Did AIDS Hysteria Prefigure Covid Hysteria?
Today we’re publishing an original contribution to one of the most interesting sections on the right-hand side: “How Have We Responded to Previous Pandemics?” This one is by veteran science and medical correspondent Neville Hodgkinson, who covered the AIDS pandemic for the Sunday Times. He sees depressing parallels between the hysterical over-reaction to that pandemic and the over-reaction to this one, with the same misallocation of resources.
Here’s an extract:
One of the consequences, as now, was a huge misallocation of money to the detriment of genuine medical need. A 1993 report from the University of Northumbria Business School, to which Stewart contributed, found that for each AIDS death, health authorities were spending an average of £290,000 on HIV prevention and research, compared with £50 for each death from heart disease. Many UK health regions had considerably more AIDS workers than patients.
Whereas in 1985 a Royal College of Nursing report predicted that one million people in Britain would have AIDS in six years “unless the killer disease is checked”, the actual cumulative, year-on-year, total of AIDS cases by 1990 was still below 5,000. Today, AIDS kills fewer Britons than die from falling down stairs. Even those deaths might have been avoided if the true nature of the condition had been recognised.
Stewart’s findings and recommendations also remained unpublished by the WHO. It was not until June 2008, 25 years after the panic over AIDS began, that the organisation finally admitted the threat of a world pandemic among heterosexuals was over, though it continued to maintain that sub-Saharan Africa was being devastated by the disease.
In fact, Africa was and is one of the biggest victims of the illusions around AIDS, as I found when Andrew Neil, then editor of The Sunday Times, sent me there in 1993 to find out what was happening. My reports, showing that scarce resources were being misdirected to an imaginary epidemic created by an unvalidated “HIV” test, got the scientific and medical establishment in the UK into a frenzy but were never refuted.
How can scientists, who we look to with so much respect, get things so wrong? The answer is that they are human beings, just like the rest of us.
One of the key lessons that could have been drawn from the AIDS debacle is that there is no such holy grail as “the data” or “the science” demanding a particular course of action, contrary to the repeated claims by the Prime Minister and his Health Secretary. It’s how the data are interpreted that is important, and in this regard the Government is receiving a very one-sided and out-of-date perspective.
One of the most startling points Hodgkinson makes is that many of the protagonists in the British and American Government’s response to the Covid crisis are the same people – or are linked to the same organisations – that led the worldwide fight against AIDS.
These include Anthony Fauci, the “AIDS Czar”, who as head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has presided over an era in which several hundred billion dollars have been spent on AIDS research and treatment, including a completely futile but continuing search for a vaccine.
Another is Sir Roy Anderson, the current Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College, London. He co-authored an influential, 150-page Royal Society study, published in September 1989, analysing the AIDS epidemic and making predictions about future spread. The other main author was Sir David Cox, professor of statistics at Imperial for more than 20 years, now long since retired.
The predictions were wrong, as demonstrated by an 8,000-word analysis first submitted to the society in September 1990 by the late Professor Gordon Stewart, one of its most distinguished members, with a lifetime’s work in public health.
The error, he said, came about because the statistical model used rested on two false assumptions. The first of these was that the essential cause of AIDS was HIV; and the second was that the virus was already spreading heterosexually, beyond the original susceptible groups of homosexual men with multiple sexual partners, and drug addicts, and would cause a global pandemic.
This is a fascinating piece from a journalist who is witnessing the mistakes the authorities are making in response to the current pandemic and has seen it all before.
Worth reading in full.
When Will the Government Treat Us Like Grown-ups?
The BBC continues its infantile campaign against the concept of herd immunity, failing to explain (as Professor Sunetra Gupta does here) that it is a perfectly ordinary scientific term (if clumsy from a PR perspective), the basis of how vaccines protect a population, and is the only realistic endpoint of an epidemic where (as in this case) elimination is unrealistic and unjustifiably costly.
