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What SAGE Has Got Wrong

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, give a Coronavirus Data Briefing in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Pippa Fowles/No 10 Downing Street.

Today we’re publishing a blockbuster of a piece by Dr Mike Yeadon about what SAGE has got wrong (which is quite a lot, it turns out). To recap for those who aren’t already familiar with Mike’s work for Lockdown Sceptics, as well as his metastasising Twitter threads: he has a degree in biochemistry and toxicology and a research-based PhD in respiratory pharmacology. He has spent over 30 years leading new medicines research in some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, including serving as Vice President & Chief Scientist for Allergy & Respiratory at Pfizer, and since leaving Pfizer he has founded his own biotech company, Ziarco, which he sold to the world’s biggest drug company, Novartis, in 2017.

In this article, Mike identifies two assumptions that SAGE has made, both of which he is convinced are wrong: that the entire population is susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and that only 7% of the UK population has been infected with COVID-19 so far. It is these two assumptions that are driving SAGE to urge the Government to place the entire country under a second national lockdown. After all, if you think 93% of the country is vulnerable to the virus – and you think the infection fatality rate is around 1% (which is also wrong, obviously), you’re going to want to use any means necessary to suppress infection until a vaccine comes along. “I can empathise with anyone in that position,” writes Dr Yeadon. “It must cause despair that politicians aren’t doing what you’ve told them they must do.”

But both of these assumptions are wrong. Mike goes to great lengths to show that, in reality, about 30% of the population already had prior immunity to the virus, thanks to their exposure to other coronaviruses, including those responsible for some strains of the common cold, and that approximately 32% of Britons have been infected. If you factor in that 10% of the population are aged 10 or under and are therefore completely invulnerable to the disease, that leaves about 28% who are susceptible to being infected, not 93%. Not a million miles away from the herd immunity threshold, in other words, which is why Mike thinks the so-called “second wave” will shortly fizzle out, just as it has begun to do in Spain.

Mike draws on more than 30 years of experience as a working scientist, as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of virology, to reach this conclusion – the same conclusion, broadly speaking, that the scientists who drew up the Great Barrington Declaration have come to.

The article is long, but it’s easy to read because Mike has such a robust, punchy style, hammering his points home with a kind of merciless aggression. And the reason he’s so merciless is because he is absolutely furious with the sanctimonious, supercilious panjandrums that sit on SAGE and are causing so much needless destruction.

SAGE has nothing useful to tell us. As currently constituted, they have an inappropriate over-weighting in modellers and are fatally deficient in pragmatic, empirical, evidence-led experienced scientists, especially the medical, immunological and expert generalist variety. It is my opinion that they should be disbanded immediately and reconstituted. I say this because, as I have shown, they haven’t a grasp of even the basics required to build a model and because their models are often frighteningly useless (Lee, 2020), a fact of which they seem unaware. Their role is too important for them to get a second chance. They are unlikely to revise their thinking even if they claim they have now fixed their model. The level of incompetence shown by the errors I have uncovered, errors which indirectly through inappropriate ‘measures’, have cost the lives of thousands of people, from avoidable, non-COVID-19 causes, is utterly unforgivable.

As a private individual, I am incandescent with rage at the damage they have inflicted on this country. We should demand more honesty, as well as competence from those elected or appointed to look after aspects of life we cannot manage alone. SAGE has either been irredeemably incompetent or it has been dishonest. I personally know a few SAGE members and with the sole exception of a nameless individual, it is an understatement that they have greatly disappointed me. They have rebuffed well-intentioned and, as it turned out, accurate advice from at least three Nobel laureate scientists, all informing them that their modelling was seriously and indeed lethally in error. Though this may not have made the papers, everyone in the science community knows about this and that SAGE’s inadequate replies are scandalous. I have no confidence in any of them and neither should you.

Very much worth reading in full.

London Lockdown

London will be put into tier 2 lockdown on Saturday at midnight it was announced yesterday, which means a ban on household mixing indoors and discouraging people from travelling or using public transport. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs this was due to an “exponential” growth in infections.

It’s not surprising that the Health Secretary has singled out rising cases as the key metric since the number of Covid hospitalisations in London was 51 on October 10th, with three deaths. That’s three out of nine million, or 0.00003%.

From Business Insider:

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday morning, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said more localized restrictions were necessary in London and elsewhere to stop the “exponential” growth in infections.

“In London, infection rates are on a steep upward path, with the number of cases doubling every ten days,” Hancock said.

But are cases doubling every 10 days? Here’s the graph by specimen date.

Looks to be peaking around October 8th, even allowing for the lag in reporting. The Mail has also spotted that it appears to be slowing down. Here’s further confirmation from GP data.

What about Liverpool, placed in tier 3 on Wednesday? Here’s the graph by specimen date. Daily cases appear to have peaked around October 7th there, too.

What about Madrid, the erstwhile “second wave capital” of Europe? Here is its hospital occupancy graph, in sustained decline.

Despite the continuing accumulation of evidence that lockdowns aren’t needed to control the virus, the Government’s new best friend, the many-headed WHO, was calling for lockdowns again yesterday after a brief spell of discouraging them. Reuters has the details.

Urging governments to “step up” swiftly to contain a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the WHO’s European director Hans Kluge said the current situation was “more than ever, pandemic times for Europe”.

New infections are hitting 100,000 daily in Europe, and the region has just registered the highest weekly incidence of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with almost 700,000 cases reported.

“The fall (autumn) and winter surge continues to unfold in Europe, with exponential increases in daily cases and matching percentage increases in daily deaths,” Kluge told an online media briefing.

“It’s time to step up. The message to governments is: don’t hold back with relatively small actions to avoid the painful damaging actions we saw in the first round (in March and April).”

Kluge’s been looking at some “reliable epidemiological models”, apparently.

“These models indicate that prolonged relaxing policies could propel – by January 2021 – daily mortality at levels four to five times higher than what we recorded in April,” he said.

But taking simple, swift tightening measures now – such as enforcing widespread mask-wearing and controlling social gatherings in public or private spaces – could save up to 281,000 lives by February across the 53 countries that make up the WHO European region, he added.

Kluge does not identify these models, so we do not know if they are published or peer reviewed. (Ferguson’s infamous March 16th model has still not been peer-reviewed). But it’s okay because Mr Kluge has seen them and he can assure us they are reliable. So on that solid scientific basis he is telling the world’s governments to take “swift tightening measures now” such as masks (for which the WHO admits there is no reliable evidence) and “controlling social gatherings”. Just like that. But do such measures work, are they necessary, and are they worth it? What does the actual data say? These questions, as always, go unanswered.

Stop Press: Stanford’s Dr John Ioannidis has a new peer-reviewed study out, published by one of the other branches of the many-headed WHOdra, that estimates the IFR for healthy under-70s at just 0.05%.

Lockdown Zealots Invoke “Scientific Consensus” to Debunk Great Barrington Declaration

You’ve got to admire the gall. Three leading specialists in the field of infectious disease start a petition that is signed by tens of thousands of their fellow scientists and the lockdown zealots write a rebuttal claiming to speak on behalf of the entire scientific community. That’s the boast made by the authors of the John Snow Memorandum – a riposte to the Great Barrington Declaration which appeared in the Lancet yesterday under the headline: “Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now.” Consensus? Only in their echo chambers. How can an attempt to debunk a declaration that has gone viral within the scientific community plausibly claim to reflect a consensus?

If you Google the “John Snow Memorandum” it’s the top result already and all the other results are positive, too, unlike the Great Barrington Declaration. Funny that, given Google’s explanation for why it took so long for the Great Barrington Declaration to show up in the search results. “It can take a little time for our automated systems to learn enough about new pages like this for them to rank better for relevant terms,” explained a Google employee, when questioned about this. “This delay can vary by country. This page is and was ranking in the first page in the US, has risen elsewhere and likely will continue automatically.”

Of course there isn’t a “consensus” among scientists about the best way to mitigate the impact of this pandemic. But even if there was, so what? A scientific hypothesis doesn’t become more or less true according to how many other scientists believe it. I’m reminded of the book 100 Scientists Against Einstein. When asked about it, Einstein replied: “If I were wrong, one would have been enough.” And, ironically, the public health scientist the memorandum is named after – John Snow – was himself a maverick, challenging the “consensus” among scientists of his day. Indeed, had he not done so, he never would have found the true cause of the cholera outbreak in Soho in 1854 that made his name.

The conventional wisdom at the time – the view held by the scientific establishment – was the miasma theory, which held that diseases such as cholera and bubonic plague were caused by pollution or “bad air”. Instead of relying on this theory, Snow actually did some on-the-ground research, talking to local residents and analysing the pattern of infection. In this way, he was able to trace the source of the outbreak to a water pump in Broad Street and end the epidemic. Snow’s discovery, which came about because he engaged in methodical, empirical research rather than relying on some divorced-from-reality theory, is regarded as the founding event of the science of epidemiology.

For a group of establishment panjandrums to invoke John Snow’s name, given that their entire approach to the pandemic is rooted in abstract mathematical modelling, is almost laughably inappropriate.

Here is the kernel of the John Snow Memorandum (I’ve added some comments in square brackets).

SARS-CoV-2 spreads through contact (via larger droplets and aerosols), and longer-range transmission via aerosols, especially in conditions where ventilation is poor. Its high infectivity,1 combined with the susceptibility of unexposed populations to a new virus [No mention of cross-immunity], creates conditions for rapid community spread [No mention of repeated observations of spontaneous decline]. The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is several-fold higher than that of seasonal influenza [This is not reflected in the overall death toll, which is in many places only a bit higher than a strong flu wave or, in some cases, e.g. Germany, less],2 and infection can lead to persisting illness, including in young, previously healthy people (ie, long COVID) [Post-viral complications are not unique to Covid and it’s too soon to say how long they’ll persist].3 It is unclear how long protective immunity lasts [The number of people who’ve been reinfected is infinitesimally small],4 and, like other seasonal coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is capable of re-infecting people who have already had the disease, but the frequency of re-infection is unknown [Most are mild].5 Transmission of the virus can be mitigated through physical distancing, use of face coverings, hand and respiratory hygiene, and by avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Rapid testing, contact tracing, and isolation are also critical to controlling transmission [No evidence is presented for these claims, some of which are contradicted by the data]. WHO has been advocating for these measures since early in the pandemic [WHO did not endorse face coverings until June].

It claims: “Japan, Vietnam, and New Zealand, to name a few countries, have shown that robust public health responses can control transmission, allowing life to return to near-normal, and there are many such success stories.” This is untrue: there are not many such success stories. Of those listed, Japan did not have “robust public health responses” and New Zealand is now cut off from the world. The reason why most East Asian countries like Japan and Vietnam were not as badly affected as European countries is not yet entirely clear (many believe it is higher levels of pre-existing immunity, thanks to their exposure to other SARS viruses, i.e. herd immunity) but the reason is unlikely to be their “public health responses”, which a study in the Lancet showed had no impact on a country’s death toll.

This section of the memo directly contradicts the GB Declaration’s herd immunity and focused protection strategy:

Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed. Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity3 [Only four children aged 15 and under in the UK have died of Covid] and mortality across the whole population [There are always risks, but ongoing restrictions are also risky and deadly]. In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of health-care systems to provide acute and routine care [Sweden’s healthcare system was not overwhelmed in spite of no lockdown]. Furthermore, there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection,4 and the endemic transmission that would be the consequence of waning immunity would present a risk to vulnerable populations for the indefinite future [SARS-CoV-2 is already endemic but immunity and cross-immunity provides ongoing protection, plus there are increasingly effective treatments]. Such a strategy would not end the COVID-19 pandemic but result in recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination [There is a flu season every year, which includes coronaviruses, and only very limited vaccines, yet we seem to cope okay]. It would also place an unacceptable burden on the economy and health-care workers, many of whom have died from COVID-19 or experienced trauma as a result of having to practise disaster medicine [Surely, it’s the ongoing restrictions that are placing an “unacceptable burden on the economy”?]. Additionally, we still do not understand who might suffer from long COVID [Why is an unknown amount of harm being weighed more heavily than the known harm that results from lockdowns?].3 Defining who is vulnerable is complex, but even if we consider those at risk of severe illness, the proportion of vulnerable people constitute as much as 30% of the population in some regions.8 Prolonged isolation of large swathes of the population is practically impossible and highly unethical [We’re shielding vulnerable groups as it is and it would be less “prolonged” if we go for a herd immunity strategy than if we continue with the suppress-until-there’s-a-vaccine strategy]. Empirical evidence from many countries shows that it is not feasible to restrict uncontrolled outbreaks to particular sections of society [Which countries, what evidence? A number of countries such as Germany and Denmark avoided the high death toll in care homes seen in the UK and elsewhere]. Such an approach also risks further exacerbating the socioeconomic inequities and structural discriminations already laid bare by the pandemic [Unlike ongoing restrictions that disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged, not to mention cushioning the public sector but bankrupting the private sector?]. Special efforts to protect the most vulnerable are essential but must go hand-in-hand with multi-pronged population-level strategies [Having said it is “practically impossible” as well as unethical to isolate the vulnerable it now says it is essential to do it indefinitely].

It ends: “The evidence is very clear: controlling community spread of COVID-19 is the best way to protect our societies and economies until safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics arrive within the coming months.”

But effective therapeutics that lower the death rate are already here, while any vaccines that make it through trials are likely to be only partially effective. There is no argument for reopening society later that doesn’t already apply now, and these restrictions are already intolerable and destroying our jobs, our culture and our way of life.

Stop Press: The Government has told care homes they will need to make room for coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospital. That’s right, they’re about to make exactly the same mistake they made last time that resulted in such a heavy toll in the care sector. Combined with the official advice to the vulnerable not to shield themselves at home, this is the opposite of protecting the vulnerable. With healthy, working-age people stuck at home because their workplace is closed due to the perma-lockdown, but retired people encouraged to be out and about, it’s the opposite of the GBD’s formula of how to bring this epidemic to an end as quickly and safely as possible.

Putting it Into Practice

Steve Sieff who runs the GreenBandRedBand site has got in touch with a suggestion of how to put focused protection into practice while respecting personal choice.

Following Matt Hancock’s wholly unfounded dismissal of the Great Barrington Declaration on Tuesday, it is difficult to imagine what could persuade the Government to consider any alternative to the suppression orthodoxy. If Steve Baker is looking to help the Government “find an alternative strategic plan between the Great Barrington Declaration and where we are today” he might want to start with the proposal at GreenBandRedBand. The idea is that people should be allowed to assess their own risk level, choose which wrist band to wear – green for prepared to risk catching the virus, red for those who are more wary – and interact accordingly. Those who wished to do so could then mix freely with like-minded people, but would be asked to continue to apply measures to break transmission of the virus to those who remained worried.

Although retention of any of the current measures would be anathema to many lockdown sceptics, it is increasingly clear that the Government is entrenched in its position that herd immunity is nothing more than a callous way of sending people to their deaths. For Steve Baker and the small band of Tory rebels who are trying to persuade the Government to consider a strategy other than perpetual cycles of lockdown, the GreenBandRedBand system has the huge advantage that it is not reliant on herd immunity or on segregation of any group. So it addresses directly the Government’s objections to strategies like the Great Barrington Declaration.

It also builds on the methods of suppression that the Government has been championing throughout. If distancing etc. is truly effective to break the chain of transmission and the rules require people to implement those measures now, then there is no reason why the same measures cannot continue to work when implemented in a more targeted way. Rather than penalising people for failing to follow a host of restrictive and ever changing measures, the system would vastly reduce the restrictions on people’s freedom, and by doing so would give far more incentive to follow the rules that did remain. More carrot, less stick.

If any of the old Boris is left, the system could be the best of all worlds for him. He could appease the members of his own party who are crying out against the restrictions on freedom. He could continue to ‘follow the science’ in that distancing etc. would be maintained wherever required as determined by individual circumstances. He could put Labour back in its box for wanting to shut the country down even further, he could give the economy a huge kickstart without emptying the Government coffers, and he could justifiably claim to be protecting the NHS and the lives of the public by focusing attention and resources on preventing the vulnerable from getting infected.

In addition to the website the system is also explained in the British Medical Journal here and here.

Is the ONS Survey Only For The Housebound?

A Lockdown Sceptics reader agreed to be part of the ONS Covid survey, but found it a waste of his time.

I got randomly selected by postcode to participate in a Covid infection study for the ONS by Oxford University.

Had my first appointment on August 9th. Nice nurse visited me at home, signed me up for a year one visit every week for a five weeks, followed by one a month took swabs and blood.

I mentioned that I’d be going away for a few days, but would be in the country and could easily attend a test centre, or whatever. Apparently no problem.

Had a call while on holiday. Could I be home later in the day? Nope, but I’ll be back in a couple of days, will that do? No problem, someone will call you soon. They didn’t.

A couple of weeks later I had a call to say, could I be home in a couple of hours? Nope, I’m at work, but I can do anytime tomorrow, will that do? Fine, someone will call later. They didn’t.

A couple of weeks later I called the helpline and it promised to call me back. Two days later a lovely person did. Oh dear, she said, that’s not good. I’ll escalate this and someone will call you soon.

A week or so later, someone called. Could I be home at 3pm? Nope, I’m at work, but you can see me here, if you like? Can’t do that –we can only visit you at your registered address. Okay, how about tomorrow? Say, 11am? Ah, well, we only get given our list in the morning, then we phone people and go see them. So, you can’t give me more than a few hours notice before coming to see me and you have to see me at home? Yes, sorry. So, don’t you keep missing people? Er… yes, that does happen a lot…

What I take from this, is:

a. If this is competence, it sure doesn’t look like it.

b. If this is supposed to be a random sample of the population, it’s surely excluding almost everyone who actually goes out to work, isn’t it?

Rule of Six Doesn’t Apply to the Lonely

A reader has spotted a loophole in the law that means the Rule of Six doesn’t apply to anyone who is feeling lonely or depressed.

Having perused the new regulations in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium) Regulations 2020, under Statutory Instrument Number 1103 that came into force on October 14th, I noticed a number of exemptions to the so-called Rule of Six.

Under Schedule 1 (Tier 1 Restrictions), Regulation 3, Part 1 (Restrictions on gatherings), Paragraph 3 (Exceptions), subsection 4(e) the following is written: “Exception 3 is that the gathering is reasonably necessary to enable one or more people in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.”

As the good people of Law or Fiction pointed out, Low Mood, Sadness and Depression act as reasonable excuses for such exceptions. If one feels lonely or depressed, then as far as I can see the law allows for gatherings of more than six.

Sorry if this is a bit confusing, legal specifics aren’t my forte. You’ll find the relevant text in the regulations, about a third of the way down.

I don’t want this to be some sort of get-out-of-jail card to be abused. I’ve had mental illness in the past and depression that sucks the life out of you, and this entire saga is bringing me back to those lows. If depression takes hold, it is very hard to escape, and very easy to see how it can cause personal harm.

This reader spotted a gem at the bottom of the new guidance: “No impact assessment has been prepared for these Regulations.”

Is Public Opinion Finally Turning?

Polling by OnePulse, admittedly not the most scientific data gathering outfit, suggests the public mood on the continuing mishmash of restrictions is beginning to shift.

Asked if they support the new three tier system of local lockdown measures, 24% of the respondents said they support it, 15.02% oppose and 60.98% have mixed feelings about it.

Asked how they feel about the coming months, 42.67% say they feel disheartened, 7.91% fine and 60.44% concerned.

And asked what should be prioritised, the NHS, saving lives or the economy, 16.09% said saving lives and protecting the NHS, 35.47% said saving the economy and 42.4% said a mixture of all three.

These are very different to OnePulse’s earlier polls, which showed overwhelming public support for the forever lockdown. Worth reading in full.

The Xhosa Cattle Killings

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of westernising the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a prophet appeared.

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the earth. The British would be swept into the sea, and the Xhosa would be restored to their former glory. What was promised was nothing less than the establishment of paradise on earth.

Nongqawuse told this story to her guardian and uncle, Mhlakaza. At first, the uncle was sceptical. But he became a believer after accompanying his niece to the spot where she heard the voices. Although Mhlakaza heard nothing, he became convinced that Nongqawuse was hearing the voice of her dead father, and that the instructions must be obeyed. Mhlakaza became the chief prophet and leader of the cattle-killing movement.

News of the prophecy spread rapidly, and within a few weeks the Xhosa king, Sarhili, became a convert. He ordered the Xhosa to slaughter their cattle and, in a symbolic act, killed his favourite ox. As the hysteria widened, other Xhosa began to have visions. Some saw shadows of the resurrected dead arising from the sea, standing in rushes on the river bank, or even floating in the air. Everywhere that people looked, they found evidence to support what they desperately wanted to be true.

The believers began their work in earnest. Vast amounts of grain were taken out of storage and scattered on the ground to rot. Cattle were killed so quickly and on such an immense scale that vultures could not entirely devour the rotting flesh. The ultimate number of cattle that the Xhosa slaughtered was 400,000. After killing their livestock, the Xhosa built new, larger kraals to hold the marvellous new beasts that they anticipated would rise out of the earth. The impetus of the movement became irresistible.

The resurrection of the dead was predicted to occur on the full moon of June, 1856. Nothing happened. The chief prophet of the cattle-killing movement, Mhlakaza, moved the date to the full moon of August. But again the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The cattle-killing movement now began to enter a final, deadly phase, which its own internal logic dictated as inevitable. The failure of the prophecies was blamed on the fact that the cattle-killing had not been completed. Most believers had retained a few cattle, chiefly consisting of milk cows that provided an immediate and continuous food supply. Worse yet, there was a minority community of sceptical non-believers who refused to kill their livestock.

The fall planting season came and went. Believers threw their spades into the rivers and did not sow a single seed in the ground. By December of 1856, the Xhosa began to feel the pangs of hunger. They scoured the fields and woods for berries and roots, and attempted to eat bark stripped from trees. Mhlakaza set a new date of December 11 for the fulfilment of the prophecy. When the anticipated event did not occur, unbelievers were blamed.

The resurrection was rescheduled yet again for February 16, 1857, but the believers were again disappointed. Even this late, the average believer still had three or four head of livestock alive. The repeated failure of the prophecies could only mean that the Xhosa had failed to fulfil the necessary requirement of killing every last head of cattle. Now, they finally began to complete the killing process. Not only cattle were slaughtered, but also chickens and goats. Any viable means of sustenance had to be destroyed. Any cattle that might have escaped earlier killing were now slaughtered for food.

Serious famine began in late spring of 1857. All the food was gone. The starving population broke into stables and ate horse food. They gathered bones that had lay bleaching in the sun for years and tried to make soup. They ate grass. Maddened by hunger, some resorted to cannibalism. Weakened by starvation, family members often had to lay and watch dogs devour the corpses of their spouses and children. Those who did not die directly from hunger fell prey to disease. To the end, true believers never renounced their faith. They simply starved to death, blaming the failure of the prophecy on the doubts of non-believers.

By the end of 1858, the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to 26,000. Forty to fifty-thousand people starved to death, and the rest migrated. With Xhosa civilization destroyed, the land was cleared for white settlement. The British found that those Xhosa who survived proved to be docile and useful servants. What the British Empire had been unable to accomplish in more than fifty years of aggressive colonialism, the Xhosa did to themselves in less than two years.

Original by David Deming, Associate Professor of Arts and Sciences at University of Oklahoma. Copyright © 2009 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The parallels are uncanny.


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.

Sharing stories: Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics. The answer used to be to first click on “Latest News”, then click on the links that came up beside the headline of each story. But we’ve changed that so the link now comes up beside the headline whether you’ve clicked on “Latest News” or you’re just on the Lockdown Sceptics home page. Please do share the stories with your friends and on social media.

“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 £1.49 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 masks 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).

Woke Gobbledegook

Ellie Harrison – A Social Justice Warrior in Wellies

Ellie Harrison, a presenter on Countryfile, has said the Black Lives Matter protests have led her to rethink her attitude to the countryside. The Telegraph has more.

The British countryside is racist, a Countryfile presenter has said, revealing that Black Lives Matter has led her to re-evaluate her own behaviour.

There was debate over an episode of the BBC show earlier this year when Scout Ambassador Dwayne Fields presented a section about perceptions by ethnic minorities of the countryside.

The report focused on research from the Government’s Environment Department, published last year, which said that some ethnic groups felt UK national parks were a “white environment”.

Ellie Harrison, a presenter on the show, has spoken up on the issue and said that ethnic minority people do face discrimination in the countryside, and there is “work to do”.

She said the huge reaction on social media to the programme had taken the show’s producers a week to read and sort.

Ms Harrison wrote in Countryfile magazine: “I spooled through the comments, which broadly came in three flavours: ‘I’m not racist so there is no racism in the countryside’; ‘I’m black and I’ve never experienced racism in the countryside’; and importantly, ‘I have experienced racism in the countryside’.

“So there’s work to do. Even a single racist event means there is work to do. In asking whether the countryside is racist, then yes it is; but asking if it’s more racist than anywhere else – maybe, maybe not.”

It’s off to the re-education camp, comrades.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, the top hits you get are two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results, although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. It’s now past the half million mark.


If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email 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.

Request For Help From Investigative Journalist

Daily Mail journalist and Lockdown Sceptics supporter David Rose is looking for people who have suffered severe ill effects or even died as a result of treatment for cancers and other serious illnesses being delayed by Covid. The Mail wants to draw more attention to the disastrous collateral damage being caused by the restrictions.

If anyone is willing to talk to him, please contact him direct at

Shameless Begging Bit

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And Finally…