So Why Do You Want More of It?

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From our Swindon Correspondent:

From Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

No government in Europe has had an easy ride over the past nine months, but none has had a worse one than Britain’s. Indecision on lockdown was followed by chaotic PPE supplies, the “world-beating” test-and-trace shambles, school exam confusion and now the multi-form bureaucratic deterrent to potential vaccinators.
 
 
Coronavirus has revealed a country so ill-governed that current politicians cannot be blamed for all of it. The traditional model holds that ministers decide on the general direction of policy and officials interpret and implement it. This balance of roles has been eroded at least since the turn of the century, largely by a ministerial craving for headlines that led to a daily welter of central initiatives, interventions and vanity projects. Officials are expected not to challenge but to obey.

This isn’t the problem. There isn’t a particular problem with the modern British governments. Remember, politicians ran the Tanganyika groundnut scheme, British Leyland and the GPO that took weeks to get a phone installed, spent a billion on the Millenium Dome and funded Concorde and HS1. If you want to look across the channel, there’s giant bonfires of money like Futuroscope and Berlin Airport and if you look west there’s the F-35 and Amtrak.

The reason the USA doesn’t have a problem with vaccinations isn’t that they’re better governed. It’s that they don’t have a giant bloated bureaucracy like the NHS running health. So, they’re more about outsourcing the vaccination work out to pharmacies, who aren’t going to have a lot of pointless bureaucracy because it costs money (as a side note, the USA’s national folk heroes are servicemen and astronauts rather than nurses).

(Editor’s note – we can go further, and point out that what screw ups there are in the American system have been the result of centralisation, the FDA and CDC.)

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jgh
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jgh

Doesn’t Amtrak Freight run quietly in the background efficiently making profits? World-wide it’s passenger rail that ends up a government money pit.

Spike
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Spike

That’s true, and predictable. Rail benefits from economies of scale in using a huge engine to move large masses over a fixed route. Passengers’ needs are more nuanced, and change over time. Passenger rail, like the NHS, is a case of trying to fit people to an enterprise rather than vice versa.

Spike
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Spike

Correct; the US gov’t funded and pushed vaccine research, Trump ordering the FDA to fast-track approval, but airlifted it to the states and retail distribution was by private companies. Not without glitches; at the end of the day, a hospital may vaccinate all comers, not the targeted population, rather than let a batch spoil. And the politicians, as with any newfound wealth, try to guide it on racial grounds, and to themselves.

(On the Editor’s Note: Tim, is this column yours? or one of your contributors?)

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Germany is now copying the UK’s vaccination strategy, having given up on the EU one. Yesterday France managed to vaccinate 500 people (no, there are no zeros missing in that number).

Spike
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Spike

Is this the “strategy” I read about, that once the manufacturer determines that 2 doses are necessary to achieve the rated effectiveness, you make a “data driven” decision to give everyone 1 dose so you can “do” twice as many patients?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

No, the revised strategy is to wait 12 weeks rather than the 3 weeks that was used during the trials. It’s a calculated gamble that getting twice as many vaccinated initially (while supplies are still ramping up) will save more lives than are lost by any potential reduction in effectiveness caused by the delay to administering the second dose.

Spike
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Spike

Still, methodical medical research, up-ended by a seat-of-the-pants guess by politicians, touted as data-driven.

TD
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TD

I assume it was the most important 500 people, as determined by government study, who were vaccinated that day.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Bien sûr !

john77
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john77

We are the tenth-worst (probably twelfth-worst when Spain and Montegro report up-to-date figures after the New Year break) country in Europe on deaths per million; Belgium’s death rate is more than 50% higher. Things have been made much worse than necessary by the NHS bureaucracy (as mentioned in passing by Mr Jenkins and blamed on “the government”). There are *at least* twenty European countries with higher infection rates – probably thirty as the UK has one of the highest testing rates per million of any large country so most others understate their infection rates – but NHS managers concerned with… Read more »