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Whitty: Lockdown May Still Be Needed Next Winter

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty at the Downing Street briefing yesterday

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said yesterday that as the vaccine is rolled out we might eventually get to a point where we will have “almost no restrictions at all” – until next winter, when we’ll need to look at ramping them up again. The Mail has more.

Office for National Statistics figures show an estimated 1.1 million people in private households in England had COVID-19 between December 27th and January 2nd – equivalent to around 2.06% of the population. 

Professor Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said it was “really quite a large number indeed”, warning people to take the Government’s stay at home message seriously, owing to the new variant as well as winter.

He said the risk level will gradually decrease over time with measures being “lifted by degrees, possibly at different rates in different parts of the country, we’ll have to see”.

“We’ll then get over time to a point where people say this level of risk is something society is prepared to tolerate and lift right down to almost no restrictions at all,” he added.

“We might have to bring in a few in the next winter for example, that’s possible, because winter will benefit the virus.”

Will they ever let us go back to normal?

Oddly, the ZOE app showed only around 1% of the population had Covid on January 2nd. Why the discrepancy with the ONS?

What’s more, according to ZOE data new symptomatic cases have been falling in London since the end of last month.

How can this be when London is dominated by the new variant, said to be 70% more transmissible and said to be uncontainable by lockdown without closing schools by researchers at Imperial College?

It might have something to do with the fact that the new variant has been declining in London and the South East since around Christmas, according to the Government’s own data presented at the press conference yesterday – despite Whitty claiming that the new variant is “taking off” in every part of the country.

Source: HMG

Notice that in the South East, North East and Yorkshire existing variants have recently started outpacing the new variant. Again, how is that possible if it is so much more transmissible?

Once again it appears that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have been bamboozled by dodgy data from doomsayers with their unreliable models and mass testing. Now with the prospect of restrictions that continue indefinitely, regardless of how many people have been vaccinated, the need is more urgent than ever for the Government to look at public health policy in the round and listen to a broader range of voices.

We’re still waiting for that cost-benefit analysis of the impact of lockdowns on quality-adjusted life years…

Stop Press: Boris refused to guarantee that schools will be back before September. Allison Pearson asks in the Telegraph: “With schools closed again, have we written off a generation?

Stop Press 2: Depressingly, a snap poll showed just 9% of the population oppose the lockdown while 79% support it.

CRG Split on New Lockdown

Sir Desmond Swayne MP

Disappointingly, it looks like many from the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of sceptical Conservative MPs have decided to focus their efforts on getting restrictions lifted as quickly as possible as the vaccine rolls out instead of opposing the new lockdown – even though it emerged last night that the legal end date for the new restrictions will be March 31st. The Telegraph has more.

The national lockdown is “too heavy-handed” and a clearer exit strategy linked to the vaccine roll-out is needed to help struggling businesses, a senior Tory rebel has said.

Sir Robert Syms, a leading member of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Conservative MPs, on Tuesday confirmed his intention to vote against legislation enshrining the new restrictions when it is brought to the Commons on Wednesday.

A smaller-scale rebellion is expected over the latest measures compared with the revolt against the tougher tiers system last month, which saw 55 Tory MPs vote against the Government.

One former rebel, who plans to abstain on Wednesday, said they felt the emergence of the new, hyper-infectious strain of Covid justified drastic measures. 

The MP called on Boris Johnson to focus on accelerating the vaccine programme so the restrictions could be lifted as quickly as possible.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson vowed to publish a daily total of vaccine doses administered from next week – a key demand made by members of the CRG. He also scheduled an 11th-hour Zoom call with Tory MPs to answer questions about the lockdown, with both moves likely to help further curb the extent of the rebellion.

However, lockdown sceptic Sir Desmond Swayne said he would vote against the measures and warned: “There will be a chorus who will not put up with this, who will turn up and shout ‘no’ against it.”

