Infection Survey

Masks Have Made No Meaningful Difference to Delta – Oxford Professor

Professor Jim Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute and Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford, has pointed out that, despite England dropping its mask mandate in July while Scotland kept its one in force, there is no evidence of this policy making any difference in the two countries’ infection rates. He writes:

The ONS survey results on prevalence shows that the Scottish and English approach to masking, although formally different since July, has made no meaningful difference to Delta. In both countries very high levels of prevalence have continued for months. Thus the new changes announced are unlikely to have much of an impact if Omicron does indeed spread rapidly.

You can see the ONS graphs below for yourself, and he’s right. Yet the Government has re-imposed masks in schools, shops and on public transport, despite there being no evidence that they make any significant impact on the spread of disease.

The New ONS Study Claiming Masks Cut Infection Risk in Half and Vaccines are Better Than Natural Immunity is Riddled With Problems

What do you do when people have spotted that infection rates are higher in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated and are spreading this ‘misinformation‘ on the internet?

It appears that you commission the ONS to come up with a model that fixes the problem. Or rather, in this case, three models.

The ONS on Monday published a new ‘technical article‘ based on its Covid Infection Survey that provides “analysis of populations in the U.K. by risk of testing positive for COVID-19”. It covers the two-week period August 29th to September 11th, though regular updates are now promised.

It involves no fewer than three models, briefly summarised as:

Our first model, Model 1 (the core model), predicts the likelihood of an individual testing positive based on general demographic characteristics in order to help identify broad groups where infections are persisting or arising. …

We then built upon Model 1 resulting in Model 2, the screening model. This includes the core demographic characteristics from Model 1 and incorporates other characteristics individually to identify other factors associated with testing positive for COVID-19. …

Finally, Model 3 (the behaviours model) adds behaviour variables to the core demographic characteristics from Model 1 and the screened characteristics that were kept in Model 2.

I’m sure this talk of models built on models is filling you with confidence.

I’m not sure it filled the authors with very much confidence, though, as their main findings are stated without specific figures:

● People who had received one or two doses of a coronavirus vaccine were less likely to test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the fortnight ending September 11th 2021.

● People living in a household of three or more occupants were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 in the fortnight ending September 11th 2021.

● Those in younger age groups were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 in the fortnight ending September 11th 2021.

● People who never wore a face covering in enclosed spaces were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 in the fortnight ending September 11th 2021.

● Those who reported socially distanced contact with 11 or more people aged 18 to 69 years outside their household were more likely to test positive for COVID-19, in the fortnight ending September 11th 2021.

The media made much of the mask finding, with the Mail declaring: “People who don’t wear face masks indoors are up to TWICE as likely to test positive for Covid.”

Confusion Over Whether Cases Are Rising or Falling

According to MailOnline, daily Covid cases in the U.K. fell for the ninth consecutive day in a row today.

Britain’s daily covid cases fell again today for the ninth day in a row, amid mounting confusion over true state of the third wave.

Department of Health bosses posted 29,622 cases – down 18.6% on last week.

In another glimmer of hope, hospitalisations (927) and deaths (68) appear to be slowing down – with both measures up just 6% on last Friday.

However, it cannot be true that daily cases have fallen for the ninth day in a row since they stood at below 25,000 on July 26th and now stand at 29,622. It appears that MailOnline means that this is the ninth day in a row in which the daily toll is less than it was exactly one week before.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s Guardian reported that daily cases had gone up for the second day in a row:

The daily number of Covid cases reported in the U.K. has risen for the second day in a row, although experts have cautioned against drawing premature conclusions from the fluctuations.

On Thursday, 31,117 cases were reported in the UK, up from 27,734 the day before, which marked the first rise in cases since July 20th.

To further complicate matters, the ONS published its weekly infection survey today and reported that the percentage of the population testing positive has increased slightly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland compared to the previous week, although it’s fallen in Scotland: