Where Did SAGE Get 4,000 Deaths a Day?
Spectator editor Fraser Nelson wrote a terrific blog post on Saturday evening, querying where SAGE got its 4,000 deaths-a-day figure from. Remember, it was this modelling that frightened Boris into abandoning his ‘middle path’ strategy in favour of a second lockdown.
Just 10 days ago, Boris Johnson was attacking lockdowns for the “psychological, the emotional damage” they inflict: the effect on mental health as well as the economy. Then, he saw COVID-19 as a menace that could be managed with a “commonsensical approach” of local and regional measures. Now, he sees Covid as a monster capable of overwhelming the NHS and warns of a “medical and a moral disaster” if we do not do a stay-at-home lockdown. His view of the virus seems to have changed, utterly. Why?
As soon as he started his statement, he turned to the graphs on which his case hangs. It was not so much new data, but new models showing new forecasts. Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Officer, ran through them: the same ones leaked to the BBC a few hours earlier. As we know, the first wave peaked at just over 1,000 daily deaths. The new graphs show deaths hitting 4,000 deaths a day – perhaps even as high as 6,000. To put this in perspective, daily deaths in the USA peaked at about 2,500. If 4,000 daily deaths is now plausible from a second wave in Britain, as the models seem to suggest, drastic action is understandable. Here is the graph, shown at the press conference, that makes the case for lockdown:
The above graph is quite a departure from previous understanding of Covid’s potency. We now see second-wave deaths dwarfing not only those from the first wave but those envisaged by the Government’s official ‘realistic worst-case scenario’ (RWC) for the coming winter. The RWC was a secret until the Spectator published it a few days ago, showing deaths peaking at about 800 a day. Here it is.
When we printed the above chart, it looked bad enough. Now it looks tame by comparison of the new studies. And there’s no mention of ‘worst-case’ scenarios: these are billed only as ‘winter scenarios’. But who drew them up? What are the assumptions? And how robust are they? The leak this morning told us who did the modelling: Cambridge, Imperial, etc. Just as an Imperial study made the case for the first lockdown, these four studies make the case for the second. So they ought to be published, together with the assumptions behind them. It would help explain how we get from the data we’ve seen in recent weeks to the scenarios shown to us now, which suggest a tsunami.
Fraser is quite right. If the Government is going to rely on these models to justify placing the whole of England under virtual house arrest for at least a month and almost certainly longer, it is surely under an obligation to publish them? Not just so they can be scrutinised by the electorate, but also by other scientists and – critically – Conservative MPs who will be expected to vote for the second lockdown on Wednesday.
Ross Clark, writing in yesterday’s Telegraph, cast doubt on the reliability of the models used in Saturday’s briefing.
Who noticed the small print at the bottom of the graph, illegible on the version flashed before us during the press briefing but visible in the slides published online: “these are scenarios – not predictions or forecasts”? Oddly, there was no source listed for these graphs – we were told only that they come “from a number of academic modelling groups”. We have subsequently learned that the most frightening curve – the 4,000 a day one – was the work of Public Health England (PHE) and Cambridge University. But it does not seem to have been published – and my efforts to extract the study from PHE have so far drawn a blank. Without being able to see its workings, we have no idea what assumptions have gone into the 4,000 deaths a day claim.
It certainly doesn’t pass the smell test. On Saturday, Public Health England reported 278 new Covid deaths in England. The average number of deaths for the past seven days is 214, up 50 per cent on the week before. If deaths kept on rising at that rate then, yes, you would get to 4,000 deaths a day in December.
However, a better guide to future deaths is the figures for new infections, which, of course, tend to lead the death figures. Over the past seven days PHE has recorded an average of 22,521 new cases a day – which was a six per cent increase on the week before. If deaths follow the trajectory of new infections – as surely they must, unless COVID-19 suddenly mutates into a vastly more deadly form – they will be nowhere near 1,000 a day by Christmas, let alone 4,000.
The figures for new infections clearly show a slowdown in the increase in new infections. But you wouldn’t have gained this impression listening to Professor Chris Whitty or Sir Patrick Vallance on Saturday. Whitty tried to tell us that infections are rising in every part of England – in spite of a graph on the screen clearly suggesting they have begun to fall in the North East. The graphs also indicated a levelling off of new infections in London, the South East and the West Midlands, and low trajectories in the East and South West. Only in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber are infections following a really worrying curve. Parts of these regions have recently been subjected to Tier 3 restrictions, which are not now going to be allowed time to work.
Instead, exactly as Boris Johnson told us a week ago would be misguided, we are going to close down restaurants in Cornwall to try to fight an epidemic in Manchester. As in the spring, the Government has allowed itself to be panicked by alarmist modelling, a worst-case scenario dressed up as if it were scientific fact – and this time we don’t even get to see the workings.
This is truly alarming. What assumptions have PHE and Cambridge University made in these apocalyptic models? And just how credible are they?
If anyone would like to leak these models to Lockdown Sceptics, we will get a crack team of top scientists to subject them to a quick-and-dirty peer review in time for Wednesday’s vote. Contact us here. Discretion assured.
Stop Press: Turns out, the projections produced by the Cambridge statistical unit that were invoked by Patrick Vallance at Saturday’s press briefings were out of date. According to the Telegraph, Vallance relied on a scenario that was drawn up three weeks ago rather than using a more-up-to-date scenario from the same unit that was far less apocalyptic.
The modelling presented on Saturday night, which suggests deaths could reach 4,000 a day by December, is so out-of-date that it suggests daily deaths are now around 1,000 a day.
In fact, the daily average for the last week is 260, with a figure of 162 yesterday.
And the statistics unit at Cambridge University has produced far more up-to-date projections, with far lower figures, the Telegraph can reveal.
These forecasts, dated October 28 – three days before the Downing Street announcement – far more closely track the current situation, forecasting 240 daily deaths by next week, and around 500 later this month.
While these predictions do not look as far ahead as December, they suggest a picture which is far more optimistic than the scenario which caused shock waves this weekend.
Prof Carl Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, at Oxford University, said he was “deeply concerned” by the selection of data which were not based on the current reality.
He said: “Our job as scientists is to reflect the evidence and the uncertainties and to provide the latest estimates.”
“I cannot understand why they have used this data, when there are far more up-to-date forecasts from Cambridge that they could have accessed, which show something very different.”
Prof Heneghan said his analysis suggests the forecasts could be four to five times too high.
He said: “I’m deeply concerned about how the data is being presented so that politicians can make decisions. It is a fast-changing situation, which is very different in different regions, and it concerns me that MPs who are about to go to a vote are not getting the full picture.”
The Mail has done some digging of its own and also found out some worrying shortcomings in the data that featured so prominently at the Downing Street presser on Saturday night. For instance, the Cambridge forecast classified a death as being from Covid if it occurred within 60 days of a positive test result. It was precisely because the Covid death toll was being inflated in this way (as pointed out by Prof Carl Heneghan) that PHE reluctantly introduced the 28-day cut-off.
Was Boris aware that the Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Medical Officer were presenting him with out-of-date information when they leant on him to impose a full lockdown on Friday? The data presented by them in the Downing Street presser is looking more and more like the dodgy dossier that Alastair Campbell cooked up to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: A reader with a scientific background has summarised the REACT survey for us. You’ll recall, this was among the studies that scared the bejesus out Boris.
They take 85,971 self-administered swabs and analyse using our worst friend, the PCR.
They get 863 positives, which is 1%.
They then add a bit of ‘weight’ to it to make it 1.28%
THEN – get this! – they promptly ignore everyone who’s had it (probably 23 million based on an IFR of 0.2% and the deaths we’ve had) plus those who won’t get it because of T-cells, and multiply 1.28% by the entire population!
They then add a bit more ‘weight’ to the resulting 870,400 to make it 960,000 and then go ‘mmm… symptoms last about 10 days, so that must mean 96,000 cases a day!’
Shitty and Malice read it, report back to Prime Minister Lighthead (who at this stage I’m assuming can’t read himself unless it’s in Latin or Greek), everyone dumps in their pants and we’re off again.
Unbelievable. Utterly Un-make-up-able.
Pressure Builds to Close Schools
Having succeeded in persuading Boris to do a U-turn, the lockdown hawks in SAGE are becoming emboldened and now have school closures in their sights. Sir Mark Walport and Sir Jeremy Farrar, both members of SAGE, have warned that lockdown restrictions may need amending as schools staying open could be problematic. The Mail has more.
Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport said the new restrictions were not as “severe” as the first time round, and that there was a “possibility” the restrictions may need to stay in place for more than four weeks.
In an interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, he warned: “It’s unlikely this time to come down quite as fast as it did during the first lockdown because we have got schools open.”
His comments were echoed by Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), who said transmission in secondary schools is “high”.
He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “The big difference to the first lockdown is that schools remain open.
“Because we have delayed the onset of this lockdown it does make keeping schools open harder.
“We know that transmission, particularly in secondary schools is high.
“Personally I think this is definitely the lockdown to put in place now but if that transmission, particularly in secondary schools, continues to rise then that may have to be revisited in the next four weeks in order to get R below one and the epidemic shrinking.”
Worth reminding these zealots that there has been no recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world, as reported in the Times in July. Back then, Mark Woolhouse, a leading epidemiologist and also a member of SAGE, told the Times that it had been a mistake to close schools in March given the limited role children play in spreading the virus.
“One thing we have learnt is that children are certainly, in the 5 to 15 brackets from school to early years, minimally involved in the epidemiology of this virus,” Professor Woolhouse, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Edinburgh University, said. “They are probably less susceptible and vanishingly unlikely to end up in hospital or to die from it.”
“There is increasing evidence that they rarely transmit. For example, it is extremely difficult to find any instance anywhere in the world as a single example of a child transmitting to a teacher in school. There may have been one in Australia but it is incredibly rare.”
Stop Press: Kevin Courtney, the joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, who’s been leading the calls for school closures, is the highest-paid trade union leader in the country. His annual salary is £217,501, which includes an employers’ national insurance contribution of £21,968 and a pension contribution of £25,264. I wonder how he’d feel about closing schools if he was a single dad working two jobs to support his family?
Three Days to Save the
My friend the famous financial journalist, who cannot be named because it would jeopardise his career, thinks the only thing we can do to try and avert the looming disaster that is the second lockdown is to write to our MPs. I suggested he create a template that Lockdown Sceptics readers could use and he duly obliged.
Dear Member of Parliament,
This week you will be called upon to authorise a second lockdown across England. As your constituent, I urge you reject this proposal on the grounds that lockdowns are ruinous to lives, livelihoods and liberty.
Lives are lost when other medical services are suspended. Lives are ruined by depression and domestic violence which accompany lockdowns. Livelihoods are destroyed and countless families impoverished with future generations left to bear the costs of this ruinous policy. Liberty is suspended as the government rules by decree. Parliament is sidelined and its constitutional role seriously diminished.
Lockdown is not only a cruel and blunt instrument for dealing with COVID-19, it is singularly ineffective. That’s why we are facing a second lockdown so soon after the first. We’re told that hospitals are about to be overwhelmed. But how much confidence should we have in epidemiological models when their forecasting record to date has been so poor?
Evidence from around the world reveals no correlation between lockdowns and coronavirus fatalities. In fact, Peru, the country with the highest fatality rate also had one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns. By contrast, Sweden, which had no lockdown has suffered no excess deaths this year. A policy of “focused protection” for the vulnerable offers a viable alternative approach to a second lockdown.
We have reached a critical moment in our country’s history. If you truly care for the health and welfare of the nation, or are concerned about the future of Parliament, our constitution and liberties, you must reject this second lockdown.
And if you don’t fancy that one, here’s an actual letter a reader has just sent to his MP, Gareth Davies, the member for Grantham and Stamford (Con).
I am writing to you as my representative in Parliament, as a resident of Bourne, to urge you not to vote in favour of the planned second Lockdown from Thursday.
The effects of Lockdowns are well known. They’re so negative that even the WHO now advises against them with Prof David Nabarro, special envoy to the WHO saying precisely this in an interview with Andrew Neil on Spectator TV. Our PM even described Lockdowns recently as the ‘nuclear option’ when responding to the Leader of the Opposition’s call for a ‘circuit-break’ recently.
Being furloughed and having to make ends meet on 80% salary as a single-parent of two children was bad enough in March, April and May but will be impossible over the coming month with Christmas approaching. And of course it won’t just be the coming month, will it?
I appreciate the low case rate in South Kesteven compared with elsewhere in the UK May afford me and others here a perceived misunderstanding of the situation nationally, but it doesn’t take long using the government’s own Covid Dashboard to see that what SAGE members are saying doesn’t square with reality. Tier 3 measures being introduced in Greater Nottingham from last Thursday, for example, despite the persistent and sustained fall in cases there from the start of the month is a good case in point. The same for Liverpool & Merseyside and the majority of boroughs in Manchester.
I have never had time for conspiracy theories but I am now fully on board with the likelihood of sinister work at play. All these discredited models by SAGE scientists still seem to curry favour with the PM, who has undoubtedly been ‘got’ early on, following his fight with COVID-19.
Why is SAGE’s reasoning behind their models kept secret? Why is SAGE conflating cases with infections when the two are far from the same?
To be clear, if you vote for this atrocious, unnecessary and legally dubious further grab of our liberties, I – like many others I know – will never vote Conservative again.
