You couldn’t make this up…

From Politico London Playbook

COMPUTER SAYS OH NO: Health Secretary Matt Hancock will come to the Commons this afternoon to make a statement on last night’s astonishing admission by Public Health England that a “technical issue” meant nearly 16,000 positive coronavirus cases weren’t registered on its data system between September 25 and October 2. Playbook is told Hancock will be up in the House around 3.30 p.m.

WHAT WENT WRONG: The problem occurred when test result data from labs wasn’t successfully transferred onto the actual dashboards that report the numbers. PHE says some files containing positive test results — unbelievably — exceeded the maximum file size that can be loaded onto their central system, and so they were missed. It’s now splitting the large files into two so it doesn’t happen again. Seriously.

HOW THAT LOOKS: Most of the missed cases happened during the last three days of the mess-up. On September 30, the official figure given was 7,108 positive results, but another 3,049 were missing. On October 1, they originally reported 6,914 cases, but 4,133 more weren’t counted. On October 2, the original figure given was 6,968, though another 4,786 cases were missed.

IN OTHER WORDS: Brief hopes within Downing Street and the department of health last week that the “rule of six” might be working and that cases were starting to flatten have been royally dashed. But the 10,000-plus jump on the previous day’s figures isn’t a reflection of the true rate of new infections either.

WHY THIS MATTERS: It isn’t just a stats error. The real problem is that the 16,000 missing positive cases were not contact traced, meaning a dangerous potential for carriers to have spread the virus further as NHS Test and Trace races to go through the backlog. Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth says: “This is just shambolic.” Hancock is in for a kicking in parliament later.

WORLD-BEATING LATEST: A blame game is already brewing between Tory peer Dido Harding’s Test and Trace and PHE. Some in Whitehall are pointing the finger straight at their favorite PHE punching bag, with one official telling Playbook: “This is another sad example that PHE is not fit for purpose and needs genuine root and branch reform. If we are honest, everything they have touched in the last nine months has turned to complete sh*t.” But PHE says it’s Test and Trace’s fault. A PHE official tells Sky’s Rowland Manthorpe: “We report the data when they send it. We didn’t get it.” There will be a lot more on this to come today — all under the subtext of PHE’s imminent abolition, to be replaced by a new public health body run by … Dido Harding.

The Monday Morning Quote #625

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that.”

Jeff Bezos

24th September 2020

I’m embracing change and experimenting with new formats, the blog today and in the future will have more snippets, links and shorter stories. The intention is to reflect more about the world in which we live, my influences, interests and information that I can share. The podcast is going to evolve as well, but not until early October when the next season starts.

My congratulations to Eddie Crouch who has been elected the new chair of the British Dental Association’s Principal Executive Committee. These are challenging times for everyone involved in the world of Dentistry and I have no doubt that Eddie will provide good leadership. Good luck Eddie. He said, “My responsibility is to listen and to lead. I intend to work with staff and representatives from across the profession in all four nations to set a direction that improves on the benefits our members enjoy, secures the future of the organisation and builds its influence. And now, more than ever, it means providing an Association that colleagues want to be a part of.” Full story here

This quote about Eleanor Roosevelt reflects where I am in my life at the moment. “ER said the same thing, as long as there were still things to do, as long as her life had a purpose, she wanted to keep living. As soon as there stopped being a purpose, she wanted to die, and she did.” The quote came from Dave Winer’s blog, Scripting News. He says of himself, “I have no time to think about what happened in the past, except in ways it makes me wiser about things I do now and in the future, and if it makes people more open to the idea that I might be doing something of significance. Having recently toyed with idea of “retirement” I can agree with that, what would I do except what I enjoy and find interesting?

RIP Harold Evans. I am old enough to remember the colour supplements first appearing in the Sunday Papers. For a brief period in my late teens I managed to persuade my father to buy The Sunday Times, which Evans edited for 14 years, and I paid for The Observer; I spent all day on a Sunday immersed in them, it’s fair to say many of my attitudes and opinions were formed in those days in the late 60s/early 70s. I admired him more when I read that the reason he left the Times, having been appointed by Rupert Murdoch, was because of his opinion of Margaret Thatcher. Reuters obituary here.

A piece of music now and then does nobody any harm – I have loved this since I first heard it on an album called the John Renbourn Sampler, bought in a sale in WHS York in 1972.

The Monday Morning Quote #624

There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.

from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Monday Morning Quote #623

Growth begins where adversity starts.

Unknown – via Jonathan Trott

The Monday Morning Quote #622

“Everything will be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.

Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

(thanks to Mark Kermode)

A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19…

— and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged

Conclusion: Covid-19 is like a burglar who slips in your unlocked second-floor window and starts to ransack your house. Once inside, though, they don’t just take your stuff — they also throw open all your doors and windows so their accomplices can rush in and help pillage more efficiently.

“Great piece of general explanation. Long read but worth it. Renewed my determination to try to avoid catching the disease.” This is lifted from John Naughton’s Blog Memex 1.1 which is essential daily reading.

Read a closer look at the Bradykinin Hypothesis

The Monday Morning Quote #621

“You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.”


The Monday Morning Quote #620

“Keep the company of those who seek the truth; run from those who have found it.”

Vaclav Havel

“A uniquely difficult situation”

Taken from Newcastle University’s otherwise helpful guide to the dog’s dinner of the A-level results.

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