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Isn't allocation of resources to Pandemics similar to snowploughs?


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Local authorities maintain a fleet of snowploughs & gritters in accordance with the frequency & persistence of snow and ice.  If it snows heavily people only take essential journeys to keep themselves safe, and stop the emergency services getting overloaded, and expect main roads to be cleared in a reasonable time, but not their housing estate.  Northern authorities have more snowploughs and staff in line with experience.  Southern authorities have correspondingly fewer.

We all understand that having huge standing resources so as to cope with 100 year blizzard events would be foolish.

Aren't Pandemics similar?  We should have well rehearsed management plans, the ability to ramp up testing and treatment and enable rapid vaccine development.

We should be better prepared than we were, but not have a hugely expanded, ruinously expensive standing ICU capability & protracted lockdowns just to save a few thousand lives every 50-100 years.

We also need pre agreed triage so that under 50s/60s with injuries & conditions that can be treated fully can bypass and displace infected geriatrics, with no come back, if ICU is saturated.

Trying to save everyone every time would mean having a chronically much lower standard of living / quality of life in the UK. And in any case its a fantasy.

Its difficult mid pandemic when feelings are running high, but when this is over we need an honest, politics free, national conversation.

If we don't, the conversation will happen anyway in private between senior medics and the government.

Edited by hotblack42
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  • hotblack42 changed the title to Isn't allocation of resources to Pandemics similar to snowploughs?
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I agree - indeed does anyone NOT agree with that logic?!  Who is calling for wasting lots of resources on a permanent state of pandemic alert?!

The UK actually had pandemic plans in place, they just didn't work for COVID because they made two incorrect assumptions:

- The way to treat severe respiratory illness is with a ventilator (COVID patients are more likely to die on ventilators than not, that's why the second wave has been less fatal and had fewer people in ICU ventilated)

- The way to beat a pandemic is with herd immunity (this is based upon a flu pandemic, but COVID is different, for example the immunity is not as long lasting, and there can be nasty 'long COVID' impacts you don't get with flu)

That's why the initial response of Boris was all aimed at herd immunity and building nightingale hospitals with ventilators.

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Sure, I agree in general - you need a certain amount of contingency in place, without going overboard. There's a tendency though to cut to the bone, to spend the minimum needed to get through ordinary day-to-day affairs, and more than that and you start getting accused of wasting money that could be put to better use. Throw in a "things should never go wrong anyway" attitude and it's no surprise that there's a struggle when they do. Add in the people who do argue for spending more on contingency often come from "it must be able to cope with everything imaginable, and more, if it doesn't it's no better than useless" and it's not hard to see how we end up where we do.

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But that would mean the politicians in charge wouldn't be able to funnel massive bungs to their cronies in exchange for support and kickbacks? 

Also, who is ostensibly in charge of our country? Is it the same man who spent £323k of tax payer money on water cannons?

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/19/boris-johnson-unused-water-cannon-sold-for-scrap-at-300000-loss

Johnson bought the crowd-control vehicles from the German police in 2014, in anticipation of social unrest, without checking whether they could be used on London’s streets. In one of his most humiliating episodes as mayor, the then home secretary, Theresa May, banned them from use anywhere in England and Wales. It left the capital’s taxpayers with three expensive white elephants.

Edited by PeanutButter
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Didn't the snowploughs run out of salt in 2009? 

It's assuming just in time delivery that's the problem.

You can't all get it at once when everyone wants it at once. 

Plus selling off all surplus capacity to developers doesn't work out well when it isn't surplus all the time. 

Plus thinking for the long term isn't something bad governments are good at. 

Add them all together and you start the pandemic  as the UK did. 

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Didn't the snowploughs run out of salt in 2009? 

It's assuming just in time delivery that's the problem.

You can't all get it at once when everyone wants it at once. 

Plus selling off all surplus capacity to developers doesn't work out well when it isn't surplus all the time. 

Plus thinking for the long term isn't something bad governments are good at. 

Add them all together and you start the pandemic  as the UK did. 

True. Realistically, the government can throw as much money as they like at a problem. There is no shortage of money. And for so long the government has been used to this patching up the problem somewhat.

The problem is they don't realize that they can't get physical things so easily in an emergency, no matter how much money they throw at it. Whether it be fighter planes in WW2, snow plughs during an awful winter, or hospital beds in the pandemic.  

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 Looking at our WW2 german invasion resistance and civil defence plans, or how we built cold war ferro concrete bunkers, communications and command chains in the shadow of uncertain risks, whereas global pandemic risks almost a certainty for every generation.  

 

 I remember an interesting book on ww2 civil defence. The author was recruited by the cheif constable as someone with miltary and leadership skills who could command a small group that would stay forward of the front line in the event of german invasion. 

 He was given secret sealed orders by the police cheif under strict instructions never to open it unless invasion signal was received.  Decades later curiosity got the better and he open his sealed orders.  "assasinate local police cheif constable immediately".   Ruthless but perfect security. 

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Sure, I agree in general - you need a certain amount of contingency in place, without going overboard. There's a tendency though to cut to the bone, to spend the minimum needed to get through ordinary day-to-day affairs, and more than that and you start getting accused of wasting money that could be put to better use. Throw in a "things should never go wrong anyway" attitude and it's no surprise that there's a struggle when they do. Add in the people who do argue for spending more on contingency often come from "it must be able to cope with everything imaginable, and more, if it doesn't it's no better than useless" and it's not hard to see how we end up where we do.