You may consider time is on your Party’s side with just under four years before the next General Election, but the lockdown-caused deaths will be ‘slow burners’ for all to see, taking place over the forthcoming years with highly publicised cancer, heart-related and mental illness deaths played out before your, and all your constituents’, eyes, from which there will be no going back.
If the good people of South Kesteven see thousands of unnecessary excess deaths reported with as much gusto as the press has with reminding us of the daily case/death rates for years and years, there is every chance that this Tory stronghold will turn red in the same way the Beast of Bolsolver would never have thought he’d see his constituency turn blue.
Stop Press: There’s a rebellion brewing on the Conservative back benches, according to the Telegraph – not helped by Michael Gove’s hint on Marr yesterday morning that the second lockdown could be extended well beyond December 2nd.
Tory former minister Sir Desmond Swayne said it would take a “huge amount of persuasion for me to vote for this disastrous course of action”.
Conservative former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the announcement of another lockdown was a “body blow” to the British people.
A Government source said there was “enormous frustration” from backbenchers and ministers about the Government’s handling of the crisis, with the leak of lockdown restrictions suggesting “incompetence” within Number 10.
The Mail has more.
Boris Johnson was facing a Tory rebellion last night over his new national lockdown.
Many of his own MPs were outraged by the revelation that the restrictions could last much longer than the planned four weeks – and potentially even run into spring.
Some indicated they would oppose the measures that business chiefs fear will devastate an already fragile economy.
“I will be voting against the new national lockdown on Wednesday when it comes before the House of Commons,” said former Cabinet minister Esther McVey. “The ‘lockdown cure’ is causing more harm than Covid.”
Another Conservative MP said the fresh clampdown was “like a nightmare that we’ll never wake up from”.
The Mail also has a hard-hitting comment piece by Sir Iain Duncan Smith, questioning whether the data presented by Witless and Unbalanced on Saturday night was fair and accurate.
Please God let more Tory MPs rebel. If Boris has to rely on Labour votes to get the second lockdown through Parliament that will be a political disaster for him.
The Grim Reaper is Owed a Few Souls
I’m publishing a guest post here by an independent researcher who has come up with a novel argument as to why SAGE’s prediction of 4,000 deaths a day if we don’t impose a second lockdown is implausible. I’ve also given it a permanent slot on the right-hand side under the heading of “How Reliable is the Modelling”?
I’m not usually a big fan of making predictions. I love the quote, reputedly from Nils Bohr: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”. But I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say I don’t think the graph shown by Boris Johnson’s “scientists” yesterday, of over 6000 deaths a day in the UK is going to happen. The fact that it was even shown I just find embarrassing. As a Brit. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s so scientifically illiterate, or whether it’s evidence that the authoritarian elite have so little respect for the people of this country that they can just put up such transparent garbage, to get what they want. Which appears to be the destruction of our wealth and way of life.
But there clearly are increasing Covid hospitalisations and deaths currently happening in the UK and in other places. My hypothesis below is that this is because the epidemic was artificially suppressed in April, and now reality is catching up again. The Grim Reaper wants his souls. And I think we can make a reasonable prediction of how many he is coming for, based on how many we tried to prevent him getting the first time around. Apparently, deaths during respiratory epidemics normally follow the Gompertz curve, a feature of which is the straight line decline once the epidemic has peaked. A comparison between Sweden and the UK shows this.
The artificial suppression of the virus progress back in March and April took the UK off the natural Gompertz trajectory. The change in the slope is clearly visible around the last week in April. What I am proposing here is that those lives which were saved from the end of April through to the end of July were only really delayed deaths, as this virus is not eradicable. And now they are due. And they are also predictable. If we look at the UK in more detail (showing actual seven day average death counts):
The break in slope at around April 23rd is clear, and makes sense when you consider that it would have taken about a month for any effect of the lockdown to become visible on the death count. And as can be seen with the change in slope, we have had less deaths than should have occurred.
And then all I have done is the graph up these daily ‘missing deaths’ that were the ‘gap’ between April and July, and overlay them against what is being observed as ‘the second wave’. As can be seen in this graph, the fit to the actual rise in cases in October is actually quite good. Up until now.
This ‘model’ would suggest that deaths will peak within a week or two, and after a month’s plateau at numbers between 250 and 300 per day, rapidly decline through December.
