What a real public-health crisis looks like

Claire Fox joins Chris Snowdon and Tom Slater to discuss coronavirus.


Why did the nanny state blob leave us so unprepared for coronavirus? Did the government u-turn in its approach? And can the government really sort this out on its own? Claire Fox joins Chris Snowdon and Tom Slater for the latest episode of Last Orders.

Picture by: Getty.

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Philip Ferguson

3rd April 2020 at 4:13 am

An interesting critical article from New Zealand: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/corona-fevers-and-the-madness-of-models/
A few critical voices are starting to be raised by a few scientists, including epidemiologists, here too. But, of course, this is heresy.

Philip Ferguson

3rd April 2020 at 3:34 pm

Yesterday the NZ Herald, the country’s largest circulation paper removed from its site an article by a leading epidemiologist criticising the panic around coronavirus. Funnily enough where the article had been a picture of a sheep took its place. I suppose the irrational response to the virus should not have been surprising. The same people enabling the lunacy around trans identity politics, sex-is-a-spectrum, a man can become a woman by magic incantation (“transwomen and women”) and so on are big into this. And people who are less taken in include people who have been taken in by the man can become woman by ‘feeling’ to be a woman. We are living in the age when Gramsci’s morbid symptoms abound.

Philip Ferguson

3rd April 2020 at 3:37 pm

Oops, incantation “transwomen are women”.

Jerry Owen

30th March 2020 at 12:28 pm

It appears that the Chinese haven’t been honest at all about the numbers infected or dead (why am I not surprised ?) by some very large margins. Until we know the exact situation in China we have absolutely no idea how long this will last or indeed when or how it will peak.

Lyn Keay

30th March 2020 at 9:29 pm

I’m not so sure about that. I’ll wait for more evidence. So far the Chinese death rate is in line with what other countries have seen. The virology seems to support the overall story. And, they let WHO in to do an extensive investigation which seemed pretty thorough.

Bella Donna

30th March 2020 at 10:47 am

I like Claire Fox she talks a lot of sense. I think we have to be extremely careful of making the cure worse than the illness! I fear what is happening is unscrupulous people using this crusis for political advantage which is despicable!

karen Walker

30th March 2020 at 8:55 am

How are you all enjoying the scam.

Authentic Being

30th March 2020 at 11:47 am

How do we fight back? How can we show dissent? Where is the voice of reason that listens to the scientists and virologists? Or is it against the law to be a covid-19 apocalypse denier? The world seems to be trying to carry on – like before but just stuck in our homes – switch the anachronistic tv shows and adverts on. Surely we have to challenge this at some point?. .. there has to be a point of no return. . . but where is it? I think the world has already been cleverly tricked into giving in – to help others, to help the old – but now we’ve gone past that point and the world is being asked to slit its own throat – I’m astonished to think that you’re all going to just allow it to happen.

MJC Harpur

30th March 2020 at 7:33 am

This beggars belief – https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/coronavirus-lockdown-derbyshire-police-buxton-peak-district-a4400546.html – the police spitefully ruining a beauty spot, with the idea that it will stop people going there. This is 17th century Puritan iconoclasm, just the same as smashing church windows to stop people enjoying their beauty. After Covid 19 it is the police which MUST be controlled… starting with the College of Policing.

Bella Donna

30th March 2020 at 10:49 am

I so agree! This type of scenario is ripe for abuse. It must be resisted at all costs!

Authentic Being

30th March 2020 at 11:51 am

I agree that this is what the story looks like. . . but aren’t these pools that bright blue colour because they are empty quarries and all of the exposed minerals leech into the water to make it acidic? I think the blue colour is what entices people.. . so they go for a swim and get bad burns. I think the black ink is an actual real deterrent. But they don’t mention it in the article. On purpose. This is obviously propaganda. Funny to see it so blatantly written.

