Pages

Thursday 31 December 2020

Day 290 of self-isolation - Tier five

Tier five 

They aren't calling it that, but that's what it is. In Tier five, schools will be closed, except for key worker's children.

In Essex, a "major incident" has been declared because of the pressure on hospitals there. And we're hearing about a shortage of oxygen, or oxygen delivery systems. The target blood oxygen level is at least 95 (I just checked mine, it's now 99, and it's usually 99, and 53 beats per minute). Below 95, is considered a cause for concern. Below 88, action is probably needed.

Secondary schools in most areas, will remain closed for at least two weeks, but exam-year pupils will be delayed by only one week.

 Why? Because we've reached 50,000 new cases per day, we've nearly reached 1000 deaths per day, and hospital patients with Covid are more than there were last April. But last April, cases had plateaued; now they're still rising.

And it's hospital capacity that is the key - it always was. If people need hospital treatment and there's no room for them, they are more likely to die. We do have treatments for Covid; oxygen for example, and dexamethasone. But you won't get that if you can't get to hospital.

And it isn't just beds. It's staff. NHS workers can only do so much; after that, the have to sleep. That means that the Nightingale temporary hospitals might help with space ... but not with personnel. And we have a severe nursing shortage, because we cunningly created a hostile environment for EU people. We are short by 40,000 nurses.

And here's a prophesy for you. The USA will hit 400,000 deaths on January 20th, the Last Trump Day.



Wednesday 30 December 2020

Day 289 of self-isolation - Conflagration

Conflagration

The number of new infections yesterday, was 53,135. That is huge. If those are figures that weren't inflated by postponed form-filling, then it's a problem.

Since yesterday was also a record number at 41,385, I think that 53,135 number is not an artifact of reporting.

Hospitalisation numbers are worse than they were in April, but in April, the lockdown had begun to bear fruit; new infection numbers were stable. What we've seen in the last few days, is very rapid growth in new infection numbers.

New infection numbers aren't stable now.

They're talking about putting up triage tents in car parks.

Our Glorious Leaderoris is still planning to send children back to school on January 4th. Even though children don't tend to get badly ill from Covid, they are carriers. And you can't get primary schoolkids to social distance - they naturally clump together.

If the new infection numbers stay as they are, I'm expecting a U-turn on this.

But on the bright side, we're seeing reports that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be approved this week, and the vaccine rollout could start on January 4th.





Tuesday 29 December 2020

Day 288 of self-isolation - The Oxford vaccine

The Oxford vaccine

The rumour is, it will be approved and rolled out on Monday January 4th  It's easier to store and handle than the Pfizer vaccine, because it can be stored in an ordinary refrigerator. AstraZenica has been manufacturing in advance of the approval, so there's already a stock waiting to be distributed.

And there's a rumour that this vaccine will be 95% effective, which is more than had been thought. And it seems to be 100% effective against severe Covid.

And it should be effective against the new Covid variant.

But hospitals are now holding more Covid-19 patients than even last April. And the numbers are still rising, and likely to do so for a while. This would therefore be a very bad time to get ill.

41,385 new cases yesterday, a new record. 8000 ambulance callouts on December 26, one of the worst days ever. 71,109 Covid deaths in total.

No-one wants to be the last casualty in a war. Stay safe.





Monday 28 December 2020

Day 287 of self-isolation - Why are we locking down?

Why are we locking down?

Paul Embery posted the following on Twitter:

The number of Covid-related deaths in England involving individuals under the age of 60 and free from a pre-existing condition is 377. This is for the entire period of the pandemic. 

 Source: NHS England https://england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/12/COVID-19-total-announced-deaths-17-December-2020-weekly-file.xlsx

 

This is true. So why are we locking down?

Because people over 60 matter. People with asthma or diabetes matter.  Because long Covid happens to younger people.

But most of all, because of the 30-40,000 new infections each day. Some of them are so ill that they need hospital treatment. 


There are two limitations - hospital beds (and other equipment), and medical people (doctors and nurses). When you reach the limit, someone has to start deciding who gets treatment and who does not. And without hospital treatment, there are more deaths - that's the whole point of hospitals. And although the temporary Nightingale hospitals have beds, there is still a limit on the number of doctors and nurses.

That's what happened in Italy in April. I saw the desperate videos from Italian doctors, begging us to learn from their experience.

In the UK in April, the peak was 3100 per day. As of 20th December, it was around 2143. There is a lag of about two weeks between someone getting infected, and the need for hospitalisation. So the level of hospitalisations on December 20, links to the number of infections two weeks ago, December 6th which was 15,000. Now, we're seeing more than twice as many infections, so the corresponding number of hospitalisations would be 4000. And that's how many ICU beds that we have. If you need ICU, and you don't get ICU, then you die.

And without the current lock down, that number would continue to rise.

When our hospitals are swamped, and people can't be treated, the death rate will rise more than in proportion to the number of infections.

That's why, last March, the slogan was "Protect the NHS". That was shorthand for "Don't let the NHS get swamped, because if it does, the percentage death rate climbs."

And that's true now, even if the slogan "hands face space" has stopped mentioning the NHS.

So that's why we're locked down post-Christmas, and will stay like that for weeks, at least. School is supposed to reopen on 4th January.

I doubt if it will. The issue isn't school kids getting ill and dying, because they don't. The issue is school kids becoming carriers, bringing it home, and their parents or grandparents needing to go to hospital.

And we need hospital capacity for them.

Which is limited.

Sunday 27 December 2020

Day 286 of self-isolation - Brexit

Brexit

We have a deal.  But I don't know what it is. There's 1500 pages of it. I'm hoping that someone else will read it and explain it to me.

We seem to have resolved the knotty (but immaterial) issue of fisheries, the tail that has been wagging the Brexit dog.

The main thing I gather from what I've heard is that we have a no-tariff, no-quota agreement with the EU. But I don't see how that can work.

It solves the Irish Question, because it means we won't need a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. It solves the question of "frictionless trade", although I'm hearing that masses of paperwork will be needed, but I can't understand why.

But it doesn't solve the problem of doing deals with other countries.

Suppose the EU has a 50% tariff on wombles, and a very tight quota of 100 per month. So the US exporter of wombles is frustrated in their desire to ship container-loads of them to France. And then the UK does a trade deal with the USA.