Sir Desmond suggested some colleagues had been “overawed by the scale of the great consensus out there”, which he characterised as: “This [new strain] is a terrible thing, and you [sceptics] shut up.”

He added: “I’m appalled that we are where we are. I’m deeply suspicious of the science, and the fact is that we’ve been bounced again. The Government lacks the scientific and statistical expertise to ask the right questions and review the data and modelling.”

His intervention came amid reports of growing backbench frustrations over the Prime Minister’s approach to handling Covid. 

Two members of the 2019 intake of Tories this week submitted letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson to Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee that governs leadership contests, according to the Financial Times.

Other members of the newest cohort dismissed claims of escalating discontent, however. Richard Holden, the Tory MP for North West Durham, said: “My constituents recognise the PM and Government as a whole are doing, especially with the vaccine, pretty damn well in an impossible situation.”

Sir Robert, who sits on the steering committee of the CRG, said he thought Mr Johnson was in a “difficult position” and added that he backed schools moving to remote learning in the face of soaring Covid infections caused by the new strain.

Worth reading in full.

Not surprising that the latest Covid hysteria has weakened the resolve of a number of sceptical MPs. All hope now seems to rest with the swift vaccination of the vulnerable.

Where’s the Pandemic?

UK individuals with at least one positive test result. Source: UK Government

Cases are soaring, with a record 60,916 new cases reported yesterday. Hospital admissions for Covid are going up and up. Deaths are in the hundreds per day and increasing. Only an idiot would doubt we’re in the midst of a serious pandemic, right?

Except all these figures that show there’s a deadly pandemic raging are based on mass testing using PCR and more recently lateral flow tests. Cases are just positive tests. Hospital admissions are just people in hospital who test positive (and all patients are tested). Deaths are just people who die of any cause within 28 days of a positive test.

To get a true picture of what’s going on you have to look at data that are independent of PCR tests. So overall hospital and ICU occupancy, excess deaths, emergency calls for flu-like symptoms and so on. Strikingly, these data all speak in unison and tell a very different story.

Look at the graph below of A&E attendances in England for acute respiratory infections (which include COVID-19). It’s trending well below baseline and, save for a September spike leading into elevated winter levels, been almost flat since the spring.

What about flu-like illness? Flat and well below baseline since spring.

Pneumonia? Also flat and well below baseline.

999 calls for Covid-like symptoms? Largely flat since spring, though up a little in the last few weeks.

999 calls for Covid-like symptoms. Source: NHS

Deaths? Nothing out of the ordinary for winter. As PHE state in their most recent report: “In week 52 2020 in England, no statistically significant excess mortality by week of death… was seen overall”.

There are also the reports of Covid-like symptoms that users of the ZOE app send in each day, prior to any PCR tests being carried out. Like the other symptom-based data, these are largely flat since spring.

Much is being made of the current pressure on the NHS, but in reality there is a winter beds crisis in the NHS almost every year, and hospital occupancy rates this winter are similar to previous years. Some areas like London are currently under pressure, but that is mainly due to staff shortages – up to a third are off sick or self-isolating – and additional Covid constraints that have reduced the availability of beds and increased staff workloads.

Lockdown Sceptics regular Dr Clare Craig has gathered all this data together in one place and added a commentary explaining what it means. She says:

One thing that Public Health England has been world beating for before and during this pandemic has been the sharing of data. Data is collected from every aspect of the healthcare system and we now have the full dataset for 2020. The beginning of the graphs therefore give an indication of the levels expected at this time of year.

A selection of this data is presented that tells the story of a Spring pandemic. However, what this data reveals about Autumn and Winter does not fit the hypothesis that there has been a second wave. PCR testing results are an outlier in the data and only data related to PCR test results has led to the impression that there is currently a Covid problem.

Well worth reading and sharing.

talkRADIO’s Youtube Channel Cancelled – Then Reinstated

The talkRADIO team

TalkRADIO’s Youtube channel was abruptly deleted yesterday morning. Guido had the scoop.

