This is a conversation I had recently via text with someone who suffers from depression about the situation about COVID-19 in the UK. I hope my answers will help others with depression face this situation.
The main message is, don't give up - we can and will deal with this - pressurize our government to act and protect yourself and others by making sure you don't get it yourself.
On a personal level, this is how to protect yourself, and also the people around you who might get it from you - you can break those chains of transmission at least and prevent it spreading through you into your community.
In order to reach the highest mountains, you shouldn't be afraid of the deepest valleys.
Sander van der Wel from Netherlands
This of course is not to replace professional help for depression but to supplement it for those who need support at this time. Depression is a treatable condition. However knowledge about COVID-19 and bringing people hope with the facts is also important. See also
This is another article I'm writing to support people we help in the Facebook Doomsday Debunked group, that find us because they get scared, sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal about it, by such stories. If scared of COVID-19 the main message on a personal level is you can protect yourself, following the advice of the WHO, see my:
- How To Protect Yourself From COVID-19 - And Help Stop The Spread - If Everyone Did This The Epidemic Would Soon Stop
Please share this widely with other scared and depressed people and also with scientists, politicians and decision makers in the UK
We might as well just give up and let ourselves get this disease
You need to keep up the precautions as long as is needed even if it is months.
This is going to end for sure next year when we have a vaccine.
But it can be stopped. We can reduce it by around 90% every 2 weeks using testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine. See my
Also this WHO message is especially useful for depressed people if you haven’t seen it
- WHO COVID19 Mar 20 - Message Of Courage And Hope In Difficult Times - First Pandemic In History With Power To Change Way It Goes
I’m not going to keep this up for months
This is an awful disease. If you or someone you care about ends up on a ventilator then you will regret having it.
We are all going to get it
I am taking precautions and I am not going to get it. I might get flu but not this.
But I lose my job, house etc
We may be headed for a recession but you get a rebound after a recession.
But it can be stopped. They can reduce it by 90% every 2 weeks using testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine
That is not going to happen
It is. There is increasing pressure to do that.
We will soon have very clear examples from Germany who are already starting to control their outbreak.
- Spain, Italy, Germany and Iceland all well on course to contain their outbreaks of COVID-19 - with a change of direction the UK can too
I think by the end of this week it will be increasingly clear that the UK government’s strategy is not working.
Sadly many are going to die. But you can protect yourself and not be one of them.
This lockdown is a waste of time - and they don’t have the materials they need to do the testing
The lockdown by itself won't do anything much but they now need to ramp up testing.
- WHO - With countries under lockdown most transmision is now in families - need to find and go after those cases and isolate them from the rest of the family
They are not really trying. Germany does many times the number of tests we do, Iceland too. They found ways to ramp up. We can. There are those machines that can test 2,500 samples a day.
They are building new hospitals with 4000 critical care beds in 2 weeks - yet are not ramping up on testing. How many diagnostics tests could you do with that level of funding?
That will take ages
We need to pressurize people to try to get change, don't give up, where is the British fighting spirit?
I am doing everything I can to get attention and put pressure on people. I can't do much by myself but the more people are involved the more we can do.
It’s a waste of time, they aren’t listening
They won't listen if we don't try. They will listen eventually, it will soon be obvious to everyone. I think by the end of this week then it will be clearer to everyone that something has to change and that the UK got it wrong.
It will be too late then
Expect the numbers of deaths to increase a lot because most people die in the third weeek.
It is never too late.
It will go on for ever
We can reduce it by 90% every two weeks once we get back on track, and possibly faster than that.
And if we test everyone with symptoms, isolate, trace contacts and quarantine them, then within a few weeks we can relax some of the lock down.
South Korea did it without any lock down.
We will see Italy and Spain etc end their lock down as their numbers go down.
Their deaths (Italy and Spain) go up and up
The deaths are delayed by several weeks over the new cases - it takes up to 6 weeks to die.
So the deaths per day do keep going up as the new cases per day go down. That is normal for this disease.
The recoveries per day also keep going up but those are not reported. They are delayed even more and the recoveries per day go up and up too.
But the UK only reports the deaths per day - they will go down but the downturn in deaths is delayed after the peak of the cases per day by several weeks.
So this lock down is a waste of time and money
This lockdown is not waste of time and money, but they have to do testing and isolation. And proper isolation not just for 7 days, but until they are better and an extra 2 weeks, or until death for any that die.
They also have to do contact tracing and quarantine.
Do all that and the physical separation helps. Don't do that and it is dubious whether it does much.
The WHO say that over and over. Physical separation is only useful as part of a larger strategy.
But it is useful. It gives us a precious second opportunity to stop this.