Either we have the same tariff and quota as the EU, in which case we don't have the freedom to negotiate our own trade deals. Or else we allow unlimited wombles in at a 10% tariff (or some such generous deal), in which case the UK benefits from the huge influx of wombles and that lovely 10% tariff, and then re-exports them to the EU at no tariff or quota.

Maybe they've written down the solution to that one, but if they have, I haven't heard about it.

 



Friday 25 December 2020

Day 284 of self-isolation - Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

In the USA, it's estimated that 115 million people will be travelling over Christmas. Fun at Christmas, funerals in January.

In the UK, vaccinations have started. Between 8th and 20th December, there were 521,594 jabs. 70% of them (346,715) went to over 80s, 30% to healthcare workers.

The new strain (Covid-19.b) is accounting for 2/3 of new infections in London, the Southeast and Eastern England. This new variant is some 56% more infectious

That means it spreads faster, of course, but it also means that the herd immunity percentage will be higher than the 60 or 70% for the original Covid. More like 80%.

But that's how evolution works, survival of the organisms that are most suited to their environment. 

China has banned all UK flights. Oh, irony.

 



Thursday 24 December 2020

Day 283 of self-isolation - More 4

More 4

New to tier 4 are:

  • Sussex
  • Oxfordshire
  • Suffolk
  • Norfolk 
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Those parts of Essex not yet in tier 4
  • Waverley in Surrey 
  • Hampshire 
  • Portsmouth 
  • Southampton, with the exception of the New Forest

On the other hand, a number of areas are being moved into lower categories.

The number of new infections is growing. Do you remember the situation last March/April? 5000 new infections each day, the Nightingale hospitals were put up as a precaution?

Now we're seeing 40,000 per day.

Part of that is because of widespread testing, of course. Back in April, you had to be pretty sure that you have the virus, to get tested. But part of it is probably a truly higher level of cases.

The total deaths in the UK are now over 1000 per million.

And the mixing of people on December 25, is going to add to the spread. Hopefully, not by a lot; it depends on how seriously people are taking it.


Meanwhile in America, new cases are running at 220,000 per day and the death rate is around 3400 per day. The total deaths in the USA are now over 1000 per million.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Day 282 of self-isolation - Vaccines, vaccines

Vaccines, vaccines

The Oxford University-AstraZenica vaccine data has been sent to the regulator. Hopefully they will rule on it soon, and hopefully they will give it the green light.

The Pfizer vaccine is being distributed at 500 sites. One of them is my local GP practice, and I've had a text from them to tell me that they'll contact me when it's my turn to get the jab.

Rollout in care homes has started. That's difficult because  it comes in boxes of 975 doses, and care homes don't have that many people. This isn't an impossible problem, but it did need to be handled.

Some bad news

39237  new infections on Tuesday. This the worst ever. And 744 deaths.

A lot of those new infections are the new variant, Covid-19.b

But there's more bad news - another variant, coming from South Africa (I'll call it Covid-19.c) has also arrived in the UK, and it's also more infectious than Covid-19.a, the original virus. It also has the N501Y mutation.

More of us are now moving to Tier 4 on December 26th.

 



Tuesday 22 December 2020

Day 281 of self-isolation - Barclays foot-shoot

Barclays foot-shoot

Barclays just wrote to me to tell me that my credit card from them, may no longer be used at gambling establishments or websites. 

"You won't be able to use your card at  gambling establishments or websites."

Ambiguity.

Do they mean all websites? Or do they mean gambling websites? I read it as what it says. Websites.

No problem. I have other cards that I can use at Amazon and Ebay. If Barclays dn't want me to use their card, I won't use it. If they can't be bothered to word their missives unamb iguousy, I'm not going to waste my time trying to find out what they mean.

Meanwhile, back at the pandemic...

The shut down of all trade from the UK because of Covid-19.b, is obviously leading to panic buying. I know this, because our oven-ready but half-baked government is telling us not to panic buy.

As far as fresh fruit and perishables are concerned, panic-buying isn't really possible. I'm not about to buy a month's worth of fresh strawberries. As far as anything else is concerned? Well. Knowing that the chaos of Brexit was about to strike, we had already built up our stocks of vital stuff (like medicines, toilet rolls) over the last few months. So if there's a total interruption of supplies to and from the continent, that's pretty much what my worst case scenario already said.

 



Monday 21 December 2020

Day 280 of self-isolation - Virus version two

Virus version two

Those of us who are familiar with computer viruses, are very familiar with the concept of variants. Jerusalem virus started life as a single virus; eventually there were dozens of distinct variants (some variants had very minor differences, some substantial).

The original Jerusalem had a big problem. It would infect COM files and EXE files. It tested COM files to see if they were already infected, and left them alone iif they were. But you can see from the code that the author intended the same for EXE files, changed his mind about how to do it, and got it wrong. As a result, EXE files would be infected again and again, growing longer and longer, until the load time became so noticeable that the problem would be investigated.

Some subsequent versions, didn't have that problem, and as a result, were better at surviving and, therefore, better at spreading.

The same happens with biological viruses, although the mechanism isn't people rewriting viruses, it's evolution by natural selection. If a faster-spreading virus results because of a mutation, then that faster spreading virus will prevail over the slower one. The mutation is N501Y, and it affects the spike of the virus, the way it gets into our cells. The variant is called VUI-202012/01. VUI means "Variant Under Investigation", so it's full name would be SARS-Cov-2;VUI-202012/01.

Apparently, the new variant (I'll call it Covid-19.b, using computer virus nomenclature as agreed by Caro in 1989) spreads 70% faster than the old one. I'm not sure what that means. The R number of Covid-19 was about 3, so does that mean that the R number is 5? The R number in London is 1 to 1.2 (lower because  of the restrictions). So does that mean that Covid-19.b is 1.7 to 2? This is very bad news. The number of new infections yesterday was 35928, and that's more in one day than ever before. For comparison - the daily number last April was around 5000. This is very, very bad news.

Apparently, 60% of new infections are Covid-19.b. That is also very bad news, and it's the reason why people are thinking that  Covid-19.b is more infectious . But it's thought that the vaccine will still work (we aren't certain - it hasn't been tested). But if the vaccine targets the "protein spike" and the spike is sufficiently the same, then the vaccine will work on Covid-19.b, just as most computer variants of Jerusalem were detected by the test for the original Jerusalem.

Naturally, everyone is concerned about this. In particular, an increasing number of countries are banning travel from the UK, to try to avoid incoming Covid-19.b.  Italy, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands are some of them, but this is a fast-changing scenario; that won't be the final list.