BBC News reports that it has obtained, via a Freedom of Information request, every email sent by Sir Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty from the start of February to the start of June containing the words “herd immunity”. They appear to be trying to get the pair in trouble for ever having thought (back when they still spoke some sense) that herd immunity was worth talking about.
At the start of the pandemic, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, spoke about “herd immunity” – the idea that once enough of a population had been exposed to the virus, they would build up natural immunity to it. [LS Fact Check: Herd immunity according to Oxford Languages is the “resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination”. It does not require people to be “exposed to the virus”, as the BBC claims, as they could have T-Cell cross-immunity or be vaccinated.]
Sir Patrick and the Government have both insisted this was never official policy. The Government also denies there was any delay in locking down the country, as some critics have suggested.
Emails obtained by the BBC reveal the alarm among the Government’s top scientific advisers at the reaction to Sir Patrick’s words.
In one email from March, Sir Patrick asks for help to “calm down” academics who have expressed anger at his repeated references to herd immunity and the delays in announcing a lockdown.
The emails show “herd immunity” began to appear after Vallance’s media round on March 13th:
“Our aim,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that morning, is to “try and reduce the peak – not suppress it completely, also because most people get a mild illness, to build up some degree of herd immunity whilst protecting the most vulnerable”.
To many, his words appeared an unequivocal endorsement of herd immunity. They also appeared to explain the Government’s reluctance to order the kind of lockdowns and social distancing measures that were already in place in many other countries, despite cases increasing and worrying scenes in hospitals in Italy.
Speaking to Sky News on the same day, Sir Patrick talked about not suppressing the virus completely, to help avoid “a second peak”, and also to “allow enough of us who are going to get mild illness to become immune to this”.
When asked how much of the British population would need to contract the virus for herd immunity to become effective, he calmly replied “probably around 60%”.
With an approximate 1% case fatality rate, the interviewer responded, that would mean “an awful lot of people dying”. [LS Fact Check: the BBC is confusing the case fatality rate with the infection fatality rate.]
At the time, there was no strong evidence that being infected by coronavirus would result in long-lasting immunity.
The following day, a group of more than 500 academics published a joint letter, criticising the lack of social distancing restrictions imposed by the Government, adding that “going for ‘herd immunity’ at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put the NHS at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary”.
In an email to Sir Mark Walport, the UK’s former Chief Scientific Adviser, discussing the scientists’ letter, Sir Patrick suggests the message in response should be “herd immunity is not the strategy. The strategy is to flatten the curve… and to shield the elderly… As we do this we will see immunity in the community grow”.
Sir Patrick appears clearly rattled by the backlash to his use of the phrase.
Add a sprinkle of Neil Ferguson alarmist modelling on March 16th and that’s how we got into this mess, as Government ministers and their scientific advisers caved to the mob over the following fortnight.
The same stunt was pulled on Anders Tegnell in Sweden, who has also had to deny that herd immunity was ever an aim, despite emails surfacing that suggest otherwise. But of course epidemiologists were discussing herd immunity in March. They would have been professionally negligent not to have been – it’s a fundamental concept in the science.
What this shows is a chronic failure of leadership from our politicians who, rather than explain to the population what “herd immunity” really means and why building it up is the only viable way to protect the vulnerable and return to normal, crumbled at the first sign of discomfort with the idea and switched to a suicidal suppression strategy while waiting for
Godot a vaccine. This treats the public like children who can’t cope with grown-up ideas and hard choices. No wonder it laid the foundation for the emergence of the new paternalistic Covid state that takes away our liberty (because we can’t be trusted to behave) to keep us “safe” – though in truth does anything but.
A Very Sensible MP
Conservative MP Richard Drax had a letter in the Telegraph on Monday that reflects the growing scepticism among Conservative MPs.
SIR – A major rethink on how we battle coronavirus is urgently needed. Now, we’re far better informed, so locking us all down and destroying more lives and livelihoods are not the answer.