Authentic Being

30th March 2020 at 11:54 am

jane manby

4th April 2020 at 4:12 pm

They do get the medal for the police force who employs the most village idiots

Linda Payne

30th March 2020 at 6:53 am

A great point that was made on the podcast is that we have to watch out for those anti progressives that see this lockdown as for example ‘good for the environment’ with a view of restricting our movements (in cars, trains, flying etc) in order to reduce greenhouse emissions once the crisis is over. Its nice to hear more of the dawn chorus but the last thing we need is more green taxes, environmental ‘shaming’ and a halt on developments in the future

Jim Lawrie

30th March 2020 at 11:20 am

The cats and foxes are strutting up and down my street like they own the bloody place, only breaking off from their howling to engage in the occasional fight. The dogs are indoors going nuts.

arhum raquan

30th March 2020 at 12:40 am

thats great

Jim Lawrie

29th March 2020 at 10:43 pm

Apparently those on the Dyson ventilators are picking up quite well.

Weyland Smith

30th March 2020 at 3:09 pm

Made my day 🙂

Ness Immersion

29th March 2020 at 8:38 pm

Part of the problem is that an NHS is an incredibly incompetent way to run a health service.
No one else attempts to run a national service with its attendant bureaucracy.
One of the reasons britain gets such poor value is the amount spent on bureaucracy, compliance costs etc etc.
Public Health England alone gets through over 4 billion a year.
Most other countries run their health services locally, i.e. the swiss or the danes have their service run at the commune level, it is much more responsive to local wants that way.
Also in Denmark things like ambulances are mostly run by private companies with the attendant efficiencies.
Of course the country that spends the most on health is the USA, so you have to decide whethwr it is just the sums you are looking at or how efficiently they are spent.

Jim Lawrie

29th March 2020 at 10:13 pm

“Public Health England alone gets through over 4 billion a year.” Staggering. I had no idea of that. My view of their contribution in this emergency has been one of complete disdain.

Jim Lawrie

29th March 2020 at 10:25 pm

Quite a few years ago a top class consultant oncologist in his thirties I knew was vilified for setting up a private, ad hoc, weekend facility on NHS premises to deal with the queue for varicose vein operations where he worked. He reduced it to near zero. The guy hadn’t had more than 9 days of in years. He bought a second hand sports car with his share, hence the opprobrium. Had he chosen the offers worldwide for his services he could have bought a private jet.
The cost per op was about 40% that of the regular NHS.

Hunter McDonald

29th March 2020 at 11:26 am

Why are we so unprepared? Because the Tories have deliberately run down the NHS over the last decade, so there is a shortage of 10,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses. The UK has fewer general hospital beds, respirators and critical care beds per head of population than any other developed country in the world. THAT’S WHY!!!!!!!!!

steve moxon

29th March 2020 at 12:39 pm

False. There’s been plenty of time to prepare, but governmental (civil service) organisation has been as woeful as ever it is.
Not only was the epidemic in China back in December obviously going global in a big way, but cases of a virus with exactly the symptoms of COVID-19 have been common even where I live out in the sicks in the high Yorkshire hills since October.
With the lead times we had there has been more than ample time to acquire all of the testing kits, PPE and ventilator equipment possibly needed.
There is no need to keep vast stores, nor to always maintain ICU beds at high levels in proportion of the population just in case of a pandemic, when all this too easily can be brought into place.
The problem is systemic across all of the public sector. Mr Cummings needs to swap his new broom for a bulldozer.


30th March 2020 at 8:46 am

Also if they are using data just based on premise everyone is observing lockdown, this will be wrong as thousands of (completely unchecked) people have been entering Britain from China, Iran and Italy. Its about as sensible as doing your laundry then for some reason splattering it with wet mud, then putting it away in a drawer and expecting it to be clean

Lyn Keay

30th March 2020 at 9:56 pm

Well, I’d say you were wrong there.

If you read the minutes from the governments NERVTAG advisory group things are far from clear early in the year and it wasn’t at all clear that it wasn’t going to be contained.