Now of course this could all be complete nonsense. Time will shortly tell. But I thought it would be good to put out an alternative hypothesis to the rubbish that Boris Johnson has based his reasoning on. Unfortunately, even if what I have shown above comes to pass, our liberal elite leadership will claim this is based on their lockdown response and assure us we need to remain with restrictions as there will still be cases in the community, and according to SAGE only a few percent of the nation will have been infected. Hundreds of thousands could still die. And don’t forget the recent ‘study’ from Imperial college, showing that immunity is only transient, so lots of scope for us all to be reinfected. We may be down this rabbit hole for a very long time.
Brexit Party Reinvents Itself as Anti-Lockdown Party
According to the Telegraph, the Brexit Party is about to reinvent itself as an Anti-Lockdown Party called Reform UK and contest hundreds of seats at the elections in May. Founders Nigel Farage and Richard Tice have declared lockdowns don’t work and instead back a policy of “focused protection”, as set out in the Great Barrington Declaration (see below).
Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope has more.
The news will worry Conservative MPs, scarred by the way that Mr Farage’s previous Eurosceptic parties – the UK Independence Party and the Brexit Party – sapped support for the Tory party at previous elections.
The Brexit Party – which won 29 seats in last year’s European Parliament elections 10 weeks after it was set up – claimed to have 150,000 ‘registered supporters’ at its peak, although numbers are understood to have fallen to tens of thousands since then. Hundreds of thousands of pounds has been said to have been pledged for the re-badged party.
Mr Farage said he expected to find support among people whose businesses have been adversely affected by the lockdown, such as the self-employed, restaurateurs and others in the hospitality industry.
He said: “We feel there is a massive political hole at the moment. The crisis has shown how badly governed we are – everything from our quangos to the £12 billion we have wasted on track and trace, to firms being given the most ludicrous contracts, to illegal immigration where we tough talk and nothing ever happens.
“The whole system of government in the UK is not working, and is therefore in need of very radical reform. Brexit is about making us free, but beyond Brexit we have to be governed better. Brexit is the beginning of what we need. Brexit gives us self-governance – we now need to have good self-governance.”
Farage and Tice have announced the formation of the new party in a comment piece for the Telegraph.
They say: “Lockdowns don’t work: in fact, they cause more harm than good. But there is a credible alternative, recommended by some of the finest epidemiologists and medics in the world. It is the Great Barrington Declaration. It is effectively being practised to a large degree in Sweden, with considerable success.
“Focused protection is the key, targeting resources at those most at risk: the elderly, vulnerable or those with other medical conditions. Many of them of course would prefer to hug their grandchildren and enjoy a family Christmas with loved ones. They should not be criminalised for the simple acts that make life worth living, particularly in their final years.
“The rest of the population should, with good hygiene measures and a dose of common sense, get on with life. This way we build immunity in the population. The young act as warriors, creating a shield of protection. Multi generational households will of course need to implement stricter measures.”
They add: “Every death is a huge loss for family, friends and loved ones. But we must put Covid-related deaths into perspective. Around 1,600 people die every day in the UK, for some reason or other.
“The average age of a coronavirus fatality is 82: older than average life expectancy. The truth is this horrible illness is only very dangerous for a tiny minority of people.
“The average person has more than a 99.5 per cent chance of surviving the disease if they catch it. We must have the courage to live with the virus, not hide in fear of it.”
The party will back the Great Barrington Declaration, a policy backed by thousands of scientists and doctors, which advocates only requiring the elderly and most vulnerable to lock down.
The pair add: “Reform is the only significant political party that supports the Great Barrington Declaration. We are showing the courage needed to take on consensus thinking and vested interests on Covid.
“But there are so many areas of public life that can be improved to benefit ordinary people. That is why we will campaign for Reform.”
This is a very positive development. Until now, political opposition to the lockdown has come from a few brave Conservative MPs like Sir Graham Brady, Sir Desmond Swayne, Esther McVey, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Charles Walker. If Reform UK can attract the same sort of support as the Brexit Party it will pose a credible threat to sitting Conservative Mayors, Counsellors and Police and Crime Commissioners in the local elections next May – and that will undoubtedly create more internal opposition to the lockdown policy within the Conservative Party. More power to their elbow.
Worth reading in full.
Boris Thinks the Lockdown is a Ravenous Devouring Monster
A reader has pointed out that Boris recently compared a second lockdown to the mythical Greek monster Scylla – which is spot on, obviously. Classically-educated readers will recall that Odysseus had to navigate a narrow waterway, with Scylla on one bank and Charybdis on the other, plotting exactly the right line or risk being devoured by one of them.
