Emperor Boris Spies Second Wave; Declares War on Neptune
Today we wake with the depressing news that the Government doesn’t appear to have learnt a thing from the past six months. Here’s the Mail.
Boris Johnson last night warned that Britain was “seeing a second wave coming in” as he contemplated six months of “on-off” restrictions to tackle the upsurge in coronavirus cases.
He is now looking at six months of “on-off” nationwide restrictions amid concerns in Downing Street that the public is ignoring rules on social gatherings.
The new approach to get the country through winter would see it alternate periods of stricter measures with intervals of relaxation.
Fortnight-long “circuit breakers” would see tough restrictions introduced temporarily across the whole country to suppress the virus, before they would be lifted for a time and then re-introduced if necessary.
Measures could include bans on social contact between households, shutting down hospitality and leisure venues such as bars and restaurants, or restricting their opening hours…
Mr Johnson said last night said he was considering whether the Government needed to “go further” than the current national restrictions.
He said: “We’re looking very carefully at the spread of the pandemic as it evolves over the last few days and there’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect [and] are now seeing a second wave coming in. We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe – it has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country.” Spain recorded 239 deaths in a single day this week. [They did not occur on a single day though; the maximum so far reported occurring on a single day is 81.]
The Prime Minister insisted a second lockdown was the “last thing anybody wants” but said the current measures would need to be kept “under review”.
He added: “On Monday, we brought in the measures that we did, the ‘rule of six’, to really try and restrict what people are doing and to bring in a new buffer. But the crucial thing is at the same time to observe the basic rules on social distancing – hands, face, space – that is what everybody has got to do if we want to continue to beat this thing.
“But as we look at this particular curve and what is happening now, clearly we are going to keep everything under review. I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all – it is the last thing anybody wants…
Earlier in the day, Matt Hancock suggested measures would need to be in place into next year.
The Health Secretary said: “The strategy is to keep the virus down as much as is possible whilst protecting education and the economy. And doing everything we possibly can for the cavalry that’s on the horizon – the vaccine and mass testing, and the treatments that, frankly, this country has done more than any other around the world to develop.”
That’s the Covid cult: an endless cycle of restrictions followed by relaxations followed by restrictions as we wait for the vaccine Messiah who never quite comes. Fraser Nelson in the Spectator suggests Boris gets on the phone to Anders Tegnell and gets some proper advice on how to handle an epidemic from someone whose results speak for themselves. As Tegnell told Andrew Neil for the all-new Spectator TV:
We looked at the [Imperial] model and we could see that the variables put into the model were quite extreme… Why did they choose variables that gave extreme results? So we were always quite doubtful. We did some work on our own that pointed in quite a different direction. In the end, it proved that our prognosis was much closer to the real situation. Probably because we used data that was coming from the actual situation, and not from some kind of theoretical model.
We used data that was coming from the actual situation, and not from some kind of theoretical model.
Someone needs to put that on a coin with Tegnell’s head on it and give it to Boris. It sums up perfectly the difference between Sweden and most of the rest of the world.
Matt Hancock: Obstinate or Innumerate?
Lockdown Sceptics contributor Mike Yeadon, formerly head of R&D at Pfizer, told Julia Hartley-Brewer on Wednesday that she should ask Matt Hancock what the false positive rate is next time he’s on her show. Well, Hancock appeared on her show yesterday morning and she put the question to him. His answer was “less than one percent”.
As Julia pointed out on Twitter, that wasn’t as reassuring as he hoped.
Matt Hancock told me on @talkRADIO that the False Positive Rate of Covid tests in the community is “under 1%”. Sounds good, doesn’t it? WRONG!
An FPR of 0.8% when the virus prevalence is so low means that at least 91% of “Covid cases” are FALSE POSITIVES.
This FPR means that thousands of the people testing positive for coronavirus in the community are NOT in fact currently infected with Covid and they CANNOT infect others with the virus. That’s why the “rising Covid cases” is not translating into mass deaths.
