be isolated. Even if the tests are imperfect, we should be making it easy and free/cheap to get tested 

  • a) if we're feeling crook in the covid-peculiar [I can't smell anything PDF] ways of feeling crook 
  • b) if we know we've been [< 2m + >15 min] too close to a likely contact.
  • c) if we are worried [give everyone Three Free Covid-test Vouchers and a back-up referral to an OCD clinic]

It's like STD clinics; it's a pub[l]ic good service. Heck, the STD clinics could be doing the testing: they are trained to be careful with bodily fluids. When Dau.I was sick in the Summer and work paid for a test, she had to wheeze her bike 5km to  the nearest test centre and 5km back home to bed and  lem-sip . What's that about? It's like schlepping a vulnerable 95 y.o. to a fomite-blistered clinic for a 'flu jab. Outside the box thinking [rather than suit people with good health, a government job thinking] would deliver these elders their inoculation outside their own front doors.

Tom Cotter: "The reason Taiwan and South Korea were so successful in controlling covid19 was rapid relentless testing and contact tracing. If you were a close contact they even came to your door to test you. No ifs or buts you got tested. This is not the case on Ireland I’m afraid".  Just how little of a shit the Irish Government gives about testing & tracing was revealed when Contact Tracers, a skilled job requiring painstaking dedication, were getting offered zero-hours dismiss-at-will contracts. Oh no, that was a clerical error,  the HSE claimed, when this shameful fact was public-domained by radical TD Richard Boyd-Barrett. 

At the beginning of Coronarama we were hopeful, in a silver lining sort of way, that the crisis would force us to address other shameful treatments of the weakest members of our society: workers and residents in nursing homes and créches, the dark denizens of direct provision centres, shelf-stackers and cashiers in the retail sector. What this force-of-change amounted to, in the end, were a series of cost-nothing, do-nothing sops to the collective conscience like institutionalised rounds of applause for front-line workers.

I R Retire now since 2nd October, but I'm still on the mailing list for The Institute. The President's address on Friday 16th October reflected on the plans for an inevitable change upwards of the Pandemic containment measures from Level 3 to Level 4. NPHET, [National Public Health Emergency Team] has been advising for Level 5 measures for 2 weeks now (and the government have been stalling; the cabinet meets again today). But The President was/is unable to plan effectively for this extremely likely development because "The prospect of a movement to Level 5 restrictions for Adult and Higher Education is less clear because the descriptor for this level currently states, “Recommendations based on situation and evidence at time”.  WTF? 

If not now, when?


  1. This is a wonderful blog - 'should be read by many. Would you mind fixing the typo in the first sentence?

    1. Fixed! Only _one_ typo in line 1? Better than average.