It’s worth reminding ourselves now of the metaphors that Boris has used to describe lockdown. The “nuclear option” – assured destruction, massive and indiscriminate, only to be deployed by an insane Dr Strangelove. And Scylla (a characteristically show-off classical reference – Boris said he would steer a course between the Scylla of national lockdown and the Charybdis of “letting it rip”). Which makes the lockdown… a ravenous devouring monster. Sounds about right. Someone should lash him to the mast and stop him listening to the alluring sirens of SAGE. (In Robert Fagles’ translation of the Odyssey, the opening lines are: “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns, driven time and again off course”.)
I’ve Started a Petition to Cut MPs Salaries by 20% – in Line With Furloughed Workers
I started a petition last night on Change.org asking MPs to take a 20% pay cut for the duration of the lockdown, just as furloughed employees are having to do. My hope is it will attract so many signatures, MPs will feel under moral pressure to do it and that, in turn, will make them reluctant to wave through the second lockdown in the House of Commons on Wednesday – or, if they do, make them more inclined to hold Boris to the December 2nd deadline.
You can sign it here.
Stop Press: Someone has started a petition to stop the second lockdown. You can sign that one here.
The Covid Physician
I’m publishing a long piece today by a dissident NHS doctor who styles himself the Covid Physician and can be found on twitter here. It’s essentially a diary of what it’s been like to be a practising GP during the pandemic. Here’s an extract:
My attitude to the Government pandemic advice hardened significantly when I received the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) advice on pyrexial over-70 year olds in the community: do not admit them. If they get very ill, call the Macmillan nurse and palliative care team. This was my first sniff of the new-normal clinical lunacy. It was redolent of the swine ‘flu panic where in 2009 we were negligently told to prescribe novel anti-viral medication to anyone on the basis of the slightest raised temperature, regardless of better alternative diagnoses. A reasonable body of doctors would never do this under sane conditions.
I did research. Given my older patients were to be left at home to sink or swim, I concluded that the very safe hydroxychloroquine, zinc and azithromycin combination was worth trying in the best interests of those marooned patients. I was blessed to have my own NHS dispensary and quickly ordered the medications. That was when the second whiff of madness was caught: the gaslighting (‘nudging’) mainstream media was repeatedly telling me it was very dangerous, they were lambasting my brave and learned international medical colleagues for daring to say anything but a vaccine was effective in mitigating COVID-19. Our CCG pharmacist emailed all GPs to ask us to not prescribe hydroxychloroquine in suspected COVID-19 cases as this would diminish stock for the usual rheumatoid and lupus users.
As it happens, such was the lack of community cases of clinically-unwell COVID-19, I never had to use the triple therapy. The closest I got was when a very feverish lady in her 80s was being left to probably die of a severe sepsis. She was refused hospital admission. At that time, I was not allowed to see her, as we had a dedicated Covid ‘red hub’ to remotely triage queried Covid cases to. Its guidelines had concluded temperature equated to Covid, which in turn equated to no hospital access allowed for over-70s. This was my third experience of what was now a reeking stench. Fortunately, her home-help called me to notify me of the ensuing danger. I assessed the situation remotely and concluded that the clinical logic of the red hub was wrong. The most likely cause was line sepsis (she had an in-dwelling feeding line in a major blood vessel). I spoke to the red hub and the hospital to explain that the guidelines were fatally negligent. They took her in, and line sepsis it was. This simply required a new line and intravenous antibiotics. She survived to rejoin her husband, but how many are still dying of perfectly treatable, potentially fatal illness?
Worth reading in full.
I received an email from Savanta ComRes yesterday detailing the results of a poll it conducted after Boris’s presser on Saturday. It makes for grim reading I’m afraid.
Latest polling conducted by Savanta ComRes last night, after Boris Johnson’s announcement, shows strong support for new four-week lockdown. Almost three quarters say they support the measures (72%), with just 15% saying that they oppose them. One in ten (11%) say they neither support nor oppose the measures.
Support is highest for closing pubs, bars and restaurants, with three quarters of English adults supporting it (76%), and just one in ten opposing it (12%). Around half (47%) say they support schools, colleges, and universities staying open, with two in five opposing keeping these open (37%).
When asked how long they think the measures will last, almost half (47%) of English adults think we’ll emerge later than the planned date of 2nd December, while a third believe the measures will end on that date (32%). Just over one in five believe the restrictions will end earlier than the planned date of December 2nd (7%).
I’d like to meet someone in the 20% who think restrictions will end earlier than December 2nd. I have a bridge I’d like to sell them…
There was one glimmer of light.
