Month: August 2020

Latest News

UK’s Covid death toll rises by ONE

In spite of all the hysterical talk of a ‘second wave’ this Winter and rising cases in England, the number of people who died in Britain on Sunday was precisely one. The Mail has more.

The country’s death toll is remaining low as just one person died after testing positive for the disease bringing the UK’s total fatalities during the pandemic to 41,499.

Figures on Sunday are usually smaller due to a delay in processing over the weekend.

There were no new deaths in Scotland for the fourth consecutive day. Wales and Northern Ireland each had no new fatalities for the third straight day.

Scotland reported 123 new cases, taking the total number of positive infections to 20,318.

The Mail says that 1,715 people tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the biggest daily rise in 12 weeks.

But the death toll continues to fall.

And 40 B&H Please

A reader has an amusing story.

A surreal scene, recounted to me by my elderly neighbour as he queued to pay for his groceries at the local store.

The chap ahead of him (fully masked up) got to the till and said to the girl at the checkout “and 40 B&H please…”

It’s a strange world we live in!

Perhaps the chap had heard that smokers are at a lower risk of ending up in hospital with COVID-19 than non-smokers.

Humiliation for Kim-Jong Dan

Nic Sturge-On’s Australian twin brother

A few days ago, an Australian reader cautioned me not to treat the 18-month extension of emergency powers being sought by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as a done deal – and he was right. After trying and failing to get an 18-month extension, Andrews had to settle for six. The Mail has the story.

Daniel Andrews has sensationally backed down on his plans to extend Victoria’s state of emergency by 12 months, after top doctors branded his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis a ‘slow car crash’.

A state of emergency – which gives police extraordinary powers to search, arrest and detain – was first declared in Victoria on March 16 and is due to expire on September 13 after several extensions.

Mr Andrews wanted to change legislation so it could be extended for a further 12 months, but was met with furious backlash from the public, civil rights groups and his political friends and foes.

As a compromise with upper house independents and minor parties, who vowed to vote with the Coalition next week and oppose his plan, Mr Andrews has now offered to accept a six-month extension instead of 12.

The premier is also willing to compromise on the terms of the extension and the powers the state of emergency would give police and health authorities, according to the Age.

Let’s hope the mad dictator can’t even get a six-month extension through the Victorian legislature.

Largest Academic Trade Union in UK Uses Covid as Excuse to Down Tools

Socially distanced study at Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The University and College Union (UCU), Britain’s largest academic trade union, has advised its members against returning to work because it’s “too dangerous”. The Guardian has the story.

Plans to reopen universities have been thrown into serious doubt as the UK’s largest academic union warns today that it is “too dangerous” for face-to-face teaching to resume, and calls on the government and vice-chancellors to prevent students returning to campuses this autumn.

Around one million students are expected to move around the UK as they head back to universities over the next month, which union leaders and public health experts fear could lead to a dramatic increase in outbreaks of Covid-19.

The University and College Union (UCU), which represents over 120,000 academics, lecturers and university workers, accused the government of “encouraging a public health crisis”, warning that British universities are just “weeks away” from “sleepwalking into a disaster”.

“A million young people are being encouraged to travel all around the UK, move into halls of residence and congregate in large numbers. This could lead to universities being the care homes of any second wave of Covid,” general secretary Jo Grady said in an interview with the Observer.

Jo Grady must know that the chances of the Covid death toll in Britain’s universities matching that in care homes are vanishing to zero. Readers of Lockdown Sceptics won’t need reminding that under-65 year-olds with no co-morbidities are more likely to die in a road traffic accident than succumb to COVID-19. So what is she up to?

The answer, I’m afraid, is that the UCU, like the teaching unions, is trying to exploit the crisis to score political points against the Government – and to hell with the welfare of young people.

Unforgivable.

Eye-Witness Accounts of Saturday’s Rally

A reader has emailed us to tell us about her experience at Saturday’s anti-lockdown rally. She describes it as “crushingly depressing”, I’m afraid.

I had umm’d and ahh’d about whether to attend, because I believe that all the conspiracy theorists are counterproductive to the immediate problem of getting the Coronavirus Act repealed/stopped. But I am also so worried that the governments behaviour during this very strange time is going to continue unless something big makes them change. I guess I looked at a lot of the sites with my rose tinted specs, and although I already knew that Piers Corbyn was going to be speaking tripe, Delores Cahill gave a good speech in Dublin, so I thought we’d make up another couple of bodies and get up there.

The rally was crushingly depressing. The main organisers were SORUK I think, their FB page certainly seemed to have the most sensible pre rally information regarding what NOT to put on your placards..

PLEASE think carefully about what you put on your placards, tshirts, etc…

ON TOPIC, YES MESSAGE SUGGESTIONS ARE:

*No Covid Vax
*Tell the Truth
*We want a real democracy
*Save Our Rights
*Stop New Normal
*Anything related to statistics & cover ups of the truth
*Anything highlighting the devastating effects of the lockdown (eg. cancer deaths increase, domestic violence, suicide rate increase, etc…)

OFF TOPIC, NO TO MESSAGES ARE ANYTHING MENTIONING OR ALLUDING TO:

*Bill Gates
*5G
*anti-vax (in general)
*New World Order (NWO)

Needless to say, there were plenty of placards highlighting the ‘Plandemic’ ‘5G’ ‘Bill gates, evil mastermind’ ‘NWO’. Probably 50/50 conspiracy theorist placards to those with a more reasonable message. There were no masks and no social distancing.

We arrived just before 12 and most of the protestors were in the fountain area of the square, with the speakers shouting from the base of Nelson’s Column. There was some problem with the PA system, something about the police confiscating their video screen because they hadn’t applied for the right license I think, so for the first 50 minutes we could barely hear the female voice shouting. But then they got some big speakers working and we were able to hear better, although the police helicopter that continued to circle the square for the rest of the rally did make all but the most able speakers hard to hear properly. But that is probably just as well.

It is hard to estimate the numbers of protestors, but I would suggest the numbers were more like 5,000 than 35,000.

The loons were there in number. I had no idea people were linking so many things to the virus. If you believe what they are all saying the outcome is truly apocalyptic. And worse… David Icke spoke. He didn’t actually say anything controversial, thank goodness, but he is the front man of monster raving loonies and his presence there was manna to the theorists and flattening for the rest of us.

I was unable to identify any of the other speakers apart from the three mentioned, so cannot attribute announcements to individuals I’m afraid, but we heard claims that the vaccinations would change us at a genetic level, and once changed we would no longer be considered human and could therefore be killed. We heard that the swabs used for PCR testing contained nano particles that would roam around our bodies for some reason (I didn’t hear why). We heard that something in fluoride was doing something to us (I didn’t hear what). There was chanting including ‘Choose your side’ – great unity message then.

I was tempted to leave on several occasions, but stuck it out because I felt I should try and listen to what was being said. It was a long 3 hours.

It is the first protest that we’ve attended. It was interesting to see the policing of the event. A couple of community support officers walked by, masked up, and I caught their eye and commented that I couldn’t see their lovely smiles. They engaged in a little small talk, bless ‘em, and actually posed for a photograph with me. I had a gilet jaune on with the message ‘REPEAL THE CORONAVIRUS ACT 2020. RESTORE OUR FREEDOM. ACT NOW TO STOP THE ACT. CONTACT YOUR M.P. A.S.A.P.’ A young lady saw us chatting and came and asked if she could take a photo of our backs, 2 yellow met police vests and one protestor vest. The officers agreed. The officers made sure they were facing front so they couldn’t be identified, (even though they were masked up) but I made a point of looking up and smiling at the officer next to me. I wonder if I’ll ever see that photo? The officers then started to walk off before remembering they were supposed to be doing a job, and came back to tell us that we were participating in an unlawful act by being at a gathering of so many people. We said we knew, and understood that they were just doing their job. And off they strolled. Apart from the police helicopter drowning out (thankfully) most of the speakers, we weren’t aware of much of a police presence until we had had enough, and started to stroll down towards Parliament Square.

But another reader emailed with a much more positive account.

I travelled two hours by train to the protest yesterday (no issues using the ‘exemption’ badge printed from your page – thanks) and wanted to add a couple of things to the report you published yesterday.

Firstly it’s worth people of all sorts getting out and joining these kinds of rallies. Even if you don’t agree with the 5G conspiracy, etc., the issues at stake here are far greater than that. Going by the signs held aloft and from speaking to a few people, the vast majority there were not conspiracy theorists. They were advocates for freedom pure and simple. Freedom not to be forced to take a vaccine. Freedom to question the authorities without losing your job (as happened to several speakers from the medical profession). Freedom to send your children to school without a mask. Freedom to see your family especially on their deathbeds.

Secondly it’s necessary to break the law when your basic rights, such as that of free assembly, are being suppressed. If you do so in enough numbers, the police cannot act and so the suppression will end. The entire gathering was of course illegal given its size. Almost nobody wore a mask (illegal given our proximity?). During the rally we were encouraged to hug and shake hands (illegal?) with the people next to us. It felt good, having not done that with a stranger since March. The police did try to stop the rally in a couple of ways: firstly by confiscating the organisers’ amplification and video equipment, then by trying to drown out the speakers by means of a constantly circling helicopter. We waved or made other gestures to the flying cops in a show of defiance. Even so it was slightly intimidating.

Thirdly, in amongst the nonsense of Bill Gates being behind it all, there were some really interesting ideas discussed. For example:

*’peoplescourt.org‘ intends to defend whistleblowers in the courts and hold officials promoting unagreed DNRs accountable
*apparently ‘notice of liability’ letters can be sent to teachers opening them up to charges of malfeasance if your child is adversely affected by anti-covid measures taken in school
*most interesting was a proposal to depoliticise the NHS and return hospitals and surgeries to the local institutions they once were, accountable to the patients in their areas. This would be accompanied by disbanding the GMC and other politicised medical bodies.

I left part-way through David Icke’s speech in order to catch a train but from what I heard, I noticed that even if he has some mad ideas, he had to appeal to the loss of freedom and the need to fight facism so as to get the crowd on board. I conclude from this that there is a massive body of sensible opinion out there waiting to be led by someone rational. If such a person or group would appear it could be the start of a new political group that many people traditionally from the Left and Right would join.

Stop Press: Piers Corbyn, who was arrested at Saturday’s rally, has been fined £10,000. The Standard has more.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five today: “Living in Fear” by the Power Station, “Scaremonger” by Total Science, “Nothing is Safe” by Grannysmith, “Make It Up As We Go” by Jason Derulo and “We Are Led By Fools” by Jayo From Cpt.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

This bejewelled face mask from Jacob Arabo will cost you $250,000

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 2nd to Oct 12th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 31,000).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: King David High School in Manchester is insisting that children aged 12 and above wear masks in classrooms.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (although I have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending me stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. (If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code).

And Finally…

Andy Davey’s cartoon in yesterday’s Telegraph

Latest News

Largest Anti-Lockdown Demo So Far

The pictures from yesterday’s anti-lockdown demo in Trafalgar Square are quite impressive. Some reports put the turnout at 35,000. The Express was one of the first newspapers to report on the protest.

Pictures of the large crowds show people holding signs that read “coronavirus is a hoax”, “no to mandatory vaccines” and “masks are muzzles”.

One person has claimed it is the largest anti-lockdown protest to date.

The large numbers of protesters have filled the area beneath the National Portrait Gallery.

Very few of those in attendance appear to be wearing face coverings.

A flyer for the event said the protesters would be joined by “top professional doctors and nurses speaking out”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s brother, Piers, is also due to make an appearance at the event.

The Express report was more even-handed than the report in the Metro, which began:

Thousands of coronavirus-deniers have gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against lockdowns and vaccination programmes.

And the Mail was even worse, headlining its report of the protest: “More than 10,000 COVID conspiracy theorists gather in London as police arrest Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers AGAIN: Huge crowd of anti-vaxxers led by David Icke gather to argue that virus is a lie spread in secret global plot organised by Bill Gates“.

A reader emailed me to tell me his impressions after the demo ended.

Just on my way back from the protest at Trafalgar Square. Apparently there were 35,000 people there, according to Piers Corbyn. I wonder what number the mass media will report?

On the whole it was a brilliant atmosphere. Absolutely packed with people, like an outdoor festival event. Brilliant!

My only criticism, is that the MC, Kate Shemirani (an ex-nurse apparently) was pushing some ideas that I just did not agree with. For example:

* 5G radiation will kill us all.

* The vaccine will make us all infertile and kill us all.

* Fluoride in our toothpaste is killing us and numbing our brain.

* Pandemic ideology, that this has all been planned for years/decades, etc.

It frustrates me that 5G conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers are at the forefront of the pushback. I’ve had all my jabs (MMR, BCG, etc.) and I have no issues with vaccines in general. I just don’t agree we need a rushed out vaccine to “cure” a diseases that has pretty much disappeared.

So mixed emotions, but generally I’m feeling good that so many people are waking up to the nonsense.

Meanwhile, a protest in Berlin was broken up by police at 9am, according to MSN News.

Police ordered a protest by people opposed to Germany’s pandemic restrictions to disband after participants refused to observe social distancing rules.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered at the German capital’s Brandenburg Gate in the morning before streaming down the Unter den Linden boulevard in a show of defiance against Germany’s coronavirus prevention measures.

Protesters carried a wide range of grievances and banners proclaiming their opposition to vaccinations, face masks and the German government in general.

Stop Press: There was an anti-lockdown protest in Ottawa yesterday. The T-shirts and slogans are remarkably similar to those in London and Berlin. This is a global movement.

Is the Government Preparing to Turn the NHS into a Covid-Only Service Again?

Matt Hancock gave an interview to ITV News on Friday in which he suggested plans are underway to turn the NHS into the National Coronavirus Service this winter, seemingly oblivious to the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths this misstep caused over the summer.

“We’re doing a huge amount of planning to make sure that the NHS is prepared and can cope to make sure that people can have as much freedom to enjoy Christmas, to enjoy winter, as possible,” he said.

What’s the rationale, Matt? Better to have half-empty hospitals and turn patients away just in case there’s a spike in Covid hospitalisations over Christmas? That’s like throwing people out of an aeroplane to reduce the risk of it crashing.

Alarming.

Schools Insisting on Unnecessary Face Muzzles

Yesterday, my colleague Will Jones asked readers to get in touch if their children’s schools were insisting on face coverings, even if they’re not in local lockdown areas. Needless to say, we’ve been deluged with responses.

This is an extract from a letter sent to parents at Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School

Face Covering – with regard to the revised Government guidance yesterday about the wearing of face masks in communal areas and in restricted spaces like corridors, at the moment this is not mandatory as Thanet is not in an area with increased lockdown restrictions. However the corridors in the school are very narrow and we have therefore decided that with safety uppermost in everyone’s minds we will require all students to bring face coverings with them to school and wear them in corridors and communal areas. Each student must bring plastic sealable bags to store their face covering and use the lidded bins on site to dispose of face coverings if they get wet or damaged and should also carry spares for this eventuality.

Here’s another, this one from a grandparent in Darlington which is an area of low infection.