We need to pressurize our government to take this opportunity and not waste it.
So the “signs of infection slowing” don’t mean anything, and it peaking soon?
The physical distancing does do something. It reduces the number of contacts of each person but increases the amount of contact with each person they do contact because few will be isolating from their family much despite the instructions. In the academic paper the UK use as a guide for policy they assume contacts within households double as a result of the lockdown (in their model it is more important to reduce community transmission than to reduce family transmission, with the real disease it is more important to stop family transmission)
So - this policy might slow it down a bit because now they have, say, 4 or 8 contacts instead of 20 or 30. But on the other hand they have more contact with those fewer people so that could increase the spread.
On the other hand again if people are somewhat reducing contact within households it might reduce it, but in England they only say to do that with vulnerable people. In Scotland the NHS say to do it with everyone - but how many would use separate cutlery, say, for someone in their family who has a cough? Or get them to stay in their room and not go into it except to bring them food and wash their hands on leave the room? Most are probably not even doing basic precautions like that, which are not sufficient anyway.
Then we have that it is spreading in hospitals and there are likely many super spreader hospital events by now that they haven't noticed because they are not testing.
So I am expecting numbers of infections to go up, especially in hospitals. Our death rate is already very high given that we have 2,352 deaths and two weeks ago had 2,626 confirmed cases, and it takes usually over 2 weeks to die
[most of these 2,352 deaths must have taken less than two weeks to die, and that’s only a fraction of the total to expect]
They are letting it spread in care homes and hospitals with vulnerable patients and that is likely to lead to a very high death rate and they are not counting mild cases.
Taking both those factors into account, the reported death rate for the UK is likely to be the highest of any country in a week or two, seems to me. Not that it is more deadly here just the way it is being handled.
This is the shock that will surely lead to them changing direction.
Surely these people are experienced and know what they are doing?
People have been warning them of this ever since they shifted to the delay phase. The WHO too, not directly criticizing the UK government, they never criticize individual governments, but repeatedly saying we have to keep testing, case finding, isolating, tracing and quarantining.
These people who guide our UK policy are mathematical modelers with little practical experience of epidemics [while the WHO respond to 200 epidemics a year].
Normally this would play out as a dialog between different teams of modelers with different ideas of how to model it - and the scientific evidence.
However, because of the emergency situation one group of modelers who have a high level of confidence in their model got the trust of the government. They are directing policy, and are hardly looking at the real data, mainly their model [also we are not getting much data yet from the UK to evaluate the effects of their policy because we are not testing mild cases]
Other modelers say other things but this particular group are directing our policy.
That is basically what happened. But their model is of a simulated flu that has almost no characteristics in common with the real disease.
It is not really their fault because modelers tend to hve a lot of confidence in their models. That is just the way of it, and other modelers have confidence in a different model and they talk it out in numerous papers until they find the truth.
Then you get people responding with the real world data saying the model doesn't fit the data and over a period of some years the modelers will agree and refine their models and fix them to fit the data.
In the leisurely way that science is done normally, a few months or years from now, they would come around to saying their model doesn't fit the data for COVID-19. They would write an academic paper about that and the various academics would come to a new consensus about it all. But that is too long.
These modelers are going to have a huge shock too, when they realize what they have done.
Their basic assumption is that it is a mild disease like flu, that many people have it without knowing it and that China didn't really stop it through its control measures but just because so many people got the mild version that it could no longer infect them. The data doesn't fit this at all. But they are kind of looking at the data sideways and only seeing the bits that fit their preconcieved ideas.
So they are letting people just get it in the UK because they think it will stop by itself. They look at Italy and think it just stopped by itself there too, that all they did is delay it a bit - so they are trying to delay it a bit in the UK too but not stop it.
But it won't stop by itself, and our numbers will soar way past Italy and Germany, and they will then realize their mistake.
There are some asymptomatic people who get it from the data so far, but most of the ones that seem to be asymptomatic are presymptomatic - infectious for a few days before they show symptoms.
They have already started doing the antibody testing and when the results come back especially in China that will also be data that will show them wrong. They are not going to find that nearly all the Chinese have antibodies to it.
They are likely to find a fair few genuinely asymptomatic people, probably school children mainly but they are non spreaders. Yes they have no symptoms but also don't spread it. The data supporting this is indirect but very strong - not getting outbreaks spring up from asymptomatic people, only from presymptomatic people so the asymptomatic people,m however many they are, can't be driving the spread.
We have very strong evidence of that in Singapore. We would see many small outbreaks starting up in Singapore if it had stopped it through natural immunity and asymptomatic spreaders. Instead nearly all new cases can be traced back to a few clusters.
