Can we afford to keep the lockdown going until a vaccine is found?

For those people who want the lockdown to continue for a year or so until a vaccine is found, and think the government will just pay the wages of anyone furloughed, bear in mind that currently 6.3 million workers have been furloughed.

Suppose the government pays them £20 000 a year on average. That’s £126 billion a year, almost the same as the whole NHS budget.

If the furloughed numbers doubled, which they probably would do if the lockdown keeps going and going, then we are talking £252 billion a year, almost a third of the total UK government budget for 2019 (which was £821 billion).

And the tax income to even try to pay for all this would drop like a stone. 2018-19 saw £623 billion in tax come in, which wasn’t anywhere near enough to pay for everything the government spent on in that year. You could easily see this tax income halve (or more), as job numbers fall off a cliff, and businesses go bankrupt or fail, and spending drops hugely so VAT income also drops hugely.

If that happened we’d have a tax income of about £310 billion, and a spend of about £823 billion + £252 billion = £1.075 trillion, leaving a deficit for the year of £765 billion, which would be the greatest financial disaster ever to hit the UK.

We could reduce other government spending to bring this deficit down a bit, but that would make the recent supposed ‘austerity’, which the Guardianistas spent years screaming about, and supposedly killed 140 000 people, look like a hosepipe attached to Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.

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36 thoughts on “Can we afford to keep the lockdown going until a vaccine is found?

  1. I wonder how many of those who want an extended lockdown were previously moaning about the economic damage Brexit would cause.

  2. *If* an *effective* vaccine is found, you could’ve said. But given the rhetoric of the lockdownians and the actions of Bill Gates et al it appears the vaccine was perhaps created in conjunction with the virus, so it’s a given.

    Given my own (fairly large multinational) company’s communications it’s becoming clear that I will have to find other employment once the vaccine is available, since the odds of it being a recommendation – as opposed to a mandatory requisite for employment – are essentially nill.

    Goalpost tracker:

    Early 2020: You’re racist for noticing a Chinese viral outbreak
    March 2020: Give up your liberties temporarily to flatten the curve and slow infection.
    April 2020: Give up your liberties to eradicate the virus in spite of “good news” data.
    May 2020: Give up your liberties long term until a vaccine is ready.
    Future Goalpost Prediction: Give up your liberties forever. Get some back in exchange for permanent mandatory movement tracking and vaccine schedule.

  3. If a vaccine is developed it may be only partially effective like the flu vaccine. The question then is do the lockdown zealots agitate for annual lockdowns if Covid becomes an annual scourge like flu, or do they accept trade-offs like we do at the moment?

  4. Ironically, some of the remainers who didn’t trust Boris Johnson when he prorogued parliament are now happy for him to enact unprecedented powers over the population. It’s amazing how a bit of fear can drive such a volte face.

  5. Can we afford to keep the lockdown going until a vaccine is found?

    NO – Like common cold & HIV we may never develop a vaccine

    Furthermore, we have ‘Flu Vaccine, but in UK 20,000-40,000 still die with ‘Flu every year

    Over 4,000 mutations of CV-19 had been found. The most aggressive strain generated a viral load that was 270 times greater than the weakest one. Europe version is different from Asia, another in Iceland

  6. “for a year or so until a vaccine is found”: you starry-eyed optimist, you.

    You may be right but don’t bet the farm.

  7. I was actually being generous to the lockdown fanatics and assuming it would be a year, because that’s what a lot of them are saying (although some are saying 18 months, or even more).

    I think in reality that even the docile British public would not tolerate anything like a year.

  8. I’ll take a stab in the dark and say 100%. Only because ‘economic damage’ attracted the same kind of indignation then as CV-19 or “saving lives” does now, ie. not a matter of economics so much as an economic pretext for resentment and accusatory scapegoating. Practically any cause will serve so long as there’s a victim and someone to blame, and in absence of God / religion, understood as originating out of these native antagonisms as well as answering to them, they’re bound to find expression in any number of forms.