My granddaughter attends Polam Hall School in Darlington and will be returning for the new term next Friday. We have received guidance relating to COVID-19 procedures. It says “You will be asked to wear a face covering in crowded corridors and communal areas”. So no mention of Government guidelines or the WHO in this case. However, Darlington has always been at the lower end of the scale in terms of COVID-19 cases. I keep a check via the BBC online service which allows you to enter your postcode to find out how many cases there have been. Last week there were two cases in a town with a population of just over 106,000.

This one is from a parent of a school in Cobham:

I’d like to report my school, ACS International School Cobham, bringing in a masking rule for all children aged 10-18 in indoor communal areas. In our case, this will mean everywhere except in the classroom. Cobham (district of Elmbridge) has no local spikes in infection and has no plans to introduce local lockdown of which I am aware.

I put it down to pre-emptive action due to extreme caution and ignorance of the facts. This action will, of course, make absolutely no difference whatsoever to the odds of someone introducing COVID-19 to the general school body. We have opened a book on the odds of the school shutting again. Current best guess is mid-October.

Here’s the face mask section in a letter from Guy Sanderson, the headmaster of Eltham College, a private school in Mottingham.

As I mentioned last week, students travelling on school buses or public transport will be required to wear a face covering. We have taken the decision to follow World Health Organisation guidelines and to go further than the government’s current stated positions on masks in school. Accordingly, all Senior School students should bring a mask (and ideally some spare masks) to school in addition to the mask that they wear whilst travelling to school. Students will be required to wear these between lessons when moving around corridors and for communal events such as year group assemblies. They will not need to wear them in lessons (where they impede communication) or when outside on the fields at break or lunchtime.

The parent of a child at Alcester Grammar has forwarded the rules issued by the school’s headmaster:

Face coverings should be worn
• In corridors and inside communal spaces
• Whilst queuing for entry / collection of food in the canteen, Pit Stop and Studio
• In the Theatre and Sports Hall for assemblies
• In study areas (library, Newport Study).
• On transport and when queueing for buses after school

The same parent has suggested that another verse should be added to Madness’s “Baggy Trousers“:

Risk-free kids in risk-free schools
Headmasters laying down new rules
No more fun, we’re ruled by fools
Can’t get near the woodwork tools

Do Masks Increase Risk of Transmission?

I’ve published an original article today by a senior research scientist for a pharmaceutical company on the risks posed by face masks. Here’s the kernel of the argument:

The aim of face coverings is to prevent an asymptomatic individual from infecting others. For such an individual, their face covering would become saturated with respiratory droplets containing coronavirus and in fact, the more effective the face covering, the more virus it will have captured. So if an infectious individual touched their face covering, they would potentially be contaminating their fingers with coronavirus…which they could then transfer to the next thing they touched – like a door handle, handrail or table.

Although such an individual could have still contaminated their hands and the environment whilst not wearing a face covering, the fact that the face covering has captured viral particles means that it provides a much more concentrated source of the virus. Additionally, putting a cloth covering on your face will almost certainly increase the probability that someone would touch their face to adjust or fiddle with it, especially if it is not well fitted. This further increasing the likelihood that an infectious individual would actually touch the contaminated cloth material.

Worth reading in full.

Alarmist Sage Report Says 85,000 People Could Die of Covid This Winter

According to a Newsnight report by Deborah Cohen on Friday night, Sage signed off on a report in July predicting that a further 85,000 could die of Covid in the UK between July and March 2021 in a reasonable worst case scenario. Cohen has written up her report for BBC News.

A leaked government report suggests a “reasonable worst case scenario” of 85,000 deaths across the UK this winter due to COVID-19.

The document also says while more restrictions could be re-introduced, schools would likely remain open.

But it says the report “is a scenario, not a prediction” and the data are subject to “significant uncertainty”.

However some are critical of the modelling and say some of it is already out of date.

The document, which has been seen by BBC Newsnight, was prepared for the government by the Sage scientific advisory group, which aims to help the NHS and local authorities plan services, such as mortuaries and burial services, for the winter months ahead.

Among its key assumptions are that schools will remain open and that the government’s tracing, isolation, and quarantine measures will only be 40% effective in cutting the spread of Covid outside households.

It also states that by November “policy measures would be put in place to reduce non-household contacts to half of their normal pre March 2020 levels”. In other words, restrictions to mitigate the impact – other than school closures – could be put in place.

According to the report these measures might be expected to remain in place until March 2021.

I haven’t seen this report, but what’s the betting that the 85,000 prediction is based on a static computer model that takes no account of the fact that the rise in cases since July, whether here or in Europe, has not been accompanied by any corresponding rise in hospitalisations or deaths? (The authors should read this surprisingly even-handed piece by Fergus Walsh for BBC News). Business leaders are reportedly furious about this report and the suggestion that there might have to be a second lockdown to prevent these deaths.

The assumptions built into the report, as described by Deborah Cohen, sound unduly pessimistic.

The figures, which the scientists say have a wide range of uncertainty, suggest around 2.4% of infected people could be hospitalised (range: 0.0%-8.9%) with 20.5% of hospitalised patients going into ICU (range: 1.5% – 35.25) and 23.3% (range: 1.2% – 43.3%) of all hospitalised patients dying.

The model also predicts an overall infection fatality ratio of 0.7% (0.0% – 9.7%).

While the model is by no means a prediction and subject to “significant uncertainty”, the reasonable worst case scenario is used to inform government planning decisions.

However, some are critical of the modelling and believe some of the assumptions in the “official sensitive” model prepared for the Cabinet Office are wrong and the model is unhelpful given the wide range in possible scenarios.

Prof Carl Heneghan, from Oxford University, said some of the assumptions made in the model were “implausible” and that the report assumes that “we’ve learnt nothing from the first wave of this disease”.

If anyone has a link to the report, or has a copy, please send it to the usual email address. We’ll get our team of experts to scrutinise it.

Worth remembering that last month another report, this one done at the request the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, suggested there might be about 120,000 new coronavirus deaths in a second wave of infections this winter. Why the discrepancy between that report and this?

They might as well just pick these numbers out of a hat.

You can watch Deborah Cohen’s report here.

Government Casting Call For People to Model “Spreading Germs”

An actor has sent me a casting call he received yesterday. You couldn’t make it up.

Needless to say, SARS-CoV-2 “germs” don’t show up “under a UV light”. What about a UVA light, which is what the writer of this blurb actually means? Nope. Coronavirus particles are so small you’d need an electron microscope to see them.

How the Government can persuade itself that it’s pumping out this bedwetting propaganda to counter “misinformation” is beyond me.

A Philosopher Writes…

A left-leaning, Remain-voting, Tory-averse philosopher

I got another email from a self-described “left-leaning, Remain-voting, Tory-averse” person saying he shares our scepticism about the crisis. This one is from a philosophy professor (not AC Grayling, I should point out).

I’m just writing to thank you for Lockdown Sceptics. I’m a Professor of Philosophy, working mostly on medicine and health. So I find that I’m able to digest a lot of the scientific literature and I’m also pretty good at identifying the weak points in arguments. Back in March, I thought the lockdown was an awful mistake, but I naively assumed that the situation would be reevaluated as the evidence became clearer. That didn’t happen, of course. Instead, anything that didn’t fit the established narrative was distorted until it did and then assimilated, or it was ignored. Still, I hoped that reason and evidence would prevail by now. But no, it’s masks, more masks, and then even more masks – surely they’ll help ward off the evil spirits.

For a while, I was just bemused by it all, but now I’m genuinely frightened. Can one really impose something so odious as mandatory masking on the whole population, despite there being no decent evidence in support of it? Yep, they’ll just slap the rags on their faces as a symbol of virtue and chastise anyone who doesn’t conform, so that the whole wretched thing is self-policing. I dread to think of all the things an authoritarian regime could get the Great British public to do, while barely lifting a finger.

More generally, something deeply unsettling is happening, which I really struggle to understand: somehow or other, this virus has triggered a perfect storm of reasoning biases, fears, and vices disguised as virtues, resulting in something that often looks more like the behaviour of a religious cult than an informed response to a viral pandemic.

Lockdown Sceptics is one of only a few places where I’ve consistently been able to find sensible discussions of what’s going on. So I’m very grateful to you for your efforts. Good luck to you!

That penultimate paragraph is bang on. In response, I sent him this blog post by Hugh Willbourn which flagged up a book called When Prophesy Fails by a psychologist called Leon Festinger who joined a UFO doomsday cult in the 1950s to better understand the mindset of its members. Festinger was astonished by what happened when the cult’s doomsday prophesy failed to materialise. Instead of abandoning their crackpot beliefs, the members doubled-down, coming up with spurious reasons as to why the apocalyptic prediction they’d made hadn’t come true. Festinger hypothesised that the reason these cultists refused to abandon their beliefs was because the pain of admitting they’d been wrong, and their sacrifices were all for nothing, would have been too much to bear.

Sound familiar?

Every Mistake We’ve Made So Far Predicted in 2006

Soothsayer Thomas Inglesby predicted every single mistake we’ve made in 2006 paper

A reader in the US has flagged up a 2006 paper by Thomas Inglesby, Director of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, in which every mistake that governments around the world have made in their response to the pandemic was warned against. It’s quite uncanny. The paper is called “Disease mitigation measures in the control of pandemic influenza“. Here are some highlights:

In brief, models can play a contributory role in thinking through possible mitigation measures, but they cannot be more than an ancillary aid in deciding policy…

A major challenge for all authorities charged with managing a pandemic will be how to allot scarce, possibly life-saving medical resources and how to maintain hospitals’ capacity to care for critically ill flu victims while continuing to provide other essential medical services…

The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration…

Home quarantine also raises ethical questions. Implementation of home quarantine could result in healthy, uninfected people being placed at risk of infection from sick household members. Practices to reduce the chance of transmission (hand-washing, maintaining a distance of 3 feet from+ infected people, etc.) could be recommended, but a policy imposing home quarantine would preclude, for example, sending healthy children to stay with relatives when a family member becomes ill. Such a policy would also be particularly hard on and dangerous to people living in close quarters, where the risk of infection would be heightened…

It is reasonable to assume that the economic costs of shutting down air or train travel would be very high, and the societal costs involved in interrupting all air or train travel would be extreme…

Implementing such measures would have seriously disruptive consequences for a community if extended through the 8-week period of an epidemic in a municipal area, let alone if it were to be extended through the nation’s experience with a pandemic (perhaps 8 months). In the event of a pandemic, attendance at public events or social gatherings could well decrease because people were fearful of becoming infected, and some events might be cancelled because of local concerns. But a policy calling for community wide cancellation of public events seems inadvisable…

Schools are often closed for 1–2 weeks early in the development of seasonal community outbreaks of influenza primarily because of high absentee rates, especially in elementary schools, and because of illness among teachers. This would seem reasonable on practical grounds. However, to close schools for longer periods is not only impracticable but carries the possibility of a serious adverse outcome. For example, for working parents, school serves as a form of day care and, in some areas, a source of nutritional meals for children from lower-income families. In 2005, some 29.5 million children were fed through the National School Lunch Program; 9.3 million children received meals as part of the School Breakfast Program. A portion of America’s workforce would be unable to go to work as long as children were out of schools. Heightened absentee rates could cripple essential service industries. Teachers might not be paid and a great many hourly workers (mall and fast-food employees; school janitorial, security, and kitchen staff; bus drivers) would face particular financial hardship…

And here’s the kicker:

An overriding principle. Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.

Lockdown zealots will say, “This was advice about how best to respond to an influenza pandemic and that isn’t what this is.” But in reality the coronavirus is no more deadly than a bad bout of seasonal flu and, therefore, the advice contained in this 2006 paper is 100% relevant.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Twisting and Turning” by the New Foundation, “All Out to Get You” by the Beat and “Germ Free Adolescence” by X-Ray Specs,

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 2nd to Oct 12th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now almost 31,000).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: Jenny Harries, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, says “the evidence on face coverings is not very strong in either direction”. The Mail has more.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (although I have help from lots of people, including Will Jones who will be doing these updates about half the time from now on). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email me here. And if you’re sending a link don’t forget to include the HTML code.

And Finally…

Latest News

Hospitals “Like the Mary Celeste”

Given that there’s a cancer care backlog predicted to cost up to 30,000 lives and NHS waiting lists have exceeded 15 million, the news of empty hospitals will come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the catastrophic conversion of the NHS into a National Coronavirus Service. The Telegraph has the story.

NHS surgeons are only working at around 50 per cent capacity, the president of their Royal College has revealed, despite record waiting times for crucial operations.

Official figures show that more than 50,000 people have waited a year for treatment – up from 1,117 a year ago.

It comes amid concern about a surge in positive Covid cases, with daily records showing 1,522 cases, up from 1,048 the day before. However, weekly figures show the first decline for six weeks, despite rises in the numbers being tested.

The vast majority of NHS surgery and other routine treatment was stopped for months during lockdown. 

But medics said efforts to restore services are moving too slowly, with some likening their hospitals to “the Mary Celeste” because so many patients were being kept away.

Prof Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the NHS was struggling to restore services, with a lack of routine testing for NHS staff hindering efforts to create “Covid-free” zones.

Prof Mortensen, who took up his post last month, said many patients had been left in pain and distress, following the decision to suspend routine surgery for months.

Another reminder that the lockdown has caused more harm than it’s prevented, if any.

All Children Who Died with COVID-19 Were Already Seriously Ill

Just six children under 18 have died in the UK with COVID-19 and all of them had a serious comorbidity that explains why they were affected so badly, says Ross Clark in the Spectator. This is according to a study published this week in the British Medical Journal:

The study looks at data from 260 hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales, to which 69,516 patients were admitted with Covid symptoms between January 17th and July 3rd. Of these, 651 were aged under 19 and 225 were aged under 12 months. Serious underlying medical conditions were present in 42% of the children.

Most were successfully treated on hospital wards but 116 went on to be admitted to critical care and 58 ended up on mechanical ventilation. In 52 cases, the patients were judged to be suffering from Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome associated with COVID-19 (MIS-C), a condition similar to Kawasaki disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome, that was first identified in London hospitals in March. Six children went on to die. Three were aged under 28 days, had been born very premature and had complex congenital anomalies and bacterial sepsis. The other three who died were in the 15-18 age bracket, two of whom had profound neurodisabilities which compromised their respiratory systems. The other had a suppressed immune system as a result of cancer treatment and was also suffering from bacterial sepsis. No children without a serious comorbidity of an additional illness died, and neither did any child between the ages of 28 days and 15 years. However, the age group 10 – 14 years was over-represented among those admitted to critical care.

With the risks to children so infinitesimally low, schools known not to be a major driver of infection, and flu deadlier for children than COVID-19, why are children now being expected to wear masks in schools? To be fair to the Government, they have said that only children over 12 in local lockdown zones in indoor communal areas must wear a mask (and not in classrooms) – pretty minimal, though still unwarranted. However, not all schools have understood the Government’s advice. A reader has forwarded a letter he has received from the headteacher of Congleton High School – a Mr. J Barlow – informing him that the school, which is not in a lockdown area, will be requiring pupils to wear masks in communal areas “in line with” the Government guidance:

I am sure you will be aware that the Government recently announced that they had updated the guidance on face coverings in educational settings. This is now in line with the most recent advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and recommends the use of face coverings in secondary schools for students and staff when moving around communal areas in school and on all school transport.

