UK Column

Dr Erickson COVID 19 Briefing

Prof Dolores Cahill at the Saving Scotland Rally Edinburgh 5th September

David Nicoll at Glasgow Green Anti Lock Down meeting singing Flower of Scotland with a wee twist!

Reciting poetry at Anti Lock down meeting at Glasgow Green on 08 08 2020


Anti-Lockup groups

Various (no endorsements)


Common Sense Party

As Sweden shows, the only sane way to have beaten covid, was to accept that - like a similar once in ten year flu - many people near death would die, but that for most people there was very little risk and we should have continued with our lives. Yes, even Sweden could have done better by better protecting the vulnerable whilst the fit got community immunity. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

What the Tories and SNP in Scotland are now doing is utterly criminal and will destroy lives, businesses, our economy and public services for a generation. As such we now need a new centre-right “common sense” party to take their place. As such this is a proposal for a possible manifesto, both for the UK as a whole, but also specifically for the Scottish election (which will be taking place in 2021).

Main UK policies

  1. Rapidly end all restrictions imposed by Covid whilst helping those who need protection return to normal life.
  2. Remove as government advisors all those with financial or political interests in policies such as vaccine and also remove those with no previous practical experience of crisis management or whose models have consistently failed or otherwise who do not provide sensible advice. Set up a new crisis management body drawn from front line managers with practical experience of real crisis from a range of groups including emergency services, health, industry and commerce. This will act as an interface between government and external experts such as academics.
  3. Move to end to the massive stealth taxes & other massive costs associated with various “green” polices to do with energy, although initially we will not end them, but use them to pay back the appalling debt created by the mismanagement over covid.
  4. Return to a common sense, evidence based approach to environment: tackling pollution where it is harmful to health, and balancing nature and human needs.
  5. Permit onshore mining, quarrying and oil extraction subject to addressing environmental concerns and subject to the consent of local people.
  6. We will introduce a mechanism for recall of local politicians who e.g. break the law. We do not otherwise intend to make major constitutional changes in our first term, but we will create several citizen’s panels with the power to review and veto inappropriate appointments to the house of Lords, honours and changes to pay and conditions for politicians. We will maintain a monarchy subject to the consent of the people.
  7. End the political interference in families and protect them from the nanny state
  8. Introduce a referendum bill, requiring overwhelming consensus for constitutional change and ensuring referenda on any one issue are only “once in a generation”.
  9. Secure borders, enforce a points-based immigration system and end the blocking of deportation of illegal immigrants.
  10. Stop the political meddling in, & by, the police, such as the attacks against free speech on social media, and focus policing on real crimes.
  11. Tackle High Street decline, by ending the disparity in taxation between physical and online businesses and taking measures to encourage more people to shop in the High Street.
  12. We will end the relentless attacks on motorists by government and councils and work to reduce congestion and tackle the yearly pothole crisis by imposing a duty on councils to maintain the quality of roads.
  13. Scrap the BBC licence fee. We will create a new organisation which will own all previous BBC program content and containing most radio, the world service & BBC parliament. It will have a duty to make previous content available either directly or indirectly through third parties to the people and will be subject to oversight by ordinary viewers/listeners. We will then give a limited time for the remainder of the BBC to work out how it will fund itself in future and then end the licence fee.
  14. Abortion & Euthanasia
    The party has a moderate position on abortion: that no child that may be capable of independent life should be aborted (unless it is a medical necessity to save the mother) but we do not wish to see the appalling situation that occurred before abortion was legal. As such we will tolerate early abortion, but no medical staff should be forced to take part and we will ensure abortion does not become a “life style choice”. Our society already tolerates some euthanasia in the form of “Do Not Resuscitate” notices, but should this go further? With the increasing ability to keep people alive, we believe at some point we may need to create the “right to die”. But due to the contentious nature of these issues, candidates will be allowed to disagree so long as they make their position clear at an election.
  15. Free speech
    In recent years there has been a relentless attack on free speech from certain groups. We plan to provide a practical way for individuals to defense free speech by criminalising behaviour & groups that attempt to curtail free speech. We will require large social media companies to embrace free speech only subject to any legal constraints and maintain their own strict political impartiality. We will introduce severe penalties for those who do not comply. Small & not-for profit sites will be exempt from these constraints.
  16. We will repeal all “hate crime” acts, and replace them with laws protecting individuals & groups from dishonest speech intended to damage or create harm. We will give specific protection to material intended to be humorous or comedic
  17. Political lobbyists
    We will create a new category of organisation for those who are presently charities who engage in political lobbying. These groups will need to register, will not be entitled to any government funding, must provide details of any substantial donors and will be subject to taxation similar to commercial lobbyists. These rules will not apply to political parties. We will review the parliamentary procedures to prevent paid lobbyists & groups gaining preferential treatment that is not available to members of the public.
  18. End payments by drug companies to doctors
    (except in a few specific and limited cases) we will make it illegal for pharmaceutical and vaccine companies to make any kind of payment or remuneration to medical personnel.
  19. Fake news
    We will make it easier for individuals to take small claims against against the fake news media. The court will have the power to enforce a retraction as agreed by the court of the same size and with the same prominence.
  20. We will give independent candidate the same right as political parties to say what they stand for on the ballot
  21. Marriage as an institution has always been fair to homosexuals giving all children the same protection through their childhood. However, as people live longer and having a family became an option within marriage, the inequity between married adults without children and gay couples needed addressing, not only for them but also for example those in a non-sexual relationship such as unmarried siblings. Unfortunately, due to attacks silencing public debate by gay activists, the law of marriage was changed, without the many difference aspects of marriage that needed discussing being addressed and without sufficient public debate the change was arguably against the consent of the people. We believe that consent is necessary to make the changes legitimate and its lack has debased marriage and so reduced the protection for children. It is time to go back and have a proper adult debate about the future of marriage. We will remove any legal obstacles that prevent this occurring.
  22. We will set up a unit to deal with spam mail and nuisance phone calls. We will provide procedures to easily report these and ensure that they are quickly stopped.