Up till now, there hasn't been much evolutionary pressure on the virus, so it's evolved a lot more slowly than, for example, influenza. But that will change. When the vaccine is in widespread use, the pressure on the virus will be to evolve a version that is vaccine-resistant.

And so it goes.




Sunday 20 December 2020

Day 279 of self-isolation - Christmas is cancelled

Christmas is cancelled

London, the South East and East England is going into Tier 4. Tier 4 means - stay at home, with limited exemptions. This starts Sunday December 20th.

In the rest of England, in tiers 1 to 3, the rules allowing three households to meet will be only for one day, December 25.

But those of us in tier 4, we must not mix with anyone in other households. Must not enter or leave Tier 4 areas. Cannot stay overnight anywhere. Cannot travel abroad. Cannot have an eye test in Barnard's Castle.

This isn't going to change my plans. I'm having Christmas with Ladysolly, and with the daughters via Zoom. We decided that weeks ago.

So what changed? There's new strain of the virus, which spreads 70% faster. 60% of cases in London are the new strain. No surprise there, that's how evolution works. It's thought that this new strain will also be prevented by the vaccines.

2020 has been a marathon, but we're near the finish line. Vaccinations have started in the UK and a few other countries. Now is not the time to catch Covid-19, not that there ever was a good time.

Christmas is cancelled, but we have plenty of mince pies and Brussels sprouts. My Christmas presents (books) are all present. I have beer. We have Zoom. The time for celebration will be when this is all over and done.




Saturday 19 December 2020

Day 278 of self-isolation - The January lockdown

The January lockdown

Christmas is coming, the Covid's getting fat. Case numbers are on the rise again and it's a week before Christmas. Our world-beating government is easing off the rules for FIVE days. They're telling us that we should have a small Christmas, but when the numbers soar in January, would you like to guess who they will try to blame?

Us. For not doing what they were too scared to tell us not to do.

The R number is between 1.1 and 1.2, slightly more in London.

On the 28th December, we'll see a full lock down, and by mid January, we'll be paying for Christmas, and the price will be steep. Last march, we had days with a thousand deaths, and we could see that again in January.

So we have fun at Christmas, and we have funerals in January.

This is politics. This is a scared government failing to cancel Christmas, because it will make them unpopular.The medical advice is to cancel Christmas. Or postpone it. The economic advice isn't contradicting that. But Boris doesn't want to be cartooned as the Grinch, so thousands of us will be fed to the virus.




Friday 18 December 2020

Day 277 of self-isolation - I'm on Tier 3

I'm on Tier 3

Buckinghamshire has been moved to Tier 3, the strongest restrictions. That doesn't make any difference to us, we've been operating under stronger restrictions since March and will continue to do so until vaccinations.

The furlough scheme has been extended to April. Good idea. It's going to take a while to roll out the vaccinations.

President Macron of France has tested positive. We wish him a speedy recovery.

 



Thursday 17 December 2020

Day 276 of self-isolation - Land lines will stop in 2025

Land lines will stop in 2025

BT just called me. They explained that land lines will be shut down in 2025. Goodbye POTS (Plain old telephone system), officially called PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). After then, phones will be VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)  which means that you'll need an internet connection. ISDN is also going. I used ISDN for a while, because it gives a reliable 64 kilobit link, which at the time was pretty good. That was 20 years ago.

So we have a few lines. One for the alarm system, and two for ordinary use. I used to have several more; DSL (broadband) lines that I used for backup.

I'm not surprised. It's far more efficient for voice calls to be packetised and share a link, than to have a pair of wires leading to each phone.

We have a small switchboard, from Panasonic. I strongly doubt if that will work with BT's cloudphones. 

So I checked the pricing. BT want £13/month plus VAT per user, plus £100 connection charge. And in addition, you have to have the internet connection.

Vodafone charge £6 plus vat for a sim-only mobile, unlimited minutes and texts, 2gb data. 3 offers deals from £5 per month.

So why shouldn't I go for the cheaper mobile deal? I don't really see any good reason. We could get two mobile phones, and just keep them, in a charger, in the place where we usually have our land phones.

And ... I already have just the right phones. Many many years ago, I used a Nokia  6310i. It does phone calls. It receives texts and if you stretch a point, it can send texts. It isn't a smartphone, but it's a phone. And the battery lasts a week if the phone is switched on; months if it isn't. We can use those. And if those aren't good enough, I have a bunch of smartphones that are obsolete, but still work fine.

Or - do we really need a line at all? We each have a mobile phone, and most of the calls to the landline are scams or spam.

I think that when BT stops POTS service, they will just lose my business.




Wednesday 16 December 2020

Day 275 of self-isolation - Ocado omission

Ocado omission

We had a delivery from Ocado today - we get this once per week. They bring food and other necessities.

But not today.

Apparently they had a "technical problem" and all the food we ordered, didn't reach us, except for two loaves of bread and five bananas (we didn't order fish). 

They offered us a slot on Saturday, but that's too late. They've lost the sale. Fortunately, we also have deliveries from Waitrose, because an important principle of computer security is "Don't have a single point of failure".

So we aren't going to starve.

 



Tuesday 15 December 2020

Day 274 of self-isolation - Lockdown in London

Lockdown in London

To the surprise of no-one, London is going into tier 3. Pubs, cafes and restaurants will close except for takeout and delivery. 

But the "Christmas bubble" from December 23 to 27 of up to three households will go ahead, because our oven-ready government has negotiated a cease-fire with the virus over Christmas. Kidding. Actually, I suspect that they've done this because they know that if they did what is needed, people wouldn't obey the rules.

We're near the finish line of this 2020 marathon, and it hasn't been a fun run. But I, for one, am not going to bubble over Christmas. Fun at Christmas, Funeral in January. No thanks.

About 90% of the country isn't even Christian, in the sense that they don't go to church on Sunday. So I, personally, am postponing Christmas until the summer.

And we've seen evolution in action. A new variant of the virus is around. Unless we're unlucky, the vaccines will deal with this too. I know that when I made an antivirus, I expected to also detect minor variants of the virus that I was analysing.

In the longer run, though, any variants of the virus that can evade the vaccine and our immune system, will survive and flourish preferentially over the old version. That's how evolution works. It isn't that there's some guiding intelligence that hates humans and loves the virus. It's just natural selection.

