covid-19 The “Republic of Letters” Strikes Back

Things in Australia are now moving almost as rapidly towards a less insane policy as in the UK. It is already too late to avoid catastrophe in the UK but Australia has more time in which to at least reduce the scale by a larger factor than the UK can hope to achieve.

Basically scientists have been unleashing a flood of papers that make it pretty clear governments will be held criminally liable for negligence, with proof beyond reasonable doubt. They are more polite about it, but they are “expert witnesses” spelling out the case for prosecution.

The UK Center for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases has published some prototype “Explorable Explanations” with widgets eg so that anybody can get a “feel” for the UK running out of hospital critical care beds by the end of this month (with the numbers needed doubling every 1-2 days).

These are still server based Dashboards probably prepared from Jupyter R notebooks using “Shiny”. But they seem to have the server bandwidth to sustain the traffic so far. It won’t be long before easier to understand “Explorables” are available for routine inclusion in any blog post using only browser resources without server support. The difference in impact is roughy comparable to the printing press vs copying out manuscripts by hand. But the prototypes had to come first.

The “Group of Eight” Universities have come out with a group of experts from all relevant fields insisting that the government must “go hard and go now”. Oddly the only google link for that is here:

At the end there is a link to the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – SAGE:

That page is now being updated “on a regular basis with the latest available evidence provided to SAGE.” Note the word “to”, not from. The flood of research is now spilling out of academia onto official government web sites.

There is even a fine grained Agent Based Model for Australia now available via a link from this summary:

I am still studying it, but it does argue that 80% compliance with “social distancing” measure would be needed to get the outbreak under control in 4 months. It does not spell out that 80% compliance is rather implausible without Quarantine accommodation.

Nor does it emphasize that “under control” merely means ending the first outbreak so that it isn’t just doubling every couple of days and there is time to cope. Controls will need to continue on and off until either an effective vaccine has been deployed or most of the population has been infected at a rate the hospitals plus any anti-viral drugs developed can cope with.

I still haven’t seen anybody else advocating a crash program for Quarantine accommodation to isolate infected and vulnerable people from the households they are in. But there is now lots of thinking about how to organize school children during a long shut down.

As explained in my last post in this series that Quarantine accommodation can be arranged much actual new buildings. But it still takes time and needs lots of help from tradies. So it is particularly stupid that the construction industry as being treated as though it was an “essential service” when it obviously isn’t constructing anything essential – like Quarantine accommodation. Most of the construction workers still getting infected on the job will recover in time to help with fitting up Quarantine accommodation for the next few waves if not for the first one. But it suggests there is still no intention to rapidly move into using the establishments and workforce now shutdown to actually do anything to reduce infection rates apart from staying at home.

Still, the complacency is ending. That had to happen for action to begin.

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