WRT to Yorkshire in October. There are many viruses with similar symptoms to this one. The analysis of the virus samples from China (and there are now 51 fully analysed examples) are pretty conclusive that it appeared close to the beginning of December last year. I’ve read the papers the maths & stats is sound and there arn’t any real assumptions. They don’t know the number of people who got it directly from the animal source but the papers cover the options. I’m not a virologist but these have been peer reviewed and published which is good enough for me.

There are clearly issues with the NHS and an under preparation for this. Countries who experienced SARS or MERS and have prepared for something similar are doing much better than Europe and America. But, what the scientists have proposed this year seems to be a pretty good plan given the uncertainties and limitations of equipment that we have.

Hugh Bryant

30th March 2020 at 10:21 am

“The UK has fewer general hospital beds, respirators and critical care beds per head of population than any other developed country in the world.”

That’s only so that the doctors and bureaucrats can be paid more than their counterparts anywhere else in the world.

Steve Roberts

28th March 2020 at 7:03 pm

WTF Spiked ? Two public Intellectuals, hardly challenged, going along with this irrational,disproportionate, destructive – to ordinary folks lives and freedoms – authoritarianism. Yes clever enough to mention it all critically or with no illusions- where have we heard that before- but accepting the entire premise under which all this is been carried out. OK , that’s their view, but where was the challenge to it all, because there is so much evidence and opinions that are a contrast to their passive acceptance .Absolutely disgusted.

Authentic Being

30th March 2020 at 12:00 pm

With you Steve – this is all astonishingly passive.. . we need Spiked to be the place we all hope it is. Honest, questioning, intelligent, AUTHENTIC. .. open to multiple threads of reasoning and contradicitons – not giving into knee-jerk script-running automata. .. . if not Spiked ?- where can we go? Where can we congregate and have a voice? Or is this all over already?

Lyn Keay

30th March 2020 at 10:01 pm

My issue with this approach is that I’ve yet to see anyone presenting this approach suggesting what to do about the people going to hospital who won’t be able to be treated if we don’t get down the numbers.

Initially, the lack of evidence supported a wait and see approach, but now the evidence is coming in.


28th March 2020 at 6:40 pm

‘Why did the nanny state blob leave us so unprepared for coronavirus?’ —

The UK spends far less per capita than France and Germany on public health. Ten years of Tory cuts and stealth privatisation of the NHS. An inability to understand the value of long-term public health investment. Thatcherite asset stripping of key national functions and resources. Good old fashioned greed given a superficial ideological gloss by capitalist ideologues. Perhaps now the Tories will begin to appreciate the need for massive state spending to counter national catastrophe. Capitalism is no use in a crisis.

Hugh Bryant

30th March 2020 at 10:24 am

The NHS is no different from the education system or any other aspect of UK government. It’s failing because it has become a honeypot for the vested interests of the professional classes – the inevitable consequence of over-centralisation.


30th March 2020 at 3:26 pm

Don’t worry if we go on like this we will soon be broke like Venezuala-whats their NHS like?

Dodgy Geezer

28th March 2020 at 9:30 am

What a real Public Health crisis looks like involves many dead bodies. That is why plans for makeshift morgues figures large in such emergency planning, and that is why we have reports of some being prepared.

The problem is – there aren’t a huge number of dead bodies waiting to fill them. Mortality rates are low, and I can see no increase in them. We are, actually, experiencing a very mild winter for deaths.

I wonder why this is? The press are full of scare stories and descriptions of individual tragedies – but the overall bureaucratic figure seems to contradict the idea that many deaths are happening.

Perhaps someone can tell me why this is?

Richard Procter

29th March 2020 at 1:56 pm


Exactly my point. Here are the weekly figures up to last week. Follow other links from PHE website and you’ll see the definition of a Covid-19 death is anyone who dies who tests positive for having had Covid-19. So a 90 year old dies of a heart attack, if they had previously or currently have Covid-19, is another Coronavirus death for those oh so easily available death charts. This whole thing is statistically incoherent

Richard Wheatley

28th March 2020 at 7:35 am

Claire Fox appears to be spot on as ever.