 



Monday 14 December 2020

Day 273 of self-isolation - Non-Union Moss

Non-Union Moss

So Boris kicked the can down the road again. Deadlines mean nothing. And we're heading for no-deal. 

We've had four years since the referendum. We didn't know what we wanted when we voted. We triggered article 50 before we had the foggiest idea of what we wanted, and we've been at sixes and sevens ever since then. And as December 31st looms into view, 18 days away, my own question about VAT is, possibly, answered.

The question is this. Will I still have to pay VAT on exports to EU countries?

Before 2015, the answer was simple. Yes, at 20%. After 2015, the answer was a lot more complicated. Yes, but at the VAT rate of each EU country, via a scheme that HMRC set up called the "Union VAT-MOSS" scheme. MOSS stands for "Multi one stop shop" and if gave me a way to pay the 27 different countries, with one payment system, and one payment. It was not pleasant to use, but it (mostly) worked. When it didn't work, I'd get demanding letters from countries like Hungary, demanding that I pay them the 8 Euros that I had already paid via VAT-MOSS. I just forwarded them to HMRC, who (presumably) sorted them out.

So after 2020, what do I do?

Canada has VAT (they call it GST) but I don't pay that. So why should I pay VAT to EU countries? I'll have to ask my accountant. But I suspect that I will have tp pay, and here's why.

I just got a letter from the Irish tax people, explaining that although I've been paying VAT via Union VAT-MOSS, in future, when UK is out of the EU I won't be able to do that, and I'll have to use non-Union VAT-MOSS, which I can get by signing up on their web site. Maybe I'll get 26 more such letters?

I was planning to do that anyway, on the grounds that if I need to discuss anything with them, they'll be speaking English (which the Hungarians, apparently, did not).

But, of course, I can't sign up until after the UK is out of the EU.

 


Sunday 13 December 2020

Day 272 of self-isolation - The Trump scam

 The Trump scam

What is going on with American politics?

On November 3rd there was an election, to decide who will be president for the next four years; also to elect a bunch of other senior federal politicians.  

Joe Biden (Democrat) won by a landslide. The American system is weird. Each state has a number of people to send to the "Electoral college" which consists of 538 people. In most states, it's "winner takes all", and whichever party has the most votes, all the electors for the college are for that party. Biden got 306 votes in the Electoral college, Trump got 232. You'd think that would be the end of it, but not quite.

There is also the "popular vote". This doesn't matter, constitutionally, but Biden got 81 million votes to Trump's 74 million. 

All the polls leading up to the election were for a Biden win, so it was no surprise that he won. But there are states which, if they had gone the other way, would have given the election to Trump. In this case, that was Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin and Georgia.

So Trump refused to believe that he had lost (or pretended to). And started up court cases alleging fraud. After some 50 cases had been dismissed, because in every case, allegations were made but no evidence was shown.

Then the guy in charge of election security, Mr Krebs, went public and explained that the election security for the 2020 election was the best ever. Naturally, Trump didn't like that and fired him.

So what are the allegations?

1. The Dominion counting machines have been corrupted. No evidence for this has been shown. And in Georgia, the votes were recounted by hand, and gave the same result (with a 0.1% difference, not enough to change the result).

2. If you stopped counting before all the votes were counted, Trump was ahead in a few states. But so what? You have to count ALL the votes, and when that was completed, Trump had lost. Trump himself puts great emphasis on this issue.

3. The rules were changed to allow more people to vote by mail, because of Covid. There was a challenge that claimed that the rule change was illegal. Challenge dismissed.

4. And finally, the state of Texas brought a case to the Supreme Court (Scotus) against election procedures in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The plan was, toss out all the votes in that election, and let the (Republican) state senate appoint the electors. So those states would vote Trump instead of Biden.

The Scotus said "This isn't any of Texas's business" and dismissed the case without even looking at the evidence. But I looked at the evidence.

They did a calculation that claimed that in each of the states, the odds of Biden winning were 15,000,000,000,000,000 to one against, meaning that it's pretty much impossible. But as ever in mathematical proofs, you have to look at the assumptions behind the figures, and in this case, the assumptions were that voting patterns would be the same as in 2016.

And that's a daft assumption. We KNOW that there was no pandemic in 2016, and that in 2020 the pandemic affected voting in at least two ways. 1) Trump fumbled the response, and 2) People would have a stronger preference for not voting in person. And the people who were being realistic about the pandemic (the Democrats) were more likely that the Republicans to vote by mail.

Bottom line - if we could assume that each election should be like the previous one, there's no point in having elections.

So, now that Scotus has tossed the lawsuit, will Trump give up? I don't think so.

So far, Trump has made a quarter billion dollars out of donations by Trump fans to fight the election results. That's a good bundle of cash, so why would he stop now?

The scam will continue, I think. Trump supporters will continue to self-fleece, especially if Trump continues to hold out the hope of reversing the election results.

But then it gets worse. There is talk in Texas of seceding from the USA, an idea that worked really badly in 1863. And even if there is no civil war, if half the US states (the Republican states) split off from the Democrat states, then the division of America becomes set in stone, to the delight of Americas enemies everywhere. When Russia set out to help Trump win in 2016, they couldn't have imagined such a huge result.

 




Saturday 12 December 2020

Day 271 of self-isolation - Sovereignty and negotiation

Sovereignty and negotiation

Sovereignty is when you control your own fate. Negotiation is when you give up something, in order to get something that you want. Negotiation is not happening when you demand something, and aren't willing to give up anything that the other side wants.

So what's happening with the Brexit "negotiation"? Clearly, it isn't a negotiation.

First, there's fisheries. That's a total red herring; the fisheries industry is a very tiny part of the UK economy, but our oven-ready politicians have blown it up into some sort of sticking point. Who owns the fish in the North Sea? When you look at a patch of sea that is equally distant from UK and some other country, how do you decide who gets to fish there? You make an agreement, a compromise. We did that, it's the EU Fisheries agreement. But now we want to change it.

But the main problem is sovereignty, which was the big watchword to the Brexiteers. Our oven-ready government wants the freedom to be able to subsidise whichever industry it wants. The EU sees that as "unfair competition", and won't give us access to the single EU market, if we insist on it. There's a secondary problem, which is, in case of a dispute, who settles it. Which court of law? Obviously, we want it to be a British court, they want it to be an EU court.

Here's the thing. We give up sovereignty every time our country makes a deal with another country. We agree to this and that, in exchange for the other. And if we unilaterally break the deal, it will be a lot harder to make future deals, because we'll be known as oath breakers.

We were told that this would be the easiest deal in history; I have no idea why we were told that, but it was never going to be true, because all along, we've been asking for some of the benefits of being a member of the EU, but without paying the costs. We were told that our government had an "oven-ready" deal, all ready to go into the oven. And now, of course, they'll claim that the blame is all with the "intransigent EU". But that's like blaming the golf club for not letting you use their greens after you left the club.

We were told that the EU needed us - actually, they would like us to participate in trade, but not if the cost is that the EU breaks up. We were told that the German car makers would whine to Merkel and that Merkel would insist that we be given whatever we want. But that wasn't even optimism, it was pure fairy dust.

I don't see how there is going to be a deal. The reason we are still in talks, is that no-one wants to be the person who hangs up the phone.

There isn't going to be a deal. We're leaving the EU on December 31st. It's the "clean break" that Nigel is so fond of, and no-one knows what the consequences will be.

Take a deep breath. The water is cold, and we're jumping in at the deep end.

 



Friday 11 December 2020

Day 270 of self-isolation - but the USA is getting worse

But the USA is getting worse

You know what they say. If you can't be a good example, at least try not to be a horrible warning. The USA is a horrible warning.


 

 New cases are running at 220 thousand per day, and still rising.


Hospitalisations are 106688 and rising. But these are the hospitalisatons from cases a couple of weeks ago. That's why they will continue to rise - because cases were rising a couple weeks ago


And the daily death rate just hit 3264, which is some 300 more than in the tragedy of 9/11. Again, deaths lag behind hospitalisations by a week or two. So, since hospitalisations are still rising, deaths will continue to rise for some weeks.


This is what happens when you let a virus run riot. This is what happens when the political leadership tries to pretend that the pandemic isn't happening, and convinces a large section of the population that there isn't a problem. 

And it'll get worse before it gets better.

Christmas is coming, and there will be Covid parties all over America. In Britain too, I'd guess, although I'll be participating via Zoom. 

The light at the end of the tunnel is the vaccine, but even though one of them is approved, it will take time to roll it out.



Thursday 10 December 2020

Day 269 of self-isolation - things are getting better

Things are getting better

Lots of good news.


New cases peaked about a month ago at 25,000 and have come down to 16000


Deaths peaked about three weeks later, and are now on a downtrend. This is the result of the lockdown that ended on December 6th.

Cases will continue to fall for the next few weeks, but will start to rise a week or two after Christmas, and you dn't need me to explain why. Deaths follow cases, with a two or three week lag.

It is all so predictable. Lock down - cases fall. Ease up - cases rise. It's like a bouncing ball. But now there's a new factor in the game, the Pfizer vaccine.

Vaccinations started Tuesday with much fanfare. There is a small spanner in the works - allergies. And if you're an allergic sort of person, you might have more of a reaction than most people. That will delay vaccination for a small percentage of people, but they will (hopefully) be able to take one of the other vaccines that are on the verge of approval.

When I was young, there were terrible diseases like polio. Vaccination has wiped it out in the UK, and could wipe it out everywhere, except for the fact that there are people who are suspicious of the motives of the vaccinators.

 



Wednesday 9 December 2020

Day 268 of self-isolation - Fun with computers

Fun with computers

I had to pay the water bill. I've paid it before, using HSBC online banking, so I tried to do the same again. But last time I used HSBC online backing, about a week ago, it suggested that I move from using their keypad thing, to using my smartphone, so I did what they suggested.

And they were supposed to send me a 10 digit code by post, to complete the change. But that hasn't arrived yet. So I couldn't use the smartphone system, and went back to the keypad thing ... which didn't work, because the geniuses at HSBC set it up so that if you changed over to the smartphone system, the keypad system stops working immediately, and you have no access to online banking until the letter arrives.

And I made it worse by requesting the code again, which means another letter will gradually wend its way to me and I won't be able to use online banking until it gets to me.

So I went to the Affinity Water web site, to pay by credit card. First, they wanted me to sign up and register, so I filled in my name, address, customer number etc etc, and their idea of a valid phone number isn't the same as BT's idea, but eventually I got past that, and they sent me an email with a link to click on to validate my email address. But when I cut-and-pasted the link into my browser, it told me that the link had expired (it's supposed to be valid for 24 hours). And I got the same again, three more times.

So I couldn't pay by credit card.  

I filled in the complaint form at Affinity Water, explaining the problem.

So I phoned HSBC. I got the usual "We have an exceptionally large number of calls" (I can't remember calling a support line that doesn't have that problem) and eventually got through to a nice lady who told me that there was no way I could use online banking until the letter that I'd ordered today, got to me.

So I asked to make a formal complaint about their system that, deliberately, locks out anyone trying to make the change that they recommended, for several days. What idiot designed that? No, I know. It was designed by a designer. By whatever is the opposite of an intelligent designer.

So I got the nice lady to pay my water bill, and I've cancelled the move from the keypad to the smartphone, and now they will be sending me a replacement keypad, which is just as well because the battery in the old one is dying, and there's no way to replace it.

When the new keypad arrives, I'm going to dismantle the old one. There's a battery in there somewhere.

 


Tuesday 8 December 2020

Day 267 of self-isolation - 15-13

15-13

This morning I weighed in at just under 16 stone! 

15 stone, 13 pounds.

It's a good milestone, but I still need to lose another stone to get down from "obese" to "overweight".




Monday 7 December 2020

Day 266 of self-isolation - A day that will live in infamy

A day that will live in infamy

On December 7th, 1941, Japan attacked the USA at Pearl Harbour. As a result, 2403 Americans died.

Before then, America was deeply divided on the question of whether to join in the World War, which at that time was looking like a victory for the Nazis.

That attack immediately changed the mind of Americans; America declared war on Japan. But not Germany, and it wasn't certain that America would also declare war on Germany. Hitler solved that problem by declaring war on America, a spectacularly stupid thing to do.

And so a unified USA entered the second world war, and played a major part in the eventual victory, four years later.

2403 dead Americans.

We're seeing more than that every day. In each one of the days of December 1, 2 and 3, more Americans were killed by the virus, than died at Pearl Harbour.

You would think that this would unite Americans against the virus, but no. America is more deeply divided today than at any time since the Civil War.

A third of Americans think that the virus isn't real, or is just another flu. A third of Americans take it seriously, and avoid other people. And a third of Americans are just wishing that all this would end.

A third of American think that the election was stolen. A third of Americans think that that first third are trying to steal an election that they lost. And a third of Americans are just wishing that all this would end.

A third of Americans have decided that they won't accept the vaccine when it becomes available. A third have decided that they will. And a third haven't decided yet, although the information to make the decision is already available. It's a problem of trust.

Americans are focussed on everything except the virus that is killing more Americans than Pearl Harbour, every day.

Americans have lost trust in each other, in their government and in their health services. Conspiracy fantasies have replaced reality. The inability of Americans to think critically, has become fatal.

God bless America, because He's their only hope now.




Sunday 6 December 2020

Day 265 of self-isolation - The Great Smog of London

The Great Smog of London

From 5th December 1952 until 9th December, a thick layer of smog covered the city. A "pea souper".

At least 4000 people died as a result; another 6-8 thousand died later as a direct result. 100,000 were made ill by the effects of the smog on the respiration system.

The cause of the smog was the burning of poor quality coal (which is cheaper), plus a temperature inversion trapping cold air in London, and there wasn't much wind.

Visibility was down to a few meters; driving became impossible. Public transport stopped. Ambulances couldn't function.

The reaction to the smog was the Clean Air acts. People were encouraged to burn "smokeless" fuel; coke or gas. But that didn't solve the problem, because coke and gas were produced by burning coal. It simply moved the problem from the location of consumption, to the location of the production of these fuels.

And then it all happened again in December 1962, killing 750 people.

But these days, although we often see mist (which is just water droplets in the air), we don't see smog, or even fog.

This is because of the Clean Air acts. These were the first examples of environmental legislation; a recognition that people should not be free to do things that are likely to harm other people, even when that harm isn't immediate and obvious.

I remember that in our house, we burned "smokeless" coal and paraffin to keep warm.

Then there were the Clean Air acts of 1968 and 1993.

Now that most domestic heating is with North Sea gas (methane) and electricity (which today uses very little coal), the problem of pollution from domestic heating is much diminished.

 


 




Saturday 5 December 2020

Day 264 of self-isolation - High value

High value

If you're a "high-value business traveller" then you don't need to self isolate when returning from a plague-ridden country.

What utter dipstick dreamed up that one? Do they think that they've made some sort of deal with the virus not to infect "high-value business travellers"? Or is it just one rule for the rich, another for the poor?

And it's really silly. If you're such high value, then forking out £120 for a test shouldn't be a problem. Then if you test negative, you're free to go; if you test positive, you get quarantined, without the option.

What are they thinking? Yes, I understand the desire to get the economy booming again, but didn't anyone think about the effect on someone who was thinking of visiting their family over Christmas, and is being told that they can't? Meanwhile
"high-value business traveller"can do whatever they want?

Have the forgotten the Dominic Cummings effect?




Friday 4 December 2020

Day 263 of self-isolation - Twin peaks in America

 Twin peaks in America

America is suffering.  Cases, hospitalisations and deaths are all at record levels. And still many Americans refuse to admit there's a crisis.

First, you get infected. Infections are up to 219,000 per day.




Then you get ill. Most people recover, but some become very ill, and have to go to hospital. That would be a week or two later.

 

The current level of hospitalisations is 100,667 and rising fast.

Most of these recover. But many do not.


The deaths per day has just exceeded even the worse levels of last March and April, and is now 282,829

And it's not as if this is a surprise. In March, we were surprised - no-one could have predicted the rise in cases and then deaths back then, mostly in New York state and nearby states, because that's the destination for most people flying in from Europe.

But the resurgence in July should not have come as a surprise. And when many of the restrictions were lifted in September, and schools re-opened, the rise in cases was inevitable.

And still many Americans do not take the simple, low-cost precaution of wearing a mask.

But the vaccine is just around the corner. It will be too late for too many people. And it will be useless to those who refuse to accept it, for reasons that are mostly to do with trust.

For too many years, Trump's objective has been to attack the trust that people have in their government. He's attacked trust in the media, trust in the medical profession and trust in many politicians. And trust, once lost, is not easily regained. For a long time to come, Americans will not trust their institutions.

We can use this disaster as a learning experience. Look at what happened there, and try not to let it happen here.

The first vaccinations in the UK will be on December 7th. I will be very happy when it's my turn to get jabbed.






Thursday 3 December 2020

Day 262 of self-isolation - The Pfizer vaccine is approved

The Pfizer vaccine is approved

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (developed in Germany) has been approved by the UK medicine's regulator. 800,000 doses are on their way to us, mostly from Belgium. We've ordered 40m doses, enough for 20m people. Let's hope that the Brexit fandango doesn't interrupt supplies after December.

The first to get vaccinated, will be care home residents and workers, and healthcare workers, because these are the people most at risk. Then over-80s, and then down the age groups.

Transport has to be at -70C, which is dry ice temperature, but after that it can be kept for up to five days in an ordinary refrigerator. 

The Oxford/AstraZenica vaccine will be close behind, and the ModeRna vaccine.

The USA will be approving the Pfizer vaccine later. the FDA will meet on 10th December (and for Moderna on 17th). Europe looks to be much later, because the European Medicines Agency, meets on December 29.

 The big question that people are asking is, "Is it safe?" That's what I've heard most often. "How could they have done in 10 months, what usually takes 10 years?"

The answer is twofold - technology and money. The pandemic was such a huge problem, that huge amounts of time and effort were devoted to solving it. Many people dropped what they were doing in order to work on this. Much money was spent on this, and other possible vaccines. And the bottom line is, if it takes one man ten years to dig a ditch, how long would it take 12 men to dig the same ditch? Ten months. And that's when those men are using the same spades - if you add a couple of mechanical diggers, it goes even faster. 

So why don't we have a vaccine for Sars, Mers etc, after several years? Because those pandemics weren't as big as Covid. And now, with Sars and Mers being not a threat, why would anyone put effort into developing a vaccine for them? And how would you test such a vaccine - there's nowhere that these viruses are spreading naturally now, and it would be unethical to deliberately try to infect people to see if the vaccine works.

Some people have told me that they're going to wait and see, not be the first to take the vaccine. I'm not going to wait. I'll take it as soon as I'm offered. I won't be the first to take the vaccine; that's what the stage three tests were all about. 40,000 people have been vaccinated, with no serious bad effects. The only grade 3 adverse event greater than 2% in frequency was fatigue at 3.8% and headache at 2.0%. I'm willing to accept that.

The long, hard road of 2020 will soon lead to a happy, healthy 2021.

 


 

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Day 261 of self-isolation - Thoroughly modern

Thoroughly modern

We've entered the 21st century. We now have 4K TV, and I just signed up to Netflix. It costs £11.99 for 4k quality. And I immediately got a text from the card company, telling me of a possible fraudulent charge from Love Films. And if we approved it, we should text them Y and submit the charge again.

So we phoned the card company, and it turned out that Netflix has double-billed. So everything was fine, and it's just as well that we didn't submit the charge again.

4k quality is really looking nice. Plus I can watch Netflix on my computer, or on the TV, or an iPad or iPhone.

I'm impressed with the choice on Netflix, especially at that price. Sky is costing us £64 per month, and I suspect we'll be using Netflix more.

 



Tuesday 1 December 2020

Day 260 of self-isolation - Christmas has been ordered

Christmas has been ordered

Online. From Amazon. Amazon is doing extremely well this year.

Clothes for Ladysolly.

Electronics for daughters.

Books for me.

I accidentally ordered a Kindle book, but it was easy to unorder it. I just told them I'd ordered the wrong thing (which is true, I'd meant to order the paper version).

I greatly prefer paper books. The user interface is one I'm very used to, and the fact that I can't change the font, is only a minor irritation. Maybe if my eyes deteriorate I'll prefer the Kindle.

I do actually have a Kindle, which I inherited from someone, and I have a bunch of e-books on it that I downloaded free from the Gutenburg project. But I don't actually use it.




Monday 30 November 2020

Day 259 of self-isolation - A fraud

A fraud

Someone I know has been getting emails from Amazon for quite a while. You and I know that they weren't actually from Amazon. It's just as easy to forge the from-address on an email as it is on a paper letter.

The email was asking to update the card details, and gave a link to click on.

That link wasn't Amazon, of course, but it was made to look like Amazon, which is very easy - you just copy their page.

And if you give the card details, that goes to the fraudster. Who then bought pizza, in large amounts.

Not a huge financial disaster, but bad enough.

In this blog, I've often shown spam which looks very realistic. And even one that looked fake, but turned out to have genuinely come from the VAT authorities in Hungary. So what can you do?

One simple rule. If you feel the need to go to a web site, don't do it by clicking on the link. Type the name (Amazon.co.uk, or Paypal.co.uk, or whatever) into your browser URL bar. Remember that the from-address in an email is as easy to forge as the from-address in a paper letter.




Sunday 29 November 2020

Day 258 of self-isolation - An assortment of good news.

An assortment of good news.

In the UK, the R number is down to  between 0.9 and 1.0, and we can see that by the fact that new cases has fallen from a peak of 25000 to 16000 and falling.

Also, we're expecting the vaccinations to start in a two weeks or so.

And in the USA, the FDA is expected to approve a vaccine on December 10th, with 6.4 million doses to be rolled out the next day.

There's more good news. More than 2.5 million vulnerable people in England will be offered free Vitamin D supplements this winter. I'm already taking 2000 IU per day, as a precaution. But in the UK, especially in winter, many people are vitamin D deficient (especially if you have dark skin, because dark skin makes D more slowly). And if you've been locked down and indoors, you've got even less vitamin D. The recommended dose is 400IU (10 micrograms) per day.

It's about time this was made official - there is ample evidence that many people are D deficient, and we know that D is part of the immune response. And the pills are really cheap, and widely available.




Saturday 28 November 2020

Day 257 of self-isolation - Fugging

Fugging

A small village in Austria is changing it's name. They got fed up with being the target of risque jokes, tired of having their village sign stolen and they had enough of being laughed at for their name.

The town council of Scunthorpe has not commented on this.


 

Friday 27 November 2020

Day 256 of self-isolation - Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

In America, the 26th was Thanksgiving, a time when American families traditionally get together indoors in large numbers to eat turkey, drink, and be happy together. An excellent tradition. But not appropriate in 2020.

Travel is heaviest at Thanksgiving. Today, travel was 90% as heavy as last year. People are gathering from all parts of America to meet, eat, hug and swap viruses.  It's like one big pox party, happening at a time when the number of new infections per day in America is higher than ever. 

There's nothing to be done about that. Americans are like lemmings; they follow the leader blindly off a cliff, and no-one can understand why.

Christmas is coming. In America, I'm guessing they'll gather again, egged on by Donald Trump, ignoring the warnings of the CDC and the doctors. Christmas will be four weeks after Thanksgiving, it will be like a wave starting from the high point left by the Thanksgiving wave. America has surrendered to the virus, and not even the vaccine will save them, because most of them will refuse to take it.

But I had hoped that the British fighting spirit was undimmed. We're in the second wave now, and we did a one month lockdown, which has had a good effect. The number of cases has peaked, it seems, and although death numbers will continue to be horrible for the next few weeks, at least the number of new cases each day has stopped rising.

And then our oven-ready government announced that from 23 to 27 December, restrictions will be eased for Christmas.

First, let's think for a moment about the unfairness of this. A Christian festival has been given the go-ahead, but the Hindu, Islamic or Jewish festivals got no similar easement.

Next, let's think about the effect of this. Has our world-beating government negotiated a Christmas Truce with the virus? Will we be singing Christmas carols in chorus with the virus? Will there be a friendly game of football, NHS vs Covid?

I don't think the virus will be taking Christmas off. I think the virus will enjoy Christmas; the close gathering of families, all unmasked (because you can't mask while you're eating). The gatherings of worshippers in stuffy churches. The shopping frenzy. If a virus could devise a way to infect lots of people, it would invent Christmas.

And yet, and yet. We've been running this gruelling marathon since March, and we're in sight of victory. We have three powerful vaccines about to be rolled out, we can see the finishing line. Now is not a time to lie down and let the virus roll over us.

My Christmas will be a roast turkey dinner, eaten in company with a large family gathering - over Zoom. This Christmas will be virtual. 

Next Christmas will be EPIC




Thursday 26 November 2020

Day 255 of self-isolation - Who to vaccinate first?

Who to vaccinate first?

Vaccination will start in December, and, obviously, not everyone can be vaccinated at once. I'm very optimistic about how fast this can happen. As an example, I look at my own small town, Little Chalfont, population 6858.