Oxford Uni Prof @carlheneghan has already shown that, even an FPR as low as 0.1% in community testing returns over 55% false positives.
The Government is planning to lockdown our country again when there is no evidence of a second wave.
We cannot allow this to happen.
You can read Julia’s Twitter thread here.
One alarming thing about Matt’s reply to Julia’s question is that he appears to think the false positive rate, or FPR, is the percentage of people among those who’ve tested positive who are, in fact, negative. After telling Julia that the FPR was “less than one per cent”, he went on to say: “Under one percent means that for all the positive cases the likelihood of one being a false positive is very small.” No, Health Secretary. The FPR is the percentage of all the people you’ve tested who are found, falsely, to be positive. And when the prevalence of infection is low, that means that the likelihood of a positive test result being a false positive is very high.
To illustrate this, let’s suppose that 11 in 10,000 people in England have the virus, which is what the latest ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey estimates (week of Sept 4th to Sept 10th). So according to the Health Secretary’s understanding, if the PCR test has an FPR of 0.8% and you test 10,000 people and 91 test positive, that means that 0.8% x 91 are false positives, i.e. less than one person in the 10,000 is a false positive; one out of the 91 who tested positive. But in fact the numerator is all the people you’ve tested – that’s who the FPR applies to – not just those who’ve tested positive. So the number of false positives is 0.8% x 10,000, i.e. 80 people. To be clear, 80 of the 91, not one out of the 91, are recorded as positive WHEN THEY ARE NOT. Which leaves exactly 11 ‘true’ positives. Just one in 9 of those getting a positive result actually carry the virus! In other words, because the Health Secretary appears not to understand what an FPR is, he’s over-estimating the number of true positives by ~700%.
But the number of people who should self-isolate – and hand over the details of those they’ve been in contact with to NHS Test and Trace – is actually much lower than 11 in 10,000 because about half of those 11 will be ‘cold positives’, i.e. people who test positive because they have fragments of the virus still in their systems even though they’ve long since ceased to be infectious. And 40% of the remainder will be asymptomatic – and, as we know, cases of asymptomatic secondary transmission are extremely rare. That brings the total of people who should be self-isolating per 10,000 to about three. That’s a far cry from the 91/10,000 Hancock thinks should be self-isolating. Scaling that up by the population of England, that’s about 16,800 people, or 0.03%.
Some people reading this will think the Health Secretary knows exactly how many of the people testing positive each day are false or cold positives, but is keeping this knowledge from the public for nefarious reasons. After all, it’s easier to dismiss concerns about false positives if you pretend the numerator is just those people who’ve tested positive rather than everyone you’ve tested. But what would be his motive for dismissing those concerns if he knows they’re well-founded? Might it be because it would discredit his whole approach to managing the pandemic, which is test, test and test again, and make his landmark achievement of carrying out 100,000 tests in one day a few months ago – the achievement which saved him from Boris’s axe – seem less impressive? Because he doesn’t want to undermine public confidence in the Government? Because he’s hoping to get a job with AstraZeneca when he leaves office?
I suspect his answer to Julia Hartley-Brewer wasn’t deliberately misleading; rather, he has misled himself because actually getting to grips with the FPR and thinking through its implications is much more politically perilous that saying things like, “Under one percent means that for all the positive cases the likelihood of one being a false positive is very small.”
As I’ve said before on Lockdown Sceptics, the fact that senior politicians and public health panjandrums say things that we know not to be true doesn’t mean they’re lying to us. Rather, they’re lying to themselves because it’s in their interests to do so. And the root cause of this self-deception isn’t stupidity – or innumeracy, as in this case. On the contrary, the smarter a person is, the more effortlessly they are able to persuade themselves to believe whatever it is that’s in their best interests to believe. Hancock is one of Robert Musil’s “rightly blended personalities” as described in The Man Without Qualities:
And indeed the most coldly calculating people do not have half the success in life that comes to those rightly blended personalities who are capable of feeling a really deep attachment to such persons and conditions as will advance their own interests.
The tragedy of our age is that these “rightly blended personalities” are the ones that rise to the top in politics.
More University Diktats
A reader has flagged up a story in the Nottingham Post about a joint statement issued by the vice-chancellors of the universities of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent. I guess expecting a scientifically-informed, evidence-based response to the Government’s constantly changing coronavirus guidance is too much to expect from university vice-chancellors!
In a joint statement, the vice-chancellors from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, Professors Shearer West and Edward Peck, said: “Both of Nottingham’s universities welcome students to our city and invite them to be an integral part of the communities in which they live.
“This year we recognise that the coronavirus presents exceptional and individual challenges to every Nottingham citizen and that any incident of antisocial behaviour, such as not respecting the latest Government guidance on social distancing measures, has the potential to put lives at risk.
“All of our students will be required to sign and adhere to updated Codes of Conduct which include these guidelines.
“In the most serious of cases, students can find themselves removed from their accommodation, suspended from their course, and/or with a criminal record.”
It could be worse, I suppose. At least they’re not threatening to expel any students who break the rules and keep their first-year tuition fees, as Northeastern University in the United States has done.
Stop Press: A reader has got in touch to tell us about the lockdown imposed yesterday evening at St Andrew’s University.
I have a relative at St. Andrews University and the rules and regulations there are, well, draconian at best and cruel at worst. The halls residents have to wear a mask in their hall even though it is effectively their home. All lectures are done in your room via Zoom even though open lectures were promised right up until the students took up residence in their rooms (funny that). There is not enough room in the various hall canteens due to social distancing so most eat in the bedrooms. They must not stop in any corridor and must not talk to each other on pain of warnings and eventually being sent down. They are allowed no visitors (boyfriends or girlfriends) in their rooms. But they can pop over to a cheap hotel if one visits! They have employed students to snitch on each other if any rules are broken. I would rather be in prison.
As of an hour ago, the University Principal informed all students that they were being asked to go into “voluntary lockdown” due to two or three cases (positive tests?) on campus.
The relative is considering leaving and giving up their massively hard worked for place. They are strong willed and mentally tough but I fear many young, less mentally tough students are going to be in serious trouble this winter if we are not careful. I know I would have been! I despair.
This is from the email the Principal sent to all students:
It is now very clear that rates of Covid infection are surging again in various parts of this country, and it is very likely that we are very close to a form of further national lockdown. The First Minister of Scotland has today spoken of the urgent need to interrupt the chain of transmission of the virus. In these circumstances, I am writing to all of our students to ask you to please observe a voluntary lockdown this weekend, effective from 7pm this evening. This means that I am asking you all to remain in your rooms as much as possible, not to party, not to go to bars or restaurants, and to avoid mixing with any groups outside your own households. Catering will continue as normal in halls of residence. I appreciate that this request may appear to some of you to be premature, but a hallmark of this pandemic has been that, as a society, we have acted too slowly in the past, and thousands of people have died unnecessarily as a result. Early action saves lives, and we have an opportunity as one community to take action to protect ourselves, and those with whom we share this town. We acted swiftly in March when the pandemic first hit Fife, and the situation we face now is just as serious… There is no evidence that the virus is surging in our community. Rather it is because as a country we are now in a very fast-moving phase where early intervention is key, and hours make a difference.
Hospitals: Not All Full of Mask Nazis
A Lockdown Sceptics reader had an encouraging encounter with a sensible doctor at the hospital recently and wrote to tell us about it.
I have been visiting a London Bridge private hospital for a sports injury. My charming doctor revealed his true colours as he said that we’re stuck in the wrong narrative about mass deaths. This has lead to healthcare organisations minimising risk at the cost of patients. One example of which is the suspension of pain relieving injections. Those with chronic joint or muscle pain have had to forego cortisol injections until very recently when they’ve been reintroduced. The panic was that cortisol might lower one’s immune system and hence increase one’s chances of dying of COVID-19. I told my doctor I’d be more likely to die from being hit by a bus on the way to the injection appointment than die of the virus because of a weaker immune system. My doctor agreed.
I did ask him on my first visit if he would like to remove his mask as I had no issue with him being maskless but as it was our first meeting I understand he wished to follow protocol. But in the consultation room we couldn’t quite hear each other so we dropped the masks.
Interesting that a senior clinician was so pragmatic, sensible and challenged the public narrative whereas the receptionist reprimanded me for leaving my snout exposed which I did in order to save them the ordeal of shovelling out my asphyxiated corpse from their lobby. He followed up his initial polite request to amend my mask use with a sinister reference to his colleagues who check this throughout the hospital. Big brother is watching.
Another reader found his hospital surprisingly easy-going when it came to his exposed face.
I’ve not worn a face mask since the Covid farce began six months ago. Not once. Never. I see it as a sort of badge of honour in resisting Government lies and general nincompoopery.
Anyway, yesterday I had to go to the hospital to see a consultant. The appointment letter that came through the post said I should wear a mask and would be given one at the hospital if I didn’t have one. My wife said I should be respectful. Reluctantly, I decided I’d probably go with the mask flow if pushed or confronted, seeing as the NHS was helping me on the health front.
When I arrived – not face muzzled – the usually bustling hospital was deserted. A notice on the main entrance sliding doors said I should wear a mask before entering. The entrance hall shops and coffee bar were all shuttered. Two or three masked people were sitting in the big main empty waiting area.
The woman on the desk – like me, unmasked and not wearing rubber gloves – took my letter off me and told me where Urology was. She did not challenge me about not wearing a mask. She did not eye me disapprovingly.
All staff I passed were masked. Nobody gave me the evil eye. When I arrived in Urology, several guys were waiting to see consultants. All were masked. Staff members came and went. All were masked and sounded muffled when they spoke, like they were talking from under a duvet.
My consultant called me through on time. He was masked. He did not ask me why I was unmasked. He wasn’t in the remotest bit put out because my face wasn’t covered. He also examined me.
By this time, it seemed a bit odd, if only because I’d wondered if I might come up against bedwetters as James Delingpole would say. I might as well have been wearing one of those silly Groucho Marx masks with the specs and rubber nose, and folk pretend not to notice like they pretend not to notice nutters in bus stations.
Fifteen minutes later I left. I didn’t notice the one-way-system stickers on the floor and nearly collided with a masked hospital staff member. She did not freak out bumping into me unmasked.
Besides the woman on the main desk, the only other unmasked person I saw on site was a woman working at a computer as I passed and an open office. Not a single negative word or dodgy eye glance came my way throughout the time I was there.
Are masks bad for your teeth? A reader writes with a concerning observation:
My beautician is a dentist with a side hustle. Chatting yesterday, she said ‘meth mouth’ is notorious among dentists, the wreckage of meth addicts’ mouths. She said they are now seeing cases of ‘mask mouth’ – people overly mouth breathing, and rebreathing bacteria sodden air from cloth masks. As she’s NHS she’s only allowed to see one patient an hour (it’s usually eight) and she said she and her colleagues are predicting an A&E influx of dental emergencies any time soon.
Can any dentist readers confirm if they’ve clocked this as well?
Where Is The Opposition?
Lockdown Sceptics reader and Labour Party member Dave Ferguson has written to his party asking them where on earth they are on all this.
I wanted to make you aware how disappointed I am with the response of the Labour Party to the current Coronavirus crisis. It is now very apparent that COVID-19 is much less virulent and less deadly than was originally thought. The official stance of the Labour Party in relation to the Government seems to be to accept the goals as valid and to criticise them for their inefficiency. There is certainly inefficiency but some of the goals and approaches also need to be questioned. In the early days of lockdown when Keir Starmer was asking about exit strategy this made sense but that is now no longer the case. The so called rule of six is a ridiculous response to the current so-called spikes, where many of the so-called cases are asymptomatic or false positives, clearly an artefact of the testing. Last night on Question Time Jon Ashworth, who is Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and should be expected to have an understanding of these matters, was clearly out of his depth in talking to Sunetra Gupta and gave no response to the very sensible question of why this over the top response was appropriate to COVID-19 and not to flu. The best he could manage was to say there might be epidemiologists who disagreed with her, but why not look at the arguments she makes rather than rely on a narrow band of experts who have repeatedly misjudged matters.
The Party needs to be an alternative voice, and that means listening to the alternative voices among the experts, like Sunetra Gupta. Like Carl Heneghan from the Centre for Evidence-based medicine who has shown that much of the current so called spike is most likely caused by false positive responses to PCR tests. Like Michael Levitt who has shown that the virus does not propagate exponentially but follows a Gompertz curve. Like Karol Sikora whose concerns about other health issues have shown how inadequate a response it is to say in defence of draconian measures, as Jon did, I am just trying to save lives.
There is talk of some kind of anti-lockdown party standing at local elections and there is every chance they could take votes from major parties as UKIP once did. The Labour Party needs to carefully consider its current response to this crisis. I am an active member of the Labour Party, but at present feel we need some better and more joined up thinking.
The Democratic Case Against Lockdown
Lockdown Sceptics contributor David Seedhouse, Professor of Deliberative Practice at Aston University, has written a book making the democratic case against the lockdowns. It’s being published by Sage (no, not that one) on September 26th and you can order a copy here for £6.99. We asked David to write a blog post for us explaining what his book’s about.
This book, written between March and May, during ‘lockdown’ in the UK, is a spontaneous analysis of a disturbing global drama that continues to disrupt normal standards of science, public health, human rights and medical ethics in ways few people thought possible at the start of 2020.
Civil liberties have been cast aside by a handful of people obsessed with a single risk, unable to think beyond the narrowest conception of health. For weeks, in the initial stages of the pandemic, the only focus of most governments was to ‘defeat’ a virus. They took advice almost exclusively from like-minded epidemiologists and public health doctors, who claimed to be ‘guided by the science’ yet whose predictions turned out to be wildly wrong. This small collection of establishment people simply disregarded entirely predictable negative impacts on so many other aspects of social life, myopically sacrificing countless lives, livelihoods and national economies to ‘battle’ a virus no worse than seasonal ‘flu. There was no attempt at democratic consultation, and governments had few if any qualms about using propaganda to terrify people into compliance.
The assumption that we live in accountable democracies, with unalienable rights, was erased with Orwellian disdain. It quickly became clear that it is impossible for citizens to challenge governments, even in the face of unprecedented restrictions on personal freedoms: if the government says you cannot leave your house they can force you to stay in, as millions from Melbourne in Australia to Lima in Peru now know. The cherished notion of informed consent to health measures has been replaced by a slew of hastily drafted legislation which has made previously normal, innocent actions criminal offences.
The Case for Democracy includes many examples of the failure of decision-makers to understand the meaning of evidence, to balance risks of disease with multiple other risks, and to follow the advice of their own professional bodies about what to do if there is a pandemic: for example, using repressive measures without public involvement flatly contradicts advice from the Centers for Disease Control in the USA, which consistently points to the importance of balancing individual liberty with combating disease.
However, cataloguing unfounded decision-making is not the main purpose of the book. After all, any competent person with internet access and a little determination can discover the deluge of errors, unethical laws and false reasoning for him or herself. Rather the book tries first to understand how apparently sane people could possibly think it made sense to implement such massively damaging policies, and secondly asks how we, the public, might ensure that such a disastrous episode can never happen again.
The explanation is simple: the ‘experts’ are subject to biases and errors of thought well-known to every first-year psychology student, yet none of them seem to realise it. The text-book examples of mistaken thinking include: ‘social amplification’ where new risks are falsely perceived as worse than existing dangers; ‘attentional bias’ where only very specific things are noticed while other relevant matters are ignored; and ‘confirmation bias’ in which only information that strengthens one’s prior view is valued – making it extremely difficult to assess alternatives fairly, and even harder to admit when you are wrong.
‘Group think’ amongst politicians has been ubiquitous. Apart from Sweden and South Korea, politicians right, left and centre have rushed either to copy or outdo each other, without seeming to question the sense of this. The ‘Dunning-Kruger Effect’, in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their competence while feeling superior to others has been equally widespread; as has the tendency to predict more extreme outcomes than actually happen, and the simple, atavistic enjoyment of power and control.
The notion of ‘rational field blindness’ illuminates these elementary mistakes. This lack of vision occurs when it’s assumed that the evidence speaks for itself (it never does) and that scientific analysis is value free (it never is). Rational fields do involve evidence, logic, and sometimes science, but these factors are always selected and interpreted according to values, human instincts, linguistic classifications, and the physical and social environment. When policymakers are blind to this, their reasoning, choices, and actions inevitably become dangerously skewed and short-sighted.
Because the backgrounds of their advisers are so limited, no-one seems to have explained these elementary psychological errors to the politicians, who believe they are making rational, objective decisions, when really their behaviours are classic case studies in delusion.
These factors underpin the book’s argument for inclusive, participatory democracy: if the chief problem has been an unduly limited number of options for action, an obvious alternative is to broaden decision-making processes to include diverse voices, knowledge, values, experiences and cultures – as a practical, effective way to arrive at well-informed consensus.
Since our values-blind leaders are unable to see beyond their biases, they need to be better educated. And the best way to do this is via properly organised and funded Citizens’ Assemblies, with decision-making powers, where policies like lockdown can be properly debated. Our current leaders would, of course, be invited to present their viewpoints, which would then be subject to scrutiny from Assembly members with wide and varied expertise, from many walks of life. In these Assemblies our leaders would have to defend and justify their points of view and would, in the process, learn about and be able to reflect on intelligent and compassionate alternatives.
The Case for Democracy not only explains why this is so desperately needed, but gives examples of many existing inclusive, democratic initiatives around the world; including an extensive exercise in the USA where citizens considered what to do in preparation for a ‘flu epidemic and came to the sensible conclusion that vulnerable people should be protected, though not at the expense of normal social functioning.
Wide-reaching participatory democracy is already happening. While it will be a challenge to extend these examples to involve many thousands of us, it is by no means impossible. It can and must be done.
I like David’s explanation for why governments and their advisors around the world have mishandled the response to the Covid crisis so badly. Not a conspiracy, but a cock up stemming from a cluster of cognitive biases.
Vaccine Consultation Now Closed. What Comes Next?
The UK Government’s consultation on the roll out of Covid vaccines closed at midnight last night. So what comes next? According to the i‘s Jane Merrick, it’s not good.
Ministers are planning to invoke emergency powers to vaccinate the public against COVID-19 even if it is unlicensed, i can reveal.
If a vaccine becomes available before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st and it has not been approved by the European medicines watchdog, the UK will use its own emergency regulations to sidestep EU law to allow the jab to be deployed due to the serious threat the virus poses to human life.
The Government admits it would be an “very unusual” step to use the extraordinary powers for an unlicensed medicine but that it would be necessary, in those circumstances, to save lives from coronavirus.
Worth reading in full (although so many ads pop up when you look at anything on the i or the Independent, their articles are virtually unreadable).
Speaker Gets No-Platformed; Free Speech Union Gets Her Re-Platformed
The FSU managed to get Caroline Farrow, a Catholic journalist who’d been no-platformed by the University of Exeter Debating Society, re-invited on Thursday evening. She was due to speak on Friday in a debate on whether prostitution should be legalised, but she was notified at 11am on Thursday that she’d been disinvited because of her religious beliefs on a range of LGBT issues. This was a clear case of no-platforming and a breach of the University of Exeter’s professed commitment to free speech.
I wrote to the newly-installed Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lisa Roberts, letting her know that if she didn’t intervene to make sure Caroline’s invitation was reinstated, the University would be in breach of its legal duty to protect free speech, as set out in the Education (Nº 2) Act 1986, which was passed, in part, to prevent the no-platforming of visiting speakers at British universities. In particular, it would be a breach of s.43(a) of the 1986 Act, which requires universities to “take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers”. This Act and these words are referred to in Exeter’s “Freedom of Speech” policy.
Thankfully, after receiving my letter, Professor Roberts did intervene. I received a response from the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at 9.22pm on Thursday night informing me that Caroline had now been re-invited and, when I checked with her, she had. The following day, there was another attempt to no-platform her that the Vice-Chancellor again resisted and when the censorious members of the Debating Society’s committee were repulsed they took to Facebook to express their displeasure, saying they’d only agreed to re-platform Caroline because of the University’s intervention.
You can read an account of the affair on the FSU’s website here, as well as a shorter version on Guido Fawkes here. The FSU interviewed Caroline about the episode for its YouTube channel and you can see that here.
- “Unlike these readers cowed by Covid, I’ll stand up to the Rule of Six bullies” – Bel Mooney writes in the Conservative Woman about how disappointed she was by the reaction to her recent advice column in the Mail in which she said she wouldn’t be cancelling Christmas
- “MPs threaten to block renewal of sweeping powers” – Good to hear about this, though much of the lockdown is done under existing laws rather than the Coronavirus Act which is up for renewal
- “False Positives” – Excellent blog post by Desmond Swayne, the most sceptical MP in the House of Commons
- “Last time we locked down to buy more time for the NHS – so what exactly is the reason now?” – An excellent question from Alexandra Phillips in the Telegraph
- “Almost half of firms set to swing jobs axe” – It’s going to get messy
- “Covid pushes New Zealand into worst recession in years” – Wrong headline on this BBC story. Should read: “Hysterical over-reaction to Covid pushes New Zealand into worst recession in years.”
- “South Dakota: America’s Sweden” – Interesting piece on the AIER site by Amelia Janaskie holding up South Dakota as a (relative) beacon of liberty
- “Almost one third of Covid deaths in July and August ‘primarily caused by other conditions’” – Report based on the latest article from Carl Heneghan’s CEBM highlighting further problems with COVID-19 definitions and diagnosis, which can be found (without paywall) here
- “Do many people have pre-existing immunity?“– Important article in the BMJ reviewing the mounting evidence for widespread immunity to SARS-CoV-2
- “Our testing regime is dangerously flawed – here’s how to fix it” – The latest from Dr Clare Craig in the Speccie
Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers
Van Morrison has joined the swelling ranks of wrinkly rockers against lockdown, alongside Noel Gallagher, Ian Brown and the bloke from the Corrs. He announced yesterday three lockdown protest songs for release soon. The BBC has the story.
Sir Van Morrison has accused the Government of “taking our freedom” in three new songs that protest against the coronavirus lockdown. In the lyrics, he claims scientists are “making up crooked facts” to justify measures that “enslave” the population. “The new normal, is not normal,” he sings. “We were born to be free…
“No More Lockdown” is the most strident of the three tracks. “No more lockdown/No more government overreach,” the musician sings in the chorus. “No more fascist bullies/Disturbing our peace. No more taking of our freedom/And our God given rights/Pretending it’s for our safety/When it’s really to enslave.“
Another song references a widely-shared Facebook post, of a screenshot from a UK Government website saying, “COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK.”
While it is true that COVID-19 does not meet the criteria for an HCID – which typically has a high fatality rate (as much as 50% in the case of Ebola) – the disease is still considered highly infectious, with no specific vaccines or treatment currently available.