Though there are some asymptomatic spreaders, only 0.15% of the population of Wunan were confirmed cases and only 0.06% in China. In Singapore it is still only 1000 cases out of a population of 5.612 million that have it or less than 0.02% and most of the new ones are imported cases from other countries. Singapore has amongst the best data there is, tests anyone who goes to a clinic with fever or pneumonia type symptoms. They find almost no cases outside of the known transmission chains.
- 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Singapore - Wikipedia
- Yes Your Country Can Stop COVID-19 - Singapore Shows How
Iceland is shaping up to be the country in Europe with the best data, so we should get good evidence from them soon too. They go a step further than Singapore and test people even if they are asymptomatic if they want a test. I cover this in:Spain, Italy, Germany And Iceland On Course To Contain Their Outbreaks Of COVID-19 - With A Change Of Direction UK Can Too
So - these are people who are science driven. At some point the data will be overwhelming for them and they will have to accept it and they won't deny it once it is clear their model is wrong. But it will be a huge shock and naturally, personally, they are going to be resistant to believing this until they can't help but see it.
I don’t believe the China data, sorry - they did little for months and yet kept it at 3000 deaths
China did masses. They didn't do nothing.
They are not correctly reported in the UK.
The big thing was not the lock down. It was the contact tracing - and the isolation.
That is how they stopped it. The lock down made a big difference but without the contact tracing it would not have stopped it.
- They knew about it on 31st December. Lie Wenliang died - whistleblower warned about new disease one day early - however Chinese reported to WHO as soon as automated disease detecting system was triggered
- Released the gene sequence on 11th January. At that point there was no sign of human to human spread.
- They only realized it could be spread human to human mid January - until then they thought it was only animal to human.
- Then about a week later you had the Wuhan lock down (23rd January).
And as soon as they realized it was spread human to human they repurposed their entire government to do the contact tracing, they sent 10,000 health workers and 127 emergency response teams into Wuhan, they reconfigured their agriculture to feed people in Wuhan, they wrote apps and used 5g to contact trace people into rural areas of China. At the height they were tracing half a million contacts.
They built 14 new hospitals for COVID-19 patients and converted numerous gymns and community centers for wards to isolate the mild cases.
They set up fever clinics throughout China and used CT scans to check for Coivid-19.
They educated the public to report to a fever clinic as soon as they had symptoms and got the time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis down to 3 days.
For detils of all this see the report of the WHO-China joint mission.
- Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Press conference video embedded in my page here along with my rough notes as they spoke and link to transcript of the opening remarks: Bruce Aylward China COVID19 press conference - notes.
All this is now in place so that they can catch any new outbreak if it happens.
Their hospitals already had far more ventilators and artificial lungs per hospital than we have in the UK.
That is how they managed to keep it down to 3k deaths.
Some of their provinces had only a few hundred case or a few dozen. Tibet - only 1 case.
These are the size of entire countries but they stopped their outbreaks dead
We could have done the same. The Chinese were urging us to do this. They had a strong feeling they were doing this for the whole world. Ordinary chinese folk in china had a strong sense that they were protecting not just China but the whole world with their actions. Bruce Aylward said that wherever he went the ordinary people they spoke to in trains etc were saying that - that they were doing this for the whole worl.d
But we didn't listen. They are shocked and upset. There is a Chinese citizen in our DD group and he talks in group comments about how shocked they are by the European response to it.
So - we can do this. But we need to learn from China and not just do the lock downs which hit the news, but everything else as well - the things that worked at least (they tried many things, and some of the things they did worked better than others - we need to learn from the ones that worked).
We also need to learn from any other countries that have had success in controlling this.
We might as well give up
The Chinese didn't give up.
We have shown we can do things just as dramatic as what they did, we are just not doing the right htings.
We are even building new hospitals in 2 weeks like they did. But not doing the contact tracing or isolation
And doing nothing to protect our hospitals. This is what we have to do.
We have a harder task than the Chinese. They never let it get to 100,000 cases. But we can do it!
Meanwhile on a personal level you can totally protect yourself and by doing that you are also protecting others.
If you let yourself get it, it's not just you, it's all the people you would infect too.
You might even become a super spreader and infect 20 other people. Or one of the people you infect could be one.
Those are real people. Individuals. We can urge our government to change direction for the larger picture and on the smaller scale we can save the lives of people around us.
Not going to happen, I doubt it
On the personal level then it is up to you whether it happens.
I can't make you protect yourself but you can.
I am doing my best to get the people I help to protect themselves
We should let it go run through our country
NO! Why? Do you want to die of a horrible disease or someone you love?
No it is not inevitable at all.
