Covid Cases by Age/location App (England only)

[Edit 10th November: Mac app has been updated to fix a crash. Also macOS 12 is no longer in beta so if you are up to date you should be able to use the app.]

I was hoping I could publish the little app I've written to get updates of the data I want about case rates by age that weren't easy to get directly from the UK government website. The data is there but needs downloading and viewing in spreadsheet or database to get to the case data by age and I didn't find good ways to keep my analysis up to date.

To try the app you will either need to build it yourself from source with Xcode to use it on iPhone or iPad or you can install on a Mac but only if you are running macOS 12 (which at the time of writing is still in beta).

To learn more about the app see this post on my more technical blog.

Resignation as Parent Governor

I cannot fulfil duty to ensure the school is "as safe as reasonably practicable"

[This post has been edited since the original publication to remove references to the particular school and the Principal as the main problem is the government guidance which is being followed].

I have resigned as a parent governor and as a director of the trust of the secondary school because government guidance has made it impossible to fulfil my duty as a governor and under Health and Safety legislation to ensure that the school is safe for students from COVID-19. I will not be complicit in the government's plans that will inevitably lead to a massive scale of infections and a great deal of harm on a national level.

The current guidelines and policies may have been appropriate if the cases were at very low levels but that is not the current situation either locally or nationally with case rates higher in the 10-19 age range than at any point before this summer in Surrey Heath. Given how fortunate we have been in Surrey Heath to have low cases until this point (about 11% of 10-19 children in Surrey Heath have had confirmed cases of COVID at any point) we are actually more vulnerable now as there will be little natural immunity amongst school children.

I want to be clear that the school is fully sticking to the government guidance, going further in some places and the Head has expressed his willingness to go respond effectively in the event of outbreaks which I welcome. I have no reason to believe that any other local schools are in a substantially better position. Most of the information in this document has been conveyed to the Head in slightly different form, there may be some minor data updates or new different links to research that have not been shared if I didn't think that they were significantly persuasive.

I very much hope that I'm wrong as to the level of increase and the likely serious harms and I keep looking for evidence that it is safer than I think and not finding it or where it exists there are clear flaws in the information (e.g. studies on the safety of schools substantially covering periods when they are closed).

The exact timing is triggered by the failure of the government to announce a roll out of the vaccine programme to 12-15 year olds and local case rates continuing to rise for the 10-19 age range. 

Below I set out:

  1. Why I don't believe it is safe for children and teenagers to get Covid.
  2. The current high rates and therefore risk level especially locally in Surrey Heath.
  3. The protections that should be in place (mostly government action required and those that could be done locally would mean ignoring government guidelines).

It is not safe for children to get COVID-19

Children are at lower risk than unvaccinated adults but that doesn't mean the risk itself is low and it should be assessed in absolute terms rather than relative to other groups. It is a preventable disease (see New Zealand) and actions can be taken to remove most of that risk. The government messaging seems to be that it doesn't matter if children catch covid and they will only take stronger action if the NHS viability is threatened but there is real harm and risks that they are glossing over, especially with the Delta variant (now absolutely dominant in the UK). In the US many states ICUs for children are full and there are real problems, especially where masks were discouraged.

Resignation as Surrey Heath CLP Secretary - Resignation letter

I've resigned as Surrey Heath CLP Secretary today over the leadership's actions. This is my letter to Keir Starmer.

[UPDATE: 27th October. Note that the letter was written before Labour policy on COVID shifted to being for a circuit breaker lockdown. I'm not sure that is enough but it is a decent position and COVID wouldn't have been included in this letter if it was written now. It might though also contain views on abstentions on the Covert Human Intelligence Services Bill and some other abstentions instead.]

Letter to my MP - Michael Gove - Brexit, you own it, now prove me wrong

Dear Michael Gove,

Please prove me wrong.

Your government seems set to take an irreversible and damaging step for the country this Friday. You take this step without the informed consent of the country as you have articulated no consistent achievable direction with the big decisions left up in the air apparently not even agreed by cabinet that come after Friday. You have the Parliamentary majority to enable you to do this but as is normal that majority was won on a minority of the national vote. You take the step of exit from the EU without my consent and against my will and the same is true of many others.

Election 2019 - Disappointment, What Happened, What Next

Clearly the election result was very disappointing. Emotionally I’m taking it much better than the referendum. Possibly because it wasn’t as much of a surprise (I hoped it could be better and came up with a number of reasons why it might and the polls turn out wrong but they were broadly right).

Possibly the other reason why I’m taking it better is that I did what I could, unlike in the referendum I got out and campaigned and did my best. Mostly in the target marginal of Reading West (which we didn’t gain but got closer against national trends). We also held Reading East so my decision to work for a gain rather than defend didn’t come at a cost. I decided to go for the gain as it was clear from the start that southern gains would probably be necessary to stop a Tory majority, just holding what we had would mean defeat anyway so I worked for the gain that could have been crucial (although it didn’t happen and it wouldn’t have been crucial in the end).

Where we Failed