Johnson’s coronavirus adviser says Government may need to return to ‘herd immunity’…

“Britain has “painted itself into a corner” with no clear exit strategy from the coronavirus epidemic and needs to reconsider herd immunity, accaording to a senior government adviser. A prolonged lockdown risks causing more suffering than the virus itself, Graham Medley, the government’s chief pandemic modeller, has warned. He said that the country needed to face the trade-off between harming the young versus the old. Professor Medley, a member of the key scientific body that is guiding the government’s response, told The Times that Britain must consider allowing people to catch the virus in the least deadly way possible rather than letting unemployment, domestic violence and mental ill health mount indefinitely.” – The Times

  • It could last until May, a senior government adviser says – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Please stick with it’, urges the Prime Minister – The Sun


  • Coronavirus death rate could peak in UK at Easter… – FT
  • …although Health Secretary says remarks were ‘over-interpreted’ – The Guardian
  • Symptom app suggests 1.9 million Brits are infected – Daily Mail

>Today: MPs Etc.: Coronavirus Count

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Sunak soars to our highest-ever standing in this month’s Cabinet League Table

…as Hancock threatens even stronger measures…

“The coronavirus lockdown could be tightened if the public flouts social-distancing rules with a warm weekend expected, Government sources have warned. With temperatures expected to hit almost 20 degrees Celsius, ministers including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, warned that the warm weather was not an excuse to break the lockdown. One source suggested public spaces including parks could be shut if people defied the warnings. The number of UK coronavirus deaths rose to 3,605 yesterday, with total cases at 36,168. Mr Hancock was asked during his Downing Street press conference if the UK might follow France by “stationing police at railway stations and installing motorway checkpoints”, and responded: “We rule nothing out in terms of further social distancing, if that is needed, or further enforcement of social distancing.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tory civil war – ‘Draconian measures are enough!’ – Daily Express
  • Brits still won’t be told to wear masks – The Sun
  • Germany’s virus response shines unforgiving light on Britain – FT


  • Italians singing from different hymn sheets as coronavirus fatigue sets in – The Times
  • WHO accused of whitewashing Chinese response – Daily Telegraph


  • Every one of us can be a life-saver just by following the medical advice – Sir Simon Stephens, The Sun
  • Despite what Hancock says, the Government’s policy is still herd immunity – Anthony Costello, The Guardian


…and ‘bumbling’ quangos feel the heat as Whitehall blame game begins

“When Matt Hancock, the health secretary, tweeted last weekend that the government had met its target of carrying out 10,000 tests a day it seemed like a rare piece of good news. By Monday, the claim began to unravel. It turned out that barely 9,000 tests had been carried out and the number of patients checked was even lower. Ministers blamed Public Health England (PHE) for giving them incorrect information. PHE, in turn, said the problem was faulty data from the NHS. As pictures emerged of a deserted drive-through testing centre at Chessington World of Adventures, in baffling contrast to the demand for tests from the NHS front line, aides vented their dissatisfaction at PHE and were hardly mollified when it disclaimed responsibility.” – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak’s relief measures. How are they working on the ground? Some views from Conservative MPs.

Matthew Parris: Confusion over quarantine rules will lead to mutiny

“There’s a growing danger that as the novelty of being holed up wears off and spring air quickens our appetite for fun and freedom, our fellow citizens, who are not stupid, will conclude that the rules don’t make sense. They’ll resent unsatisfactory explanations from inarticulate police constables. They’ll start making the best — which is unachievable — the enemy of the good, and the power of the viral idea of quarantine will turn angrily upon the feebler but necessary thing we’re trying to do. When an official ruling goes over the top (Milford Haven Port Authority yesterday banned waterfront householders from using their kayaks in case they need to be rescued!) they should know that they are not erring on the side of caution but sabotaging popular respect.” – The Times

  • Inflexibility of our lumbering NHS is why the country has had to shut down – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers must focus on an exit strategy to save our economy and the NHS – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • Johnson will be judged on the next four weeks – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Mediocre, self-regarding institutions have mishandled this crisis from the start – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Health Secretary calls for volunteers for ‘world’s largest’ Covid-19 trial