Even when a vaccine is found, it may not grant total immunity. In the meantime, as with every other disease, we must learn to live with it.
The most vulnerable are more than capable of deciding how to protect themselves, while the young need to get on with their lives and enjoy their youth, which passes all too quickly.
Enough of this hourly analysis, which creates an atmosphere of fear out of all proportion to the threat. Our best weapon against the virus, for now, is common sense, not over-reaction, which is devastating our country.
Richard Drax MP (Con)
Another person who thinks people are more than capable of deciding how to protect themselves is Lockdown Sceptics reader Steven Sieff, who runs the Greenband/Redband site. He has had a letter published in the BMJ criticising the elimination strategy and proposing his freedom-respecting coloured wristband system instead.
If the route to elimination and isolation of the vulnerable both cause too much suffering then what next? Practical suggestions have been largely absent amongst the torrent of voices who question the lockdown approach. But some do exist. One such example is the targeted protection advocated by the greenbandredband system. This approach proposes that all adults be given the right to choose whether to class themselves as vulnerable or low risk. No arbitrary lines, just a personal choice based on personal risk assessment. From there very simple rules exist. For those who classify themselves as vulnerable, distancing/protection measures similar to those in place currently would be maintained. The low risk would also follow these rules when interacting with the vulnerable. But where low risk individuals mixed with each other, they would not be bound by distancing rules.
Worth reading the whole letter.
Support for Government Falls to Lowest Levels – For Not Locking Down Hard Enough
Pollster Ipsos MORI finds support for the Government’s handling of the crisis at its lowest levels yet.
Ipsos MORI’s September Political Monitor shows half the public say the Government is handling the coronavirus very or fairly badly (50%, up 10 points from last month) while a third say it is handling it very or fairly well (32%, down 10 points). This is the lowest score seen so far in this series (when it began in March, 49% thought the Government was handling it well and 35% badly). Fieldwork was carried out before Tuesday’s latest announcements of new restrictions.
Evaluation of the Government’s handling of the crisis is largely split along party lines with 60% of Conservative supporters saying they think the Government is handling it well, compared with just 15% of Labour supporters (of whom 72% are critical).
The poll was done before the announcements of the latest restrictions on Tuesday. But will they help? Polling by ComRes suggests not – not, sadly, because the public are crying out for freedom, but because they want more restrictions.
Of the measures announced on Tuesday by the Prime Minister to the House of Commons and, separately, in a broadcast to the nation at 8pm, all retail and hospitality workers, as well as everyone in taxis wearing mandatory face coverings had the highest level of net public support (73%), followed closely by people working from home (72%). Reducing the number of guests at a wedding from 30 to 15 had the lowest overall public net support (46%), but even this had more support than opposition by a ratio of more than 4:1.
The public also tended to feel that each of these measures would be effective in curbing the transmission of COVID-19. Around three quarters of English adults believe that making those who can work from home do so (76%), and requiring all retail and hospitality workers to wear a face covering (75%) would be an effective way to stop the transmission of the virus, while seven in ten say the same of halting the resumption of audiences at live sporting events (70%). However, just over half say that the new 10pm pub and restaurant curfew would be an effective way of stopping the spread of the virus (53%), although this is twice as many than those who think it would be an ineffective method (27%).
Despite this, nearly two in three English adults say that the new measures from the Government are not strict enough (65%) and a similar proportion (64%) would support a two-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown, including a ‘Stay at Home’ message, compared to just 17% who oppose.
Such depressing polling only shows how deeply the propaganda has penetrated, and why good leadership at a time of crisis is so important.
“She really enjoyed each day for me to brush her hair, a simple pleasure now denied.”
Stefan Emory has written a heartrending account in Conservative Woman of the impact of lockdown on his wife Ann, who was admitted to a care home last year after 35 years together.
My partner has late stage Alzheimer’s and is completely dependent for all aspects of her care and wellbeing. At her stage, there is very little comfort, dignity and pleasure left in her life, but she really enjoyed each day for me to brush her hair, which I would also do to calm her down when distressed or agitated – a very simple pleasure now denied to us both.
My biggest fear now is that she may reach the very end stage and that I will not be free to be there to hold her hand on her way out.
Although the Government issued (extremely Sir Humphrey-esque) care home visiting guidance in July, it placed all the responsibility on care homes, who are unwilling to take that responsibility and have done no more than to allow very limited garden visits, which are most dissatisfying for both the resident and visitor.
I am aware that some organisations have been lobbying the Government for more practical guidance, but they seem to be using the softly-softly approach, whereas it is now abundantly clear that they need to engage in a very vocal public media campaign.
From my observations, it is only those of us who have cared directly for a loved one with dementia who really understand the devastating impact on the person affected.
So many health and care professionals do not really seem to understand, or only superficially. When the dementia becomes severe, the only unfailing voice for the sufferer is the voice of the family member, who by their relationship knows the sufferer better than any health or care professional.
That is why the visitor lockdown is so devastating – the impact is the silencing of the only voice that truly understands the sufferer and unceasingly has their best interests at heart.
He worries that with the ban on daily visiting and the lack of inspections, “all the right conditions are in place for some absolutely horrific cases of neglect and abuse behind closed doors”.
Worth reading in full.
And, remember, if you know of any such cases of neglect, please contact the investigative journalist David Rose on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some worrying news from Sweden. A small rise in cases in Stockholm in the last few days appears to be causing chief epidemiologist Dr Anders Tegnell to shift to embracing lockdowns and masks as tools for handling the virus. The Telegraph has more:
Sweden’s state epidemiologist has said that he is now willing to recommend lockdown measures such as school closures, and strict limits to the size of gatherings – so long as they are only imposed locally and for three weeks at a time.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden’s new approach to local restrictions, floated first at a press conference on Tuesday, marks its biggest strategic shift since it launched its no-lockdown strategy in March.
“We are thinking of fairly short restrictions, to break the spread of infection requires perhaps two to three weeks at most,” Anders Tegnell told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are still developing the concept, so to say, but something like that.” …
“The restrictions could be extremely local. It could be about a single workplace or city district: wherever you see a spread and think that there are restrictions that might stop it,” Dr Tegnell told the newspaper.
The agency has so far been sceptical of issuing a general recommendation for face masks to be worn in public, but, according to Dr Tegnell, it now sees a role for them in helping control local outbreaks.
Sad to see a sceptic hero shifting to endorse masks and lockdowns, but it is to be hoped they remain only as short-term and local measures. The idea seems to be to try to keep on top of local outbreaks and minimise the risk of the virus spreading to the vulnerable. But since SARS-CoV-2 is now endemic, and presumably seasonal, it leaves the question of how long these brutal threats of lockdown will continue to be held over the Swedish population as tools to combat infection, and why they are for COVID-19 and not other seasonal viruses. I hope the great man has thought this one through.
How Many People With “Flu-Like” Illnesses Are Being Mislabelled as Covid?
Today Lockdown Sceptics is publishing a new paper by Consultant Pathologist Dr Clare Craig looking at how to tell the difference between a real Covid outbreak and one resulting from another seasonal respiratory virus and false positives. Here’s an excerpt:
Why are we seeing alleged excess Covid-like cases in people in their 20s? The narrative is the same across Europe: that a new surge in Covid cases is being driven by young adults. This is despite the fact that during the spring epidemic, symptomatic outbreaks were focused on nursing homes and hospitals. Large numbers of symptomatic young people were not observed in the spring. Why are they being seen now? Why would the impact of the virus at a population level be so different now to what it was in the spring?
Real Covid cases lead, after a time, to rising antibody levels. The percentage of 20-29 year olds with antibodies to Covid has not risen between June and 6th September. It has actually fallen, as it has for the rest of the population. There is a serious inconsistency with the widely accepted hypothesis that the recent surge of flu-like illness must be Covid and the steady continued drop in Covid antibody levels throughout the population. The latter is scientifically provable, the former remains only a hypothesis.
Epidemics spread fast and cluster geographically. Where recent epidemic outbreaks of actual Covid have been mapped, such as in Florida and Marseille, the spread from young adults to other age groups happened within a week and within two weeks Covid was detected in every age group. Given that the time from diagnosis to death is approximately 20 days then a rise in deaths was seen approximately 27 days after new cases in young adults.
The UK data demonstrates that the rise in alleged-Covid cases in young people from the beginning of August did not reach other age groups for a full month. Also, the data since mid Sept has not shown the expected consequent increase in deaths in the UK from the August surge. It seems the outcomes from the UK surge in flu-like illnesses in August does not appear to match that seen in recent genuine Covid outbreaks. This is puzzling, and must make us more cautious.
Some might argue that vulnerable groups have been successfully shielded in the UK and this could explain the lack of deaths now in the UK. Are we better at shielding than Florida and Marseille. Have we successfully hermetically sealed 15-25 year olds from vulnerable groups? It is not obvious that we have shielded any more successfully than other countries. If we have not shielded more successfully, then why has our death rate not increase. like other countries? Death rates should have already increased if this outbreak is Covid rather than other flu-like viruses.
The percentage of young people testing positive for Covid remains low, at a few percent of those tested. Although the false positive rate for Covid testing has not been definitively established, the rate we are observing in the young in the UK is low enough that we cannot exclude the possibility that they are almost all Covid false positives. To differentiate real Covid from false positives requires careful thought and more thorough assessment and testing of those cases. It is essential that loss of smell and Chest CT confirmation is used to confirm where there are genuine outbreaks.
Well worth reading in full.
Facebook Flags Belgian Doctors’ Letter as “False Information”
Barrister and Lockdown Sceptics reader Sarah Ewart got in touch to tell us that when she shared on Facebook the letter from the Belgian doctors questioning the wisdom of lockdowns that LS featured on Sunday the social media company flagged it as false information.
This has really disturbed me. Assuming the letter is what it purports to be, it represents the view of hundreds of Belgian professionals. I had not realised that free speech and debate was being censored to this degree. I am in genuine despair over what is happening and desperate to do what I can to restore our country to one of freedom, democracy and open debate.
Speechless Raab Skewered by JHB
Julia Hartley-Brewer left Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab momentarily speechless on her talkRADIO show yesterday as she informed him of the number of healthy under-60s who had died with COVID-19 since February. Here’s what one Lockdown Sceptics reader had to say:
The interview of Dominic Raab by Julia Hartley-Brewer this morning was simply stunning. JHB asked Raab how many healthy under-60s have died of Covid since February. Raab has literally no clue, was unable to even give a ballpark figure. When JHB told him it was 307 Raab was stunned. It took him a couple of seconds to compose himself and start muttering a reply.
A very senior member of the Government seems to be completely unaware of exactly how innocuous Covid is to the majority of the population. Beyond that, it’s nothing short of outrageous that a senior Cabinet member should have no grasp whatsoever of the basic numbers of the single biggest issue that has faced this country for decades. The Government is clearly making decisions based on narratives and ideas presented to them without scrutinising them at even the most basic level.
Can you imagine anyone running a serious business in this way – not having a clue for example how many clients one has or how much money the business turns over, more or less?
There is no conspiracy here, just colossal incompetence and negligence.
Watch it here.
- “We’ve avoided a national lockdown, now let’s transform our entire strategy” – Professor Karol Sikora spies an opportunity in the Government’s lighter-than-anticipated restrictions to press for a complete U-turn. Is there a chance Boris might start listening to sceptical scientists – he is reported to have solicited their views at the weekend – or is that just wishful thinking?
- “The three taboos at the heart of Johnson’s coronavirus fiasco” – Allister Heath in the Telegraph gets to the heart of the matter. Also Annabel Denham here
- “Graham Brady’s Covid rebellion has the numbers to succeed” – The Critic relays some encouraging news, giving hope that MPs might start to do their jobs and hold the Government to account over its extraordinary clampdown on basic liberties
- “No Second Lockdown Without A Full Parliamentary Debate” – Sign the petition here
- “Could we see Covid anti-virals before a vaccine?” – Ross Clark in the Spectator on a potential breakthrough in treating COVID-19
- “Seven deadly sins of omission by the Two Doomsters” – Handy rundown from Lockdown Sceptics reader Rowina Seidler in Conservative Woman of all the howlers in Monday’s now infamous presentation by Witless and Unbalanced
- “Plastic face shields almost completely ineffective at containing coronavirus, finds Japanese supercomputer” – Add this to the list of things we knew now confirmed. Will it make any difference to their use? Of course not
- “After months of over-promising and under-delivering, Number 10 has finally changed tack” – Has optimism finally deserted BoJo?
- “‘Challenge trials’ set to infect volunteers with coronavirus to help speed up creation of a vaccine” – Suspension of ethical constraints in the quest for the silver bullet
- “Why was our response to COVID-19 so unbelievably deranged?” – Lockdown Sceptics reader Russell Lewin takes an astute look at some of the cultural and psychological preconditions for the present insanity
- “Is evidence masks don’t work being purged from the internet?” – OffGuardian reports on the curious disappearance of at least two studies
- “Our political police won’t allow protests they disagree with” – Paddy Hannam in spiked on the police’s gaping disparity in treatment of woke and lockdown protestors
- “Melbourne cops pounce on pregnant woman and pensioners for sitting on bench” – Kim-Jong Dan’s Storm Troopers are at it again
- “Revealed: Sir Patrick Vallance has £600,000 shareholding in firm contracted to develop vaccines” – Shshshsh. Don’t tell the conspiracy theorists
- “The revenge of the experts” – Tim Black in spiked spies the malign influence of the morose technocrats behind the illiberal shift in our politics
- “Wage subsidy scheme to replace furlough” – The socialist slide continues. When will the Tories will notice? Or care?
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. The Government on Monday announced they were dropping plans for gender self-identification – a victory for women and common sense. But don’t think that means the Government is abandoning its support for the trans agenda. Caroline ffiske in Conservative Woman yesterday exposed how the the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has funded a number of the resources that will now make their way into schools through compulsory Relationships and Sex Education – resources that misrepresent the law and gaslight children about biological sex and their rights to bodily privacy and dignity. Is it any wonder, she asks, that it was reported last week that at one Kent school 15 pupils, most of them girls, are identifying as genders different from their birth sex?
In February 2019, the GEO advertised the funding it would be making available to various LGBT groups.
Its announcement explained that a group of organisations would split £1million “to extend work that protects children from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying”. According to the press release, an existing initiative “delivered by Barnardo’s and Stonewall” had already supported “1,200 schools in England”.
The PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) Association was contracted by the GEO to assess everything produced through the project funding against a “shared standards framework” and provides links to all the resources on its website. What is the word for the opposite of a treasure trove?
An organisation called Consortium provides a dangerous and irresponsible factsheet that tells us that puberty blockers are a fully reversible medication.
Yet the NHS has stated that it’s “not known whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or children’s bones” and that “side-effects may also include hot flushes, fatigue and mood alterations”.
Another Consortium factsheet tell us: “When delivering sex education, it is important to use inclusive language. For example, avoid saying ‘men’s/boy’s penises’ and just say ‘penis’,’ effectively teaching kids that biological sex does not exist. It’s cruel, it’s bullying; kids can see that biological sex exists.
An advised “important topic for discussion” is the fact that “anal sex is not exclusively practised by men who have sex with men, many heterosexual couples enjoy anal sex”. Why is it important? For schoolkids?
Another factsheet says that within a school “a new pupil who has already transitioned need not disclose“. What this means is that a boy can use the girls’ toilets and facilities without the girls even being told. Read that again. The girls’ rights to privacy, even to information – dismissed.
With respect to toilets, the same factsheet says: “If boys’ and girls’ toilets are separate, the school must ensure that a pupil who transitions may use the facilities that match their new gender presentation and their wishes.” What about girls who don’t want a boy in their toilets? This advice misrepresents the law. Girls have a right to single-sex toilets.
Surgery is casually introduced. “Surgical interventions to modify the sex characteristics and bring them more in line with the gender identity are not undertaken under 17 years old. Genital surgery may be described as ‘lower or bottom surgery’; breast/chest surgery may be described as ‘top’ surgery.”
Just like that… so casual.
The risks surrounding such deeply invasive procedures are, of course, not mentioned. The lifetime of medication, potential sterility, pain, regret. No? Kids too sensitive?
Worth reading in full.
Bonus Gobbledegook: Titania McGrath tweeted a picture from Metro, which was too good not to share.
“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.
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 eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted a letter from two surgeons, one of them a former president of the Royal College of Surgeons and the other a former council member, to the Telegraph back in August in which they say they ceased to use masks in their practices decades ago “after a series of controlled trials showed that using them either had no effect on, or sometimes actually increased the risk of post-operative infection”.
Ofcom Judicial Review Update
The Free Speech Union has just updated the GoFundMe it launched to cover its legal costs in the Judicial Review it is bringing against Ofcom with respect to the “coronavirus guidance” the regulator published on March 23rd, the same day the full lockdown was imposed. As I’ve written about before, this “guidance” has contributed to the suppression of dissenting views about Covid in the mainstream media, particularly the BBC.
When, on April 20th, Ofcom slapped down Eamonn Holmes, an ITV presenter, for arguing in favour of always maintaining an open mind with respect to different theories about the coronavirus crisis and the Government’s response to it, the FSU believed this was an action of considerable consequence for free speech in the media.
The FSU decided it ought to take action. If a small public interest group dedicated to free speech stood for anything, it should stand for upholding the rights of broadcasters and journalists to discuss matters of considerable public interest without fear of censure by a state regulator. Given that it is likely that Ofcom will become the regulator of the internet in due course, we considered it vitally important that Ofcom should pay proper attention to Article 10 of the Human Rights Act that states that we all have the right to free expression. Ofcom should encourage – rather than discourage – open-mindedness, open debate and tolerance for dissenting views. Ofcom was establishing a worryingly bad precedent.
We made a complaint to Ofcom in the hope that it would realise the error of its ways if we brought the conflict between what it had done and its duties under the Human Rights Act to its attention. However, when Ofcom refused to budge on the issue, the FSU decided to initiate litigation to make the case for open-mindedness and free inquiry.
A judge will shortly be deciding whether to allow us to proceed with a Judicial Review of Ofcom’s censorious behaviour. We think we have a strong case but litigation is never certain so we have asked the judge for a “Protective Costs Order” which would place a limit on the liability faced by the FSU should we lose the case. Given that Ofcom claim already to have spent over £16,000 just responding to our application for a court hearing, the amount at risk could be considerable. The bigger the size of this fund the more likely that the action will go ahead and we will have the opportunity to strike a major blow in favour of free speech and the right to challenge the Government’s narrative.
If things go our way and we defeat Ofcom in court, the money in this fund will be held over and used to support other litigation to protect free speech.
Thanks again for all your support, which has already helped us a great deal. If we can ask just one more thing, it’s that you share this GoFundMe on social media. The more the word gets out, the better our chances of being able to fight these and similar battles in future.
Please donate to the Free Speech Union’s “Fighting Fund” GoFundMe here so we can take Ofcom to the High Court and share the link with others.
This is a vitally important case for free speech.
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com 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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