Has Mr Barlow simply misunderstood the advice or is he misrepresenting it to parents to justify the school’s excessively cautious approach? If you have any other examples of schools behaving in a similarly draconian way, email us here.

Police Barely Enforcing Mask and Quarantine Rules

Travellers arriving from non-'travel corridor' countries must provide full contact details in a 'Passenger Locator' form, and quarantine for 14 days

Just 38 fines have been issued by the police for ignoring mask rules on public transport, the Telegraph reports.

Police have issued fewer than 40 fines to people not wearing a face covering on public transport, new figures reveal.

The data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) shows that just 38 notices were issued by officers from June 15 when face coverings became mandatory on buses and trains.

The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has previously claimed that as many as one in 10 passengers break the rules.

Quarantine enforcement is even better worse, with just three fines issued by the police in the last month. The Telegraph again:

Police have fined just three people for breaching travel quarantine rules in the last month, new data from police forces in England and Wales has revealed.

The statistics, published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) today, show that a total of three fixed penalty notices were issued to individuals who failed to self-isolate after arriving in England from overseas.

The three fines, amounting to £100 each, were issued by Lincolnshire, Merseyside and Sussex police forces.

Under new government rules, passengers arriving back to the UK after travelling to non-‘travel corridor’ countries must quarantine for 14 days – or risk a £100 fine or further penalties. Travellers submit their quarantine location to authorities via a ‘Passenger Locator’ form, which must be filled in on arrival.

The figures apply to penalties issued between 15 June and 17 August. In the four weeks prior to this, just one fine was issued by police for flouting quarantine rules.

The NPCC statistics reflect fines issued by territorial police forces, and do not include any penalities issued by the UK Border Force

Meanwhile, in France face nappies have become mandatory for pedestrians – although the French Government did concede at the last minute it was dangerous not to exempt joggers and cyclists.

Jed Mercurio is Bedwetter-of-the-Week

Man dragged off plane by hazmat officials after testing positive for coronavirus
If only BA had responded more like Ryanair when a passenger was found not to be wearing a mask

When Line of Duty writer Jed Mecurio decided to make a fuss about passengers on his BA flight not wearing masks, staff told him “they don’t challenge non-compliance as anyone can claim exemption”. The Mail has the story.

Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio sparked debate on Twitter after suggesting flight attendants not forcing people to wear face coverings on a British Airways plane were “to blame” if production of series six of the hit show gets shut down.

Taking to social media yesterday afternoon, the Mercurio, 54, expressed his outrage that cabin crew would not challenge two maskless people in the row behind him when he was flying to Belfast.

He said a British Airways staff member told him the organisation does not require proof of medical exemption for not wearing a mask and as a result do ‘they don’t challenge non-compliance as anyone can claim exemption.’

He said: ‘So I’m on a @British_Airways flight to Belfast to self-isolate before resuming filming of #LineOfDuty and the two passengers in the row behind aren’t wearing masks and the flight attendant won’t challenge them. If we have to shut down again, you know who to blame.’

In fact, BA were only following government guidance on respect for those who are exempt, which says:

Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this, this includes exemption cards. No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering.

Well done, Jed. You are Lockdown Sceptics‘ Bedwetter-of-the-Week.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Six today: “The Wreckers” by Rush, “Gross Negligence” by The Dallas Motorcade, “Sold Us Down the River” by Lee Rocker, “You Betrayed Us” by DJ Tururu, “Broken Dreams” by Prime Minister and “Vengeance” by New Model Army. 

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate”. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 2nd to Oct 12th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now almost 40,000).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work. (Will Jones did it today.) If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. If you want us to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

Bob’s cartoon in the Telegraph on August 27th, making it clear where power lies

Latest News

Mass Gatherings Back On in Sweden

Swedish epidemiologist Agners Tegnell – not all superheroes wear masks

Another step back to normality for the country that brazenly refused to lock down. Reuters has the story (hat tip Alistair Haimes):

Swedish concert goers and soccer fans can be allowed back in venues from October after the country’s Health Agency accepted a government proposal to raise the limit for some events to 500 from the current 50. With the number of new infections and COVID-19 deaths falling in Sweden, the government said last week it planned to introduce exceptions to the 50-person maximum for events from Oct. 1. In March, Sweden limited public gatherings to 50 people to halt the spread of the virus, effectively preventing theatres, soccer clubs and concerts from being able to bring in revenues from the public. “The proposal relates to events where there are numbered seats,” the Agency’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told reporters, adding that people should be seated at least one metre apart. He said the effects of the changes would be evaluated “and if it works well, the limit can be raised”.

The ban on gatherings over 50 was one of the few social distancing measures Sweden made compulsory – though at least Swedes could still gather in groups of up to 50 throughout the epidemic, unlike here where we were placed under effective house arrest for over two months. In England, gatherings over 30 are still prohibited, with exceptions for schools and workplaces, and while the government is aiming to bring back sports events from October 1 uncertainty hangs over this, with Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty even warning that we may have to shut pubs to open schools. Sweden yet again showing that the path back to normality lies in accepting that you cannot hide from this virus forever.

Scientists and Doctors Back Herd Immunity

Is Herd Immunity Our Best Weapon Against COVID-19? | Discover Magazine

The once-maligned herd immunity is getting better press every day as more and more people accept it’s the only real way out of this debacle. Dr John Lee has one of his typically incisive analyses in the Spectator this week, adding his voice to those pointing out that immunity comes in many forms, and that antibody tests may be as misleading as PCR antigen tests in giving us a true picture of this virus:

A lot of emphasis is being placed on the presence of antibodies: if you test negative then you’re at risk. This would be alarming if true, especially as the latest official figures show just 6 per cent of Brits have tested positive for antibodies. But the real picture is, as so often, more complicated. The main way we fight viruses is through T-cell responses, which kill virally infected cells. Interestingly, some studies have shown that up to 60 per cent of people apparently never exposed to Covid-19 still had T-cells that reacted to the virus – suggesting that you might not need to have had this virus to have protection from it. It’s a hugely important theory. But T-cell responses are harder to measure than antibodies, so they are not being widely tested for. 

Now that the Brazilian city of Manaus has confirmed that a coronavirus epidemic can go into spontaneous decline when around 20% of the population has developed antibodies regardless of lockdown or social distancing, the prospect of herd immunity is looking more achievable to many. News that reinfection is possible has been countered by scientists pointing out that they never thought otherwise, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope of herd immunity. Helen Branswell at STAT has the details:

There’s been enormous amounts of debate – and concern – about how long-lasting or “durable” immune responses to this virus will be, based on a few scientific papers that suggest some people don’t develop many antibodies to the virus and others that report that those antibodies appear to decline quickly. The experts who spoke with STAT all felt that the immune responses to this virus are exactly what you would expect to see. And the case of the Hong Kong man who appears to have been reinfected underscore that, several said. “The fact that somebody may get reinfected is not surprising. But the reinfection didn’t cause disease,” said Peiris, who knows about the case but was not one of the authors reporting it. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York who studies human responses to viral infections, said it is hard to be definitive, given the limited human experience with this new coronavirus, but she said she could see no reason to believe the immune system would behave differently to this respiratory virus than to others. “So far, anyway, the evidence supports functional immunity, but the only way to see how long that will last is to follow people over time and see if those responses diminish,” she said. “The idea there is that, yes, your antibodies might wane, but your memory responses aren’t absent,” said Menachery, noting that when a primed immune system re-encounters the virus, production of antibodies would kick into gear.

Worth reading in full.

Are You in the 99.99% Group?

Image

Is this really the virus that has brought the world to its knees? Michael Bayer has posted on Twitter a table from Sweden showing the likelihood of surviving COVID-19 broken down by age, sex and underlying conditions (hat tip Ivor Cummins). Most of the population has over 99.99 per cent chance of survival, and even among the very highest risk group of men over 80 with underlying conditions around four out of five survive. The average age of those who die is 84. Yet so effective has Project Fear been that the public thinks the death toll is over 100 times worse than it is. No doubt Covid can be nasty, especially if you’re in a high risk group. But so are many illnesses, and as viruses go SARS-CoV-2 is far from the deadliest the world has seen, and seems to be getting punier. The government needs to take the lead on dialling down the panic, not stoking it up.

Blaming a ‘Mutant Algorithm’ Betrays Boris’s Ignorance

An artist’s impression of a mutant algorithm

Retired Chartered Statistician Brian Gedalla of the Royal Statistical Society has been in touch with a few words for the Prime Minister about his egregious attempt to blame an inanimate algorithm for his government’s entirely foreseeable exam grades fiasco:

The Prime Minister cannot be allowed to get away with blaming the exams fiasco on a “mutant algorithm”. There is no such thing. Algorithms are just sets of rules programmed into a computer. This algorithm was designed to produce a statistical distribution of grades according to a set of predetermined parameters. Its main purpose seems to have been to arrest the grade inflation which it was feared would be exacerbated by over-optimistic teacher assessments. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of statistics could have told Ministers and Officials that while a fancy algorithm would get the overall picture right, it was highly unlikely to be able to “assign” that distribution to individual candidates to produce a bottom-up set of results appropriate to each candidate. The fault lies squarely with the Ministers and Officials who, yet again, have demonstrated that they are essentially ignorant of any understanding of numerate disciplines. It is hardly their fault that they do not understand mathematical concepts such as risk, statistical distributions and numerical modelling: they are not trained for such knowledge. But this failure has been a recurrent theme throughout this pandemic crisis. What is surprising and disappointing is that they do not seek out advice from those who could help them. In fact, the Royal Statistical Society DID try to help. Read here the correspondence between the RSS and Ofqual.

Maybe time to listen to some new experts, Boris.

What Killed Everyone Else?

More people are waiting longer for follow-up hospital appointments

According to the ONS, during the height of the epidemic in the UK two out of every five excess deaths, or 16,000 deaths, were from causes other than “with COVID-19”, most of them a result of lack of access to medical care. This disturbing picture is coming into sharper focus now as more data comes in. The Telegraph‘s Laura Donnelly reports that the number of heart attacks detected and treated fell by 40% during the pandemic, while the number of deaths from heart attacks spiked by a similar amount:

Earlier this month, a major study found deaths from the most common type of heart attack rose by almost 40 per cent during lockdown. The research prompted warnings that the Government’s “Stay at Home” message may have had a “devastating” impact, in deterring thousands of patients in medical crisis from seeking help. Cardiologists said that people were still having as many heart attacks, but were deciding not to go to hospital, either because they were trying to follow “stay home” messages or were afraid of picking up the virus in hospital. 

The Times estimates that there are 15.3 million people currently on NHS waiting lists in need of follow-up appointments for health problems. Is it any wonder the Government’s own report predicted 200,000 deaths due to lockdown? And this is to say nothing of the hundreds of millions globally who will starve because of the lockdowns and economic collapse. Has a ‘cure’ ever been so much worse than the disease?

Stop Press: Ross Clark on the money in the Telegraph as usual asking “Did protecting the NHS actually cost lives?” You know the answer.

Round-Up

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 8th to Oct 17th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 30,000).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (and today’s update was written by Will Jones, who’s going to be doing them three or four times a week going forward). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

Bob sums up disappointment with the barely recognisable Boris Johnson in the Telegraph

Latest News

Getting Schoolchildren to Wear Face Masks is Impractical

The Spectator has published a great piece by Calvin Robinson, the teacher who featured in a recent job advertisement put out by the Department for Education. He thinks it’s completely impractical to get schoolchildren to wear face muzzles.

Has anyone who is recommending the use of masks in schools ever spent any significant amount of time working with young people? It seems unlikely.

Children simply will not wear their masks correctly, if at all. Girls will constantly be adjusting them; boys will be flicking them across the room and pulling each others’ elastic bands. They’ll all be pulling them down to their necks at break time, resulting in pieces of food and drink being spilt inside. That, and the fact that they’ll be wearing them around their necks, mirroring the behaviour of adults they see on public transport, further trapping bacteria. If anything, face masks will be detrimental to the health of young people.

Of course, there is much to be debated about whether face masks are beneficial at all, with the deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, recently announcing that they may, in fact, increase health risks. I’m not a medical expert; I’ll leave the science to the professionals. What I do know is that masks will not work in a school environment.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Camilla Tominey has written a good piece for the Telegraph about the Government’s hopelessly mixed messaging around school safety

Brazil – Not the Disaster We’ve Been Led to Believe

Today I’m publishing a great piece about Brazil, debunking the ‘disaster’ narrative in the international media. In fact, the lifecycle of the epidemic in Brazil has followed the same pattern as everywhere else, provided you break it down into different regions, and in spite of the high death toll it has experienced fewer deaths per million than many European countries, including the UK, and fewer deaths per capita than neighbouring Peru, which has had one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. It’s by the same person who wrote the “Postcard From Brazil“, one of our best international dispatches to date. This new piece is a must read. Here’s an extract:

People without a single clue between them talk like Bolsonaro could have locked down the country by decree and Brazilians would have obeyed passively like in Auckland, and we would have the same death toll as Denmark. These people have never been to Brazil. The effort it would have taken to suppress the unruly and increasingly desperate population of 207 million highly unequal people spread out from megacities to jungle tribes would have required full on martial law being reinstated in a country that was a military dictatorship until the 1960s. Even that might not have worked. Blood would have been shed for sure. Seriously, is this what the ‘progressives’ want? The subjugation of one of the most free spirited countries on Earth by the military? All to try, and surely fail, to snuff out a vírus so deadly you have to be tested to see if you have it? Has the world gone crazy?

Don’t answer that.

The author also makes a very good point about why Brazil’s public health advisors have generally been more sensible than their counterparts in the UK and the US.

Brazil has, without a doubt, some of the world’s best epidemiolgists, virologists, and infectologists, and it is a pleasure to read their non-ideological takes on things. Why? I’d speculate it is because they have actually had consistent, day-in, day-out, on the ground experience dealing with real epidemics (zika, dengue, yellow fever) instead of researching them from the ivory tower. Nobody here generalises about how things might go based on the progress of the Spanish Flu, but instead rely on observation of the unfolding epidemic as it takes place. I’ve even read them putting forward the heretical theory that BLM protests in US states with high levels of immunity (New York, New Jersey, etc.) probably didn’t contribute much to cases, while states that had ‘suppressed’ Covid at first (Florida, California) and had low levels of immunity saw surges as an obvious result of the massive superspreader protests. Refreshing to leave bizarro world for a while, isn’t it?

This piece is highly recommended. Worth reading in full.

Australian Rules Balls

A journalist friend of mine posted this on her Facebook account yesterday. Heartbreaking.

I just spoke to my ‘little’ brother (39) who (like the rest of my family) is Australian; he lives in Queensland. On Aug 1st our 81 year-old mother had a severe stroke. The only reason she survived is that, miraculously, my brother and his family happened to be visiting her at her home in NSW at the time; the difference between life and death. Last week she was discharged from hospital in Wagga and so having spent the previous few weeks packing/disposing of her belongings, my brother prepared to take her back home, where he and his family have rearranged their house to accommodate her.

In order to be allowed to cross the state border from NSW to QLD both my brother and mother had to have Covid tests and the appropriate paperwork — mostly electronic — in place.

However, at the border, after a drive of nearly 800 miles, whatever the paperwork was meant to be it was not sufficiently in order and as a result my brother and mother had to spend 3 days in a (quote/unquote) ‘shitty motel’ waiting for some jobsworths to join the dots. At no point was anybody able/willing to join those dots sufficiently to see that detaining an 81 (she’s 82 next week) year-old recovering stroke victim in a motel for several days was perhaps less than ideal, given that the alternative would simply have been to allow her to cross the border (this is a state border, remember, not another country) in a comfortable car with her son and be driven to the family home… 40 miles away.

The grotesque absurdity — not to mention irony —of forcing a frail octogenarian who had already tested negative for Covid to spend any time at all in a motel in order to protect… well, who precisely? (And from what? ‘Catching’ a stroke?)… is not lost on either me, my brother or indeed our mother. The only upside is that they weren’t attempting to travel out of Victoria, which is now effectively a police state. Anyway, they got home eventually and while they are currently forced to self-isolate for a fortnight, my mother (and my stoic/heroic little bro) are, somewhat against the odds, doing fine. The moral of this story: THERE ARE MANY OTHER (FAR MORE POTENTIALLY LETHAL) MEDICAL ISSUES FOR THE ELDERLY BEYOND COVID-19.

Manchester Police Break Up Party For Terminally Ill Child

“Forget about blowing out the candles. Come out with your hands up.”

There’s a shocking story in the Mirror about Manchester Police’s over-zealous enforcement of lockdown rules.

A police chief said “we can’t win” after officers were called to a terminally-ill child’s birthday party amid accusations of a heavy-handed approach to people breaking lockdown rules.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police, used the case as an example of the tough decisions officers are facing each day during the coronavirus pandemic.

The incident was dealt with via “a quiet word”, but the Chief Constable has revealed the force has been compared to “a police state” over the way it has tried to enforce social distancing rules.

Actually, Chief Constable, there is one way you could “win”. You could exercise a little discretion in your enforcement of draconian lockdown rules – or simply ignore the rule breakers altogether.

Even NHS Test and Trace Admits Cases Are Falling

Good story in the Telegraph about case numbers falling. They weren’t going up according to the ONS infection survey, but now even NHS Test and Trace has conceded defeat.

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has declined for the first time in six weeks – despite an increase in tests.

Only 6,115 positive cases were recorded by NHS Test and Trace across England between Aug 13 and 19, down from 6,616 in the previous week.

The figures were released on Thursday, as ministers decided whether to impose more local or regional lockdowns in order to suppress the virus.

Restrictions remain in place in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire, Leicester, Luton and Northampton.

Since the beginning of July, the statistics provided by Test and Trace had shown a steady weakly rise of positive results, outstripping the increase in the number of tests conducted.

They were used as evidence by some experts to argue for the reintroduction of lockdown measures.

Can the pointless local lockdowns now be lifted, please?

Look out, would-be cancellers. There’s a new sheriff in town.

The Free Speech Union is looking for a full-time Chief Legal Counsel. Pay is £70,000 to £75,000. Please click on the job ad for more details – and if you know a lawyer who might be interested, please forward. Thanks.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Don’t Stop the Carnival” by Alan Price, “No Common Sense” by Yvonne, “Mixed Messages” by the Bangles, “Insult Your Intelligence” by One Inch Punch, “Brainwashed” by the Kinks and “Hook, Line and Sinker” by Frankie Swain

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 3rd to Oct 13th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 30,000).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (although I have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending me stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

Tony Hall: Captain of the Titanic

In my Spectator column today I take aim at the BBC. I wasn’t impressed by Tony Hall’s speech to the Edinburgh Television Festival.

Reading the speech Tony Hall gave to the Edinburgh Television Festival, I was struck by his upbeat, confident tone. The outgoing director-general of the BBC talked about how its reporting of the coronavirus crisis had brought its core mission as a public service broadcaster into sharper focus and boosted its popularity, particularly among 16- to 34-year-olds. He said his goal when he arrived at the BBC was to reach a global audience of 500 million by 2022, its centenary year, and this target has now been revised upwards to a billion by the end of the decade. “But it needs extra investment from government and that bid is with them right now,” he said.

Doesn’t Tony Hall realise that the BBC’s future is hanging by a thread? The corporation struck a deal with the government five years ago whereby it promised to cover the cost of providing free TV licences to the over-75s in return for hiking up the licence fee, and it has now reneged on that deal. As of this month, three million pensioners will have to fork out £157.50 a year if they want to watch television — not just the BBC, but any live TV at all. In response, Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, said the government would look seriously at decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee. If that happens, the BBC is toast. Who in their right mind is going to pay a voluntary fee to the BBC just for the privilege of owning a television set, particularly when they’re already subscribing to Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+ and God knows what else?

Doesn’t Tony Hall realise that the BBC’s future is hanging by a thread?

Seemingly oblivious to this iceberg hoving into view, the cheerful captain boasted about the £100 million he has ring-fenced in the commissioning budget to pay for ‘diverse and inclusive programming’ and the 20 per cent ‘diverse-talent target’ he’s put in place — as if that’s going to save the ship. When Hall talks about ‘diversity’ you can bet your bottom dollar he doesn’t mean commissioning more programmes from Brexit-supporting, Tory-voting global warming sceptics. Nor does he mean over-65s, with the exception of Sir David Attenborough. Nor, I suspect, will the BBC be including people who live in rural areas in its ‘diverse-talent target’, particularly if they hunt or shoot. No, he means more BAME people, even though they only make up 13 per cent of the population.

But, of course, the thing that’s done the greatest harm to the BBC’s reputation this year is its coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

The BBC has done colossal harm to its reputation since the beginning of the pandemic by faithfully regurgitating all the information it’s been fed by the public authorities, becoming little more than a propaganda arm of 10 Downing Street. A responsible public service broadcaster would have stepped into the breach after parliament was suspended, scrutinising the big government decisions such as clearing out hospital wards, cancelling all non-emergency surgery, suspending cancer screenings, shutting down GP practices and turning the NHS into a Covid-only service.

But instead of challenging this daft strategy, the BBC did everything it could to make it seem sensible, broadcasting story after story about patients battling with the virus, kept alive by selfless and exhausted NHS staff. We’ll be living with the consequences of that failure for years, with one eminent oncologist predicting we’ll see 30,000 preventable deaths from cancer alone in the next decade.

Worth reading in full.

Latest News

Yet Another Bloody U-Turn

“No but, yeah but… What does Nicola Sturgeon say?”

Boris often sings the praises of the first-class education he received at Eton and Oxford. But the most valuable lesson he ever received was when he was taught to drive. After all, that’s where he learnt how to do a U-turn.

The Prime Minister has now performed so many reverse ferrets he’s in danger of swallowing his own tail. Yesterday brought news of his latest pirouette – on face masks in schools.

Since he returned from his camping holiday in Scotland, Boris has been on a mission to persuade parents it’s safe to send their kids back to school.

“The risk of contracting COVID-19 in school is very small and it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and wellbeing to be away from school any longer,” he said on Sunday.

But now he’s changed his mind – apparently influenced by Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to make face coverings mandatory in Scottish secondary schools. Henceforth, kids aged 11 and older will have to wear masks in local lockdown areas. Not so safe, then. Talk about mixed messages! The Prime Minister’s default response whenever he’s asked a question of vital national importance is to launch into his Vicky Pollard impression: “No but, yeah but…”

Let’s be clear: the risk posed to children by COVID-19 is vanishing-to-zero. As the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said on Monday, kids are more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident than die of coronavirus – and that may be overstating it. To date, only two children between the ages of 5 and 14 have succumbed to the virus.

Some parents are worried about their kids catching it in school and then passing it on to vulnerable adults. Rest assured, that risk is negligible, too. Earlier this year, China and the World Health Organisation issued a report saying they hadn’t found a single case of a child transmitting the disease to an adult.

The bottom line is children aren’t vulnerable to this disease and they don’t pass it on. Why can’t Boris just stick to that clear, simple message?

He had an opportunity to reassure parents and he’s blown it.

The Mail is incandescent about this latest bit of dilly-dallying, while the Sun blames Gavin Williamson. The Telegraph says Tory MPs are furious about the endless U-turns the Prime Minister has performed – seemingly more responsive to Nicola Sturgeon than he is to Parliament. The only supportive article I could find was this piece by Angela Epstein in the Telegraph – and the comments below the line from sceptical readers are a joy to read.

As someone who helped set up four schools – one secondary and three primaries – I know just what a nightmare it will be to make children wear masks. How will teachers know which child is talking out of turn? How will they respond when a child claims to be exempt? Will children who turn up at the school gate without a mask be sent home? Or stuck in isolation?

Don’t take my word for it. Calvin Robinson, the teacher who appeared in a recent Department for Education’s advertising campaign to recruit more teachers, described the endless problems this will create in schools in an interview on Radio London last night.

When is Boris going to show some leadership? His response to this national crisis has been the opposite of Churchillian.

He’s more like the nodding dog in the insurance advert than the wartime leader.

The Year Evidence-Based Medicine Died

Blower’s cartoon in today’s Times

A senior research scientist in a pharmaceutical company with over 15 years’ experience in drug research and development, both in biotech and large pharma, has emailed to express his despair about mandatory face masks in schools.

I was moved to write when I read with utter dismay about the decision for masks to become mandatory in Scottish schools, with the rest of the UK probably not far behind.

As a scientist, for me face coverings are emblematic of what has gone completely wrong in our approach to COVID-19. Face coverings are not some “jolly jape” or “what’s the harm” thing, they are an invasive treatment that has been imposed on the entire population based on weak scientific evidence. They also have potential to cause harm both to individuals and the environment; how long before disposable cloth “jelly-fish” start washing up on our beaches? I also believe that in some circumstances they could actually increase the risk of transmission. Simply stating over and over that face-coverings help “stop the spread” without any data, seems to me to smack of “if we say it enough, it will be true”, rather than sound clinical science.

What is so utterly ridiculous is that the potential risks/benefits of face coverings are completely testable with appropriately designed studies and if this was a normal clinical intervention then there would be a justified expectation of just such testing before being was rolled out. I’ve seen people say that holdouts against masks are akin to those who wouldn’t wear seatbelts. But the big difference is that seatbelts were subjected to precisely this kind of rigorous testing, and there was a lot of evidence that they worked, before they became mandatory. Such evidence for face coverings simply does not exist, or has not been published, so scepticism is justifiable given that it is a significant societal change to mandate wearing a face-covering in most public spaces.

Graham Martin et al summed this up in a recent paper: “Well-intended population health interventions can do harm, but the downsides of mandatory face-covering policies have to date been under-conceptualised and under-studied.”

Given the general chaos in policy making, the imposition of lockdown itself and the ongoing issues surrounding screening highlighted by people such as Prof. Heneghan, it appears to me that 2020 is the year that evidence-based medicine died.

Rod Liddle on the BBC

Rod Liddle’s column in the Sun today – about the Rule Britannia row – is a corker.

All those ghastly people waving their Union Jacks. Singing Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia!. Nasty Little Englanders who probably voted for Brexit.

It’s the one night of the year when the BBC’s left wing bias is dropped for an hour or two.

And the licence-payer for once gets what they want. An evening of enjoyable, uplifting patriotism.

The BBC holds Middle England in utter contempt – and has done so for a long while.

It cannot tolerate anything which doesn’t fit into its woke agenda. And it’s why support for the BBC diminishes daily.

It has lost touch with the values of the people who pay for its existence.

Still, there’s one bright side to all this. It’s saved me £157.50 per year.

I will not pay the licence fee any more. Not ever again.

Why should I pay for an organisation which hates and despises everything I believe in?

Meanwhile, Vera Lynn signing “Land of Hope and Glory” has topped the iTunes charts.

Economists: “The Scientists Got it Wrong.”

Hat tip to Jeffrey Tucker, the Editorial Director of the American Institute for Economic Research, for sending me this excellent paper by four economists. Called “Four Stylized Facts About COVID-19“, it cites four things we know about the virus and its transmission that suggests the initial policy response across the world was wrong. Here’s the abstract:

We document four facts about the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide relevant for those studying the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) on COVID-19 transmission. First: across all countries and U.S. states that we study, the growth rates of daily deaths from COVID-19 fell from a wide range of initially high levels to levels close to zero within 20-30 days after each region experienced 25 cumulative deaths. Second: after this initial period, growth rates of daily deaths have hovered around zero or below everywhere in the world. Third: the cross section standard deviation of growth rates of daily deaths across locations fell very rapidly in the first 10 days of the epidemic and has remained at a relatively low level since then. Fourth: when interpreted through a range of epidemiological models, these first three facts about the growth rate of COVID deaths imply that both the effective reproduction numbers and transmission rates of COVID-19 fell from widely dispersed initial levels and the effective reproduction number has hovered around one after the first 30 days of the epidemic virtually everywhere in the world. We argue that failing to account for these four stylized facts may result in overstating the importance of policy mandated NPIs for shaping the progression of this deadly pandemic.

Worth reading in full.

We Will Mock You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaQijAMaiOQ

This YouTube video by Media Bear ridiculing Covid hysterics – and BLM protestors for good measure – is fantastic.

Glad to see there are some young people not buying the bullshit.

Letter From Care Home Dated March 23rd

A reader has passed on the letter she received from her mother’s care home in Bagshot on March 23rd, the day the full lockdown was imposed.

This is with a great sadness I have to say that I have been informed by our Doctor today that NHS hospitals will not accept people over 70 years old if they have been tested positive with COVID 19, which means that these residents will be treated here, at Sunrise of Bagshot, and in case of deterioration they will go straight into palliative care. In these unprecedented times due to COVID-19 outbreak the NHS has no choice but to make tough decisions. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything possible to keep our residents safe and well protected.

At this moment we are working with Doctor to sign DNR forms for all of our residents. In order for us to complete this, I would ask you to send me a confirmation email if you agree for this to happen if your parent/loved one doesn’t have one.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this with Doctor, please let me know and I will arrange telephone conversation.

Thank you for your understanding.

Horrendous. But at least this reader’s care home had the courtesy to consult her about the DNR form…

Civil Servants Are Very Busy… Sunbathing

“I couldn’t possible return to work, Minister. It’s far too dangerous.”

Got an email from a reader who’s understandably angry about public sector employees refusing to return to work because it’s “too dangerous”.

Your daily update is the highlight of my day. I’m a self-employed bookkeeper who also runs payrolls so I’ve been working throughout the nonsense. I’ve been increasingly exasperated at the ridiculous restrictions placed upon us. I thought you might like to know of the worst instance I’ve heard of. My husband is a retired army officer who is now employed by the MoD on a large army base in Hampshire. The entire civil service staff were sent home in March and most have since been issued with laptops. They have a Friday morning ‘coffee’ on Zoom where they discuss whether they will be sunbathing or carrying out DIY during their office hours. Most have decided it’s “too dangerous” to return to work. Today I’ve been told that Army HQ have decreed that no more than 25% of staff should attend the office at any time (regardless of office space – the civil service is not known for cramped conditions!). I am beyond angry as I and all my small business clients have worked throughout as their livelihoods depend on it , as have supermarket staff. Our council (Wiltshire) is impossible to reach and my efforts during the course of my work to communicate with HMRC have been utterly fruitless. There are retired people in my lane who have been ‘shielding’ since March and are now so frightened they are on the verge of mental Illness. They haven’t even been out of the village as it’s “too dangerous”. This is surely a result of the ‘stay at home and save lives’ propaganda from the BBC which is their only source of information.