“The NHS has launched the world’s largest clinical trial for coronavirus treatments – and needs more patients to take part. Researchers crunched a year of planning and regulatory approval into just nine days and have almost 1,000 volunteers already. But the Health Secretary tonight called on more patients to take part – with the approval of their doctors – adding that the “bigger the trials, the better the data and the faster we can roll out the treatments”. Matt Hancock said that research on treatment for Covid-19 was “essential to our plan” for tackling the epidemic… Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said doctors would approach suitable coronavirus patients about taking part in clinical trials in the UK.” – The Sun

  • Nightingale hospitals will strain NHS staffing to limit, warn doctors – FT
  • How pandemic is set to future-proof the Health Service – The Times

Testing firms ‘blindsided’ by 100,000-a-day target

“Testing manufacturers have said they were blindsided by the government’s promise to carry out 100,000 tests a day as they warned the target is unlikely to be met because of global shortages. The head of the trade body for the diagnostics industry said Matt Hancock, the health secretary, had made no mention of specific targets in a meeting on Wednesday evening, meaning they were unaware of the ambitious pledge made at a press conference the following day. Doris-Ann Wiliams, chief executive of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA), said members were sceptical they could meet the new goal because of global shortages of specialist chemicals and testing kits.” – The Times

  • Hancock admits that antibody tests have so far failed to work – The Sun
  • Not enough equipment to honour pledge – Daily Mail
  • Scientists ask for more detail on UK’s coronavirus testing target – FT
  • Ministers plead for companies who can help to step forward – The Sun

Starmer refuses to rule out government of national unity

“Keir Starmer is refusing to rule out joining some kind of government of national unity as the UK faces its biggest crisis for generations. Sir Keir, who is expected to be anointed as the new leader of the opposition Labour party, has told friends he does not think there is likely to be a realistic offer of a coalition to help tackle the coronavirus crisis from prime minister Boris Johnson, not least because the Conservative party has a majority of 80 seats. “It’s not likely or necessary,” said one colleague. But one senior ally said if the offer to join a unity government was made it would be “hard to say no” given Sir Keir’s “statesmanlike” instincts. “You can’t appear to be churlish to the British public when there is a crisis and people are dying,” he said.” – FT

  • Millionaire set to be crowned Labour leader – The Sun
  • Labour’s women ‘will rise again’ under Sir Keir – The Times

The Left:

  • Corbyn accused of planning ‘vanity tour’ after stepping down – Daily Telegraph
  • McDonnell calls for wealth tax to pay for coronavirus measures – The Guardian


  • Corbyn, a leader whose time has finally come – Henry Mance, FT
  • Rejoice! His abysmal and failed Labour leadership is nearly over – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Exit Corbyn – just as Corbynism has never been more relevant – Andy Beckett, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: Which Starmer will we get as Labour’s new leader this weekend? Radical Starmer? Or Safety First Starmer?

Putin testing Britain’s resolve during crisis, expert warns

“Russia’s ‘unprecedented’ decision to send seven state-of-the-art warships through the English Channel was a deliberate show of force by Vladimir Putin aimed at resting the UK’s ability to respond in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a naval expert said. Last week’s incident, coming as it did at a time when the world is facing the collective onslaught of COVID-19, was seen by many as a deliberately timed act of provocation by Russia’s President. Furthermore, Iain Ballantyne, Editor WARSHIPS International Fleet Review, pointed to military exercises in the east Mediterranean carried out against “mock enemy” – commenting: “That can only mean NATO.” With the total number of confirmed cases hitting 900,000 according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre, much of the world is under lockdown.” – Daily Express

>Today: Book Reviews: Scottish nationalism is motivated more by anti-English hatred than by rational argument

News in Brief:

  • The Smarties Stasi doesn’t mean Britain is becoming a ‘police state’ – John Ashmore, CapX
  • Our freedoms will soon need championing more than ever – Jack Powell and Matt Gillow, 1828
  • Can they really arrest you for walking the dog? – Adam King, UnHerd
  • Ventilators aren’t a panacea for a pandemic like coronavirus – Dr Matt Strauss, The Spectator
  • Did Corbyn succeed in moving Britain Leftwards? – Graham Stewart, The Critic