Google-owned YouTube in the early hours of this morning removed the TalkRADIO channel from its platform. YouTube had been where TalkRADIO streamed its live video content and kept an archive of old shows. The channel had accumulated tens of millions of views and 250,000 subscribers. YouTube has simply said the account was “terminated for violating YouTube’s community guidelines”.

The fact that termination came shortly after the UK Government announced a third lockdown is raising eyebrows. TalkRADIO has been exceptionally critical of lockdown policy.

TalkRADIO then released a statement:

YouTube has removed talkRADIO’s channel from its platform. talkRADIO broadcasts specific programmes and a live stream from its studio on its YouTube channel. talkRADIO also broadcasts on DAB and is Ofcom regulated.

A spokesperson for talkRADIO said: “We urgently await a detailed response from Google/YouTube about the nature of the breach that has led to our channel being removed from its platform.

talkRADIO is an Ofcom licensed and regulated broadcaster and has robust editorial controls in place, taking care to balance debate. We regularly interrogate government data and we have controls in place, use verifiable sources and give space to a careful selection of voices and opinions.

Happily, the channel was reinstated later in the day, as Guido reported.

After 19 hours of being declared “Terminated for violating YouTube’s community guidelines”, the TalkRADIO YouTube channel has been reinstated. A YouTube spokesman said:

“TalkRadio’s YouTube channel was briefly suspended, but upon further review, has now been reinstated. We quickly remove flagged content that violate our Community Guidelines, including COVID-19 content that explicitly contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization. We make exceptions for material posted with an educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purpose, as was deemed in this case.”

A whole working day and declared ‘termination’ doesn’t sound like a ‘brief suspension’ to Guido…

Covid Cynicism

We’re publishing today a new piece by regular contributor Dr Sinéad Murphy, Philosophy Lecturer at Newcastle University. This is her contribution to the discussion about the role of reason and emotion in the lockdown debate initiated by Dr David McGrogan’s piece on “the failed strategy of lockdown sceptics” and continued by Guy de la Bédoyère’s reply. She writes:

I was struck by David’s piece. I believe he is correct. Both sides of the lockdown debate make appeal to scientific facts and statistical analyses. But those who argue in favour of lockdowns have done so and continue to do so with a righteous energy and moral fervour, which those of us who argue against them have tended to steer clear of, on the assumption that such energy and fervour would weaken our arguments rather than make them stronger. This assumption comes naturally to our Enlightenment habits of thinking and acting, which have been formed on the premise that reason and feeling are separate faculties and hardly compatible. The assumption is false and has disabled our position from the outset.

A little while ago, I happened into discussion with a new neighbour, on the matter of Covid and lockdown. When I indicated my support for a Great Barrington-like policy of assistance for the vulnerable who wished to have it, allied with normal life for everyone else, my new neighbour demurred, saying: “That’s very able-ist of you.” Just the kind of name-calling moralism that we sceptics of lockdown have come to expect. And what did I do in return? I drilled further down into calm reason, countering that I was quite content to be an ‘able-ist’ and did not at all require that the whole world alter its course so that the particular needs of particular groups be neutralised by being always already catered to. But my reply was a poor one and seemed to produce no effect. What I ought to have done – what David McGrogan urges us rightly to practise doing – was to play my neighbour at his own ad hominem game: accuse him in return of being an ‘able-ist’ and naming to him with the same outrage that he effortlessly conjured up, some of the infinite number of kinds of people whose lives have been damaged or destroyed by Covid policies – my ‘vulnerable’ if you like: the old, those who live alone, those with cancer, children with special needs, single parents… my list is longer than his by far.

In this context, the New Year’s Day post on Lockdown Sceptics by Freddie Attenborough merits special mention, for its clever and moving turning of the tables against the Covid orthodoxy. Its very title – “The Fallen” – a highly effective appropriation of the language of pathos which those who mourn the Covid dead have this year been allowed to claim as an instrument for their use, and their use alone.