    I’d only add that the potency of the virus as a scapegoat / victim principle, what confers its advantage over ‘climate’ whose victims are imaginary, that it really kills some people, must for that reason be subject to diminishing returns as it becomes clear that the risk for almost everyone is negligible. At the same time the economic damage caused by the alarmism is bound to engender evermore real victims. Who those victims blame for their plight remains to be seen. Johnson / officialdom’s virus hubris could prove to be their, or at least his nemesis. Some might see that as just deserts. Can’t say I’d be shedding any tears for him myself if that’s how it pans out.

  9. I think you can create a venn diagram that is very interesting. Climate change, lockdown, remainer would be universally applied to a very large number.

    Use the chattering classes as your population, the media, ‘tech’ workers, bureaucrats, entertainers, and political operators and you would have a hive mind.

    As I’ve said before, it’s hard not to see this as a coup by the glorifinchians.

  10. Is it irony or is it just reflect of the fact they had no interest in parliament unless it was advancing their own goals?

  11. Hard not to see that final goal as being the goal from the beginning.

    You look at the attitudes of people who are vocal about climate change and Brexit and see their contempt for the ‘average’ person. They scream that Trump is literately Hitler, then in the same breath demand the same fascist policies that led to Stalin and Hitler.

    This is a civilisational shit test by infants who should never have been allowed anywhere near power.

  12. That’s roughly in line with the US which has lost jobs equivalent to around 10% of the population. Only the furlough scheme has stopped a similar situation here.

  13. Not to forget that the difference between government spending and income needs to be borrowed. Will there be enough lenders?

  14. People have been trying to create a vaccine against the common cold for about a century, with complete lack of the slightest success.

    Like the common cold, Covid-19 either consists of several different strains today – or, at least, soon will. Thus vaccine purveyors are always playing catch-up and guessing what will be each winter’s flavour. They vaccinate people with four or five strains – each of which weakens and distracts their immune system – only for a sixth one to infect everyone.

    Last but very far from least, according to researchers such as Judy Mikovits, it is precisely flu vaccines that may have increased the virulence of Covid-19. Even if a vaccine against Covid-19 could be devised, that might well be the start of a vicious circle through which everyone becomes weaker and weaker, sicker and sicker.

    I believe that the atrocious Western lifestyle has much to answer for. If everyone ate and drank healthily, got plenty of sleep and exercise, stopped smoking and drank alcohol in moderation, I suspect that the NHS would have half as much work – if even that.

  15. Not sure what “‘tech’ workers” applies to: people in IT or employees of tech firms? – it’s a bit of an amorphous category. If I had to pick an especially left-wing sector it would be a toss-up between Law and Banking and Finance. But commerce generally, at least in London is very left wing. The Thursday prior to announcement of lockdown, ie. the following day, I attended a presentation at the Institute of Directors on LinkedIn for Small Businesses. As an example of an unappealing image the lady presenter put a headshot of Trump on the screen. She knew her audience. There were even a few boos. That’s the norm at the IoD where it’s very right-on politically. if you’re Brexit traditionalist / nationalist etc you leave your political views at the door. And that’s the norm for business in London, not just IoD. I used to pay subs to FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) but got weary of incessant Diversity propaganda.

  16. Wots the problem? The govurnment can just print the money, init. What could go wrong?

    This lockdown misadventure should nicely illustrate that the government doesn’t have any money (wealth) except that which it takes from the people. It seems that even the Conservatives need reminding.

  17. “… the difference between government spending and income needs to be borrowed …” or printed.

    At present, governments are going with “printed”.

    Talk to the old guys — they can remember the days when someone with One Pound Sterling in his pocket at the end of an evening could buy all his drinking buddies a fish supper … and get change!

  18. “Not sure what “‘tech’ workers” applies to: people in IT or employees of tech firms?”

    It means people with manbuns who tell you they work in ‘tech’. It does not include actual software engineers.

  19. Agreed RE personal health. It’s been very telling how world leaders have shied away from preaching to their subjects about eating more vegetables and less sugar and taking their daily vitamins, at least from what I’ve seen.

    Like what that Yale harpie from a several years back yelled at the dean in front of students: “it is your job to create a place of comfort and home”. Many, many people expect that from their institutions and we must gently explain to them the concept of death, institutional incompetence, and trade-offs. Otherwise the tin pots will continue to gleefully take up the mantle.

  20. I’d amend that to Back to Work, Fund the Care Sector, Save Lives.
    Doesn’t have the same political effect though, unfortunately.

  21. The local easing here had a list of activities that ‘may not be possible’ until a vaccine is found and they expected that to be at least 18 months, this included:

    – international tourism (3rd biggest sector of local economy)
    – restricting non-essential travel (define essential, but guess it means no internal tourism)
    – concerts
    – conventions
    – professional sports
    How many of those sectors could survive that long, even if sports is TV only? Also the local government has no real power over most of these area’s

  22. This description is EXACTLY what has been done to the people in this country. And we don’t even know it.

  23. Lol Perhaps a Venn diagram with man-buns, software engineers and content creators is called for.

  24. “I believe that the atrocious Western lifestyle has much to answer for. If everyone ate and drank healthily, got plenty of sleep and exercise, stopped smoking and drank alcohol in moderation, I suspect that the NHS would have half as much work – if even that.”

    Correct, apart from the smoking, which all the evidence shows is some sort of prophylactic against CV-19. Perhaps the new normal will be for every 60+ year old to be forced by law to take up smoking as a CV-19 preventative………….

  25. Unfortunately I don’t think the government can print food.

    Although I’m sure they won’t go hungry.

  26. On smoking there’s a fascinating comment on Capitalists@Work blog from Nigel Sedgewick ( that posits the argument that differences in various country’s susceptibilities to CV-19 can be explained largely by their % of smokers, including snus takers. Germany having far more smokers than the UK, and Sweden having about the same smokers but a similar amount who take snus as well. Thus creating in those countries a body of hard to infect people, that acts as a drag on the infection rate, and effectively offers some instant herd immunity effect. It could also explain why China has been relatively less hit, its smoker % being high in men but low in women for about the same overall % as Germany and Sweden.

    I wonder if one our hosts stats gurus could draw up some figures comparing CV-19 infection rates and tobacco usage for various countries?

  27. Time to explain this one as simply as I can

    If a government spends £100 it does that by buying something – usually labour. That is taxed under PAYE, say at 20%. The £80 is then spent at the shops, which is taxed by VAT. What is left is paid to the employee who is taxed under PAYE. They then spend at the shops… And so it continues like a stone skipping across a pond.

    Once you do this simple geometric progression, you’ll find that government gets back in tax 100% of what it spends for any positive tax rate. All that changes depending upon the tax rate is the number of hops.

    If government spending goes up, the total tax take goes up – because percentages duh.

    So what is this government deficit everybody is scared witless about? Well, think what happens if you choose to keep that £50 pound in your wallet instead of spending it? The downstream spending, income and tax process stops, and a balancing entry shows up in the national accounts: Govt £-50.

    That’s exactly the same as the balancing entry at your bank when you are £50 ‘in credit”. Why are people ecstatic about being “in credit” with a bank, but terrified of being “in credit” with government? Makes no sense. The accounting entries are the same.

    In addition lots of people that were relying on your spending for income, suddenly haven’t got any. As does everybody depending upon them. That £50 you’re keeping “just in case” has reduced the speed at which money moves around the economy.

    You will have a big deficit when lots of people are saving and few people are borrowing. Like now. And that will disappear if and when people save less and borrow more – although quite why you’d want that is anybody’s guess.

    In summary there is never an issue with money in the UK. We have our own currency and it all goes around in a circle. The only people that suffer when there is a big government deficit are the banks who find their balance sheets changing to lower income assets as people pay back debt and increase savings.

    For a nation with its own free floating sovereign currency, the government always have fiscal capacity to conduct effective spending. Always. Without limit.

    Remember they don’t use Sterling anywhere else, and that money is made round to go around.

  28. @Neil Wilson

    Simplistic Bollocks. Even Lefties like Brown, Peston etc would say you’re a moron. A Ritchie student I assume?

  29. How is it simplistic? Rather than a knee jerk emotional ad hominem because your core beliefs have been challenged, why not engage with the logic and explain the problem? It’s only straightforward accounting and mathematics the average fifteen year old can grasp.

    You might then learn how you’ve been lied to all these years.

    Probably a good idea to read the book first of course : “MacroEconomics, Mitchell, Wray and Watts, ISBN 978-1137610669”.

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