(International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Covid-19 discussion, bring your own statistics
Post Reply
Pedantica
Gray Pubic
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:42 pm

(International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by Pedantica » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:09 pm

Couple of maps I saw on Twitter this evening:

First one shows Covid prevalence in Belgium by county:
Belgium Covid.jpg
Belgium Covid.jpg (193.63 KiB) Viewed 410 times
Second one shows Belgium by language spoken:
Belgium Language.jpg
Belgium Language.jpg (62.69 KiB) Viewed 410 times
The next one is much less detailed but also striking. Covid rates in Switzerland by language spoken with comparisons with neighbouring countries:
Switzerland Covid.jpg
Switzerland Covid.jpg (48.87 KiB) Viewed 410 times

User avatar
shpalman
After Pie
Posts: 1987
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by shpalman » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:34 pm

Bear in mind that there are lots of Italians who work in Ticino.
molto tricky

User avatar
sTeamTraen
Catbabel
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:24 pm

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by sTeamTraen » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:12 pm

The problem is that there are so many numbers to choose from. For example, as I understand it, the map of Belgium in post #1 shows current cases *for the last week or so*, whereas the map of Switzerland is all deaths *since the start of the pandemic*. We might ask, what do the current cases look like in Switzerland, or the all-2020 deaths in Belgium?

For what it's worth, here (source here) is the map of cases in Belgium on 1 April this year. The great majority are in Flanders. (I'm not sure if these are corrected per head of population, but in any case, the bulk of the problem was clearly in the north of the country then.)

number-of-confirmed-cases-per-municipality.jpg
number-of-confirmed-cases-per-municipality.jpg (60.53 KiB) Viewed 383 times
And here (source here) is the distribution of the total cases that had been registered by mid-July. This one definitely is corrected per head of population. Looks pretty even to me; maybe a bit darker around Limburg (Dutch-speaking).

800px-Spread_of_COVID19_in_Belgium.png
800px-Spread_of_COVID19_in_Belgium.png (541.54 KiB) Viewed 383 times
Also, health policy in Belgium is somewhat decentralised, both at the levels of communities and provinces. And the Netherlands, which is reasonably culturally close to Flanders but has a different (and fairly centralised, but not entirely) health policy, has among the highest new infection rate in Europe at the moment.
Something something hammer something something nail

Pedantica
Gray Pubic
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:42 pm

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by Pedantica » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:32 pm

shpalman wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:34 pm
Bear in mind that there are lots of Italians who work in Ticino.
Yes I assume more frequent familial and work-related contacts between French/German/Italian speaking Swiss and their respective language sharing neighbours. Even so the statistics do seem extraordinary. It's almost as if those relationships are more important than anything going on within Switzerland.

I'm sure iabmctt but my initial reaction looking at that map is it's difficult to say if Swiss policy has had any effect on the rate of deaths in the country at all. Which would be extraordinary if true. And I think interesting even if it's just "a bit true" or "more true that we'd have expected."

My assumption was that behaviour as well as factors like geography and demographics would all be important but that policy effects would be clearly visible. If they are not, or they are hidden by noise, that has some fairly major implications. Not least the fact that it would be very difficult if not impossible to determine the efficacy of policies.

Pedantica
Gray Pubic
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:42 pm

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by Pedantica » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:33 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:12 pm
The problem is that there are so many numbers to choose from. For example, as I understand it, the map of Belgium in post #1 shows current cases *for the last week or so*, whereas the map of Switzerland is all deaths *since the start of the pandemic*. We might ask, what do the current cases look like in Switzerland, or the all-2020 deaths in Belgium?
Yes. Completely take your point that it could be cherry picking. There are lots of dates and statistics to choose from to find a graph that fits a pattern.

However counter to that would it be fair to say that early graphs are more likely to be affected by the "noise" of early infection hotspots due to travel with infected countries. Whereas more recent ones 8 months in or "all deaths" are more likely to be due to differences in behaviour or at least be less affected by early noise?

User avatar
sTeamTraen
Catbabel
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:24 pm

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by sTeamTraen » Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:10 pm

Pedantica wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:33 pm
However counter to that would it be fair to say that early graphs are more likely to be affected by the "noise" of early infection hotspots due to travel with infected countries. Whereas more recent ones 8 months in or "all deaths" are more likely to be due to differences in behaviour or at least be less affected by early noise?
The "travel hotspots" thing only works up to about mid-March, I think. I've seen estimates that there were 100,000 infections per day in the UK on the day the lockdown started, by which time it was pretty much everywhere except the far corners of the country.

What seems to be emerging now is that there is no safe level of unlockdown. Going from 6 to 10 people allowed at a dinner party doesn't mean that 6 was safe and 10 is now; it means that the politicians think that they can manage the growth that will happen with 10. Unfortunately the rate of random transmission in people's other interactions (especially when maskless) means that you can't afford that move from 6 to 10.

I'm a miserable sod whose friends are scattered around the world and don't meet them IRL very often anyway, but for people whose lives rarely take them more than two miles from their house and revolve around informal social interaction, it's going to be tough.
Something something hammer something something nail

User avatar
shpalman
After Pie
Posts: 1987
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by shpalman » Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:50 am

shpalman wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:34 pm
Bear in mind that there are lots of Italians who work in Ticino.
I also note that the git I get my numbers from doesn't even bother updating Ticino over the weekend.