This kind of emotional response does not mean that we must depart from our facts, which we have mustered so carefully and which we justifiably treasure; but we ought to feel freer to infuse them with the moral feeling that we have incorrectly judged it best to put aside for the good of our mission.

And this is all the more vital for the stay it might put upon what I regard as the most significant factor in the success this year of the attack on our ways of life: the cynicism that prevails among the educated classes, those whose voices dominate our mainstream press, and whose readiness to be functionaries in the system of our incarceration is one of the most dispiriting things of all.

Worth reading in full.

Government Snubs Pharmacists in Vaccine Rollout

The urgency of the Government’s vaccine programme was thrown into doubt last night as it emerged that offers from thousands of trained pharmacists to assist in the vaccine rollout have been ignored. The Telegraph has the exclusive.

Simon Dukes, the chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Services Committee, which represents high street pharmacies during talks with the Government, questioned why the NHS was “scrabbling around” for vaccinators when his industry stood ready to help.

He said there were around 11,400 pharmacies across the country that already administer millions of flu jabs every year, with the capability to vaccinate around 1.3 million people against Covid every week.

At the press conference yesterday the Prime Minister said 1.3 million people in the UK have so far been vaccinated. But since that figure was one million on December 27th, this suggests the current rate of vaccinations is only 30,000 a day. It would need to be 10 times bigger to hit the target of 13.4 million by mid-February.

Vaccination is our ticket out of lockdown with all its destructive consequences for lives, livelihoods and mental and physical health. Why is everything not being thrown at it? It’s not even a supply issue, as the Telegraph reports.

Amid increasing questions over the urgency of the UK’s planned rollout, it emerged that there are five million doses of the Pfizer jab yet to be used, despite it being cleared over a month ago, and 3.5 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab held up waiting to pass the regulator’s safety checks.

The pharmacists’ offer of help echoes the situation at the start of the roll-out of testing when private labs were overlooked, leading to months of delays.

Mr Dukes told the Telegraph: “Rather than scrabbling around trying to find retired GPs and nurses and anyone who has possibly dated skills, you’ve got an army of thousands of pharmacists up and down the country who administer the flu jab every winter.

“We’ve been telling the NHS that we’re ready, willing and desperate to help. But we’ve been met by a de facto silence.

“We’ve got 11,400 pharmacies with at least one trained pharmacist. So if we vaccinated 20 people a day, that would be more than 1.3 million every week. You need the big hubs, of course you do, but we can help in a substantial way.”

It was also being reported yesterday that PHE won’t be delivering vaccines on a Sunday.

Boris has been banking on a vaccine to rescue him from this disaster since March. Time to pull the finger out.

Stop Press: Philip Johnston in the Telegraph says “vaccines won’t rid us of Covid but they must put a stop to lockdowns“, adding “we need a much greater sense of urgency about the roll-out, and then must live with an endemic virus”.

This Morning Doctor’s Pro-Vaxxing Misinformation

Dr Sara Kayat shares a novel fact about the Oxford vaccine

TV Doctor Sara Kayat appeared on This Morning yesterday to tell viewers about the amazing power of the Oxford vaccine:

After 12 days from the first vaccination of the AstraZeneca vaccine you are 100% effective against hospitalisation and death.

The programme tweeted: “@sara_kayat shares this amazing statistic with us, which you may not have heard yet.”

They won’t have heard it, of course, because it’s not true. (It also doesn’t really make sense – what does “you are 100% effective” mean? But we get what she’s trying to say.)

One Twitter user responded with a nicely worded letter and the link to Ofcom’s complaint form.

The Flu Hypothesis

An academic economist, quite eminent in his field but who wishes to remain anonymous because he doesn’t want to have to contend with lockdown zealots at his university accusing him of “endangering the public”, has written an original piece for Lockdown Sceptics about the the ‘flu hypothesis’. We’ll let him explain what this is.