If our government doesnt stop it I keep this up until the vaccine. But there is no way this continues. They are already getting criticism, and once we have people dying by the thousand each day while Germany, Iceland, Spain etec do not we WILL change direction. I am sure of it.
Also many countries are now not accepting visitors from the UK. Gradually this pressure mounts up. meanwhile we can do what we can internally within the UK.
People do change their ideas, sometimes very fast indeed. This is bound to be like that, the only question is when.
Q. It’s less than 1% who get it
5% need to be on ventilators. To give an idea of what that 1% means I worked out the proportion by age group and if half the doctors get it that means about 1000 of our doctors will die (compared to 60+ in Italy)
[for details see my Devastating effect on doctors and nurses]
That is based on the numbers of doctors in each age group and the case fatality rate for each age group
Then, about 30% of patients may die in care homes for the elderly, at least 20% in the ones that get it. Bearing in mind many are not just elderly but have other conditions.
This is not something we can just let run through our society. Even if we let it get to a million with it it is still worth doing the very most we can to protect the 65 million that don't have it, yet.
We are currently at 100,000. If we do nothing for another two weeks by way of isolating and contact tracing it may reach a million.
Even then we should not let it go to the other 65 million.
That 100,000 is a guesstimate based on 1 in 5 being hospitalized. If you just multiply by 5 it would be 125,000 but probably they are including a few mild cases. So let’s say around 100,000 cases.
This also is not just for us but for the whole world.
100,000 people in the UK can currently infect other countries. If we isolate them then we are getting 100,000 possible seeds of infections in other countries out of circulation. We have to do it for other countries as well as for ourselves.
Nigeria for instance has already had a big outbreak that was started by Nigerians returning from Italy and the UK.
Nigeria naturally enough have now shut their borders to people from Italy, the UK, the US and other countries with large outbreaks. See 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria - Wikipedia
The head of the CDC in Nigeria is one of the 13 international experts who studied China as part of the WHO-China joint report - and he prepared Nigeria for it early on. They had prepared for this for weeks before they got their first cases, with the limited resources they had and help from the WHO doing their utmost to stop it.
And the UK doesn't even try. It is shameful. We have to stop this. For other countries as well as ourselves.
I can’t see it happening- probably my anxiety and depression.
I am sure this will happen.
I wrote this conversation up to help this person and others who may be similarly depressed and finding it hard to cope. The conversation is included here with this person’s permission (not identifying anything about them, including gender).
- Why we don't need to have multiple waves of COVID-19
- Yes Your Country Can Stop COVID-19 - Singapore Shows How
- Good News From Italy: COVID 19 Outbreak Halted In Italian Town Of Vo Euganeo At Record Speed - 90 To 0 New Cases In Two Weeks
- Spain, Italy, Germany And Iceland On Course To Contain Their Outbreaks Of COVID-19 - With A Change Of Direction UK Can Too
And watch the WHO press conferences. E.g.
- WHO COVID19 Mar 20 - Message Of Courage And Hope In Difficult Times - First Pandemic In History With Power To Change Way It Goes
- and the two most recent ones are at the head of their page here:
It also has transcripts of earlier press conferences and you can watch them in the YouTube WHO channel
If you want to put pressure on our government to act, see my
- UK Can Rise To Challenge Of Mass Testing Of Covid-19 And Contact Tracing At An Unprecedented Scale
- Dear Boris Johnson - UK's Policy On Covid-19 Needs Evidence Based Science Debate - We Must Not Delay - Every Minute Saves Lives
YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF
This can all become routine, do it over and over until it is as automatic as brushing your teeth. You may well still get flu if you do this, or some colds but it stops COVID-19 because it is not airborne, except for certain medical procedures like intubation.
You need to be sure also to learn how to wash your hands thoroughly.
Do this all properly and you can protect yourself as well as break chains of transmission through you to others.
Text on image: Dr Bruce Aylward after 9 days visiting China's worst COVID19 hotspots
"I don't have COVID-19 - I am very low risk"
- Wash hands thoroughly
- Stay 1-2 meters from anyone coughing, sneezing or talking to you.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth [wash hands before touching]
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow
OR cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it into a bin immediately.
and you too can be protected from COVID-19
This international team of experts toured the worst virus hotspots in China (they didn’t speak to the sick patients or their contacts but they spoke to people who might have the disease and not know it). They did wear masks but this was only because it was Chinese policy - the masks are mainly to protect others from your coughs.
They came away again confident that they are not contacts for the virus and didn’t need to be quarantined before talking directly to the press. You can do the same by following the same instructions. See this link for details including how to wash your hands thoroughly with a video of Dr Tedros demonstrating: