10pm Curfew? Time For Bed, Prime Minister
Our hopeless, busted flush of a Prime Minister is going to announce today that pubs and restaurants will have to close by 10pm from Thursday, with table-only service for the foreseeable future. Exceptions to the “rule of six” for weddings and funerals will be eliminated, too. Needless to say, this is to fend off a wholly imaginary “second wave”. The Mail does its best to relay Downing Street’s spin on this nonsense, although its heart isn’t in it.
In July, Mr Johnson urged staff to “go back to work if you can” in a bid to prevent city centres becoming ghost towns.
But a source told the Mail that employees will be advised to “work from home if you can” during the coming weeks.
The restrictions have divided the Cabinet, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma both warning about the potential impact on the economy. But a senior Government source insisted all ministers accepted the move was needed to bring the R-rate, which measures how fast the disease is spreading, back under control.
“The aim is to cause maximum damage to the R and minimal damage to the economy,” the source said. “Unless we act now, there will be greater economic damage later on.”
Businesses and schools will be allowed to stay open, with Government sources insisting the measures do not amount to a second lockdown.
The Two Ronnies of Doom
Richard Littlejohn has a cracking piece in the Mail about Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance’s apocalyptic press conference.
Sitting 6ft apart behind a newsreader-style desk, The Two Ronnies of Doom delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll, backed up by speculative graphs based on ‘the science’ — what most of us would call ‘guesswork’.
They could have looked at another graph, from Monday’s Daily Mail, which showed that cancer kills around 450 people a day, compared to just 21 from – or should that be with? – coronavirus.
Five people die daily in traffic accidents. In fact, for those under 50, you’re more likely to be hit by a bus than contract a fatal dose of Covid.
But using the Government’s better-safe-than-sorry approach to the corona pandemic, that would be enough to justify closing every road in Britain.
Hang on. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what they are doing.
During Monday’s dismal YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! diatribe, Vallance and Whitty even managed to invert the language, talking about Britain ‘turning the corner’ – and not in a good way. When normal folk speak of turning the corner, it usually means things are getting better.
Worth reading in full.
Many people have ridiculed Whitty and Valance’s prognosis – 49,000 new cases a day by October 13th if cases continue to double every seven days, not least because the killer graph the Two Ronnies used to illustrate this risk showed cases declining in the last seven days.
If cases haven’t doubled between September 9th and 15th, given that the “rule of six” was only introduced on the 14th, why should we believe they’ll start doubling from now on? And, of course, the lion’s share of the new blue cases – the actual cases – are based on Pillar 2 community testing carried out by PHE, so ~91% of them will be false positives.
Sir Patrick Vallance said that if cases do climb to 49,000 on October 13th we could expect to see 200 people a day dying from Covid in November. Sounds grim, right? But hang on a minute. That’s a case fatality rate of 0.4%. Given that the CFR is usually 10 times higher than the infection fatality rate, that’s an IFR of 0.04% – or less than half that of seasonal flu.
Remind me why we need a second lockdown for at least six months, Chief Science Officer?
Sir Patrick pointed to rising cases in Spain to illustrate the danger, claiming we were lagging Spain by a couple of weeks. But cases in Spain aren’t actually rising, according to Carl Heneghan, Jason Oke and Tom Jefferson, who produced a quick response to the press conference.
In a press briefing today Professors Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance showed epidemic curves for Spain and France – demonstrating how cases numbers have been growing rapidly, possibly exponentially, since August. As is often done when using case numbers by publishing date, the raw numbers are smoothed with a seven-day moving average. Drawn this way, the data shows a continued upward trend.
But drawing the epidemic curve for Spain using cases by symptom onset produces a different result. We have put these two methods together on a single graph so that they can be compared:
The epidemic curve based on the symptom onset date does not show the same continued growth – it appears to show cases stalling in late August.
Everyone I know is completely baffled by the smoke-and-mirrors press conference conducted by Whitty and Valance – and, of course, they refused to take any questions so no journalist was permitted to interrogate their data. Do they believe the nonsense they’re peddling or have they been put up to it by the Triumvirate? 49,000 cases a day would put the UK right at the top of the list of world’s countries affected by COVID-19. David Paton, Professor of Industrial Economics at Nottingham University Businesses School, told the Telegraph he would “take a dim view” if his students presented similar data.
So what’s going on? Why have they embarrassed themselves in the way?
If they’re just stooges for Caesar, Pompey and Crassus (Boris, Dom and Gove), what’s their agenda? Why does a Tory Government want to completely destroy the British economy – predicted to lose £250 million a day while the 10pm curfew remains in place? Won’t that just propel Mr Woodentop into Downing Street?
Even senior politicians are perplexed. An ex-Minister WhatsApped me yesterday evening:
What am I missing here? I seem to be in a parallel universe. Deaths are in single digits. So what if young people are getting it? That’s good. They then become immune. All we have to make sure is they keep away from old people. We can’t shut down the f***ing country again on a false analysis of the problem. In March and April cases were high and deaths were high. In September cases are high but deaths are low. I don’t understand the hysteria in Govt at the moment. They aren’t stupid. They can see the same as me. I really don’t get it.
My best guess is that the Triumvirate know, in their heart of hearts, that they made a colossal cock-up in March and are desperately clinging to Neil Ferguson’s doom-laden prognosis as the rationale for all the terrible damage they’ve done. Rather than admit they got it wrong, they have to remain faithful to their original hypothesis which, if you follow Ferguson’s logic, means we’ve only succeeded in postponing the apocalypse, not averting it. So if we don’t lock down again and “protect the NHS” – i.e. turn it into a Covid-only service again – the Government will be buried under half a million corpses. No, the restrictions must continue until we have a vaccine.
“They are running around like headless chickens, seemingly fearful of being blamed for killing people,” said one veteran Tory MP, quoted in the Telegraph.
Brutus, it’s time to start sharpening your knife.
What’s Really Happening to Cases?
A numerate reader has done some number crunching based on PHE’s weekly data and discovered that in most parts of England cases have fallen in the past week.
Meanwhile, in Sweden…
Sebastian Rushworth, who’s been working as an emergency physician in Sweden, has written an interesting blog post about what it’s like working on the front line in Stockholm. Answer: it’s an absolute breeze. This is a follow-up to a piece he wrote in August, in which he speculated about whether Sweden had achieved herd immunity.
In my earlier article in August, I mentioned that after an initial peak that lasted for a month or so, from March to April, visits to the Emergency Room due to covid had been declining continuously, and deaths in Sweden had dropped from over 100 a day at the peak in April, to around five per day in August.
At the point in August when I wrote that article, I hadn’t seen a single covid patient in over a month. I speculated that Sweden had developed herd immunity, since the huge and continuous drop was happening in spite of the fact that Sweden wasn’t really taking any serious measures to prevent spread of the infection.
So, how have things developed in the six weeks since that first article?
Well, as things stand now, I haven’t seen a single covid patient in the Emergency Room in over two and a half months. People have continued to become ever more relaxed in their behaviour, which is noticeable in increasing volumes in the Emergency Room. At the peak of the pandemic in April, I was seeing about half as many patients per shift as usual, probably because lots of people were afraid to go the ER for fear of catching covid. Now volumes are back to normal.
When I sit in the tube on the way to and from work, it is packed with people. Maybe one in a hundred people is choosing to wear a face mask in public. In Stockholm, life is largely back to normal. If you look at the front pages of the tabloids, on many days there isn’t a single mention of covid anywhere. As I write this (19th September 2020) the front pages of the two main tabloids have big spreads about arthritis and pensions. Apparently arthritis and pensions are currently more exciting than COVID-19 in Sweden.
In spite of this relaxed attitude, the death rate has continued to drop. When I wrote the first article, I wrote that covid had killed under 6,000 people. How many people have died now, six weeks later? Actually, we’re still at under 6,000 deaths. On average, one to two people per day are dying of covid in Sweden at present, and that number continues to drop.
In the hospital where I work, there isn’t a single person currently being treated for covid. In fact, in the whole of Stockholm, a county with 2,4 million inhabitants, there are currently only 28 people being treated for covid in all the hospitals combined. At the peak, in April, that number was over 1,000. If 28 people are currently in hospital, out of 2,4 million who live in Stockholm, that means the odds of having a case of covid so severe that it requires in-hospital treatment are at the moment about one in 86,000.
Oh Boris! If only you’d had the courage to follow your instincts!
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: The Swiss Doctor has compiled some data about Covid in Belarus. In spite of the fact that it was the least locked down country in Europe – even less locked down than Sweden – it has had a grand total of 785 deaths to date. Can this official death toll be trusted? Probably not, but all-cause mortality figures show that deaths are about three times higher than the official data – no worse than a bad bout of seasonal flu.
Sensible Scientists Write to Boris Urging Rethink
A group of sensible medical experts led by Prof Sunetra Gupta, Prof Carl Heneghan and Prof Karol Sikora have written an open letter to Boris urging him to rethink his Covid strategy. (Does he have one? Who knew!)
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing with the intention of providing constructive input into the choices with respect to the COVID-19 policy response. We also have several concerns regarding aspects of the existing policy choices that we wish to draw attention to.
In summary, our view is that the existing policy path is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of COVID-19 and should be reconsidered. The unstated objective currently appears to be one of suppression of the virus, until such a time that a vaccine can be deployed. This objective is increasingly unfeasible (notwithstanding our more specific concerns regarding existing policies) and is leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets any benefits.
Instead, more targeted measures that protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk, are more supportable. Given the high proportion of Covid deaths in care homes, these should be a priority. Such targeted measures should be explored as a matter of urgency, as the logical cornerstone of our future strategy.
In addition to this overarching point, we append a set of concerns regarding the existing policy choices, which we hope will be received in the spirit in which they are intended. We are mindful that the current circumstances are challenging, and that all policy decisions are difficult ones. Moreover, many people have sadly lost loved ones to COVID-19 throughout the UK. Nonetheless, the current debate appears unhelpfully polarised around views that Covid is extremely deadly to all (and that large-scale policy interventions are effective); and on the other hand, those who believe Covid poses no risk at all. In light of this, and in order to make choices that increase our prospects of achieving better outcomes in future, we think now is the right time to ‘step back’ and fundamentally reconsider the path forward.
The list of signatories is impressive. You can read the letter and see the full list in the Spectator.
- “Matt Hancock: Obstinate or Innumerate?” – I reworked one of my blog posts on Lockdown Sceptics for the Critic
- “Whitty and Vallance’s attempt to dress down the lockdown sceptics was unconvincing” – Janet Daley wasn’t convinced by the Two Ronnies
- “A ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown is no strategy at all” – Ross Clark on fine form in the Telegraph
- “We can beat Covid without lockdowns, says top German virologist” – Hendrik Streeck has some advice for countries contemplating a second lockdown: hold your nerve, and don’t succumb to the pervasive mood of mass hysteria
- “Lockdown is too extreme if the second wave is set to be no more deadly than winter flu” – Patrick O’Flynn says Boris needs to show some leadership. Some hope
- “REVERSAL: CDC Removes Guidelines Saying Coronavirus Can Spread From Tiny Air Particles” – Good news from across the pond
- “Spain deploys army to Madrid to help enforce lockdown” – Is this the next arrow in Matt Hancock’s quiver?
- “Daily ‘moonshot’ tests for COVID-19 will not be given out by NHS – the public will have to pay” – Dido Harding says the tests should be seen as a “cost of doing business” for people who want to attend conferences or go to the theatre. Is she really earmarked to succeed Simon Stevens?
- “Supermarkets warn public against another spate of panic buying” – Supermarket bosses have warned the public against embarking on another spate of panic buying, according to the Grocer
- “Boris Goes Full Fascist Against Lockdown Protests – But Not BLM or XR” – Delingpole lets rip in Breitbart
- “We Need a Radically Different Approach to the Pandemic and Our Economy as a Whole” – Interesting piece in Jacobin, based on interviews with Katherine Yih and Martin Martin Kulldorff, two sceptical public health experts, in which the left-wing magazine comes out against shut downs
- “Is it time we learned to live with the virus?” – Has Nick Triggle, the BBC’s Health Correspondent, finally seen the light?
- “James Ferguson: How bad data is driving fear of a second wave of COVID-19” – Listen to Lockdown Sceptics contributor talking to my old mate Merryn Somerset Webb in the Money Week podcast
Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers
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 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. But today we thought we’d tell you about an antidote to woke virtue-signalling – QPR’s decision not to take a knee at last Friday’s 12.45pm fixture against Coventry. Or rather, we thought we’d let Les Ferdinand, QPR’s Director of Football, tell you.
The taking of the knee has reached a point of ‘good PR’ but little more than that. The message has been lost. It is now not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge.
What are our plans with this? Will people be happy for players to take the knee for the next 10 years but see no actual progress made? Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game – actions will.
You tell ’em Les. Is it too much too hope that this rare injection of common sense into the national debate on how best to tackle racism will put an end to the absurd displays of BLM fealty in the Premier League?
The Guardian has more.
Stop Press: Free Speech Union Advisory Council member Doug Stokes, Professor of International Relations at the University of Exeter, has a terrific piece in Conservative Home on why the Conservative Government needs to stop standing on the sidelines in the culture war.
“Mask Exempt” Lanyards
We’ve created a one-stop shop 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. (And while you’re about it, sign this one, too, calling for the repeal of the Coronavirus Act.)
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: London Mayor Sadiq Khan is pushing for face masks to be work in all public spaces in London, not just shops, according to the Mail. Remind me who elected this clown? That’s right, nobody did. His term of office expired on April 20th this year.
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 Heneghan 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.
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.
Shameless Begging Bit
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