So who will be able to do vaccinations? There is one doctor's surgery there, and one pharmacy. In addition, there is an optician and a hearing specialist. If each of those are able to offer one nurse to do vaccinations (I had a flu jab recently, and it really isn't difficult to do), and if it takes two minutes per jab (more like half a minute), and they work a 7 hour day, then that's 4*7*30 per day = 840 per day. So that's 8 days. 

Obviously, that's just one small town, but it does give a flavour of the size of the vaccination task, and that's why I think it doesn't look as immense as some people are saying.

But I'd like to think about the order in which people are offered vaccination. The current plan is to first vaccinate healthcare workers and people who work or live in care homes. That makes sense to me; the care homes have been decimated by Covid (decimated means one in ten are killed) and the NHS have been the front-line heroes who are exposed to the virus, but work hard nevertheless.

But after that? Government plans currently are to vaccinate age 80+, then 70+, and so on down the age cohorts. That makes sense because age is a major risk factor for Covid. But another major risk factor is skin tone. The darker your skin tone, the higher the risk.

This might be for socio-economic factors, or it might be vitamin D related. The US CDC said that hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black people and Hispanic or Latino people were both about 4.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic white people. 

So, whatever the reason, skin tone is a big risk factor. So shouldn't this be taken into account when deciding the priorities? 

And there are other known risk factors - asthma, diabetes, compromised immune system.

So then we get into a complex algorithm, which will be difficult for ordinary people to understand (and we all remember the unpopular algorithm for A level results).  And how to you measure skin tone, and whether someone has asthma, and to what degree?

The age-based system has the virtue of simplicity. It's easy to understand, and easy to apply. The NHS already has my age on record, so when I'm called, I shall answer. 


Soon, I hope.


 



Wednesday 25 November 2020

Day 254 of self-isolation - Movie theaters

Movie theaters

A long time ago, the only way to show a movie, was in a big room, with a screen and a projector.  People would pay 1/9 (one and nine, a shilling and nine pence) to sit in the big room and watch 20 minutes of advertisements, followed by 90 minutes of movie.

The first nail in the coffin was TV. Why go out to a movie, when the movie can come to you?

The latest nail in the coffin, is Covid-19. Why sit in an enclosed space with hundreds of other people, some of who might be infections?

Movie theaters changed. Today, they are no longer one big room, but are divided up into several smaller spaces, each showing something different. I remember when some of them were converted into ten pin bowling alleys.

Now they are in a poor financial situation. They've been closed and reopened, closed and reopened, and even when open, they are restricted in the number of people they can accommodate.

I think that the number of movie theaters, post-covid, will be far fewer than before.

 



Tuesday 24 November 2020

Day 253 of self-isolation - The Oxford vaccine

The Oxford vaccine

The vaccine was developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. The test covered 20,000 people; half got the vaccine, half got a placebo.

There were 30 cases of Covid in those who had two doses of vaccine, 101 cases in those with the placebo. This implies 70% protection.  No-one getting the vaccine developed severe symptoms, or needed hospital.

3000 people were given a half-sized first dose and a full sized second dose - they scored 90%. The fact that they tested this, means that they must have suspected that it might be different.

Right now, four million doses are available, but first it has to be approved by regulators. Then care home people will get vaccinated, followed by healthcare workers and over-80s. Then we'll work down through the age groups. Twenty million doses will be available by the end of the year, another 70 million by the end of March. The UK government has ordered 100 million doses. Enough for everyone in the UK, unless some of the people who have said that they'll refuse the vaccine, change their mind.

The protection conferred seems less than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which scored 95%, but the Oxford vaccine has to big advantages. First, the cost is £3 compared to Pfizer (£15) or Moderna (£25). Secondly, it can be stored at the temperature of an ordinary fridge, unlike Pfizer or Moderna, which need very cold (-70C or -20C respectively) storage.

One reason why the efficacy looks less than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines is that AstraZeneca included mild cases as infections. AstraZeneca used the PCR test, which flags even very mild infections, whereas Pfizer and Moderna measured only symptomatic infection. So it might be that all three vaccines are equally effective.

The reason why it is so much cheaper, is that AstraZenica has promised that they won't make a profit from this. Up to 3 billion doses will be available by end-2021. This is a world-saver.

As soon as those who are most at-risk are vaccinated, life can return pretty much to normal; this could be in a couple of months.

 



Monday 23 November 2020

Day 252 of self-isolation - Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving
 
I heard that Thursday will be "Thanksgiving". For non-Americans who don't know what that means, I'll explain.
 
It means that all over America, people will be travelling thousands of miles to spread Covid-19 to and/or from their loved ones. Unable to mask, because they will be eating and drinking, they will gather in poorly ventilated rooms to breathe virus particles at each other.
 
Some of them will be doing this because they still think that 1.4 million dead people worldwide is a hoax, some will be doing it because they think that the virus will also take a holiday. Some will be doing it because they know the risk, but they just don't care - the thought of a slice of turkey overrides caution.
 
With new American infections per day currently looking like 200,000, some will think that this is just part of a hoax, others will think that it can't possibly get any worse.
 
Yes, it can. God bless America.
 
But I can't complain. In the UK, we're getting ready for the biggest Covid party of all time, based around December 25th.
 


Sunday 22 November 2020

Day 251 of self-isolation - Compulsory vaccination?

Compulsory vaccination?

Compulsory vaccination against Covid-19 isn't going to happen in most countries. Or is it? It can be made a condition of employment, travel or entry.

There are precedents for this. If you want a job as a doctor, you have to have the right qualifications and certificates. If you want to go to university, you have to have achieved a level of academic achievement. If you want a job as a typist, you have to be able to type. If you want to come to the UK from Pakistan, you have to have been vaccinated against polio.

So what jobs might require a current certificate of vaccination? Suppose there were two airlines; one is able to advertise that all cabin staff are vaccinated, the other isn't. Which would you prefer to travel on? Same with supermarkets, shops, pubs. If a pub can have a policy of "no shirt, no shoes, no entry" then it can also have a policy of "no vaccination, no entry".

Once Covid vaccinations are generally available, I would expect that at least some employers will make it a condition of employment, that you have current vaccinations. I would expect that pretty much all international travel will require a vaxcert. That when cruises restart, they will require vaxcerts. That taxi drivers will display a vaxcert, and people will prefer those. And so on, and so on.

So vaccination might not be compulsory, but getting vaccinated will confer so many advantages that many people will prefer to be vaccinated.