Most of those sceptical of the Government response to COVID-19 have concluded that the recent uptick in cases is seasonal. COVID-19 appears to recur in winter and seems to have partly replaced the flu this year. We will call this the ‘flu hypothesis’.

If this is correct, then we may be able to make some predictions about what is about to happen in the United Kingdom with respect to Government policy and the public response. Now that the new lockdown is upon us we can use the ‘flu hypothesis’ to imagine two possible outcomes and assess their relative likelihood.

First let us try to get into what passes for the minds of those dealing with the response. The Financial Times, which seems well plugged in to the mindset of the political class, published the following helpful graphic:

Needless to say, our economist isn’t persuaded by these graphs.

What this tries to show is that the lockdown worked. If you glance at the chart and don’t really think about it – you know, like a public official would be inclined to do – it looks like a lockdown was imposed at the beginning of November and cases in the North and the Midlands fell.

Now, lockdown sceptics will say that this was just a coincidence. After all, robust cross-sectional studies – the sort of studies honest scientists use to evaluate these sorts of things – show that there is no correlation between lockdowns and outcomes. And cases in the Northwest clearly peaked around two weeks before the measures were introduced.

Worth reading in full.

Vaccine Wariness

The “dangerous” anti-vaxxers, spewing their toxic misinformation, don’t appear to be having much impact in the UK

The UK leads the vaccine eagerness polls, but still nearly a third are reticent – and the true figure has to be higher. Forbes reports that in practice over half of front line workers in America have been refusing the vaccine, suggesting the 58% in the poll for the US is likely an upper bound.

With all our eggs in the vaccine basket, this is not encouraging news.

Of course, it doesn’t help when healthy 41 year-olds die two days after receiving a jab – though with millions now being inoculated it remains to be seen whether this is more than coincidence.

Trouble at Tesco

Harry Miller on the steps of the High Court after his victory over Humberside Police

Hero ex-cop Harry Miller, who took Humberside Police to the High Court after they recorded “Non-Crime Hate Incident” against his name and won a stunning victory, had an unpleasant experience in his local branch of Tesco’s yesterday. He was accosted by the store manager for not wearing a mask. Predictably, he didn’t take kindly to this reprimand. We’ll let Harry tell the story.

It’s not everyday that one is given a police escort through the tills at Tesco but that is what happened to me this morning. After sanitising my hands, I entered the store, passing along the vegetable aisle in search of something called “spring greens”. I am a lockdown skeptic, not a covid skeptic, and so was careful to only touch those items which would end up in my trolley.

Pausing to check my shopping list, I was approached by a gentleman who said, without introduction, “Excuse me, Sir. Is there any reason why you are not wearing a mask?”

A badge on his coveralls identified him as being in the service of Tesco.

“Yes, there is a valid reason, as it happens,” I replied, resisting the urge to say, “Lockdown is a scam.” Regardless of whether or not I agree with the law regarding masks (I don’t), I am fully aware of the limitations of enforcement. A firm, but polite, answer did not satisfy.

“What’s your reason?” He pressed. “Because without a valid reason you will either have to put on a mask or leave the shop.”

“I am not required to reveal the details of why I do not wear a mask,” I said, still polite but with a degree of irritation. “I have told you that I have a valid reason and that is enough.”

He pulled rank. “I am the store manager, and unless you have an exemption certificate, you are going to have to leave. Now.”

At this point, it’s fair to say I got stroppy, reminding him that there was no legal basis for his demand to demand evidence of a hidden disability. His response, typical of the bullying coward who finds himself on a high of unexpected power, was to say, “You are being aggressive. Unless you leave the shop immediately, I will call the police. Step away from the trolley. You’re barred.”

I may have laughed. I may have growled. I asked him what he imagined the police would do, given that I have an exemption certificate. “In that case, you should be wearing it on a lanyard around your neck,” he said. I told him to stop behaving like a bargain shelf Nazi and I would not submit to having my papers checked.