Kim-Jong Dan Not Quite a Dictator (Yet)

Charlie Chaplin, in the 1940 film The Great Dictator

It seems I may have overstated things yesterday when I said Kim-Jong Dan was going to extend the State of Emergency in Victoria for another 18 months. A reader has written to point out the news isn’t quite that bad.

Re. the comment on Dictator-Dan – he is seeking a 12-month extension to the State of Emergency powers which reach their six-month legal maximum on Sep 16 (not yet extending for 18 moths). If he gets the extension it allows him to reinstate his rolling four-week lockdowns/restrictions on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and no one else. BUT the legislation must pass the Victorian state upper house and his party (Labor) only has 17 of 40 seat, so not yet a done deal for Danny The Dictator.

Looking For a PA

I’m looking for a part-time personal assistant to help me and the Chief Operating Officer at the Free Speech Union. Pay isn’t bad: £25/hour. Eight to 14 hours a week. More details, including how to apply, here. Please forward the link to anyone you think might be interested.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “High Street Blues” by HCB, “Dead Cities” by the Exploited, “From Riches to Rags” by Travis Orbin and “Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen.

Love in the Time of Covid

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 3rd to Oct 13th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 30,000).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (although I have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending me stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

In my monthly column in Spectator USA, I argue that Donald Trump should seek inspiration from an unlikely source in his forthcoming re-election campaign.

To win in November, Trump should seek inspiration from President Alexander Lukashenko, the 65-year-old autocrat who has ruled Belarus since 1994. He trounced his liberal opponent in the presidential election in August with 80 percent of the vote.

I’m not suggesting Trump emulate Lukashenko’s methods. Among other things, the man dubbed ‘Europe’s last dictator’ disqualified his three main political opponents at the beginning of the race, imprisoning two of them. He has never won an election with less than 75 percent of the vote, although none have been found to be free and fair by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an election monitoring body. His defeated opponent this time round — Svetlana Tikhanovskaya — was initially detained by the authorities, during which she recorded a hostage video conceding defeat, before fleeing the country.

But in one respect, at least, Trump should take a leaf out of Lukashenko’s book. The barrel-chested populist is an unapologetic COVID skeptic. Belarus was one of only two European countries that didn’t impose a full lockdown, Sweden being the other, with Lukashenko urging his fellow citizens to avoid infection by drinking vodka and taking saunas. The Belarusian football league was the only one in Europe not to shut down, providing soccer fans across the continent with a much-needed weekly fix. In May, with Belarus’s COVID death toll still in double digits, Lukashenko congratulated himself on not succumbing to the global panic.

“You see that in the affluent West, unemployment is out of control,” he told supporters at a mass rally. “People are banging on pots. People want to eat. Thank God, we avoided this. We didn’t shut down.”

This was the rallying cry of Lukashenko’s presidential campaign: that the threat posed by COVID-19 had been wildly exaggerated by his bedwetting opponents and it was thanks to his innate common sense that Belarus was weathering the storm better than other countries. And Trump could make a similar argument. True, he wasn’t able to prevent Democratic governors from imposing severe lockdowns in states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan. But insofar as he was able to stay the hand of Republican governors and use the bully pulpit of the White House to pour scorn on the panicky pronouncements of public health panjandrums, he showed real leadership.

Of course, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are trying to portray Trump’s handling of the crisis as a catastrophic mistake and pin America’s high COVID death toll on him. But if you look at deaths per capita, the US fares better than Belgium, the UK, Spain, Italy, Peru and Chile. Yes, America’s economy shrunk in the second quarter of 2020, but by just 9.5 percent, the second-lowest contraction in the G7. (The UK figure was 20.4 percent.) Trump can claim, with some justification, that the US has fared better than most during this global pandemic and that he’s entitled to some of the credit.

Worth reading in full.

Latest News

Sturgeon Makes Masks Mandatory in Schools – Boris Urged to Follow Suit

Nicola Sturgeon has made face masks mandatory in Scottish secondary schools and now Boris is facing calls to do the same. The Telegraph has more.

Boris Johnson is under fresh pressure to introduce face masks in schools after Nicola Sturgeon signalled over-12s will be made to wear them in Scotland.

Teaching unions called on the Government to review its guidance on face coverings, which currently says they should not be worn in schools, although ministers said they had no plans to do so.

It came after the World Health Organisation and the UN children’s agency Unicef advised that children aged 12 and over should wear face coverings in the same conditions as adults, particularly where they cannot guarantee at least a one metre distance from others.

Ms Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, launched an immediate review of practices in Scotland (where the school term has already started) and is expected to announce that over-12s will have to wear coverings in corridors and other communal spaces.

The Association of School and College Leaders immediately said Mr Johnson should follow suit, putting the union on a collision course with the Government just days before children in England return to their classrooms.

Let’s hope Boris withstands this pressure. Sage member Professor Rusell Viner said on Newsnight last night that if children wear masks they’re more likely to pass on the virus.

If you don’t fancy the idea of your child being muzzled in the classroom, please sign this petition by UsForThem. Although if you make your signature public there’s a risk that LBC’s bedwetting shock jock James O’Brien will hold you personally responsible for any child that dies of COVID-19 after returning to school. On his LBC show yesterday, O’Brien told a listener who was arguing for the re-opening of schools in full next month, “When a child dies it’s on you.” Even Piers Morgan thought that was over the top.

Stop Press: Headteachers say they won’t fine parents who don’t send their children back to school next month. Heads have the power to impose fines of £120 per parent, cut to £60 if paid within 21 days, for their children’s non-attendance. But Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, has said he will be advising his members not to fine parents. “We think fines will be counterproductive now,” he said. “Where families have deep concerns about coming back, we hope that through engaging with schools, their fears are allayed.”

Simon Dolan Launches #BackToSchool Campaign, Writes Exclusively For Lockdown Sceptics

Anti-lockdown campaigner Simon Dolan has written a piece for today’s Lockdown Sceptics about his #BackToSchool campaign.

Whether it be the largest restriction on personal freedoms in a generation, or the ludicrous decision to mandate face masks, this Government has proven time and time again that it is not up to the job.

If the Government’s handling of this year’s A-Level results day did not fill you with confidence, then I am certain that you will be concerned about the prospect of children returning to school in the coming weeks. With the Scottish Government today announcing that they will be mandating facemasks in schools, we are rapidly watching another wave of restrictions wash over the UK.

A poll for Keep Britain Free suggests that over three quarters of parents are perfectly happy to send their children back to school. So why is this Government being pressurised into preventing them from doing so and ensuring that the few that do are required to wear face masks and prevented from interacting with their friends.

We cannot allow Gavin Williamson to pander to the trade unions and Nicola Sturgeon, we must stand up for our children and ensure that they all return to school as normal in the coming weeks.

That is why I have launched the #BackToSchool Campaign, calling on the Government to display some rarely seen fortitude and ensure that children return without social distancing, face masks or blended learning. Join me on Facebook and Twitter and let the Government know that we will not be cowed, and our children will return to school as they are intended to.

It’s vital for the physical, mental and economic health of future generations that our children get back to learning as soon as possible. Let’s get our kids back to school and life back to normal.”

Fightback Against Kim-Jong Dan Begins

A freedom fighter in Australia sent me a photo of this box of leaflets that has just been delivered to his home in Melbourne.

I wanted to send you the image of my letterbox flyers that I have just had printed x 2,000 (yesterday) and another 3,000 to come today. I have enlisted a number of neighbourhood walkers to letterbox their “permitted zone” (the ludicrous 5km radius from one’s front door).

I love your Lockdown Sceptics website and have been reading this along with listening to James Delingpole and you on the London Calling podcast well before us muted-Melbournians were plunge into a previously unthinkable holding-pattern of fatuous-fright.

Meanwhile, the Premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews – known to locals as Kim-Jong Dan – announced yesterday that the State of Emergency would be extended by 18 months. This is in spite of the fact that the state recorded its lowest rise in infections in seven weeks with 116 additional cases on Monday. To see what the State of Emergency means for ordinary Victorians, take a look at this shocking YouTube video.

Defund the BBC

The Mail leads on the BBC’s crackpot decision to ban Rule Britannia – although after this provoked a backlash, BBC mandarins have now said it will be played but not sung, which has of course provoked another backlash.

Laurence Fox today led calls to strip the BBC of its licence fee funding over the bungled decision to play Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia at the Last Night of the Proms but not sing the “racist” words to avoid offending left-wing critics.

Critics accused the BBC of “erasing history” and caving in to “woke morons”, while others mocked the corporation for its suggestion that singing the songs would be too risky due to the Covid pandemic, noting that the National Anthem will still be sung by a lone voice.

Fox tweeted this morning: “Defund this shameful, Britain-hating organisation and start again. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum #Defund the BBC.”

There’s plenty more in this vein, not least from the redoubtable Richard Littlejohn.

I weighed in yesterday on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s TalkRadio show (see above).

And you can sign the petition created by my friend Christopher Silvester urging the BBC not to scrap Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory here.

French Riot Police Storm Bar

The French riot police stormed a bar last night and assaulted a group of football fans watching the Champions League final because they weren’t observing proper social distancing rules. This is what a police state looks like. Shocking.

Why Are Doctors Exempt From Quarantine?

A hexagon map created by a reader showing which countries you can visit without having to self-isolate on return

A reader emails with a story that reveals just how nonsensical the quarantine rules for returning holidaymakers are.

A colleague of my mine just returned from a quarantined country. He mentioned the usual stuff that the entry form takes over 45 minutes to complete but then no one even looked at it when he came back.

However, his wife is a hospital doctor. Hospital doctors are exempt. Seriously. So, she goes straight back to work and they wanted her back. Apparently, she suggested getting tested and they will do that in a few days! But please come back to work anyway.

To state the obvious: if any of this made any sense then surely doctors would be the most likely occupation to have in the most secure quarantine we could dream up, given that they deal with the most vulnerable people? Of course, this approach makes zero sense. Strongly suggests that the people who really understand the risks agree that this is all nonsense and are quietly ignoring it.

Stop Press: Apparently, NHS staff were exempt from having to quarantine in England but haven’t been since July 31st.

Cui Bono?

Caravans have been one of the unlikely beneficiaries of lockdown

Sitting round the dinner table with my children a couple of nights ago, we tried to cheer each other up by listing the people and companies who’ve done well out of lockdown. Not recommended. It didn’t work.

  • Amazon
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tesla
  • PayPal
  • Zoom
  • Roche
  • AstraZeneca
  • Imperial College
  • Netflix
  • T-Mobile
  • BT Broadband
  • Bicycle shops

But here’s one we didn’t think of: Caravans and motorhomes. I received a press release today from MHB Corporation, the owner of Robinson’s Caravans:

One of the UK’s largest caravan companies has reported a sharp increase in the sale of caravans and motorhomes during the Coronavirus crisis, and new research reveals a huge spike in people taking caravan holidays this year – many of whom are first-timers. In June and July 2020, Robinsons Caravans, based in Brimington, Chesterfield, saw sales of new and used fixed caravans increase by 9% and 14% respectively when compared to the same period last year. For motorhomes, it exceeded sales targets by 250% in June alone.

A Scientist Writes…

Yesterday, I urged readers to submit evidence to the APPG on Coronavirus, although there’s something a bit odd about that APPG. The website hosting it is linked to an anti-Brexit campaigning site. I daresay it’s all part of Layla Moran’s leadership campaign. (Is using an APPG to promote a leadership bid within the rules?) Nonetheless, I imagine the evidence still gets through to the APPG. And today I received an email from a scientist emphasising how important it is for sceptics to participate in this inquiry.

May I please urge any scientists, researchers or university academics who read Lockdown Sceptics and who have had their work disrupted by the stupid lockdowns to submit to that APPG link as a “scientist/public health expert/other relevant expert” and make criticisms of how delays and cancellation of research have cost lives. There are good arguments to be made here that had we stuck to the herd immunity strategy and kept on as normal Britain would have got many more months of science done, and be months closer to having, for example:

* new anti-cancer drugs (if you’re in cell biology),

* new radiation therapies (if you’re in particle physics),

* new abilities to foresee and stop political crises and wars (if you’re a historian),

* safer aircraft which need less regular maintenance overhauls (if you do metallurgy that could apply to turbine blades),

* better body armour to save soldier’s lives (if you’re in ceramic materials science),

* wearable medical devices to monitor conditions like diabetes (if you do electronic sensors or novel battery chemistries),

* faster emergency responses to remote regions (if you do satellite communication related work)…

There is also the “UK PLC” argument – that the UK could be making months more profit by having these new scientific developments ready months earlier and hence, some day in the future, however long it takes from research to application, being that many months earlier to market for export.

If you’re involved in a randomised controlled trial of a drug your views might carry more weight still.

He thinks submissions from sceptical scientists will be particularly valuable because Layla Moran is the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and many of her constituents will be scientific researchers whose work has been torpedoed by the lockdown.

You can submit your evidence here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today, both by Chris Brown: “Tell Me What To Do” and “Wet the Bed“.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 3rd to Oct 13th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 30,500).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (although I have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending me stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

In the latest episode of London Calling, my weekly podcast with James Delingpole, we rage against the fact that progressive Year Zero types are using the pandemic as an excuse to cancel everything we hold dear, including city centres, live sport, fast cars, air travel and now Rule Britannia. You can listen on iTunes here. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Latest News

Children More Likely to Die of Flu than Covid – Deputy Chief Medical Officer

This is what England’s teaching unions would like primary school classrooms to look like

Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of England, told Sky News this morning that children are more likely to die of flu or be killed in a road traffic accident than succumb to COVID-19.

“The long term harms of children not attending school significantly, we think, outweigh those potential risks,” she said.

“No environment is completely risk-free.

“Every time a parent sends their child off to school pre-Covid they may have been involved in a road traffic accident, there are all sorts of things.

“In fact that risk, or the risk from seasonal flu, we think is probably higher than the current risk of Covid.”

This message was complemented by the Times’s front page story this morning, which says, “Teachers spread virus more than pupils.”

New research from Public Health England revealed that two thirds of outbreaks arose from staff-to-staff transmission, or staff-to-pupil.

In June the number of schools open was between 20,500 and 23,400, with pupil numbers increasing from 475,000 to 1,646,000. In June and last month 200 children and staff were affected by the illness. Over the same period 25,470 cases were recorded across England as a whole.

Thirty outbreaks, defined as two or more linked cases in one school, were recorded between the start of June and the end of last month. These represented 0.01% of preschools and primary schools in England.

The figures will encourage those who have argued that school is a safe place for children during the pandemic.

Killer line: “These [outbreaks] represented 0.01% of preschools and primary schools in England.

