On the 4th May it was reported that an internal UK government document covering their proposed plan for lifting the lock-down had been leaked. How senior members of government, and their civil service advisers had reached the conclusion that their time would be best placed on planning to lift the lock-down is very confusing for most emotionally mature people that have a basic grasp of maths for one key reason.
As of the 3rd May, as shown in the graph below, the government’s own official figures were clearly suggesting that under their management the death toll for COVID-19 was not only getting worse, but that the speed of its rise had in fact accelerated visibly over the week immediately preceeding the 4th May. Perhaps the easiest way to demonstrate this it to compare it to the global average over the same period, as in the graph below.
Understandably the general public got it fine. When 2,000 people were asked in an opinion poll if they thought that the lock-down should be lifted 80% said no. However, just because normal people get it, don’t make the mistake of thinking the ruling class are going to get it as well.
And true to form, ten days later the government issued the statement that they would begin lifting and loosening various aspects of the lock-down, apparently oblivious to the comparative failure of their policies up until that point. And like always, the good little soldiers jumped in line.
But lets not get caught up in that again. As to the evidence. If you divide the % of the population that has died by the % of the population that has been confirmed as having contracted COVID-19 you get a very loose mortality rate for the illness. To put it simply, that is how many people that get COVID-19 actually die from it, based on the official figures.
No while this is in no way indicative of the true picture it does raise an interesting disparity. If the mortality rate of the virus, with all other variables being equal, is roughly consistent from one country to the next then one could use the mortality rates to estimate the infection rates backwards from it.
As of the 13th May the average mortality rate for COVID-19 globally was 6.9%, while in the UK it was 14.4%. And before anyone starts suggesting that has something to do with the UK being one of the richest countries in the world, it was also running nearly 50% higher than the average across all of the G7 countries as well. The UK government appears to be doing something very wrong, in terms of their principle responsibility of protecting the UK population. But I digress.
Based on this information alone one can assume, if the mortality rate is largely consistent, one of two things. Either the number of cases in the UK is far higher than the government is admitting to. Which based on this simple equation could put it at anywhere up to nearly double. Or worse, that 16,000 people have died in the UK because this government was incapable of doing what most of the world governments had already worked out, how to minimise the mortality rate of people infected with COVID-19.
If the last four months has taught us anything, it is that this government is just the most recent in a long line of governments that is populated by people who are incapable and/or unwilling to put the lives and well-being of the country before their own privilege and status. It is the same flaw in the system that was so clear when the Bankers tanked the global economy, as it is in the persistent denial and exacerbating of the climate crisis.
I have been arguing for some time that the flaw that allows this to happens is hard wired into the “free-market democracy” model. The easiest way to describe it is a form of self-destructive propoganda-blowback. It is probably worth summarising that.
If the 1% are to maintain their political hold from one government to the next then there can be no real democracy in any substantial sense. Equally, if that same ruling elite wants to hand their economic power down from one generation to the next then there can be no true meritocracy in society either.
However the greatest threat to this sort of totalitarianism is if the 99% recognises that the system is so entirely fixed. So in order to avoid that, in all areas of social interaction the 99% must be indoctrinated into believing that theirs and everyone else’s status is based on merit, and power is based on democracy.
Clearly these two processes are in direct opposition to one another. The flaw comes into play when the propaganda becomes so all-consuming, that even the beneficiaries, however incompetent they actually are, begin to confuse status with merit and power with mandate. Not only do they think that they are smarter than the rest of us, they think that we think it as well. This is how you get the Emperor’s new clothes playing out in real time with the corpses of our loved ones piling up around our feet.
On the 13th May it was reported that certain countries that had lifted the lock-down, such as South Korea and Germany had seen regional clusters flaring up. It is worth taking a moment to look at those two countries a bit closer. As the graph below shows South Korea, in comparison to the global average is largely managing COVID-19. Equally Germany, while showing a higher number of confirmed cases than the global average, is by the trajectory of their curve, more effectively managing the spread of COVID-19.
So when the governments of the UK and the USA start talking about lifting the lock-down, one really needs to look at the trajectory of the spread of COVID-19 in those countries. And as it currently stands, both the UK and the USA governments are amongst the worst governments in the world for slowing the spread of COVID-19 within their jurisdictions.
In the UK, over the course of this last week, the lock-down has been eased. I normally try to avoid making predictions as there are just too many variables to take into consideration. However, in all likelihood, this policy decision to ease the lock-down will result in an acceleration of infections and confirmed cases within the next few weeks, which will then inevitably be followed by an acceleration in the death rate in the weeks following that.
The only real question facing us is how long do we continue to let an incompetent ruling elite kill thousands of people out of some misplaced patriotism. How many of our loved ones have to die before we accept that the 1% can not prioritise our lives over their own privilege? Exactly what is it going to take before we rise up together and shout with one voice ‘enough’.
n.b. I have been using the WHO situation reports and the World Bank as the sources for the figures behind these graphs.