Policies Specific to Scotland

  1. We will combine the role of MP and MSP by aligning the Westminster and Holyrood election boundaries. We will consult on reducing the number of list MSPs to match.
  2. In Scotland there is only one chamber which has allowed some very disagreeable policies to be passed. As such we will create a small upper “people’s chamber” or ordinary people with the power to veto unwanted legislation. We will also rewrite the devolution bill to remove ambiguity as to what is devolved and so ensure that there is a unified British approach to any crisis.
  3. We will end the “death trap” that affects many couples when one dies and make the transfer of a home automatic between spouses after death (unless otherwise specified in a will).
  4. We will introduce a bill to designate footpaths with a similar status to the “rights of way” shown by the Ordnance survey on maps of England & Wales so that Scottish maps can use the same symbols to show suggested public routes over private land.
  5. We will introduce a law to set up a treasure trove and artefact recording system similar to that in England to encourage responsible metal detecting. That also requires a change to the imposed English legal notion of “bona vacantia” (which was only recently applied by by courts to Scotland when there was no historical basis). Instead we will reassert the ancient principle that Scotland is owned by the people of Scotland and that the crown or any parliament are merely guardians.
  6. Politicisation of Education
    We will make it a criminal offence for teachers and lecturers to engage in political activity aimed at or when in contact with students.
  7. We will create a new University or institute aimed at encouraging older people to undertake research which will benefit future generations through their experience, knowledge or skills.
  8. We will scrap the “curriculum for excellence” developing a new course in consultation with teachers, parents and other parties over our term with with, so that we learn from the mistakes of the past and draw on the best practices internationally to plot a course forward to improve standards in a sustainable way.


Health and Education

Our aim is to use Scotland as a launch pad to provide world class health and education that can be delivered worldwide. We will develop on the experiences during the covid epidemic with an aim of making Scotland (and the UK) a centre of excellence for internet learning:

  1. We will ensure that all secondary pupils and all schools have access to online resources for homework and learning.
  2. The creation of schools teaching in and aiming to make pupils fluent in: Madarin, Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Malay, Russian, Bengali, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, German and French. These will be fast streamed by teaming up with schools in these areas with an exchange of teachers and pupils & the creation of suitable University language courses
  3. The creation of a new University institution focussed on online content provision as follows:
  4. Education
    1. The provision of schools material to be used both by our schools & internationally
    2. The provision of university teaching material for both our Universities and internationally
    3. The digitisation of all our university libraries
    4. The development of PhD quality research awards focussed on mature students working through the internet
    5. The development of free University course delivered online as part of overseas aid
  5. Health
    1. The digitisation and adaption of health records to create a medical resource for health care
    2. The development of online medical clinics to enable health care in both Scotland and internationally.
    3. The delivery of health care through the internet as part of overseas aid using a combination of Scottish based support working with local health providers.
    4. We will work with the UK government to persuade those like the BBC & private companies to move their foreign language services to Scotland
    5. We will ask the UK government to move the appropriate diplomatic & foreign language services to Scotland.



It is a simple fact that from the start, if like Sweden (link) we had protected the old and vulnerable then, then even under the worst case scenario, under 50s households could have continued with their normal life with minimum impact on the NHS which could have coped even without the additional resources that were made availabe. But recently more and more evidence has been coming out (link)(link)(link) that we have massively over estimated the impact of CV19 because of the very high number of people who get it without serious symptoms, leading us to believe the total number of deaths would be about 5x the actual number. This now means that the NHS could have just coped if we had only strictly isolated those over 70 and the vulnerable.

Please sign the petitions to support this plan:
UK gov (still to be approved)

For further discussion on the underestimation of R0 see: "The Failure of R0"

The problem in the UK is that we allowed the virus to spread to older people who are far more likely to end up in hospital and as a result we risked crashing the NHS. To understand this, here is a graph showing the number of deaths by age in Italy (yellow) as well as China (red).


It is very clear that in both countries the vast majority of deaths occurred in those over 60 and the level of deaths in under 40s is so small it cannot be distinguished from zero. If then we use this to estimate the effect on the health service it produces a graph as follows:

The dotted blue line shows the fraction of the population up to the specified age. The red line shows the estimated demand from CV19 of everyone up to that age. So for example 70% of the population are under 50 but that 70% create only about 10% of the demand on the NHS. In contrast, over 70s are about 10% of the population but create 50% of the demand.

What that means, is that if we could have totally isolated the over 70s, the demand would halve. Or to put it another way, we could have got through the crisis in half the time. If we could isolate everyone over 50, we could have got through the crisis in a tenth of the time - or without any lockdown. Below is a curve estimating hospital beds and intensive care beds required just for the under 50s.

The red line represents the total beds available before the crisis. As we can see the demand on NHS beds is minimal, and although a lot of Intensive care beds might be needed, the NHS could easily cope if only under 50s were exposed to CV19.

So, can we release under 50s now? The answer I believe is yes (if we stop under 50s households infecting older people) for the following reasons:

  1. The NHS could cope with under 50s if at the same time we have a very tight lock down of other age groups.
  2. Many younger people have already had the virus, the impact on the NHS is now even less
  3. The virus is known to predominantly affect people with underlying conditions. As such if we protect these individuals in the under 50s group, then the problems will be much less
  4. Even if the government told everyone that they could immediately return to normal, many people are now so scared of CV19 that they will not return to normal life.

Households versus Individuals

An important caveat, is that whilst the analysis is for individuals, we live as households and so that plan for coming out of lockdown must fit the way we live. Fortunately, the nature of human fertility and human nature, means that most people with school age children are under 50 except for a few in senior schools and men who married much younger women. Likewise, single adults either tend to be living on their own or with similar aged adults (except in special circumstances like prisons). So, for most reasonable purposes "families with school age children" are under 50. But to be sure we could say that "families with young children where no resident is over 50 and under 50s living on their own or where there are no over 50s" can return to normal life ... with the proviso that "normal" cannot include mixing with over 50s or those from households with over 50s.

Over 50s

Whilst there is no problem under 50s returning to normal life, things get more complex the older we get because the death rate is about 10x the average for under 50s for 50-60 year olds approaching 100x for the most elderly. Fortunately, the number of very elderly people is relatively small, with 10% over 70. The very elderly and those of other age groups who are most vulnerable to CV19 should be protected from the virus. To this end, they should be given all the necessary PPE and for example they must have priority for supermarket home delivery. The aim for them is to maintain a strict isolation until the virus has died out. At first this isolation must be compulsory, in order to permit younger people to pass through the epidemic without the beds being used by older people. But once younger people are through then we can advise older people to remain isolated, but they have a right to freedom.

So under 50s household return to normal life immediately. Over 70s are isolated until it is safe. This leaves the 50-70s.

Because of their higher risk, and therefore higher risk of inundating the health service there may have to be restrictions for this group for a short time. But after that we need people to decide which group they belong to. Whether they join normal society, albeit at the risk of contracting CV19, or whether they isolate until the virus dies out. What we cannot allow, is someone who has not had the virus to suddenly decide to re-enter society at the time the virus is dying out. Because if this happens in large numbers there could be another surge of infections, meaning that the over 70s may be in isolation for perhaps another month longer than need be. Nor can too many rejoin society if that risks over-whelming the health service. As such, we may have to stage the return of this group, but this will depend on what is happening in the NHS at the time.

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On Tuesday 17 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that anyone aged 70 and over in the UK must self-isolate at home from this weekend (21 March) for up to four months to prevent them from contracting the virus.


Scottish Government

Welsh Government