When asked about how the Government has handled the pandemic over the last month, around half of English adults think they have handled it badly (53%), while around a quarter think they have handled it well (23%).
We still have much work to do comrades.
I get about a dozen emails like this every day. Something has gone very wrong at NHS Test and Trace.
Just heard an amusing anecdote from my taxi driver today. He explained that he and three members of his family went for a test (as he’d been in contact with someone infected). When they got to the centre they were told there was a four-hour wait, he said “f**k that!” and they all left without being swabbed… Thirty-six hours later all four of them received a text that they had all tested positive and had to isolate by law for 14 days! And that system cost us 12 billion pounds???
North Korea the Devolved Nations
A reader in Scotland emailed me yesterday, having created the above image.
Living under the Sturgeon Terror I could not resist creating this in Photoshop when I heard England would be screening Lockdown 2: This Time It’s Personal for a month.
Ironically, despite Sturgeon’s “anything Boris can do I can do worse” policy, come Thursday Scotland will have the least severe Lockdown in the UK by default. I give that about five minutes before Sturgeon goes one up by making gloves and goggles compulsory or something equally mental.
Don’t expect the restrictions to end on December 2nd. In Scotland we were told that the restrictions would be for two weeks. That was then extended to three weeks then with the Tier System it was extended to forever.
On the plus side, now that the nations of the UK are all in the same sinking boat the tossers at the top can no longer play regional divide and rule. This means that there will be a united opposition to the UK wide restrictions. Since it is clear that protest, resistance and push back are the only thing that are going to put an end to this madness, that can only be a good thing.
Stop Press: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph says Nicola Sturgeon has been a contrast-gainer from Boris’s latest flip-flop. The dithering chump is going to cost us the Union, isn’t he?
- “Americans are too willing to bow to authoritarianism and sacrifice their rights for ‘the greater good‘” – Great piece in the Post-Millennium by Libby Emmons, based on an interview with yours truly
- “This is far too grave a decision for four men to make in private. Who speaks for the British people?” – Good leader in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday
- “A land of fear and twitching curtains” – Dan Hodges takes his life in his hands and visits the People’s Republic of Wales
- “Airlines cancel international flights ahead of national lockdown” – The Telegraph reports that airlines are cancelling all international fights between November 5th and December 2nd
- “The Cult of Covid: How Lockdown Destroyed Britain” – Lockdown sceptic Jamie Walden has written a book about what a disaster the UK lockdown has been. You can purchase it from Amazon here
- “No more handshakes” – Niall Ferguson (the good one) reviews Apollo’s Arrow, Nicholas Cristakis’s book about the pandemic
- “A history of the Swedish covid response” – Sebastian Rushworth M.D., a British doctor in Sweden, with his latest blog post. Always worth reading
- “Treatment with Zinc is Associated with Reduced In-Hospital Mortality Among COVID-19 Patients: A Multi-Center Cohort Study” – Well I never!
- “Repeating these measures is the definition of insanity – and countless people will suffer” – Dr Charles Levinson in the Telegraph says a second lockdown will worsen the already perilous non-Covid health crisis
- “I will not let fear run my life again” – Moving piece in the Conservative Woman by Claire Ball about how she was once paralysed by fear, but no more
- “Open Letter Concerning the Police Enforcement of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions” – Good letter from some Australian police officers, setting out the case against lockdown and arguing that asking them to enforce the absurd draconian rules is undermining public trust in the police
- “Why has Boris closed the churches?” – Heartfelt piece by Melanie McDonagh in the Spectator
- “Instead of lockdown, let’s create a National Shielding Service” – Patrick O’Flynn with a sensible suggestion
- “Student, 26, who was infected while teaching English in Wuhan is found dead in his room at Bangor University after his mother says he ‘never got over hardship of lockdown in China’” – Tragic story of Britain’s first Covid case
- “France’s independent bookshops struggle to survive a second lockdown” – A taste of what’s in store for our high streets after November 5th
- “Wetherspoons launches four-day sale with real ale pints for just 99p before month-long national pub lockdown” – They’ll have to throw it away if it isn’t drunk
- “Maajid Nawaz corners epidemiologist over cost of second lockdown” – Nawaz takes Prof Gabriel Scally to task on LBC for recommending a second lockdown without weighing up the potential costs
- “Coronavirus in Sweden: An Update From Sweden’s Chief Epidemiologist” – Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s State Epidemiologist, corrects a few misunderstandings in recent headlines in an interview with Karen Donfried, President of the German Marshall Fund
- “Democracy besieged” – Good long read in Spiked by Frank Furedi who’s just published a book called Democracy Under Siege: Don’t let Them Lock It Down
- “Barricades in Madrid, clashes in Barcelona, looting in Logrono as anti-lockdown protests grip Spain” – A sample of the violent anti-lockdown protests sweeping Spain
- Dr Eric Berg explains why the Covid death rate is so low – Hint: T-cells
- “The 10 worst Covid decision-making failures” – Prof Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson list the biggest blunders the Government has made in the past eight months. Narrowing it down to 10 must have been difficult
- “The State of Daniel Andrews: Victoria’s Governor Bligh” – Thoughtful critique of Dan Andrews, the Victorian state premier, by Peter Murphy in Quadrant
- “A generation of youngsters has been betrayed” – Hugh Osmond, the founder of Punch Taverns, warns that thousands of pubs will not be reopening their doors after the damage done by a second lockdown
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.