Stop Press: Boris issued a statement this morning saying children’s “life chances” will suffer if they don’t go back to school and in the Telegraph Iain Duncan-Smith urges the PM to show “some Churchillian spirit” to get kids back to school.

Lockdown Was a “Monumental Mistake on a Global Scale” – Sage Member

Lockdown will come to be seen as a “monumental mistake on a global scale” and must never happen again, says Mark Woolhouse, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases. The Express has the story.

Mark Woolhouse said lockdown was a “panic measure” but admitted it was the only option at the time because “we couldn’t think of anything better to do”.

But it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals, the University of Edinburgh professor said, meaning that back in March the nation was “concentrating on schools when we should have been concentrating on care homes”.

The Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology said that the Government must now focus on increasing testing and striving to unlock society safely rather than restricting it further.

Prof Woolhouse OBE, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours that advises the Government, said: “Lockdown was a panic measure and I believe history will say trying to control Covid-19 through lockdown was a monumental mistake on a global scale, the cure was worse than the disease.

“I never want to see national lockdown again. It was always a temporary measure that simply delayed the stage of the epidemic we see now. It was never going to change anything fundamentally, however low we drove down the number of cases, and now we know more about the virus and how to track it we should not be in this position again.

“We absolutely should never return to a position where children cannot play or go to school.

“I believe the harm lockdown is doing to our education, health care access, and broader aspects of our economy and society will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by COVID-19.”

He said that Sage, the government’s advisory board on dealing with Covid, needed to have members from a wider range of fields.

At last, one of the Government’s scientific advisors is talking sense. Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: According to NHS England there has only been one Covid death of someone under 40 in the past month.

NHS Ordered Care Homes Not to Resuscitate

Alarming story in the Telegraph. According to Sarah Knapton, the Science Editor, one in 10 care home staff members changed ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ plans without discussing them first with family members, nursing staff, or residents.

Care homes were asked by NHS managers and GPs to place blanket ‘Do not resuscitate’ (DNR) orders on all their residents at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to keep hospital beds free, a new report has found.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) – the world’s oldest nursing charity – discovered one in 10 care home staff surveyed was ordered to change DNR plans without discussion with family members, nursing staff, or with the residents themselves.

Half of staff members who said they had been asked to change DNRs worked in homes for the elderly, while half worked in homes for younger people with learning or cognitive disabilities.

Staff also warned that some hospitals were operating a ‘no admissions’ policy for care home residents – even for non-COVID-19 conditions such as heart attacks – and some said they had struggled to make appointments with GPs for elderly people.

Report author Prof Alison Leary MBE said the findings were ‘worrying’ and called for an inquiry.

This is a scandal. Worth reading in full.

Another Terrible Cancer Story

A couple of days ago I invited readers to send me their stories about failing to secure adequate cancer care on the NHS. They’ve been flooding in. Here’s another heart-breaking tale.

My husband has a history of Hodgkins Lymphoma and is one of the 1.5 million people who were sent a long, terribly concerned letter from the Government strongly urging him to stay at home until they decided it was safe enough to venture out again. In the first week of lockdown he discovered a lump in his neck and, after some hesitation, tried to see our local GP. The surgery was abandoned by all the doctors who we were told were “working” from home.

A doctor rang my husband the following day for a consultation – no Zoom and no access to his medical notes. However, due to his history, the doctor agreed to refer my husband to our local hospital in Chelmsford. After two weeks we discovered he had been referred back to the GP. We tried again and another referral was made which was taken more seriously.

Since then he has had a PET scan showing “areas of concern” and two biopsies, the first one on June 26th, the results of which would be discussed with us by phone on July 24th. The day came but no phone call. We rang them only to be told the wrong biopsy had been done – a fine needle aspiration instead of a core biopsy – and a new biopsy would be done on August 5th. He was now officially a “fast path” patient and we were promised a phone consultation to discuss the results on August 20th. Again, no call, no results.

My husband first made contact with the GP on April 9th. It is now nearly September and he is yet to see a medical professional and we know no more than we did in early April. The stress and anger this has caused us, me in particular, are impossible to describe. My husband is an otherwise fit and healthy 60 year-old and father of two teenage children. He hasn’t missed a day of work during this whole time keeping a small manufacturing company in Harlow going without any redundancies or furloughs.

I feel I’ve woken up in a parallel universe where the normal citizenry have been turned into obedient Stepford wives and the government and its institutions are the smug husbands. We are at sea in a sinking boat drifting further from shore whilst the lifeguards look on shrugging their shoulders before turning away to deal with a couple of cases of mild sunburn.

I don’t feel I can ever love my country again.

I know how she feels.

Twitter Thread Claims China Used Fake Media Accounts to Promote Lockdown

Cartoon by Niels Bo Bojesen, Jyllands-Posten

There’s a fascinating Twitter thread by Michael Senger about how the Chinese Communist Party launched a massive disinformation campaign in March urging governments around the world to impose full lockdowns. It links to plenty of evidence, such as this piece in the New York Times about how the CCP used fake Twitter accounts to amplify tweets praising China’s response to the pandemic in early March. The day after that Times article appeared, Twitter suspended more than 170,000 suspicious Chinese accounts. But according to Senger, many of these accounts remain active.

For instance, when the Governor of South Dakota refused to shut down her state, her Twitter feed filled up with thousands of abusive messages from these accounts. “By contrast, the accounts heap praise on governors who tighten lockdowns, like Dan Andrews, gov of Victoria, AUS,” writes Senger.

When Boris initially seemed to plump for herd immunity, the bots went to work, swarming his feed with messages comparing the policy to “genocide”.

And the disinformation campaign continued, focusing on different leaders each day, urging them to lock down. “Hard to think of any place more ill-suited to a total lockdown than Africa, but that’s exactly what CCP’s fake accounts demanded of South African President @CyrilRamaphosa on March 22,” Senger writes. “The next day, they got what they wanted, and Ramaphosa announced a total lockdown.”

After South Africa, it was India’s turn to be targetted. “On March 23, CCP’s army of fake accounts implored PM @PMOIndia to lock down India and order the army to ‘shoot on sight’ to enforce it,” writes Senger. “The next day, Modi announced a destructive lockdown.”

Senger is continuing to compile evidence and adding to his thread every day. If you’re not on Twitter, you can read the whole thread here.

Disturbing.

Stop Press: Sue Denim, who knows a thing or two about Twitter bots, says this is complete balls. Treat with extreme caution.

Covid Mortality Higher in Democratic States

A reader has been comparing the deaths per million in US states run by Democratic governors with those run by Republican governors.

On my first day of quarantine from Majorca I thought I’d amuse myself by looking at US state stats by political affiliations. Deaths 67% higher in Democrat states, deaths per million 41% higher. Cases actually higher in Republican states. All data from Worldometers.

Looser lockdowns in Republican states and the fact that many are in the south explains it I would think. However, if I were the US President it’s something I’d be flagging daily in the run up to an election. Obviously runs counter to the media narrative.

Postcard From the Dolomites

Sounds like this reader had a very different experience to me. Sorry to read this.

I know you were in the Dolomites a few weeks ago and I seem to recall that you said things were relatively relaxed at that time. My wife and I arrived in Villabassa yesterday for a weeks’ walking in the mountains and I am sad to report that we have found ourselves in muzzle central.

In our hotel you are expected to wear muzzles in all public areas unless seated at a table in the restaurant or bar and sadly everyone is complying. On stepping outside I had assumed that at least in the streets people would be largely muzzle-free but not a bit of it. Outside in the town 75 to 80% of those walking around, including those who are clearly serious mountain walkers are muzzled. Most children are muzzled, even some of about two.

Today we have walked about nine miles from the town to the Lago di Braies. This is a glacial lake which attracts a lot of tourists in coaches plus some fairly keen walkers, such as us. On the way up we passed a fair number of people walking down in muzzles. Others when they saw us approaching put on their muzzles even though there was plenty of room to pass. I reckon about 30% of those we passed (or possibly a little more) fell into this category even though we we were out in the open and they quite literally passed us in a second or so.

If that was bad enough, it was far worse when we reached the lake. This was where we encountered the coach trippers and 90% were masked even though we were high up in the mountains. We saw 2 men fully masked riding mountain bikes up quite a steep hill and a masked couple having a snog! What is it about these people that they have reached such an irrational level of fear that they spoil their enjoyment of the fresh air and beautiful mountain scenery that they feel it necessary to act in a totally irrational manner?

Normally I love a holiday in the mountains but I fear that my experience of the last 24 hours is making me feel that it is one I shall quickly wish to forget.

Submitting Evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus

A reader has come up with a sensible suggestion:

I am not sure how important the work of the APPG on Coronavirus will be to the Government’s ongoing approach but I assume it may have some relevance. This is obviously very worrying. Unfortunately, I do not fit into any of the categories from whom they would like evidence and the list of those that have provided evidence thus far does not inspire confidence that they will hear a balanced view. Hence, I would suggest you give more prominence to this issue in a future edition of Lockdown Sceptics and encourage some of your readers that do have the relevant expertise to submit evidence as soon as possible!

If you’d like to submit evidence to the Group, click here.

Italian Philosopher Becomes Lockdown Sceptic, Shunned by Colleagues

Nurses practised social distancing while protesting for better working conditions following the coronavirus pandemic in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo square, in June. Credit: Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

There’s in interesting article in the New York Times about Giorgio Agamben, a radical, left-wing philosopher whose been shunned by his Italian colleagues after coming out as a lockdown sceptic.

The part of the Italian intellectual establishment that calls itself “radical” has been Mr. Agamben’s milieu for half a century. His position on the coronavirus has cost him its support. Paolo Flores d’Arcais, the influential editor of the bimonthly MicroMega, accused Mr. Agamben of “ranting.” The newspapers La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera and Il Foglio all called him a negazionista regarding the coronavirus, using a word generally reserved for those who deny the Holocaust happened. Just as unexpected as these repudiations was the sudden receptivity to Mr. Agamben’s recondite philosophy in the pages of La Verità and Il Giornale, newspapers more often sympathetic to Mr. Salvini’s League.

A member of the radical Left, Agamben was very critical of the West’s “War on Terror”. In 2004, he was so alarmed by the U.S.’s new fingerprinting requirements for foreign visitors that he gave up a post at New York University rather than submit to them. He warned that these measures were only passing themselves off as temporary; they would inevitably become a normal part of peacetime life.

His argument about the coronavirus runs along similar lines: The emergency declared by public-health experts replaces the discredited narrative of “national security experts” as a pretext for withdrawing rights and privacy from citizens. “Biosecurity” now serves as a reason for governments to rule in terms of “worst-case scenarios.” This means there is no level of cases or deaths below which locking down an entire nation of 60 million becomes unreasonable. Many European governments, including Italy’s, have developed national contact tracing apps that allow them to track their citizens using cellphones.

Agamben has written a series of critical pieces about the Italian authorities’ response to the virus and they’ve been published in a single volume called Where Are We Now? The Epidemic as Politics. It hasn’t yet been translated into English, but it should be. Many of his sentiments will strike a chord with sceptics around the Anglosphere.

The politics of the pandemic expose a deeper ethical, social and even metaphysical erosion. Mr. Agamben cites Italians’ most beloved 19th-century novel, Alessandro Manzoni’s “The Betrothed,” which describes how human relations degenerated in Milan during the plague of 1630. People came to see their neighbors not as fellow human beings but as spreaders of pestilence. As panic set in, authorities executed those suspected of daubing houses with plague germs.

When a society loses its collective cool this way, the cost can be high. Rich, atomized, diverse, our society has a weak spot, and the coronavirus has found it. “For fear of getting sick,” Mr. Agamben writes, “Italians are ready to sacrifice practically everything – their normal living conditions, their social relations, their jobs, right down to their friendships, their loves, their religious and political convictions.”

In fact, “the threshold that separates humanity from barbarism has been crossed,” Mr. Agamben continues, and the proof is in Italians’ treatment of their dead. “How could we have accepted, in the name of a risk that we couldn’t even quantify, not only that the people who are dear to us, and human beings more generally, should have to die alone but also – and this is something that had never happened before in all of history from Antigone to today – that their corpses should be burned without a funeral?”

Worth reading in full.

Sir Humphrey Writes…

A retired Civil Servant has been in touch to take issue with last week’s post, “The Covid Civil Servant“, which in part blamed the Civil Service’s poor response to the coronavirus crisis to a lack of numeracy and scientific literacy.

As someone who worked in the Treasury for 21 years, in the final period of my working life, I don’t quite buy the line from your anonymous senior civil servant last week lamenting lack of civil service numeracy and scientific knowledge. During my time, the place acquired vastly more trained economists than when I had first arrived, the majority with postgraduate qualifications in the subject, along with more staff with graduate/postgraduate qualifications in other disciplines requiring sophisticated numeracy such as accounting and statistics. And although I never myself formally acquired any such expertise, I would not have survived a month without being very comfortable with handling numbers. Does this history mean that we became progressively wiser as a department? Does it hell. People who revel in numbers tend to be very uneasy with anything that can’t be captured in numbers, so narrowness, rigidity and sheer lack of imagination increasingly prevailed. The influence of the Treasury right across Government remained immense throughout my time there, and in that time it certainly imposed more widely than hitherto its own version of greater discipline in financial management across Whitehall departments and their related bodies. That didn’t make for better governance overall – there’s no panacea to be found in that direction. Also, the Senior Civil Service are not well paid by comparison with swathes of senior management with far less onerous responsibilities right across the rest of the public sector – that’s a big part of the problem.

Sweden’s Declining Case Numbers Are Due to Herd Immunity

Sweden is doing better than many other European countries when it comes to case numbers thanks to the fact that it didn’t impose a lockdown. The Times has more.

Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that the infection rate in France is more than 60 per cent higher than that of Sweden. France implemented a strict lockdown in the spring and requires masks to be worn in many public areas but has a fortnightly infection rate of 60 cases per 100,000 people.

Sweden, which decided not to implement compulsory measures at that time and which rejected the use of masks, has a rate of 37 cases per 100,000 people. The government is recording between 200 and 300 new cases a day, with deaths down to three last Friday.

Anders Tegnell, the Swedish state epidemiologist leading the response to the pandemic, has noted, based on the statistics, that infection rates have increased in countries such Spain, Belgium and France during and following the mandatory wearing of masks in many public areas. “The belief that masks can solve our problem is very dangerous,” he said last week.

Worth reading in full.

A Left-Wing Reader Responds to Yesterday’s Letter From a Liberal Sceptic

I love getting emails like this.

I was so pleased that you published the email from the left-leaning lockdown sceptic in your latest update. This was really heartening to read, and made me feel more like I’m a legit sceptic. I have been reading Lockdown Sceptics since you started it but I have wondered from time to time whether I really belong, as I’m a Labour-voting Remainer. (I used to be a Guardian reader, too, but I knocked that on the head in early April when I cancelled my subscription because of the lamentably biased and narrow-minded nature of their coronavirus coverage).

I say I’m Labour-voting but if there was a general election tomorrow I don’t think there’s anyone I could vote for with a clear conscience. What a ship of fools.

Thanks for all you do. I would think I disagree with you on just about everything but scepticism about coronabollocks unites us all.