Agreed - it has to be some sort of a balance depending on the probabilities and severities.  Heathrow Airport might have one snowfall every decade that would close it down. Is it worth purchasing and maintaining an expensive fleet of snow ploughs to be used once a decade, to clear the snow in an hour, causing minimal delays? Or would a smaller fleet be better, which could clear the runways over a day, but at the cost of closing the airport for that day?

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Agreed - it has to be some sort of a balance depending on the probabilities and severities.  Heathrow Airport might have one snowfall every decade that would close it down. Is it worth purchasing and maintaining an expensive fleet of snow ploughs to be used once a decade, to clear the snow in an hour, causing minimal delays? Or would a smaller fleet be better, which could clear the runways over a day, but at the cost of closing the airport for that day?

Another factor that affects it is increasing reliability. Whatever people think of the rail network trains really don't break down as often as they used to. But that means there aren't spare locos and drivers and cranes all over the place that can be called in to sort out a problem - they'd get so little use with greater reliability that they'd be hard to justify even without a cut to the bone culture. But it means when something does go wrong it causes rather more problems than it once would - the same problems become more difficult to deal with.

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they should convert summer only vehicles to snow ploughs, like combine harvesters.

would make a lot of sense *sniggers*

top gear was quite funny at times 

Have seen them go out in summer TBH. They fling rock dust on the road when it gets really hot and the tar starts melting, helps stop tar being dragged around everywhere.

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I agree with the original post.

Snow ploughs are an expensive and rarely used luxury. Instead we should  get ourselves fit and invest in shovels. Shovelling snow is great exercise.

Edited by Mikhail Liebenstein
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I agree with the original post.

Snow ploughs are an expensive and rarely used luxury. Instead we should  get ourselves fit and invest in shovels. Shovelling snow is great exercise.

I read today that the best coronavirus vaccine is a pair of running shoes.

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I read today that the best coronavirus vaccine is a pair of running shoes.

Indeed. On a related theme I've just bought myself some new Odlo winter jackets now it is getting cooler. 
 

I've mostly been on the rowing machine during lockdown, partly as whilst out running in the summer, I've found my usual routes littered with masked pensioners who insist on spreading out rather than walking in a tight group.

 

 

 

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Indeed. On a related theme I've just bought myself some new Odlo winter jackets now it is getting cooler. 
 

I've mostly been on the rowing machine during lockdown, partly as whilst out running in the summer, I've found my usual routes littered with masked pensioners who insist on spreading out rather than walking in a tight group.

 

Dog walkers are the worst. Walk on one side of a cycle path and let their mutts sniff about on a leash on the other side!

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Vaccination as a strategy is herd immunity writ large.

What is your preferred strategy?

Are you just being deliberately obtuse?

What I meant was - Plan A was to build herd immunity pre-vaccine by letting people catch it.  That proved to be a duff plan because COVID is not the same as flu, so Plan B (protect people until there's a vaccine, then build herd immunity with a vaccine) is better.

Happy?

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I agree - indeed does anyone NOT agree with that logic?!  Who is calling for wasting lots of resources on a permanent state of pandemic alert?!

The UK actually had pandemic plans in place, they just didn't work for COVID because they made two incorrect assumptions:

- The way to treat severe respiratory illness is with a ventilator (COVID patients are more likely to die on ventilators than not, that's why the second wave has been less fatal and had fewer people in ICU ventilated)

- The way to beat a pandemic is with herd immunity (this is based upon a flu pandemic, but COVID is different, for example the immunity is not as long lasting, and there can be nasty 'long COVID' impacts you don't get with flu)

That's why the initial response of Boris was all aimed at herd immunity and building nightingale hospitals with ventilators.

The pandemic plan and the conclusions from previous tests were largely ignored, ever worse they sold off the PPE from the stockpiles.

Also, they assumed COVID-19 was a flu virus and a vaccine could be produced fairly quickly

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There's a preventative element to snow ploughs that isn't being considered.

In Central Scotland i'll see snow ploughs gritting the roads anytime the overnight temperature falls below 3 degrees. They'll be available and out working overnight 4 months of the year if required. Perhaps only 1 in 10 times I see a snow plough running its actually icy or there's snow on the ground. 

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Disagree.

We bought all the snowploughs amd salt and then threw them all away - that’s way more costly. 

We’ve gone over the top with ‘efficiency’. A bit less ‘efficiency’ and more spare capacity would mean less people sleeping in hospital corridors every year, better pandemic outcomes as in Germany and probably better outcomes overall.

Are you stating pandemics in the future will happen every 50-100 years or hoping ? 

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Broadly I agree with the OP.  Number of Youtube videos with Tim Spector making similar points.  The  triage + a modified GB system would have it merits.  Decent planning and running models would also help.  Guess we will waste millions on a pointless public enquiry that will be ignored and no-one held to account.

Been caught by snow at LHR several times, last time was the beast from the East.  The check in assistant at Budapest commented "it's always the British struggle with snow" as the flights left for Kiev etc.  It's rare that the entire UK is blanketed by snow, so spread the landing slots across the UK.

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