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.
We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today I’m highlighting a fantastic article by John Tamny in Forbes.
“I was shocked by how little dissent was tolerated at Harvard. Anyone who disagreed with the new orthodoxy was automatically branded a racist or a sexist or a homophobe.” “The prevailing orthodoxy was that concepts like ‘truth’ and ‘beauty’ had no place in contemporary education.” Intimacy with female Harvard students meant “you had to seek the woman’s formal permission at every stage in the seduction process.” One professor “had to abandon teaching his class on the ‘Peopling of America’ after he was dubbed ‘racially insensitive.’” His error was to talk about America’s native “population as ‘Indians’ rather than ‘Native Americans.’”
Harvard University has really gone over the edge. It’s hard to imagine that this is what’s happening at what is realistically the U.S.’s most prestigious university, if not the world’s. Higher education is surely in trouble, which means the U.S. is.
Of course the punch line to this weak attempt at a good set-up is that the above recollections weren’t those of a 2019 grad; rather they’re a few tidbits picked up from Toby Young’s classic 2001 memoir, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. It seems Harvard was ahead of the political correctness pack as the 20th century closed until it’s understood that Young was writing about the Harvard he encountered in 1987. After graduating from Oxford, the essential Young (please bookmark his website Lockdown Sceptics) was given a Fulbright Award, which enabled him to spend a year at Harvard.
Up front, Young would likely admit that part of what makes him so interesting and entertaining is his use of playful exaggeration. We’re talking about someone talented enough to have worked at Vanity Fair in its heyday, but who wrote a memoir about all of all his blunders while there.
Looked at through the prism of his time at Harvard, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that Young cherry-picked the most egregious examples of political correctness. He might admit that the vast majority of students have grand ambitions for their lives after Harvard, many of them are financially motivated, which means most aren’t too politically active one way of the other. Young’s examples of PC-stupidity have a wow factor precisely because they’re kind of rare.
Still, for the purposes of this piece they’re a reminder that PC ridiculousness is hardly an early 21st century concept. It’s as old as higher education is.
Terrific piece and well worth reading in full.
Incidentally, if any readers are tempted to read How to Lose Friends and Alienate People on the back of these glowing references, you can purchase a copy on Amazon here.
“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 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 an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.
Mask Censorship: The Swiss Doctor has translated the article in a Danish newspaper about the suppressed Danish mask study. Largest RCT on the effectiveness of masks ever carried out. Rejected by three top scientific journals so far.
The Great Barrington Declaration
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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “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 tops the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – 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 also done a smear job.)
You can find it here. Please sign it. Now well over 600,000 signatures.
Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.
Judicial Reviews Against the Government
There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.
First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.
Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.
Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.
There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.
The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.
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
Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)
If you’ve been watching the American Presidential election, you’re probably feeling pretty uninspired by the two candidates. However, the candidates in 2024 should be more impressive. Some of the Republican governors who refused to shut down their states – or made sure the shutdowns were as short as possible – are formidable politicians and none more so than Kristi Noem, the Governor of South Dakota. She says the most important lesson she’s learned about how best to cope with a pandemic is, “More freedom rather than more government is the answer.” You can watch a recent speech she made about how she responded to the crisis here. Among the highlights: “I didn’t even define what an essential business was because I didn’t think I had the authority to tell you your business isn’t essential.” And this, on modelling: “While modelling certainly has a place, models have two shortcomings today. No model can predict the future, especially when those models are based on incomplete information… [and] no model can replace human freedom as the best path for responding to our life’s risks, including in response to this virus. That is why central planning of the economy has failed us every single time the government has tried it.”
If Kristi is the Republican nominee in 2024, I’ll be tempted to campaign for her.