If you missed the “Letter From a Liberal Sceptic” yesterday, you can read it here.

Postcard From Munich

Will Oktoberfest happen this year?

A reader writes to tell me about his recent trip to Munich. Could have been better…

I’ve just returned from a weekend visiting a friend in Munich. It was… just ok. The German stereotypes of following the rules were very much in show: facemasks when moving around in any indoors or outdoors restaurant/bar area – so if you are coming in from the street to an outdoors restaurant area, you have to wear a mask from the street to the table. And everyone obeys: I barely saw anyone not wearing a mask where required (over mouth and nose) throughout my whole weekend. The beer halls were very much open though; apart from having to wear a mask for the regular loo trips it was relatively normal and we had some good conversations with men in leather shorts. Slightly odd that some tables in the beer hall were cordoned off, meaning that people were crammed into the tables that were available.

Had an interesting experience at a “seesauna” (lake sauna) the next day to try and get rid of the hangover from the beerhall. Very strict social distancing rules (although thankfully no masks in the sauna areas) – the two of us went into one sauna with an eight-person limit (there were seven there already) and got shouted out. A lot of rules which, combined with the experience of being in your natural state of dress with members of both sexes, made for a relatively stressful experience.

All in all, I was pleased to come home to our comparatively liberal (and increasingly ignored) covid rules!

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

A bonanza of songs today: “Anything You Say Now I’ll Believe” by the Flaming Lips, “Complete Control” by the Clash, “Land of Fear” by Julian Cope, “Turnstyled, Junkpiled” by Townes Van Zandt, “F.E.A.R.” by Ian Brown and “Look out There’s a Monster Coming” by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (trigger warning: all the band members are wearing black face).

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 3rd to Oct 13th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 29,500).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (although I have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending me stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

Latest News

The Left-Wing Case Against Lockdown

George Orwell: Patron saint of left-wing sceptics

It really annoys me that lockdown sceptics are so often dismissed as Tory-voting, Brexit-supporting, libertarian-sympathising, white, middle-class, middle-aged Gammons. Okay, yes, that’s me, but there are plenty of other sceptics out there who don’t fall into any of these categories. And what’s really infuriating is the assumption that anyone on the Left should be a lockdown zealot. Why? As each day passes, more evidence comes to light that the lockdown has caused disproportionate harm to the most vulnerable people in our society – children, the elderly, cancer patients, the BAME community (not all of them are vulnerable, obviously), those suffering from mental illness… the list goes on. And what about the catastrophic effect the Global Economic Recession will have on the world’s poorest people in the developing world, with hundreds of millions now likely to die of starvation, TB, dysentery, etc.? Are left-wing people now just expected to sign up to the mantra of “safety first” and to hell with the consequences?

So it was heartening to get an email yesterday from a woman who started out by explaining she was a Guardian-reading, Remain-voting, Liberal Democrat who voted for Jeremy Corbyn at the last election, but is nonetheless a staunch lockdown sceptic. I’ve published it and it now sits below “The Left-Wing Case Against Lockdown” by Alexis Fitzgerald on the left-hand side. Here are a couple of the opening paragraphs:

Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories: There was a moon landing. The earth is round. My child is vaccinated. I know there is a virus, unrelated to 5G, whose effects can be severe with tragic consequences. However, I have been sceptical about the official risk assessments since the news footage from Wuhan emerged at the start of the year. And when a global reaction is so over-archingly bewildering that it has “someone like me” thinking there is more to this than meets the eye, something is wrong. I’ve stopped short (just) of believing that China engineered the entire thing to destroy the US economy and take down Trump. I did read the article in The Asia Times that linked to last October’s “Event 201” and find it rather odd this ‘event’ isn’t talked about more in the media. If you watch the video it looks oddly as though some ‘thought leaders’ and TED talk types who had been simulating virus response strategies (perhaps with good enough reason), just couldn’t wait to roll out their global virus-suppression protocol. When Covid came along (Coincidence? We may never know) governments went ahead on the advice of the WHO as if this were ‘the big one’. After Wuhan locked down with a strategy that was fairly alarming even by Chinese standards, our not-so-fearless leaders followed suit around the globe as though it were a game of Simple Simon.

This is not the big one. I say that as a pretty risk-averse person. My young son calls me “over-safety woman”. But as a cautious individual, I also question advice. Education is important in my family. My grandfather was a doctor and a teacher at the ‘Ivy League’ Cornell University medical school, my uncle is a doctor, and two of my cousins have PhDs. I’m half-way through a health-related science PhD myself (I have a long way to go as a researcher, but am trying hard and learning lots). I’m actually only saying that to keep you reading, as personal perspectives and anecdotal evidence sometimes get unfairly dismissed in the current data-obsessed climate. You’ll notice I’ve included no data or stats here. This crisis is about narratives as well as numbers. I’m just a layman (let’s be gender fluid) like many others currently scratching their heads or shouting at the telly in exasperation. All it took was a calculator (the back of an envelope would have done) to divide the number of cases, hospitalisations, or deaths by the population of the UK to realise that the chances of getting or dying from Covid never came close to justifying a full “lockdown” and all the attendant ramifications that you have documented so well on your site. The only positive digits in my calculation were on the right of the decimal point, preceded by a fair number of zeros. It doesn’t take a PhD to work this out.

A luminously intelligent email from a switched-on liberal. Very much worth reading in full.

Cancer Stories

“Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives… particularly if you’ve got cancer because the NHS is no longer treating cancer patients.”

Yesterday, I reported Karol Sikora’s prediction that as many as 30,000 people could die unnecessarily from cancer over the next 10 years as a result of the NHS becoming a Covid-only service during the lockdown and asked for readers to send me their stories about cancer screenings, diagnoses and treatments being cancelled or postponed. Needless to say, I’ve been deluged. Here are a few of the best.

First, a story from an intensive care doctor, just in case you thought it was only civilians who aren’t getting adequate cancer care.

I am a doctor and have been working in ITU.

I am appalled at the current state of the profession, supine in the face of the lack of evidence in all the restrictions currently applied to accessing care. Unfortunately many colleagues appear to have abandoned critical thinking and become zealots.

I’m writing though about my experience as a patient. Earlier this year I had a standard mole mapping appointment. My back has a number of moles I cannot see and these are checked as part of a cancer surveillance programme. On this occasion a malignant melanoma was detected and removed with commendable speed and efficiency. I was as a result of having this lesion placed on enhanced surveillance so that my back should be checked every three months in case of any new melanoma occurring.

I have to state I’m not personally very worried as the lesion removed was slow growing despite its malignancy.

My follow up appointment was during lockdown. Instead of visiting the clinic and having my back inspected and photographed to check for changes, I had a telephone appointment. An audio call, not even video. I was asked if I had any symptoms. Well as I had no symptoms before the first lesion and symptoms are rare unless the lesion is well advanced I did not expect to have any. The point of surveillance is to catch lesions early before they spread. I did in fact have some itch (a symptom…) But told the clinician it was probably the healing scar from the initial removal causing the itch. I cannot see my back and could not tell if any moles had changed shape, size or colour. Nevertheless despite this pretty inadequate conversation I was deemed fine – next follow up in October.

As I say I’m not personally very worried. But this appointment had literally no value and might as well never have taken place. I feel angry for others for whom this might well have been a missed chance to catch a melanoma early and prevent extended treatment and possibly mortality.

Please retain my anonymity. But this is an example of how even when services for cancer are nominally re-opened, due to the exclusion of patients from attending hospital and being properly examined, they are ineffectual.

Now a story from a patient.

I live in High Peak. I have chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and had a course of chemotherapy at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 2015/16. I was due for my annual check-up at the haematology unit there at 11.30am. on 20th. March. A fortnight prior to that date, with travel and accommodation arrangements in place, I was told by phone that my appointment was postponed for six months.

A couple of weeks ago I was informed by letter that, after a review of cases, it was deemed appropriate to conduct my check-up by phone. This would take place on September 11th “between 9.00am and 1.30pm” and it would help if I could arrange to get my blood sampled and tested in time for then.

So a thorough, hands on (!), physical examination and face-to-face interview by and with the consultant preceded by an in-house blood test (result in c.30 minutes) at the hospital unit which has treated me since my diagnosis has been junked in favour of outsourcing the handling of my blood test to me and to my GP who, in turn, has to rely on the testing service at a hospital in Stockport; and a phone call. My next job will be to ensure the test results reach the RSH and are available for the remote ‘consultation’.

I consider myself very fortunate in not being at imminent risk of my life at this time (I think: if the disease develops as predicted in 2016 I shall not require chemo. to save my life again til 2024/5). I am fortunate in being in good shape, physically and mentally, so can do the necessary running around now required of me. I am also fortunate in being already ‘on the books’ so, even though the previously rigorous protocol for the annual check-up has been dismantled, I am still being monitored after a fashion.

Many of the emails I received were from people who are justifiably angry. Here’s one:

My wife was scheduled for a cancer test, being in a high risk category – family, age and history – three weeks ago. She was understandably becoming increasingly worried as the day approached but was telephoned the day before and told that the appointment has been postponed.

FOR A YEAR.

To say that I am angry would be like calling the Universe big. The whole coronavirus fiasco has cost me my business, the career of my daughter and pretty much everything I have spent my entire life working for, but this is too much. Now these odious selfish… (what? I have no words to describe my feelings toward the perpetrators – cowards, tyrants, murderers?) are prepared to sacrifice my wife (40 years an NHS ITU nurse) on the altar of their imbecility. It is too much, it is intolerable. Can anyone give me a hint as to why? Cui Bono?

I best close before my anger, which I feel rising, takes over.

And many of the emails were very sad, like this one:

This is one of the many heart-breaking stories you will no doubt receive.

A very dear friend of ours, who notwithstanding his age (83) was very fit, walking his dog in hilly terrain at least two hours a day, doing all his own shopping, cooking and gardening, started to have digestive problems around February.

He went to see his GP, who took a blood test, said he was anaemic and prescribed iron tablets, which could (said the GP) lead to some minor digestive problems. I helped our friend to devise small changes in diet to increase his natural iron intake.

Things went from unpleasant, to bad, to worse. In March he tried to see the GP again, but by then the surgery didn’t allow patients in, only telephone consultations.

Other medication was tried, the iron tablets remained mandatory, nothing helped!

Finally, last month, our friend turned as yellow as a lemon. The GP relented, saw him, and referred him to the hospital for tests.

The next week he was admitted to hospital a day after my husband took him there for a Covid-test administered while he sat in our car at the entrance of the hospital.

When he woke up from the anaesthesia administered “for a biopsy” he found out that a duodenal stent had been placed. No explanation of the necessity for this was given, “it was necessary”… He discharged himself next day.

Two days ago he received a letter stating that he had terminal pancreatic cancer, that the GP would telephone to discuss further treatments etc.
He now does not wish to see or hear from another doctor ever again. Yesterday, he has had a very pleasant visit from one of the community nurses who outlined how their service will look after him, and has made his peace with God.

Although he asked us to research “on that internet thing” how long he might still live (according to Pancreatic Cancer UK and Cancer Research UK that is three to six months), having informed him about this, he is now dying before our eyes, and will certainly not make it that long.

An oncologist friend of ours in another town had already warned us 2 months ago about the “tsunami” of cancer cases that would hit the NHS as soon as diagnosis and treatment was “allowed” again…

Our friend will now just be another meaningless number in the NHS statistics. I am disgusted, angry, and terribly sad!

Here’s another sad tale, this time about a reader’s father.

My Father was a 79 year-old retired merchant navy officer who had enjoyed a life of good health until being diagnosed with bowel cancer early in 2019. He underwent the major surgery associated with the condition but responded well to the treatment, a testament to his robust constitution.

Unfortunately in the autumn of 2019 they identified secondary cancers which were only able to be controlled with chemotherapy. However, he responded to the chemotherapy remarkably well, side effects were negligible and the count of cancer cells in his blood dropped to a little above “normal”. He was optimistic and we believed there could be at least a couple of decent enjoyable years left for him. He was benefiting from a costly antibody treatment which was intended to prolong life and I was a little surprised that the NHS were prepared to make such an investment in someone of his age, but we were of course delighted and grateful.

In March his chemotherapy was put on hold, to reduce the “risk” of COVID-19. He was already nervous about infection from the normal flu season so there was little possibility of him being exposed to the virus, except in the NHS!

The lockdown meant he was forbidden from seeing his children or grandchildren, living hundreds of miles away. And his life like everyone else’s was closed down.

In April there was a rapid deterioration in his health, at this stage the symptoms I believed were more due to being confined to the house and a lack of normal exercise. He was hospitalised, with no visitors or even social contact from the nursing staff.

A scan revealed the cancer had spread aggressively and the cell count had risen sharply. It is a fair assumption that three sessions of chemotherapy being denied was the main reason for this.

After a rapid decline my father died in June. Whilst we were lucky to get home home for his final days so he did not die alone, he was largely abandoned by the NHS he paid for over more than 60 years as a taxpayer. He was proud to point out he had paid his taxes every week since 1955.

A GP told him that he would no longer be treated and was only to receive palliative care over Facetime. I cannot believe the religious adulation being heaped on NHS “heroes” when all I have seen evidence of is cowardice.

In summary I believe the arbitrary removal of cancer services dramatically shortened my father’s life. However he was well past his “three score years and ten” and seriously ill so we accept he had to go sooner rather than later. However I know of at least one much younger victim of the cancer scandal.

I have heard countless tales from friends working in the NHS about hospitals being essentially shut and cancer services being withdrawn. I firmly believe my father’s experience will be the tip of a large iceberg, one containing much younger lives which have been unnecessarily lost.

The awful thing is, this crisis in cancer care is far from over. The patient backlog is now greater than it’s ever been and this winter there’s a strong possibility the NHS will return to being a Covid-only service.

There will be a reckoning…

Boris: Schools Must Re-Open Next Month

The Prime Minister is at last doing something right, urging schools to re-open in full next month. “No ifs, not buts,” the Telegraph quotes him as saying.

According to a Whitehall source, Downing Street has made clear there can be “no ifs, no buts” in delivering on the national priority. “Schools not coming back is not an option,” they added. “Failure is not an option.”

Senior Conservative MPs have called for Mr Johnson to take the lead on schools and sideline Mr Williamson, amid fears that widespread anger over this week’s exams about-turn has left him incapable of shaping public opinion positively.

Their concerns have been echoed by several Cabinet ministers, with one saying: “We’ve got to get schools back. That’s the test for him.”

Throughout the pandemic, the prolonged closure of schools has been among the greatest concerns weighing on the minds of Mr Johnson and his most senior aides and ministers.

Meanwhile, all 12 of Britain’s Chief Medical Officers have told parents there is an “exceptionally small risk” of their children succumbing to COVID-19 if they return to school. The Mail has more.

The highly unusual ‘consensus statement’ from the country’s most senior experts removes the final hurdle to the resumption of full-time teaching in September – to the relief of parents who have been forced to home-school the majority of children since March.

It continues:

All 12 Chief and Deputy Chief Medical Officers agree that “very few, if any, teenagers will come to long-term harm from COVID-19 due solely to attending school”.