Hang on a minute – no treatment currently available? If that’s supposed to be the BBC fact checking Van Morrison’s “dangerous misinformation” then I’m afraid it backfires badly. There are now a number of treatments for COVID-19 which studies and clinical practice have shown to have some effect in reducing mortality. Such as HCQ with zinc, reported by American doctors to give an 84% decrease in hospitalisation rates and a 50% decrease in mortality rates among already hospitalised patients.
Anyway, the songs. They are “Born To Be Free”, released September 25th, “As I Walked Out”, to be released on October 9th and “No More Lockdown”, released October 23rd. We’ll send out a reminder when they come out and we’ll see if Lockdown Sceptics readers can help boost them to number one on iTunes.
Sir Van Morrison says:
I’m not telling people what to do or think, the Government is doing a great job of that already. It’s about freedom of choice. I believe people should have the right to think for themselves.
Love in the Time of Covid
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 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.
We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today it’s the turn of Columbia University Marching Band, which has decided its very existence is so repugnant it will “unanimously and enthusiastically” disband after 116 years. Here’s the letter they wrote announcing their self-annihilation, an epistle worthy of Titania McGrath.
“Mask Exempt” Lanyards
We’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 (takes a while to arrive). 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 £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it 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.
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: An American man, Reed Bender, was physically removed by police from a school board meeting about masks in Mitchell, South Dakota, on Monday night because he refused to wear a mask. Here’s the story from the local press:
Bender resisted the cops as other people urged him to stop, video of the altercation showed. A cop pulled out his taser but was hesitant to use it. “You’re going to have to tase me in front of all these people,” Bender said. “I want these people to video it while their cops of minority descent have to do this to everybody,” he said. One woman off-screen said that Bender just “wants to have a say.” After more struggling, the cops removed Bender from the room.
Watch the incident unfold here.
The Care Home Scandal – A Call For Evidence
Lockdown Sceptics has asked an award-winning investigative journalist, David Rose, to investigate the high death toll in Britain’s care homes. Did 20,000+ elderly people really die of COVID-19 between March and July or were many of them just collateral lockdown damage? With lots of care homes short-staffed because employees were self-isolating at home, and with relatives and partners unable to visit to check up on their loved ones because of restrictions, how many elderly residents died of neglect, not Covid? How many succumbed to other conditions, untreated because they weren’t able to access hospitals or their local GP? After doctors were told by care home managers that the cause of death of a deceased resident was “novel coronavirus”, how many bothered to check before signing the death certificate? The risk of doctors misdiagnosing the cause of death is particularly high, given that various safeguards to minimise the risk of that happening were suspended in March.
David Rose would like Lockdown Sceptics readers to share any information they have that could help in this investigation. Here is his request:
We are receiving reports that some residents of care homes who died from causes other than Covid may have had their deaths ascribed to it – even though they never had the disease at all, and never tested positive. Readers will already be familiar with the pioneering work by Carl Henghan and his colleagues at the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, which forced the Government to change its death toll counting method. Previously, it will be recalled, people who died of, say, a road accident, were being counted as Covid deaths if they had tested positive at any time, perhaps months earlier. But here we are talking of something different – Covid “deaths” among people who never had the virus at all.
In one case, where a family is deciding whether to grant permission for Lockdown Sceptics to publicise it, an elderly lady in reasonable health was locked in her room for many hours each day in a care home on the south coast, refused all visitors, deprived of contact with other residents, and eventually went on hunger strike, refusing even to drink water. She died in the most wretched circumstances which were only indirectly a product of the virus – and yet, her death certificate reportedly claims she had Covid.
I’m looking for further examples of 1) elderly people who died as a result of the lockdown and associated measures, but whose deaths were wrongly attributed to “novel coronavirus”, and 2) those elderly people who clearly died from other causes but whose deaths were still formally ascribed to Covid because they once tested positive for it, even after the counting method change.
Shameless Begging Bit
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