Soon enough, a sergeant and constable arrived, prompting the gathered masked mob to bray insults at the live capture of a granny killer. “Why don’t you just obey the law, fucking idiot?”

Defiant more than embarrassed, I stood my ground.

The sergeant suggested that, were I to go quietly, she might be able to persuade the manager to allow me and my half filled basket through the tills. When she left to negotiate the concession, I quizzed the constable on the law I was required to obey, particularly in relation to masks. Puzzled by the request for facts, he side-stepped the issue, insisting that, as Tesco is a private shop, the staff are at liberty to demand and evict as they please. I called bullshit, a word which, when spoken when angry, is so potentially loaded with virus that it caused the constable to take a dramatic step back and to order me to “stop spitting”. He correctly noted that I was agitated, advised me to calm down, and said I should seek advice from a lawyer about my grocery shopping ban. In return, I advised the constable that the actions of the store manager had caused me alarm, harassment and distress, contrary to Section 5 of the Public Order Act, and that, as the police were in attendance, I expected them to act on it.

The circular logic with which the officer defied my complaint is worth exploring. According to him, Tesco was only a public space up until the point that the store manager issued his eviction notice, after which I was technically trespassing on private property and therefore the Public Order Act no longer applied.

I informed the constable that the last police force which attempted to blow smoke up my arse ended up being likened by a High Court Judge to the Stasi, the Cheka and the Gestapo. I reminded him of an officer’s sworn duty to serve the public “without fear or favour”. His response is worth quoting in full: “Please don’t use fancy words with me.”

Literally. That’s what he said. A member of Lincolnshire’s finest considers the foundation upon which policing and freedom is built to be nothing more than fancy words. As I was finally given a police escort with my depleted trolley though the Till of Shame, I reminded the officers of their Oath of Attestation. That it was made to the Queen, not Tesco. That the police are obliged to uphold law, not policy. And that to serve all men equally, with diligence and fairness, is the precious bedrock upon which our police service is built. Covid tyranny does not change that one bit.

You can find out more about Harry’s efforts to force the police to remember their oath at Fair Cop.


Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five today: “In my hour of darkness” by Gram Parsons, “It’s the same old song” by Four Tops, “Born of Frustration” by James,  “I Predict A Riot” by the Kaiser Chiefs, “Nothing Makes Sense” by Judah Kelly.

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 as well as post comments below the line, 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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click 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. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p, and he’s even said he’ll donate half the money to Lockdown Sceptics, so everyone wins.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

Stop Press: A reader found an article on the futility of masks from the 2003 SARS outbreak 17 years ago in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Health authorities have warned that surgical masks may not be an effective protection against the virus.

“Those masks are only effective so long as they are dry,” said Professor Yvonne Cossart of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney.

“As soon as they become saturated with the moisture in your breath they stop doing their job and pass on the droplets.”

Professor Cossart said that could take as little as 15 or 20 minutes, after which the mask would need to be changed. But those warnings haven’t stopped people snapping up the masks, with retailers reporting they are having trouble keeping up with demand.

John Bell from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, who owns a pharmacy in Woollahra, Sydney, said mask supplies were running low.

“At the moment we don’t have any because we haven’t been able to get any in the last few days,” MrBell said. “In the early stages it was unbelievable; we’d get people coming in all the time.”

Mr Bell agreed with Professor Cossart’s assessment regarding the effectiveness of the masks.

“I think they’re of marginal benefit,” he said. “In a way they give some comfort to people who think they’re doing as much as they can do to prevent the infection.”

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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 in October and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. 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 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 Toby’s 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 over three quarters of a million signatures.

Update: The authors of the GBD have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here. Sign up to the newsletter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many legal cases being brought against the Government and its ministers we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. But the cause has been taken up by PCR Claims. Check out their website here.

The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. 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 and Runnymede Trust’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.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.


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.

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.)

And Finally…

Toby appeared on BBC Newsnight last night to debate YouTube’s talkRADIO ban with journalist Ian Dunt. You can watch it here.