And they say that small risk has to be offset against “a certainty of long-term harm to many children from not attending school”.

The experts also conclude that “teachers are not at increased risk of dying from COVID-19” compared to other workers, and say that the evidence from other countries is that reopening schools is not linked to a surge in cases.

When it comes to the evidence from other countries, English parents don’t have to look very far. Schools have re-opened in full in Scotland and there has been no resurgence in cases north of the border.

It’s not all good news, though. Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, gave an interview to BBC Breakfast yesterday in which he said that opening schools would likely cause a rise in infections and to compensate the Government may have to increase restrictions elsewhere.

A Doctor Writes

A doctor has emailed me to draw my attention to a recent editorial in the BMJ.

I am a practising General Practitioner. I wholeheartedly support your efforts to draw attention to the actual facts surrounding the current SARS CoV-2 pandemic.

I follow your Lockdown Sceptics blog almost daily!

I would like to draw your attention to the editorial in this week’s BMJ which expounds the benefits and virtues of T-Cell immunity which you have pointed out for months .

I read the first paper on this subject shortly after I had recovered from COVID-19 myself. This was from a group in Tubingen in Germany back in April or May. There have been multiple papers confirming these findings since as you know.

It has taken the medical establishment three months to even start discussing this evidence!

Meanwhile, a Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard says parts of New York and London have already achieved herd immunity. According to the Telegraph:

“It’s reasonable to think that some local areas have a substantial amount of immunity. I think there are parts of New York and London which are there,” said Professor Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s really noticeable in certain pockets, but it varies city block to block and we have to be careful when interpreting what it means.”

Experts point to new modelling which has used data on the spread of Covid-19 to suggest herd immunity – previously estimated to be upwards of 70 per cent – could be as low as 50 per cent, or even 43 per cent, as one study found.

Make that 19%. A new German study found that 81% of pre-Covid blood donors had T-cell cross immunity to SARS-CoV-2. From the abstract:

SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell epitopes enabled detection of post-infectious T-cell immunity, even in seronegative convalescents. Cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 T-cell epitopes revealed preexisting T-cell responses in 81% of unexposed individuals, and validation of similarity to common cold human coronaviruses provided a functional basis for postulated heterologous immunity in SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Worth reading the study in full if the technical language doesn’t put you off.

Postcard From Bogota

A reader has sent me a “Postcard From Bogota“, which I’ve published today. Here’s the opening paragraph:

For the first time in my life I fled from the Police. Running at 7am in my local park all by myself and with a mask over my face, a motorcycle with two policemen approaching on the narrow trail. I saw them early enough and was able to sprint away from the path and hide until they were out of sight. Exercising outdoors is again forbidden, and violation costs a hefty fine (equivalent to $300). My neighbourhood Chapinero was forced into strict lockdown again for two weeks on August 16th. All shops and businesses had to close again (except those which sell food or medicine) and citizens are only allowed outside for emergencies or to buy these products. Colombians have been in lockdown since March 20th and compete with other Latin American countries for the longest lockdown in the world award.

Life in Bogota sounds significantly worse than in England – even Oldham! I was particularly horrified to read that children aren’t expected to return to school until 2021, with predictably catastrophic consequences for the least well off.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Scared Of You” by Nelly Furtado, “Scared of Everything” by Chris Leggett, “We Like to be Frightened” by Vanik and “Bedwetters of the World Unite” by Frankie China.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 3rd to Oct 13th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 29,500).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Meanwhile, Joan Collins has written a diary for the Spectator in which she recounts her fight with an officious French police officer.

On a shopping trip to Ikea I wore a new plastic face visor, which I had seen being worn by London hairdressers. As it’s less stifling than a ‘muzzle’ mask, I could breathe more easily. However, an officious gendarme became deeply offended by it, and while I was mulling over the benefits of Ikea’s gravadlax vs its smoked salmon, he pounced. Gesticulating in Gallic fashion, he yelled at me to put on a proper mask, because visors aren’t legal. Chastised, I slunk away, muttering an Anglo-Saxon expletive under my breath, which, as he glared at me, I feared he might have understood.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work (although I have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending me stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

I linked to Yoram Hazony’s piece in Quillette last week in which he tried to get to grips with why so many seemingly robust liberal institutions, like the New York Times, have proved vulnerable to capture by hard Left Neo-Marxists. I edited that piece and a couple of days ago I spoke to Hazony for the Quillette Podcast. You can listed to that conversation here.

Latest News

New Restrictions For Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn

Yesterday, the Government announced Oldham and parts of Blackburn and Pendle are facing extra restrictions to deal with local viral outbreaks. Residents in those areas are not allowed to socialise with anyone from outside their household, as of midnight tonight. Trouble is, the case numbers in all three areas are falling as you can see from the above table.

Carl Heneghan and Jason Oke wrote a post for the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine blog on Thursday urging the Government not to introduce any more restrictions in Oldham. They argue that decisions about whether to introduce local lockdowns should be based on hospitalisation and death data, not case data.

We consider that lockdown measures should be predicated on the impact of the disease. NHS England’s COVID-19 data provides information on the number of people admitted and in a Pennine Acute or Pennine Care Hospital with COVID (these hospitals cover Oldham, Rochdale and North Manchester).

The data shows that 1,252 beds are occupied across the Pennine Hospitals of which nine are occupied by COVID patients as the 9th of August. At the peak on the 12th of April, 290 beds were occupied by COVID patients.

The data also shows that admission remains low at a 7-day moving average of 3 to 4 patients per day, which is down from the preceding week.

In addition to the entirely unnecessary restrictions in Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn, Birmingham has been added to a watchlist as an “area of enhanced support”. The BBC has more.

The Labour leader said the council would announce “as soon as possible” what this meant for people in the city.

“If our previous warnings to keep doing the basics haven’t been enough, this has to be the wake-up call for everyone,” he said. “Wash your hands, wear face coverings wherever possible, keep two metres apart from others and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.”

The Labour leader said the council would announce “as soon as possible” what this meant for people in the city.

“If our previous warnings to keep doing the basics haven’t been enough, this has to be the wake-up call for everyone,” he said.

“Wash your hands, wear face coverings wherever possible, keep two metres apart from others and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.”

But why? Birmingham has 31 cases per 100,000 according to the latest figures, which is lower than it is London (50/100,000), according to the latest ONS Infection Survey data. If Birmingham has been added to the watchlist, why not London?

Incidentally, the latest Infection Survey – which shows no increase in cases on the previous week – also says: “There is no evidence from this survey to say that there is a difference in COVID-19 infection rates between different regions.”

Is the R Number Increasing?

SAGE has announced the R number has climbed above one for the first time since March and, as a result, the entire country may have to go into a second lockdown. According to the Telegraph:

A second national lockdown could be imposed, senior Government advisers have warned, as the upper limit of the R rate pushed over one for the first time since restrictions were lifted.

It continues:

Public Health England surveillance showed case detections in England increased from 5,763 to 6,418 in the week to August 16th, up 11%.

Daily cases are nearly double the number at the beginning of June when lockdown measures were eased. Oliver Johnson, a University of Bristol Professor of Information Theory, said: “The major concern is that R values of this magnitude do not leave a significant margin before the epidemic starts to grow in size again, and raise the possibility that some re-openings may need to be reversed to allow schools to open safely.”

What fresh hell is this? Not only is Public Health England’s data for the week ending August 16th at odds with the ONS Infection Survey data for the week ending August 13th, but an analysis by scientists at the universities of Leeds and Oxford indicates the recent increase in cases hasn’t translated into corresponding increases in hospital admissions and fatalities, even when allowing for the time lag between infections and death. Their analysis shows there should have been 35 fatalities a day by now, but just two deaths were recorded in English hospitals on Friday and none on Thursday, according to NHS England. Admissions are also continuing to fall and consultants say hospitals are “relatively empty” even in hotspots.

It’s time to prise these lockdown fanatics away from Boris Johnson’s ear.

Boris Returns to Cancer Care Crisis

“My advice to the good people of Britain is… don’t get cancer in 2020.”

According to today’s Times, scores of MPs, including several former ministers, have written to the Prime Minister urging him to do something about a backlog in cancer care that could lead to 30,000 unnecessary deaths in the next decade.

More than 100 MPs have written to Boris Johnson after the coronavirus lockdown caused severe disruption to cancer diagnoses and treatments. They have called on him to deliver an emergency boost to treatment capacity.

One senior oncologist has claimed that in a worst-case scenario the effects of the pandemic could result in 30,000 excess cancer deaths over the next decade.

In the letter, seen by the Times, the MPs write: “We urge you to work with your ministers to ensure that the NHS reacts more quickly to restore cancer services that have been badly disrupted due to the response to Covid.

“We are particularly concerned that the NHS’s plan appears to be limited to getting cancer services back to normal by the end of the year [but] this timescale is far too long. Many cancers can become untreatable in a matter of weeks.”

The signatories include Dan Poulter, a former health minister, Sir Ed Davey, a former energy secretary, and Sir Oliver Heald, a former Solicitor-General.

Research by Cancer Research UK charity indicates that in the 18 weeks since March 23rd about three million people missed out on vital screenings for bowel, breast and cervical cancer. In the same period about 315,000 fewer people than normal received an urgent suspected cancer referral and overall there were 38,000 fewer treatments.

Karol Sikora, a senior oncologist and co-founder of Rutherford Health, a private cancer treatment company, suggested that there could be up to 30,000 excess cancer deaths in the next ten years. He cited a study published last month in the journal Lancet Oncology, looking at the decline during lockdown in urgent cancer referrals by GPs. It calculated a worst-case scenario where an average six-month delay in these referrals would lead to nearly 9,300 excess deaths in the next decade.

Karol Sikora, a senior oncologist and co-founder of Rutherford Health, a private cancer treatment company, suggested that there could be up to 30,000 excess cancer deaths in the next ten years. He cited a study published last month in the journal Lancet Oncology, looking at the decline during lockdown in urgent cancer referrals by GPs. It calculated a worst-case scenario where an average six-month delay in these referrals would lead to nearly 9,300 excess deaths in the next decade.

If any readers have stories of their own cancer care being delayed or cancelled – or that of family members – please get in touch and I’ll publish them (always protecting your anonymity). You can email me here.

Postcard From Birmingham

A reader had a depressing experience in Birmingham city centre recently.

A month or so ago I had an appointment south of Birmingham and decided to travel via New Street station in the city centre.

The initial impression was of a sad, purposeless city, with almost everybody – myself included – shuffling along in a subdued state, going through the motions of life without zip or joy.

New Street Station presents a challenge at the best of times. Expect now an experience out of Kafka laced with 1980s spoof disaster movie Airplane!

Shortly having entered the cavernous underground bunker there was a confrontation with a large masked security official in a high viz jacket.

“You can’t get out this way!” he barked.

When I told him I was actually trying to get in, he aimed an arm in an opposing direction, towards another set of gates which looked promising at first glance, but were also keenly guarded by officials indicating another detour was required.

Oh, well.

At least there was an announcement on the PA stating some passengers will be exempt from mask-wearing. (Take-up 95%+ at a rough glance; you might want to include one to protect from the noxious fumes belching from trains waiting at covered platforms.)

Having completed the return journey a few hours later there was a requirement “to leave via the Yellow Zone”.

I tried to comply, thinking of Leslie Nielsen, emerged in an unfamiliar area, and ended up missing a connection at nearby Moor Street.

And now the bedwetting local council is anticipating lockdown with cases running rampant at, er, c30 per 100,000 of a demoralised local population…

All Party Parliamentary Group Recommends a ‘Zero Covid’ Strategy

A bedwetting group of MPs, led by the Liberal Democratic leadership hopeful Layla Moran, has urged the Government to commit to a ‘zero Covid’ strategy. The Standard has more.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus called on the Government to maintain compulsory social distancing measures across the country until zero-Covid is achieved.

The MPs said working from home should be actively encouraged and COVID-19 screening should be introduced at transport hubs, shopping centres and supermarkets, in order to meet the goal.

So we should maintain current social distancing measures – and introduce mandatory temperature screening – until the virus has been completely eliminated?

Not only is permanently wiping out the virus completely unrealistic, it’s worth reminding ourselves of a few facts to put the risk it poses in context.

  • Half a million people die in the UK every year; to date, Covid has killed less than 10% of that number
  • 170,000 Britons die of heart disease and stroke every year, more than three times the number that have died of novel coronavirus
  • In the winter of 2017-18, there were 50,000 excess deaths in the UK due to flu and pneumonia; to date, ~46,000 have died of Covid-19
  • Only two British children aged between five and 14 have died of Covid, meaning children that age have a 1:3,500,000 chance of succumbing to the virus, lower than being struck by lightning
  • In Germany, 25,100 people died of seasonal influenza in 2017-18; to date, 9,328 Germans have died of Covid
  • Globally, around 57 million people die each year; to date, coronavirus has killed less than a million
  • Globally, in a typical year 1.6 million people die of diarrhoea; that’s twice the number that have died of Covid
  • John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine at Stanford, has estimated that if you’re under 65 you’re more likely to die in a road traffic accident than succumb to the virus. However, he may be over-stating the risk. In a typical year, there are 1.1 million road traffic fatalities; in 2020, ~800,000 people have died of Covid

Incidentally, if you look at the APPG’s website, the ‘zero-Covid’ recommendation is not minuted or documented, there is no report containing the recommendation and the group’s inquiry hasn’t actually finished. There are hearings scheduled through into September and it’s still possible to submit evidence.

Could it be that Layla Moran is just grandstanding in the hope of shoring up her leadership credentials?

Beware: Plastic Shark

A reader spotted the above muzzled shark above a fish and chip shop in Oxford. She writes:

I snapped this in Oxford as mask-wearing customers queued into the street. Presumably the owner’s concerned that since cricket balls, flip-flops and cats are deemed deadly, it’ll only be a matter of time before his six feet model shark is listed as a killer vector too.

Care Home Cruelty

I received this heart-breaking email from a reader today. When will this needless cruelty end?

I am desperate and besides myself having received some information from my father’s care home today. It is only allowing one member of his family to visit him for 30 minutes once a fortnight. Full PPE, outdoors and at two metre distance.

What is most upsetting is that it is a reduction in what we have been managing to do to try to support him since March. We have been allowed by the care home to see him through double glazed patio doors for 30 minutes, twice a week. So down from four visits a fortnight to one.

I cannot see an end to these restrictions in care homes and I am now, more than ever, certain I will never see my father in person again before his natural death. There must be more to the end of a person’s life than this loneliness and being deprived of family support and love.

Please do print any aspects of this on the website as you feel fit.

A very very sad day for my family today.

Meanwhile, another reader has got in touch saying he’s been told by his friend’s care home that he’s not even able to send flowers. The guidance issued by the home includes the following gem: “We are unable, unfortunately, to accept any flowers, due to the inability to sanitize them.”

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Ignorance is Bliss” by The Divine Comedy and “What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks. If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 5th to Oct 15th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 29,500).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work, although I have help from several people. If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the HTML code, i.e. a link.

And Finally…

I was on Any Questions last night. You can listen again at 1.10 pm today and on the BBC’s website here. Tried my best to put across the sceptical point of view although, needless to say, the other three panellists were not of the same mind.