They look like they don't have many cases, but they don't have many people there either; compared to Lombardy, it's a bit more than half the population of just the province of Como. 350,000 vs. 600,000.

Ticino is on 3907 cases while Como is on 4831, and there's a 7-day average of about 30 per day in both. It also seemed like Ticino was never that much locked down, compared to Lombardy.
molto tricky

User avatar
Woodchopper
After Pie
Posts: 1855
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:29 am

Back to the OP, daily cases in the Netherlands have been shooting up. https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus/ ... etherlands

The Netherlands have the closest culture to Flanders. So it doesn’t look like dutchish culture makes a big difference.

That said there do appear to be cultural differences which affect responses to Covid. East Asians appear to be much more amenable to mask wearing for example. Including those who’ve emigrated to Western countries.

User avatar
shpalman
After Pie
Posts: 1987
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by shpalman » Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:35 pm

shpalman wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:50 am
shpalman wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:34 pm
Bear in mind that there are lots of Italians who work in Ticino.
I also note that the git I get my numbers from doesn't even bother updating Ticino over the weekend.

They look like they don't have many cases, but they don't have many people there either; compared to Lombardy, it's a bit more than half the population of just the province of Como. 350,000 vs. 600,000.

Ticino is on 3907 cases while Como is on 4831, and there's a 7-day average of about 30 per day in both. It also seemed like Ticino was never that much locked down, compared to Lombardy.
I just noticed that someone decided they could be bothered to update Ticino's numbers this weekend, now that it seems to be hitting a new case rate of 40/100,000 per day.

For comparison, Como is maybe around 30/100,000 per day and Lincolnshire maybe 20/100,000 per day.
molto tricky

User avatar
shpalman
After Pie
Posts: 1987
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by shpalman » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:43 pm

At https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... ghen-rules
Switzerland’s government announced new restrictions would come into force on Monday, including a ban on gatherings of more than 15 people in public places and mandatory masks in all indoor public places including cinemas and shops.

Masks will also be required in train stations and airports, as well as on public transport. Homeworking is recommended, the government said, while customers will have to be seated to be served in restaurants and bars.
They're a bunch of idiots for not having specified all that ages ago.
molto tricky

User avatar
sTeamTraen
Catbabel
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:24 pm

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by sTeamTraen » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:40 pm

shpalman wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:43 pm
At https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... ghen-rules
Switzerland’s government announced new restrictions would come into force on Monday, including a ban on gatherings of more than 15 people in public places and mandatory masks in all indoor public places including cinemas and shops.

Masks will also be required in train stations and airports, as well as on public transport. Homeworking is recommended, the government said, while customers will have to be seated to be served in restaurants and bars.
They're a bunch of idiots for not having specified all that ages ago.
Switzerland is *really* decentralised, so up to now most of this stuff is decided at the canton level. #1 son (who lives on the border and spends half his time in Switzerland) tells me that the cantons have been forming little groups to have common policies, in an attempt to reduce the large number of "different rules across the road" situations that have arisen. Maybe the federal government got tired of all the games. One of the many things that could emerge in COVID world is a desire for consistency, albeit at the cost of centralisation, rather than the pretence of "autonomy" when there's probably only one right answer anyway.
Something something hammer something something nail

User avatar
dyqik
After Pie
Posts: 2462
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by dyqik » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:26 pm

My first thought on the thread title, without looking further, is that it's a false dichotomy.

Most likely you need policy responses that match well with the local culture - there are several kinds of responses that work to a greater or lesser extent, with different degrees of privacy invasion, disruption of home life and disruption of work and recreation outside the home.

Chinese style "forced" isolation in hotels/hospitals wouldn't work in most of the west. Vietnam's publishing the names of those with the virus in newspapers to allow contact tracing likewise. South Korea's massive contact tracing system might work, if it was done right, but probably wouldn't get the buy-in to work completely.

FlammableFlower
Catbabel
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:22 pm

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by FlammableFlower » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:42 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:40 pm
shpalman wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:43 pm
At https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... ghen-rules
Switzerland’s government announced new restrictions would come into force on Monday, including a ban on gatherings of more than 15 people in public places and mandatory masks in all indoor public places including cinemas and shops.

Masks will also be required in train stations and airports, as well as on public transport. Homeworking is recommended, the government said, while customers will have to be seated to be served in restaurants and bars.
They're a bunch of idiots for not having specified all that ages ago.
Switzerland is *really* decentralised, so up to now most of this stuff is decided at the canton level. #1 son (who lives on the border and spends half his time in Switzerland) tells me that the cantons have been forming little groups to have common policies, in an attempt to reduce the large number of "different rules across the road" situations that have arisen. Maybe the federal government got tired of all the games. One of the many things that could emerge in COVID world is a desire for consistency, albeit at the cost of centralisation, rather than the pretence of "autonomy" when there's probably only one right answer anyway.
One of my Swiss friends does research on viruses and got co-opted onto his local biosecurity group (he's in Basel-Land(schaft)) and is involved in a lot of this!

User avatar
shpalman
After Pie
Posts: 1987
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: (International Comparisons) Which is more important: Culture or Policy?

Post by shpalman » Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:23 pm

molto tricky

Post Reply