Gareth Edward KING

27th March 2020 at 9:05 pm

Re. James Knight’s comments, absolutely! Johnson was on a secure footing with the idea of acquired immunity, what happened? He caved in to pressure from the media and their ‘do something now’ hysteria. Spain has been in ‘lockdown’-I prefer to call it a curfew- for nigh on two weeks. Sweden has preferred the calmer approach which has been abandoned by the UK. Who is right? It’s not possible to say with certainty, but the statistics more than suggest that it is a virus that has an inordinate effect on the elderly, as sad as that fact may be. If you take away agency as has happened across Europe, how are people expected to see their fellow citizens as allies if they are dragooned into keeping a metre apart from each other? It’s more likely that they’ll view them as potential virus-laden enemies! It’s ludicrous that children cannot be out in the street whilst schools are closed down; they’re plenty of dogs out though! If there is no evidence to suggest that children’s role is pre-eminent in the virus’ transmission, if people were treated as adults rather than as passive bodies, then why not give them the benefit of the doubt as mature citizens?
Also, rounds of applause for the health workers every day at 8PM has become a mere ritual. I don’t see the value of it either.

Jim Lawrie

27th March 2020 at 11:38 pm

The round of applause in our street woke up some babies and toddlers, and helped their hard pressed mums and dads not one bit. One dad said “eff it” and took his wee 18 month old boy out for a walk, in the pram, in the dark. He thought it was great hoot. He is what we call up here a “great wean” – rarely cries, sweet natured and smiley. That is in danger of changing. His dad is worried that it becomes an expectation. So, we have agreed not to observe.

Jim Lawrie

28th March 2020 at 12:02 am

I agree with your curfew statement.

Where I live people are walking their dogs themselves, as the paid weekday dog walkers have been dispensed with. I was subjected to belligerence that nearly turned physical from one eejit because his dog ran up to greet me. He was in the middle of a domestic, in public, with both his wife and children. I had never met any of them. The dog came to my rescue in that he bared his teeth at said owner. Maybe he thought my refusal to touch him was down to his half witted owner.
Elsewhere I am informed that some clowns in SouthEast London are testing the water by letting off fireworks a minute ago.

James Knight

27th March 2020 at 7:14 pm

-Herd immunity is the principle behind all vaccination programs. It is how vaccination programs protect the weakest and most vulnerable. The alternative is to attempt complete eradication of every single case which few people think is realistic. The people who die from flu every year varies enormously year to year, from 2000 to tens of thousands. That is despite vaccinations. Flu is always with is, nobody suggests we eradicate or put the economy on it’s knees to stop it. So we need a sensible way to mitigate and manage the risk without trashing the economy.

A round of applause will not pay for the NHS.

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David Margison

29th March 2020 at 9:25 am

Well said, mass hysteria is not the answer. Every year 80.000 cancer sufferers lose their lives, arround 11000 people die of strokes, 40,000 die of heart attacks. Then there is alcohol and drug abuse, 15,000 a year die, couple this with the associated crime and antisocial behaviour and the problem/cost to society is ten fold. 15,000,000O people are obese, diabetis is growing at an alarming rate. Does the government ban smoking, alcohol, sunbathing, does the government give everyone a gym membership? No, do they ban cheap processed food? No. With little cost to the government, the health of this country could be transformed. Why are these simple actions not taken? Because we are not yet a nanny state, we have the freedom to choose. I wonder how many people will lose their lives through cancelled hospital procedures, through neglect, through loneliness, through shortage of medication. I suspect it will be far more the is lost to a low level virus. The government bottled it! It has joined the madness. Is this going to be an annual event? I think not, I suspect the next flu outbreak will kill tens of thousands but we:ll hear little about it.

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